Upromise participation is unlikely to pay for four years of college but many consumers want to know, is it worth my time at all? How much will it help me save? How hard is it to do?
Even before the current economic downturn, many families were already concerned about how they could save enough money for college.
Whether online ads or ads by the gas tanks, many parents have heard of Upromise and wondered, does Upromise deliver on saving for college? Upromise participation is unlikely to pay for four years of college but many consumers want to know, is it worth my time at all? How much will it help me save? How hard is it to do?
What is Upromise?
Upromise is an online site that can help put some money away for college. Upromise provides a savings tool for the expenses of higher learning. This service takes part of the money you spend on ordinary purchases and deposits it into your Upromise.com account. In other words, you’re not depositing money for college. Ideally, you are just shopping as you normally would, and hopefully some of the items you’re already purchasing qualify for a rebate into your Upromise college savings account.
Setting up a Upromise account takes about 15 minutes. You can add a child or more than one. Next you will add your accounts through which the purchases are verified. For example, you may add your debit card, credit card, grocery store card or drug store card.
What types of purchases qualify for Upromise funds?
Groceries: You’ll see Upromise blue and tan labels on select groceries in many grocery store chains. Kroger, Piggly Wiggly and Albertson’s are just a few of the participating grocery store chains.
Drug Stores: Purchases at Upromise affiliated stores like CVS, Eckerd and others will earn money toward your savings.
Retail Stores: Some retail stores such as GNC, Bed Bath & Beyond and other stores also participate in helping Upromise members reach their savings goals.
Restaurants: Participating restaurants are spotty, with many more participating in metropolitan areas. McDonald’s does add money to your Upromise account when you purchase gift certificates.
Services and other Special Programs: Allied Van Lines, Terminix, American Airlines and Coldwell Banker are among the many services that contribute money to Upromise when you make purchases.
On- Line Shopping: A very large and growing number of on- line retailers participate in this program with a fixed percentage of each purchase going into your savings. The Upromise web site always has deals on many on-line purchases. Avon.com, Magazines.com, Blockbuster.com and Target.com are examples of participating on-line retailers that will offer a kick back to your Upromise college savings fund. It’s important to remember to go to the Upromise website and link to the retailer through their site to make sure you get Upromise credit for your purchases.
Hassle-free college savings?
Since your cards are already registered, the percentage kick backs, which can range form 1 to 25 percent, are automatically deposited into your account within a few days when you use a registered credit, debit, or shopping card at check out. So really this part takes no extra work once you’ve registered. You can just check in to view your account balance.
How can I save more through Upromise?
For most families the Upromise account will only accrue cents or dollars per month unless parents take advantage of some of the other ways to save.
The Upromise Credit Card: The Upromise Credit Card has no annual fee and donates back a portion of purchases regardless of whether the store is listed or not.
Add Family Members: Another way to increase the saving is to get family members to let you add their grocery or drug store cards to your account and every time they shop you’ll get more added to your account. Don’t be surprised if family members are happy to give you their CVS card number but not their debit or credit card number!
529 Savings Plan: There is also a college “529 savings plan” offered through Upromise.com, in conjunction with Vanguard mutual funds. Through this 529 savings plan, you can elect to have your Upromise.com money automatically transferred each month into the 529 plan and you can help the money grow faster by establishing a savings plan whereby Vanguard debits your checking account automatically each month for a fixed amount of money. 529 Savings plans offer federal income tax deferred growth and tax-free withdrawals, as long as the money is used for higher education.
Complaints about Upromise?
Users say that while there are lots of grocery stores affiliated with Upromise that they wish the big guy, was an affiliate as many Wal-Mart shoppers now buy their groceries there as well.
You have to be realistic:
There are many popular name brands associated with Upromise like Kleenex, Duncan Hines and Coke.
Here’s an example of an UPromise Coke offer:
One example of an offer a one percent return on 3 two-liter bottles of Coke. That means that a purchase of three two- liter bottles of Coke, costing about $3.00 total, will add only three cents to your account. Even if you made it a point to buy three bottles of pop every week, you would still have only $1.56 in accumulated funds each year from Coke purchases.
On the other hand, there are sometimes deals that give you back five dollars for purchasing 5 out of 10 listed items. Of course you’re not really “saving” any money if you don’t normally buy those items but if you do, then that is an easy five-dollar return.
With a combination of using the Upromise website links for online shopping and getting relatives or friends to register their cards with your Upromise account it can slowly but steadily grow.
In the end, users agree that Upromise can’t replace a disciplined college savings plan but most feel that as a supplement for saving for higher education, that it is relatively easy and worthwhile.