First of all Upromise is not going to go out of business- (Their business plan is brilliant, and they might very well be bought- but I see very little chance of them going out of business, especially now that they are national.) if you look at their company financials you will see that for every company giving you something, the company also gives Upromise a kickback too. Not only that, but while your money is in their account waiting to grow large enough to transfer to a 529 plan, they are keeping the returns, and you earn nothing. (Kind of like your bank does with your checking account.)
I think Upromise is a great program. I've been participating since about Nov, and while you shouldn't allow yourself to spend more than you ordinarily would- you can spend differently and really make out over the long term. For example, buying Mobil gas instead of Shell, Coke instead of Pepsi- for products that are about the same price, you can usually find one of them to give you a kickback to your account.
I have also changed my spending habits in other ways as a result of Upromise. By shopping online for merchandise through their approved vendors, I am not tempted by items I see, but don't really need, at the mall, and since so many online companies are hurting in this economy, the shipping's usually free. I love not driving 30 minutes to the mall only to find out that what I went there for is out of stock. With UPROMISE, I get what I want in about 10 minutes total and it's delivered to my door in a couple days. It really has brought me back to how convenient online shopping is.
The other thing I love about Upromise is the grocery program. It's national now and I see no reason why everyone shouldn't do it. (You don't have to register a credit card, you can pay with cash). I don't even know what products give me $, so I only buy what I would normally buy, and every week, there's a little more in my account. I wish Babymint had this feature instead of the coupons.
That brings me to the second reason for writing, it seems many in this thread think you can only have one or the other, indulge in both, it's allowed!
Finally, I too, am disturbed at the quality of plan offerings UPROMISE has chosen, but I won't let that derail me from free $$. When your account gets large enough to meet the minimum subsequent investment on your favorite 529 plan, simply withdraw from UPROMISE and put the money in your own plan. You shouldn't really keep more than $50 in there anyway, unless you enjoy the fact that all the interest your money earns goes to UPROMISE and not you!
A final great thing about UPROMISE is the restaurants-most of them offer 10% on the total bill including tip to your account. A great idea for all of you with expense accounts! You can register your corporate card, get paid 10% by Upromise, and have your company pick up the bill! I no longer take clients to restaurants that don't participate.
For all of you who said that you still need to save outside Upromise, you're right on- but with Upromise and Babymint you're still saving a little something extra!