Upromise… Not To Forget Me? (Again?)

Boy… it’s been 3 and 1/2 years since I last thought about these guys… And 5 years since I first signed UP to Upromise! Yikes. Want to know my grand total earned with them so far? Are you sure you’ll be able to handle the awesomeness? Haha… A whopping $12.71!  Woohoo! I’m gonna get a nice edumacation for my son! ;)

Though to be fair, I really don’t pay attention to the whole thing much either. Which is pretty important if you want to be successful in something, eh? Even when I was half-assing it all those years ago I was at LEAST making $7 bucks! ;) I haven’t even doubled that in the past 3+years, haha… And from logging into my account for the first time since then, I def. know why: All my cards have expired! D’oh.

For those who don’t know what the heck “Upromise” is, here’s a short run down off their website:

“Upromise creates a college savings service that harnesses the purchasing power of parents, extended family, family, and students to make it easier to pay for college. Members direct their spending to Upromise partners—including more than 800 online stores, 10,000+ restaurants, grocery and drugstore items—and earn money for college.”

In other words, you get “free” money every time you shop at any participating Upromise partner or you buy one of their associated products which you’ve probably seen at your local grocery store (it’s all linked through your credit cards and coupon cards, and you get a % of each item purchased. Like 8% at restaurants and 5% when online shopping, etc…). Then you can xfer all your earnings into your 529 account or other avenues Sallie Mae allows you to as they’re the ones who run the program (UPDATE: Just found out they also send you checks too! So you can use as you wish, which is kinda cool for all non-collegey people ;)). In theory, you could link all of your family’s/friends’ cards as well to your account so whenever THEY shop around town too, you’ll get even more pennies!  All funneling into the one main account you’ve set up with Upromise.

A cool business idea for sure. Get everyone to save for college by promoting your site to all their friends and family! ;) If only we had a similar deal here at Budgets Are Sexy, haha…

“Tell all your friends about this blog and I’ll give you a penny for each one that signs up to my newsletter! It’ll help pay down your debt!”

Haha… that would be awesome, actually :) For me.

On a serious note though, I do give Upromise credit for going out and trying to do some GOOD in this world of ours. And I’m sure there ARE people who are just rocking the hell out of that program and really banking some serious money. Maybe even one of you guys reading this right now? Can anyone beat my Earth shattering $12.71? :) And now that I have a need myself for saving up for college later, perhaps I’ll start getting more involved in working the system as well. I can get down with some free money for hardly doing anything! Every $12 could buy 1/4th a textbook! :)

(Btw, they also have a World MasterCard which gives you a TON more extra towards each qualified purchase and 1% on EVERYTHING in general. But I haven’t looked into it enough to see if it would beat other cash-back type reward cards out there… The cool thing about it though is that it would FORCE you to save all that money towards college! Which some people might need…)

Regardless, I’m gonna go spend and extra 5 minutes here and re-link all my “new” cards to my account and see if we can’t get any more money flowing in here for Baby $’s college expenses… Even if it only nets me another $12 bucks, that’s like getting paid $144 an hour! ;) A better return than 5 minutes on Facebook, that’s for sure.

PS: I’ve been a naughty little daddy and STILL haven’t decided on a college savings account for the baby :( I swear it’s on my list though, I just know it’ll take a lot more time to research and chat with USAA on what’s best. Even us personal finance bloggers procrastinate on important stuff! ;)

(Photo credit: NazarethCollege)

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  1. Lance @ Money Life and More October 8, 2012 at 7:09 AM

    Just start saving in a regular savings account until you decide what you want to do with the money for sure. At least that way the money is already being saved :)

  2. William @ Drop Dead Money October 8, 2012 at 8:12 AM

    There’s another service that does this, and IMHO in a better way: Ebates. Ebates sends you a rebate check if you use their site to go online shopping at any website you choose (no “partners” restriction). Most sites give them (and you) a kickback for purchases so made.

