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Summertime is always a great time of year for kids. Swimming pools are open, ice cream is to be consumed, and school is on a break. However, as we head into August, the summer is starting to wind down, and back to school shopping is about to be a priority.
It doesn't matter if you are trying to load up your college freshman or going through the detailed supply list for your elementary school child, school supplies can get expensive. This year, make sure you are buying supplies with the right credit card and at the right store so that you can earn as much cash back and travel rewards as possible.
Shop Where You Can Earn Bonus Points
A majority of the credit cards available today offer a flat reward rate for everyday purchases. The best cards will go a little further and offer bonus points or extra cash back when shopping at different stores or a specific category of store. When you start your back to school shopping, let your credit card dictate where you are going to do your shopping.
An example is the Chase Ink Plus® card. Cardholders will receive 5x points when they shop at office supply stores. That means it's a good idea to do a majority of your shopping at a store like Office Max or Staples. The Discover It® card is offering 5% cash back on Amazon.com during the third quarter of 2016. That means shopping on Amazon.com might be a smart move for anyone that carries this card in their wallet.
Most grocery stores also have an aisle this time of year that is dedicated to school supplies. If you have a credit card, like the American Express EveryDay® Preferred card, that offers bonus points at grocery stores then that might be the best card to use.
Take a look at all the cards in your wallet and find out if any of them offer bonus points for shopping at certain stores. If they do, then let that help you decide where to purchase your school supplies this year.
Use an Online Shopping Portal
One of the easiest ways to accumulate credit card points is by applying for new cards and receiving the signup bonus. Another way is by doing your shopping through an online shopping portal. Airlines and hotels have established a relationship with hundreds of retailers and they offer bonus points when you do your shopping through through them.
If you would prefer to earn cash back, then you can use websites like ebates.com or Topcashback.com. Instead of earning bonus miles, you will receive extra cash back on each of your purchases.
Back to school is a big time for retailers, and that means they are willing to do just about anything to get you to shop. Each year, most major portals will offer an extra incentive to shoppers. One example is from United's MileagePlus Shopping, where through August 12, 2016 they are offering 500 bonus miles when you spend $250, 1,000 bonus miles when you spend $750, or 2,000 bonus miles when you spend $1,000.
Use Gift Cards for Your Purchases
Let's assume your child needs new clothes or a new pair of shoes. A great way to maximize your rewards would be to purchase a gift card to the store you want to shop at. For example, if you have a Blue Cash Preferred® card from American Express, you could purchase a gift card to Foot Locker at the grocery store and earn 6% cash back on the gift card purchase. From there, you would go to a Foot Locker store and make your purchase using the gift card.
Use Gift Cards When Shopping Through a Portal
Finally, one of the best things you can do to maximize your credit card rewards is with a combination of the last two points mentioned. You start by purchasing a gift card from a store where you can earn a nice bonus, then you would go shopping through an online shopping portal, making the purchase with the gift card. This allows you to not only collect rewards with the purchase of the gift card, but also with the purchase through the shopping portal.
The Bottom Line
It's no big surprise that school supplies can be a major expense in a family's budget. Luckily, by following these tips you will be able to take advantage of a few added ways to ways to get more rewards from back to school shopping.