Upromise Mastercard Review

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The Upromise Mastercard, issued by Barclays, may not be the most lucrative cash-back credit card available today, but it does come with the advantage of letting you transfer your rewards directly to a 529 college savings account. If you’re eager to start building up money for college and don’t want to pay an annual fee for a credit card, you may want to consider signing up.

Upromise® Mastercard®

Overall Rating
Upromise® Mastercard®
Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 14.99% - 24.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 1.25% cash back on all purchases.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
Ratings Breakdown
for Interest
for Fees
for Rewards
for Credit
Current Offer

Earn $200 bonus cash back rewards after spending $500 on purchases in the first 90 days.

Who Is This Credit Card Best For?

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    Savvy Saver

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

  • Meager rewards

  • Limited redemption options

Pros Explained

  • 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.

Cons Explained

  • 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 $200 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.

Redeeming Rewards

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.

Customer Experience

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. 

Security Features

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.

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Upromise® Mastercard®
overall rating
Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 14.99% - 24.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 1.25% cash back on all purchases.
Our Methodology
At The Balance, we are dedicated to giving you unbiased, comprehensive credit card reviews. To do this, we collect data on hundreds of cards and score more than 55 features that affect your finances.
  • Our Reviews Are Always Impartial: No one can influence which cards we review, the way we present them to you, or the ratings they receive. The scores and reviews come directly from the data we collect and our editorial expertise, and we focus on three areas:
  • How Much Does It Cost? With credit card debt at an all-time high, we believe you should know the cost of carrying a balance. Because of that, we give regular purchase APRs significant weight in overall scores, and cards receive low marks if they have an array of pricey fees.
  • What Are the Rewards Worth? Cards accumulate rewards in different currencies—points, miles, cash back—and their values vary widely. To simplify the problem, we built a system that fairly compares rewards and gives them a dollar value. We do this by looking at the ways you can earn and use rewards, which includes evaluating Americans’ typical spending habits and analyzing common travel patterns.
  • Does It Make Your Life Easier? Our scoring system favors cards that accept a wide range of credit profiles and offer simple solutions for things like checking your credit score or contacting customer service. Finally, we give preference to credit cards that have several tools for dealing with fraudulent charges.
  • For every review on The Balance, we hold the credit cards to these standards, and we set the bar high. While we recognize the appeal of splashy features like six-digit sign-up bonuses, our approach ensures that credit cards with the best combination of value, affordability, and accessibility receive the highest scores. See our full methodology for more details.

Article Sources

The Balance requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy .
  1. J.D. Power. "Customers Losing Faith in Credit Card Issuers as COVID-19 Pandemic Lingers, J.D. Power Finds." Accessed Jan. 26, 2021.

  2. J.D. Power. "Bank and Credit Card Provider Investments in Easy-to-Use Digital Tools Pay Off, J.D. Power Finds." Accessed Jan. 26, 2021.