Upromise, Inc. today announced a new platform to provide companies an additional way to help Americans earn college savings rewards to offset the rising cost of education. McDonald’s is the first to leverage the innovative new platform and bring consumers college savings on a gift card through the highly popular McDonald’s Arch Card.

Gift cards have become increasingly popular in recent years, with U.S. retail gift card volume having reached over $18.6 billion in 2006, according to the National Retail Federation. Upromise’s gift card program offers a unique opportunity for companies to differentiate themselves by creating a positive brand halo by demonstrating a commitment to help make a college education achievable. It also helps businesses increase customer acquisition and loyalty by encouraging customers not only to acquire gift cards from Upromise merchant partners, but also to re-load them after initial use. Upromise actively markets participating companies to its over eight million members across the country.

“Together with Upromise, we’ve helped our customers save nearly $1.3 million for college,” says Georgina Roy, director, U.S marketing entertainment alliances, McDonald’s Corporation.

“Today, we’re providing our customers with yet another innovative way to save for college whenever they purchase — or add to the balance of—an Arch Card, either for themselves or for any gift-giving occasion.”

In addition to earning 1 percent in college saving rewards on the purchase of an Arch Card or when re-loading the card’s balance, Upromise members will continue to earn rewards from the purchase of McDonald’s gift certificates. To earn rewards, Upromise members can purchase Arch Cards or gift certificate books at participating McDonald’s restaurants. Then, simply register the gift card or gift certificate online at Upromise.com to earn rewards.

“When Upromise first launched, McDonald’s was among the first to step up and express their commitment to helping their customers overcome the college savings dilemma; so it’s fitting that they’re the first to participate in this innovative new program,” says David Rochon, president, Upromise. “As gift cards continue to gain in popularity, it is the perfect time for retailers to join Upromise and offer their customers the added value of holiday gifts that also provide college savings.”

The Upromise gift card program is easy to use and provides an opportunity for consumers to earn rewards from what might otherwise have been cash purchases, giving consumers an incentive to purchase and reload gift cards. Consumers simply register any gift card they purchase from a participating company to receive a percentage back for college savings. Once a card is registered, the consumer will automatically earn cash rewards each time they re-load the card balance.

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