If you're looking for a new checking account that offers no fees, an amazing cashback debit card, and a seamless online experience, the Upgrade – Rewards Checking account is definitely worth considering. This account offers 2% cash back on common-day purchases and 1% on everything else, which is almost unheard of in the debit card market. Plus, there are no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements to worry about. However, if you want a more traditional banking experience with physical locations, real human support, and personalized support, this account may not be for you.
- No Monthly Fees
- 2% Cashback Debit Card
- No ATM Fees
- No Checking Interest
- No Physical Locations
- Category Limits On Debit Card
|Minimum Opening Deposit:||$0.00|
|Savings Account APY:||4.56%|
|Debit Card Rewards||1%-2%|
|Direct Deposit:||Not Required|
|In-Network ATM Access:||55,000+ Locations|
|Out Of Network ATM Access:||$5/time|
Who Is It For?
- People who want an online-only checking account with no monthly fees or account minimums
- People who want a high cashback debit card (unlimited 2%) without the risk of using a credit card
- People who don't mind not having physical bank locations or one-on-one personalized support from a bank teller
Pros & Cons
Upgrade – Rewards Checking Pros & Cons
- No Monthly Fees: Upgrade doesn't charge any monthly fees for this account.
- 2% Cashback Debit Card: You'll earn unlimited cash back on all common everyday purchases, and 1% back on everything else with this debit card.
- No Account Minimums: Upgrade doesn't require a minimum account balance, so you can open an account even if you don't have any money to deposit into the account.
- No ATM Fees: Upgrade will reimburse you for any ATM fees that you're charged, up to 5 times per month for out-of-network charges.
- No Interest Earning: Upgrade doesn't offer any interest on the checking account balance, so your money won't grow while it's in the account.
- No Physical Locations: Upgrade is an online-only bank, so you won't be able to visit a physical location to talk to a teller or banker in person.
- Category Limitations On Debit Card: There are some categories that won't earn the full cashback rewards.
Upgrade – Rewards Checking Top Features
With the checking account, you will not pay any monthly fees or overdraft fees. Additionally, there are no ATM fees or transfer fees.
- No ATM fees
- No overdraft fees
- No account minimums or monthly fees
Upgrade's debit card offers unlimited 2% cash back on all common everyday purchases. There are no limits to the number of rewards that you can earn, and the cashback is automatically deposited into your account each month.
2% cashback categories:
- Convenience and drug stores (Example: CVS, Wallgreens, Rite Aid, etc.)
- Gas stations (Shell, Chevron, etc.)
- Monthly subscriptions (Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, etc.)
- Restaurants (McDonald's, Uber Eats, Chipotle, Instacart, etc.)
- Utilities & phone (Verizon, AT&T, etc.)
1% cashback categories:
- Everything else
Lower Rates On Loans & Cards
If you have an Upgrade – Rewards Checking account, you may be able to get up to 20% off on loans and other credit card products.
- Get up to 20% off loan rates (Personal loans, auto loans, etc.)
- Get discounts on credit card offers
Online Bill Pay
Upgrade's online bill pay is a free service that allows you to pay your bills online. You can set up one-time or recurring payments, and you can also schedule payments in advance. Upgrade will send the payment to the biller on your behalf, and you'll receive email and text confirmations for each payment.
Upgrade's fraud monitoring service is designed to protect your account from unauthorized transactions. If Upgrade detects a suspicious transaction, they will notify you so that you can take action. Upgrade will also refund any unauthorized transactions that are made on your account with no charge to you.
How To Open An Upgrade Account
Total Time: 5 minutes
Sign Up For An Account
Click the “Open Account” button on the homepage
Enter Your Personal Details
Enter your personal details like your full name, email address, phone number, residential address, SSN, and more.
Enter Your Employment Details
Enter your employment type, occupation, industry, and employer name.
Complete Account Opening
After you open your account, you should have instant access to all features, but it could take up to 2-5 business days for it to be approved.
Upgrade Customer Support
To get support with your Upgrade – Rewards Checking account or any other product they offer, you can email its support team at [email protected]
Upgrade – Rewards Checking Fees
|Minimum Direct Deposit To Avoid Fees||$0.00|
|Minimum Opening Deposit:||$0.00|
|Minimum Balance to Avoid Monthly Fee:||$0.00|
|ATM Fee: In-Network||$0.00|
|ATM Fee: Out-Of-Network||Starting At $0.00|
|Domestic Wire Fees (In And Out):||$0.00|
|International Wire Fees (In And Out):||$0.00|
|Online Bill Pay Fees:||$0.00|
|Debit Card Replacement Fees:||$0.00|
How Does Upgrade Compare
Banking, loans, & More All In One
Sign-up bonus (Currently at $250)
Need direct deposit to get 3.75% APY
Live support can be slow
High APY savings account (4.05% APY)
Free ATM reimbursements (Up to $30/mo)
No ATM network
Mobile check deposits sometimes take a while to clear
Highest sign-up bonus ($225)
24/7 live support
Some accounts don't earn high-interest
Service fees can be high
Upgrade Vs SoFi Bank
SoFi Bank is another great online-only option that offers a checking account with no monthly fees. Both offer great services, but SoFi does have more products like student loan refinancing and investing capabilities.
