There is a fantastic new way to give the gift of education to any friend or family member. And, it’s even a method to help you pay down your student loan while earning miles and points. Gift of College is a college savings registry of sorts.
You can purchase gift cards from the company that the recipient (or you) can use to pay off a student loan, or establish or contribute to his or her existing 529 plan. For miles and points enthusiasts, it finally paves the way to earn valuable loyalty currency just for paying off your loan or helping someone else afford college. Let’s look at how the program works.
Have you ever been gift shopping for a friend or family member and wanted to give them something more meaningful than the latest electronic gadget, game or book? This may be especially true when it comes to little kids. Do they really need one more toy, or would a more meaningful and thoughtful gesture be a few dollars to help him or her plan for a college education one day? Of course, being a miles and points junkie, you really don’t like to buy any gift without having a way to earn some miles and/or points from the purchase.
Similarly, parents might love to have family members contribute to their children’s college funds, but there was no ideal way to do so in the past. Enter Gifts of College. With the company’s new gift cards, you can contribute to a 529 plan (new or existing), or even pay off an existing student loan for someone who’s already graduated.
What’s the best part about buying a Gift of College gift card? If you do so with a rewards credit card or debit card, you’ll earn some valuable miles and points for yourself. It’s a win-win.
First Things First, What is a 529 Plan?
A 529 plan is a type of college savings plan that offers certain tax advantages. According to CollegeSavings.org, “Savings in a 529 plan grow free from federal income tax, and withdrawals remain tax-free when used for qualified higher education expenses. Additionally, many states mirror the federal 529 plan tax advantages by offering state tax-deferred growth and tax-free withdrawals for qualified higher education expenses.” Talk with your accountant to find out if a 529 plan is right for your situation.
Where Can You Buy GiftofCollege.com Gift Cards?
These gift cards are relatively new so you won’t find them everywhere just yet. Look for them at Toys R Us and Babies R Us stores. Not all locations sell them but, it’s worth it to take a look at your local store first. If you can’t find the gift cards near you, order them online at GiftofCollege.com.
What Gift Card Denominations are Available?
For in-store purchases, you can select the amount of the gift card in any denomination between $25 and $500. To get the best bang for your buck, load the maximum of $500 on the card and the fee will be 1.19 percent. If you purchase your gift card online, you can only load up to $200 on one card so that makes the fee closer to three percent (or $5.95).
How are GiftofCollege.com Gift Cards Delivered?
If you purchase a gift card at the company’s website, you can opt to have it delivered via email or you can have a physical gift card mailed to your recipient. (USPS First Class shipments cost $1.95 for one card and Express Service is $9.95.)
Which Credit Card Should You Use for the Purchase?
Determining which credit card to use for Gift of College purchases is a personal choice, but here are some tips:
- Do you have a new credit card that you’re trying to hit the minimum spend in order to receive a big point of miles or points? If so, use that card.
- Do you have a cash back card with an earning percentage of 1.9 or greater? Use that card.
- Do you have a card that rewards you for charitable spending? Use that card since Gift of College online orders are often coded as charitable donations.
- Otherwise, use your favorite rewards card for any Gift of College purchases.
How Does the Recipient Redeem the Gift Card?
Once your friend or family receives your gift, he or she will need to:
- Visit either ScholarShare.com or GiftofCollege.com to either create a new account or log in to an existing account
- Go to the profile page and enter the gift card information.
If your recipient doesn’t yet have a 529 college savings plan, he or she can find and start one at ScholarShare.com or GiftofCollege.com.
If you are looking to repay a student loan, your best bet is to go through the portal at GiftofCollege.com. You can purchase enough cards to make your payments in full, and you’ll earn miles or points from your favorite rewards credit or debit card each time you make a purchase. Then, visit Gift of College to apply the amount to your student loan. Making those payments will finally be a little less cringeworthy.