Upromise: One Bad News and Two Redeeming Factors

Last week, I wrote about Upromise, a program that gives members cash back for purchases at certain stores, websites, and restaurants, which can then be transferred to Sallie Mae student loan accounts or 529 Plans.  But here’s an update, straight from my inbox: As of July 1, 2009 (never mind that I only got the email 5 days later!), store purchases at Bed Bath & Beyond are no longer eligible for the program, though the cash back rate for purchases on bedbathandbeyond.com was raised from 1 to 2%.  This is a pity since the 1% cash back given at BB&B stores only sweetened the deal when combined with the store coupons that come in the mail every couple of weeks (20% off an item plus another 1% cash back), but certainly does not negate the other benefits of the program.

For starters, here are two other great things about Upromise besides those mentioned in the previous post: (1) Upromise often lists coupon codes for its member stores, which can be used even if you’re not shopping through its program (e.g., you can buy online through ShopDiscover but use a coupon code you found in the Upromise website); and (2) apparently the cash accumulated through Upromise does not have to be used exclusively for education expenses, despite the program’s professed purpose.  In the small and difficult to find FAQ section, the program notes:

Upromise was created to help families save for college and we strongly encourage members to use the money they’ve earned towards education expenses. However, members may choose to withdraw the money they’ve saved for other purposes if they wish.

Now, besides the fact that you won’t be getting 1% cash back at Bed Bath & Beyond stores anymore, what else is keeping you from signing up for Upromise?

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