Holiday spending is on the rise, giving families more opportunities to grow their college savings with Upromise. According to the National Retail Federation, 2019 holiday retail sales are expected to total between $727.9 billion and $730.7 billion, up 3.8% to 4.2% from 2018.

Upromise is a rewards program that can actually add dollars to your college savings as you shop for gifts, dine out at restaurants and more. Here are some ways you can maximize your college savings with Upromise this holiday season. 

Watch for limited time offers

Each week members can take advantage of limited time offers from Upromise Featured Partners. For example, Macy’s offered a 6% cash back reward in November (up from 3%). Other popular gift-buying partner sites include Walmart, Gap, Kohl’s and Bass Pro Shops. Many partner retailers are offering extra earnings during the holiday shopping season, and some allow you to earn rewards when you buy online and pick up your gifts at the store. 

To view these special offers, log into your account and select “shop now”. If you don’t have a Upromise account, you can join for free by completing an online application. You are not required to link a 529 plan or bank account to view the offers and begin accumulating rewards. Partner offers are subject to change so be sure to log in and check for deals often, especially during the holiday season. 

Make purchases using the Upromise Mastercard

Members who shop for holiday gifts using the Upromise Mastercard can earn even more cash back for college. Every purchase, regardless of where you shop, qualifies for a 1.25% cash back reward. You can increase this cash back reward by electing to “Round Up” your total to the nearest dollar.

Link a 529 plan to your Upromise Mastercard account for an extra bonus

To give your college savings an extra boost, link an eligible 529 plan to your Upromise Mastercard account. All purchases will qualify for an additional 15% bonus that will be automatically swept into the linked 529 plan account. Interest earned in the account will compound tax-free and won’t be taxed when distributions are used to pay for qualified higher education expenses. Members who earn around $1,200 annually in cash back rewards can potentially save more than $35,000 in a 529 plan over 17 years.

Dine at participating restaurants with a linked credit card

While out holiday shopping, consider stopping for a bite to eat at a participating Upromise Dining location. Members who link a credit card to their account will receive 2.5% cash back on their entire bill, including drinks, tax and tip. The reward increases to 5% when members pay with a Upromise Mastercard. 

To find restaurants near you, log in to Upromise and select “Find restaurants”. Enter your city name or zip code to see a map and list of participating locations near you, including pizzerias, breakfast diners, sports bars and steakhouses.

Ask grandparents to sign up for Upromise

Upromise accounts aren’t just for parents. Anyone can sign up for a free account and start earning cash back for a child’s or grandchild’s future college expenses. The profile section of your Upromise account lets you name multiple beneficiaries and link 529 plan accounts for each beneficiary.

For example, a grandparent can name their grandchildren as beneficiaries and link a grandparent-owned 529 plan account, a parent-owned 529 plan account or a bank account. They will need to enter the name and address of the account owner, the account type and account number. Cash back rewards earned through holiday shopping and dining will be automatically swept into the designated linked account.

At Savingforcollege.com, our goal is to help you make smart decisions about saving and paying for education. Some of the products featured in this article are from our partners, but this doesn’t influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.