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- Our Rating 3.5/5 Read the review
- APR18.74%, 23.74%, or 28.74% Variable
- Annual Fee$0
Earn $100 after you spend $500 in the first 90 days from account opening.
The Upromise Mastercard, issued by Barclays, is a cash-back credit card designed for one purpose: to help you set your child up for a college education. Without that goal, the card’s rewards rate likely won’t raise any eyebrows.
A Credit Card with College Savings Baked In
Saving for your child’s college education can be challenging, especially if you’re prioritizing retirement savings and other important financial goals. Fortunately, there are ways to save for college without using your own income, and the Upromise® Mastercard® is designed specifically for that purpose.
The card offers special bonuses and features to make it easier to set aside money for an education, but it’s not necessarily the best cash-back credit card for the job. Here’s what you should know before you apply.
The Upromise Mastercard, issued by Barclays, is a cash-back credit card designed for one purpose: to help you set your child up for a college education. Without that goal, the card’s rewards rate likely won’t raise any eyebrows. But when you link a 529 college savings plan account, you’ll get a boost to your rewards rate.
While it offers some convenience in the process, the flat-rate card doesn’t offer the best rewards rate you can find. Here’s how to compare what the Upromise card offers with other options to ensure that you get the best credit card for your needs and goals.
The Upromise credit card offers a decent one-time bonus of $100 after you spend $500 in the first 90 days from account opening. That’s a 20% return and is in line with other top cash-back credit cards.
Unlike the ongoing rewards rate, the bonus doesn’t get a boost if you link your Upromise account to a 529 college savings plan. But it’s still a solid signup incentive that you can transfer to your 529 plan or use for another purpose.
On a basic level, the card offers a 1.25% rewards rate on every dollar you spend, which compares unfavorably to other top rewards credit card options.
But if you link your Upromise Program account to an eligible college savings plan, your rewards rate is boosted to 1.529%, which beats the popular 1.5% cash-back cards.
Of course, you only get this rate if you only use your rewards for educational savings. But if that’s your only goal, it won’t matter that you don’t have a lot of flexibility.
To make sure your 529 plan is eligible, search eligible options on the Upromise website.
Although the Upromise Mastercard is a co-branded Barclays card, it’s Upromise that manages the rewards account, including redemption.
Because the goal of the credit card is to boost your college savings, and you earn bonus cash-back when you link your eligible 529 plan, the best option is to transfer your rewards to your 529 plan.
However, if you want, you can also link a bank account and request that your cash-back be transferred to that account instead. Just keep in mind that if you choose this option, you won’t get the bonus rewards. Also, the Upromise Round Up feature is only for 529 plan contributions.
The Upromise Mastercard doesn’t charge an annual fee, so you don’t have to worry about spending enough to make up for an ongoing cost. And as long as you pay your bill in full every month, you don’t have to worry about that regular APR either.
The Mastercard credit card also doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee, which is an uncommon perk for cash-back credit cards but a standard feature for Barclaycard.
The Upromise credit card is designed for people with good or excellent credit, which means a FICO credit score of 670 or higher in most cases. Check your credit score before you apply to determine where you stand and what your odds are of getting approved.
After you open an account with Barclays, you can get free access to your FICO score, which you can use to make future financial decisions.
In addition to the bonus rewards you can earn by linking your Upromise account to an eligible 529 plan, you can also maximize your education savings by taking advantage of the Upromise Round Up program.
With Upromise Round Up, you can round up every purchase you make to the nearest dollar. The total rounded-up amount is deposited into your cash-back rewards account, which you can save to your 529 plan.
Instead of rounding up each transaction individually, Upromise keeps track throughout the month and adds a purchase at the end of your billing cycle equal to the total amount of round-ups. You can set a maximum round-up amount of $1 to $500.
This round-up feature isn’t unique, but it can provide a nice way for you to take your college savings to the next level.
How Does the Upromise Mastercard Compare?
The Upromise credit card is the only card we know of that offers bonus rewards if you put your cash-back toward college savings. It also makes the process easy thanks to automation, and the inclusion of the round-up feature can simplify college savings to the point where you don’t have to think about it at all.
However, if you’re looking to maximize your savings, this card’s 1.529% rewards rate is notably lower than several competitors.
For that purpose, it might be worth it to consider some 2% flat-rate credit cards:
A Better Choice? Consider These Alternatives
Citi® Double Cash Card
Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card
You may also consider other top cash-back credit cards that offer bonus rewards on certain spending categories. For example, the Chase Freedom FlexSM offers 5% back on everyday spending categories that rotate quarterly, up to $1,500 spent each quarter when you activate.
Another option is the Citi Custom CashSM Card, also from our partner Citi, which gives you 5% back on up to $500 spent each month in your top eligible spending category from a list of options. Categories include restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, live entertainment and more.
You may also want to compare cards from other issuers, such as Amex, Capital One, Bank of America, HSBC and more.
The key is to find a good credit card that can help you maximize your rewards based on how you spend your money. If you can get an average rate with one of these cards that beats the Upromise card’s 1.529%, you may be happier with that card.
In such cases, there may be more steps between earning the rewards and getting the cash into your 529 account, but it’s likely worth the extra effort.
Just keep an eye on annual fees, balance transfer options, foreign transaction fees and other features that you want as a cardholder.
Bottom Line: Is the Upromise Mastercard Right for You?
The Upromise Mastercard created a novel way to use your everyday spending to maximize your college savings. Between the extra rewards and the round-up feature, you can use the card to seamlessly save for your child’s education without needing to do all the legwork yourself.
It also has some other nice perks, such as no annual fee, no foreign transaction fees, an intro APR on balance transfers, FICO score access, contactless capability and more.
But it’s important to consider just how much value you’re getting from the card and if another option might be better to help you reach your goals.
In particular, take some time to consider other cash-back credit cards that might give you a better rewards rate. You may even think about options that give you more flexibility with how you redeem your rewards.
The important thing is that you take the time to shop around and compare multiple cards before you pull the trigger on one.