Use UPromise To Pay Down Your Student Loans

UPromise is a site from student lender SallieMae, and we always assumed that it was just for parents to save for their children’s inevitable college expenses, but the Wall Street Journal says that anyone can join and use the money to pay down their student loans… or whatever.

WSJ says:

A Sallie Mae spokesperson told me that you can use money earned through Upromise rewards to help pay off your student loans. You can even have the funds earned withdrawn as a check. Then, the options are limitless. Roll it over to a charity of your choice. Give it in lieu of a gift card. Cushion your rainy-day savings fund — or get one started. Or, if you’re feeling brave, really put it to work by tossing the extra cash in an IRA or your 401(k).


Some Help For Paying Student Loans [WSJ]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Red_Flag says:

    I looked into this for helping pay off my (now, not originally) Sallie Mae-owned student loan. The list of participating merchants was pretty uninspiring.

    • hellinmyeyes says:

      @Red_Flag: I was the same exact way. The choices are extremely limited, and naturally they’re trying to push that Citi Mastercard. I decided to skip.

      I did see in American Express’s membership rewards Web site gift card area that you can have a Upromise contribution as a reward purchase. That might be worth looking into.

    • aftercancer says:

      @Red_Flag: Ah, but it doesn’t cost anything to join and you can register your grocery and/or drugstore cards. Completely passive saving.

      • i_love_life says:

        @aftercancer: I registered all my debit/credit cards, and my grocery cards. I’ve been a member for a year and a half and I only have .60 banked up ): not cool.

  2. Git Em SteveDave loves this guy->★ says:

    I never got this to work right to pay my loans. Perhaps I should try again.

  3. iamlost26 says:

    I joined around 3 years ago with the idea, “I’ll just use it for normal stuff and see my pennies grow”.

    Pennies, indeed. I’ve collected about $15 since opening the account.

    Examples of rewards:
    $.03/gallon of has pumped
    $.10 for buying a bag of chocolate chips (once when we were baking cookies)

  4. tande04 says:

    Eh what the hell I’ll give it a go.

    The stories so far sound less then inspiring but even $15 from nothing is $15 right.

  5. discounteggroll says:

    unless amazon, staples, frys and newegg are on that list, I don’t think upromise can help me. The chase rewards card on the other hand gives me lotsa cashback (esp. on gas/grocery/drug store purchases where the remainder of my money is spent)

  6. joos says:

    Been a member for 5 years. I have earned $1.68.

  7. ScubaSteveKzoo says:

    Meh, might give it a shot, since my student loans are monumental. maybe i’ll get addicted to chocolate chips…

  8. womynist says:

    I’m sure signing up for this opens the floodgates for all sorts of junk mail…that’s what has kept me away.

    • tande04 says:

      @womynist: Eh, signing up for the LSAC has gotten me more junk mail then I would of ever thought. Whats a little more?

    • alexburrito says:

      @womynist: It hasn’t resulted in any junk mail for me. I signed up three years ago when my son was born.

      Like so many others, the money accumulated slowly at first. It wasn’t until I really started being careful to go through the Upromise site when I shopped online. If you are shopping alot online, it will begin to add up.

      Also, without signing up in any way, my mom and sister can online shop through the site and accumlate money into our account. My mom just bought ink cartridges from Dell and we got $4.00 into our account.

      The way I figure it is: someone wants to give me $4.00 for something I’m buy anyway – why not?

  9. Anonymous says:

    I signed up but never ended up giving them my information. It seemed like an awful lot of information (I’m recalling they wanted my debit card number to track all my purchases?) for not a lot of payback. And what would they (are they) doing with all of that information? I”m not sure this is even something Consumerist should recommend.

  10. TheLemon says:

    I use the Citi/Upromise MC and I’ve earned a few hundred dollars in the past two years. It’s not even my main CC. I rarely shop through their site, but I did get a few bonuses, like one when I signed up with Sprint.

    I also have my account set up to auto-deduct a certain amount each month from my checking account. My kids won’t have their college educations all paid in full or anything with this method, but this will certainly be better than nothing.

  11. psuchad says:

    Member since 2004…$44.82

  12. Anonymous says:

    I joined in 2002, got back about $1,500. About $1,000 was for using a Upromise supplied real estate agent when I bought a house. Seller paid the commission.

    • Michael Bauser says:

      @SaradaSydor: I, on the other hand, also joined Upromise in 2002, and have… $9.91 in the account. The last 10 transactions are from ExxonMobil, which I believe pitches in a penny/gallon.

      I don’t actually have any student loans, though. I just joined because I figured my brother won’t save for his kids’ college fund. By the time my oldest nephew is starts college, I should have a whole 25 dollars saved for him!

