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Upromise Credit Card from Sallie Mae: Can You Do Better?

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Upromise Credit Card from Sallie Mae: Can You Do Better?

For cash-back rewards, the Upromise World MasterCard® is a solid option. It offers high rewards on common purchases and a signup bonus, while also boasting no annual fee and a free FICO score. Read on to learn more about the Upromise card and how it stacks up to the competition.

High rewards on the purchases you make most

Barclays Upromise Credit Card
Apply Now

on Barclays's
secure website

With the Upromise World MasterCard®, you can earn up to 10% cash back on your purchases. Here’s the current rewards structure:

  • 5% back on eligible online purchases through the Upromise site
  • 4% back on eligible dines at thousands of Upromise restaurants
  • 3% back at Exxon or Mobil stations, provided you meet the requirements
  • 2% back at eligible movie theaters
  • 1% back on all other purchases

In addition, you can receive another 5% back from online merchants through the Upromise shopping portal, allowing you to potentially rack up 10% on your online purchases. For extra cash, there’s a sweet signup bonus: You’ll earn $100 cash after making your first purchase within 90 days.

Whether you’re saving for college or paying down your student loans, this card can help with easy redemption options and potential matches when you redeem. Use your rewards for one of the following:

  • Contribute to a Upromise 529 college savings plan
  • Deposit into a Sallie Mae high-yield savings account and receive a 10% match
  • Pay down an eligible Sallie Mae loan and receive 2% back when you make scheduled monthly payments while still in school
  • Redeem for checks

Other features worth paying attention to

On top of the rewards, the Upromise World MasterCard® features an annual fee of $0 and an introductory APR of 0% on balance transfers for 15 months, made within the first 45 days of account opening, and then the ongoing APR of 13.99%, 19.99% or 22.99% Variable. So you can take your time paying off your initial purchases if you need to. Plus, you can keep an eye on your credit, since Barclaycard offers cardholders their free FICO score.

The competition: Chase Freedom® and Citi®Double Cash Card

While the Upromise World MasterCard® is a good card for the right person, you may benefit from a different cash-back option. Here are a couple of other cards you might consider for cash-back rewards on every purchase:

Chase Freedom®

Chase Freedom Credit Card
Apply Now

on Chase's
secure website

For high cash rewards on common purchase categories that rotate quarterly, the Chase Freedom® is a good option. It offers 5% cash back on bonus category purchases, up to $1,500 spent per quarter. The 2015 bonus categories are as follows:

  • Q1 (January – March): Grocery stores, movie theaters and Starbucks stores
  • Q2 (April – June): Restaurants, Bed Bath & Beyond, H&M and Overstock.com
  • Q3 (July – September): Gas stations and more (in 2014, Kohl’s)
  • Q4 (October – December): Amazon.com and more (in 2014, Zappos.com and select department stores)

For all other spending, you’ll receive 1% back. There’s also a signup bonus: get a $100 bonus after spending $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening

The Chase Freedom® has an annual fee of $0 and an introductory APR offer of 0% on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 13.99% - 22.99% (Variable). When deciding between the Freedom and the Upromise World MasterCard®, you’ll need to determine whether you’ll benefit more from the Freedom’s 5% rotating capped bonus categories or the Upromise’s static unlimited bonus categories.

Citi®Double Cash Card

Citibank Citi® Double Cash Card Credit Card
Apply Now

on Citibank's
secure website

If you don’t fit into the spending categories of the Chase Freedom® or the Upromise World MasterCard®, you’ll likely benefit more from a flat rewards rate. Enter the Citi®Double Cash Card: It offers 1% cash back on every purchase when you make it and another 1% back when you pay it off. There’s no signup bonus.

The Citi®Double Cash Card has an annual fee of $0 and an introductory APR of 0% on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 12.99% - 22.99% (Variable). Like with any other credit card, you should pay your balance in full each month (outside of the 0% introductory APR period, at least). Not only will you avoid interest, but you’ll get the additional rewards for paying off your balance.

Erin El Issa is a staff writer covering personal finance for NerdWallet. Follow her on Twitter @Erin_Lindsay17 and on Google+.


Image via iStock.

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  • unhappy

    Have the Upromise card. No problems until Barclays took it over. I charged $226 & they froze my account for “fraud detection”. FYI my limit is over $9000. Tried to get help & got someone in India & they said it could happen again. Also, they never notified me of the change & no information on who or to pay where to pay. My Chase card recently changed to GE & had no problems in the transition.

  • Another unhappy customer

    The reason I’m even on this site is because I am looking for a card to transfer my Upromise balance. Everything was fine until Barclay took over. I was charged a late fee in the first month because the due date was right after I made a payment to Upromise BOA (which basically meant that I had two payments due in the same month, without being billed for such). Then, when I set up automatic payment for the minimum payment amount, they took out double that! Not just in the first month, but in the second month as well! The website is much more cumbersome than most banking/ credit card sites, and I am just tired of trying to wait and see for things to get better.

  • disqus_6jJX7eO4Uz

    I agree with the issues with Barclays. I’ve been a loyal upromise credit card holder for years. Since Barclays took over my account has been flagged with fraud over and over and over again. And every transaction they flag has been legimate and not fraudulant. I even got tagged today at my local grocery store which I have used my card at many many times. I talked to a manager today at Barclays who was not helpful at all. If this continues — I will be cancelling my credit card with Upromise.. it was much better when they were with Bank of America!!!

  • B. Young

    yea, I just had to get all new UP cards as my daughter charged $2.50 on a bottled water as she had no cash and they called me about it and I said I didn’t charge that amount(not knowing she did..duh… they didn’t tell me who charged it! and I didn’t ask I assumed it was me). It’s like they are trying to get me to OK bad charges at my expesnse, of course if I ok’d the charge it’s then my problem….to pay!!
    I also decided to get my rewards money out 1. apply to get your money-full 14 day wait to acknowledge your request 2. from then 45 day wait to get check= 2 full months to get your reward money and don’t forget at any time, by the reward agreement(FYI-you approved of course) they can cancel the whole deal at ANY TIME and give you nothing!!!! I mean notta,zero,zip $50, $500, $5000 rewards you get nothing sucker, maybe with a 529 you can but I don’t know for sure……read your card agreement again if you didn’t way back-not a Barclays fan here.

  • smith

    Hands down the worst credit card I have used in my life. Repeated errors on billing with additional fees and interest.

    Started innocent enough when their web automatic payment options didn’t work. Could sign up to only pay the minimum each month but not the full amount. After calling and being assured they converted the account to be payed in full every month from my designated bank account it happened again the next month. Called again, interest/fees removed, they asked me to try again online the following week. I did, didn’t work, again called and again promised the automatic payment for full would work if done online. Following month it again didn’t work. Fees/interest cancelled again. Tried to cancel the card but told I would have to “call back later in the month” to cancel. Had to ask to be transferred to someone who could cancel the card today.

    Do not trust them! They are crooks in my opinion!

  • Suzanne Barr-Tiemann

    You have to fight for every 4% bonus rebate. Barclays upromise website displayed a 5% contribution for a Meijer Home Depot gift card and will NOT honor it. I spent $500 in gift cards expecting this 5% + 4% bonus rebates and got neither. I told them to pull up their archived webpage for proof – they won’t do it. So they expect you to take a screen shot of every displayed % contribution before purchase for proof !!!! Barclays needs to stick with just dicking around with stealing billions manipulating the LIBOR rate.

  • cookinmama

    Do the balance transfer amounts to a Upromise card count toward rewards?