Upromise Review: A Little Extra Savings for College

Read PT's review of Upromise. It's a great, easy, FREE way to start saving a little extra for your kid's college education. Find out where to go and how to sign up today!I joined Upromise a couple of weeks ago to start saving money for little Miss PT’s college education. I had heard of Upromise before, but didn’t bother signing up…because I’m a dork.

I’m going to give you the full review below. But if you want to make better use of your time, just sign up with Upromise and get started. This is really one of those things you and I both should have started a long time ago.

Upromise is a free, set-it-once-and-forget-it type program that will earn you free money towards a college education. The savings aren’t lucrative. But it’s extremely easy to set up and then you’re free to just go about your business.

Who is Upromise?

Upromise was founded by Michael Bronner, Founder and Chairman Emeritus of Digitas, a leading marketing services firm. In August 2006, SLM Corporation, commonly known as Sallie Mae and the nation’s leading paying-for-college company, acquired Upromise, Inc.

Upromise has given away over $500M in tuition assistance since 2001.

How Upromise Works

In short, you get a kickback from Upromise just by buying from their partners. They cut you in on the commission.

Upromise How it Works

You simply sign up and enter your credit card, debit card, or store loyalty card information. Upromise handles the rest. They track your spending and provide a % payout to you when you buy from one of their partners. Upromise’s partners include ExxonMobil Corporation, JCPenney.com, LandsEnd.com, Sears.com, and hundreds of others.

What makes this so great is that you don’t even have to be conscious of where you’re spending your money. Upromise is partnered with most of the places you will go anyway. There are some ways to optimize your savings with Upromise (see below), but those things aren’t necessary to get the base level of savings.

When you’re ready to withdraw your funds, just make a request for a check, transfer to a 529 Savings Plans, or use it to pay for your own student loans. To request a withdrawal, use this form.

Get Started with Upromise

What’s the Catch?

There really is no catch. Upromise is a completely free service. They make their money from the Upromise partners, who pay to participate and for marketing opportunities.

How Much Can You Really Save?

I’m just getting started with Upromise. So I can’t exactly boast about my huge savings from the program. I think I have around 21 cents saved since I started a couple of weeks ago. Ha! But, others have gone before me. And they have some significant dollars to show:

  • Paul at FiscalGeek.com saved over $700!
  • Sun from SunFinancialDiary.com saved over $400 (as of 2007).
  • ThrifyFloridaMama.com saved over $500 (as of 2007).
  • I’ve also seen blog comments from people who have claimed to have earned in the thousands by fully utilizing what Upromise has to offer.

Those numbers are by no means going to cover your kid for their 4 years at Harvard, but they will provide some assistance. And if you can earn that amount without really doing anything extra then you’ve succeeded. Free money!

Get Started with Upromise

How to Optimize Your Upromise Savings

Want to make the most of the Upromise system? You should look into their extra services:

  • TurboSaver Internet Browser Toolbar
  • Upromise Credit Card ($25 Bonus After 1st Purchase)
  • Invite Family Members to Sign Up
  • Shop Online Using Upromise.com
  • Open a Sallie Mae Online Savings Account (10% Annual Savings Match)

Final Thoughts

As I warn with any savings system like this, don’t let the opportunity to save affect your buying decisions. For instance, don’t just browse the Upromise list of merchants to find something to buy so you can save for college. But if you’re already planning to buy, check out their list of merchants and consider using their link.

Also, be conscious of how Upromise might affect your decisions to use your credit or debit card more than you normally would. Bottom line, as long as you can set this up for yourself and don’t really change your spending, it’s going to be a plus for you. Visit www.upromise.com to get started.

Get Started with Upromise



Last Edited: July 7, 2015 @ 11:10 am The content of ptmoney.com is for general information purposes only and does not constitute professional advice. Visitors to ptmoney.com should not act upon the content or information without first seeking appropriate professional advice. In accordance with the latest FTC guidelines, we declare that we have a financial relationship with every company mentioned on this site.
About Philip Taylor

Philip Taylor, aka "PT", is a CPA, financial writer, FinCon CEO, and husband and father of three. He created PT Money back in 2007 to share his thoughts on money and to meet others passionate about managing their finances. All the content on this blog is original, and created or edited by PT. Read more about Philip Taylor, and be sure to connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, or view the Philip Taylor+ Google profile.

