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Upromise Credit Card: Too Many Conditions

Upromise MasterCardUpromise by Sallie Mae is offering a cash-back credit card that can help you pay down your Sallie Mae student loans.

But the Upromise World MasterCard (www.upromisemastercard.com) comes with so many restrictions, you aren’t likely to earn what you’re expecting.

The card offers the following ongoing rewards:

  • 5% back on eligible purchases made through the Upromise online shopping portal (retailers offer additional rewards)
  • 4% back at participating restaurants
  • 3% back at Exxon and Mobil gas stations
  • 2% back at eligible movie theaters
  • 1% back on everything else

At first glance, these benefits look generous, especially since the total cash back you can earn is unlimited.

But the fine print reveals numerous details that can make these rewards hard to qualify for.

Reward restrictions

You must open a free Upromise account at www.upromise.com and register your card to actually earn any cash back. We’re not aware of any other card that makes you jump through a hoop like this to earn its promised rewards.

You only get 3% back on your gas purchases at two gas station chains and only if you purchase 20 gallons or more in a calendar month.

For college students who don’t drive much, these restrictions make this perk meaningless.

For grads trying to pay back their loans, it means potentially driving out of the way to earn extra cash back, a waste of time and money that will cancel out the cash-back benefit.

The “participating restaurants” are limited to those listed at www.upromise.com/dining.

If you live in a big city, you might have 100 participating restaurants within a five-mile radius, but in a suburb or small town, you might have only a handful of options.

If you don’t mind the limitations, you can earn decent rewards, but otherwise you’re probably better off getting a card that lets you earn cash back at any gas station or restaurant.

Receiving your rewards

If you do manage to accumulate rewards despite these restrictions, you can use them to pay down an eligible Sallie Mae loan. You can also contribute your rewards to a 529 college savings plan, but it must be one administered by Upromise.

You don’t have to use your rewards to pay down student debt. Indeed, anyone can apply for a card.

In this case, you might consider depositing your rewards in a high-yield savings account at Sallie Mae Bank, the online bank owned by the giant student lender, where you’ll earn 0.85% APY and a 10% annual match on your Upromise earnings (but only if you comply with the fine print).

You can also get your rewards by check when you accumulate at least $10 in a quarter.

Credit card charges

The card has no annual fee and offers a 0% APR on balance transfers for 15 months.

Cardholders also receive a $25 bonus after making a single purchase or taking out a cash advance within 90 days of opening the account.

We don’t recommend taking out a cash advance — you’ll pay 25.24% variable interest plus a $10 or 5% fee, whichever is greater.

You also don’t want to carry a balance if you’re using this card to earn rewards. The APR is 12.99% or 20.99% variable based on your creditworthiness. The penalty APR is 30.24% variable.

Compare the Upromise World Mastercard with the cash-back credit cards in our database.

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Comments (2)
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2 Existing Comments
  1. Mojave Jack said:
    on February 21st at 01:07 pm

    Linking the card to a Upromise account is not a big deal and is understandable since that’s where the cash back goes.

    Still all in all, I prefer my Fidelity straight 2% cash back AMEX.

  2. apaced said:
    on February 22nd at 07:55 am

    this site blowes