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Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Card Review

Dayana Yochim

Written by Dayana Yochim
Edited by Carolyn Kimball
Fact-checked by Andrea Coombes

April 04, 2024

Why trust us? has no financial relationship with any of the credit card providers whose products we analyze and review. Our opinions are based solely on data and our own extensive independent research — that means unbiased guidance for consumers. Rewards cards in our cashback credit card calculator are listed in descending order according to how much money they pay out annually based on the inputs.

Cash back credit card? Fixed-rate loan on plastic? The Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa is basically a reward-you-to-pay-off-your-debt card focused on three spending categories: Home, auto and health.

Is it a rewards credit card? Is it a personal loan? It’s both! Like the Upgrade Cash Rewards Card, the Upgrade Triple Cash Visa is a hybrid credit card/fixed-rate installment loan with a rewards component.

First, the rewards part: Home, auto and health purchases (details here) made using the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards card are eligible for 3% cash back. All other categories earn 1%. But there are some caveats:

1. Rewards are only applied to your account after you pay off the purchases.

2. The cash back you earn is automatically credited back to your Upgrade account. That’s your only redemption option, by the way. So don’t wait by the mailbox for a check that’s never going to arrive. The real reward is paying off what you owe faster.

That’s not all that’s different about the Upgrade Triple Cash card. Instead of paying a minimum amount due on outstanding balances (which keeps you paying interest well into your dotage), Upgrade treats it like a traditional closed-end loan: You have a fixed interest rate (instead of variable, like most cards) and a set monthly payment amount that gets you to a $0 debt in anywhere from 12 to 60 months. The downside — and this is a biggie: There is no interest-free grace period. Purchases and draws from your line of credit are treated as loans and subject to interest immediately.

Compare Upgrade cards: Upgrade Cash Rewards vs. Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards

The basics: Use the Upgrade Card at retail locations and online and earn 3% cash back on home, auto and health purchases and 1% cash back on everything else. All cash back rewards are earned when you pay eligible purchases back. Welcome bonus: Earn $200 when you also open a Rewards Checking Plus account and make three qualifying debit card transactions within 60 days.

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Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards

Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Logo
Cashback Per Year
Annual Fee
Welcome Bonus
Want to compare more cards? Use our full calculator.

Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards pros and cons

thumb_up_off_alt Pros

  • 3% rewards rate on an impressive range of home, auto and health-related purchases
  • No security deposit required
  • Predictable monthly payments and a fixed payoff date
  • Balances subject to fixed-rate, potentially low APR
  • Zero annual or penalty fees

thumb_down_off_alt Cons

  • No grace period on purchases or loans
  • Statement credit is only rewards redemption option
  • Welcome bonus requires opening a checking account
  • No 0% intro APR on balance transfers
  • Loans are not eligible for cash back
  • 3% foreign transaction fee applies
  • No authorized users allowed

Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards cashback rewards spending categories

The following table shows the cashback rewards rate per $1 spent in the six most common spending categories. The “Bonus Rate” refers to the amount you can earn in excess of the card’s standard rewards rate.

Some cashback cards limit the spending amount eligible for the bonus rate (aka the “Spend Cap”). Once you hit that cap (e.g., $1,500 spending in a particular category during a defined time period), the rewards rate on future purchases in that category reverts to the lower “Default Rate.”

Category Default Rate Bonus Rate Bonus Spend Cap Bonus Spend Period (Months)
Gas 1.00% - - -
Travel 1.00% - - -
Dining 1.00% - - -
Entertainment 1.00% - - -
Pharmacy 3.00% - - -
Groceries 1.00% - - -
Other Purchases 1.00% - - -

Note: The Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Card pays an unlimited 3% back in the Home, Auto, and Health categories and 1% cashback on everything else. Cash back is applied as a statement credit when you pay off purchases. The Credit Card Rewards Calculator applies the 3% cash back rate to purchases in the "Pharmacy" and "Home Improvement" spend categories.

