Barclays Upromise Boosts Rewards Rate for Cards Linked to 529 Accounts

Erin Hurd
By Erin Hurd 
Edited by Kenley Young

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The Upromise Mastercard is one of a handful of credit cards that lets you funnel rewards directly into a 529 college savings account — and now, the card is becoming a bit simpler and more valuable.

In short, there's now less math involved, and the card's effective rewards rate is rising by about 6%.

Here’s what’s changed.

Boost in earnings

Previously, the Barclays-issued Upromise Mastercard earned:

  • 1.25% cash back on every purchase, plus a 15% bonus on that cash back when you linked your account to an eligible 529 college savings plan. That bonus raised your effective rewards rate to a potential 1.44% cash back.

The card has now dispensed with that 15% bonus, and holders will now earn:

  • 1.529% cash back on every purchase when your Upromise program account is linked to an eligible college savings plan.

  • 1.25% cash back on every purchase if your Upromise program account is not linked to an eligible college savings plan.

Regardless of whether you link the card to an eligible 529 account, you’ll have a "Round Up" option, which allows you to round your purchases up to the nearest dollar based on a threshold you set, between $1 and $500. The total amount — including the round-up — will earn rewards.

If you take advantage of the round-up feature, you could earn slightly more than 1.529% back on every purchase.

New cardholders will also be eligible for a sign-up bonus: $100 cash-back rewards after spending $500 on purchases in the first 90 days.

Is this a good option to save for college?

The 1.529% earnings rate is catchy and apropos, and you’ll earn slightly more than you would from many average 1.5% cash-back cards. If you want an "automatic" way to accrue college savings, this Upromise Mastercard is a decent option.

But you can do better than 1.529%. For instance, the Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card works in a similar way, earning 2% cash back on all purchases, as long as you agree to deposit those earnings into an eligible Fidelity account (including Fidelity-managed 529 plans).

Or consider the Citi Double Cash® Card. It earns 2% back on all purchases: 1% when you buy, 1% when you pay it back. It won't automatically deposit those rewards into a 529 plan, but you could do that manually. Or you could use the rewards for whatever you like, as there's no deposit requirement for that 2% rewards rate.

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