CollegeInvest Smart Choice 529 College Savings Plan: $50 Opening Bonus

Here’s another 529 bonus that’s pretty easy to grab. (See Ohio 529 $50 bonus.) The FDIC-insured version of the CollegeInvest College Savings plan is currently offering a $50 bonus if you deposit $50 of your own money and set up automatic transfers. There is no minimum balance, and the terms only require a $1 monthly transfer for 6 consecutive months. Effectively, double your $50 to $100 in 6 months.

This is one of the several 529 plan options for Colorado, and you do get a state tax deduction for your 529 contributions if you’re a Colorado resident (subject to recapture if you don’t use it for a qualified expense). One that caught my eye was the stable value version that is paying a 2.84% rate for 2011.

Plan Review. This bank version itself is pretty bare, and is intended for people who want to invest very conservatively in FDIC-insured accounts. There are only two options: (1) a 1-year CD paying 0.30% APY, and (2) a savings account paying 0.05% APY on balances up to $20,000. Even if it’s tax-deferred… yuck. If you are currently in college or have a really short timeframe, then you could just grab this bonus and take a qualified withdrawal soon afterward. Otherwise…

Take advantage of plan rollovers. I’ve opened a lot of 529 plans for the bonuses over the years, and I enjoy trying out each new service. Some have surprisingly good online interfaces (Ohio), while others are shockingly bad (Oregon circa 2007). But the good thing is, it’s pretty easy to roll over funds from one 529 to another existing plan. You usually just have to fill out a rollover form.


  1. Jonathan, would you mind pointing toward a URL that explains how this whole 529 thing works? I don’t have any kids, but I’ll take advantage of free money whenever I can get it. I don’t understand how it works if it’s an Ohio plan, and I live in Oregon. It seems you get these free money offers fairly often from 529s, I want in on it too!

  2. I have Ohio plan. If I open in and get the 50 dollars bonus and when I rollover to my original 529 plan, do they charge anything…just want to make sure that they do not charge 50 bucks..for rolling over and at the end of the year..

  3. Here is the info for rolling over to Ohio:'s-529-plan?FAQDetailView=true

    Here is the info for rolling over to Colorado:

    I don’t see any mention of fees in either place, but I haven’t actually done it myself yet.

  4. I have a similar question as Brian. Without kids, is there a way I can take advantage of 529 offers?

  5. @Jonathan – this overall application process does not take 5 minutes online as it claims on it’s website. This process takes up to a week to set up in order to receive the $50 promotion. Sure, they take your initial $50 deposit right away; however, you need to send a hard copy form of sensitive information such as your bank’s routing number and account number in order to set up auto transfers. This form needs to be sent to you via snail mail and apparently cannot be acquired online.

    @Lauren – just speaking from experience, you can open a 529 for yourself for your own educational expenses. My wife and I did so 5 years ago, but were comfortably able to shoulder tuition expenses without touching our 529 funds. We recently had a daughter and will transfer our 529 money to her account. Also, you don’t have to have a kid or a relative to invest in a 529 plan; just as long as the intended beneficiary is a permanent United States resident or citizen.

  6. I just tried to sign up and it asks questions like when I bought my house or how much I pay in rent/mortgage. These are required questions, not optional questions. They also want info on my employment and income. I find it a little odd how intrusive these questions are, especially since the Ohio 529 is so simple. Any reason why they would be asking these things?

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