Here’s a scary statistic for you. The average family spends over $600 on electronics, clothing and supplies for their children from kindergarten through to 12th grade! Here’s another one. As a country, we’re looking at spending over $65 billion on school supplies in 2015! And of course, the schoolyard is a pretty competitive place, so your kids aren’t going to thank you if they don’t have the clothes or the rucksack that’ll get them a place in the coolest gang. So what can you do to help minimize the expense of the impending school term? Well, let’s see how your flexible friend, the credit card, can help with back-to-school shopping.
Security for your buys
It’s worrying how differently similar items can be priced in different stores. So you’ve got a choice – either spend a heck of a lot of time comparing different stores or use the benefits of your credit card to help with the back-to-school shopping. Many credit cards now offer price protection, meaning that you can get a refund if you buy a product early and it goes on sale shortly afterwards. As at your bank or look through the paperwork you got when you first received your credit card to see what price protection you’re offered. Different cards will have different limits on the amount of time you have to make a claim and the maximum amount of money you can claim back.
Another way to use your credit card to help with back-to-school buys is to take advantage of any extended warranties or guarantees on offer. It’s likely that you’ll have to buy some decent (and expensive) electrical equipment such as a laptop, tablet or e-reader, and although most of these come with some sort of warranty it’s always best to get the maximum warranty you can for such items. Many credit cards allow you to double the original warranty offered by the store, extending it up to about 12 months. Of course, this not only gives you peace of mind – it also means you don’t have to pay for the store’s extended warranty. This is a no-brainer – use your credit card for back-to-school buys and to protect them on their journey to and from the classroom!
Credit card companies face a lot of competition, so they’ll often offer a reward scheme or benefit package which is specific to them. Make sure that you’re fully aware of what your credit card provider can offer you, and if you’re looking for a comparison to see what’s available visit an independent website such as CreditCards.com. Many rewards credit cards offer cashback or store loyalty points – useful to add up and use at the time of year when your kids need a bunch of new school clothes! You can even buy in-store gift cards to use on a variety of clothing and equipment, then benefit on your spending because it’s coded as a grocery purchase. There’s also points to claim on gas and everyday groceries – needed throughout the year!
Another benefit of using credit cards to help with back-to-school shopping is a relatively new phenomenon known as the ‘bonus malls’. These are online shopping portals specific to each credit card supplier, and they offer big discounts and exclusive rewards that you won’t find in-store. Many bonus malls include offers from popular back-to-school suppliers and clothes stores such as:
- Office Depot
- JC Penney
- Apple Store
Buy now, pay later – without the interest
If you need to make some purchases sooner rather than later, you’re probably a little wary of putting too much on your credit card due to the interest that’ll start to build up. It can be daunting to use a credit card to pay for back-to-school buys. However, if you opt for a 0 per cent credit card then additional interest may be something that you don’t have to worry about. Many credit card providers offer a 0 per cent APR credit card for a limited time. All you have to do is make sure that you make the minimum payment each month and keep a lookout for when the introductory offer expires. Ask your bank or credit union to see what’s on offer for existing customers and check out independent websites to see what’s on the market. Credit cards suppliers are constantly releasing great deals for new customers, as they want you to pick them over their rivals.
[Read: How to Organize Credit Card Debt]
To conclude, the back-to-school shopping doesn’t have to have as huge an impact on your bank account as you might think. Using a credit card to help with the back-to-school shopping is a logical step. After all, credit cards are designed to help you to spread the cost of larger purchases. It’s simply a case of planning out where you can save whilst shopping for the best things for your child’s education.