Comments

  1. There are a lot of issues since BofA took over the UPromise credit card from Citibank, but the program is still a good program. If the credit card pays more than 1% rebate, I will definitely use it a little more. Now, I got most of the rebates from shopping online.

  2. I joined this a while ago, but none of my purchases linked to my store loyalty card show up. The card is in my profile, and I do make sure I’m buying products with the UPromise symbol at the store. But it never shows up.

    I’ve used it during online purchases, however, and it works fine.

  3. Thanks for the review. I’ve been wondering how this program works in real life. I haven’t signed up for Upromise myself, and I am still a little hesitant. Is it much of a hassle to do online shopping through their website?

    The other worry I have is that the overall savings won’t be adequate to pay for much at a college. I think readers who are serious about saving for their children should consider opening another 529 plan and make regular contributions to it. The Upromise amount would be only a drop in the bucket compared with actual college costs.

  4. Jason @ One Money Design says:

    PT, good review. This sounds like a great option for saving some extra money, especially if you plan to spend the money anyway. I’m interested to learn more.

  5. Neat info…I’m going to look into it.

  6. MeagerMoney says:

    I have saved $450 with UPromise thus far and couldn’t be happier! It’s free money and everyone loves free money.

    I didn’t know about their toolbar, thanks for the tip!

  7. The problem with UPromise is that the cash back percentages are lower then other similar sites. Cash back credit card rewards networks and even other online sites such as bing cashback, gradgold, ebates, and others routinely have higher percentages for the same stores. At times I have found a store with 4% for Upromise was 8-10% on other networks! It is important to search through your arsenal of these first.

  8. @FreeMyInterest – It’s definitely good to shop around when shopping online. But I like that Upromise offers money back for shopping offline. That’s really my favorite part of their program and why I suggest people sign up…for the free, brainless savings.

  9. Mrs. Smith says:

    I have saved over $1,200 through Upromise (with very little effort) by simply using the Upromise credit card with 1% back. Although $1,200 isn’t alot, it will help buy textbooks. One caution though – I used my credit card to purchase many items I was purchasing anyway, but ONLY when I could pay the balance in full each month. Finance charges would quickly negate the 1% back.

  10. I don’t quite understand. I signed up for upromise and put my credit and debit cards on there. Do I earn money every time I buy something with my credit card? Or only when I buy something from one of the upromise vendors with this credit card?

  11. @nightdawg – you should earn points for both. Although there are some place you use your card that don’t give you points. It has to be a “partner”.

  12. I have been a member of Upromise since 2001 and I have earned almost $2200. As other people have said, no, it is not going to pay for college, but every little bit helps and if it will pay for their textbooks at least, great. I am conscious when I decide to buy something to try to use a Upromise member. I also have the Upromise credit card as well as use the toolbar. But I wanted to comment on the person who stated that some of their purchases didn’t show up on their account. I have to say that I also save my emails from online purchases and go through my account periodically. If a purchase is missing, which does happen, I simply follow their link to report it and once they verify the purchase, my account gets credited.

  13. Nice earnings, jjk. Thanks for reporting. And thanks for sharing details about making sure you get credited.

  14. One other point that I forgot to make, keep in mind that your money does not make any interest while in your Upromise account, so every time it reaches $200, I send them a letter with my account number and ask to withdraw the $200. I then deposit the money into my children’s college funds where it can earn interest.

  15. TerrieTesheneckWendel says:

    We have been members of Upromise since the begininning of the program (I’m guessing 2001??). We have over $9,400 in Vanguard 529 accounts we opened through Upromise. This balance includes our earnings transferred automatically each quarter plus gains. We do use this credit card for most of our purchases and pay it off each month. We have also asked relatives to link their cards to our account. Most of the money came from our 1% plus some extra earnings with shopping through their links. Our biggest transaction was some money when we sold our house using one of their relators. There may be ways to get more cash with other credit cards, but we like that the money flows tempation free into an account just for college.

  16. Tulip211 says:

    How does U promise know if people are going to use the check for Education? Is it a special check?