Acquired by Sallie Mae in 2006, Upromise is a simple way to save money for your child's college fund. Since the program's inception, millions of participants have contributed over $670,000,000 to college saving accounts.
What is Upromise?
Upromise was founded in 2001 by Michael Bronner, chairman emeritus of Digitas, a leading marketing services firm. His interest in helping to make higher education more affordable came from his own struggles to pay for college as a middle-income student with minimal financial aid.
Upromise rewards loyal shoppers by depositing a percentage of their qualifying purchases in a 529 College Savings Plan with an initial $50 deposit for the child of their choice. Earnings can also be transferred to a high-earnings saving account.
There is no charge to register, and you can arrange to have your contributions split between two or more children if necessary. Parents can also invite grandparents, aunts, uncles, or other interested individuals to help contribute to their child's college fund by using the Upromise system.
Earnings are accumulated on a tax-free basis and never expire.
How to Use a Upromise College Fund
Contributing to your child's college fund through Upromise is a fairly simple process.
When you need to make an online purchase, simply log into your Upromise account and follow the site's shopping links to the retailer of your choice. A number of popular retailers are listed, including Buy.com, Shutterfly, Newport News, eToys, and Overstock.com. Following the links from the site is necessary to make sure Upromise is able to track your purchases; you won't get any credit if you type the store's address in directly.
When you're on the store's Web site, order your items as you normally would. You'll see your contribution deposited in your Upromise account within 30-90 business days, depending upon the retailer. Contributions can range from one percent to more than 5 percent of your total purchase.
Grocery Store Purchases
If you do not shop online on a regular basis, you can still earn money for a Upromise college fund by activating ecoupons (amount earned disclosed on coupon) and redeeming them at participating grocery stores. Common items include kid-friendly products such as Brach's Fruit Snacks, Musselman's Apple Sauce, and Cheerios Cereal. Certain personal care products, such as BIC Razors and Children's Motrin, are also included in the Upromise promotion.
Upromise offers up to 8% contributions on meals purchased from participating restaurants when you use a registered credit card to pay for your meal, but members in smaller communities may find a limited selection of options available.
Family and Friends
Contributions from participating family and friends are also eligible for triple cash back rewards.
The Upromise Credit Card
Once you become comfortable using the Upromise system as part of your child's college savings plan, you may decide to apply for the Upromise World MasterCard as well. Using the card to make purchases adds extra percentage points to your Upromise contributions, helping your college savings grow even faster.
There is no annual fee associated with this credit card, and it offers an introductory APR of 0% and $25 cash back on the initial purchase.
It also offers the following reward system:
- 5% cash back on select online purchases through Upromise.com
- 4% cash back on expenditures at participating Upromise restaurants
- 3% cash back on gas purchases at participating Mobil and Exxon stations
- 2% cash back on purchases at participating movie theaters
- 1% cash back on all other purchases
Upromise credit card holders can earn an unlimited amount of cash back as there is no threshold, and rewards are redeemable each quarter if the balance is $10 or more.
To apply, complete the online application or call 1-800-307-0341.
Help Your Child's College Savings Grow Even Faster
While starting a Upromise college fund is a great way to put money away for educational expenses, it's a good idea to get in the habit of making your own 529 College Savings Plan deposits as well. When you create your Upromise account, you will receive enrollment papers and deposit slips from the 529 Plan you select. This will allow you to contribute money beyond the rewards you receive from Upromise.
Here are a few savings ideas to help you get started:
- Save your spare change in a large glass jar. When the jar is full, write out a check for that amount as a 529 Plan deposit.
- Instead of having everyone bring several expensive toys for your child's birthday party, limit the total number of gifts and put the excess money in your child's 529 Plan.
- Make a family rule that your child must save a portion of his or her allowance for future educational expenses.
Also, consider visiting the Coupons and Deals tab on the Upromise website to learn more about promotional offers and locate retailers with the most lucrative return percentages.
Is Upromise Right for You?
Although Upromise is a simple way to accumulate funds to contribute to your child's educational endeavors, you should also research other college savings plans since the gains may not be enough to take care of these expenses. In addition, bear in mind that 529 plans can sustain major losses, depending on the stock market's performance.