Miles for College

Whether you’re saving for a child’s future education or paying off your own student loans, it is now possible to earn rewards while doing so!  The process is simple: Use a rewards earning credit card to buy Gift of College gift cards, then apply the value of those cards towards a 529 plan or a student loan payment.

I’ll walk you through how this works…

Step 1: Make sure your 529 Plan or Student Loan is supported

Browse to GiftofCollege.com and log in or create a new account.

After filling out your profile, you can then click “Add a Plan“.

On the next screen, you’ll see a see a drop-down selector titled “Savings Plan or Student Loan Account“.

Click the selector and scroll down to see if your 529 plan or student loan is available.  If so, select your plan and fill out the required information (Beneficiary Name, Name on account, Account number) to link that account to your Gift of College account.

Step 2: Buy gift cards and earn rewards

Gift of College gift cards are available to purchase with a credit card in-store and online.  When buying in-store, here’s what to look for:

Tip: Store employees often don’t know about these gift cards. If you ask for them and are told that they don’t have them, don’t give up hope. Search for gift card racks all around the store, near check-out registers, etc.

Buy in $500 increments in-store

The standard fee for in-store Gift of College gift cards is $5.95 per card.  When you take the card to the register to buy it, you’ll be asked how much money you want to load to the card.  I recommend always buying these in the largest denomination possible ($500 in-store).  In this way, the fee becomes a small percentage of the overall price.

When you purchase a $500 gift card, the $5.95 fee is 1.19% of the card’s value.  If you pay with a credit card that offers better than 1.19% in rewards, you’ll come out ahead.  Depending upon which credit card you use and where you buy the gift card, you may be able to earn far more than 1.19% in rewards.

For details about where to buy Gift of College gift cards and which credit cards offer the best value, please see: Best options for buying Gift of College gift cards.

Step 3: Apply the gift card to your account or student loan

Once you have a Gift of College gift card in-hand, you’ll want to apply it to a 529 account or student loan.  To do so…

  1. Log into your GiftofCollege.com account
  2. Click on the “Plan” that you’d like to add the money to.  Gift of College lets you setup multiple plans within your account. This is useful if you are saving separately for multiple children or paying off multiple loans.  If you have only setup one plan, it is most likely listed as the beneficiary’s name.
  3. Click “Redeem Gift Card”
  4. Fill out gift card details (gift card number and PIN) and click submit

If you are using a store bought gift card, the details will be found on the back after you scratch off the silvery stuff which covers the PIN.  It should look something like this:

Once you apply the gift card, the full gift card value ($500, for example) will be sent to your 529 plan or student loan.  There are no fees other than the initial purchase fee.

Step 4: Wait for funds and rewards

Funds apply in approximately 14 days

Expect it to take 10 to 14 days from the time you apply a gift card online to the money appearing in your 529 account or as a payment to a loan.

Rewards apply after statement closes (usually)

Credit card rewards usually show up soon after your credit card statement closes each month.  Some may take longer depending upon the issuing bank and the particular rewards program involved.

Summary

Thanks to Gift of College gift cards it is easy to earn miles for college.  Whether you are saving for college through 529 plans or paying off a student loan, the same techniques can be used to earn miles, points, or cash back.

For more information, please see: Best options for buying Gift of College gift cards.

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