Class of 2016 graduates left school with 6 percent more student debt than those who finished the year before. And with interest rates on the rise, it’s getting harder and harder for college graduates to pay off their loans.
To help make up for the difference, Upromise allows you to earn cash back from your regular purchases to save for college and pay off student loans. In this Upromise review, you’ll learn how to join the free loyalty program and make the most of your everyday purchases.
Upromise was founded in 2000 to help people save for college with its Upromise 529 plan. A year later, it launched its rewards program, offering cash back to parents saving up for their children’s college education. In 2006, Upromise was acquired by Sallie Mae, a company that offers private student loans.
Upromise has more than 17 million members and reports having helped them earn more than $1 billion in cash back to help cover college costs.
Who it’s for
If you or a loved one has or will have college expenses to pay off, Upromise is worth a look. People paying off student loans can use Upromise’s cash back as a supplement to other repayment strategies.
How it works
Upromise partners with more than 850 online retailers and more than 10,000 restaurants to make it easy to earn cash back on everyday purchases. You also can earn cash back on travel, grocery, and drugstore purchases.
The program is free to join and requires the following information:
- Date of birth
- Mailing address
- Email address
- Who you’re saving for
Once you enroll, you can register your debit and credit cards. That way, you earn cash back regardless of which card you use. You can add up to 10 cards, and you can add or remove cards from your account page later.
When you spend money with Upromise’s partners, Upromise receives a commission. Then, the company shares a portion of that commission with you in the form of cash back.
Upromise review: how to earn cash back
There are several ways to earn cash back with the Upromise program.
Online shopping: Start by searching for an online retailer in your Upromise account. Click on the retailer. Then, you’ll be redirected to its website so you can shop. Upromise tracks your purchase and usually posts your cash-back reward within 30 days.
Usually, you’ll get 5 percent cash back through the online portal, but retailers sometimes offer promotions for even more cash back, so keep an eye on your account. And be sure to go through the Upromise portal instead of to the retailer directly.
Restaurants: With the Upromise dining program, you’ll earn 2.5 percent cash back on your entire bill at participating restaurants. Just be sure to use a linked credit or debit card to pay.
Travel: You can earn up to 5 percent back on travel booked through Upromise’s travel portal. Powered by Orbitz, it allows you to book flights and hotels directly through your account.
For potentially more cash back, though, check out Upromise’s travel partners. You’ll find hotel chains, rental car companies, and other travel websites.
eCoupons: Upromise partners with several grocery and drugstore chains — including CVS, Kmart, Rite Aid, and local grocery chains — to give you cash back on your everyday purchases.
To earn cash back, link your store loyalty card to your Upromise account. Then, you can search for coupons through Upromise. When you purchase the item, the store loyalty card will register the purchase and notify Upromise to post the cash back.
Upromise review: how to redeem cash back
Once you start earning cash back, you have three options to redeem it:
- Contribute your earnings to a Upromise college fund — GoalSaver or 529 plan — or to a linked 529 plan outside the Upromise program.
- Pay down student loans that are linked to your Upromise account. The minimum redemption amount is $10.
- Request a paper check. The minimum redemption amount is $10 here, too.
Upromise GoalSaver account
If you’re saving for a child’s education and you’re not sure you want to deal with the limitations of a 529 plan, the GoalSaver account may be a solid alternative.
The account offers the following perks:
- A 0.85% annual percentage yield (APY)
- A 10 percent bonus on funds you transfer from your Upromise account
- A $10 annual bonus for making deposits 10 months out of the year of at least $10
- A $100 bonus if you keep the account active and have a balance of at least $5,000 after three years
Because the GoalSaver account is offered through Sallie Mae Bank, it’s FDIC insured. So, if the bank goes under, you’re insured up to $250,000.
Should you join Upromise?
All things considered, the Upromise college fund is a great option if you are currently in school or you have a child who is starting school soon. With a short-term need like that, keeping your money safe is more important than getting the best return.
If college is a long way off, however, you might be better off investing your savings to get a better return.
Upromise isn’t the only cash-back portal out there, though. Others — such as Ebates, TopCashback, and Swagbucks — might have more partners for online shopping. They might offer better cash-back rates too.
That said, Upromise’s strength lies in its goal: to help you pay down your student debt or save for future college expenses. Because of this focus, you’re more likely to use your cash rewards for that reason rather than for something else.
Of course, you can get your Upromise cash back as a check instead of using it to pay off student loans or save for college. But the psychological benefit of using the funds to pay for college costs is the real selling point.
What’s more, maximizing your Upromise rewards requires that you use the site often, which can keep paying down your student loans or saving for college top of mind.
In other words, we all know paying down student debt and saving for college are priorities. Upromise can help ensure they stay that way.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 9 lenders of 2021!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
|1.88% – 6.15%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.88% – 5.64%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.88% – 5.64%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.50% – 6.85%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.25% – 6.39%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.90% – 5.25%6||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.89% – 5.90%7||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.39% – 6.01%||Undergrad |
|2.13% – 5.25%8||Undergrad & Graduate|
|Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.
Splash Financial Disclosures
Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. If approved, your actual rate will be within a range of rates and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, income and other factors. Refinancing or consolidating private and federal student loans may not be the right decision for everyone. Federal loans carry special benefits not available for loans made through Splash Financial, for example, public service loan forgiveness and economic hardship programs, fee waivers and rebates on the principal, which may not be accessible to you after you refinance. The rates displayed may include a 0.25% autopay discount
The information you provide to us is an inquiry to determine whether we or our lenders can make a loan offer that meets your needs. If we or any of our lending partners has an available loan offer for you, you will be invited to submit a loan application to the lender for its review. We do not guarantee that you will receive any loan offers or that your loan application will be approved. Offers are subject to credit approval and are available only to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers will receive the lowest rates, which are available to the most qualified borrowers. Participating lenders, rates and terms are subject to change at any time without notice.
