Adding up the back-to-school bills

Adding up the back-to-school bills

As parents count down to the start of a new school year, they’re also counting up the growing costs of sending the kids back to school, thanks in part to the increasing emphasis on technology in the classroom. 

A new study from the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) has revealed that the cost of sending a 5 to 17 year old child back to school has increased by a significant 43% year on year, as parents foot the bill for not only books and stationery, but school laptops as well.

Do back to school expenses add up?

The Commonwealth Bank Back to School Expenses Study found that across Australia, Aussie parents are set to pay a total of $1.7 billion on top of school fees in back to school expenses – equating to an increase of $829 in the family budget per household.

A significant contributor to this jump in back to school expenses is the cost of technology purchases, which at an average of $269, is approximately 48% higher than the next-highest expense, that being the cost of buying school uniforms.

Expense Cost
Technology $269
School uniforms $182
Text books $127
School shoes $103
Stationery $91

Source: CBA

How will parents afford these back to school costs?

The study found that 33% of parents with kids aged 5 to 7 have increased how much they will spend on technology in 2018, while 63% of parents with older kids said their technology spend would increase.

According to the study, while 56% of parents were worried about the cost of back-to-school expenses, 49% did not have a plan or budget in place, while just 31% were regularly putting money aside in preparation for these expenses.

While 29% of parents were making plans to pay for back to school expenses in instalments, 42% were planning to buy second hand, and 60% were looking at using hand me downs, some 80% of parents were planning to take advantage of back to school sales to help them save money on the necessary purchases.

According to the Australian Retail Association (ARA), may more parents are expected to source back to school products online this year.

“Although online retail currently accounts for 7% of total retail sales, we saw a dramatic increase in online engagement over Christmas, therefore we believe online retail will account for 15% of total retail sales within the next few years, as Australians are becoming more tech-savvy with their shopping.”ARA executive director, Russell Zimmerman

What else will parents foot the bill for?

The expenses for parents aren’t expected to stop once the kids are back at school, either – according to the CBA study, families across Australia pay approximately $662 million per month for extracurricular activities.

Extracurricular activity Monthly cost nationwide
Sports $255 million
Trips/camps $174 million
Music/dance $129 million
Tutoring $103 million

Source: CBA

The Commonwealth Bank Back to School Expenses Study was conducted in December 2017, and is based on an online survey of a representative sample of 1038 Australian parents of school children in classes K to 12.

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Learn more about credit cards

How do credit cards work?

Think of credit cards as a short-term loan where you use the bank’s money to buy something up front and then pay for it later. Unlike a debit card which uses your own money to pay, a credit card essentially borrows the bank’s money to fund the purchase. When you apply for a credit card, the bank assesses your income and assigns you a credit limit based on what you can afford to pay back. At the end of each billing cycle, which is usually monthly, the bank will send you a statement showing the minimum amount you have to pay back, including any interest payable on the balance.

What is a credit card?

A credit card is a payment method which lets you pay for goods and services without using your own money. It’s essentially a short-term loan which lets you borrow the bank’s money to pay for things which you can pay back – potentially with interest – at a later date. Credit cards can also be used to withdraw money from an ATM, which is known as a cash advance. Because you’re borrowing money from a bank, credit cards charge you interest on the money you use (unless you repay the entire debt during the interest-free period). When you apply for a credit card, the bank gives you a credit limit which sets the maximum amount you can borrow using your card. Credit cards are one of the most popular methods of payments and can be a convenient way of paying for goods and services in store, online and all around the globe.

How to get a free credit card

There's no such thing as a free lunch. All credit cards come with associated costs when used to make purchases, even if it’s simply the cost of making repayments.

However, many lenders offer incentives for customers such as a $0 annual fee or 0 per cent interest on purchases during an introductory period. Additionally, paying off your balance in full during an interest-free period means you could only have to pay back the cost of purchases without interest. You could also be eligible for additional rewards such as cashback during that time, saving you more money.

