UPromise.com: Not just for parents, it can also help you pay down student loan debt
Aug 27, 2012
|Effort vs. Reward:
I'd heard of UPromise.com for years before finally deciding to sign up. I'd always thought its purpose was to help parents pay for college tuition. But when I married someone with hefty student loan debt, I went looking around for a way to help him pay it off.
What I discovered is that in addition to helping you save money for college for yourself, your kids or whoever else you want to help, it can also help you pay down certain types of student loans. Since my husband's loans were through the erstwhile Sallie Mae, we were in business.
How does it work
The premise of UPromise is simple. You register for the site and then have a variety of ways to make money.
Here are most of the basic ways to make money off UPromise:
- Shop through links on their site to get cashback, much like you would with credit card or other cashback sites.
- Sign up your credit card and certain store loyalty cards (like CVS and Homeland grocery stores), and then get small percentages back off qualifying purchases, including meals at certain restaurants.
- Activate "eCoupons" on the site for certain items, then get a set amount back when you buy that item.
- Sign up to get 1 cent per gallon of gas you buy through Exxon and Mobil gas stations.
- Sign up for e-Rewards, a site that lets you take surveys to make money.
How do you get the money?
Once you get a certain amount (I think $50 is the minimum), the money can be transferred to your student loan or to a 529 savings plan, or you can just request a check.
Does the money add up?
Well, sort of. I've been using the site for a couple years, but the money wasn't adding up very quickly until I got the e-Rewards invite. I've gotten $150 through e-Rewards in about two years, but I had to take a lot of surveys to get that much.
If it wasn't for e-Rewards, I'd have earned about $16, I think. There have been several eCoupons for products I regularly buy, like razors, paper towels and toilet paper. There is often a $1 eCoupon for Charmin, so I've made a few bucks off that.
However, I would make more if I used UPromise's cashback option for all my online purchases. I often get a higher percentage from ShopDiscover, so I usually use that instead. But UPromise does have a lot more sites from which you can get cashback, so I have made some good use out of it.
Of my 16 non-e-Rewards dollars, probably $10 came from the online cashback, and about $6 from eCoupons. There are no Exxons or Mobiles around here, so I could make a little more if I had access to those.
While it's not going to save me a lot of money, I have few complaints about the way the UPromise system works. The only thing that drives me crazy is that it usually takes a couple months after purchase (or after cashing out on e-Rewards) for the money to make its way to UPromise so that it can be transferred over. A transaction will be "pending" for what seems like forever. The slowness annoys me since I know that the student loans are just sitting around gathering interest while the transactions are pending.
But I like that, once you have it set up properly, the money just moves over automatically. Every time I get $50, it moves over to my husband's student loan account without any hassle.
The UPromise site itself is pretty simple and straightforward. The site used to be slow and clunky, but it's much better now. I don't enjoy the site's constant exhortations to ask you to get their credit card, but all you have to do is click "No Thanks" to avoid it.
The only other thing I wish I could change about the site is the need to visit the site and "activate" the eCoupons each month. Since the coupons are usually for the same products every month, I wish they would automatically activate them and just send you an email telling you what products the coupons are for.
Overall, I have been pleased with the UPromise experience. It isn't going to make that much of a dent in your loans or add that much to your college plan, but it's easy to use and is worth the trouble.