Using Upromise to Pay for College

Female graduate hugging her family after graduation

Whether you are looking for a way to save for your child’s college, deal with your own student loan debt, or earn rewards for yourself, Upromise might be a way to give your efforts a boost. Upromise is a subsidiary of the student loan giant Sallie Mae, which offers members a unique way to save for tuition and pay off student loans using rewards for everything they buy, and it is free to sign up.

How does it work?

First, let’s start with the basics on how the program works. Members enroll on the website to get started. After that, there are a variety of ways to both earn cash rewards for college and put this money to use. For all of these methods, the savings will be deposited into your Upromise account.

The first way to earn cash with Upromise is through their online shopping portal. has partnerships to offer savings with hundreds of different retailers including Amazon, Macy’s, Proflowers and more. If you wish to shop online at any of these stores, you simply need to log in to Upromise’s shopping portal, then click through to your desired retailer’s homepage so they can track your purchases and give the appropriate cash back up to 5% or more of your total purchase.

The portal has a travel section as well, which works the same way as described above through, Travelocity, and Expedia. You can also earn cash back on airfare, car rentals, vacation packages, and more.

Another way to earn cash is through dining at restaurants or shopping at certain local stores. For instance, you can register a debit or credit card with Upromise, and then eat at any of the participating restaurants. Just pay with a credit or debit card that is registered to your Upromise account to earn up to 2.5% cash back at these establishments.

Finally, you can earn money with grocery coupons. You register your grocery or drugstore loyalty card with Upromise, download coupons from, then scan your grocery card at checkout like normal.

If you really want to maximize your rewards, consider applying for the Upromise World MasterCard as well. The card pays a base 1% rewards rate on all eligible purchases, 5% at Upromise participating restaurants, and 2% at select movie theatres and department stores. Plus you get an additional 5% when shopping at Upromise’s online shopping portal, which is taken on top of the online portal’s minimum 5% so you could save 10% or more on your online purchases. 

Great, I  earned all these rewards, so now what do I do with them?

There are several ways to redeem Upromise earnings. The first is with a high-yield account from Sallie Mae. Your Upromise account savings will automatically transfer into this account every month if you link the two accounts, and on top of that, Upromise pledges to contribute a 10% annual match on your Upromise earnings to this account. If you save $100 on Upromise in one year, Upromise will deposit $10 into your high-yield savings at the end of the year if you choose this option. To be eligible for this 10% annual match, you must either set up an automatic savings plan of at least 10 deposits during the year, or fund your high yield savings account with at least $5,000.  Either option has to be completed within 90 days of opening the high yield account.

Upromise can help with your student loans, as well. Linking a Sallie Mae or Navient student loan to your Upromise account will again automatically transfer Upromise savings of over $10 to these loans to help pay down the balance.

Earnings can also be used to add to a 529 College Savings Plan. Members can link their Upromise account to an existing 529 plan to have earnings transferred automatically. If your 529 plan isn't eligible for linking, you can request a check to deposit the money on your own. You can request to have a check mailed to you for earnings of $10 or more. There are no restrictions on how you use this cash.

This cannot be the only way you financially prepare for college, but as a small part of a multidimensional plan, Upromise gives good rewards for your time and effort.

Carl Left x800








- Carl Holubowich, CFP®