|Reminder Text:||At the beginning of your upkeep, if this permanent is on the battlefield, put an age counter on this permanent. Then you may pay (cost) for each age counter on it. If you don’t, sacrifice it.|
|Statistics:|| 86 cards|
29% 21% 17% 13% 9%
Artifact 5%, Multicolor 3%, Land 2%
|Gatherer search for "Cumulative upkeep"|
Cumulative upkeep is a keyword ability on permanents that requires the permanent's controller to pay an increasing cost during each of his or her turns to keep the permanent in play. Cumulative upkeep was introduced as a named mechanic in Ice Age and was used until Weatherlight. It had a revival in Coldsnap.  
Cumulative upkeep is a triggered ability that imposes an increasing cost on a permanent. “Cumulative upkeep [cost]” means “At the beginning of your upkeep, if this permanent is on the battlefield, put an age counter on this permanent. Then you may pay [cost] for each age counter on it. If you don’t, sacrifice it.” If [cost] has choices associated with it, each choice is made separately for each age counter, then either the entire set of costs is paid, or none of them is paid. Partial payments aren’t allowed.
Cyclone from Arabian Nights is the first card printed to use cumulative upkeep, although it did not use this keyword. (Stasis is considered the first card with cumulative upkeep by some, but its upkeep cost is only similar to, and not descriptive of, cumulative upkeep, and the card's Oracle text does not use the keyword.)
- Paying cumulative upkeep is always optional. If it's not paid, the permanent with cumulative upkeep is sacrificed. Partial payments of the total cumulative upkeep cost can't be made. For example, if a permanent with "cumulative upkeep " has three age counters on it when its cumulative upkeep ability triggers, it gets another age counter and then its controller chooses to either pay or sacrifice the permanent.
- Examples of choices associated with cumulative upkeep costs include choosing an opponent, choosing a creature, choosing a color of mana, choosing a graveyard, and choosing "heads" or "tails" when flipping a coin. Each choice within a single payment is made independently. The entire set of choices must be legal and payable.
- Some permanents have abilities that trigger when their cumulative upkeep is paid. These abilities trigger when an entire upkeep payment is made. They don't trigger once per individual cost payment.
- Several cards with cumulative upkeep do something based on the number of age counters on them when they're put into a graveyard from play. For example, Arctic Nishoba says "When Arctic Nishoba is put into a graveyard from play, you gain 2 life for each age counter on it." That ability triggers no matter how the Nishoba is put into a graveyard from play. If you don't pay its cumulative upkeep and have to sacrifice it, it gets an age counter first, which impacts the amount of life you gain.
- Note that the decision to track cumulative upkeep using counters was made when the "Sixth Edition rules" (and the original version of the Oracle card database) were released in 1999. The Coldsnap set is the first since that time to feature cumulative upkeep cards, so this may appear to some players to be a rules change.