Jumping On The $700M Bandwagon With Upromise, Even Without Kids

by Frugal Brian


Have you heard of Upromise? I had never heard of it and yet it seems that many have, though out of the many that have, few are taking advantage of this great program that is run by the Federal Government through Sallie Mae. This explains why I have never heard of it, Sallie Mae is the primary backer of student loans and since I made it through college through working and paying cash, I had reviewed their materials.

Upromise itself is nothing more than a cash back on purchases program that allocates the savings to a Sallie Mae savings account. The primary purpose of the program was to help save for college or pay down student loan debt, but there are no restrictions against anyone simply opting to receive a check for their accumulated cash back on demand, as often as one time each quarter. This is important to say twice, most people misunderstand the program as being restricted to 529 savings accounts, but it is not.

The way it works is you register with Upromise.com, register your credit cards, debit cards and store loyalty cards and the savings participating retailers will accrue automatically. When shopping online, the cash back can be increased by first going to the Upromise website, clicking through their link to your favorite merchant and making your purchase. The savings this way averages 5.26 percent across over 600 different companies including ones where I spend a lot of money, such as Lowes, Grainger, WalMart, McDonalds and Burger King. I am certain your list of frequent purchases will be different, but even the Intercontinental Hotels are on the list and I spent two weeks there in London last year, imagine the cash back I missed. I looked up the list of restaurants, where you can earn up to 8 percent cash back and there were 109 participating within my medium sized city.

The list of participating retailers is extensive and it is important to note that the cash back does not restrict you from using any other coupons or discounts you would typically use. This means you can find your best deal on Orbitz or Travelocity for travel, Target or JCPenney for school clothes, or BestBuy for a new computer then click through the Upromise link, add your coupons, and enjoy the extra savings.

The program is far more extensive than can be mentioned in a single article, but hopefully this entices you to check out the savings. It is important to note that Upromise also offers a no annual fee low interest rate credit card that gives you additional cash back on purchases with no interest accumulated on charges paid by the due date. Many people use the card to pay all of their monthly bills, then pay the credit card each month for additional cash back. In addition to the Upromise cash back, the credit card gives you 1 percent back on all purchases, 4 percent extra at participating restaurants, and 2 percent at movie theaters. If you are shopping at a Upromise retailer you get an additional 5 percent cash back, in addition to the average 5.26 percent savings from using the portal. That is over 10 percent cash back!

The Upromise program does take a little alteration in your daily habits, but for less than we typically do in order to use coupons and save less.

One last thing to mention is with regard to privacy concerns. Yes, you are giving your information to Sallie Mae so they can accumulate you cash back. I personally am not concerned about this because we already give up a certain amount of privacy in order to enjoy the discounts of store loyalty cards. Sallie Mae itself is a government organization and in reviewing Upromise I have yet to find any complaints about the correspondence being anything more than professional, without advertisements, and no sign of their selling your information. As far as giving your debit card and credit card information to Sallie Mae, it is no different than giving your information to merchants with every purchase. It is not a concern for me, if you are hesitant, then maybe just sign up for the Upromise credit card, or register a single card with the program. There is nothing saying you need to give all of your information, just enough for them to add up your savings.

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