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

March 23, 2015
Credit Cards, Student Credit Cards
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  • Upromise World MasterCard®

As a result, offers described on this page may be out of date. See our best credit cards page for updated offers.

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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 World MasterCard® and how it stacks up to the competition.

High rewards on the purchases you make most

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 – 18 month BT offer

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®

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 current bonus categories are as follows:

Chase Freedom® bonus rewards categories for 2019
Q1 (Jan. 1 - March 31)• Gas stations
• Tolls
• Drugstores
Q2 (April 1 - June 30)• Home improvement stores
• Grocery stores
Q3 (July 1 – Sept. 30)• Gas stations
• Select streaming services
Q4 (Oct. 1 – Dec. 31)"Holiday" — TBD
(In 2018: Department stores, wholesale clubs, Chase Pay)

For all other spending, you’ll receive 1% back. There’s also a signup bonus: Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

The Chase Freedom® has an annual fee of $0 and offers a great balance transfer option: 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 17.24% - 25.99% Variable APR. When deciding between the Chase Freedom® and the Upromise World MasterCard®, you’ll need to determine whether you’ll benefit more from the Chase Freedom®’s 5% rotating capped bonus categories or the Upromise’s static unlimited bonus categories.

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

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 – 18 month BT offer: 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 – 18 month BT offer has an annual fee of $0 and an introductory APR of 0% on Balance Transfers for 18 months, and then the ongoing APR of 15.99% - 25.99% Variable APR.

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

Image via iStock.