    Here’s what’s nicer about Ebates: they physically send you a check, which you can then deposit into your son’s education savings account. Here’s why that’s nicer: if they go belly-up the money is safely on your son’s savings account. Not on their books somewhere.

    I’ve gotten a few checks from them, so I know it’s legit. (And I’m getting nothing, directly or indirectly) to endorse them.) As always, YMMV (your mileage may vary).

  3. One Frugal Girl October 8, 2012 at 9:04 AM

    I added my credit cards to UPromise years ago. I’m not too certain how long ago, but I’ve earned $128 since I started. It’s certainly not a lot of money and you will earn better returns on other cash back sites, but I like that you enter your credit card and don’t have to do much after that. We earn a few cents when we fill up our gas tanks or go out to eat and I guess over time that adds up.

  4. Trinnie October 8, 2012 at 9:32 AM

    Don’t feel bad…other than the First Start savings acct that USAA has, the boys still don’t have a college savings plan. I really need to do my research and figure it out. The First Start has a decent interest rate for a standard savings account AND (yes, i’m dorky enough to love this)…the monthly bank statements have their names on ’em. dumb, i know. :) At least it’s something for now.

    (I have to divulge that I’m a USAA employee, since I’m talking about their products)

  5. Chris October 8, 2012 at 10:13 AM

    Over the years I have earned around $750. You can request a check for your money just like ebates or you can transfer it to a 529. I do a lot of online shopping so I use their toolbar to remind me which companies offer cash back. Big money earners are magazines and printer ink.

  6. Debby from Upromise October 8, 2012 at 11:04 AM

    In total Upromise members have earned over $700 million since our program started 10 years ago. I’d welcome the opportunity to walk you through the many ways to successfully save with us on the purchase you’re making regularly anyway. Some of our members have saved thousands and some very little. It depends how much they leverage Upromise. The best ways to save are starting your shopping at Upromise.com and getting 5% or more back on most of your purchases. With the Upromise credit card, that is doubled to 10% or more on most purchases. You can save on dining out, travel and even buying or selling a house.

  7. Financial Black Sheep October 8, 2012 at 11:11 AM

    I have never heard of Upromise before. At least you can use your cards at brick and mortar stores as well as online. Most rebate programs I have seen, only credit you for online purchases. Hmmm, I will have to check into this more. Would you recommend trying it out at least? Or is there a different route you might try instead?

  8. Robyn October 8, 2012 at 11:17 AM

    I really like Ebates as well. I’ve made $900 since mid-2010. Not too shabby considering that I just had to click two extra times to earn it.

  9. CKaty October 8, 2012 at 11:29 AM

    44 dollars and 75 cents. Hey, It will buy at least part of a textbook. And, it was for doing absolutely nothing other than I would have otherwise, so not bad. I have not linked my cards.

  10. Wayne October 8, 2012 at 11:36 AM

    Been happy with the service. It is free money. Have accumulated close to $1300. Started right around when my 1st child was born (11 yrs ago) Earned majority of this from online shopping. Hard to get out of house initially with baby so online shopping was the route and with free shipping. Have it set up to go to 529 plan that I have with them. Been happy with the plan. Performed well. It was updated recently but still ETF oriented with low fees.

    Another site I use that sometimes offers better returns is bondrewards.com. Earn $ for US Savings bonds. Accumulated over $200.

  11. Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager October 8, 2012 at 12:47 PM

    Planning on doubling that total this year?

  12. A Family of Geeks October 8, 2012 at 1:46 PM

    We’ve accumulated over $1,000 since hubby got the card. We just make it a point to use the card where we get the most back. We just have to figure out which 529 to link it to.

  13. becca October 8, 2012 at 1:47 PM

    I’m at $50.28 through Upromise; I signed up sometime last year, and ~$30 was already swept into the 529 plan (that made my “stock market” gains look awesome until I figured out what happened. HA). There were some big Christmas gifts last year, and now that they’ve added travelocity it’s really worth going through them for those hotel bookings. That’s the biggest $ builder given what I buy.
    I also do Ebates, but it’s harder to remember to use them. I’ve got the browser plug in for Upromise, so there’s always a little tally. Sometimes a given retailer will have better deals through one or the other, so you can spend lots of time trying to optimize.
    I have been annoyed with the grocery coupons for upromise. They are a great idea, but I don’t coupon much to start with and keeping track of expiration dates and so on is surprisingly hard for my brain.

