How to Get Rewarded for Your Back-to-School Shopping

Knock out your back-to-school shopping list for less while making your spending pay you back.

Woman shopping on her laptop using her credit card

by NEA Member Benefits


Educators are experts at making every back-to-school dollar count. Make that money go even further by taking advantage of customer rewards, shopping apps, special deals for educators and savings strategies from the pros.

As you head out (or stay in and shop online!) to buy classroom supplies, clothes, shoes and bags, electronics—everything you need for the upcoming school year—keep these shopping tactics and tips in mind. They can even help make your spending pay you back.

Let online tools do the legwork

  • Sign up for loyalty programs. Whether through email or text, many retailers will send you coupons and alert you to special discounts.
  • Get paid for spending. Let shopping rewards and cash-back apps make money on the money you spend. Use cash-back apps such as iBotta and eBates. Compare rates offered by cash-back apps at sites such as BeFrugal, Extrabux and CashbackHolic to maximize your bonus income.
  • Earn rewards for shopping with Shopkick, a location-based smartphone app that lets you earn reward points called “kicks” just for walking into participating stores, scanning products, paying with a linked credit card, submitting receipts and inviting friends. Shopkick Grocery rewards you for making shopping lists, saving recipes and more. Redeem kicks for gift cards at your favorite stores.
  • Find coupons online. Save on everything from school supplies to a haircut with Coupon Sherpa, a mobile app that helps you find online promo codes, printable coupons and other discounts on thousands of products and services, says the company's savings expert, Kendal Perez.
  • Capture discounts effortlessly with Honey, a browser extension app that finds the best coupons and deals available while you shop online for thousands of sites, including Amazon! Honey works on most major browsers including Chrome, Firefox, Opera and Safari, but it's not supported by Internet Explorer.
  • Use price comparison tools like browser extension (for Firefox, Chrome or Safari) to shop around before you buy school supplies and other items. PriceBlink finds the best deals, free shipping offers and coupon codes to save you money on everything from highlighters to printers to office equipment.

Sharpen your shopping strategy

  • Time your shopping to take advantage of tax holidays for teachers and back-to-school deals in late July through early August. Check dates, states and details at Back to School Tax Free Weekend.
  • Buy school supplies from a dollar store such as Dollar Tree to save paying a premium price on name cards, educational posters, wall borders, teacher crafts and other classroom items, suggests Perez.
  • Scout sites that specialize in school supplies. The School Supply Deals & Coupons section of lets you shop retailers where you can stock up on “everything you need for any grade level.” Passion for Savings helps you find all the best sales, deals and coupons for back to school shopping. You can also download and print their free school supply price list and find tips to help you save on back-to-school shopping.
  • Always mention you’re a teacher before you buy anything. Even if the store doesn’t have a specific teacher discount program, Perez says some salespeople give teachers discounts because a family member is a teacher or “because they just have a lot of respect for you.”

Use your NEA Member Benefits

  • Shop through NEA Discount Marketplace, powered by Rakuten, to find special discounts and earn cash back while you shop for brand-name clothing, shoes, bags, computers, office supplies—and just about anything else you need.
  • Use your Costco Membership to save money on food, health and beauty items, clothing, electronics and thousands of other items you need for home or school. NEA members new to Costco receive a $30 Costco Shop Card.
  • Scour the Teacher Discounts list for books and magazines, clothing and jewelry, classroom supplies and teaching aids, electronics, food and much more. We’ve done the deals-searching for you!
  • Use the NEA Cash Rewards Card to get rewarded by earning cash back on your purchases, including everything that’s already on your back-to-school shopping list. So take some time to evaluate your back-to-school wardrobe, dream about a perfect new classroom layout and make lists for school supply runs for you and your family. All of your purchases earn cash rewards. And now, you can maximize your rewards by earning 3% CASH BACK in the CATEGORY OF YOUR CHOICE: gas, online shopping, drug stores, home improvement & furnishings, dining or travel. You’ll automatically earn 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, and 1% cash back on all other purchases. Earn 3% and 2% cash back on the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club purchases each quarter, then earn 1%.

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