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 6 lenders of 2018!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
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1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.97% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.47% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.23% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate 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 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of Month/Day/Year, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 08/21/18. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on ourstudent loan refinance product.
© 2018 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
Savings example: average savings calculated based on single loans refinanced from 9/2013 to 12/2017 where borrowers’ previous rates were disclosed. Assumes same loan terms for previous and refinanced loans, and payments made to maturity with no prepayments. Actual savings for individual loans vary based on loan balance, interest rates, and other factors.
Application detail: 5 minutes indicates typical time it takes to complete application with applicant information readily available. It does not include time taken to provide underwriting decision or funding of the loan.
Instant rates mean a delivery of personalized rates for those individuals who provide sufficient information to return a rate. For instant rates a soft credit pull will be conducted, which will not affect your credit score. To proceed with an application, a hard credit pull will be required, which may affect your credit score.
Total savings calculated by aggregating individual average savings across total borrower population from 9/2013 to 12/2017. Individual average savings calculation based on single loans refinanced from 9/2013 to 12/2017 where borrowers’ previous rates were provided. Assumes same loan terms for previous and refinanced loans, and payments made to maturity with no prepayments. Actual savings for individual loans vary based on loan balance, interest rates, and other factors.
3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
4 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.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|2.47% – 6.99%3||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit SoFi|
|2.47% – 6.23%1||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Earnest|
|2.47% – 8.03%4||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Lendkey|
|2.95% – 6.37%2||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Laurel Road|
|2.48% – 6.25%5||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit CommonBond|
|2.72% – 8.32%6||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Citizens|