Upgrade offers high-interest savings, early paychecks, and cash back rewards!
These days, practically everything is “going digital.” That’s why 15.1% of all retail commerce happens online!
And banking is a big part of the general digital trend.
With a digital bank, you can:
- Get high-interest rates on your savings
- Enjoy special perks like early paychecks
- Receive cash back on purchases
Upgrade is one digital bank offering those types of benefits – and let me tell you, it’s a good one!
In this Upgrade bank review, I’ll detail some of the company’s most popular account options and explain why they’re totally safe.
Upgrade Premier Savings Review
The Upgrade Premier Savings account is a high-yield account that’s perfect for growing your savings.
At the time of writing, the annual percentage yield (APY) is 4.81% for balances of $1,000+. That’s an amazing rate! Especially when you consider that the average savings account in the U.S. only earns 0.42% interest, according to the FDIC.
Another perk is that the Upgrade Premier Savings account doesn’t have a monthly maintenance fee – and there aren’t any transfer fees, either. So whether you’re moving money around or letting it sit in your account, you don’t have to worry about Upgrade taking a bite out of it.
And managing your money should be easy with the Upgrade Mobile Banking app, which has a 4.8-star rating with the Apple App Store.
There’s a lot to like about the Upgrade Premier Savings account. I’d even say it’s one of the best places to grow your savings, especially if you’re comfortable with digital banking.
Upgrade Rewards Checking Plus Review
The Upgrade Rewards Checking Plus account comes with a major perk: Up to 2% cash back on purchases.
And while 2% doesn’t sound like much, it can add up quickly.
The 2% cash-back deal applies to purchases in lots of categories, including:
- Convenience stores
- Drug stores
- Monthly subscriptions
- Gas stations
- Phone service
All other purchases will earn 1% cashback.
And there are a couple of special rules to keep in mind:
- Rule #1: You’ll only earn 2% cash back if you receive at least $1,000 a month in direct deposits. If you don’t meet this requirement, you’ll receive 1% cash back for purchases made in the categories listed above, and 0.50% cash back on everything else.
- Rule #2: You can only earn up to $500 per calendar year with the 2% cash-back advantage. Once you’ve hit that $500 target, all your purchases will earn just 1% cash back until the year is over.
So does your job allow for direct deposits? If so, the Upgrade Rewards Checking Plus account could be especially rewarding.
But even if you can’t meet the direct deposit requirement, the account could still be worth it.
You’ll still earn 1% cash back on lots of purchases, and that’s nothing to scoff at. A typical checking account doesn’t offer any cash back at all!
Plus, the Upgrade Rewards Checking Plus account has additional perks, including:
- No monthly fees
- No transfer fees
- No overdraft fees
- ATM fees reimbursed (if you receive $1,000+ in monthly direct deposits)
- The option to receive paychecks two days early (up to $5,000, and only if you’re receiving direct deposits)
Another advantage is the chance to sign up for the Performance Savings account, which is only available to people who already have a Rewards Checking Plus account with Upgrade.
The Upgrade Performance Savings account earns 1.5% APY at the time of writing – or 4.81% APY if you’re receiving $1,000+ per month in direct deposits. And there’s no minimum balance, so you might as well sign up if you’re getting a Rewards Checking Plus account anyway.
Upgrade makes it free and easy to transfer money between the two accounts. That means you can keep some money in your Rewards Checking Plus account for everyday spending, then move the rest to your Upgrade Performance Savings account to earn money through interest. In fact, that’s exactly how I’d recommend getting the most out of Upgrade’s services!
Cash back with your checking account and high yields with your savings account – that’s how to win at banking!
And don’t forget. Upgrade offers personal loans, too! Check out this detailed Upgrade personal loans review to learn more.
Upgrade OneCard Review
The Upgrade OneCard is exactly what it sounds like, a single card that acts as a debit card and a credit card at the same time.
You have to apply for it, just like with a standard credit card. But once you’ve been approved, you can link your Upgrade OneCard with a checking account. This can be either an Upgrade Rewards Checking account or an account from another bank.
