Upromise revamps college savings program

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Kathryn Flynn

By Kathryn Flynn

October 10, 2018

Upromise, a program that allows members to earn money for college through everyday purchases, recently added new features and tools to simplify the college savings process. Upromise earnings can now be swept directly into any linked 529 plan, checking or savings account.

What’s new with Upromise

One of the biggest improvements to the program is that members can now link any 529 college savings plan or checking or savings account to their Upromise account. Rewards are automatically swept into the linked account. Prior to the changes, members who used non-participating 529 plans had to request a check for their reward amount and manually deposit the money on their own.

Members may notice that some previous Upromise features are no longer available. This affects opportunities to earn rewards and options for redeeming rewards.

  • There is no longer an option to link debit or credit cards to local brick and mortar stores. The new program only includes online shopping and restaurants. 
  • There is no longer an option to transfer earnings to a high-yield savings account.
  • Rewards may no longer be used to pay down student loans. 

How Upromise works

To join Upromise, individuals must complete a form online that includes their name and contact information. There is no cost to enroll in Upromise. Additional information may be required depending on which features you use.

Members can earn Upromise rewards by shopping online, dining at restaurants or using the Upromise Mastercard. Rewards are automatically deposited into any linked 529 plan account, checking or savings account.

Online shopping

Members can earn rewards by making online purchases through the Upromise website at participating retailers. Reward amounts vary, but most sites offer 3% – 7% cash back for college. Partner retailers include many brands that are popular among parents, including Walmart, Disney, Gap and Build-A-Bear Workshop.

Members can also take advantage of monthly bonus offers, when certain retailers offer a larger reward for a limited time. For example, Marriott is offering 7% cash back through October 31, 2018, up from 5%. Other offers include free shipping and dollar off coupons.


Restaurant program

To get the restaurant rewards, members need to link a credit or debit card to their Upromise account. A 2.5% reward is available when the linked card is used to pay the bill at a participating restaurant, and the reward doubles when members use their Upromise Mastercard. Members can search for participating restaurants using a tool on the Upromise website.

Upromise Mastercard

The Upromise Mastercard offers even more opportunities for members to save for college. To start, all purchases made anywhere are eligible for a 1.25% cash back reward. Cardholders can also elect to “Round Up” purchases to the nearest dollar to increase the cash back reward. There is also an additional 15% bonus on all purchases when the Upromise account is linked to an eligible 529 college savings plan. 

The hypothetical example below illustrates the potential cash back reward for a Upromise Mastercard cardholder who spends $2,500 with $25 in Upromise Round Up.

1.25% Cash Back on $2,500 in Purchases
Upromise Round Up
1.25% Cash Back on $25 in Round Up
15% Bonus on Cash Back and Round Up


Upromise and 529 plans

Upromise rewards are an easy way to boost your college savings. When deposited into a 529 plan, the funds will compound tax-free over time, and won’t be taxed when withdrawn to pay for qualified higher education expenses. Keep in mind, however, that 529 plan contributions made directly from Upromise accounts are not eligible for state tax deductions or credits.

Learn more about Upromise and sign up today to start saving.

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