Make the Grade with the 5 Best Credit Cards for Teachers

As a teacher, you work hard to meet the needs of your students. You deserve to be rewarded with cash back.
Last updated Jun 3, 2021 | By Lindsay Frankel
Teacher reading to her class

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Every day, teachers are tasked with the difficult yet important job of educating our children and youth while providing an environment that makes them feel safe and helps them grow. It requires a lot of patience, a great understanding of students’ individual needs, and some out-of-the-box thinking. And for most teachers, it also means forking over some of their own hard-earned cash towards needed supplies for their classroom.

Teachers spend an average of $459 each year on school supplies, according to the Economic Policy Institute. If you’re a teacher, you might already have a strategy for finding the best deals on items for your classroom. But what if you could pay for those supplies with credit card rewards?

The best credit cards for teachers

In this article

What’s the best credit card for a teacher?

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.

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.

Card Reward details Annual fee Recommended credit score
Citi Double Cash Card up to 2% cash back on all purchases: 1% as you buy and 1% as you pay $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 1X) and on U.S. streaming services, 3% at U.S. gas stations and on eligible transit, and 1% on other purchases $95 (waived first year) (See rates and fees) (Terms apply) Excellent, Good
Target REDCard N/A $0 Excellent, Good
Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card 5% cash back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market; 2% at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores; 1% on all other purchases $0 Excellent, Good
NEA 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’ll up to 2% cash back on all purchases: 1% as you buy and 1% as you pay. While there’s no welcome bonus, the rewards rate is one of the best out there for daily purchases. Plus, there’s no limit to how much you can earn and a $0 annual fee.

Earning cash back with this card is simple, making it perfect for teachers who don’t like tracking rotating categories. It’s also a great option to use in conjunction with another card that has higher earnings in select bonus categories.

Earn Cash Back Twice

Citi Double Cash Card

Citi Double Cash Card

Citi Double Cash Card

Annual Fee

$0

Rewards Rate

up to 2% cash back

Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits

  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months
  • 2% cash back on all purchases - 1% when you buy and 1% when you pay
  • No annual fee

Drawbacks

  • Foreign transaction fee
  • No sign-up bonus
Card Details
  • Earn cash back twice: 1% when you buy + 1% when you pay
  • up to 2% cash back on all purchases: 1% as you buy and 1% as you pay
  • Intro balance transfer 0% offer: 0% for 18 months then 13.99% to 23.99% (variable)


Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express

This card may have a $95 (waived first year) annual fee, but it also comes with one of the best cashback rewards rates for grocery store purchases, which is a big spending category for many families. You’ll earn 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (for first $6,000 per year, after that 1X) and on U.S. streaming services, 3% at U.S. gas stations and on eligible transit, and 1% on other purchases. You would only need to spend $1,584 at grocery stores each year to offset the annual fee.

In addition, cardholders can also take advantage of the welcome offer: Earn a $300 statement credit after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 6 months. This can be useful to pay for some of those needed supplies.

This cashback card is a great option for anyone who regularly buys groceries and gas, and is an especially good choice for teachers who have big families or long commutes. To determine if this card is right for you, calculate your typical spending on groceries and gas to make sure you can offset the annual fee.

#1 Cash Back at Supermarkets

Intro Offer

$300 statement credit

Annual Fee

$95

Rewards Rate

up to 6% cash back

Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits

  • Earn a $300 statement credit after spending $3,000 in the first 6 months
  • 6% cash back on U.S. streaming services and at U.S. supermarkets
  • 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and on eligible transit
  • $95 annual fee. Terms apply.

Drawbacks

  • Has annual fee after first year
  • Has foreign transaction fee
Card Details
  • Earn a $300 statement credit after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 6 months
  • 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (for first $6,000 per year, after that 1X) and on U.S. streaming services, 3% at U.S. gas stations and on eligible transit, and 1% on other purchases
  • Intro purchase 0% offer: 0% for 12 months then 13.99% to 23.99% (variable)
  • Terms apply


Target REDCard

The Target REDCard is one of our favorite store cards because the rewards are robust and simple to track. Here's how it works: Receive 5% off your 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. 

For the last two years, Target has also provided weeklong 15% discounts to teachers in preparation for the school year, so you can achieve some great savings if you use your REDCard to purchase school supplies during that time.

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.

Valuable Discount for Target Shoppers

Target RedCard

Target RedCard

Target RedCard

Annual Fee

$0

Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits

  • 5% off Target purchases
  • Free 2-day shipping from Target.com
  • No annual fee

Drawbacks

  • No rewards
  • Can't be used outside of Target or partner brands
Card Details
  • Receive 5% off your purchases at Target (in store and online)
  • 15% discounts to teachers in preparation for the school year


Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card

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 offers 5% back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market, which is a pretty impressive rewards rate for a no annual fee card.

Plus, you’ll get 2% back at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores. In addition, you’ll get 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 get 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.

Earn Easy Cash Back at Amazon.com

Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card

Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card

Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card

Intro Offer

$100 Amazon gift card

Annual Fee

$0

Rewards Rate

up to 5% cash back

Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits

  • Get a $100 Amazon gift card upon approval
  • 5% cash back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No annual fee

Drawbacks

  • Need an Amazon Prime membership
  • No intro APR for either purchases or balance transfers
Card Details
  • $100 Amazon gift card upon approval
  • 5% cash back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market; 2% at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores; 1% on all other purchases


NEA Cash Rewards Credit Card

This card from the National Education Association in collaboration with Bank of America was specifically designed with teacher’s needs in mind. You’ll get a $200 Amazon.com gift card after spending $500 in the first 3 months, and the rewards are impressive beyond that. You’ll get 3% back in the category of your choice (dining, drug stores, gas, 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’ll get 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’ll get 1% back on all other purchases. Plus, this card has a $0 annual fee.

Because the NEA Cash Rewards card is so flexible, it’s a great option for any kind of spender. Teachers who like to do their school supply shopping online can take advantage of the 3% back on online shopping. But this card would also be a good choice for teachers with a long commute, since one of the category options for 3% back is gas stations.

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 grocery store purchases, the Target REDCard for your Target purchases, and the Citi Double Cash Card for everything else.

Why we chose these cards

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.

The final word on the best credit cards for teachers

Dedicated teachers need all the help they can get in ensuring 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!

A Simple Cashback Card for Day-to-Day

Intro Offer

$200 statement credit

Annual Fee

$0

Rewards Rate

Up to 3% cash back

Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits

  • Earn a $200 statement credit after spending $2,000 in the first 6 months
  • 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets
  • No annual fee. Terms apply.

Drawbacks

  • No travel rewards
  • Grocery rewards are capped
  • Rewards dollars can’t be used toward the minimum payment due
Card Details
  • Earn a $200 statement credit after spending $2,000 in the first 6 months
  • 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets up to $6,000 a year, 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores, and 1% cash back on other purchases
  • Intro purchase 0% offer: 0% for 15 months then 13.99% to 23.99% (variable)
  • Terms apply

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.