From computers to crayons, these are the 5 best credit cards for school supplies
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Editor’s Note: This post has been updated with the latest information. For the most up-to-date card benefits due to the pandemic, read our guide to limited-time COVID-19 card perks.
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has shifted every facet of daily life. If you are attending school or have a child that is, the past few months have likely gone virtual — and for many, that may continue into this fall. Whether you (or your kids) are taking classes from home or attending in-person, it’s important to have the right supplies.
From laptops to pencils and everything in between, that back-to-school list can sometimes run into the hundreds or thousands of dollars.
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If you are simply looking to earn more points and miles, or apply for a new card to hit a minimum spend bonus, back-to-school shopping can be a great way to do so. Here are five of the best credit cards for back-to-school supplies.
- Citi Prestige® Card: Best for limited-time ThankYou points bonus (through Aug. 31, 2020)
- Chase Ink Business Cash Credit Card: Best for office supply stores
- Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Card: Best for Amazon purchases
- American Express® Gold Card: Best for supplies at U.S. supermarkets
- The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express: Best for school supplies everywhere else
Comparing the best cards
|Best For||Bonus Earning||TPG Valuation|
|Citi Prestige® Card||All online purchases||5x ThankYou points (through Aug. 31, 2020 only)||8.5 cents|
|Chase Ink Business Cash Credit Card||Office supply stores||5% cash back (or 5x Ultimate Rewards points)||10 cents (if earning Ultimate Rewards points)|
|Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Card||Amazon purchases||5% back||5 cents|
|American Express® Gold Card||U.S. supermarket purchases||4x Membership Rewards points, up to $25,000 in purchases each calendar year (then 1x) Terms Apply.||8 cents|
|The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express||School supplies anywhere else||2x Membership Rewards points, up to $50,000 in purchases each year. Terms Apply.||4 cents|
The information for the Citi Prestige and Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
A closer look at each card
Earnings: For a limited time through Aug. 31, 2020, Citi Prestige cardholders can earn 5x ThankYou points (up to 7,500 points) on all retailer website orders and online grocery orders. Additionally, the $250 annual travel credit can be used on grocery stores and restaurants through the end of 2020.
That’s on top of the existing and permanent category bonuses: 5x points on all air travel and restaurant purchases, 3x on hotel and cruise line purchases and 1 point per dollar on everything else.
Related reading: Guide to maximizing ThankYou points
Annual fee: $450
Why we like it: All online purchases is a huge category, whatever you might need to buy for back-to-school season. 5x ThankYou points per dollar is worth 8.5 cents, according to TPG valuations.
Read our review of the Citi Prestige.
Earning: The Chase Ink Business Cash Credit Card offers a generous 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores along with internet, cable and phone services. Whether you are buying simple supplies or a computer, 5% is a great amount of savings.
Annual fee: None
The card comes with a whopping $500 cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months after account opening. Even better, if you have a card that earns Ultimate Rewards points (such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, Ink Business Preferred Credit Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve), you can convert your cash back earnings to points.
This means if you were to purchase exactly $3,000 in supplies from an office supply store within the first 3 months, you would earn a stellar $650 in cash back (or 65,000 Ultimate Rewards points) from the welcome offer and the 5x category bonus.
Read our review of the Chase Ink Business Cash Card.
Earnings: The card comes with 5% cash back on all Amazon and Whole Foods purchases. Along with this, you will earn a $70 Amazon gift card upon credit card approval. However, you must have Amazon Prime ($119 per year) prior to applying.
Annual fee: None
Why we like it: If you are planning on making significant purchases on Amazon, consider applying for the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card. The store that sells nearly everything from A to Z is bound to have things on your back-to-school list.
Related reading: 3 reasons why the Amazon card is on my wish list
Additionally, the card comes with purchase protection and extended warranty protection.
Read our review of the Amazon Prime Visa card.
Earnings: With the American Express Gold Card, you can earn 4x per dollar (up to $25,000 per calendar year; then 1x) when shopping at U.S. supermarkets or eating at your favorite restaurants around the world.
Annual fee: $250 (see rates and fees)
Why we like it: If you are looking for simple school supplies such as pens, pencils, or paper, consider using this card to earn valuable American Express Membership Rewards at your local supermarket.
This card also comes with a welcome offer of 35,000 American Express Membership Reward points after you spend $4,000 on purchases on your new card in your first three months of card membership. Along with this, you will earn $120 in dining credit at select restaurants, $100 airline fee credit, and no foreign transaction fees (see rates and fees). The perks can easily make up for the annual fee.
Read our review of the Amex Gold card.
Earnings: This card does not have any specific spending categories. However, it does come with 2x per dollar on the first $50,000 in purchases each year (1x per dollar after that). Earning 2x per dollar is worth roughly 4 cents per dollar according to TPG’s valuations.
Annual fee: None (see rates and fees)
Why we like it: The Blue Business Plus Card is a great card to use for general back-to-school shopping. If you are buying supplies from a variety of retailers, this card may suit your needs along with maximizing your Membership Rewards balance.
Read our review of the Amex Blue Business Plus Card.
Using the Dell credit on select Amex cards
Whether school is either virtual or in-person, there’s a good chance you’ll need some technology or gadgets to get you through the year. And if you hold The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, you’ll get a credit to use at Dell.
This year, you’ll get up to $100 in additional statement credits between July 1 and Dec. 31, 2020 — that’s on top of the $100 you usually get for the second half of the year. If you need inspiration about what to get at Dell using this credit, we have you covered. From monitors to headphones, there is something for every back-to-school shopper.
In addition, the personal version of The Platinum Card® from American Express is also offering a credit of its own. From now through Jan. 31, 2021, cardholders will receive a one-time up to $100 statement credit after using your enrolled Amex to spend a minimum of $100. Note that you can make more than one transaction to meet the terms of the offer. Check your Amex Offers to activate.
This upcoming back to school season is going to be different than any other in the past. No matter where you’re going — or not going — it still pays to use the right card during this unprecedented time. With supplies and essential expenses coming up for many people, now is the time to plan your cash back or points earning strategies to help alleviate some of those costs.
Additional reporting by Brett Holzhauer.
Featured photo by Stock Rocket / Shutterstock.
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With some great bonus categories, the American Express Gold Card has a lot going for it. The card offers 4x points at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per calendar year; then 1x), and 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or through amextravel.com.
- Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months.
- Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points on Restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery.
- Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
- Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
- $120 Dining Credit: Earn up to a total of $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth's Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations. This can be an annual savings of up to $120. Enrollment required.
- $100 Airline Fee Credit: up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year for incidental fees at one selected qualifying airline.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- Annual Fee is $250.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees