It’s only mid-August, but in some parts of the country, the new school year has already begun. In other cities, families are scrambling to finish their back-to-school shopping. A survey by the National Retail Federation (NRF) last week found that about 60 percent of families with students heading back to the classroom still haven’t crossed all the items off their back-to-school supply lists.
The NRF estimates that families will spend about $689 per student on back-to-school shopping this year, for a total of $83.8 billion nationally.
Before they head to the store, consumers would be wise to think about how they are planning to pay for their purchases. Something as simple as choosing the right payment method – cash back credit card, store credit card, cash, debit card, etc – could save people a bundle on their back-to-school season shopping. Credit-Land.com did a survey on the best back-to-school payment methods to save money on shopping. Families can reference their handy chart before they shop; the survey shows where to get the most savings depending on the category of product and the payment method used.
How People Pay
When the NRF survey asked people how they plan to pay for their school supplies, first-day-of-school outfits, and dorm necessities, they found that debit cards were the most popular choice, with 42.5 percent of families with children in kindergarten through 12th grade using their debit cards most frequently. Only 39.4 percent of college-bound students and their parents used debit cards as their main payment method, and college students were slightly more likely to use credit cards than cash, with 29.4 percent using credit cards and 26.7 percent preferring cash.
More than 80 percent of Americans say the economy is affecting their back-to-school shopping choices, making coupons, sales, and promotions popular among everyone, not just penny-pinchers. Just over 38 percent of shoppers with kids of all ages – elementary through college – said that at least half of their back-to-school purchases were affected by coupons, sales, and rebates.
Still Time to Save
For those procrastinating their shopping and still facing the task of finding all their back-to-school must-haves, there’s still plenty of time to take advantage of promotions.
Cash-back credit cards with seasonally rotating categories won’t change their current promotional five-percent back categories until the end of September, but the best way to save with a card like the Discover More card (the offer expired) is to take advantage of shopping online, through the Discover online mall. Here you can get a ten percent cash back bonus at Foot Locker, for those sneakers your kids need, and five percent back at Macy’s, Kohl’s, or Target, which carry most other school supplies and apparel on the list.
For those big electronics purchases like laptops and e-readers, using the U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature card will mean a five percent cash back discount when shopping in-store at the Apple Store. Look for the student discount offered by Apple, too – showing a student ID makes shoppers eligible for discounted purchases, which are even more valuable when combined with a cash back bonus for using a credit card.
For a guide to all the best savings by payment method, shoppers should look at the Credit-Land.com study, still available on their site – even after that first day of school, for the true slackers among us.