Best Credit Cards for Back to School

Written By Jeff Hindenach
Last updated November 8, 2017

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July 18, 2015

Simple. Thrifty. Living.


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The summer isn’t over yet, but stores are already doing a full-court press on the back-to-school shopping. If you are already getting into the back-to-school mentality, it might be a good idea to figure out how you are going to pay for all your kids’ needs for the new school year. If you are putting all of this on a credit card, make sure you are using the right credit card for the job. Some credit cards are designed for just this kind of shopping experience. Here are a few tips of which credit cards to look for:

Best for bonuses and perks: If you pick the right credit card, it can give back in some great ways. The best credit cards will give you a slew of cash back or travel points when you use their card frequently. If you are looking for immediate cash back to help with the expense of back-to-school shopping, look for cards that offer intro bonuses. Some of these bonuses can go up to $400 when you spend a certain amount within the first three months. There are also cards that will give you up to 5% cash back when you shop at department stores or big box stores.

Best for paying late: Want to pay off all your back-to-school purchases gradually? Find a credit card that is offering a 0% intro APR. A 0% intro APR means that you don’t have to pay interest on your balance for the length of the intro period, which could last for up to 14 months. This means you can pay down your balance slowly without having to worry about extra interest being tacked on to your balance.

If you are a student who is heading off to college, it might be time to get your first credit card. The key is to not just sign up for the first credit card you are offered. Shop around. Compare cards. Here are a few key things you should look for when searching for a student credit card:

Cash back bonuses: If you are looking for a student credit card, you should look for a card that gives back the most. While most student credit cards don’t offer bonuses or perks, there are a few that either offer cash back rewards (usually 1% on all your purchases) or a cash back bonus (usually $50-$100 if you spend a certain amount in the first three months.) Look for the cards that give back.

Low interest rates: As long as you are paying off your credit card balance every month, interest rates are not something you will have to worry about. If you do plan on carrying a balance on your credit card, you should look for a credit card with a low interest rate (APR). Some of the best student cards actually offer a 0% intro APR for the first six months or so, which gives you some extra time to carry a balance without paying interest.

Fees: The majority of credit cards come with fees. It’s not something you can avoid, however, you can avoid the number of fees that you have to pay. A late fee is usually something you can’t avoid, but an annual fee is. Look for student credit cards that don’t carry an annual fee.

Can you qualify: One of the reasons to apply for a card that is branded a student credit card is because student credit cards often have lower requirements when it comes to credit score qualifications. If this is your first credit card, your credit score is definitely in the low range, which will make it hard to qualify for a normal credit card. Applying for a student credit card makes it easier to get approved, so you can start building up your credit score and eventually apply for that full-fledged credit card.

About the Author

Jeff Hindenach

Jeff Hindenach is the co-founder of Simple. Thrifty. Living. He graduated from Bowling Green State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism. He has a long history of financial journalism, with a background writing for newspapers such as the San Jose Mercury News and San Francisco Examiner, as well as writing on personal finance for The Huffington Post, New York Times, Business Insider, CNBC, Newsday and The Street. He believes in giving readers the tools they need to get out of debt.

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