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.

Avatar About Philip Taylor, CPA

Philip Taylor, aka "PT", is a CPA, blogger, podcaster, husband, and father of three. PT is also the founder and CEO of the personal finance industry conference and trade show, FinCon.

He created Part-Time Money® back in 2007 to share his advice on money, hold himself accountable (while paying off over $75k in debt), and to meet others passionate about moving toward financial independence.

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  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. 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?