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Take the sting out of the high cost of back to school shopping by using a credit card that rewards you for all your purchases. Parents spent an average of $674 on back to school shopping in 2016, according to the National Retail Federation. That makes the back to school season a smart time to apply for a new credit card.
Credit card companies are offering sign-up bonuses worth hundreds of dollars in travel or cash back. You just need to apply for a new card and spend a certain amount during the first few months your account is open to earn the sign-up bonus. For the markers, glue sticks, laptops and new clothes already on your list, using the right credit card for back to school shopping can mean extra money back in your wallet fast.
You can save a surprising amount on your back to school shopping and your everyday purchases with the right credit card. Use cash back credit card rewards for something extra special for you and your family. Or, choose a travel card and start building up miles for a spring break trip. If your finances are tight use one of the long 0% introductory APR cards. You could get a year or longer of 0% interest. We did the homework and found these credit cards passed the test for parents.
Best for Packed Lunches and Clothes. Growing kids means big appetites. If you’ve got kids you probably spend a lot on groceries. Families can earn substantial cash-back rewards with this no-annual fee card. Earn 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year). Advancing to the next grade also means it’s time for new clothes and shoes. Again. Parents will earn 2% cash back at select U.S. department stores. There are about 15 popular stores on Amex’s list including Kohl’s, J.C. Penney, Macy’s, Sears and Dillard’s. You will also earn 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and earn 1% cash back on everything else, which can add up significantly at the end of the year. Earn a $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
Best for Laptops, Big Ticket Items. If expensive electronics, like a tablet or laptop, are on your back to school list, you can earn big cash back rewards with this card. That could be substantial for the big-ticket items on your list. This is a hard-working, high-earning cash back rewards card that will pay you twice. The simple cashback program rewards you with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy and 1% cash back as you pay for those purchases. That makes it one of the highest all around cash-back reward cards. There is no annual fee and no limit to the amount of cash you can earn. If you are looking to transfer high-interest credit card debt, this card offers a long introductory APR of 0%* for 18 months on Balance Transfers*.
Best for Cash-Back Bonus. We give Discover an A+ for their originality with this sign-up bonus that could be worth hundreds of dollars depending on your spending level. This is a no-annual fee, high earning cash back card. Discover delivers with a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year automatically. That means you could turn a $200 bonus into $400 with Cashback Match™. You will also earn an industry high 5% cash back (up to $1,500) in bonus categories each quarter and 1% cash back everywhere else.
If the budget is tight right now, you will get an ultra-long 0%* for 21 months on purchases* introductory APR with this card. That means you will have well over a year to pay down your balance with no interest charges. This is the classic no-hassle credit card. It’s the only card with no late fees, no penalty rate, and no annual fee. If you have high interest credit card debt you’d like to transfer, there is an introductory 0% on balance transfers too.
Best for Spring Break Travel Bonus. This flexible travel card earns high marks for its impressive sign up bonus. Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's worth $625 in travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. The massive sign-up bonus will go a long way toward making your spring break plans a reality. Cash in your points on hotels, airfare, and even car rentals or cruises with this flexible travel card. Earn 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. Your points are worth 25% more when you book airfare, hotels or car rentals through the easy to use Chase Ultimate Rewards® travel portal. The annual fee is $0 Intro for the First Year, then $95.
Best for High Ongoing Travel Rewards. The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card earns top grades with its all-star line-up of benefits that will take families far. Earn unlimited 2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day. These miles are easy to redeem, can be used to fly on any airline or stay at any hotel with no blackout dates, and miles won't expire for the life of the account. Parents can also nail down an impressive sign-up bonus. Earn a one-time bonus of 40,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months of account opening, equal to $400 in travel. The annual fee is $0 intro for first year; $59 after that. If you don't want an annual fee consider its sister card the Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card
Best for Business Owning Parents. For parents who own their own business and are eligible, this card delivers 5% cash back on popular business categories including office supply stories. Earn $300 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. You will also earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each year and 1% on all other card purchases. Take advantage of introductory APR 0% for 12 months. There is no annual fee.
Best for Balance Transfer. This card towers above the competition with its long introductory 0% period. With the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card – 21 Month Intro Offer on BT and Purchases, you get a long balance transfer and purchase intro rate. This card is perfect for parents who want to do a balance transfer and pay it offer over a long period of time with no new interest piling up. What sets this card apart from other long 0% intro APR offers are extra features often seen only on travel cards or premium cards. Parents who travel will appreciate the 24/7 access for travel and emergency assistance, worldwide car rental insurance and trip cancellation protection. Card holders are eligible for Citi® Price Rewind that can save you money on items you’ve already bought. No annual fee.