Upromise College Savings Review

Upromise is a way to help you save for college using your everyday purchases. You earn a percentage of cash for certain purchases made with the Upromise affiliates. These purchases can be made on a wide variety of in store items as well as on specific purchases made online or in restaurants.

How it works

Your money accumulates in your Upromise account and can be used pay down your/your childrens student loans, fund a 529, or be issued as a check for educational expenses.

There are three primary ways to save with Upromise shopping online, eating at member restaurants, and shopping for groceries.

Shopping Online

To make money shopping online you have to start out at the Upromise website and use their links to get to the affiliated vendors.  There is a large array of affiliate sites you can earn money from including BestBuy.com (3%), 1800Flowers, Target (2%), Kohls(3%), and JCPenny(3%). I am writing this post on my brand new Netbook that I bought from Compusa.com where I earned 2% cashback on my purchase through Upromise. The key here is to remember to shop through the Upromise site, if you don’t start there you aren’t going to get any rewards.

Eating at Restaurants

Earning money by eating at member restaurants requires a little more trust from you the consumer. Upromise requires you register your credit card(s) with them so they can monitor for purchases at the specific restaurants.  I have gone ahead and done this and it worked out well for me because I made a little money by eating at a restaurant I wasn’t aware was on the list. You can find the restaurants in your area by visiting Upromise.com. So Join Upromise and earn up to 8% of your bill in college savings rewards when you dine out at any of over 8,000 participating restaurants.

Grocery Shopping

To earn rewards by grocery shopping you have to register your shopping cards with Upromise and they will credit your account any time you make a qualifying purchase. Items are usually marked with the Upromise logo, like Florida’s Natural Orange Juice. Upromise allows registration of Kroger, Ingles, Food City, Food Lion, Bi-Lo, CVS, and Netgrocer. This list seems regional to me so it may change based on the logged on user.  My biggest problem is I do most of my shopping for groceries at Wal-Mart so I miss out on the rewards for this part.

Other Reward Opportunities

There are multiple other opportunities which do not fit into the main Upromise categories. Your registered credit cards can earn you 1% for purchases at Exxon Mobil, 2% on purchases at Lumber Liquidators, or even earn rewards for just completing insurance quotes. One of the current offers in place for registered members is 15% back on in store Tax preperation at H&R Block and 8% cashback for online filings.

Ways to Maximize your Savings

The easiest, and best, way to maximize your savings is by begging your friends and family to sign up and assign the rewards they earn to your children. Once they sign up they can assign a percentage of their earnings to you, that way if they have multiple grandchildren they can split their pennies up evenly. The next best thing you can do is to install the “TurboSave Toolbar,” essentially the toolbar ensures you are 1.) signed into Upromise before you shop online and 2.) that you are shopping “through” Upromise when you are at a member site. I have already missed out on at least $20 in savings by failing to start out at the Upromise site, this toolbar ensures that doesn’t happen.

Conclusions

Overall you need to just keep things in perspective. You are not going to be able to fund your child’s college with the money you make in your Upromise account but it is going to be real cash. Upromise itself costs you nothing other than the added time to register your shopping and credit cards and to start  your shopping at Upromise.com when shopping. It is free money and the last time I checked no one could give me a reason why not to take free money.

Let me know what kind of experience you have had with Upromise. Good, bad, or ugly leave a comment.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mike April 7, 2009 at 1:34 pm

The only thought I have is if you register your cards with UPromise, then you usually can’t register them with other frequent shopper/dining programs as well, e.g. the AA or United dining networks. That said, I do like having a UPromise account, even if there are only a few pennies in there.

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2 Emily August 5, 2009 at 1:43 pm

Be sure to download the Upromise toolbar (and have your friends and family do it too. I’ve found this is the best way to ensure you get all of your discounts. I spent about an hour downloading the toolbar, adding on my jewel and cvs cards, and adding my credit cards. I also got six family members to sign up. None of do anything differently than we normally would, but I’m managing to put about $250 a year from Upromis towards my student loans. Mind you though, my family lives in a small town and has to order most things online.

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3 Susan July 23, 2010 at 4:01 pm

Note the interest rates on the Upromise credit card: 0% Introductory APR for the first 7 or 10 statement Closing Dates following the opening of your account, based on your creditworthiness. See footnote 1 for explanation.

After that, your Standard APR will be 12.99% to 20.99%, based on your creditworthiness when you open your account. This APR will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate as set out in the Variable-Rate Information section of your Agreement.

Obviously, the best way to save for college is to avoid high-interest credit cards.

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