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Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Visa: Earn 1.5% Cash Back in Bitcoin
REVIEW

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By : Mr Credit Card

 

  • Earn 1.5% unlimited cash back in bitcoin when you make payments
  • No annual fees, no foreign transactions fees
  • Get pre-approved in seconds with no impact to your credit score
  • Pay with your phone or device by using Apple Pay™ or Google Pay™
  • Mobile app to access your account anytime, anywhere
  • Not available to residents of DC, IA, WV, WI, NC, NH, HI..

 

 

Approval Requirements

  • At least 620 credit score
  • Income of at least 2 years - most applicants have at least $50,000 in annual income
  • May require upload of other documents like DL (proof of identity), W2 paystubs and even past tax returns

While many of you will have no problems getting approved, some of you might be asked to upload certain documents. Please read the end of this review to find out more about Upgrade's approval process.

 

 

Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Visa - Earn 1.5% Cash Back in Bitcoin

The Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Visa is a credit card that is actually like a personal line of credit. When you use your card, you will have to pay back the balance within a fixed maturity and works exactly like a installment loan or line of credit. However, unlike a personal line of credit, you can actually earn 1.5% cash back for every dollar that you draw on the card. You will earn the 1.5% cash back in the form of Bitcoin.

In this review, I will explain this card in detail and also highlight the application process. Unlike other credit card issuers, Upgrade may require that you provide and send over more information. Please read until the end to make sure you are familiar with the application process and know what to expect.
 

How Does Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Work?

The Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Visa (like all Upgrade credit cards) works more like an personal line of credit. To explain this clearly, let me first explain how a regular credit card works.

Let us use the following example. When you charge an amount (say $5,000) to a regular credit card, you will have a $5,000 balance at the end of the month. You can either pay it off, pay the minimum amount or anything in between. With the Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards, it works slightly differently.

When you are approved for an Upgrade Card, you will be given a credit limit, a loan term and the APR (or interest rate). Let use an example to illustrate. For example, let's assume you are approved for a $5,000 credit limit with a 36 month term and a 19.99% APR. So if you charge $5,000 to your card, you have to pay $187.90 for 36 months. If you have a higher credit line and charge another amount, that amount will be calculated and you have have 36 months to pay off that amount as well. Each transaction that you make on the card will be treated like an individual installment loan to be paid off with a fixed scheduled loan payment. your monthly payment will be a summation of all monthly payments you owe on your different "draws" (the terms commonly used on lines of credit). You can also pay off your draw in full anytime without any prepayment fee through your online portal.

As such, Upgrade reports as an installment loan rather than a credit card in your credit report. They do not report report any credit utilization like a normal credit card.

 

 

Card Details

Cash Back Program 1.5% cash back for all purchases (earned in Bitcoins)  
Annual Fee $0*
Regular APR 14.99% to 29.99%
Credit Limits $500 - $25,000



Annual Fee - There is no annual fee for this credit card. This is significant because most line of credit requires an annual fee to maintain that line of credit. Upgrade card has no annual fee.

Regular APR - 14.99% to 29.99%

Maturity - 24-72 months.

Credit Limits - Most of you will be given a credit limit of between $500 and $25,000. A large part of this depends on your income. There will be a few of you that will be offered higher credit lines of up to $50,000.

Credit Report - Upgrades reports as a installment loan in your credit reports (which is different from a credit line). Hence, credit utilization is not reported and not a factor.

 

 

How Bitcon Rewards Work?

The Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Visa allows you to earn 1.5% cash back in the form of bitcoins. You do not earn the bitcoins immediately though. The bitcoins will be purchased 1-2 statement periods after your first payment on the purchase that you have made. The bitcoins account is serviced by NYDIG. The will be an initial 90-day hold and you can start redeeming your bitcoin rewards after this period.

You can redeem the bitcoin rewards for statement credits. When you choose to redeem them, they will be sold (at market price) and there will be a 1.5% transaction fee.

