The Upromise Mastercard is not one of our best cash back credit cards. You can consult our list of best cash back credit cards for what we think are better options.
Upromise Mastercard Full Review
Cash back bonuses for initial spending and for 529 accounts linked to the plan
Introductory APR on Balance Transfers
Round Up feature to enhance cashback
Poor reimbursement rate
No introductory APR on purchases
The benefits explained
- Cash back bonus for initial spending and 529 accounts linked to the plan: When you apply for this card, you are effectively joining Upromise, a service to help families save for college. After spending $500 within the first 90 days of account opening, you will earn a $100 bonus. Additionally, your Upromise account can be linked to any eligible 529 plan you have established at a bank or brokerage. Upromise Mastercard users who do so then receive 1.529% on the cash back they’ve earned on card purchases (credited at the end of each billing cycle). So, for example, if your earned cash back equals $20 per month, you will actually receive $24.46.
- Introductory APR on Balance Transfers: The Upromise Mastercard offers an introductory APR rate of 0% for 15 billing cycles. Cardholders must transfer their balances within 45 days of account opening in order to earn this rate. After the end of the introductory period, the rate changes to the regular APR on purchases: 17.24% to 27.24% variable, depending on your creditworthiness.
- Rounding feature to improve cashback: With the Round Up feature, it is possible to increase your cash back by setting the Upromise Mastercard to round up a purchase to the nearest dollar (or higher) to get more money into the account. It is possible to participate in the Round Up program with monthly expenses between $1 and $500. For example, a cardholder who sets rounding to the nearest dollar might pay $3.50 for something; $4 would be charged to the card and the additional $0.50 would be converted to cash back.
- Poor cash back rate: This card offers 1.25% direct cash back on all purchases. It’s not the worst in the world, but there are cards that also don’t offer “tiered” rewards but still offer a better rate. The CapitalOne QuicksilverOne, for example, offers a flat 1.5% cashback; the Citi Double Cash card has a program that refunds 1% cash back on all purchases and an additional 1% when you pay your bill. Both of these cards also have no annual fee. Granted, the 1.592% bonus from the 529 plan and the Round Ups actually increase the cash return rate (to 1.44% or more depending on how many rounds you do). Even so, the base cashback of the Upromise Mastercard is still quite poor.
- No introductory APR on purchases: Although the card offers 0% APR on balance transfers for a period of time, cardholders get no break on any other type of transaction: these interest charges start accruing with the first cycle. Like the Capital One SavorOne, some credit cards offer an introductory rate of 0% APR on purchases and do so for 15 months.
This card is for families who want a boost to improve this higher education fund for their children. This will work best for those who already contribute regularly to the 529 plan but want a little extra money to boost the balance – and a fairly simple way to earn money and have it go straight into the account.
Also, this card might work well for someone who doesn’t want to deal with tiered or rotating cash back categories and wants to earn the same amount with every purchase. It could also help those hoping to transfer high-rate balances. Not incurring interest on the transferred amount for more than a year can help reduce debt faster.
Reward Earnings Details
Earning rewards with the Upromise Mastercard is quite simple. Every purchase earns 1.25% cash back. However, to earn this cashback, a cardholder must also have a Upromise account.
There are ways to earn extra cashback, such as using the Round Up feature and linking the Upromise account to a 529 plan.
Reward Redemption Details
Rewards are managed by Upromise. Round Ups are considered purchases, so they actually earn their own cash back and are also eligible for the 1.529% bonus for accounts linked to an eligible 529 plan.
Redemption can be automatic when linked to a 529 plan, with the money being regularly invested in the plan’s account.
How to maximize your rewards
The most likely way to maximize rewards with the Upromise Mastercard is to use the card as part of a college savings strategy. By activating Round Ups and linking a 529 plan account, it is possible to earn extra cash for every purchase. Additionally, if the cash back earned goes into a 529 account, then the money has the potential for compounding returns as it is now invested as part of the account.
