Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Upromise will pay off your student loan! .... Someday!

You have probably heard of uPromise, the program where you register your grocery frequent shopper cards and get 1-3% back on the price of certain items. This is supposed to add up and help you pay for college by depositing the money into a 529 - all the ads have cute (and YOUNG) kids in them. Well, I don't know about my kids, but I already paid for it for myself! uPromise also has a feature where you can send that money to your student loans.

Unfortunately, you have to accrue $50 in rewards before they will transfer it the first time, and then $25 after that, and they only pay once a quarter. You know how much I've earned total in uPromise rewards, despite having my parents and two friends' cards on my account? About $73, and I signed up four years ago. (I did withdraw about $49 by check two years ago, which you can do by sending them a written request.) So I only have $27 available and $3 pending. It might be a while before they actually send any money to my student loan. I appreciate that they realized that not everybody has wee ones to save for.

I think uPromise is a nice idea but it might take a while to get going - somehow it seems like they expected a lot more merchants to sign up! It IS kind of an incentive for me to purchase one brand over another if they are the same price, and that advantage would presumably be lost if both brands had enrolled. (Many grocery stores have uPromise stickers on the shelves next to items that qualify.)

-- The stickers look like this.

Yay for companies trying to do a good thing! I do hope they get more merchants on - they have an ancillary eBates-like system where you can buy things and get a percentage back into your account, but often it isn't competitive with eBates itself, or they don't have the right kind of merchant.
Anyway, if you're interested, here's a signup link. It seems like somebody who bought a lot more groceries than me would probably get more benefit out of it, but every little bit helps! I do like the idea of getting an extra ten or twenty cents out of my grocery bill, especially since there's no work for me.


mapgirl said...

One of my girlfriends uses a UPromise rewards card and with it, they're paying off a chunk of her husband's grad school tuition. I think if you plan it out right, it might actually be useful, though I see your points about student loans that have already been incurred and the availability of participating merchants.

The question is, now that they've been bought by either Freddie Mac or Sallie Mae, do you think that will improve? (I am pretty sure it's Sallie Mae, but I've forgotten.)

Kira said...

Here's what the website says:

Upromise Student Loans and loans from the following loan servicers are eligible:

Iowa Student Loan
ISM Education Loans
Student Assistance Foundation
Xpress Loan ServicingSM

I hadn't heard about them getting bought, but I'd be appreciative if I could pay my Sallie Mae loans with it. =P At this point it looks like just taking the money out would be easier.

Anonymous said...

I just got my first transfer balance from Upromise ($62.70-ish) and it "only" took me 20 months...but I use their links to shop online a lot and that's where I got a lot of my bonuses. But since I have an AES loan i'm not sure if they'll keep that option open to me in the future (they HAVE been bought by Sallie Mae)

Anonymous said...

I'm real new ot the 529 plans. I opened one for my grandson with Fidelity. Can I use Upromise to have money sent to the Fidelity plan? Or do I have to open a 529 with Vanguard?


Kira said...

The accounts you can use are these:

The Vanguard 529 College Savings Plan
The Columbia 529 Plan
CollegeSense 529 Higher Education Savings Plan
New York's 529 College Savings Program Direct Plan
New York's 529 College Savings Program Advisor Plan
College Savings Iowa 529 Plan
USAA College Savings Plan
CollegeInvest Direct Portfolio College Savings Plan
The GIFT College Investing Plan
North Carolina's National College Savings Program
MOST - Missouri's 529 College Savings Plan
MOST - Missouri's 529 Advisor Plan
Pennsylvania TAP Guaranteed Savings Plan

Probably in the future they will expand the list, and in the meantime you can join and start racking up money, which can either be deposited once they actually add your provider, or you can just withdraw it as a check and send it in.

3 Things About Money said...

Wow, what a useful idea. I'm gonna investigate. Thanks so much.

Tiredbuthappy said...

I joined Upromise about a year and half ago. I have cashed out $189.60, I have another $5.54 in my account, and $28.38 is pending. I have had a couple friends sign up but not too many.

The only reason I was able to cash out so much in a short time was because I had the Upromise Citi card for a while, which gives 1% on every purchase and 10% on the Upromise-affiliated purchases at your grocery store. But when I found out about the Fidelity MBNA card which puts 2% on everything into a 529 at Fidelity, I decided it was a better deal, because I rarely buy the name-brand groceries that would give me a 10% kickback.

I occasionally shop thru the Upromise website (if doesn't reveal that Ebates or somebody has a better reward). When I have enough to bother with in my Upromise account, I request a check and deposit it into my son's Fidelity 529. The rewards from the Fidelity card get automatically put in the 529 account quarterly.

100Student said...
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