Then, when you make a purchase with the card, the transaction could happen in two different ways:
- Option #1 – Pay Now. The money will come from your checking account, just like with a normal debit card.
- Option #2 – Pay Later. The payment total will be added to a balance, which you’ll pay back with interest, just like with a typical credit card.
When you set up your Upgrade OneCard, you’ll tell Upgrade which types or transactions should be “Pay Now” and which should be “Pay Later.” You can also change a specific transaction from one category to the other, as long as you do it by 12 PM Pacific Time the day after the transaction.
Another amazing feature is the generous cash-back program.
The Upgrade OneCard pays 3% cash back on certain “everyday” spending, including restaurants, pharmacies, and convenience stores – and 2% cash back on everything else.
To get that 2-3% cash back, you’ll need to have an Upgrade Checking Rewards account, then do one of these things:
- Link the “Pay Now” feature on your OneCard to your Upgrade Rewards Checking account or;
- Receive $1,000+ in monthly direct deposits to the Upgrade Rewards Checking account.
And unfortunately, you can only receive $500 at that special 3% cash-back rate. Once you reach $500, all purchases will earn 2% cash back – even those in the 3% spending categories.
But what if you don’t have an Upgrade Checking Rewards account and you don’t plan on opening one?
Don’t worry. You can still get an Upgrade OneCard, and you’ll still earn cash back. It’s just that you’ll only earn 1.5% on all purchases. But hey, that’s still enough to make a meaningful impact!
Is Upgrade a Legit Bank?
Upgrade is a legitimate institution. Based in San Francisco, it has over 250 employees and more than 2 million customers.
And those customers seem to like the platform. I mean, just look at these ratings:
- Upgrade has a 4.5-star rating on the review site Trustpilot.
- It boasts an A+ grade from the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
- The Upgrade mobile app has 4.8 stars on the Apple App Store and 4.7 stars on Google Play.
It is worth pointing out that Upgrade isn’t technically a bank – it’s a financial technology (fintech) company.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t trust the company with your money. The platform is literally designed for personal banking! It’s just that Upgrade partners with another bank called Cross River Bank instead of doing everything itself.
Is Upgrade Bank Safe?
Upgrade is definitely safe because the first $250,000 deposited in an Upgrade account is insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). That means that if you were to somehow lose your money, Uncle Sam would have your back.
What gets a little confusing here is that Upgrade itself isn’t FDIC-insured, because it isn’t technically a bank. But it partners with Cross River Bank to offer customers checking and savings accounts, and Cross River Bank is a member of the FDIC. That’s why your money is federally insured when you open an account Upgrade.
Pros and Cons of Upgrade Bank
The goal of this Upgrade bank review is to give you a clear idea of the platform’s strengths and weaknesses. So here are the pros and cons to consider.
- A highly rated mobile app. Upgrade makes it easy to handle your banking on the go.
- High-yield saving accounts. The maximum APY is 4.81% (at the time of this publication). That means you could earn some serious money in interest with an Upgrade Premier Savings account.
- Generous cash-back program. If you use an Upgrade OneCard along with a Rewards Checking account, you can earn up to 3% cashback.
- No physical branches. If you bank with Upgrade, you’ll have to manage your accounts online or through the mobile app.
- No cash deposits. You’ll have to fund your Upgrade accounts through direct deposit or digital transfers.
- Limits on cash-back rewards at the highest rates. The maximum cash-back rates are 2% for the Rewards Checking Plus account and 3% for the OneCard, but once you’ve earned $500 at that rate in a year, you’ll drop down to a lower cash-back percentage.
Upgrade Bank Reviews
With a 4.5-star rating on Trustpilot and an A+ grade from the Better Business Bureau, it’s safe to say Upgrade has a solid online reputation.
In a 5-star Upgrade bank review on Trustpilot, someone called the company “reliable and straight to the point.” That’s the type of endorsement that should make you trust a company!
In a 4-star Upgrade bank review, someone praised the cash-back program, but complained that Upgrade doesn’t allow joint accounts.
