If you’re a teacher looking for ways to save on school supplies, snacks and other expenses, we have you covered. These cards can help you score major cash back rewards not just around back-to-school season, but all year.
The Bank of America content was last updated on October 3, 2022.
The back-to-school shopping season isn’t just for parents and students. It’s also a great time for teachers to stock up on necessary supplies for the classroom. The downside? Spending out of pocket for those supplies can quickly add up.
Using the right credit card to prepare for the first day of the school year is a smart move. The following cards score an A+ for savings-minded teachers.
Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express: Best for buying classroom snacks
Why we picked it: The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express offers 3 percent back at U.S. supermarkets, gas stations, and online retail purchases in the U.S. (up to the first $6,000 in purchases each year then 1 percent) and 1 percent on all other purchases. This generous percentage allows you to earn money back when you buy snacks for the classroom or fill up your car with gas. Plus you can earn up to $250 (earn 20% back, up to $150 in statement credits, on purchases with PayPal merchants in the first six months of card membership, plus a $100 statement credit after you spend $2,000 in the first six months of card membership), another great way to maximize rewards when back-to-school snack shopping for your new students.
- Reward dollars earned as statement credit
- No annual fee
- 0 percent introductory APR for the first 15 months then 16.99% to 27.99% variable APR thereafter
- $6,000 purchase limit on 3 percent earnings each year
- Rewards cannot be transferred or combined with those from other cards
Who should apply: If one of your back-to-school expenses is snacks or treats, then you need a card that delivers a stellar cash back rewards rate at the grocery store. With this card, you’ll be able to stock up on groceries for the classroom while earning an impressive 3 percent cash back on those purchases. Plus, you’ll have the whole school year to pay off those balances while avoiding hefty interest rates.
Who should skip: If you plan on spending more than $3,200 a year on groceries, you may be better off getting another card to maximize rewards. For example, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express offers 6 percent cash back at U.S. supermarkets but does come with a $95 annual fee ($0 intro annual fee for the first year). Also, if you do most of your shopping at wholesale clubs or superstores, you should consider a different card because these don’t fall into the list of “supermarkets” eligible for the Blue Cash Everyday card.
Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards credit card: Best for online back to school shopping
Why we picked it: The Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card is a great choice for teachers who plan on doing most of their shopping for new school supplies online, as you’ll have the opportunity to earn 3 percent on those purchases. Specifically, you can earn 3 percent cash back on the category of your choice, which includes online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, gas, or home improvements and furnishings. You also get 2 percent cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs. Those rewards rates apply to the first $2,500 in combined purchases between the category of your choice and grocery stores or wholesale clubs each quarter. Additionally, if you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days of having the card, you’ll earn $200 online cash rewards.
- 0 percent introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers made in the first 60 days for the first 18 billing cycles (then 16.99 percent to 26.99 percent variable APR)
- No annual fee
- $2,500 combined spend limit on 2 percent and 3 percent categories each quarter
- No other rewards options besides cash back
Who should apply: If you prefer to shop online, a cash back card that gives you choices on which categories earn you the most can be helpful for saving on school-related purchases. Plus, if your spending habits typically change each quarter, this card is a good choice as its rewards rate is flexible and caters towards where you spend the most.
Who should skip: Higher spenders may get more value out of a card without such a low rewards cap, even if an annual fee is required.
Target REDcard: Best for purchasing school supplies
Why we picked it: The Target REDcard™ could be a good choice for purchasing everything from notebooks, pencils and dry-erase markers to tissues, hand sanitizer, electronics or even classroom furniture. Both online and in-store purchases, including gift cards, earn 5 percent back automatically.
That’s a plus if you need to buy arts and crafts supplies for back to school. Target sells Michael’s gift cards in $25 increments, which you can buy with the REDcard to get 5 percent back.
Even better, you can get a 15 percent discount when you shop with your gift cards at Michael’s in-store and show your educator ID card.
- Free two-day shipping on hundreds of thousands of items at Target.com
- Extended returns for an extra 30 days, online or in-store
- Get a 5 percent discount when you use your card at any in-store Starbucks location
- Save 5 percent to 50 percent on purchases, plus get 5 percent back when you shop with your card through the Target Cartwheel app
- Can only use card on Target purchases
- High APR (24.40 percent variable APR)
Who should apply: If you are already a loyal Target shopper who already uses the Target Cartwheel app, you can save a lot of money with the Target REDcard, if you don’t carry a balance each month.
Who should skip: Retail store credit cards typically aren’t the best choice for earning rewards, especially when compared to a cash back or travel card. They also tend to carry higher APRs for purchases.
