I logged on today to make a student loan payment on ECSI and went directly to “make credit card payment.” Usually when I do this, I’m redirected to Official Payments, a site that allows you to make payments on everything ranging from taxes, to court fees, citations, and student loans. Official Payments only accepts MasterCard and tacks on a 4.95% “convenience fee.”
I always found this obnoxious, since I would only earn 1 point per $1, and this fee completely devalued any points I earned for my payments.
Not only is ECSI now cutting out the the middleman by allowing you to make payments directly, they have decreased their fees to 3% and are now accepting Visa and American Express!
That 3% fee might still seem like a hindrance, but I was able to offset this and earn more than the standard 1 point per $1 I was previously restricted to. Here’s how:
- Buy an American Express Prepaid Card (Note: Amex frequently offers a $25 bonus per $200 loaded on new cards, so I’d wait for that promo if you’re not in a rush)
- Buy Vanilla Reload cards at Office Depot, using your Ink Classic, Ink Bold, or Ink Plus Business Cards. Vanilla Reload cards have a $3.95 fee, but this is offset somewhat by purchasing them in $500 increments and using one of the Ink cards, which award 5 points per $1 at office supply stores.
- Load your Vanilla Reload card onto your American Express Prepaid.
- Make your student loan payments through ECSI using your American Express Prepaid card.
- Earn 5 points per $1 on your payment!
On a $500 payment, you’ll pay $15 in transaction fees, $3.95 for the Vanilla Reload card, and earning 2500 Ultimate Rewards points. The fees are offset with the $25 bonus from American Express, and you come ahead with $6!
If you were to do this without the $25 bonus from American Express, you’d be paying $18.95 in fees to accrue 2500 points. 2500 Ultimate Rewards points are worth $25 cash or $31.25 in free travel through Chase. You can get even more value by transferring those points to participating Ultimate Rewards partners.
While it isn’t ideal to be paying any kind of transaction fees, this is a good way to meet credit card spending requirements and earn points on a payment that you have to make every month anyways.
Do you know of a cheaper way to earn points on student loan payments? Share below!
Disclosure: I do not earn a referral for any of the credit card links in this post.
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