Have you heard of fractional share rewards app Upstreet? Nope, not surprised. It didn’t make much of a splash when it was launched in October 2020 (perhaps due to the larger waves of the global pandemic), but the fintech platform has slowly been gaining traction ever since.

At its most basic level, Upstreet is a shopping loyalty program. But instead of giving you your tenth coffee free, they reward you with shares equal to a percentage of your spend. The percentage varies between retailers and usually sits somewhere between 0.5 and 9 per cent of your spend, but special offers can take it much higher.

With us so far? Good. Now, because 1 per cent of a spend is rarely enough to buy an entire share, you’ll receive what’s called a fractional share. It’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like – a fraction of a share.

And because Upstreet is an investment fund, it buys shares and holds them on trust for the unitholders (aka investors, aka you). When you receive fractional shares in different companies from Upstreet you are actually receiving units in “the Upstreet fund”.

The price of one Upstreet unit will not necessarily be equal to the price of one share in that company, but the number of shares in your Upstreet portfolio reflects the approximate number of shares represented by your investment.

How do you earn shares on Upstreet? 

You can earn shares by shopping through the Upstreet app or downloading the Chrome extension to shop on your computer. The micro-investing scheme has partnered with more than 400 brands, so it’s likely that at least some of your online shopping can earn you shares. You can also link your bank account or credit card to your account and earn shares shopping directly, but that’s currently only available with two partners (including Marley Spoon).

Most shopping will earn you shares in an exchange traded fund (ETF), which is a collection of stocks in a particular theme. For example, FANG is a selection of big US tech stocks. The other ETFs available on Upstreet are FAIR, a collection of sustainability focused Australian companies, and IOZ, which tracks the 200 largest companies on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX). You’ll also be able to score shares in individual companies, including Apple, Twitter, Netflix, Wesfarmers, Marley Spoon, Microsoft and more.

The other way you can earn shares is by playing Upstreet’s “game” Moonshot. You can play (it’s not very taxing – just hit a button) once every 24 hours and each play wins you between $0.05 and $100 in fractional shares. As someone who has played every day for three weeks, I can tell you that most prizes are below $0.10 so don’t get your hopes up.

What we think

For us, Upstreet sits somewhere between micro-investing app Raiz (which rounds up your everyday spends and invests the change to give you gradual exposure to the stock market) and cashback platforms ShopBack and Cashrewards.

In fact, many of the same companies appear on Upstreet, ShopBack and Cashrewards, and offer the same reward percentages. But instead of cold, hard cash, which acts like cash in your bank account, you get cold, hard fractional shares, which dip and rise with the market – like with Raiz.

Like the cashback platforms, there are no sign-up or subscription fees for Upstreet app, but there is $1 fee for every $1000 withdrawn (and you need to fill out a form and send an email) and a $0.50 per month fee if your account hasn’t been used for six months (both fees are taken from your shareholding).

So, is Upstreet worth it? 

I’ve been using Upstreet for three weeks now, and I’m the proud owner of $4.02 in fractional shares, split between Coinbase, Apple, Twitter, Netflix, Facebook and Microsoft. Most of that has come from playing Moonshot every day, but I did earn $0.07 buying shoelaces on Ebay.

If you’re a sharemarket n00b, this is a zero-risk way to dip your toe into the volatile waters and get a feel for how it works. I also enjoy that Moonshot is like a free daily scratch card – all the buzz of gambling, none of the cost – though at this rate it will probably take me around 526 days to make $100.

You also need to be aware that using Upstreet will have tax implications; you need to provide your TFN and, at the end of each financial year, they will send you an Attribution Managed Trust Member Annual statement to help you lodge your tax return.

If you want to get started, use this link to get a bonus $5 share rewards when you make your first purchase.

If you’ve already got a bit of experience in the stock market, I think you’re better off using ShopBack and Cashrewards. It’s easier to retrieve the money and you can then invest in shares of your choosing.

And, it shouldn’t need to be said, but don’t buy stuff just because you’re getting a percentage back in cash or shares. These apps are designed to get you to spend more but, as my dad always says, it’s not a bargain if you don’t need it.

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