Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Visa® Review
Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Visa®
CardRatings Editor's Analysis: Pros & Cons
- Earn cryptocurrency with every purchase
- Any unpaid monthly balance transitions automatically to a fixed-rate payment plan, potentially saving you money.
- There are no annual fees or foreign transaction fees to worry about
- There's not a lot of flexibility with the rewards. You can't transfer your Bitcoin rewards to another wallet, nor can you redeem your Bitcoin for anything other than statement credit.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have grown popular over the past decade, leading many people to become interested in the new technology but unsure of how they can jump on the cryptocurrency bandwagon.
The Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Visa® is a unique rewards card that offers you the opportunity to earn Bitcoin when you make everyday purchases; therefore, it's a low-risk (albeit, not terribly high reward) way to test the Bitcoin waters.
The Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Visa® is a standard Visa credit card. New applicants receive a credit limit ranging from $500 to $50,000 (though most will be under $25,000), depending on your application (credit score and history, income, etc.) You can then use your card to make purchases from any store that accepts Visa, just like you would with any other credit card.
Here's where the Bitcoin part comes in: Use your card to make purchases and earn 1.5% back in Bitcoin on all your purchases when you pay them back. Upgrade works with a company, NYDIG, which purchases and holds the Bitcoin on your behalf.
For example, if you make a $100 purchase using the card, you'll earn $1.50 worth of Bitcoin when you pay for that purchase. As Bitcoin's value changes, the value of your accumulated rewards will change. If Bitcoin increases in price, your rewards balance will also increase.
When you want to redeem your rewards, you can ask NYDIG to sell the Bitcoin on your behalf (there is a 1.5% transaction fee for this service) and your proceeds are redeemable only for statement credit.
- Earn a $300 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months.
- $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95.
- Buy Now, Pay Later: Enjoy $0 plan fees when you use Plan It® to split up large purchases into monthly installments. Pay $0 plan fees on plans created during the first 12 months after account opening. Plans created after that will have a plan fee up to 1.33% of each purchase amount moved into a plan based on the plan duration, the APR that would otherwise apply to the purchase, and other factors.
- Low intro APR: 0% for 12 months on purchases from the date of account opening, then a variable rate, 13.99% to 23.99%
- 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%).
- 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.
- 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and on transit (including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more).
- 1% Cash Back on other purchases.
- Cash Back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.
- Terms Apply.
One thing that sets the Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Visa® apart from other credit cards is that Upgrade offers the option to transition your card's balance to a fixed-rate payment plan.
Like a typical credit card, the Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Visa® has a variable interest rate for your card balance. You get a bill at the end of the billing cycle to pay for the purchases you made. If you don't pay the balance in full, interest will begin to accrue.
What makes it different is that if you don't pay the balance off, Upgrade will automatically convert your card's balance into a fixed-rate payment plan. The interest rate for the balance of these payment plans won't change once the plan starts, which can help you save on interest if rates begin to rise. Your APR and credit line depend upon credit score, purchase and payment history and other factors.
Each month of the payment plan, you'll make the same payment, which should help with budget predictability. With a traditional credit card, the payment can change based on the purchases you make and changes to the interest rate.
The Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Visa® card doesn't charge traditional credit card fees, such as an annual fee or foreign transaction fees. Because cash advances and balance transfers aren't available with this card, you also don't have to worry about those fees.
The primary fee that cardholders need to understand is the 1.5% fee for any reward redemptions. If you have $100 worth of Bitcoin in your rewards account and want to redeem it, you'll only receive a statement credit for $98.50.
As already mentioned, this card allows you to dabble in volatile cryptocurrency without substantial risk, but there are a number of drawbacks to the Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Visa® card.
Firstly, is that volatility. It will take one to two statement periods from the time you make your payment to the time your Bitcoin rewards are purchased, and a lot can change with Bitcoin's value in that time. Furthermore, there is a 90-day holding period before you can redeem the Bitcoin you've earned so, again the value of your rewards could change dramatically between the time you earn them and the time you redeem them.
