New Upgrade Credit Card Offers Bitcoin Rewards for All

A woman pays a vendor with a credit card at an outdoor market stall.
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A new credit card offering bitcoin rewards is the first of its kind to be widely available to consumers. 

Fintech company Upgrade’s new no-fee Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Card allows users to earn unlimited 1.5% bitcoin rewards on every purchase as they make payments. And starting Wednesday, anyone can apply for one, the company said. A cash-back rate of 1.5% is common among flat-rate rewards credit cards. Receiving those rewards in cryptocurrency is not.

Upgrade isn’t the first to offer a bitcoin rewards card, but the company said its card is the first one to be generally available to everyone. If the application is approved, consumers can start using the virtual card immediately. In contrast, BlockFi and Gemini each offer a cryptocurrency rewards credit card, but both require users to join a waitlist just to apply—and BlockFi’s waitlist is restricted to clients. So far, only a select number of BlockFi clients actually have its rewards card. Gemini has yet to deliver its product to any customers. BlockFi’s card also offers 1.5% back on purchases. Gemini said its card will pay up to 3% back, once it’s available.

Although the Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Card is open to more applicants than similar, competing card products, it’s not yet available in Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia.

Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards cardholders must hold their bitcoin rewards for at least 90 days, and then may sell at any time, subject to a 1.5% transaction fee. Bitcoin custody and trading is provided by NYDIG. 

“Crypto rewards introduce cardholders to a new asset class that is increasingly part of a consumer’s financial portfolio,” said Terry Angelos, senior vice president and global head of fintech at Visa, in a release. “Whether you’re a crypto enthusiast or just getting started, programs like the Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Card offer an engaging and low-risk way to participate in the crypto economy.”

Because Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Card is a Visa Signature card, benefits such as trip and baggage insurance, purchase protection, and extended warranty coverage are included. Credit lines range from $500 to $25,000, and the card can be used anywhere Visa is accepted. Upgrade is not a traditional revolving credit product. Instead, Upgrade combines monthly charges into installment loan plans, payable equally over 24 to 60 months at a fixed rate.

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