What we like

Dental work? Firewood? Kettlebells? 3% 🎆, 3% 🎆, 3% 🎆. The trifecta of 3% cashback categories covers an impressive array of purchases: The “home” rewards category includes hardware and home supply purchases, landscaping services, heating, plumbing and that bookcase with the unpronounceable name you bought at Ikea. “Auto” covers everything from tires, towing services and auto parts to car rentals. “Health” rewards Walgreens/CVS/drugstore purchases, exercise equipment, counseling, chiropractors, spas, gym memberships and more.

Upgrade touts its zero-fee policy, which means you don’t get hit with things other credit-building cards like to pile on, including late fees, inactivity fees, annual fees, customer service inquiry fees, and random mean-spirited fee fees.

Although it’s almost always a bad idea (read: costly) to use a credit card to get cash, the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards card allows you to access money from your line of credit to transfer to your bank account without the cash advance fees other credit cards charge. Note: The loan is also subject to a fixed interest rate (which could be different than your credit card APR) and paid back in installments. However...

Upgrade's payment plan can get you out of debt faster. For example, let’s say you’re approved for a 36-month loan term at a 19.99% APR. Under Upgrade’s terms you’ll be required to pay $187.90 a month on a $5,000 balance. You’ll pay less in interest (around $1,700 versus $3,000) and be free from debt faster (in three years versus five) than you would paying a lower required minimum (say, $100 a month) on a traditional credit card.

Speaking of credit lines, the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards card grants lines of credit ranging from $500 to a fancy-pants $25,000.

Upgrade’s fixed-rate APR makes monthly payments predictable. Depending on what rate you're approved for, it could be much lower than what a traditional credit card charges.

Upgrade’s preapproval process lets you see what terms you’ll be offered (e.g., credit line, interest rate, repayment terms) before you sign on the dotted line. Plus, prequalification won’t ding your credit.

There’s a $200 cash bonus on the table, but it's not like traditional reward card welcome bonuses (shocking, I know). To earn it cardholders are required to open an Upgrade Rewards Checking account and make three debit card transactions within 60 days. That's a layer of complexity most other cashback credit cards don't require with their signup bonuses.

What we don't like

If you’re looking for rewards flexibility, you won’t find it here. Any cashback money you earn is automatically applied back to your account as a statement credit each month.

Also note that you only get cash back when you pay off your purchases. So hop to it!

Purchases outside of the 3% rewards categories are rewarded at a paltry 1% rate. If you prefer no spending shackles, perhaps the Upgrade Cash Rewards Card with a 1.5% all-inclusive rewards rate would be a better fit.

Technically, balance transfers are not allowed (nor is there a balance transfer intro offer on the table). But you can borrow from your line of credit by having the amount sent to your linked bank account.

🚨Important FYI: Transfers/loans from your Upgrade card into your bank account do not qualify for cashback rewards. Only purchases are eligible.

There is no grace period. Traditional credit cards give you 20-25 days to pay down balances before interest begins to accrue. With the Upgrade cards, you're charged interest on your loan from the starting gun of your relationship. There’s a $5 minimum, regardless of what you owe.

There are no warm and fuzzy perks to enhance your relationship with the Upgrade Triple Cash card. Forget roadside assistance or your own personal travel concierge.

The 3% foreign transaction fee makes it costly to use the Triple Cash Rewards Card outside of the U.S.

Authorized users are not allowed to be added to your card. You’re flying solo, buddy.

Requires “average to excellent” credit for approval. If you skew toward the “excellent” end of the range, you can probably do better with either a balance-transfer card or a rewardier rewards card that offers more perks.

The bottom line

Is the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards the best rewards card for your wallet? The answer depends entirely on your spending patterns. Let the numbers speak for themselves: Use the Cashback Credit Card Calculator to see which credit card pays back the highest rewards based on how much you spend each month.

Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards fine print

See the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards cardholder agreement and rewards categories.

Does the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards charge an annual fee?

No, there is no annual fee for the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards.

tips_and_updates Trivia time!

How common are annual fees? Roughly 17% of the consumer cash back cards we review charge an annual fee. They range from $39 to $99, with an average annual fee of $67.

Does the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards offer a welcome bonus?

Yes, the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards has a welcome bonus of $200.

tips_and_updates Fun fact

More than half (55%) of the consumer cash back credit cards we track in the database offer a welcome bonus, ranging from $30 up to $300. The average sign-up bonus for new cardholders is $197, with the median being $200.

How much cashback can I earn with the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards?

The average American that spends $1000 per month will earn $123.60 in cash back per year using the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards. For comparison, the average annual rewards payout from the cashback credit cards in the database is $191.26, and $180 is the median.

These calculations are based on average consumer spending data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the reward payout rates from the providers we track. Of course, you’re so much more than an average data point (aka “consumer unit,” in BLS parlance). The amount you can earn in cashback rewards using the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards depends entirely on your unique spending habits.

Find out exactly how much you’ll rake in with the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards by tailoring the spending inputs in the calculator above.

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The results of the Credit Card Rewards Calculator are based on the monthly spending amounts you enter and the annual dollar value of the rewards each credit card program pays per $1 spent. Credit card companies often express this payout amount as a percentage (e.g., 1.5% of every dollar spent) or on a points basis (e.g. ,1.5 points for every dollar spent). We converted all of them to a dollar amount (“Cash Back Per Year”) to make comparing offers easier.

To calculate the amount of cash back you could earn per year, we factored in:

  • Spend category inputs: The default dollar values for each “Spend Category” in the Best Cashback Credit Cards tool — gas, groceries, travel, restaurant, entertainment, pharmacy, other — are based on average American spending data from the Consumer Expenditure Surveys from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. We also include additional spend categories (such as streaming services, online shopping, utilities, transit, Amazon and more) to help you see which rewards cards are most closely aligned with your actual spending patterns. We encourage you to customize the monthly spend inputs for the most accurate results.
  • Tiered rewards rates: If a rewards credit card pays higher cashback rates on certain spending categories (also called “Bonus Rewards”), that difference is reflected in the total “Cash Back Per Year” tally.
  • Rewards spending caps: Some cards impose category- or time-based limits (monthly, quarterly, annually) that affect the amount of rewards you can earn. For example, a card may pay 3% cash back on groceries on up to $1,000 of spending each quarter, then revert to the base/default rewards rate until the following quarter. We accounted for bonus spending caps and timeframe in the calculations.
  • Default rewards rates: Purchases that exceed a spending cap are usually subject to a lower default rewards rate (e.g., 1% or 1.5%). We mathed that out too.
  • Annual fees: If a rewards card charges an annual fee, we deducted that amount from the “Cash Back Per Year” total to provide a true accounting of a card’s annual rewards payout.

What’s not included in the “Cash Back Per Year” total is the cash value of any sign-up/introductory bonus. We highlight any Welcome Bonus separately. While sign-up bonuses can be the most lucrative part of getting a new cashback rewards credit card, not everyone will want or be able to do what it takes to earn the extra cash. (It usually requires spending a certain amount in a specified time period after the card is activated.)

About the Editorial Team

Dayana Yochim
Dayana Yochim

Dayana Yochim has been writing (articles, books, podcasts, stirring speeches) about personal finance and investing for more than two decades, focusing on bringing clarity and the occasional comedic aside to what is often a murky, humorless topic. She’s written for NerdWallet, The Motley Fool,, Woman’s Day, Forbes, Newsweek and others, and been a guest expert on "Today," "Good Morning America," CNN, NPR and wherever they’ll hand her a mic.

Carolyn Kimball
Carolyn Kimball

Carolyn Kimball is Managing Editor for Reink Media Group and the lead editor for content on Carolyn has more than 20 years of writing and editing experience at major media outlets including NerdWallet, the Los Angeles Times and the San Jose Mercury News. She specializes in coverage of personal financial products and services, wielding her editing skills to clarify complex (some might say befuddling) topics to help consumers make informed decisions about their money.

Andrea Coombes
Andrea Coombes

Andrea Coombes has 20+ years of experience helping people reach their financial goals. Her personal finance articles have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, MarketWatch, Forbes, and other publications, and she's shared her expertise on CBS, NPR, "Marketplace," and more. She's been a financial coach and certified consumer credit counselor, and is working on becoming a Certified Financial Planner. She knows that owning pets isn't necessarily the best financial decision; her dog and two cats would argue this point.