From computers to crayons, these are the 5 best credit cards for school supplies

Aug 7, 2020

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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.

In This Post

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 calendar year; then 1x. 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

Citi Prestige Card

(Photo by The Points Guy)
(Photo by The Points Guy)

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

Chase Ink Business Cash Credit Card

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

Why we like it: If you are purchasing a computer from an office store, consider using this card. Along with the cash back, you will also have purchase protection and extended warranty.

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.

Many people do not believe they can apply for a business card when in fact you can. You can apply for a business credit card even if you’re a freelancer or have a side hustle business.

Read our review of the Chase Ink Business Cash Card

Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card

(Photo by Eric Helgas/ The Points Guy)
(Photo by Eric Helgas/ The Points Guy)

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

American Express® Gold Card

(Photo by The Points Guy)
(Photo by The Points Guy)

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 60,000 American Express Membership Reward points after you spend $4,000 on purchases on your new card in your first six months of card membership. Along with this, you will earn up to $120 in annual dining credits at select restaurants, 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

The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express

Welcome Offer: Earn 15,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months of account opening

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 calendar 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.

(Photo courtesy of Dell)
(Photo courtesy of 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.

Bottom line

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.

For rates and fees of the Amex Gold, click here.
For rates and fees of the Blue Business Plus card, click here.

Featured photo by Stock Rocket / Shutterstock.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.