For example, suppose you allocate your entertainment spending to the Upromise card. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average consumer spends $2,912 on entertainment each year, which would translate to $36.40 in cash back. Now, let’s say you enable the Round Up feature, bringing purchases to the nearest $1. Let’s just say you get an extra $0.50 on each of these transactions and make 100 a year, adding another $50 for a total of $86.50. You linked your card to the 529-plan account you created for your children, which earns you 1.529% cash back and your total to $94.52.
Now, because the money from the 529 plan is invested, it will work and pay off for you. If you get 5% annualized returns and the money stays there for eight years, your total would be $150.58. Of course, there’s no guarantee you’ll get those returns consistently – there’s nothing certain about investing, alas – but let’s assume they match that. If you add that amount every year for eight years, you could potentially see around $1,021.91. That’s over $1,000 more for college expenses.
Outstanding Benefits of Upromise Mastercard
- Round up for increased cash back
- 529 Plan contributions
- $0 fraud liability
- No foreign transaction fees
- Free access to FICO score online
Barclays, which issues the Upromise Mastercard, ranked 7th out of 11 card issuers in JD Power’s 2021 Credit Card Satisfaction Study. The rank received a score below average.
Barclays has a mobile app. On Google Play, the app has a 4.3 star rating, while it has a 4.7 star rating on the Apple Store.
For the most part, the security features with the Upromise Mastercard are tied to the standard security seen with Mastercard protection. This does not include any liability for fraudulent purchases and card replacement for lost or stolen cards. Plus, there’s free access to the online FICO score with this card, which makes it a bit easier to master a credit report and spot issues that could lead to a lost credit card.
Education spending is on the minds of almost every family these days, and the Upromise Mastercard ably targets this niche. By linking to a popular investment vehicle, the 529 plan, the card offers an attractive way to save, complemented by attractive ways to increase the amount of cash back. And, because there’s no annual fee, cardholders don’t have to worry about whether their cash back amount will justify the ongoing costs of carrying the card.
Perhaps Upromise feels that its upfront spending bonus and one-time college savings bonus are enough of an incentive, as this card doesn’t offer many other benefits to attract applicants, as there’s no cooling-off period. zero interest rate on purchases during the first months of membership.
While the introductory balance transfer rate of 0% for 15 months for transfers made within 45 days of account opening is a good idea, the Upromise Mastercard does not waive the balance transfer fee for new cardholders taking advantage of the offer, which will be the higher of $5 or 5%.
In terms of continued use, the Upromise Mastercard’s 1.25% redemption rate is poor. Other credit cards might offer better opportunities for those looking for higher cash back potential. Cards like the Amex Blue Cash Everyday or the Capital One SavorOne could help maximize certain categories where spending is more important.
Additionally, the Citi Double Cash Card might be a better choice for those just looking for a balance transfer deal and direct cashback. This card comes with an introductory period of 18 months 0% APR on balance transfers made within the first four months of account opening, as well as 1% direct cash back on all purchases and an additional 1% when you pay your bill.
However, if that 529 plan bonus seems too good to pass up, it might be worth considering using the Upromise Mastercard as an additional card. For example, a cardholder can use the Amex Blue Cash Everyday card to earn 3% cash back at US supermarkets up to $6,000 per year and 2% cash back on gas and use the card Capital One SavorOne to earn 3% cash back on dining out. and entertainment purchases. Purchases with these cards that would normally earn 1% cash back can instead be made with the Upromise Mastercard to get a boost and help pay for college.
Using the Upromise Mastercard in conjunction with other cards offers the potential for higher overall cash back rewards while still pursuing a college savings goal. In fact, it’s actually the card this reviewer uses to supplement her own regular contributions to her son’s 529 College Savings Plan. The Upromise Mastercard is not their main credit card, but they reserve it for online purchases.
Just using it for those trades with designated rounding to the nearest dollar and the 1.529% cashback generated a few hundred extra dollars in his son’s account. This will be a great help, when combined with the power of compounding returns, to increase account value by the time it goes to college.