Upromise Mastercard: Not the Highest Rewards Rate, but Great for College Savings

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Upromise® Mastercard®

Upromise® Mastercard®

Editor’s Score: (3.7/5)
Learn more externa link icon at our partner’s secure site.
Rewards rate:

Earn 1.25% bonus cash back rewards on your purchases if your Upromise Program account is not linked to a College Savings Plan. Earn 1.529% Cash Back Rewards on your purchases when your Upromise Program account is linked to an eligible College Savings Plan.

  • Intro bonus: $100
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Regular APR: 14.99%, 19.99% or 24.99% variable based on your creditworthiness.
  • Recommended credit score: 740-850 (Excellent)

The Upromise Mastercard*, issued by Barclays, isn’t your standard flat cash back card — it can also help families boost their college savings plan. For no annual fee, you’ll rack up rewards on every purchase, which you can move directly into an eligible 529 savings account.

At a Glance

  • Earn $100 in cash back rewards when you spend $500 within 90 days of account opening
  • Earn 1.529% back if your account is connected to an eligible college savings plan
  • If your card account is not connected to an eligible plan, earn 1.25% cash back 
  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers made within the first 45 days of account opening for the first 15 billing cycles
  • 14.99%, 19.99%, or 24.99% variable APR, based on creditworthiness
  • No annual fee

Pros

  • Flat cash back rewards

  • Introductory 0% APR offer for balance transfers

  • No annual fee

  • No foreign transaction fees

Cons

  • High APR

  • Intro APR only applies to balance transfers (not to new purchases)

  • Limited cardholder benefits

  • Smaller welcome bonus than many other cash back cards

Additional Card Details

The Upromise Mastercard is a pretty basic cash back credit card designed to help increase college savings, and it doesn’t come with many added perks. The main reason to get this card is the 1.529% rewards rate you’ll earn when you link your card to an eligible savings plan, many of which are 529 college savings accounts.

Upromise offers a list of qualifying eligible accounts on its website. You can connect any of these to your card account to become eligible for the increased 1.529% cash back rate. Otherwise, you’ll earn a middling 1.25% flat cash back on every purchase.  

The Upromise Mastercard also comes with a “round up” feature, which you can use to round your purchases up to the nearest dollar. For example, if you make a purchase totaling $5.45, $0.55 will be posted to your account, converted into rewards, and transferred to the college savings plan connected to your account. Plus, you’ll earn cash back on the round up amount. You can set a maximum to the amount charged via round up per billing cycle, from $1 to $500.

Finally, new cardholders are eligible for 0% intro APR on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening for the first 15 billing cycles, followed by a variable APR of 14.99%, 19.99%, or 24.99%. This benefit can be useful if you have high-interest debt on other cards you want to consolidate at a lower rate, but you can find longer introductory rates on the market.

Should You Get this Card?

Whether or not you should get this card depends on how you want to use your cash back rewards. The Upromise Mastercard can make a great choice for parents looking to boost their children’s college savings. The bonus rewards for redeeming cash back directly into a college savings account can add incentive if you’re looking for a way to start contributing to a 529 plan regularly — where the cash can grow until your kids are old enough to go to college. 

Pro Tip

The Upromise Mastercard offers a 0% intro APR on balance transfers made within the first 45 days of account opening for the first 15 billing cycles, then 14.99%, 19.99% or 24.99% variable APR. But we suggest looking elsewhere if you’re seeking a balance transfer card. Many alternative cards are better suited for debt payoff with a longer introductory offer for no annual fee.

However, you’ll also give up the redemption flexibility that more general cash back cards offer. And if you don’t connect an eligible college account, this card’s 1.25% cash back benefit is minimal — other cash back cards offer much higher rewards rates.

For example, you’ll get up to 2% back on every purchase with the Citi® Double Cash Card* (1% when you buy, 1% when you pay), and 1.8% back with the Citizens Bank Cash Back Plus™ World Mastercard®*. They may even fit into your college savings plan, too. If you have the discipline to redeem rewards for cash back and move the money to your 529 plan yourself, these other card options could leave you ahead.

If you’re looking for credit card rewards that can still support your investment strategy more directly, the Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card is another option. You’ll get a flat 2% back on each purchase when you redeem your rewards into an eligible Fidelity account, including 529 college savings plans.

But if you don’t invest with Fidelity, and you’re looking for a card that can help you make direct contributions to your child’s college savings plan regularly, Upromise Mastercard’s 1.529% cash back is worth considering.

How to Use Upromise Mastercard

When you sign up for the Upromise Mastercard, the first thing you’ll want to do is connect your account to an eligible 529 savings plan to start earning the maximum 1.529% cash back. If you don’t have a college savings account already, you should take the steps to open one — and make sure you choose an account Upromise specifies as eligible.

Once your account is connected to a 529 plan, begin working toward the $100 cash welcome bonus by spending $500 on your card within 90 days of account opening. Then, you can use the card for any everyday purchases to start collecting rewards toward your college account.

If you want to boost your rewards even more, consider enrolling in the Upromise “round up” feature by choosing your maximum round up limit (up to $500) through your online card account. This feature can add significant contributions toward your college savings plan over time. Just make sure to monitor your statement throughout the month to ensure you’re not spending more than you intended or can afford to pay down when your balance is due. Any bonus cash back you earn can quickly be wiped out by this card’s high ongoing APR.

Upromise Mastercard Compared to Other Cards

Upromise® Mastercard®

Upromise® Mastercard®

Editor’s Score: (3.7/5)
  • Intro bonus:
    $100
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    14.99%, 19.99% or 24.99% variable based on your creditworthiness.
  • Recommended credit:
    740-850 (Excellent)
  • Learn more externa link icon at our partner’s secure site.
Citi® Double Cash Card

Citi® Double Cash Card

Editor’s Score: (4.4/5)
  • Intro bonus:
    N/A
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    13.99% – 23.99% (Variable)
  • Recommended credit:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
  • Learn more externa link icon at our partner’s secure site.
Citizens Bank Cash Back Plus™ World Mastercard®

Citizens Bank Cash Back Plus™ World Mastercard®

Editor’s Score: (3.8/5)
  • Intro bonus:
    N/A
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    15.99%, 19.99%, or 23.99% (Variable)
  • Recommended credit:
    740-850 (Excellent)
  • Learn more externa link icon at our partner’s secure site.

Bottom Line

The Upromise Mastercard is a solid option for anyone looking to start regular contributions toward a college savings plan. Just remember to compare the rewards you may get with other no annual fee cash back credit cards that offer more flexibility or higher cash back rates. 

*All information about the Upromise® Mastercard®, Citi® Double Cash Card and Citizens Bank Cash Back Plus™ World Mastercard® has been collected independently by NextAdvisor and has not been reviewed by the issuer.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Upromise?

Upromise is a company (partnered with Sallie Mae, the student loan provider) that helps members save money for college through services like a shopping portal, a dining program, and more, in addition to credit card rewards.

Does the Upromise Mastercard charge foreign transaction fees?

The Upromise Mastercard does not charge foreign transaction fees.

Which bank issues the Upromise Mastercard?

The Upromise Mastercard is issued by Barclays.