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A few weeks ago, Barclays invited me and several other travel and personal finance writers to meet with Barclays and UPromise executives to talk about the Barclays UPromise card. While I did not receive any financial (cash) compensation, they did sponsor the trip and various activities in Boston and New York, so I feel like it’s important to disclose. Up to you to decide how much if any that compensation affects the review 🙂
Barclays UPromise card review
The Barclays UPromise card has been around for nearly 20 years now – it actually was the first credit card that I ever got as a youngster. Back then I didn’t know anything about anything, and after having our first child, I thought “hmm I need to save money for college” so this was the card that I got.
Recently, the Barclays Upromise card has changed the terms of the rewards that they offer and I thought it was worth the time to do a Barclays UPromise credit card review.
The basic premise of the Barclays UPromise Mastercard is 1.25% cash back on all purchases (so no bonus categories)
In addition, if you have an eligible 529 College Savings plan, you’ll get a 15% bonus towards your cashback savings. That makes a total of 1.4375%.
Barclays UPromise credit card review – round up for savings
Another big Barclays UPromise Mastercard credit card benefit is the ability to round up for savings
If you opt in to roundup, then each of your purchases with the card will be rounded up to the nearest dollar, and the balance added either as cashback or deposited to your 529 college savings plan. Note that the extra rounded up amount is not donated by Barclays or anything – it just comes out of your own pocket. If you make a purchase for $1.01
The advantage is it’s just an automatic way for forced savings. One interesting note is that the 15% bonus towards your college plan DOES also apply to the rounded up amount. There’s a cap of $500 annually on the round up feature, so if you max that out, you’d be getting an extra $75 each year.
There are a few other minor benefits, such as
- Free two-day shipping and free return shipping on eligible purchases with your complimentary ShopRunner membership
- Free online access to your FICO® Credit Score
- No foreign transaction fees
Barclays UPromise card vs. a 2% cashback card
My immediate thought when hearing the benefits on the Barclays UPromise Mastercard was – “why would I get 1.4375% on purchases when I could get a 2% cash back card”? I’d imagine many of you reading this Barclays UPromise credit card review are thinking the same thing.
That actually came up as a question in our presentation with the Barclays and UPromise executives. And on the surface, the answer is that “no, you should never do this”. The only example I could think of where this makes sense would be someone that finds they are having trouble saving for long-term things like college. Whereas the cash back from a regular 2% cash back just comes right to you and is easily spendable either as a statement credit or to pay other bills, the advantage of the UPromise Mastercard is that it acts as a “forced” savings.
The other thing is that the Round Up feature, if you max it out, does give an additional $75 annually. The breakeven point for the Barclays UPromise cash back card if you max out the Round Up feature for the whole $500 (which would be tough to do unless you’re really trying to) would be $13,333. If you spend less than that and max out the $75 from the Round Up feature, you actually end up with more cash back than a straight 2% card.
Where to get the Barclays UPromise card
You can sign up for the Barclays Upromise credit card at UPromiseMasterCard.com (not an affiliate link). There is not currently a welcome offer on the card, and there is no annual fee as well.
If you’re looking for a card that gives automatic contributions and cashback specifically for college, consider the Barclays UPromise credit card. It’s definitely more of a card for someone who is more interested in a set it and forget it card.
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