Another Upgrade user complained that they can’t use Zelle with their Upgrade account, and that it takes more than a day to transfer a deposit from another bank. But they still said their experience had been “so far so good,” so this hardly counts as a negative Upgrade bank review!
I did find a negative Upgrade bank review where someone called the company’s practices “intrusive.” Apparently, this person didn’t like the idea of sharing copies of their ID and bank statements when applying for a credit card.
It doesn’t sound like a big deal to me, but it’s something to watch out for – especially if you apply for an Upgrade OneCard.
Upgrade Bank Reviews Reddit
I found a Reddit thread where someone asked people for their opinions about Upgrade’s online banking. Apparently, they were intrigued by the high-interest rate for savings accounts.
*Note: The Reddit user mentions a 3.5% rate, but that was a few months ago, and the maximum APY for the Upgrade Premier Savings account later rose to 4.81% (rate is current at the time of this publication). This serves as a helpful reminder that interest rates on savings accounts are always subject to change!
One user responded with a positive Upgrade bank review, saying they’re earning more in interest than they’d earned with a different bank.
Another user advised against “chasing rates” since all rates will eventually rise to similar levels.
In a sense, this person is right. Interest rates are rising across the board.
And yet, Upgrade’s highest rate is still way above the national average. So, I think it might be a rate worth chasing!
Is Upgrade Bank Worth It?
Opening an account with Upgrade is definitely worth it, as long as you’re happy to do all your banking online.
Sure, Upgrade has no branches, and you can’t deposit physical cash.
But what do you get in exchange for giving up face-to-face interactions? Some incredible interest rates and cash-back offers!
4.81% APY is a fantastic rate! And, at the time of writing, that’s what you’ll get if you open an Upgrade Premier Savings account and maintain a balance of at least $1,000.
Earning 2% – 3% cash back is pretty awesome, too – and you can get it just by signing up for an Upgrade OneCard, then linking it to an Upgrade Rewards Checking account.
So if you make Upgrade your go-to bank, you’ll be earning money with your savings and through cash back on your purchases. That’s what makes Upgrade totally worth it.
Commonly Asked Questions About Upgrade Bank
What are Alternatives to Upgrade Bank?
Upgrade is a great choice for online banking, but it’s not the only option. Other digital banking platforms include:
- CIT Bank (read CIT Bank review here)
- Current (read Current Bank review here)
- Chime (read Chime review here)
- Revolut (read Revolut review here)
- Fierce (read Fierce Finance app review here)
- Quontic Bank
- Bright Money (read full Bright Money review here)
Is Upgrade Bank a Scam?
Upgrade definitely isn’t a scam. It’s a super reputable company with over 2 million customers and an A+ grade from the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Its accounts are also FDIC-insured, so your money is protected (up to $250,000).
What is The Catch With Upgrade Bank?
The closest thing to a “catch” with Upgrade is that there are no physical branches, so you’ll have to do all of your banking online. But Upgrade makes up for that by offering a super convenient mobile app that has a glowing rating in the Apple App Store.
How Trustworthy is Upgrade Bank?
Upgrade is completely trustworthy. First of all, the company itself has a super solid reputation. Just look at its A+ grade from the BBB. And then there’s the fact that Upgrade’s accounts are insured by the FDIC, adding another layer of security and peace of mind.
Is Upgrade Bank FDIC Insured?
The accounts offered by Upgrade are insured by the FDIC. Upgrade itself isn’t a member of the FDIC, but that’s just because it isn’t technically a bank. Upgrade offers accounts through Cross River Bank, which is a member of the FDIC.
Is Upgrade Saving Legit?
Upgrade’s savings accounts are absolutely legit. They’re provided by Cross River Bank, which is a reputable bank with FDIC protection. And the interest rates are just as high as advertised.
Who is The Bank for Upgrade?
Upgrade partners with Cross River Bank to provide checking and savings accounts. And yes, Cross River Bank is a member of the FDIC. This means your Upgrade accounts are federally insured for up to $250,000.