Implications of Bitcoin prices: One very important thing to note is that though you earn 1.5% in cash back initially, that percentage can change depending on how Bitcoin prices move. If Bitcoin is up 100% from there you earned them, then in effect, you are earning about 3% . But if Bitcoin prices drop between when you earned them and when you redeemed them, then you will be earning less than 1.5%.

 

 

Comparing Upgrade With Other Line of Credit and Installment Loans

Because the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa works more like an installment loan and line of credit than a regular credit card, I am going to compare it with other installment loans or line of credit.
 

Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards vs Traditional Lines of Credit

Like we mentioned earlier, whether you charge something to your Upgrade credit card or take out a personal line of credit and get the cash into your bank account, this card works exactly like a traditional line of credit in that you have to pay it back within a specified maturity and a fixed interest rate (just like a line of credit).

Upgrade is better in two ways. Though most line of credit will not charge an origination fee, you might have to pay an annual fee to "maintain that line of credit". With Upgrade, there is no annual fee at all.

The second way this card is better than a traditional line of credit is that you can earn 1.5% cash back on your draw on the card. No traditional line of credit that allows that )not to mentione letting you earn Bitcoin rewards).
 

Upgrade Bitoin Rewards vs Upgrade Visa Card with Cash Back

Card Annual Fee Regular APR
Upgrade Bitcoin $0 1.5X 9in Bitcoin)
Upgrade Cash back $0 1.5X
Upgrade Triple Cash $0 3X - Home, Health and Auto Related Expenses
1X on regular purchases

Upgrade has two other cards, the Upgrade Visa Card with Cash Back Rewards and the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa. The Upgrade Visa Card with Cash Back Rewards is identical with the Upgrade Bitcoin in that you earn 1.5% cash back. The only difference is that you earn it with Bitcoin with the Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Visa. The Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards is a bonus category cash back card which pays 3% cash back on home, auto and health related expenses. Which is a better fit for you depends on what type of expense you expect to spend on your card and whether you want to earn your cash back in bitcoin.
 

Upgrade Bitcoin vs other Crypto Cards

Card Annual Fee Rewards Crypto Type Redemption
SoFi $0 2X Bitcoin & Ethereum SoFi Crypto Account
Brex $0 1X Bitcoin & Ethereum Coinbase
Venmo $0 3X - top spending category
2X - 2nd top spending cateogry
1X - every other expenses
bitcoin, ethereum, litecoin or bitcoin cash Venmo App
BlockFi $0 1.5X
2X for over $50,000 in annual spending
Bitcoin BlockFi Account
Gemini $0 3X - Dining
2X - Grocery
1X - Regular Purchases
Bitcoin + 30 other crypto Gemini Account
Upgrade $0 1.5X Bitcoin Statement Credit


The Upgrade Bitcoinn is not the only Ctypto credit card around. There are others too and the Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Visa is different in a couple of ways.

Firstly, while most bitcoin credit cards allow you to keep the Bitcoins in a bitcoin exchange or account, with Upgrade, you have to redeem it for statement credit. For example, the Sofi credit card allows you to earn 2x cash back and you can redeem it for either Bitcoin or Ethereum in a SoFi crypto account. With the SoFi card, you can exchange your rewards or cash back for statement, but at a lower rate of 0.5 cents for each $1 of cash back you make. The Venmo credit card allows you to hold your crypto through the Venmo app.

The second difference between Upgrade and other Crypto credit cards is that Upgrade is a flat rate rewards card that allows you to earn 1.5% cash back on your purchases. Other crypto cards like SoFi and BlockFi are also flat rate cards. Others like Brex, Venmo, Gemini are bonus category cards.

The third difference is that Upgrade only allow you to earn cash back in the form of Bitcoin. Most other crypto credit cards allow you to earn rewards in a variety of cryptos.
 

