USA Canada
Save on Back to School Shopping


Advertising Disclosure is an independent, advertising-supported web site. receives compensation from many credit card issuers whose offers appear on our site. Compensation from our advertising partners impacts how and where their products appear on our site, including, for example, the order in which they may appear within review lists. has not reviewed all available credit card offers in the marketplace.
Credit Card Applications » Research » Studies » Back-to-School Shopping » 2012 Best Payment Method Study for Back to School Shopping

2012 Best Payment Method Study for Back to School Shopping

Updated: November 19, 2015
Add to Favorites:
Back to School Shopping
Updated: August 7, 2012

Many people don't realize that simply using the right credit card can save them a lot of money - but a new study by aims to show them how choosing the right payment method can pay off big. Consumers who carry three or four credit cards in their wallets need to know which one to pull out where, in order to save the most money. back-to-school study shows which payment method will save consumers additional money, whether they shop in stores, online, or through online credit card malls.

How the study was done

We surveyed 150 top retailers from the National Retail Federation report and selected 18 that carry back-to-school items. We broke down the list according to three major categories: general merchants, such as super stores, discount stores, and department stores that carry a wide selection of items for back-to-school, apparel stores that exclusively sell clothing, shoes and backpacks, and electronics stores that sell computers, e-readers, cell phones and other electronics that are essentials for high-school and college students these days.

The study aimed to look at the best way to pay for purchases, depending on where consumers shop. The findings pinpointed three shopping options - brick-and-mortar stores, online retailers, and online malls offered by banks that issue credit cards.

Key Findings:

Payment Options for In-Store and Online Shopping:

  • For in-store shopping, the best way to shop in a physical store is to use a general cash back credit card, because it gives additional savings that can be combined with store promotions. Also, statistically, general Cash Back Credit Cards, unlike store credit cards, give a high percent of cash back.
  • Shopping through online credit card malls can save customers up to 10.7 percent more than other options, because banks and retailers offer deeper discounts when they partner up through card issuers' online malls.
  • Shopping directly through online retailers works best if you use a store-branded credit card, because a regular cash back credit card may not classify an online purchase in the right merchant classification category for maximum cash back.

Payment Options for Shopping in Specific Categories:

  • At department stores, using the U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature card will net an additional five percent cash back program, and American Express Blue Cash Preferred card holders will get an additional three percent cash back.
  • For electronics stores, using a U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature card gets you five percent cash back at the Apple Store and Best Buy, while using a SimplyCash Business card from American Express OPEN will give five percent cash back at Staples or Office Depot (which aren't classified as electronics stores, but do sell laptops and other electronics).
  • At apparel stores such as GAP, Old Navy and Banana Republic, customers who pay with a Discover it®-New! Double Cash Back your first year get five percent cash back.

The result of our study is the comprehensive table below that points consumers to the right payment option to save the most during the 2012 back-to-school season.

Click Image to Enlarge: Infographics: 2012 Best Payment Method Study for Back to School Shopping

To embed the 2012 Best Payment Method Study for Back to School Shopping to your site, use the following code:

Credit Cards for Back-to-school Shopping
Use these cards while shopping on-line or in-stores to
maximize savings and earnings:

Discover it®-New! Double Cash Back your first year

Intro APR on Purchases: 0% (12 months)
Annual Fee: $0
Key Feature: New! We'll DOUBLE all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year. So if you earned $100 cash back, we'll double it to $200—Automatically. Only for new cardmembers.*

Rewarding Shopping: YES

Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard®

Intro APR on Purchases: n/a
Annual Fee: $0
Key Feature: 2X points on purchases for gas, groceries and utilities

Rewarding Shopping: YES

Discover it® for Students-New! Good Grades Rewards

Intro APR on Purchases: 0% (6 months)
Annual Fee: $0
Key Feature: New! Good Grades Rewards: $20 cash back each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.*

Rewarding Shopping: YES

Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students

Intro APR on Purchases: 0% (7 months)26
Annual Fee: $026
Key Feature:

Rewarding Shopping: YES

26 See the Citi card terms and conditions online.

Add to Favorites:

Related Research:

Purchase Protection from MasterCard: Benefits You Didn't Even Know You Had

By Michael Germanovsky, Posted: August 19, 2012

Many credit card holders may not realize that when they pay for an item with their card, it may be covered by certain insurance benefits. MasterCard offers a host of such purchase protection perks, which we outline for you here. Next time ... Continue reading
Top Credit Card Mistakes to Avoid

By Susan Lou, Posted: April 29, 2012

A credit card is a horrible thing to waste. Sadly, people do it everyday by misusing their credit cards. Misusing your credit card can have a negative affect on your credit card score and can affect your ability to get low-interest credit ... Continue reading
American Express Blue Cash Everyday Card Review Earn $100 Bonus and Up to 3% Cash Back

By Michael Germanovsky, Posted: August 14, 2012 takes an in-depth look at the much-lauded Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express and sees whether the rewards it offers are worth loading up your wallet with one more piece of plastic. Continue reading
  • Skyzen16

    or wait to use service to do it all for you

  • Andre

    seems Discover is a clear winner online!

Get the latest news, articles and expert advice delivered to your inbox. It's FREE.