Press Release

Capital One Uncovers the Hidden Costs of Back to School

Survey reveals how much parents plan to spend on school and after-school activities

 

August 11, 2017 – December may be the highest spending month of the year due to holiday shopping, but August is a close second according to Capital One rewards cardholder data. While many families will be shopping for clothing, electronics and supplies, a new national survey of 1,000 U.S. parents of children ages 5-18 from Capital One looks at the cost of associated (non-retail) expenses.

 

The other side of Back to School spending: More than one-third of parents plan to spend over $1,000 per child on school and after-school activity fees this academic year.

  • 37 percent of parents say they plan to spend more than $1,000 per child on school and after-school activity fees this academic year, and 20 percent say they plan to spend more than $2,000 per child.

  • Parents of high school students (41 percent) are more likely to spend over $1,000 per child this academic year than parents of elementary (31 percent) and middle school (35 percent) students.

 

Parents aren't rewarding themselves when paying school-related expenses: Only 22 percent of parents say they primarily use a rewards credit card to pay for school-related expenses.

  • 54 percent of parents primarily use cash or check to pay for their child's school expenses, with 23 percent primarily using a debit card.

  • Parents 41 and older (25 percent) are more likely to use a rewards credit card to primarily pay for their child's school expenses than parents 40 and under (14 percent).

 

Surprises among the biggest expenses: While the biggest expenses cited by parents vary depending on the type of school their children attend, there were a few surprises.

  • 40 percent of parents of elementary school students say school pictures account for their biggest school-related cost during the academic year.

  • The school expense most cited by parents of high school students (34 percent) is mandatory school fees (compared to only 27 percent and 25 percent of parents of elementary and middle school students, respectively).

  • Yearbooks are more likely to be a significant expense for parents of middle and high school students (29 percent) than for parents of elementary school students (22 percent).

  • Most parents (61 percent) agree that equipment, supplies and uniforms make up the biggest extra-curricular activity expenses during the school year, but other activity-related expenses vary by the child's age and school type.

    • 36 percent of parents of elementary school children say extra-curricular club fees are their biggest expense, compared to only 29 percent of parents of middle and high school students.

    • 32 percent of parents of high school students identified activity-related travel as their biggest expense, compared to only 15 percent for parents of elementary students and 27 percent of parents of middle school students.

    • Private Lessons or Coaching: Parents of children who engage in performing arts (44 percent), creative arts (42 percent) and STEM (40 percent) are more likely to identify private lessons or coaching as their biggest expense compared to parents of children who play in sports (32 percent).

 

This is one of the most expensive times of the year for parents: Nearly 40 percent of parents find July-September to be the most expensive time of the year for child-related expenses, compared to only 23 percent who say October-December is most expensive.

  • When looking back at last year, Capital One Rewards card holders spent the second most in August, only 10% less when compared to the biggest shopping month of the year (December).

    • Three of the top four spending weekends in Q3 2016 were in August. 

       

      From the expected to the unexpected costs of the academic year, Capital One offers a variety of products and tools to help parents save time and money, and stay in control of their finances.

  • Capital One Quicksilver offers parents automatic rewards and peace of mind with no limits on how much cash back you can earn and earnings that don't expire.

  • Capital One Venture allows parents who want to take a well-deserved vacation earn double miles on all purchases with the flexibility of using them on any airline, any flight, any ride share, any hotel, anytime with no blackout dates. 

  • Second Look from Capital One alerts customers about potential unwanted or atypical charges, having helped Capital One customers save nearly $17 million to date.

     





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