  14. happyreader October 8, 2012 at 2:20 PM

    I love Upromise. You do have to use it, but I have “made” $1,100 in 9 years.. every little bit counts..

  15. Jamie October 8, 2012 at 3:13 PM

    1. You can also get a check directly from U Promise, much like ebates, you just have to ask. You can take the money and deposit it into whatever account you choose or use it for current expenses (what we did- it paid for the collection fee for our second child’s cord blood storage). You can also use the $$$ to pay off your OWN student loans (which we also did to a smaller degree).

    2. This is the only ONLY site I know of where you can get a rebate on commissions if you buy or sell a home. We got our realtor through U Promise and when we bought our home, we got a nice kick back of $900+. She was a pretty great Realtor as well. And this is especially nice since we paid absolutely nada since we were the buyers in the transaction.

    3. My husband’s credit cards are linked to our U Promise account and we’ve managed to accumulate about $30 in the past 18 months on his gas purchases alone. Not too bad since we do not alter our behavior at all to “earn” this money. Not too sure who else offers a rebate on gas purchases!

  16. Ellie October 8, 2012 at 3:54 PM

    I only added my loyalty cards and over 4 years, I made $16.75. I cashed it out and closed my account. I don’t shop enough to earn on that site. I had originally signed to put it towards my student loan, but I paid the loan off before I got to $50 required to transfer.

  17. debtgirl October 8, 2012 at 5:08 PM

    I have been with Upromise since it’s inception, I should go check out my balance. ;-)

  18. Emily @ evolvingPF October 8, 2012 at 5:17 PM

    I signed up five years ago and linked up all my credit cards and grocery rewards cards and such – for my student loans. I think I’ve accumulated between $10 and $20 as well. We simply don’t buy the things they want to give rewards for, and I’d rather use my cashback credit cards than their credit card.

  19. alex October 8, 2012 at 5:27 PM

    Utah Educational Savings Plan is the way to get when it comes to 529 Plans. Easy to set up, great investment options (Vanguard), and super low fees!

    You won’t regret it!

  20. Ginger October 8, 2012 at 8:44 PM

    You can also connect upromise to sallie Mae savings and get a 10% bonus for anything deposited in the savings account, which is any amount over $10. Set the upromise toolbar up and start clicking the ecoupons every months. That should help.

  21. J. Money October 8, 2012 at 11:30 PM

    Pretty cool to see so many of you Upromisers up in here! A lot more than when I first posted about it :) (though I think I had like 1/10th of the readers back then, haha…). And some of y’all are KILLING it! Congrats!!! You’re much smoother than I.

