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Student Loans

Upromise Review: Earn Savings Towards College

Updated Apr 05, 2023   |   6 mins read

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Upromise was founded in 2000 after Congress passed legislation to enact 529 college savings plans. A 529 college savings account offers tax benefits for students and families who are saving for higher education costs.

The initial concept of Upromise was to introduce a loyalty and rewards program that could help users add to their 529 accounts and save more for their college educations. Upromise rewards can also be used to help pay down existing student loans.

Following the launch of the Upromise loyalty rewards program, the company introduced a co-branded cash back credit card, the Upromise Barclays Mastercard.

Consumer banking company Sallie Mae — one of the largest originators of private student loans — acquired Upromise in 2006 and still owns both the rewards program company and the credit card. Upromise is one of many college savings tools Sallie Mae owns and operates.

In this review:

Upromise Member Benefits and Features

Upromise members have access to the following features:

College Savings

Upromise is a free loyalty rewards program by which members earn cash back for eligible purchases made at participating retailers. You can add any credit or debit card, gift card, or dining card to your account and earn rewards on your purchases made at businesses that belong to the Upromise network.

The Upromise account can then be linked to an eligible 529 plan so that any cash back you earn is automatically deposited into your account.

If someone is just using the Upromise rewards program and not the Upromise Mastercard, they only earn cash back at certain eligible restaurants and retailers. Cardholders, meanwhile, earn cash back on every purchase made with the card, regardless of whether the purchase is made at a participating business.

Upromise Mastercard

The Upromise Mastercard is a co-branded card from the Upromise company and Barclays. You can participate in the Upromise Rewards program without signing up for the credit card, but it can help you earn cash back more quickly and on all purchases.

The credit card also offers an optional Round Up program by which purchases are rounded up to the next whole dollar depending on the cardholder’s specified threshold, with a range available from $0 to $500.

When you participate in the program, Round Up amounts are treated as purchases. For example, if you make a purchase that’s $10.90, then it’s rounded up to $11. The $11.00 is the posted charge. Round Up portions of your credit card balance aren’t subject to interest charges but still earn a cash back rate of 1.25%.

To participate in the Round Up program, users can log into their Barclays credit card account to set their desired threshold. Any cash back deposited to a Upromise account linked to an eligible 529 college savings plan — including Round Up amounts — earns an additional 15% cash back.


After Upromise members log in to their account, they can search more than 1,000 online shopping sites as well as see rotating offers and coupon codes. Upromise partners frequently feature bonus cash back, too. 

Bonus cash back rates can be as high as 10% when you shop online through the program, giving you a simple way to save more for college via your everyday purchases.


Upromise rewards members with 2.5% cash back at restaurants around the country. More than 10,000 restaurants nationwide participate in the Upromise program, which deposits cash back into the member’s linked Upromise account.

If you dine out and also use the Upromise Mastercard, you can earn 5% cash back for every dollar you spend so long as the restaurant qualifies as part of the Upromise network.

How Do You Apply for the Upromise Mastercard and Join the Program?

Joining the Upromise program is a simple process. Here’s how it works.

Join the Program

If you’re interested in joining the Upromise rewards program, go to and click the “Join Now” button. Once you join, you can gain more information about how to maximize your account and get the most cash back and savings. You can also access the Upromise community forums and frequently asked questions.

Apply for the Upromise Mastercard

Applying for the Upromise Mastercard is similar to applying for any other credit card. You can apply by visiting the Barclays website. While Barclays doesn’t provide a specific credit score required to apply, applicants should have a credit score of at least 660 to have the best chance of approval.

Barclays may also require applicants to show proof of income. Because of this, parents or family members might choose to apply in place of the student themselves.

Keep the following terms, conditions, and other pertinent information in mind before applying for the Upromise Mastercard:

  • The annual percentage rate (APR) varies and is either currently 17.24%27.24% depending on the prime rate and the applicant’s creditworthiness.
  • There is a 0% introductory interest rate for the first 15 billing cycles for each balance transfer that posts to a new account within 45 days of account opening.
  • The APR for cash advances is 27.49%.
  • There is no annual fee.

Is Upromise Worth It?

The Upromise card may be a good option for a student or parent who wants to automate their college savings with everyday cash back.

There are limits to the program, though. As an example, you can only earn the highest cash back rates on restaurants that participate in the Upromise program. You also have to shop through the Upromise portal for the highest level of retail rewards — going directly to a participating online retailer’s website won’t work.

You might also want to peruse Upromise’s community forum for user reviews.

Although the Upromise program and associated credit card can help account holders accelerate their college savings, don’t expect to pay your tuition and fees solely by maximizing the program. 

And if you use the Upromise credit card, the amount you’re paying in interest may negate any benefits you receive in terms of adding to a 529 account, so we would suggest using the card only for purchases you can afford to pay in full every month.

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