It’s this time of year that students are getting ready to head back to school. That means we are right in the middle of the back-to-school shopping season. The National Retail Federation reported that in 2015 the average family would spend $630.36 on back to school items. Of that total, approximately $217 will be on new clothes, $117 on new shoes, and slightly under $100 on back-to-school supplies.
That is a pretty scary figure for any low or middle class family. It means you need to do anything you can do to stretch your money as far as it will go. For those of you that are not big on using coupons there are a few techniques that you can use with a reward or cash back credit card.
Maximize spending bonuses with gift cards
Many credit cards from the different issuers will offer bonus points or extra cash back on purchases at select stores. An example is that some business cards offer a bonus at office supply stores. The idea would be to use one of these cards to purchase gift cards for a particular retailer.
Let’s say you are planning to purchase new clothes for your kids at Kohl’s. Instead of shopping in the store with a credit card that only earns one point, you could purchase a Kohl’s gift card from the office supply store using a card that offers bonus points (most of the time it’s 5x points). That gives you four extra points for every dollar that you spend.
Use the right credit card
If you don’t want to go to the work to purchase gift cards then you can just use the right credit card for every purchase. Let’s say that you need to pick up school supplies like paper, pens and notebooks and you have a card that offers bonus points for purchases at drug stores or office supply stores. Maybe you need to purchase new shoes for your kids and you have a card that offers bonus points for purchases on Amazon. Use the proper credit card based on where you are shopping.
Use online shopping portals
When shopping online you should always use a shopping portal. A portal like ebates.com will give you a different amount of cash back depending on the store that you are shopping at. Alternatively, you could use a portal from an airline and earn additional miles for each purchase.
Each fall the major airlines run specials where you can earn bonus points when you shop through their portals. For example American Airlines was offering a bonus of 500 miles on $125 in purchases, 1,250 bonus miles on $500 in purchases and all the way up to 3,500 bonus miles when you spend $1,000 during the promotion. While that offer has ended keep it in mind for next year.
Use Your Price Protection Policy When Needed
For most families, school supplies take up a large piece of a family’s budget in August. Because of that, it’s important to always make sure that you are getting the best deal possible when purchasing big ticket items like laptops or other electronics. Several different credit cards offer price protection policies. What these policies will do for you is offer you a refund if you find a lower price within 90 days of purchase.
Wrapping It Up
The fall can be an expensive time of year for families. With kids heading back to school and the price of school supplies going up each year, it’s important to make every dollar count. Taking advantage of things like bonus cash back offers, shopping portals and price protection means you can rest easy.
*Editorial Note: Any opinions, analysis, reviews, or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.