    @Lance @ Money Life and More – Yeah, that’s where it all is right now. I just hate having decisions unmade out there, ya know? Hoping one of these mornings I’ll just wake up and have an “ah-hah!” moment ;) It’s happened before!
    @William @ Drop Dead Money – Oh man, ebates has a CULT following like no other! There’s a lot of y’all using them, which I think is great :) Just not for me really – I’m too lazy to go through their sites to search and buy, haha… And I don’t like checks being sent to me cuz then I’m tempted to not put it where it’s supposed to go ;) Love that you get so much out of it though, keep crushing it!
    @One Frugal Girl – Nice! You’ve killed my total so far :)
    @Trinnie – Haha… I love seeing my boy’s name all over the place too :) Just waiting for him to get his first spam in the mail! Haha…
    @Chris – Oh cool, I didn’t know that. So I guess ANYONE can use them then even if college is totally out of the question – that’s pretty sweet!
    @Debby from Upromise – Hey, thanks for stopping by :) Always awesome to see companies paying attention to what people are saying about them! Y’all are on top of your game!
    @Financial Black Sheep – I’d at least try it out and see how it goes – maybe you happen to use a lot more of the places which offer higher % back, ya know? I’m sure you’ll find out within the first few months if it’s worth paying attention too or not… If you hit it big though, just promise to let us know ;)
    @Robyn – That’s pretty dope! Way wo work it!
    @CKaty – Man, that’s pretty good for not even linking your cards! Haha… you’re creaming me! :)
    @Wayne – Woah, way to go! I didn’t even know Upromise was AROUND back then, that’s pretty cool… Will have to check out Bond Rewards too – haven’t heard of that one before, thanks.
    @Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager – Is that a challenge? :)
    @A Family of Geeks – Oh nice! You’re the first person to mention they have the card – I’m glad it’s working well so far :)
    @becca – Oooooh Expedia?? I use them allll the time – they’re my favorite! That will be a GREAT way to pump up my account, thanks for the heads up!
    @happyreader – Heck yeah it does, congrats! That’s some serious pocket change :)
    @Jamie – WOWWWW it looks like they’re EVERYWHERE! Haha… Realtors??? They are getting creative! And good for you on taking them up on it too – that’s awesome :)
    @Ellie – Hah! Well congrats to you on having no loans now :)
    @debtgirl – Yes! You should! If they’ve been around for 11+ years from the looks of some of these comments, you could be sitting on a jackpot! :)
    @Emily @ evolvingPF – Yeah, that’s the kicker for most people I feel like. Not worth changing your habits for a little extra $, and if your credit card gives you much more back in rewards than not worth switching over to them either. At least you gave them a shot though! You could have gotten lucky and already use all their good % products :)
    @alex – Yeah? Okay – I’ll add it on my list :) I plan on calling USAA here shortly (for real this time) and showering them with questions… I’ll make the Utah one be one of them, thx.
    @Ginger – Well that’s pretty cool. I usually don’t like extra toolbars and all that stuff (always seems to slow down my computer), but I might try it for a few days and see if it does anything for me… If I hit it big I’ll let you know ;)

  22. Mike Wood October 9, 2012 at 12:25 AM

    Just checked and I’m at $125.79 . . . been a member for years and like you haven’t paid that close attention to it, but occasionally remember when I go to buy something. I’ll have to pay closer attention. They have stores like iTunes on there now.

  23. Wendy October 9, 2012 at 12:45 PM

    $1133.25 since 2005. I also use shop@home so when I’m going to buy something online I check both sites to see who is giving the better percentage back. I have the Upromise credit card (but haven’t really checked to see if it is the best deal so I’ll be interested to read what you find out) and linked to Sallie Mae savings account–love the bonus with the Sallie Mae account. I’ve never gone out of my way to get UPromise rewards. Check out the options for insurance quotes–you can sometimes get $5 every 6 months for getting an online quote, no follow up/talking to salesmen required.

  24. J. Money October 10, 2012 at 10:25 AM

    @Mike Wood – Man, you’re still doing a TON better than me for not even trying, haha… keep doing your thang!

    @Wendy – Jeeeeeez that is awesome!!! Some of you are SO GOOD at this game, I’m impressed! And re-energized to actually try a little bit too – so thanks :) And congrats!

  25. Alexis October 10, 2012 at 10:55 AM

    I have a Upromise credit card, and it has made a serious difference in my kids’ 529s. Over the past 9 years or so, I have made more than $2000 from them, between using my registered cards for grocery shopping and gas, and shopping online. This last quarter my kids each got $116.48 transferred into their accounts! That’s an additional 13% of what we were able to contribute out of our pockets. So, go for it!

  26. J. Money October 10, 2012 at 10:57 AM

    So cool!!! I hope the next time I write about this I’m up in that kind of status level too! Way to go!!

  27. Nikki January 2, 2013 at 3:44 PM

    I’ve had Upromise for years but didn’t really focus on it until the last couple years. Since I started focusing on it and got the credit card, I’m up to $1750 towards my loans.

