Upromise Review: Pay Off Student Loans Early

Upromise is a service that allows you to earn cash back from your regular purchases to save for college and pay off student loans. In this Upromise review, you’ll learn its pros and cons, how to join its free loyalty program, and how to decide if it’s worth it for you.

Upromise overview

  • Upromise was founded in 2000 to help people save for college by allowing you to link your Upromise account with a 529 college savings plan, a type of savings account sponsored by a state that allows you to save for a postsecondary education. A year later, it launched its rewards program, offering cash back to parents saving up for their children’s college education.
  • In 2020, Upromise was acquired by Prodege, a media company that offers marketing and consumer insights, from Sallie Mae.
  • Upromise has more than 500,000 active members and reports having helped its members earn more than $1 billion in cash back to help cover college costs.

Upromise pros and cons

While our Upromise review shows there’s plenty of opportunities for you to save up for college expenses more quickly, there are also variables to consider before signing up for Upromise, especially the Upromise Mastercard.

Pros Cons
Earn money with the cash-back rewards program by visiting restaurants Can only earn cash back at particular restaurants if you don’t have the Upromise Upromise® Mastercard®
Tap into more rewards and cash-back features with the Upromise® Mastercard® If you sign up for the Upromise® Mastercard®, you could be tempted to take on more debt
Upromise is free to sign up for Low cash-back rate at 1.529% with the Upromise® Mastercard® (As of Sept. 9, 2021)
Link your Upromise account to your 529 plan and save more quickly Upromise® Mastercard® has high APR rates

Who Upromise is best for

If you or a loved one has or will have college expenses to pay off or need help saving up for school, Upromise is worth a look. People paying off student loans can use Upromise’s cash back as a supplement to other repayment strategies.

To use Upromise, you must be at least 13 years old and a resident of the U.S. or its territories.

How Upromise works

In order to apply for Upromise, which is free to join, you’ll need to provide the following information:

  • Name
  • Date of birth
  • Mailing address
  • Email address
  • Who you’re saving for

Once you enroll, you can register your debit and credit cards (up to 12). That way, you earn cash back regardless of which card you use.

When you spend money with Upromise’s partners, Upromise receives a commission. Then, the company shares a portion of that commission with you in the form of cash back.

How to earn rewards with Upromise

Upromise partners with more than 10,000 restaurants and offers the Upromise® Mastercard® to make it easy to earn cash back on everyday purchases. You also can earn cash back on groceries, online shopping and through the monthly scholarship giveaway.

How to earn cash back with Upromise

There are several ways to earn cash back with the Upromise program. (All rates current as of Sept. 9, 2021.)

  • Online or in-person shopping: At one point, Upromise allowed users to earn cash-back rewards through shopping online stores using their debit or credit cards, but now you must use the Upromise Mastercard in order to earn cash back. Cardmembers can earn up to 1.529% cash back using their Upromise® Mastercard®.
  • Restaurants: If you like to eat out, you’ll earn 2.5% cash back on your entire bill at participating restaurants with the Upromise dining program. Just be sure to use a linked credit or debit card to pay. If you use your Upromise® Mastercard® at a participating restaurant, you can earn 5% cash back.

How to redeem your Upromise cash-back rewards

Once you start earning cash back, Upromise makes it easy to redeem your rewards.

  • Link your Upromise account to your 529 college savings plan or checking/savings account.
  • Earn enough cash-back rewards to get your funds transferred to your 529, checking or savings account; your minimum transfer requirement is determined by how many as well as the types of accounts you have linked to your Upromise account.
  • Once you earn the minimum amount, your rewards will be automatically transferred to your desired account within seven business days (45 if it’s a 529 college savings account).

Upromise® Mastercard® overview

With a Upromise® Mastercard®, you may be able to save up even more quickly for your or your child’s college expenses.

The Upromise® Mastercard® comes with 0% APR for the first 15 billing cycles on balance transfers made within the first 45 days of opening an account. After those 15 months, you’ll be charged with a variable APR rate based on current market rates — as of Sept. 2, 2021, those ranged from 14.99%, 19.99% or 24.99% Variable, based on your creditworthiness applied to cash advances.

Similar to online shopping or making purchases at restaurants, you can earn cash back with your Upromise® Mastercard®. If you link your Upromise account to a college savings account, when you spend with a Upromise® Mastercard®, you can earn 1.529% cash back. If you use your Upromise® Mastercard® and your Upromise account is not linked to a college savings account, you’ll only get 1.25% cash back.

The Upromise® Mastercard® is also eligible for the Upromise Round Up feature, which is optional for users. This allows you to round up your spendings so you can earn even more cash back. For example, if you choose to round up your purchases to the nearest dollar, if you spend $4.50 on a coffee, your purchase would round up to $5 and the 50 cents would become part of your cash-back reward.

The Upromise® Mastercard® also offers the following perks:

  • No annual fees
  • $100 cash back if you spend $500 in the first 90 days
  • No fees when you spend money on international purchases
  • $0 fraud liability protection
  • Free access to your FICO credit score

Upromise review: Our verdict

All things considered, our Upromise review found the Upromise cash-back program is a great option if you are currently in school or you have a child who is starting school soon. With a short-term need like that, keeping your money safe is more important than getting the best return.

If college is a long way off, however, you might be better off investing your savings to get a better return.

Upromise isn’t the only cash-back portal out there, though. Others — such as Rakuten (formerly Ebates), TopCashback and BeFrugal — might have more partners for online shopping. They might offer better cash-back rates, too.

That said, Upromise’s strength lies in its goal: to help you pay down your student debt or save for future college expenses. Because of this focus, you’re more likely to use your cash rewards for that reason over something else.

Of course, you can get your Upromise cash back transferred to your checking account instead of using it to pay off student loans or save for college. But the psychological benefit of using the funds to pay for college costs is the real selling point.

In other words, we all know paying down student debt and saving for college are priorities. Upromise can hopefully help ensure they stay that way.

The information related to Upromise® Mastercard® has been independently collected by Student Loan Hero and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

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