Best Credit Cards for Teachers [2024]: Maximize Rewards and Minimize Fees

CREDIT CARDS - CREDIT CARD REWARDS
As a teacher, you work hard to meet the needs of your students. You deserve to be rewarded with cash back.
Updated April 24, 2024
Fact checked
Teacher reading to her class

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Teachers, the unsung heroes of our society, face the dual challenge of nurturing young minds and managing classroom expenses. Luckily, there are several credit cards that can fit the needs of educators.

For example, credit cards such as the Citi Double Cash® Card(Rates and fees), the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card(Rates and fees), the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, and the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express can help teachers earn cash back or cash rewards on common purchases. Each of these cards also provides other perks that could help teachers make the most out of their everyday spending.

Let’s dive into more credit card options that can help teachers earn rewards from their everyday expenses.

In this article

Key takeaways

  • Teachers can use credit cards and their rewards to their benefit, including strategically using multiple credit cards to maximize their rewards potential.
  • The Citi Double Cash® Card stands out by helping you earn up to 2% cash back on all purchases, making it an excellent choice for teachers seeking consistent rewards while paying a $0 annual fee.
  • The Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card is another great card for everyday spending, as you can earn 2% cash rewards on purchases. This card has an annual fee of $0.
  • For elevated rewards, you can use the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express to earn a compelling 6% cash back on U.S. supermarkets (for first $6,000 per year, after that 1%) and on select U.S. streaming services while paying a $0 intro annual fee for the first year, $95 per year thereafter annual fee. Terms apply.

Opening a credit card is a great choice for teachers who want to earn rewards for their everyday spending. You’ll want to choose a credit card that aligns with your financial goals. So if you’re aiming to get more supplies and snacks for your classroom, you’ll want a card with robust cash rewards. See our list of the best cashback credit cards for our top picks.

You’ll also want to consider the cost of ownership. Do you want a credit card with no annual fee, or will you spend enough to offset an annual fee on a card that earns more rewards? Consider the following options.

  1. Citi Double Cash® Card
  2. Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card
  3. Chase Freedom Unlimited®
  4. Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
  5. Target RedCard
  6. Prime Visa
  7. NEA® Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card

Compare the best credit cards for teachers

Card Reward details Annual fee Recommended credit score
Citi Double Cash® Card 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases; plus, for a limited time, earn 5% total cash back on hotel, car rentals and attractions booked on the Citi Travel℠ portal through 12/31/24 $0 Excellent, Good, Fair
Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card Earn 2% cash rewards on purchases $0 Excellent, Good
Chase Freedom Unlimited® 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases $0 Excellent, Good
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (for first $6,000 per year, after that 1%) and on select U.S. streaming services, 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and on eligible transit, and 1% cash back on other eligible purchases $0 intro annual fee for the first year, $95 per year thereafter (Terms apply) Excellent, Good
Target RedCard N/A $0 Excellent, Good
Prime Visa 5% cash back at Amazon.com, Whole Foods Market, and on Chase Travel purchases; 2% cash back at restaurants and gas stations, and on local transit and commuting; 1% cash back on all other purchases $0 Excellent, Good
NEA® Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card 3% cash back on the category of your choice; 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (on the first $2,500 spent each quarter in the 2% and 3% categories combined); and 1% cash back on all other purchases $0 Excellent, Good

Citi Double Cash® Card

This credit card rewards you for making on-time payments each billing cycle, making it easy to rack up flat-rate cash back from your everyday purchases. With this card, you can earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases; plus, for a limited time, earn 5% total cash back on hotel, car rentals and attractions booked on the Citi Travel℠ portal through 12/31/24.

The Citi Double Cash cashback rate is a great consistent rewards rate for daily purchases, regardless of their categories. Plus, there’s no limit to how much you can earn, and it has a $0 annual fee.

This makes the Citi Double Cash® Card a great option to use in conjunction with another card that has higher earnings in select bonus categories.

Apply now or learn more in our complete Citi Double Cash® Card(Rates and fees) review.

Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card

The Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card is a great choice for teachers due to its wide range of benefits. It helps you earn 2% cash rewards on purchases, making it a straightforward and rewarding option for everyday spending.

One of its standout features is that it offers cell phone protection. This protection provides coverage for your cell phone in case it gets damaged or stolen as long as you pay your monthly wireless bill with this card. While certain limitations apply, this feature isn’t common between credit cards.

On top of that, you can earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $500 in purchases in the first 3 months. This card has a $0 annual fee.

Apply now or learn more in our complete Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card review.

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® offers a compelling package of benefits for teachers. It helps you earn 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

This means teachers can earn rewards in more categories than their classroom supplies. Additionally, you can earn an extra 1.5% on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year).

What makes this card an attractive option is that it has a simple and straightforward rewards program and a $0 annual fee.

Apply now or learn more in our complete Chase Freedom Unlimited® review.

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express has a $0 intro annual fee for the first year, $95 per year thereafter. Terms apply. However, it comes with one of the best cashback rates for purchases at U.S. supermarkets (for first $6,000 per year, after that 1%) and on select U.S. streaming services. These are common spending categories for many families.

Cardholders can earn 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (for first $6,000 per year, after that 1%) and on select U.S. streaming services, 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and on eligible transit, and 1% cash back on other eligible purchases.

In addition, you can also earn a $250 statement credit after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 6 months. This cash back credit card is a great option for teachers who have big families or long commutes.

Learn how to apply or read more in our complete Amex Blue Cash Preferred Card review.