Sure, there's a chance that the Bitcoin will gain value before you redeem, but it's just as likely that it will lose value instead.
Another drawback is that you never really get full access to the Bitcoin you earn. You can't transfer it to another crypto wallet or sell it and pocket the proceeds; you can only redeem it for a statement credit toward your card balance.
The card also offers a worse rewards rate than other cash-back credit cards. For example, the Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer offers the equivalent of 2% back on every purchase (1% when you buy and another 1% when you pay for your purchase), and cards with category bonuses can offer as much as 5% or more in cash back. Given this, if your primary goal is earning credit cards rewards rather than sampling the Bitcoin world, you'd likely be better off with a more traditional cash-back rewards card.
Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Visa® vs. Sofi Credit Card
The Sofi Credit Card is a rewards card that has no annual fee and offers up to 2% cash back on every purchase that you make. At a rate of 2% back, you can redeem your rewards for cryptocurrency to a Sofi investment account or directly to another Sofi account, adding to the balance of your savings or brokerage account, or redeem to pay down a SoFi loan. If you redeem for statement credit, you'll earn 1% cash back.
Should you choose to redeem for cryptocurrencies, you have a few options, including Bitcoin, Ethereum and more than a dozen other coins. There is a 1.25% fee for each crypto transaction, but you still wind up earning more than you earn by using the Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Visa®.
As with the Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Visa®, the Sofi Credit Card doesn't charge an annual fee or foreign transaction fees. Unlike the Upgrade card, any balance leftover on the Sofi card will be handled as a traditional credit card balance and accrue interest at a variable interest rate.
Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Visa® vs. Upgrade Visa® Card with Cash Rewards
The Upgrade Visa® Card with Cash Rewards is almost identical to the Bitcoin version, but without offering rewards in the form of crypto.
Neither card charges an annual fee and both offer monthly fixed-rate payment plans, making them good choices for people who want an inexpensive card with affordable monthly payments when you carry a balance.
The obvious difference is that the Upgrade Visa® Card with Cash Rewards gives you simple cash back that you can redeem for a statement credit on your card. The value of your rewards won't fluctuate with the value of Bitcoin, and there's no fee when you redeem your rewards.
Additionally, the cash rewards version is available to people with fair credit, whereas the Bitcoin version is geared toward people with good/excellent credit. Apart from the credit score audience, the biggest difference here is whether you want to try Bitcoin rewards or you're happy with straightforward 1.5% cash back.
Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Visa® vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Chase Freedom Unlimited® is a basic category-based rewards card, offering 1.5% back on most purchases, with higher rewards rates for certain types of spending. Earn 5% back on travel purchases made through Chase Ultimate Rewards®; 3% back on dining and drugstore purchases; and 1.5% cash back on your other eligible purchases.
You can redeem your rewards – they're awarded in the form of Chase Ultimate Rewards® points – for cash back or for travel and other options through the Ultimate Rewards® portal. Combine the card with a premium card that earns Chase Ultimate Rewards®, such as Chase Sapphire Preferred®, and you can unlock more redemption options like transferring points to airline and hotel loyalty programs.
Like the Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Visa®, Freedom Unlimited® charges no annual fee, but it does charge foreign transaction fees.
Additionally, Freedom Unlimited® is a traditional credit card when it comes to paying off balances: You'll pay a variable interest rate and different payments each month. Chase Freedom Unlimited®, however, does offer an intro 0% APR period of 15 months on purchases (then, 14.99% - 23.74% Variable).
Overall, the Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Visa® is a fine card for people who are interested in exploring the cryptocurrency landscape, but it isn't the best choice out there.
With the low rewards rate, fees for redeeming your rewards and restrictions on what you can do with the proceeds, you'd likely be better off using a more traditional cash-back card and using the cash back earned to purchase cryptocurrency through a traditional exchange.
The monthly payment plan is a nice benefit, but you can get the same perk by going with the Upgrade Visa® Card with Cash Rewards while getting more predictable cash back that won't fluctuate in value.