    With the credit card, you get 1% on everything. So I paid for as much of our wedding expenses as possible with the credit card. I’ve also used it quite a bit for work expenses that I’ll be reimbursed for – plane tickets, hotels, etc. Between the 1% and whatever I get from the travel sites, it’s totally free money. It also often gets you an additional 5% for Upromise online shopping.

    I don’t use it much for restaurant rewards. There just aren’t many places in my area that are in the program. The ones that are aren’t places that I often go to. However, I have managed to use it twice for business dinners (20-30 people) that I was reimbursed for. The last one made me something like $60 in the end.

    As for people who say that they don’t buy much that qualifies, I think they would be surprised check. Just search for whatever you’re thinking about buying – cast iron pan for brother in law for Christmas? Found it at Chefs.com through Upromise, scored free shipping and got $6 back. Flea medication and glucosamine for the dog? PetFoodDirect.com often has free shipping offers and is at 5% + 5% (1-800-Pet-Meds is 7% + 5% but is often more expensive for what we buy). Look at stores that have an option to buy online and pick up in store. We just bought a new computer (mine was circa 2004 and had 45GB of memory – that’s no typo) at Best Buy and picked up in store. 5% cash back plus 5% more for using the card.

    True, I get very little from groceries – I don’t buy enough packaged food to benefit – and I think people have to be careful not to get into a mindset where getting money back for school gives them permission to buy things they shouldn’t. I also still use other credit cards where I can save more through their benefits but I think Upromise is great once you get engaged with it.

    Bottom line: it’s a little extra work for some solid free money.

  28. J. Money January 4, 2013 at 11:35 AM

    Woah, look at you go! That’s awesome, haha… you are workin’ it! :) Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing with us today, let’s see if you can hit $3,000 in the new year ;)

    1. Nikki January 14, 2015 at 6:03 PM

      Was just looking at my total Upromise earnings and thought of you. As of today’s date: $3,322.22 with $52.51 pending. :) I used the Upromise CC for a LOT of work expenses this year so that made part of the difference. It will probably drop off some this year because we’re now using the Citi 1%+1% card for a lot of our day to day but I’ll still use the Upromise for anything I can buy online and get a higher percentage back. Also, I don’t remember if it was mentioned earlier but your earnings do not necessarily have to go to education or student loans. We have another loan (I married into it!) at a higher interest rate than the student loans so I always withdraw credit card rewards to use for extra payments. Finally, while I’m at it, I just wanted to say thanks. I’ve learned a lot from you and it helps me stay engaged and keep my head in the game. Happy 2015!

      1. J. Money January 31, 2015 at 8:40 PM

        Hey friend!!! Two years later and here you are again – I love it :) Killer update too – way to go on that.

        So glad you’re still reading the site and enjoying it! You made my night!

  29. Timberowl June 1, 2015 at 8:28 AM

    I’ve made about $1300 in the last two years on UPromise. Using the UPromise credit card for EVERYTHING, and every time I shop online (mainly wmart.com and Groupon) I go through the UPromise site. super easy.

    1. J. Money June 1, 2015 at 10:46 AM

      I think that’s the key right there – using it for EVERYTHING. I get cash back on our credit cards we use for everything, but not $1300 worth! :) Maybe we don’t spend enough – hah.

  30. College Saver October 10, 2015 at 8:40 PM

    For anyone that is skeptical about this program, I would like to suggest that, with considerable effort, you can make it a huge success. I have been a member since February 2003 (that’s 12 years) and have saved almost $8000. That money has compounded in the 529 savings account that it dumps into and now totals over $15,000. That’s pretty good for just swiping your credit card. My keys to success are using the Upromise CC, registering all friends and family (and getting them to also use the Upromise CC), and frequenting restaurants that kickpack through the program.

    1. J. Money October 12, 2015 at 2:27 PM

      Yeah it is! Congrats – that’s the most I’ve ever seen from one of these cards :)