  13. Spaceman Bill Leah needs a full-length puffy coat says:

    I use a similar site (ebates) although it doesn’t go towards my loans or anything. As long as you are vigilant about making sure to click through to stores from the home site, it can be very useful especially if you shop online a lot. I have been using ebates since 2005, mostly for Christmas shopping, and have earned over $300.

  14. lawnmowerdeth says:

    Just go with Live Search Cashback (formerly I’ve made a couple hundred buying IT related equipment.

    • alexburrito says:

      @lawnmowerdeth: I checked out Live Search after reading your post. It is interesting that some of the same merchants offer larger rebates thru Live Search than thru Upromise.

      Are there any restrictions/exclusions/ with Live Search? I didn’t find their web site too informative.

      I’d appreciate any info you can share.

  15. JeffM says:

    Joined in ’06 – $0. :(

    I guess buying things on sale or in bulk is more important to me than getting $0.02 on buying a 4-pack of TP at Safeway. Oh well…

  16. yourbffjill says:

    Member since ’05, and I even have several family members contributing to my account. I’m up to $43.99. I guess it’s better than nothing? I don’t even know how to get the money out of it.

  17. Gopher bond says:

    My dad was pretty thrifty with the straight talking unsolicited life advice but the best I ever got was when I was leaving my hometown for my first job, he grabbed my arm and told me to rent the cheapest place I could find, forego luxuries, and funnel as much as possible to my student loans. 2 years of renting a room, using a shared bathroom, wearing out my library card and fantasizing about the local Thai food restaurants, my loans magically disappeared.

  18. SadSam says:

    I use Upromise for college funds for 4 kiddos in my life (my brother’s kids and my god-daughter and her sister). I’ve been a member since 2002 and while I can’t figure out how much I’ve saved for the kids in total its substantial. Right now I’ve got $150 waiting to be transferred to their 529 plans. Most of the money comes from my brother (you can invite family and friends, only $13 of the $150 was generated by my purchases in the last month) and I think he has his business credit cards linked so he generates a fair amount of rebate money. I don’t change my behavior in any way except that when I shop on-line (which I do a lot of) I start at the Upromise page to get the rebates from the on-line merchants.

  19. adb1158 says:

    Been a member for five or six years and have $400 so far. I do the majority of my shopping online and after I’ve finished researching prices, etc., I then go to Upromise and see if the company is a participant. I also get money back when dining out, which isn’t very often. $400 isn’t much but it might cover a text book or two.

  20. veronykah says:

    Joined 5/06, just checked my account…
    I’ve earned .08.
    Great way to pay off those student loans!

  21. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    @stinerman: Yeah, my first dorm room was about the same size as my current apartment if you count the bathroom area. :-/

  22. chrisgeleven says:

    I have earned $0.08 cents in a year since I joined. This is despite linking my debt card, credit card, multiple grocery and drug store cards.

    I don’t know what it takes to save up a lot of money with them, but apparently what I did wasn’t enough. They suck.

  23. boosterts says:

    Member since 2005
    Your Upromise Savings: $487.38
    Applied to my loans: $401.83

    It’s been helping me.

  24. jscott73 says:

    I joined February of ’03 and have earned $761.36, all of which I’ve applied to my student loan.

    My wife and I used the Upromise Mastercard as our main credit card for the first couple of years, haven’t used it much in awhile. Switched to cashback from Amex now that my student loan is paid off.

  25. ChChChacos says:

    I kind of joined late in the game, since I’m already in college but it’s worth a shot. I only registered my grocery cards with it and since becoming a member in August of this year (2008) I’ve acquired .36 cents. If you read the fine print they only start paying your Sallie Mae if you reach a specific amount like, 50 bucks in savings.

  26. NotATool says:

    Member since 2001, total earnings $670. Using the Upromise master card helps but you also need to register your other credit cards, so that any eligible purchase made on any card gets you credit.

  27. Gopher bond says:

    I wonder if anyone ever got a job in purchasing with a company credit card and signed it up for their U-Promise account. Would that be illegal?

    • EdithAphaea says:

      @testsicles: as long as your company doesn’t care, I think it’s okay. Nothing on their site says you can’t. One of the guys in my office is an event planner and he’s got his registered. We had this countest where people won Netflix for a year, he had to order it, and he got $5 per subscription in his account. I told him about Upromise, so I wish I got a cut. No such luck…

  28. ceejeemcbeegee is not here says:

    Quite frankly, keeping my student loans has been a boon to my credit score. It’s revolving, always paid on time, has a long payment history, and thanks to consolidation, I have a 0.8% interest rate. Paying it off would kinda eff up my credit.

  29. oneandone says:

    Similar service that I’ve had experience with – Grad Gold. []

    I heard about it through my state subsidized student loan, and so far things have been ok. Pros: no junk mail (not 1 piece), no spam, nice amount of merchants (but no Amazon), and a useful shopping widget if you’d like to install, to see if a merchant you’re considering is on the list.