 

 

Pros: What We Like

  • Earn Cash Back in Bitcoins - Bitcoin rally means you earn more than 1.5% - Though there a few credit cards that allow you to earn bitcoin rewards, it is always good to have more cards offering this. Though you earn 1.5% back in bitcoins (based on bitcoin prices at the time of your purchase), if Bitcoin rallies when you redeem your rewsards, you would have earned more than 1.5%.

  • No Annual Fee - While no annual fee credit cards are the norm, most line of credit requires an annual fee to keep the line open and available. So having no annual fee for the Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Visa is great simply because this card is essentially a line of credit.

  • Virtual Card Upon Approval - Once you are approved, you are given a virtual card which you can use immediately. That means you can draw your line of credit and transfer funds to your checking account as soon as you are approved.

 

 

Cons: What We Do Not Like

  • Purchase of Bitcoin is not immediate - When you make a purchase on your card, you will earn 1.5% rewards (in Bitcoin). However, the Bitcoin will not be purchased immediately, but rather in 1-2 statement after payment on your purchases is received.

  • Initial 90-day Hold Period
  • - There is an initial 90 day hold period after your first bitcoin is purchased in your account. That means you cannot redeem it for that period. Once this initial 90-day period is over, you are free to redeem whatever Bitcoin rewards you have in your account.
  • Sale of Bitcoin subject to 1.5% fee - When you redeem your bitcoin rewards, you have to pay a 1.5% transaction fee.

  • Autopay to pay monthly installments by default - As you should know by now, the Upgrade card is actually a line of credit and any charges you make or draws to your checking account is treated like an installment loan to be paid over a fixed period. Hence, your autopay is defaulted to pay off all your monthly installment amounts. If you want to pay off the full balance, you could do so but you have to login into your account and manually pay off any balance from a specific charge on the card.

  • Might have to submit additional documents during application process - As we will highlight later on, some of you might have to submit additional documents when you apply (mainly due to proof of identity, address and income).

  • Card cannot be used at ATM - Unlike most credit cards, the Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Visa cannot be used at an ATM machine to withdraw cash.

 

 

Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Visa - For Those Bullish on Bitcoins

Before I reveal my opinion about this card, I would like to point out that I think everyone should get one of Upgrades' credit card because it acts as an emergency personal line of credit that everyone of us will eventually need. And the terms of the card are like an installment loan which will force you to pay off your draw within a fixed maturity rather than having to pay endless minimum payments on a regular credit card. The conventional wisdom is that you should have 6 months of emergency cash on hand. I would add that you should always have an emergency line of credit as well because you do not know when you need it.

Now that we got this out of the way, the next decision is "which upgrade card to get?". I think those of you who buy cryptco and are bullish on Bitcoin will find this very appealing and if Bitcoin rallies a lot between when you spend on your card and when you redeem the rewards you earn, then you will certainly benefit. However, it is important to remember that Bitcoin (like all cryptos) are volatile and their prices could go down a lot as well. Personally speaking, I prefer the Ugrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa instead because you can earn 3% cash back on auto, health and home related expenses. 3% is double the cash back of 1.5%. So to break even with the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards, Bitcoin would have to increase more than 100%. Furthermore, the cash back you earn with the Triple Cash Rewards Visa will not devalue unlike the Bitcoin Rewards Visa. Nevertheless, if you think Bitcoin will more than double or even triple it's price from current levels, then the Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Visa would make more sense for you.

You have to be aware that this card is different from other Bitcoin or Crypto credit cards in that you have to redeem the cash back you earn as a statement credit. Most other bitcoin credit cards allows you to keep the Bitcoin you earn in a separate wallet. This card is not also not available in in Hawaii, Indiana, Louisiana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, or Washington. But if you are ok with this and are bullish on Bitcoin, then you might want to consider the Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Visa.

