Upgrade Rewards Checking: $300 Referral Bonus (Improved) + 5.21% APY Savings

Upgrade has increased the bonus from $150 to a $300 bonus via referral link on their Rewards Checking Plus account (referred gets $50). Must set up direct deposits totaling at least $1,000 within 45 days. Note: This promo usually scheduled to end at the end of the current month, but has been getting extended a month at a time.

Good news is the account opening process was very quick and easy, literally under 5 minutes. I did not have to upload any extra documentation and I did not experience any hard credit checks. The account was open and ready the day after application. FDIC insurance on deposits held at Cross River Bank. (NOTE: This is a good bonus, but Upgrade is a fintech and therefore has a nonzero risk that your funds may be not tracked correctly and FDIC insurance does not cover the failure of a non-bank fintech. FDIC insurance only covers an event when a bank fails. I would not keep this as your primary day-to-day account, nor maintain significant funds there.)

Here are the highlights of the Rewards Checking account, if you maintain that $1,000+ in monthly direct deposits:

  • Debit card earning 2% cash back at restaurants, gas stations, utilities, convenience stores, drugstores, select monthly subscriptions (including Netflix, SiriusXM, Spotify, Disney Plus), and cell phone providers (including AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, Cricket Wireless). Maximum of $500 in 2% rewards per calendar year.
  • Debit card earns 1% cash back on everything else. (unlimited)
  • No minimum balance, no monthly fees (even without direct deposit).
  • ATM fees rebated when charged by another institution for debit card withdrawals in the United States, up to five times per calendar month.
  • Can fund up to $500 instantly via debit card. Some of you may have other debit cards that earn rewards.

An “Eligible Direct Deposit” is a recurring deposit to your Account by Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) from your employer, payroll, or benefits provider, or gig economy payer OR a deposit by Original Credit Transaction (“OCT”) from your gig economy payer. One-time direct deposits, including tax refunds, bank ACH transfers, bank verification or trial deposits, peer-to-peer transfers from services, such as PayPal or Venmo, merchant transactions, mobile check deposits, and cash loads or deposits are not Eligible Direct Deposits.

You can also add on their Performance Savings account with the following features, again with $1,000+ in monthly direct deposits into the Rewards Checking Plus:

  • 5.21% APY as of 2/27/24 (lower APY without direct deposits)
  • No minimum balance, no monthly fees (with or without direct deposits).

They also offer a Premier Savings account also at 5.21% APY which is currently offering an up to $200 deposit bonus if you deposit enough new money with them.

A straightforward checking direct deposit promotion that doesn’t incur a hard credit check, nor a large number of debit card transactions, nor require joining any partner organizations. Perfect if you can switch over and/or split direct deposits easily. Gig economy payments count.

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