$222,360. That's what the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates it costs to raise a typical American child from birth to age 18. Now imagine getting, say, 2 percent of that amount back in the form of credit card rebates. That's about $4,500 that you could save or earn by switching your everyday spending to one of the six best credit cards for parents:
For the busy mom who buys in bulk
The TrueEarnings Card from Costco and American Express started off as a small business credit card designed to help entrepreneurs save money. However, clever moms have figured out that redeeming the credit card's cash back rewards checks at the nationwide warehouse retailer can result in an extra cartload of groceries every few months.
Blogger Kimberly from "Addicted to Costco" writes that this card's like "always having a coupon for everything I buy without involving scissors." When you use the card as your Costco Executive Membership, you earn a 1-percent cash rebate when you stock up on groceries and household supplies at any of the big box chain's locations.
For the mom who needs "me time"
Ask any parent if they have enough time for themselves and the answer is likely to be a self-effacing "No." So, can a credit card help to give the parental units some much-needed alone time? The Hyatt Credit Card from Chase makes a good case. This card offers two free nights at Hyatt properties worldwide after spending $1000 in the first three months after account opening for first time Hyatt Credit Cardmembers. You can earn 3 Hyatt Gold Passport points per dollar spend at Hyatt properties, 2 Hyatt Gold Passport points spent on airline tickets purchased directly from the airline, at car rental agencies and for dining at restaurants, and 1 Hyatt Gold Passport point per dollar on all other purchases.
There's a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, after that there is a $75 annual fee for the card, but if you take advantage of the free night at category 1-4 properties you can earn on you cardholder anniversary, you're likely to come out plenty ahead. And if Mom and Dad decide to turn it into a family affair, the hotel's "Camp Hyatt" makes any getaway fun for the whole family.
For the mom who's always playing taxi
The PenFed Visa Platinum Cash Rewards Card supports military families with a whopping 5 percent rebate on gas purchases paid at the pump, with the Plus Card. To be eligible for the Plus Card you would need to obtain a qualifying PenFed product such as an active checking account with direct deposit ($250 min). One advocacy group's survey reports that many American moms drive 29 miles per day, running errands and shuttling kids between appointments. With gas prices hovering around the $4 mark, saving a few nickels on every gallon can add up.
Best of all, you don't even need to be in the military to qualify for one of the best credit card deals going. Pentagon Federal Credit Union extends membership to anyone with a personal or family connection to the Department of Defense. Non-DOD Americans can also become credit union members by making a one-time donation of $15 or $20 to either of two military charity organizations.
For penny-pinching moms
Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express nets you impressive cash back of up to 3 percent cash back at U.S. supermarkets, up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1 percent); and 2 percent cash back at select U.S. department stores and 2 percent cash back on gasoline purchases at U.S. gas stations and 1 percent cash back on other purchases. Terms and limitations apply. Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit and cash back is earned only on eligible purchases. With no annual fee, it's like American Express just wants to give moms free money. Because this card does carry an APR that's a little higher than most of the best credit card deals on the market, moms can squeeze the most from Blue Cash by paying off their balances every month. Terms and restrictions apply.
Earning 1 percent back on other purchases should offer enough incentive for you to start using Blue Cash for as many of your routine bills and expenses as possible.
For moms building college savings
Fidelity Investments 529 College Rewards American Express Card remains one of the best rewards credit cards available, because your earnings actually go up with your spending. Instead of earning points or miles that you can use right away, Fidelity diverts your rebates into a child's 529 college savings account at Fidelity Investments.
There, it can grow tax-deferred until your child reaches college age. Pay for your kids' tuition with the proceeds, and you won't pay any taxes on your earnings. It's an easy, effortless way to set aside up to 2 percent of your annual spending for college expenses without actually locking down your own funds.
The best rewards credit cards require applicants to have "good" or "excellent" credit. However, many credit card issuers now use alternative risk models that actually benefit moms by focusing more on recent financial activity than on long-term trends. If you took time off from work or scaled back your hours around the birth of your child, lenders may be willing to base a decision on your relationships with banks and landlords.