Like cash rewards? The Upromise credit card from Sallie Mae ain’t half bad – especially if you’re looking to pay down loans but need to make a few purchases at the same time. While most cash-back cards offer accelerated rewards in very limited categories, the Upromise yields high returns on a variety of common purchase types. If you’re looking for a cash-back credit card, you can certainly do worse. But can you do better? It depends what you value and where you spend. We’ll present the merits of the Upromise and discuss a couple alternatives that might suit you better.
We must say, the Upromise card has a pretty stellar rewards program. Is it the best we’ve seen? Not quite, but it’s darn good. Its primary value is earning a full 10% back when you a) shop at the merchants featured at Upromise.com and b) use your Upromise card. They offer a fairly comprehensive set of merchants, from Bath and Body Works for your dorm room needs to Zales for graduation proposals. It works like this – you earn 5% back just for shopping at Upromise.com, and an extra 5% for holding the card. Not bad, eh?
Additionally, you’ll get 2% back at movie theaters, 3% at Exxon or Mobil gas stations, and 4% at participating restaurants. Everything else earns 1% back.
|Upromise World MasterCard®|
|Annual Fee||Signup Bonus||APR , Variable*||Intro APR Promotions|
|$0||$50 Cash Bonus - after first purchase||12.99% - 20.99% (Variable)||Purchase: 0% for 12 mos
Transfer: 0% for 12 mos
You have a good set of redemption options, which are obviously best if you have an account or loan with Sallie Mae. Each option gives you the full 1 cent per point value, so you don’t need to worry about gimmicks.
- Contribute to a Upromise 529 college savings plan
- Deposit into a Sallie Mae high-yield savings account
- Pay down an eligible Sallie Mae loan
- Redeem for checks once a quarter
A tad more restrictive than your standard cash back card, but for students, it’s a great way to save or pay off loans.
The Upromise card is notable not only because of its worthwhile rewards, but also because it offers such rewards with no annual fee. Generally, so many earning categories would come at a cost, but not in this case. The Upromise also offers 15 months of 0% balance transfer APR. If you have debts to pay down, slide them over to the Upromise for over a year of payments without additional interest.
All in all, the Upromise is a pretty solid cash-back option. But before you commit, we recommend taking a look at a couple other cash-back options. Here are two of our favorite choices and how they stack up against the Upromise.
The Chase Freedom is always an excellent cash-back choice. It earns a 1% minimum on all purchases, 5% back on rotating category purchases and 10% at Chase’s online shopping mall. While you miss out on the Upromise’s 2-4% earnings, the Freedom’s 5% categories may make up for the loss. These categories change quarterly and include establishments like gas stations, restaurants, Amazon.com and airlines. Additionally, the Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall’s deals mirror those of the Upromise website. You can shop for merchandise, travel and entertainment experiences. The Freedom charges no annual fee and comes with 15 months of transfer and purchase APR. The Freedom’s signing bonus is currently at $100 – much better than that of the Upromise. Which card you choose ultimately comes down to the rewards categories. Would you rather earn 5% on the Freedom’s rotating categories or 2-4% on the Upromise’s static categories? It’ll depend on where you shop.