To update, I am still very happy with the program and would highly recommend it to anyone who is saving for college or trying to pay down student loans. It’s been about nine months since I joined. In that time, I’ve picked up $204 in rewards towards my Sallie Mae college loan, though I would tend to think that I buy more stuff online than most people because of my business.
The bulk of the rewards comes from two sources: eBay and eRewards. eBay offers 1 percent rewards for every purchase. We buy a lot of our business supplies through eBay venders rather than traditional suppliers. As example, we buy packing tape, static bags, some boxes, packing supplies, office supplies, general equipment, and more. Since I already bought these items on eBay, it fit right in without any disruption to my normal habits.
I was highly skeptical of eRewards when I signed up. I just didn’t buy into the whole “take surveys, earn money” line. But, I figured if they had partnered with Sallie Mae, I would give them a shot. I might spend an hour a month taking surveys, quite often taking them as I’m working on other tasks on my computer. I’ve managed to get $50 worth of credit to my Upromise account through eRewards during the nine months I’ve been signed up.
I’ve also picked up rewards from Newegg (the best place in the world for desktop computer parts), Office Max, our local grocery store and our favorite local BBQ joint, Biggs.
The best, and most consistent, way to use the program is still to install the browser toolbar. Otherwise, you have to go to the Upromise site, log in, find the store you want to shop at, then finally click on a link to the store to make sure you get your rewards. It’s a pain. Sadly, while a better option, the toolbar is still annoying. It briefly routes you through the Upromise site every time you visit a site that gives rewards. It delays loading the desired site by maybe a second. Sometimes, if you open a page on a rewards giving site in a new tab, the re-routing kicks in again and dumps you off at the stores main page. Annoying. But, still better than having to manually go through the Upromise site. I still suggest running two browsers, one for you daily use and one for shopping. I run dual instances of Firefox (which I finally learned how to do a few months ago).
At the pace I’ve been earning rewards, I figure I will have earned the equivalent of three extra payments by the end of the year. I can’t stress enough that I think I buy more online than the average person, but I still think the program can be good for anyone trying to pay down a Sallie Mae student loan. Even earning one extra payment a year for a few years could shave serious money off your student loans.