When you are thinking about shopping for back to school gear, nobody thinks about gift cards as an essential part of the arsenal. The major items for a college student that are a part of the shopping are: shoes, new clothes, dorm accoutrements and electronics (laptop, tablet and phone).
So, why are gift cards an essential part of your arsenal? Manageability. When a college student first arrives on campus, there are usually vendors out there saying “Get a free t-shirt if you sign up for this credit card!” While this is very appealing, it is not the way that you want to start out college; by becoming more in debt. This is very easy to get into and if you do not read the fine print, you may be paying upwards of 24% APR on the credit card.
That is where the gift card comes in. From both the parent and college students’ point of view, it becomes a system of checks and balances. For the parents, they can send money to their kids in a secure reliable channel (instead of an envelope of cash) but also control how much their son or daughter is spending. This gives peace and mind for them so they know their kids have enough to survive. For the student, they can be sure that they have a payment method that is accepted at all major retailers and they won’t run themselves up into credit card debt. This, at the end of the day, is one of the things that you may not think of as a student but will save you in the long run.
So, make sure that you pick up some gift cards during your back-to-school shopping to ensure your kids have enough money to buy all of those late-night Sheetz runs and, oh yeah, book.
~~ John Lint, former employee of GiftCards.com