Back-to-school season is in full swing, and teachers are doing all they can to set up the most functional, fun and fascinating classrooms. As costs continue to rise for all consumers, and more teachers are reaching into their own pockets to get their classrooms set up for student success, it can be difficult to shoulder the mounting expenses.
Luckily, there are a few financing options available for teachers, including credit cards, that can cover a plethora of classroom needs — while also getting those teachers rewards to use in the future.
How to choose a credit card for teachers
- Rewards and savings. There are plenty of credit cards on the market available for people with good credit that offer potential rewards and savings on a variety of purchases. You can earn rewards to eventually use to cover purchases for the classroom in the future or get solid discounts on certain items.
- Store-branded cards. If you do all of your classroom shopping at one specific store, you may look into credit cards that are co-branded with your store of choice. While there are a few things to watch out for with store cards, using them for this kind of spending can net serious rewards you can use over time. When choosing a co-branded credit card that works best for you, think about where you spend most, both for your class and for daily life.
- Snacks and school supplies. There are a few cards that offer boosted rewards on office supply and grocery store purchases, spending categories that are prominent in a teacher’s classroom budget. You may want to consider a card that rewards these kinds of purchases. Office supplies are a category often rewarded by small business cards, which may not work for you. But there are plenty of great rewards cards for grocery purchases.
Best credit cards for teachers
Capital One Walmart Rewards Mastercard: Best for rewards at Walmart
The Capital One Walmart Rewards® Mastercard® is one of the most accessible credit cards for teachers, since the recommended credit score range for approval is from fair to good. This eligibility recommendation means you can feasibly be approved with a FICO score as low as 580. There are no 0 percent APR offers on this card, so you may want to proceed with caution if you’ll have to carry a balance. The ongoing APR ranges from 17.99 percent at the low end and 26.99 percent on the high end, which is substantially high.
One key to using this card is setting up Walmart Pay to get an elevated rate of cash back when you make purchases in-store for your first year with the card. Otherwise, you’ll earn a competitive 5 percent cash back when you shop online at Walmart.com, 2 percent back in Walmart stores and fuel stations and 1 percent back on every other purchase. Though you’ll earn the highest rewards rate when you spend at Walmart, you aren’t locked into Walmart stores when it comes to being able to use your card. For no annual fee, this card is a staple for teachers looking to stock up on classroom needs at Walmart.
Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card: Best for rewards at Amazon
There is plenty to love with the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature card, especially if you are an Amazon Prime member or an overall Amazon loyalist. This card is considered one of the best credit cards for online shopping and could be your one stop shop for quick and convenient access to all of your classroom supplies.
Similar to the Walmart Rewards Mastercard, you’ll earn your highest rate of rewards when you make Amazon purchases (including at Amazon-owned stores like Whole Foods), but you aren’t locked in solely to Amazon purchases in order to earn rewards. One of the biggest drawbacks on this card may come from its annual cost. You’re required to have an Amazon Prime membership to hold this card, which can run you $139 a year. However, upon approval for the card you could get an Amazon gift card of up to $150, which could easily cover the cost of the membership in the first year.
Target REDcard: Best for Target shopping
If Target is your store of choice, the Target REDcard could score you a discounted price on your most vital classroom purchases. You’ll get a 5 percent discount every day on all purchases you make at Target (in-store or online) when you use your REDcard.
There’s no annual fee to carry the card and the ongoing APR, though on the higher end, hits the middle of the road when it comes to store credit card ongoing APR ranges. There’s not much the card has to show for outside of the 5 percent discount on all Target purchases, since there’s no welcome offer and no intro APR offers to save you a bit on interest charges. Still, if you want to stock up at Target over anywhere else, the discount covering every purchase you make could save you a lot over time.
Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express: Best for stocking snacks
Once you’ve covered all of your school supplies and decor needs for your classroom, you may be eyeing the opportunity to grab a few snacks for the students. The Blue Cash Everyday® card from American Express boasts no annual fee and a competitive tiered rewards program to get you a lot more value out of your snack budget.
The card is one of the best credit cards for groceries and offers significant rewards on many other everyday purchases. You get 3 percent cash back at U.S. supermarkets, U.S. gas stations and U.S. online retail purchases on up to $6,000 per calendar year in purchases in each category (then 1 percent), and 1 percent cash back on other purchases.
Unfortunately, major superstores like Target and Walmart are not considered U.S. supermarkets on Blue Cash Everyday, so you may consider covering purchases at those locations on their own store-branded cards. Your earnings are also capped on this card, which could be a hassle if you have a sizable snack budget for your classroom. However, you do get some time to save on interest with an intro APR offer on both purchases and balance transfer for 15 months before the regular 16.24 percent to 27.24 percent ongoing variable APR kicks in.
Alternative ways for teachers to finance classrooms
If credit cards are not the first direction you want to take for financing your classroom needs, there are a few other options available for consideration.
- Donation drives. Linking up with other teachers in your school or even around your community to create a donation drive of supplies your students may need is a great way to get some of the most important pieces you’ll need for your classroom. There are also churches, nonprofits and other affiliate organizations that hold donation drives specifically for student school supplies each year that you can use to tap into the resources you need.
- Grants/scholarships. Some of the same entities mentioned above will raise money to provide grants and scholarships for teachers looking to stock up their classrooms. The NEA, a national nonprofit organization founded by educators, is another option to explore when looking for ways to help finance classroom needs.
- Crowdfunding. Often teachers will turn to friends and family to help meet classroom needs. Sharing out Amazon wish lists and using crowdfunding sites like DonorsChoose and other organizations are common ways teachers can raise money or get specific items purchased for them to use in their classrooms.
The bottom line
If you’re still unsure about what type of credit card would best suit you and the needs of your class, you can explore our Spender Typer tool to nail down a card that better fits your unique spending habits. You can also compare some of the cards listed here in a side-by-side view with our Compare Cards tool to get a better look at what card will provide you the most value.
Teachers do a lot for their students each year, and getting all classroom needs met can be a challenge. Though there isn’t a perfect or specified teacher credit card, there are an assortment of credit card options that could fit your needs and cover classroom costs. Target your classroom’s biggest budget items, find your favorite store to shop at for classroom supplies — and remember to take into account your own highest everyday spending categories. Use this knowledge to your advantage and leverage a card to help ease the costs of classroom setup, now and in the future.
All information about the Capital One Walmart Rewards® Mastercard®, Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card and Target REDcard has been collected independently by Bankrate.com and has not been reviewed or approved by the issuer.