Running An Experiment For Most Of This Year And It’s Baffling

The other week, I read a post from Freequent Flyer where he wrote “the long con”  and it reminded me of one of my favorite TV Shows, White Collar. One of the lines in the show had discussed “the long con” where the two main characters had a flashback early in their careers together discussing the con.

Mozzie: Huh! You are vert talented, kid. With you as my partner we could move way beyond the street hustle.

Neal: What did you have in mind?

Mozzie: A long con. Which, if executed properly, would enable us to purchase and retire on neighboring, temperate zone islands in a mere six months

Neal: I just got to the city and i’m too young to retire.

The long con is something like marrying someone for their money with that type of project lasting for many months or even years. Many acts of a long con man can be depicted by the character “Sawyer” portrayed in another show that I enjoyed, Lost.

The Experiment:

As soon as I was approved for the Barclay’s UPromise card back in March, I have been leveraging the UPromise portal more than any other cash back portal. I have spent nearly 6 months running this experiment and in one word it is baffling.

I still can’t tell you what triggers the extra 5% bonus. Each time the “5% bonus” shows up, it’s only 4% and it’s at least 3 months later so the transaction history disappears and I can’t go back to see what order I made to reconcile the transactions. I also can’t tell if I’m receiving the extra 1% for having the credit card and the Sallie Mae savings account.




To date, I’ve accumulated a little over $900 cash back and so far, I’ve received less than $10 in the extra cash back from the UPromise portal and the credit card combination. Nearly all that cash back was from the portal and $100 was from the credit card sign up bonus.

I left a lot of money on the table doing the UPromise Portal + UPromise credit card instead of earning points from other credit cards because I was trying to experiment with UPromise.

Has It Been Worth It?

Absolutely. I can tell you how much of a time suck level how much sucking the UPromise combination can be.As Homer Simpson says: they were suckiest sucks that ever sucked and the UPromise card is it. Would I recommend this card? Only under the right circumstances and those circumstances are really narrow. It’s like Amazon’s razor thin profit margins, that’s how narrow the “right circumstances” are. I would recommend the Choice Privileges Visa card over the UPromise.


5 comments… add one
  • i just checked my upromise account and found that I have gotten cashback posted as “pending” for ebay and staples. they seem to give the portal 1-5% within days or weeks (% depends on the partner) and give the 1% for using their upromise ccard. then the add’l 4% (for a total of 5%) comes later – which is what I am seeing posted now. for purchases 9/23 on ebay I got the portal c/back, then on 9/29 got another pending amount posted. and yes it is pretty impossible to reconcile these vs purchases and in general seems to take forever to get posted as pending, then even longer to be able to redeem.

  • So many cards, so little time. What’s a hacker to do? Good tip, though, and I don’t think Upromise is going to find a place in my crowded wallet.

  • Wow, I’m not sure why our experiences have been so different. I’ve had great success with the UP card and portal combo. It is a tad confusing trying to track things, but once you get the timing down, it makes sense. The best part was the 0 APR for the first year, which makes reselling a little less stressful.

  • I always wondered why no one ever talks about this card. I figured It is either a card that is so good using through the portal that no one wants to ruin it by talking about it or it so bad that no one ever bothers talking about it. Looks like I finally know. Thanks for the info.

  • I use this card occasionally and find it easy to track the credit card bonuses. I’ve used it less than I expected for several reasons:
    1) The T&Cs say the entire amount must be charged. I’ve missed out on the bonus because of some partial payments (gift cards) and because some merchants report to Upromise on an item by item basis (I’m looking at you Nordstrom) so the amounts don’t match.
    2) Using Ink for eBay gift cards has taken away my #1 anticipated use for this card (I’ll take 5 UR points over 5% all day long)
    3) With Discover doubling cash back and Cartera having frequent bonuses, Upromise is rarely the highest paying portal, except for a couple of stalwarts like Diapers.com


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