To check the rates and terms you qualify for, Splash Financial conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, the lender will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.
Splash Financial and our lending partners reserve the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen and meet our lending partner’s underwriting requirements. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. This information is current as of June 1, 2021.
2 Rate range above includes optional 0.25% Auto Pay discount. Important Disclosures for Earnest.
Interest Rate Disclosure
Actual rate and available repayment terms will vary based on your income. Fixed rates range from 2.59% APR to 5.79% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Variable rates range from 1.88% APR to 5.64% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 36% (the maximum allowable for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate student loan refinance loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 2.04% and 5.8% to the one month LIBOR. Earnest rate ranges are current as of 6/8/2021, and are subject to change based on market conditions.
Auto Pay Discount Disclosure
You can take advantage of the Auto Pay interest rate reduction by setting up and maintaining active and automatic ACH withdrawal of your loan payment. The interest rate reduction for Auto Pay will be available only while your loan is enrolled in Auto Pay. Interest rate incentives for utilizing Auto Pay may not be combined with certain private student loan repayment programs that also offer an interest rate reduction. For multi-party loans, only one party may enroll in Auto Pay.
Student Loan Refinancing Loan Cost Examples
These examples provide estimates based on payments beginning immediately upon loan disbursement. Variable APR: A $10,000 loan with a 20-year term (240 monthly payments of $72) and a 5.89% APR would result in a total estimated payment amount of $17,042.39. For a variable loan, after your starting rate is set, your rate will then vary with the market. Fixed APR: A $10,000 loan with a 20-year term (240 monthly payments of $72) and a 6.04% APR would result in a total estimated payment amount of $17,249.77. Your actual repayment terms may vary.Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest. com/terms-of-service, e-mail us at [email protected], or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.
Earnest Loans are made by Earnest Operations LLC or One American Bank, Member FDIC. Earnest Operations LLC, NMLS #1204917. 535 Mission St., Suite 1663, San Francisco, CA 94105. California Financing Law License 6054788. Visit earnest.com/licenses for a full list of licensed states. For California residents (Student Loan Refinance Only): Loans will be arranged or made pursuant to a California Financing Law License.
One American Bank, 515 S. Minnesota Ave, Sioux Falls, SD 57104. Earnest loans are serviced by Earnest Operations LLC with support from Navient Solutions LLC (NMLS #212430). One American Bank and Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
© 2021 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved.
3 Important Disclosures for Navient.
4 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change and state law restriction. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900), NMLS Consumer Access. If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 0.15% effective Jan 1, 2021 and may increase after consummation.
5 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
Fixed rates from 2.74% APR to 6.74% APR (with autopay). Variable rates from 2.25% APR to 6.39% APR (with autopay). All variable rates are based on the 1-month LIBOR and may increase after consummation if LIBOR increases; see more at SoFi.com/legal/#1. If approved for a loan your rate will depend on a variety of factors such as your credit profile, your application and your selected loan terms. Your rate will be within the ranges of rates listed above. Lowest rates reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers, or may become available, such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp. or an affiliate (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license #6054612; NMLS #1121636 (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org). Additional terms and conditions apply; see SoFi.com/eligibility for details. SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.
6 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
Subject to floor rate and may require the automatic payments be made from a checking or savings account with the lender. The rate reduction will be removed and the rate will be increased by 0.25% upon any cancellation or failed collection attempt of the automatic payment and will be suspended during any period of deferment or forbearance. As a result, during the forbearance or suspension period, and/or if the automatic payment is canceled, any increase will take the form of higher payments. The lowest advertised variable APR is only available for loan terms of 5 years and is reserved for applicants with FICO scores of at least 810.
As of 04/07/2021 student loan refinancing rates range from 1.90% APR – 5.25% Variable APR with AutoPay and 2.95% APR – 7.63% Fixed APR with AutoPay.
7 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
All credit products are subject to credit approval.
Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.
As used throughout these Terms & Conditions, the term “Lender” refers to KeyBank National Association and its affiliates, agents, guaranty insurers, investors, assigns, and successors in interest.
Assumptions: Repayment examples above assume a loan amount of $10,000 with repayment beginning immediately following disbursement. Repayment examples do not include the 0.25% AutoPay Discount.
Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): This term represents the actual cost of financing to the borrower over the life of the loan expressed as a yearly rate.
Interest Rate: A simple annual rate that is applied to an unpaid balance.
Variable Rates: The current index for variable rate loans is derived from the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) and changes in the LIBOR index may cause your monthly payment to increase. Borrowers who take out a term of 5, 7, or 10 years will have a maximum interest rate of 9%, those who take out a 15 or 20-year variable loan will have a maximum interest rate of 10%.
KEYBANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.
This information is current as of April 29, 2021. Information and rates are subject to change without notice.
8 Important Disclosures for PenFed.
Annual Percentage Rate (APR) is the cost of credit calculating the interest rate, loan amount, repayment term and the timing of payments. Fixed Rates range from 2.89%-4.78% APR and Variable Rates range from 2.13%-5.25% APR. Both Fixed and Variable Rates will vary based on application terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. For Variable Rate student loans, the rate will never exceed 9.00% for 5 year and 8 year loans and 10.00% for 12 and 15 years loans (the maximum allowable for this loan). Minimum variable rate will be 2.00%. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.