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Upromise, Inc.
Upromise Logo.jpg
Type Subsidiary of Sallie Mae
Founded 2000 (2000)
Headquarters Newton, MA, United States
Key people David Coppins (President), Michael Bronner (Founder),
Website www.upromise.com
Launched April 2001

Upromise is an United States loyalty program where members accrue credits on eligible purchases that are directed to a college savings plans or to pay down student loans. The company is owned by SLM Corporation, the parent of Sallie Mae and is headquartered in Newton, Massachusetts.

Upromise members accrue account credit on eligible purchases from grocery stores, online retailers, travel, restaurants and gas stations. Members can direct their earnings into a high-yield savings account or tax-deferred 529 plan, use it to pay down eligible student loans or request a check as the money is not required to be spent on college-related expenses.

Critics of the Upromise program point out that as of 2008, the average member has earned only $47 toward future college expenses, and that to accrue this amount, the participant opts into a highly detailed purchase-tracking system, with information sold by Upromise to subscribing marketers.[1]

The "529" college savings plans are offered through Upromise Investments, Inc. (member of Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC)).

Products and Services[edit]

Upromise Inc. operates a loyalty program called Upromise Rewards. Members can earn rebates at registered grocery stores, retail locations, restaurants, and online shopping sites through the Upromise online shopping database and by registering their credit cards with their rewards membership.[2] Upromise also offers a credit card to earn cash back for college expenses or to help pay down eligible Sallie Mae student loans.[3][4]

Members are then able to direct all of their rebates into savings accounts or tax-free 529 savings plans, or simply request a check for their earnings, though the program does encourage users to earn and save for college Grose, Thomas K. (2006). "Spend Your Way to College". U.S. News & World Report 141.24. 

Notable Partnerships[edit]

Below is a list of some of the notable retailers partnered with Upromise Rewards:[5]

Another notable partnership is the Upromise MasterCard for earning rewards both online and offline.[5] The MasterCard does generate the same APR as any other credit card, so members can create more debt if they aren’t financially aware.[6] The Upromise MasterCard generates a 1% rebate on all purchases and up to an additional 5% on eligible purchases online.[7][8] In order to earn substantial rebates as a Upromise member, he or she must keep close track of how much is spent. Members in online communities report earning very small amounts over many years for lack of active participation or lack of affiliated purchases.[9] Others boast earning tens of thousands towards college funds. Because Upromise is a for-profit company that helps people earn rebates much like other credit rebate programs, members get out of it the effort they put in.[9]


Upromise, Inc. was co-founded in 2000 by Michael Bronner, David Fialkow and Jeff Bussgang after congress passed the 529 plan, which allowed consumers to save money for college in tax-free investment accounts.[10] The Upromise Rewards program was introduced in 2001.[11] In 2002, Upromise created Upromise Investments as a brokerage firm to manage the 529 college savings and investment plans.[12] Upromise Investments was acquired by Ascensus, the largest independent retirement and college savings provider in the United States [13] in 2013, but continues to support investment accounts for the participants in the Upromise rewards program.[14]

Upromise, Inc. was acquired by Sallie Mae, the leading U.S. education finance company with over 10 million borrowing customers, in 2006.[15] A co-branded Upromise and MasterCard credit card was introduced in 2001 and began with Citigroup as the cardholder. Citigroup sold the Upromise card to Bank of America in 2008, and in 2012, Sallie Mae dropped Bank of America and sold the credit card to Barclay’s.[16]

On January 5, 2012, Upromise agreed to settle FTC charges and was barred from its allegedly deceptive practice of using its web-browser toolbar, TurboSaver, to collect consumers' personal information without adequately disclosing the extent of the information it is collecting. The settlement also bars any future misrepresentation about the extent to which Upromise maintains the privacy and security of consumers' personal information, required the company to establish a comprehensive information security program and to obtain biennial independent security assessments for the next 20 years.[17]


External links[edit]