Normally, this is where you would go to read about my favorite apps. Today we are taking a different path, in that my biggest complain is that Upromise is not an app. It is a website, and one that could help you make college possible. You’ll probably want to send this blog to your parents.
How does Upromise work?
Here is what you need to know about Upromise, it is a rewards program that is similar to every other rewards program out there. You spend money someplace and in return you get a small percentage back. By participating, you are giving the parent company (in this case, Sallie Mae) the right to contact you and possibly sell your information to other marketers. I cannot stress enough how important it is to weigh whether the reward is worth the harassment you will receive. If you have been known to apply for credit cards, click on random links in emails, or generally have a hard time saying no to offers, I suggest you do not register for any rewards program.
Unlike other rewards programs, Upromise is focused on saving for college. While there are ways to get cash, the easiest and best way to earn rewards is to link it to a 529 College Savings Plan so that rewards are automatically deposited. Why? First, you don’t have to worry about requesting a check or dealing with a gift card. Second, once the money is moved from Upromise to the 529, it is invested like everything else. It’s like free money on top of free money… that you paid for. #ModernConundrum
How to earn money for college?
The other side of the equation is how you earn rewards. With Upromise, one way to earn rewards is to connect your credit cards to the account. When you use the cards at participating vendors your account will earn rewards. The second way is to connect loyalty cards for grocery stores and convenience stores. Here you load E-Coupons and when you purchase the specified product in the correct amount, you get an automatic reward. A third way is to shop online, but here you have to use the link from inside the platform to receive the reward. I found it difficult to remember to log into Upromise first, I usually just open the app on my device and buy.
Here is where I think this falls way short. No app on my phone to check rewards. No app to activate the coupons. No app to click a link to open my Amazon app to purchase. In the 21st century it is a lot to ask me to take so many extra steps.
One more warning, they will offer you the Sallie Mae Mastercard. I’m not an expert; I can’t tell you if it is a good idea. But you have been warned that they are coming for you if you sign up for Upromise.
So is it worth it?
Back to the earlier point, it depends on if you get roped into buying the other offers. It also depends on if you adapt your spending habits to fit the available rewards verses increasing your spending to earn rewards.
Here is an example:
You are about to start your freshman year of high school. Your family eats at a restaurant once a week and spends on average $60 each meal. Half of the time you visit a Upromise partner. That’s $1,560 you spend a year that qualifies for cash back. In year one, you will earn $106.30. Invest this into a 529 plan with a 6% annual gain over four years of high school and you could start college with $465. It’s not going to pay for all of college, but it could probably pay for a year or two of books.
In the past year, I earned about $100 in rewards. Not a lot, but my kids are young and with 10+ years of modest growth it could add about $1,500 to what we are already saving for college. If they had an app I could probably target products better, keep better track of rewards and earn more each year. I’m talking to you, Sallie Mae.
Check out their website, weigh the pros and cons, then decide if you want to sign up. Let’s all hope they read this blog and create an app to make it easier on all of us.
Go to the non-app: Website
Love this app? Have an app that is helpful or one you just love? Let me know in the comments – maybe I will feature it in a future Education App Fix.