If you're looking for higher checking savings rates with more features, we recommend SoFi. However, if you want better loan rates with one of the best cashback debit cards on the market, we recommend Upgrade.
Upgrade Vs CIT Bank
CIT Bank currently offers some of the highest interest rates on their checking and savings accounts. Upgrade's Rewards Checking account doesn't offer interest, but they do have a great cashback debit card.
If you are more interested in high-interest rates, we recommend CIT bank, but if you want an all-in-one platform with credit cards, loans, and a checking account, we recommend Upgrade.
Upgrade Vs Fifth Third Bank
Fifth Third Bank is a brick-and-mortar bank with physical locations. Upgrade is an online-only bank, so you won't be able to visit a physical location to talk to a teller or banker in person. Upgrade offers a great cashback debit card, while Fifth Third Bank offers a more traditional checking account where you can visit a bank teller at a physical location.
If you prefer to bank online and want a great cashback debit card, we recommend Upgrade. If you want to visit a physical bank location, we recommend Fifth Third Bank.
Should You Sign Up For Upgrade?
Upgrade – Rewards Checking is a great choice for people who want an online-only checking account with no monthly fees or account minimums. The debit card offers unlimited cash back on all common everyday purchases, and there are no limits to the number of rewards that you can earn.
Additionally, Upgrade will reimburse you for any ATM fees that you're charged, up to five times per month.
Upgrade is a great choice for people who want an online-only checking account with no monthly fees or account minimums. The debit card offers unlimited cash back on all common everyday purchases, and there are no limits to the number of rewards that you can earn.
Upgrade – Rewards Checking FAQ
Is Upgrade A Real Bank?
Upgrade is a real online-only “neobank” offering credit monitoring, banking, loan, and credit card services. Upgrade uses a traditional bank to store all your money to ensure it's FDIC ensured and safe.
Does Upgrade Offer A Checking Account?
Upgrade offers Rewards Checking as an online checking account accessible via mobile and via FDIC-acquired Cross River Bank. This program gives customers a cashback bonus when they purchase with their debit card and doesn't require monthly payments. It is impossible to withdraw funds in cash.
Can You Use The Upgrade Debit Card At ATMs?
Upgrade provides you with one card which you will get to use at all the stores accepting Visa and a credit card. Remember, you cannot take your money from a cash machine.
Is Upgrade Safe?
Yes, Upgrade is a trusted service and has been accredited by the Better Business Bureau since 2013. Your money is safe and secure since the Upgrade – Rewards Checking account uses Cross River Bank, member FDIC, to ensure your money is safe and secure.
Upgrade – Rewards Checking Disclosure:
There are no account fees, overdraft fees, annual fees, or transfer fees associated with Rewards Checking accounts. Rewards Checking charges no ATM fees, but third-party institutions may charge you a fee if you use their ATM/network or if you use your Upgrade VISA® Debit Card internationally. Upgrade will rebate any ATM fee charged by another institution for debit card withdrawals in the United States, up to five times per calendar month. To be eligible to receive third-party ATM fee rebates in any calendar month for eligible ATM withdrawals made during that month, customers must have (i) an open Rewards Checking account and (ii) either maintained an average daily balance in their account of at least $2,500 in the prior calendar month or made direct deposits into their account totaling at least $1,000 during the prior calendar month. As a courtesy to new customers, Upgrade will provide third-party ATM fee rebates for up to the first 2 calendar months after account opening regardless of account activity. Some limitations apply. Please refer to the applicable Cross River Bank Deposit Account Agreement and Upgrade VISA® Debit Card Agreement and Disclosures for more information.
Rewards Checking customers earn 2% cash back on common everyday expenses at convenience stores, drugstores, restaurants, and bars – including deliveries – and gas stations, as well as recurring payments on utilities and monthly subscriptions including phone, cable, TV and other streaming services, and 1% cash back on all other debit card charges. 2% cash back is limited to $500 in rewards per calendar year; after $500, customers earn 1% cash back on all eligible debit card charges for the remainder of the year. Some limitations apply. Please refer to the applicable Upgrade VISA® Debit Card Agreement and Disclosures for more information.
The interest rate on a new loan or credit line through Upgrade may be up to 20% lower than would otherwise be applicable without this discount, as long as you have an active Rewards Checking Account. Additional terms may apply. Please refer to the applicable Truth-in-Lending Disclosure and Loan Agreement.
Upgrade is a financial technology company, not a bank. Rewards Checking services provided by Cross River Bank, Member FDIC. Upgrade VISA® Debit Cards issued by Cross River Bank, Member FDIC, pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. Personal Loans made by Upgrade's bank partners. Personal Credit Lines are issued by Cross River Bank, a New Jersey State Chartered Commercial Bank, Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender. The Upgrade Card is issued by Sutton Bank, Member FDIC, pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc.