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Sending your kid off to school every day with a packed lunch can feel quite rewarding. But it can also lighten your wallet, as the Snack Pack puddings and Capri Suns needed for daily lunches really add to your grocery bill over the course of the school year.
Some credit cards can make packed lunches more affordable, putting cash back in your pocket whenever you buy groceries.
Here are four of our favorite credit cards for packing school lunches.
Rewards: 6% cash back on up to $6,000 in US supermarket purchases per year (and 1% on purchases beyond that threshold); 3% cash back at US gas stations and eligible department stores; and 1% cash back on other purchases.
Sign-Up Bonus: $150 bonus cash back in the form of a statement credit if you spend $1,000 in the first three months.
Annual Fee: $95.
Annual Percentage Rate (APR): Variable 13.99% to 24.99% APR on balance transfers and purchases.
Why We Picked It: This card offers the best supermarket cash back rate we’ve seen.
For Packing Lunches: All supermarket purchases earn 6% cash back (up to a $6,000 annual limit, at which point the rate drops to 1%), which will go a long way toward slashing your lunch expenses. Plus, 3% cash back at US gas stations and select department stores can help you afford trips to the store and any back-to-school clothes.
Drawbacks: There’s a $95 annual fee.
Rewards: 4% cash back on up to $7,000 in eligible gas purchases each year (and 1% cash back on gas purchases beyond that limit); 3% cash back on dining and eligible travel purchases; 2% cash back on Costco and Costco.com purchases; and 1% cash back on other purchases.
Sign-Up Bonus: None
Annual Fee:$0 with a paid Costco membership.
APR: 0% APR for seven months on purchases, then variable 16.24% APR; variable 16.24% APR on balance transfers.
Why We Picked It: You’ll earn a nice 2% cash back on all lunch supplies purchased at Costco.
For Packing Lunches: With 2% cash back in-store and online, Costco members can save on groceries and more. And that’s on top of the great deals on bulk food you’ll get with your membership, saving you even more as you pack those lunches. As a bonus, gas, dining, and travel purchases all earn special cash back rates.
Drawbacks: You have to be a Costco member to access this card.
3. Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card
Rewards: 3% cash back on gas and 2% cash back on groceries and wholesale club purchases for up to $2,500 in combined spending each quarter; 1% cash back on other purchases.
Sign-Up Bonus: $150 online bonus cash reward if you spend $500 in the first 90 days.
APR: 0% APR for 12 months on balance transfers (made within 60 days) and purchases, then variable 13.99% to 23.99% APR on balance transfers and purchases.
Why We Picked It: This card earns solid cash back for groceries at a wide range of merchants.
For Packing Lunches: Purchases at both supermarkets and wholesale clubs earn a respectable 2% cash back. You’ll also get 3% cash back on gas and score a 0% APR for 12 months.
Drawbacks: Special cash back rates are capped at $2,500 in purchases per quarter.
Rewards: 1% cash back on purchases and an additional 1% upon payment.
Sign-Up Bonus: None
APR: Variable 14.49% to 24.49% APR on purchases; 0% APR for 18 months on balance transfers, then variable 14.49% to 24.49% APR.
Why We Picked It: No matter what you buy, you’ll earn 2% cash back once you’ve paid it off.
For Packing Lunches: You can earn 2% cash back on groceries and everything else, with the full cash back awarded once purchases are paid off.
Drawbacks: The full value of this card is only available if you pay off balances promptly.
How to Choose a Card for Packing School Lunches
If you primarily use your credit card for groceries, choose the card with the best cash back rate at your merchant of choice.
If you tend to use your credit card for a variety of other purchases, on the other hand, you’ll need to take a closer look at your spending habits and the cash back offers on the market. Try to choose a card that rewards the purchases you most frequently make.
Remember that cash back cards are most valuable when the balance is paid off in full each month. Otherwise, interest can diminish the value of your cash back rewards.
What Credit Is Required for a Credit Card for Groceries?
The best cash back cards usually require good to excellent credit. Be sure to check your credit score before applying, as you’ll want to be confident in your ability to get approved. You can check your credit report free at Credit.com.
At publishing time, the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express, Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi, and Citi Double Cash cards are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).
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