2 good credit cards for parents

Highway sign with the words Rewards-Next Exit

School may have started (or is about to), but that doesn't mean you're done shopping.

There's always another shopping bill right around the corner, whether it's for pencils, pants or the latest school project.

To soften that financial blow, in addition looking for sales and clipping coupons, using these credit cards can help curb expenses.

Blue Cash Everyday from American Express (www.americanexpress.com) lets you earn 3% cash back at grocery stores. And where do you buy goodies for after-school snacks or the fixins for lunch but at the grocery store? So feeding your kids could come with a nice cash-back treat for you.

You also earn 2% at department stores to help pay for clothes, shoes, socks, belts, even backpacks and winter jackets, and 1% on all other purchases.

That helps offset the cost of things like books purchased at a bookstore or a laptop you buy from an electronics store.

There’s no annual fee, but beware, there is a bit of a downside to earning high percentage bonuses.

The annual percentage rate (APR) starts out great but edges up to the high side, which means you don’t want to carry a balance. Otherwise you’ll wipe out the rewards benefits.

APR basics: A 0% introductory APR for six or 12 months; then you jump to a variable 17.24%, 19.24% or 21.24% APR (that's the prime rate of 3.25% plus 13.99%, 15.99% or 17.99%). Ouch!

The Citi Dividend World MasterCard (www.citicards.com) is a little kinder to your wallet if you have to carry a balance for all those school supplies.

However, since you know there’s always a trade-off, you probably won’t be surprised that this card doesn’t offer a comparable cash-back incentive like Blue.

Here’s how it works.

You can earn up to 5% cash back when shopping through the Citi Bonus Cash Center, an online mall with more than 400 stores, including many school-oriented ones like Barnes & Noble, Walmart, Staples and Macy’s.

You also earn 5% cash back on rotating categories that change every season in the Cash Center. These vary and have included airlines and hotels. So if you want to think ahead about affording school supplies next year, this might be a place to shop for vacations, flowers and other deals offered.

You'll earn 1% cash back on all other purchases.

You also get a $100 cash-back bonus after spending $500 within three months of opening your account.

There’s no annual fee.

APR basics: A 0% APR introductory offer for 15 months; then you’re bumped to either 12.99%, 16.99% or 20.99%.

Compare these deals to the credit card offers we have in our extensive database.

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