While the Upromise Mastercard offers cash back for college with no annual fee, there are plenty of other rewards cards with no fee that offer a sign-up bonus and a higher earning rate. Still, the fact that you can connect your Upromise account to your 529 College Savings Plan may help encourage you to save your rewards for college.
Earn rewards with no annual fee
Introductory 0% balance transfer offer
Limited redemption options
- Earn rewards with no annual fee: This card gives you 1.25% back on everything you buy, and there’s no annual fee.
- Introductory 0% balance transfer offer: You’ll pay no interest on balance transfers for 15 billing cycles when you pay a 3% balance transfer fee. (You must make the transfer within the first 45 days of opening the account.) That’s a competitive deal compared to other credit cards that offer balance transfer deals.
- Meager rewards: Considering many cash-back credit cards offer 1.5% back or more with no annual fee, this card’s rewards scheme is less than generous.
- Limited redemption options: Rewards earned with this card can only be transferred directly to a Upromise account and from there transferred to a linked 529 College Savings Plan or transferred to a bank account.
Bonus for New Cardholders
Spend $500 within 90 days of opening this card and you'll earn a $100 cash-back bonus. Most comparable cards offer $150-$200 back for a similar spending requirement, so this is a mediocre offer but still better than no extra cash at all.
Earning Points & Rewards
The Upromise Mastercard offers a unique earning structure that rewards you for saving your cash back for college. You’ll start off by earning 1.25% back on everything you buy, but you’ll also get a one-time 15% rewards bonus if you connect your Upromise account to an eligible 529 College Savings Account.
You also have the option to participate in the Upromise Round Up program, which “rounds up” your purchases to the nearest dollar. If you choose to round up your purchases to the nearest dollar and you buy dinner for $20.10, for example, an additional 90 cents will be charged to your credit card for a total of $21 in charges. That money is then moved into your Upromise account.
Because the Upromise Mastercard is aimed at consumers who want to convert their cash back to college savings, there aren’t a lot of options. You can ask for an automatic transfer to a bank account, or you can link your credit card account to a 529 College Savings Plan online and transfer your money to it.
There may be restrictions on when and how much cash back you can transfer to your account.
How to Get the Most Out of This Card
When you sign up for this card you will link it to an account at Upromise, a service that helps families save for college. All of the rewards you earn with this credit card—and other rewards available through Upromise’s separate loyalty program—are held in your Upromise account until you transfer them to a linked checking or savings account or to a linked 529 College Savings Plan.
To get the most bang for your buck—and to make sure your rewards actually make it into college savings—you should connect your eligible 529 account to Upromise. Not only will this get you another 15% in rewards, but you’ll also make sure you don’t forget to transfer the money to college savings.
The Upromise account connected to this card has a couple of rewards programs: 5% cash back on purchases at select online retailers and 2.5% at select restaurants. You can “stack” or combine your rewards earnings if you use this card for those purchases.
The Upromise Round Up feature can also help you get a little more out of this card, as it offers a bit of a boost to the money you put aside—$1.25 per $100 in round ups. It takes relatively little discipline to set this up, so you then put a tad more toward your college savings whenever you spend with the card. Whatever amount you manage to save with round ups (plus cash back), could help you reach your college funding goals faster. Round Ups are capped at $500 per month (or $6.25 in cash back).
Despite this card’s convenient college savings tools, you might be better off with a cash-back card that earns 1.5% or 2.0% cash back. The only catch is that you’ll then need to be disciplined about making contributions to your college savings account.
Upromise Mastercard’s Other Features
The Upromise Mastercard comes with a ShopRunner membership that includes free two-day shipping when you shop at select online stores.
The 2020 J.D. U.S. Power Credit Card Satisfaction Study ranked Barclays—the bank that issues this card—ninth out of 11 national card issuers. Barclays earned a below average score, 786 out of 1,000 points.
We like that there is an app you can use to manage your Upromise credit card account, but unfortunately, Barclays didn’t fare too well in J.D. Power’s 2020 U.S. Credit Card Mobile App Satisfaction Study. It ranked seventh out of 11 and scored below average.
On a positive note, this credit card does give you free access to your FICO score along with email alerts that let you know when your score moves up or down.
Barclays offers standard security features for its credit cards, including secure log-ins, text fraud alerts, and $0 fraud liability.
Upromise Mastercard Fees
Fees for the Upromise Mastercard are pretty standard, although you can really benefit from the 0% APR offer for balance transfers. Because the card has no foreign transaction fees, you also might consider taking it with you if you travel abroad.