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How About Some Free Money for College? I Earned Over $5000 for Doing Next to Nothing!

Updated on November 26, 2012

I know how difficult it is to save for your children to go to college. I have four kids of my own and we're lucky we can make it paycheck to paycheck, let alone carving out the amount of money the financial calculators say we should be putting away to put 4 kids through college. Well believe me, I don't have the answer and this hub is no "silver bullet". I still advise you to do all those things that we're told to do in terms of saving for college. I just want to share with you a program that will allow you to put alittle extra away each month without a dime coming out of your pocket. Hopefully I have you intrigued enough to read on.


Upromise is a company and program that started back in April of 2001. It allows normal people like you and I to accumulate money for college education. So you're asking what's so special about that. Well this is no ordinary College Savings fund. Upromise has the participation of thousands of different brands across multiple services and businesses. The idea is that by you using their products and/or services, some small percentage of what you spend gets credited back to your Upromise account. So you as a consumer don't need to do anything different than what you normally do. In most cases, you simply buy the same products that you've always been buying, but now, you'll get alittle money in return to put towards college education.

How Does Upromise Work?

It's very easy to sign up for a Upromise Account. Simply go to and set up your own id and account. It's simple to do, simply follow the instructions provided. Once you have an account set up, you simply need to add some personal information that will help Upromise identify when you purchase products that they give rewards for.

The first thing you want to do is register your credit cards. This is totally safe and very worth your while. By allowing Upromise to know which credit cards are yours, they can track anywhere you make purchases with that credit card and will automatically credit your upromise account with the appropriate percent of the sale, if you purchase a product that participates in the Upromise program.

The next things you'll want to register online is all your courtesy cards. These are those rewards cards that most grocery stores and pharmacies provide. You know, all those things we carry around on our keychains and wave in front of the scanner when we check out. Some common cards are ShopRite, CVS, Pathmark, Kinds, A&P, Stop-N-Shop, Weis, and many many more. You will want to register every such card like this that you own.

Once Upromise has record of all these things, then you simply go about your normal, day-to-day business shopping and buying stuff like you normally would do. Because all your credentials are registered, you don't even need to know whether or not a product is part of Upromise. Any upromise eligible products you buy when using either your registered credit card or any of your grocery courtesy cards will automatically be credited the appropriate amount into your upromise account. There is nothing additional you need to pay for this. Think about it, without you even knowing it, money could be getting deposited into your account.

That's what's so great about Upromise. So why do all these large name brands want to give a % of their sale back to Upromise members? Well, the first reason is that it's a good thing to do in terms of supporting your community and loyal customers. But brand loyalty is probably the bigger thing at stake here. The hope is that if you know a certain product provides upromise reward credits, you will buy that product over its competitors. I'll give you an example. Coca Cola participates in the Upromise program. When I'm buying soda, I will always buy Coke over Pepsi because I know I'll be getting money back.

Most products pay you back anywhere from 1 - 5% of the purchase price. So no, product by product its not alot of money, but if you add up alot of these products week after week, those little amounts can grow quickly.

Another participating company is Exxon. Exxon gives you back one penny for every gallon of gas you purchase. Because of that alone, I find myself going out of my way to always use an Exxon gas station to fill up my cars. So you see, that idea of brand loyalty is working on me.

OK, so agreed, that in the Exxon case, 1 penny per gallon is not alot of money. But if you gas up 2 cars a week, at 15 gallons each car, that's roughly $1.20/month. Again, not alot on its own, but added into all the other Upromise products you buy, and every little bit adds up. And the best thing about all this, it's FREE!!

In order to get these different savings, there is nothing additional you need to do other than buy stuff!!!

The Sooner You Start the Better

I know when it comes to investing, everybody tells you to start investing early. Well the same goes for Upromise. I tell all young people today, who maybe are just married or maybe even not married yet to open up a Upromise account and stsrt accumulating some money. It costs you nothing but the time to set up an account. By the time you have kids, or by the time those kids are ready for college, hopefully you will have accumulated alot of FREE MONEY from promise.

Family and Friends

One of the coolest things about the Upromise Program is a feature they call "Family and Friends". Upromise allows you to sign up as many family and friends as you like to Upromise and have them direct all their accumulated paybacks to your childs account. So think about that, In theory, if you have alot of relatives who are willing to help you out, you could have many people contributing to your childs college fund and there's nothing they need to do other that to continue shopping like they do already.