One thing I would suggest is not to use this card for regular everyday expenses. For example, do not use this card to pay for a sandwich at 7/11 or even your gym membership even though you can earn 3% cash back. The reason is that when you charge your card, Upgrade does not make it easy to pay in full and these are items which you should pay in full for if you use your credit card.

 

 

How to Apply For Upgrade Bitcoin?

Upgrade accepts applicants with credit scores above 620 though the sweet spot is 680 to 720. Your income should be at least $50,000 to apply. Though you could get a large credit limit, most will get a credit line somewhere between $2,000 and $10,000 depending on your income.

The application is a two step process. On the first page, you have to provide information like your name, address, income and also create an account via email and a password that you create. After you submit that information, you will be asked to give you Social Security Number. Then you have to SUBMIT the info one more time before you get your credit limit and other terms of your offer. This first step does not involve any hard inquiry (just a soft pull).

After you have got your credit limit, there are three possible outcomes. You might be asked to provide the following information to either verify your identity or to verify income. Some of you do not have to provide any further information and you will be approved very quickly. Those of you with higher credit scores and a clean credit report and are not self employed will probably get away with not having to submit any new information. Some of you might be asked to provide just one or a few of the following info:



  • Photo of Drivers License - front and back
  • pay stub
  • Utility bill
  • Bank Statement
  • 4506-T Form to authorize them to get tax returns from IRS


There are also some of you who might be pre-approved for a certain credit limit and you are allowed to use a portion of that limit immediately and the rest will become available once you have submitted documents that Upgrade has requested.

Note: Upgrade also has special instructions for how to fill in your income level if you are self-employed. You can find out from this link for self-employed applicants.

Below is a screen shot of their application form.
 

upgrade bitcoin application page upgrade bitcoin preapproval application page

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

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What will be the price of Bitcoin when I earn or redeem my rewards?

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What will be the price of Bitcoin when I earn or redeem my rewards?

It will be whatever the price of Bitcoin is at that point.

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What if Bitcoin prices decline when I redeem them?

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What if Bitcoin prices decline when I redeem them?

If Bitcoin prices are lower when you redeem them than when you earn them, then you will get less than 1.5% cash back.

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Can I use the card at an ATM?

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Can I use the card at an ATM?

No, you cannot use this card at ATM machines.

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Can I and how do I pay off my loan early?

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Can I and how do I pay off my loan early?


You simply sign in and visit the “Manage Payments” section of your account. Click the “Payoff Quote” link and select the date when you’d like to pay off your loan. You’ll see your full payoff amount for the selected date. To pay off your loan, click continue and submit your payment request.

You’ll have the option to select your payment form (ACH from your bank account or check). Please note that 10 days of interest will be added to check payoffs to account for mailing and processing time. Any overpayment – regardless of payment form – will be returned to your bank account on file via ACH.

If you’d like to schedule an extra payment for less than the full payoff amount, please click the “Make a payment” link in your account.

If you’d like to make a principal-only payment, please call our Account Servicing team at (844) 899-9931, Monday-Friday 6am-6pm, and Saturday-Sunday 6am-5pm PT.

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Are there prepayment fees?

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Are there prepayment fees?


No, you can pay off anytime.

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Can I pay by phone?

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Can I pay by phone?


Yes. You can contact the Account Servicing team by calling our toll-free line at (844) 899-9931, Monday-Friday, 6am-6pm, Saturday and Sunday 6am-5pm Pacific Time.

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How do I redeem my cash back?

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How do I redeem my cash back?


Cash back is applied to your balance after your next scheduled payment.

 

Contact Information

For Payments

For Standard Mail:
Upgrade, Inc.
Lbx#452210
P.O. Box 52210
Phoenix, AZ 85072-2210

For Courier Deposits (FedEx, UPS, etc.):
Upgrade, Inc.
Attn: Batching Dept. lbx#452210
530 W Alameda Dr.
Suite 105
Tempe, AZ 85282

Address

275 Battery Street, 23rd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94111, USA

Email Address

contact@upgrade.com