Target RedCard

The Target RedCard is one of our favorite store cards because the rewards are robust and simple to track. You can receive 5% off your eligible purchases at Target (in store and online) automatically when you use this card. That means you won’t have to wait to redeem your rewards. 

Furthermore, store cards are generally easier to qualify for than regular rewards cards, which makes this card a great choice for teachers who are still building their credit. It’s also a great card to have in addition to another rewards card since most cards can’t compete with the savings you’ll get on your Target purchases.

Read our complete Target RedCard review.

Prime Visa

If you already have an Amazon Prime account and reap the benefits, this card is a no-brainer. You’re probably already buying from Amazon frequently, and this credit card helps you earn 5% back at Amazon.com, Whole Foods Market, and Chase Travel, which is a pretty impressive rewards rate for a card with an annual fee of $0.

Plus, you can earn 2% back at restaurants, gas stations, local transit and commuting. In addition, you can earn a $100 Amazon gift card upon approval, which makes this card a great option if you need some cash for school supplies now.

This card is an excellent choice for teachers who frequently shop at Amazon.com or buy their groceries at Whole Foods. If you don’t have a Prime account, consider joining. Not only is it a great place to find discounts on supplies and snacks, but you’ll also get other benefits like free two-day shipping, free grocery delivery, and access to tons of free videos and books, including educational content.

Read our complete Prime Visa review.

NEA® Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card

This card from the National Education Association, in collaboration with Bank of America, was specifically designed with teachers’ needs in mind. You can earn a $200 Amazon.com gift card after spending $500 in the first 90 days, and the rewards are impressive beyond that.

You can also earn 3% back in the category of your choice (gas and EV charging stations, cable/streaming/internet and phone plans, dining, drugstores, home improvement/furnishings, online shopping, or travel), so you can maximize your rewards by choosing the category in which you’ll do the most spending.

In addition to that, you can earn 2% back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, which is perfect for picking up snacks for your students (or for your own family). And you can earn 1% back on all other purchases. Plus, this card has a $0 annual fee.

Because the NEA® Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card is so flexible, it’s a great option for many people. Teachers who like to do their school supply shopping online can take advantage of its elevated rewards rate for online shopping. But this card would also be a good choice for teachers with a long commute since one of the category options you can choose from is gas.

How to earn the most rewards

To maximize your rewards, use your credit cards strategically. It’s a good idea to have multiple credit cards and use them for spending in the categories that earn the most rewards. It’s generally a good idea to have one card that earns rewards on everyday spending and another one or two for earning in specific categories where you spend the most.

For example, you might use the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express for your purchases at U.S. supermarkets, the Target RedCard for your Target purchases, and the Citi Double Cash Card for everything else.

FAQ about credit cards for teachers

Are there credit cards that offer benefits for classroom purchases?

There are several credit cards that can help you earn rewards for common classroom purchases you make at retail and grocery stores. 

For example, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express enables you to earn 6% cash back on U.S. supermarkets (for first $6,000 per year, after that 1%) and on select U.S. streaming services. This card has an annual fee of $0 intro annual fee for the first year, $95 per year thereafter (terms apply).

What makes a credit card a good card for teachers?

To find the best credit card for you as a teacher, you should consider your common expenses and where you use a credit card the most.

One of the main expenses teachers might have is usually office-related purchases at supermarkets or office supply stores, so finding a card that has elevated rewards for these purchase categories can optimize your rewards potential. You should also compare other features of credit card options, such as APRs, annual fees, recommended credit scores, and more.

Is the National Education Association credit card worth it?

One of the credit cards that the National Education Association offers is the NEA® Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card. This card helps you earn a $200 Amazon.com gift card after spending $500 in the first 90 days. You can also earn 3% cash back on the category of your choice; 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (on the first $2,500 spent each quarter in the 2% and 3% categories combined); and 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Best credit cards for teachers: bottom line

Dedicated teachers need all the help they can get to ensure their students have everything they need to be successful. Any one of these cards could help you earn enough rewards to cover the cost of school supplies for your classroom, though your eligibility will depend upon your creditworthiness and other factors. To get the most bang for your buck, remember that perks vary by credit card issuer and card, and choose a card that aligns with your unique spending habits, financial situation, and goals. Happy classroom shopping!

Methodology

We know that teacher salaries, especially starting salaries for new teachers, can be difficult to get by on. So we chose only cards with no annual fees or those that could be easily offset with rewards earned from regular shopping.

We also know that teachers are busy, which is why we chose simple cards with easy-to-understand rewards structures and flexible redemptions. We paid attention to the categories in which teachers are likely to spend the most and chose the best rewards credit cards with great rewards rates in those categories. Several of the cards we selected even have welcome bonuses that could be put directly towards school supplies.

Lucrative, Flat-Rate Cash Rewards

5.0

Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card

Current Offer

$200 cash rewards bonus after spending $500 in purchases in the first 3 months

Annual Fee

$0

Rewards Rate

Earn 2% cash rewards on purchases

Benefits and Drawbacks
Card Details

Author Details

Lindsay Frankel Lindsay Frankel is a Denver-based freelance writer who specializes in credit cards, travel, budgeting/saving, and shopping. She has been featured in several finance publications, including LendingTree. When she's not writing, you can find her enjoying the great outdoors, playing music, or cuddling with her rescue pup.
Yahia Barakah, CEPF Yahia Barakah, CEPF, is a Senior Editor at FinanceBuzz and has created finance-focused content since 2011. As a Certified Educator of Personal Finance, he has a background in institutional investment and asset management, as well as a deep passion for financial literacy.

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