The key is to find people who have no children or grandchildren who could benefit from the same help. Grandparents are ideal for this. If you have married friends who don't plan on having kids, or older relatives whose kids are all grown, they are ideal to get into your Friends and Family group. Just assume you got 4 people to sign up for you. If those four people each generated $10/month in Upromise paybacks, that's an additional $40/month you're putting away, not counting anything that you are also accumulating on your own. And I have to say it again, the money comes FREE to you. Nothing special needs to be done other than to be a consumer.

I joke but it's probably worth your while to hang out in malls and try to solicit strangers to sign up as a friend contributor for you. Why not? I don't know about you, but with the price of college tuition, I'll take whatever I can get!!

Upromise Credit Card

As I stated a few times above, the payback amounts per product are not that big. One way to really boost your Upromise savings is by signing up for a Upromise MasterCard. Upromise will pay you back 1% of your total credit card charges for each month. You simply need to register your Upromise Credit card, and that's it. The 1% comes back regardless of what you charge on your credit card. This option has nothig to do with whether or not what you are buying is part of the Upromise program. If it is, then you're getting paid twice for the same product. Once for whatever the % payback that product provides, and second, you'll get an additional 1% of the purchase price of the product back, simply by the mere fact that you used your Upromise Credit card to pay for it. This is by far the fastest way to accumulate savings. I buy everything on my credit card, including paying for alot of my monthly bills (gas, electric, cable, phone, groceries, entertainment, ...) Because of this, my monthly credit card bills are huge. Most months, $3000 - $4000 is normal (like I said, I pay for everything with my credit card). What that means, is every month, Upromise will add $30 to $40 to my Upromise account (1% of $3,000 and $4,000). Again, that's for doing nothing but spending money. This $40/month is on top of all my other Upromise savings. That's $480 per year just for using your credit card!!!!

How Do You Get Your Money

Your Upromise earnings accumulate in your Upromise account. In order to withdrawal this money, you must move it into a 529 Education account. Upromise provides their own 529 account, or you can choose whatever 529 account you prefer to use for your children. In either case, Upromise can automatically send money directly to your 529 account for certain accounts, or you simply need to request a check. That check will be sent to you and you will need to deposit that check into your child's 529 account. Usually you need to accumulate $50 before being able to withdrawal or move the money.

It's in your best interest to get the money out of your Upromise account and into your 529 as soon as possible. The reason being, the Upromise account is not earning any interest where your 529 account will.

Other Participating Brands

There are many many companies participating in the Upromise program. Below I list just a few from some key categories:

  • Restaurants : McDonalds,, IHOP, plus hundreds of local eateries in your area. You will need to search by zip code. Most of these will fund your Upromise account with up to 4% of your total bill. If your favorite restaurant is in the program, your lucky enough to enjoy food while getting free money!!
  • Travel : Expedia, Priceline, Avis, Budget, Comfort Inn, Clarion, Best Western, ...
  • Stores: Walmart, Target, JCPenney's, Toys'R'Us,, .....
  • Text Books and Music: iTunes, Barnes and Nobles, Bose, ....
  • Flowers: Telaflora, FTD, Proflowers, ...
  • Home Improvements: Sears, Ace Hardware, Wayfair, iRobot, ...

And these are simpy a short list, There are thousands and thousands to use.

My Experience

I've been using Upromise for about 8 years now and I've accumulated over $5400 that I deposited into my children's 529 accounts. OK, compared to the cost of tuition, $5400 is not much but that $5400 I got for FREE!! Nothing additional I needed to do other than what I would normally due as a consumer, and that's spend money!!


Hopefully this Hb introduced you to a new and easy way to save some additional money for college education. This will by no means cover all your college costs but its money you will earn without needing to do anything special. Upromise provides many many ways you can accumulate money into your account. How much will depend on how aggressive you are in being loyal to Upromise participating companies.

I would highly reccomend that if you haven't already done so, you should sign up for your Upromise account today. Doesn't even matter if you have kids or not, simply start accumulating money into your account. The sooner you start, the more money you can accumulate!!

Good luck!! And for those of you that have already been using Upromise, I'd love to hear you comment on some of the different ways you're getting Upromise dollars!!!

How's Your College Savings Coming Along?

How much do you put away per month for your kids college?

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    • Drstabile profile image


      7 years ago

      Wish my parents had known about this! Thumbs up!

    • laurathegentleman profile image


      7 years ago from Chapel Hill, NC

      had never heard of UPromise before! Thank you for the information - I hope it's not too late for me to start! Thanks for the tip!

    • erniesliter profile image


      7 years ago

      Wow, very interesting and cool site, I'll check it out!


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