[Update: Some offers mentioned below have expired. You can view the current offers from our partners once available here — Blue Cash Everyday from American Express. Disclosure: Cards from our partners are mentioned below.]
It’s hard to believe that it’s almost time for school to start. That means it’s also time to think about how you’re going to financially survive all those back-to-school expenses. Really, no matter how old your kids are, it costs plenty to get them dressed and properly supplied for school.
My advice is to be on the lookout for sales and try using one of these cash-back credit cards to help curb expenses.
If you have excellent credit, here are two cards to consider:
Blue Cash Everyday from American Express
This is my choice for the best-all-around credit card for school expenses. Here’s why:
- You earn 3 percent at grocery stores to help you pay for lunches and school supplies.
- You earn 2 percent at department stores and that will help you pay for clothes, shoes, socks, rain boots, and mittens.
- You earn 1 percent on all other purchases, which can help you pay for a backpack or even a more expensive item like a laptop.
The downside: The APR is on the high side, so don’t revolve a balance. If you do, you’ll wipe out the rewards benefits.
Savings Tip: Recommend this card to a fellow parent and get a $25 referral bonus when the friend is approved. Redeem the bonus for cash and deposit it in your child’s lunch account or use it to pay for your PTA membership.
Annual Fee: None
APR: You get a zero percent APR introductory offer for six or 12 months; then you get 17.24 percent, 19.24 percent or 21.24 percent (V) APR.
At publishing time, the Blue Cash Everyday from American Express is offered on Credit.com product pages and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for the card. However, this relationship does not result in ANY preferential editorial treatment.
Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by American Express. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of American Express, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express. This site may be compensated through American Express Affiliate Program.
Citi Dividend World MasterCard
This card was formerly known as the Citi Dividend Platinum Select MasterCard. Just wanted to point that out because name changes can get really confusing.
If you have to revolve a balance for a few months to get everything your child needs for school, this card offers you a breather. You get a zero percent introductory offer for the first 15 months. But I advise you to pay off the debt within the first few months. The longer your balance lingers, the more likely it is to snowball into a bigger debt.
You also get 5 percent cash back on rotating categories that change every season. The current categories are airlines, hotels and car rentals, which probably don’t help much right now unless you need to get a college student back to a school that’s several states away.
You also get a $100 cash back bonus after spending $500 within three months of opening your account. Use the cash back bonus toward any debt you’ve accumulated on the card.
Savings Tip: You can earn up to an additional 5 percent cash back when shopping through the Citi Bonus Cash Center, an online mall with over 400 stores, including Walmart, Staples and Macy’s. This is a good way to save on clothes, school supplies and more.
Annual fee: None
APR: You get a zero percent APR introductory offer for 15 months; then you get 12.99 percent, 16.99 percent or 20.99 percent (V) APR.
At publishing time, the Citi Dividend World Mastercard is offered on Credit.com product pages and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for the card. However, this relationship does not result in ANY preferential editorial treatment.
If you have fair credit, this card is a good deal:
Capital One No Hassle Cash Rewards Credit Card
This card from Capital One comes in two versions: one for excellent credit and one for fair credit. The main difference between the two is the interest rate for the “fair credit” version is higher.
If you don’t revolve a balance, you can take advantage of the rewards while doing your back-to-school shopping. But just in case you find you can’t pay off all of your school expenses in one month, you get to enjoy a zero percent APR introductory rate until April 2012.
You get 1 percent on all purchases, which helps to pay for school supplies and clothes. But you get 2 percent at major grocery stores to help offset the cost of lunch supplies.
Savings Tip: Get up to a 15 percent extra discount when shopping through Perk Central, an online mall with over 300 national retailers. This is in addition to the rewards you earn by using your card for purchases.
Annual fee: $39
APR: You get a zero percent APR introductory offer through April 2012; then you get a 17.9 percent, 19.9 percent or 22.9 percent (V) APR.
Image: fdecomite, via Flickr.com