Citi Double Cash Card: Best for flat-rate rewards
Why we picked it: The Citi®Double Cash Card is one of the best flat-rate rewards cards for teachers who prefer to use one card for most of their everyday spending, and not just when they buy items for the classroom. It offers 2 percent cash back on all eligible purchases (1 percent when you make the purchase and 1 percent when you pay it off). Whether you’re shopping for school supplies, getting groceries or filling up your tank, you’ll be able to earn 2 percent on all of those purchases, easily racking up cash back. The simple, straightforward rewards rate means having to stress about one less thing in the face of an upcoming school year.
- Flexible redemption options
- 0 percent introductory APR on balance transfers for the first 18 months of account opening then 16.99% to 26.99% variable APR thereafter
- No welcome bonus
- No bonus categories
- Awards expiration when card isn’t used for more than 12 months
Who should apply: If you value streamlined rewards, consider applying for the Citi Double Cash Card. Especially if you plan to use it for a variety of spending categories, it will be simple to manage cash back if you don’t have to keep track of and sign up for categories each month. Just make sure you pay off your balance on time, every time, so you can earn that additional 1 percent back.
Who should skip: The biggest drawback is that it offers no sign-up bonus, which could be a deal-breaker for many cardholders looking for as much value as possible.
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: Best for travel rewards
Why we picked it: When considering credit cards, don’t forget about those summer break plans. Especially for teachers who use their summers to travel, opening the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is a wise move. You’ll earn 2X miles on all purchases, as well as 5X miles on all hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel. Also, if you spend $4,000 in the first three months, you’ll get a whole 75,000 bonus miles. It’s a great card for those who prefer a simple, straightforward card that lets them earn on any purchase.
- Car rental insurance
- Roadside assistance
- Up to $100 credit for Global Entry/TSA PreCheck
- Annual fee of $95
- No online prequalification — meaning you’ll need to make a “hard pull” on your credit
Who should apply: This card is for teachers who plan on using their vacation time to travel but want to earn miles throughout the year to help offset the cost of these trips. You’ll earn the most value when redeeming your miles for travel purchases, as opposed to statement credits, so it makes sense for those who prefer not to stay at home over summer vacation.
Who should skip: Since this is a travel credit card, it makes sense that teachers who don’t plan on traveling fairly often should consider another option. Especially since it carries a $95 annual fee, this credit card only makes sense if you’re using it for most of your everyday spending and plan on traveling enough to make this fee worth it.
Comparing the best credit cards for teachers
Before applying for a credit card, it’s best to compare your options and determine which one is the right fit for you. Below are key details of each of the above cards to give you an overview of their advantages for teachers.
|Card||Best for||Cash back rate||Annual fee||Intro bonus|
|Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express||Buying classroom snacks|
|$0||Earn up to $250: Earn 20% back (up to $150 in statement credits) on purchases with PayPal merchants in the first six months of card membership. Plus, earn a $100 statement credit after you spend $2,000 in the first six months of card membership|
|Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards credit card|| Online back to school shopping|
|$0||$200 online cash rewards if you spend $1,000 in first 90 days|
|Target REDcard||Best for purchasing school supplies||$0||N/A|
|Citi Double Cash Card||Flat-rate rewards||$0||N/A|
|Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card||Travel rewards||$95||75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months|
How to choose a credit card for teachers
There are many credit cards that offer features and perks that benefit educators. If you’re a teacher looking for a new credit card, compare these details to determine which card will be best for you.
- Earnings rate: Being able to earn rewards on specific purchases is a major draw for many cardholders. Consider where and what you spend the most on, and choose a card that rewards you accordingly. Do you shop more in-store or online? Do you spend more on supplies or snacks? Some cards have flat-rate cash back rewards, while others have bonuses in certain categories. Compare cards to find one that will maximize your earnings.
- Welcome bonus: Many credit cards come with welcome bonuses for new cardholders, which can be an easy way to earn extra cash to put back into the classroom. However, you’ll need to consider how much you’ll have to spend in what time frame to determine if it’s feasible for your budget and spending habits. It’ll help if you open the card when you’re ready to start your back-to-school shopping, so you can meet the spending requirements and earn those rewards.
- Benefits: Benefits vary from card to card, so it’s important to make sure you’re choosing a card that most effectively benefits you. Whether you’re looking for purchase protection on your newly purchased school supplies or need a 0 percent APR offer to pay off balances throughout the school year, find a card that matches your needs.
- Annual fee: For some, the added benefits that come with a new card can outweigh or offset the cost of the annual fee. For others, you may find the card is costing more than it’s worth.
As a teacher, it’s important to find a credit card that fits your spending habits, especially before starting a new school year. Make the back-to-school shopping season as inexpensive as possible with one of the cards above. Whether you’re stocking up on classroom snacks or art supplies, a credit card tailored to your spending habits can save you a lot of extra cash when preparing the classroom.
*All information about the Target REDcard™ has been collected independently by CreditCards.com and has not been reviewed or approved by the issuer.