Advertiser Disclosure

NerdWallet’s Best Credit Card Tips for August 2019

Aug. 2, 2019
Cash Back Credit Cards, Credit Card Basics, Credit Cards
At NerdWallet, we strive to help you make financial decisions with confidence. To do this, many or all of the products featured here are from our partners. However, this doesn’t influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

August is a month of contradictions. Temperatures still hover near the triple digits, but stores begin selling Halloween decorations. The days still feel lazy and carefree, but kids are beginning to head back into the classroom. National S’mores Day is Aug. 10, but so is National Shapewear Day.

Still, it’s possible to enjoy these waning summer days, before you swap out the citronella candles for the fire pit. Here are our credit card tips for August.

» MORE: See our archive of credit card tips

Keep it simple with just four retailers

This month’s tips make it easy to run errands in the heat, sticking to Target and your local grocery store or gas station to find every item on your list (and if you can’t bear to get off the couch, Amazon is a great choice, too). These credit cards can play a starring role in maximizing cash back:

  • The Target REDcard™ Credit Card, which earns 5% back on eligible Target and Target.com purchases, plus free shipping and an extra 30 days to make returns. The annual fee is $0.
  • The Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card, which earns 5% back on Amazon.com and Whole Foods for Prime members. The annual fee is $0.
  • The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, which earns a fat 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%). Terms apply. The annual fee is $95.
  • The Chase Freedom®, which earns 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in spending in categories that rotate each quarter (1% back after that). The 5% categories for Q3 2019 are gas stations and streaming services (in case you’re spending these hot days binge-watching the new season of “Veronica Mars” on Hulu). After Sept. 30, 2019, the 5% bonus categories will change.

Here’s how these cards can fit into your August spending:

Spend time outside for less

Prices on patio furniture and grills are beginning to drop, so now’s the time to create the outdoor space of your dreams. Skip the home improvement stores in favor of Target, which has plenty of patio furniture on clearance, and even your local grocery store, which may also have markdowns on outdoor furniture, grills and seasonal items like plastic plates and margarita glasses.

Cards to use: Target REDcard™ Credit Card, Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express.

Send your well-stocked child back to school

As your student’s need for crayons evolves into the need for a graphing calculator, the annual filling of their backpack doubles as the annual emptying of your bank account. Get 5% cash back at Target or on Amazon.com (which sells helpful back-to-school kits of preselected necessities like notebooks, pens and markers). Grocery stores also sell school supplies in seasonal aisles.

These states also have tax-free days for items like school supplies, clothing, shoes and computers in August, allowing you to save even more:

  • Arkansas
  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Iowa
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Missouri
  • New Mexico
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • Texas
  • Virginia

Cards to use: Target REDcard™ Credit Card, Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card, Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express.

Prepare for the most active part of hurricane season

Anyone living along the East and Gulf coasts should keep supplies at the ready if a hurricane hits. Target, Amazon and grocery stores are all good options for flashlights, batteries, canned food and other necessities. While you’re at it, books and board games make for excellent ways to pass the time when the power is out. Prepare now, before the forecast calls for a storm and supplies run low on store shelves.

If a storm is imminent, fill up your car’s gas tank to avoid long lines afterward, when many area gas stations may be closed. Consider using the Chase Freedom® when you do. Note, too, that any snacks you impulse-buy at the gas station may also qualify for the card’s bonus if you’re looking for something to nervously munch on while watching the weather report.

Cards to use: Target REDcard™ Credit Card, Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card, Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, Chase Freedom®.

What if I don’t want to remember which card to use where?

Flat-rate cash-back cards are your friend if you want to keep the hectic back-to-school season simple. The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer earns 1% cash back as you buy and 1% back as you pay your credit card bill, for a total of 2% cash back wherever you use the card. The annual fee is $0.

Or sign up for the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, which earns 3% back on all purchases in the first year up to $20,000, and 1.5% back after that. The annual fee is $0.

Information related to the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card been collected by NerdWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

About the author