Sallie Mae (NYSE:SLM) just gave local merchants a leg-up: the student loan issuer will now offer its popular Upromise college savings accounts at hundreds of independent merchants around the country.
Through the new local program, Upromise account holders will now have the ability to take advantage of in-store shopping deals that were previously unavailable. For example, customers can now shop at local Barnes & Noble locations in addition to shopping Barnes & Noble online. Some other retailers added to the program’s list of partners include The Pilates Movement in Denver, Colo., and Atlanta Flower Market in Alpharetta, Ga.
College Savings Rewards Programs Gain Traction:
The Upromise program is a college savings program that allows its customers to save for college simply be paying for everyday expenses with selected retailers. One of the main draws of the Upromise program is that college students can leverage the spending power of extended family, such as parent, grandparents and others, to save for college. With every qualified purchase made, a customer has the ability to earn between 1 percent to 25 percent cash back on their purchase.
Once you’ve accumulated funds, they are then automatically deposited into a Upromise account and can be invested in products such as high-yield savings accounts or tax deferred 529 plans. The money can also be used to pay down student loans, or account holders can instead request a check that can be used to pay for college expenses.
The program’s network currently includes more than 800 online stores, more than 8,000 restaurants, thousands of grocery stores and drugstore items. Some Upromise partners include Target.com, BestBuy.com, Apple, Sears.com.
Another perhaps lesser known college reward vehicle is run by Sage Scholars, which allows the families of college-bound high school students to earn points that can be converted to cash simply by saving and investing their money as they normally would.
To date the Upromise program has generated more than $600 million in savings since it began in 2001.This past April the company launched a new locations-based Upromise Mobile app to allow account holders to instantly locate nearby retailers using their smartphones.
Click here to read more about the program.