Upgrade launches new program for credit card

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Upgrade announced on Oct. 29 that it will offer its new Visa Card with Cash Rewards, which adds rewards and other features to the existing card.

This card offers consumers with credit scores of 600 and above a lot of flexibility in that it works like a combination credit card and personal loan, and now that it offers rewards, it might be the card for you.

The details

If you have fair credit, the Upgrade Visa Card with Cash Rewards, issued by Sutton Bank, offers a different kind of credit card—one that you can use as a credit card and pay for purchases in an installment plan that features a fixed interest rate.

You can also use it as a personal loan by requesting funds from one of Upgrade’s lending partners—as much as your credit limit allows—and pay it back just like a personal loan, with monthly installment payments and a fixed interest rate.

Now that the Upgrade Card offers rewards, it might be more attractive to consumers who will get an unlimited 1.5 percent cash back on all of their purchases each time they make a payment.

There is no annual fee, foreign transaction fees or balance transfer fee associated with this card. 

In addition, you won’t pay any late fees, prepayment fees or receive a penalty APR. And you’ll have access to no-touch payment capability, $0 fraud liability and a mobile app.

The APR is 6.99 percent to 29.99 percent, and typical credit limits run from $500 to $20,000 but may go up to $50,000 for some borrowers.  

You won’t need a security deposit for the new Upgrade Card, and you can apply without dinging your credit score. 

Bonus: Once you get approved, you can start using a virtual card right away so you don’t have to wait for the physical one to arrive.

The issuer reports to all three credit bureaus—TransUnion, Experian and Equifax—so you can rest assured you’re going in the right direction if you’re trying to build your credit (should you pay on time, of course).   

The Upgrade Card technically doesn’t allow balance transfers, but you can draw money from your account online, deposit it into your bank account and pay off your existing credit card debt. 

Note: This card is not available to those who live in Iowa, West Virginia, Wisconsin or Washington, D.C.

An expert’s take

“The devil is always in the details, and that’s especially true with Upgrade Card,” says Ted Rossman, industry analyst at Bankrate.

Rossman says that the card’s target audience carries debt from month to month. 

The most creditworthy cardholders can get a very low interest rate (as low as 6.99 percent), but the range goes as high as 29.99 percent.

The company says someone with an average credit profile would land in the 11-to-12 percent APR range, which is why Rossman cautions consumers to be careful.

That APR is still lower than the national average—about 16 percent—but it’s still significant, he explains.

Rossman noted that the Upgrade Card incentivizes cardholders to get out of debt relatively quickly and suggests it could be a suitable option for something like financing a home renovation. He warns, though, that consumers need to pay close attention to the terms and try to get out of debt as soon as possible.

With tighter standards on 0 percent balance transfers, the Upgrade Card is a more desirable option now than it would have been a year ago.

“But again, that 6.99 percent to 29.99 percent APR range is huge, so you need to figure out where you fall,” Rossman said.