Earn a Little Extra Savings for College with Upromise [Review]

I joined Upromise several years ago to start saving money for my kids’ college education. I had heard of Upromise before, but I procrastinated on signing up. I shouldn’t have, and neither should you!

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 everyone should sign up for as soon as they can.

Upromise is a free, set-it-once-and-forget-it type program that will earn you free money towards a college education. The amount of money you earn towards education won’t pay for a $100,000-per-year tuition bill, but it will slowly-but-steadily help you increase your college savings.

In addition, it’s extremely easy to set up, which means you’re then free to just go about your business while your college savings grow.

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 $1 billion 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 Expedia, JCPenney, LandsEnd, Sears, Walmart, Staples, Apple, 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. It’s the most set and forget of all the cashback sites out there.

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.

Related: The Complete Guide to 529 College Savings Plans

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 TheSunsFinancialDiary.com saved nearly $500 (as of 2008)!
  • Our own Emily Guy Birken, who writes for this site, has saved over $3,000!

Those numbers are by no means going to cover your kid for their four 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!

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.

Similar Posts


  1. Unfortunately, it has taken over 2 months since the time we requested a check for the money in our account and we are still waiting. Customer service tells me it because they are processing “ so much data”. Save yourself time and aggravation and find another way to save!

  2. Avatar John Rayson says:

    Upromise hasn’t opened any new accounts since Jan of 2017 according to their rep. on the phone. The rep. is unable to explain why and says they will email me when they are opening new accounts but also doesn’t know how long that will be. Is it about to crash? Any insight?

  3. Avatar Stacy Smith says:

    So far we’ve saved $6,000 in our Upromise account so far. It would have been more but we were sidelined by the financial crisis in 2008, and we weren’t able to use our Upromise credit card or really buy anything for that matter for about 5 years. It’s definitely worth it, and especially if you can get the grand parents or other relatives on board. The key is using their credit card in order to maximize your earnings.

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

  5. Avatar 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.

  6. 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.

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

  8. 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.

  9. @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”.

  10. Avatar nightdawg says:

    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. Avatar 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.

  12. @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.

  13. Avatar FreeMyInterest says:

    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.

  14. Avatar 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!

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

  16. Avatar 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.

  17. 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.

  18. Avatar MrsRefney says:

    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.

  19. 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.

Comments are closed.