U.S. Neobank Upgrade Launches Contactless Card

via Finovate blog

When Upgrade set out to create a new banking experience in 2017, there’s no way the company could have envisioned what 2020 would bring. Now, with social distancing measures in place across the globe, Upgrade’s launch of a contactless version of its credit card is just what the doctor ordered.

Furthermore, the California-based company is making the card available in digital form, supporting Apple Pay and Google Pay mobile wallets.

Upgrade first launched its card last year and has since made $500 million in new credit available to consumers every year. The company differentiates its card, which is issued by Sutton Bank, from traditional credit cards by combining monthly charges into installment plans that the borrower repays over 24 to 60 months. Upgrade structures the repayment this way to get its users into the habit of paying down their balance every month and avoid getting trapped in a continuous cycle of debt.

Further protecting consumers is the contactless element of Upgrade’s new card. “These new Upgrade Card features enable payments without any surface contact,” said Upgrade co-founder and CEO Renaud Laplanche. “While more customers have been shopping online since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many are still using their card in stores. We want to do what we can to keep our customers safe and give them a smarter way to pay.”

The Visa-branded Upgrade cards offer users credit lines from $500 to $20,000 and boast no fees.

Upgrade also offers personal loans for debt consolidation, credit card refinancing, home improvement, and major purchases. In partnership with Cross River Bank of New Jersey, which issues the funds, Upgrade has originated $2.5 billion in loans and cards since inception. 

Upgrade is headquartered in San Francisco, California, with an operations center in Phoenix, Arizona, and technology centers in Chicago, Illinois, and Montreal, Canada. The company has raised $122 million.