Making the Most of Your Upromise Contributions

Paying for college is increasingly becoming one of those things that hard to do. It is expensive, and not just for the tuition (although that is the biggest expense). Housing expenses, books, fees, food – it all adds up. With a coordinated plan that includes a variety of options, though, it is possible to scrap together quite a bit of money to help you save enough to help your child out, at least a little. And one of those ways is making the most of your Upromise contributions.

Upromise is a great little program with thousands of sponsors and facilitated in great measure by Citi. By signing up, you agree to have your spending tracked, and, little by little, cents earned from participating businesses and products start to add up. Additionally, you can have friends and family link to your Upromise account, and they can add their little contributions to yours, helping them add up even faster.

While it is true that you will not likely get a lot by participating (you can sign up at, you can make the most of what you do have. Registering your grocery cards, debit cards, and credit cards is helpful, but what you need to do is actively think of ways to boost the amount that gets dropped into the account. By planning carefully, you can manage to put in between $50 and $100, or more. That can add up to enough to pay for a year of dorm living or for a year’s worth of a meal plan. At some smaller state schools in the West, that can be a semester’s worth of tuition. While not a huge amount, still helpful, nonetheless.

Getting an Upromise credit card from Citi is perhaps one of the best ways to get started. Register your card, and 1% of anything that you spend goes toward the Upromise account. I have a rule: anytime I buy something online, I use the Upromise card. Then I pay it off at the end of the month. It is much like taking advantage of an airline rewards credit card plan.

But purchasing online also contributes to maximizing what goes into the Upromise account. After you log into the Upromise Web site, you can use convenient tabs at the top to help you shop online from hundreds of stores that offer special Upromise amounts (e.g. Target usually amounts to 4% of the purchase price). Sometimes they offer amazing deals, like sending flowers using FTD and dropping 10% of that into your Upromise account. Every year my mother and my mother-in-law get flowers for Mother’s Day – flowers ordered online through the Upromise link and paid for with the Upromise card and resulting in a $10-$15 increase in my Upromise account. You can even make travel reservations through the site.

While this summer’s arrangements are going on my miles card, the fact that I am reserving them via Upromise ensures that both my son’s college and my future traveling desires are enhanced.

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