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Stack card rewards with tax-free weekends for back-to-school shopping

Sixteen U.S. states will offer tax-free weekend savings in 2019. Here's everything you need to know, including dates and tips for scoring savings


Sales tax holidays and rewards cards cut costs on clothes, shoes, computers and more.

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Savvy back-to-school shoppers score cash back and rack up miles with every dip or swipe. If you live in 16 states with a tax-free weekend, you’ll save even more filling store (or online) shopping carts with school clothes, shoes, computers and accessories.

With cash back cards and rewards cards, card issuer shopping portals and sales-tax holidays, you can stack your savings on much of what you are spending to get your little ones set for school and send your older ones off to college.

“Use shopping portals, too. American Airlines has a bonus of up to 1,500 miles for back-to-school shoppers,” says MommyPoints founder Summer Hull.

See related:  Best cash back cards

This makes sense. American Airlines’s AAdvantage online shopping portal, for instance, offers several miles bonuses when you shop for school or office supplies. Deals include 2 miles per dollar spent on every purchase at Discount School Supply or Dollar General, and 2 miles per dollar spent when you buy items at Kohl’s stores.

Other tips? Use Citi Price Rewind – before it is removed from most Citi cards later this year – or other price-protection apps to make sure you get the lowest price on your back-to-school merchandise. “Avoid shopping in stores during tax-free weekend to save your sanity. Just go online!” says Hull.

This year’s back-to-school sales-tax holidays kicks off in Alabama July 19-21, covering everything from books to computers to clothing and general school supplies. While most of the 16 tax-free weekends run Saturday to Sunday, some, like Alabama’s, include Friday. Maryland and Connecticut will hold sales-tax holidays for a full week.

Maryland’s, which only covers clothing and footwear purchases, will run from Aug. 11-17.

In Connecticut, the week will run from Aug. 18-24, and will also include only clothing and footwear purchases.

The tax-free weekend in Texas, where Hull lives, is Aug. 9-11, and includes clothing, backpacks and school supplies.

See related: 3 ways to maximize card rewards on back-to-school shopping

While sales-tax holidays are aimed at the back-to-school crowd, everyone can take advantage. Need a computer or tablet for yourself? Get it during your state’s holiday and pay no sales tax (if computers are eligible in your state). Apple has a webpage detailing which Apple products are covered in states that include purchases of computers and accessories.

If you are looking for other ways to can save on your spending on backpacks, binders, school uniforms and more, plan ahead, says Michael Foguth, the founder of Foguth Financial Group and father of five daughters.

Check with your child’s school or teacher to get a list of what’s needed – and then stick to that list, he says. Use your credit card rewards, too. “You want to spend the least and get the most” with the minimum amount of driving around, says Foguth.

See related: Video: How to save on back-to-school shopping

Also, see if any stores you shop will price match back-to-school specials at other retailers. “If something you want sells out at Staples, Target may match that price,” Foguth says.

And by finding a store that will price match other school supplies specials, you save time and gas by shopping at one store instead of scurrying from one jammed store to another on a tax-free weekend.

Note that each state has different rules for what’s covered during its sales-tax holiday. Information about 2019 sales tax weekends can be found on the map below (click on your state for details about the tax-free holiday). However, before you head out the door, double-check your state’s tax and revenue webpage for the most current information. In some states, counties and retailers can opt out of the tax-free holidays.

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