Frequently Asked Questions

What's a LEAF gift card?

LEAF education gift cards can be purchased in any dollar amount from $25 to $1,000. Recipients, or their parents, can redeem cards on the LEAF website and transfer the full face value into any college savings 529 plan in the United States. Recipients can redeem the cards even if they don't have a 529 plan. LEAF will encourage them to open a plan and they can return to the LEAF website to simply transfer the funds later.

What's a 529 plan?

Enabled by Congress in 1996, college savings 529 plans are created and operated by states or educational institutions. (The number refers to a section of IRS tax code.) 529 plans offer tax advantages and potentially other incentives to make it easier to save for college. There are over a hundred plans sponsored by individual states: some states offer a tax benefit to residents and almost all plans are open to residents of any state.

Are all college savings 529 plans included?

Yes. LEAF gift card recipients can transfer the funds to any college savings 529 plan.

What's the main advantage of a typical 529 plan?

Earnings are not subject to federal tax and generally not subject to state tax when used for the qualified education expenses of the designated beneficiary, such as tuition, fees, books, as well as room and board.

Are LEAF gift cards tax deductible?

Generally, LEAF gift cards are not tax deductible to the purchaser. You should consult with your tax advisor for financial advice regarding the tax implications of making monetary gifts.

Does LEAF make recommendations of 529 plans?

No. LEAF does not promote any particular plan or provide any financial advice. From time to time LEAF may engage in co-marketing activities with individual 529 plans, but those activities are clearly presented as offers from the plans themselves. For a list of helpful resources, please click here.

How is my purchase protected?

LEAF College Savings gift cards are issued by CBW Bank, Weir, Kansas. Member FDIC. When you purchase a LEAF gift card, the funds go directly into a custodial account held by the bank in your name (for online purchases). When a recipient, or their parent, creates an account at and redeems the gift, the bank moves the funds into an account held by the bank in the redeemer’s name. Both accounts are insured by the FDIC. Upon instructions from the gift redeemer, the gift funds are transferred into any college savings 529 plan in the U.S.

What happens if LEAF goes away?

The gift card funds are never held by LEAF: they are held by CBW Bank, Weir, Kansas, who is the issuer of the cards. In that case, the bank would continue the program until the funds are transferred into a college savings plan at the instruction of the gift redeemer.

What if the recipient, or their parent, doesn't have a 529 plan?

LEAF will communicate by email with the parent encouraging them to open a plan. Not only will the funds be FDIC insured in the parent or guardian's name upon redemption, many plans can be opened for as little as $25.00. So, a single LEAF gift card can make it possible for a parent to start saving for college today. LEAF will point the parent to several excellent resources to help them make a choice.

What if the recipient doesn't redeem the gift?

If, after three months from the date of purchase or scheduled delivery (whichever is later), the gift is not redeemed, LEAF can refund the face value (not including the issuance fee) to the purchaser’s original payment method. LEAF may also issue refunds as a result of a purchaser’s timely cancellation. Refunds can take up to ten (10) business days to process, depending on the type of request.

What if I change my mind? Can I get a refund?

If, within fourteen (14) calendar days of gift purchase, a purchaser requests a refund and the gift has not yet been redeemed, LEAF will refund the full face value and the issuance fee. For purchases of physical cards, if LEAF has not yet fulfilled the order, LEAF will also refund the shipping and handling fee. If, after fourteen (14) calendar days of gift purchase, a purchaser requests a refund and the gift has not yet been redeemed, LEAF will refund the full face value but not the issuance fee. Refunds can take up to ten (10) business days to process, depending on the type of request.

What if the parent redeems the card but doesn't transfer the funds to a 529 plan?

For gift cards redeemed-but-not-transferred after one year, during which time LEAF will send at least a reminder six (6) months from the date of dormancy and again thirty (30) days from dormancy, LEAF on behalf of CBW will issue a check in the amount of the card value minus fees and mail it to the recipient’s known address.

If after ninety (90) days the check is not cashed, CBW Bank will send the remaining value to the escheat / treasurer’s office of the state known for the recipient’s address.

The bank will charge an inactivity fee of $5.00 at the end of one year, and an escheat fee of $5.00 if the check is not cashed.

How long does it take for the bank to transfer the gift card value to a 529 plan?

The amount of time it takes to transfer the gift value varies. Typically, the process takes from three to five business days based on the day of the week the gift was purchased and when the card was redeemed. For example, if the card was purchased by credit card, gifted, redeemed and a transfer request was made all on a Thursday, the bank would probably receive the funds from the credit card company on Monday. Once the funds were received, the transfer process would be initiated on Tuesday and the funds dispersed to the 529 plan on Wednesday or Thursday. A recipient may redeem the gift on the same day it was purchased but the bank will make the transfer only after the funds are received.

Does LEAF enjoy a "float" on the value of the gift cards?

No. The funds go directly into consumer titled accounts at CBW Bank, Weir, Kansas. Member FDIC. LEAF does not receive a ‘float’ or interest on the value of the gift cards.

Can the recipient, or their parent, transfer the funds into savings accounts or plans other than a 529 college savings plan?

Not at this time.

Can the recipient, or their parent, receive cash for the gift card?

LEAF does not offer a 'cash out' option to gift card recipients. LEAF’s goal is to make saving for college easier for parents, and easier for friends and family to participate. Only in cases where a card has been redeemed but not transferred after one year will the bank attempt to send the funds to the recipient by check.

Can a single gift card be split up into multiple recipients?

Not at this time. Each gift card can be redeemed for only one recipient (child). We've received this request frequently and will probably add the capability in the near future. Please keep telling us how we can make LEAF better!

What if the card is lost or stolen?

Please notify LEAF immediately upon discovery of a lost or stolen gift card. LEAF will replace the card at no charge except for a shipping and handling fee in the case of a physical card.

Are there other ways to give to a 529 plan?

Yes. Most 529 plans offer a paper form that can be submitted with a contribution for no fee to the gift giver. However, many forms require information such as the plan account number that the gift giver may not know. LEAF believes that by using the easy and simple gift card approach many more friends and family will contribute to a child’s college savings.

What rules apply to other gift cards sold by LEAF?

Other types of gifts, including gift cards, feature their own rules. The individual Terms and Conditions for those gifts can be found clearly labeled at the end of LEAF’s Terms and Conditions, which is available as a link at the bottom of every web page at

What fees are charged by LEAF?

Please visit Our Fees page by clicking here.

Why did I receive a check from SoFi/LEAF?

After one year, if the funds from a gift card have been redeemed but not transferred to a 529 plan or educational institution, we will issue you a check for the face value of the gift card, minus a check issuance fee of $5, per our Account Holder Agreement. That check will be mailed to the address which we have on file for you.