    Cons: In a year, I’ve saved about $6. I don’t do a lot of online shopping, and neither do my parents (who are linked in). Every bit helps, but it would be nice if it were faster!

    Overall, I’d give it a one thumb up & say it’s worth checking out. But I’ll try UPromise also, now.

  30. EdithAphaea says:

    I signed up about 2 years ago and so far have just over $200 that have gone towards my student loans. It’s not huge, but I didn’t change my buying behavior at all and it’s better than nothing. I was able to link my work credit cards to it – that’s where most of the money has come from. Travolicty is a member and so are tons of restaurants in my area – I’ve actually found one or two great ones through their dining site. My mom signed up to help with my loans and her account is always screwed up – nothing from her yet. So it’s not perfect. But $200 is $200…

  31. alexburrito says:

    I also want to point out a great way to get the Upromise savings while shopping on-line. Many stores do “ship to store” for no shipping charge. I have bought several things thru this way.

  32. aftercancer says:

    We’ve joined Upromise about 7 years ago and I guess we’re freaks because we’ve got about $500. We’ve earned from buying gas, Barnes and Noble and of course when you’ve got kids stuff like diapers, Target, Overstock….if you’re going to join keep an eye out for a time that they throw in a cash bonus for when you sign up.

  33. Anonymous says:

    I use it….you just have to make sure you click on the upromise shopping page for the website you plan to shop through….otherwise you won’t get your money. I’ve made around $200 since 2004.

  34. thomas_callahan says:

    Like anything else, it depends how you use it. I’ve been signed up for about 4 years and have built up $400-some. Sometimes I remember to sign in before shopping online, sometimes not. Most of it has been through groceries which does require registering my CC and store discount card and only applies to certain brands. I don’t think I’ve gotten extra junk mail from it but who knows, I do get plenty. Probably if I had been more diligent I could have built up another $200 or so, but for basically no effort it’s not a bad deal. Nice to know it can be used to pay down student loans, might consider that.

  35. PersisDenter says:

    I’ve been a member since 06 or so, and saved about $80. I have the citibank card, which i use for most of my purchases (and pay off 99% of the time each month) I love the CVS/Grocery card, because you save a little bit on things that you would normally buy. It can be a pain in the butt to remember to go to their website first and then click on, but it’s the only way to save through most of their partners. I can’t complain, it’s free!

  36. kanderson321 says:

    It definitely takes a looooong time to save up anything. After three or four years of shopping at CVS, I ended up with a whopping $2.00 in the account, which I applied to my loan.

    Additionally, if you registered your cards with Dining for Miles, you are ineligible for Upromise Rewards with the same cards. (No double-dipping.)

  37. boosterts says:

    There are a couple other sites that let you pay off your loans through cashback – someone above mentioned Grad Gold, is another. All of them are essentially cashback shopping sites. If you want the highest cash back just go to and search for the site you want to buy something from and it will tell you the rates at most of them, so you can pick the highest one.

  38. Anonymous says:

    There is a Firefox add-on that automatically notifies you when the site you are shopping with gives Upromise cashback. Hey, free money is free money.

  39. Anonymous says:

    This works better in conjunction with I’ve earned about $50 in the 4 or 5 months I’ve been using it. E-rewards sends you surveys to take and each one gives you money depending on how you qualify for the survey. It’s not much, but it adds up over time and it’s better than nothing.

  40. mbz32190 says:

    I’m a cashier at a grocery store which participates in Upromise, so I always swipe my “club card” for people when they forget theirs and I’ve gotten quite a bit of $ from that…well enough to buy half a text book maybe.

  41. Anonymous says:

    I don’t know what everyone is griping about. A member since 2004, I have earned about $1,500. I have a lot of years to pay on my loans, so adding in the interest I saved by Upromise’s early payments, it’s probably closer to $3,000. It’s much better than Babymint, the site that started reclaiming my earnings because I wasn’t earning rewards quickly enough. If you want the rewards, they are available. If you think you can enter your grocery reward card and you will quickly earn hundreds of dollars, forget it.

  42. Anonymous says:

    joined in 2001, i’m up to $38 from grocery store savings cards. It doesn’t cost me a penny, and i haven’t received any junk mail or had any identity problems. I don’t have any kids yet but it not bad earning change while doing nothing different.

  43. trasildo says:

    I joined in 2005 and for years the balance stayed at $3.05 (the three dollars being a bonus for signing up). This post in Nov made me give it a 2nd look. In the months since, I’ve gotten my balance up to $18. Not much but better than nothing considering I have not changed my shopping habits.
    Tip: if you’re comfortable giving up a bit of privacy, use the toolbar. It automatically detects when you’re at a participating website. You can hide it or make it appear only as an icon on the nav toolbar. (Additionally, I shop through ShopDiscover and get both Upromise money and Discover cashback for most purchases.)