SallieMae was founded as The Student Loan Marketing Association in 1973 in Newark, Delaware. The financial services company currently operates as a consumer banking business and as a separate loan service and management entity known as Navient Corporation. The company offers a UPromise MasterCard that offers cash back rewards to help families save towards college education funds. According to the corporate website, over 18 million have joined UPromise and approximately $1 billion dollars has been earned in total college funds. SallieMae's banking services are FDIC insured.
- Comprehensive cash back rewards
- Additional credit card benefits
- Supplementary financial services
Comprehensive Cash Back Rewards
SallieMae offers a comprehensive cash back rewards program where members are able to earn up to 10 percent back on eligible online shopping purchases. Customers receive five percent just for being a member and five percent for using the UPromise MasterCard. Two percent cash back is earned with in-store and movie theater purchases. One percent cash back can be earned on all other eligible purchases. There are no caps on the total amount of points that may be earned.
Additional Credit Card Benefits
The UPromise MasterCard offers additional benefits for cardholders. There is no annual fee and no limit on the amount of cash back that may be earned. SallieMae provides a free FICO score for cardholders as well. The card features EMV chip technology for secure purchasing and a zero percent fraud liability protection feature for unauthorized transactions. The company also offers a zero percent introductory APR rate on balance transfers for the first 15 months.
Supplementary Financial Services
SallieMae offers several other supplementary services that cardholders may be interested in. The company offers an online library of informative articles on its website regarding student loans, grants, financial aid, and college planning as well as various financial calculators. Cardholders can also enroll in personal banking services at no charge which can be linked to the individual's credit card account. This makes it easier to access statements, transfer funds, and set up recurring payments and the company's mobile app assists customers in depositing checks electronically. Account holders can also set up customized alerts to monitor all any banking activity that occurs.
- High APRs
- Additional fees
- Service limitations
APRs range from 14.24 percent to 23.24 percent depending on personal credit history. Cash advance APRs charged by SallieMae are at a high 25.74 percent. These rates are subject to change anytime.The annual percentage rates are particularly high for those with excellent credit histories and more affordable options are available from similar competitors.
SallieMae charges a $37 fee for late and returned payments and a three percent foreign transaction fee. Balance transfer transaction fees are rated at at the greater amount of either $5 or three percent of the total amount. Cash advance transaction fees are rated at the greater amount of either $10 or five percent of the total amount. These fees are much higher than the standard surcharges from similar industry competitors.
In order to be eligible for the no annual fee benefits listed in its reward benefits, cardholders are required to meet certain credit history qualifications to qualify. The financial services company does not publicly disclose what these requirements are in detail on the website. Cardholders must also be at least 18 years old and legal residents of the United States. Consumers who fail to make payments on time forfeit their right to earned points during that timeframe until they bring their account back into good standing.
The Bottom Line
SallieMae is well-known as a student loan provider but also provides an array of other financial products and lending services as well. The financial services company offers one main credit card program called UPromise that helps families throughout the United States earn rewards on frequent everyday purchases in order to build up college funds for their children. SallieMae rewards up to five percent back on eligible purchases which is much higher than some other industry competitors. There is no cap on the total amount of points that can be acquired.
APRs are higher than the industry norm, especially for individuals with excellent credit histories. Interest fees and other surcharges are pricey as well, and consumers may be better off searching for alternatives options with lower rates from industry competitors. Cardholders are required to meet certain undisclosed credit qualifications to be considered for approval. The UPromise credit card is not a good choice for balance transfer and cash advance transactions. Consumers should read all terms and conditions fully disclosed on the corporate website before filling out a credit card application.