How do you use credit cards?

A credit card can be an easy way to make purchases online, in person or over the phone. When used properly, a credit card can even help you manage your cash flow. But before applying for a credit card, it’s good to know how they work. A credit card is essentially a personal line of credit which lets you buy things and pay for them later. As a card holder, you’ll be given a credit limit and (potentially) charged interest on the money the bank lends you. At the end of each billing period, the bank will send you a statement which shows your outstanding balance and the minimum amount you need to pay back. If you don’t pay back the full balance amount, the bank will begin charging you interest.

How can I increase my credit card limit on my American Express card?

If you want to increase the credit limit on your American Express (AMEX) credit card, you will need to apply through the AMEX Online Services, or by calling the number on the back of your card. You may need to share personal information that the bank can use to assess whether the requested limit is suitable for you and your current financial status. Once your application is approved, your new limit will be ready for use within an hour.

How to increase your Bendigo Bank credit card limit?

As a Bendigo Bank credit cardholder, you can avail a minimum limit of $500, but if you use your card regularly, you may want to consider increasing it. To increase your Bendigo Bank credit card limit, you can contact the bank’s credit card team on 1300 236 344 and talk to the bank directly.

You can also apply for a credit card limit increase through online banking, by logging into Bendigo Bank web portal or through the app on your phone or tablet. Once you’ve successfully logged in, you'll want  to send a secure message to Bendigo Bank asking them to increase your credit card limit. 

If you cannot access the online portal or the app, you can also apply to increase your credit card limit through the online enquiry form. Simply add relevant information in the required fields and click ‘Submit’. Once you have completed the application, Bendigo Bank should verify your details and analyse your current financial standing. Based on this assessment, the bank will either accept your application to increase your credit card limit or deny it. 

How do I apply for a BOQ credit card limit increase?

If you’re an existing BOQ customer, you can request a BOQ credit card limit increase over a phone call. However, you should remember that owning and using a credit card is a matter of financial responsibility, so it might be worth thinking this decision through. 

When requesting a credit card limit increase, you’ll need to be just as responsible in terms of how much you earn and can set aside to repay the outstanding card balance. A credit card company may approve a credit limit increase only if you can show that you have either the income or the disposable income, which is the amount you have left after all expenses have been paid out.

For this purpose, you may need to submit your latest income documents and bank statements for an increase. You may want to estimate how much you usually have left after deducting your expenses, and then use this amount to try and convince the credit card company. Also, you may prefer to pay off the card balance in full each month and thus avoid paying interest on the card, helping you back up any claims of financial responsibility, as well. 

Remember that you may not be able to apply for a credit card limit increase beyond any limitations on the type of card you own. For instance, if you own a card whose ceiling is $10,000, and your current limit is $5,000, you won't likely be able to apply for a $10,000 credit card limit increase.

How do you pay off credit cards?

The best way to pay off a credit card bill is to set a realistic spending budget and stick to it. Each month, you’ll get a credit card statement detailing how much you owe and how long it will take to pay off the balance by making minimum repayments. If you only make the minimum repayments, it will take you years to pay off your outstanding balance and add extra costs in interest charges. To avoid any extra charges, you should pay the entire bill. 

How to increase a Citi credit card limit?

Before requesting an increase in the limit of your Citibank credit card, you’ll need to find out if you’re eligible for the increased limit. You can check your eligibility for a Citibank credit card limit increase by calling 13 24 84 or checking the “My Offers” section of your online Citibank account. If you are eligible and request a credit card limit increase, the company will review your income and expenses, including the repayments you make to clear other debts. Your request may be approved if Citibank can confirm that you can repay the full credit card balance, as stipulated by Australian laws, within three years.


To make sure that the company is reviewing your current earnings, you should update any income details by providing recent payslips or a tax assessment notice. In case you are still repaying other debts, consider consolidating or paying off some in full before applying for a credit limit increase. This will free up more disposable income, or earnings left over after deducting all necessary expenses, and possibly determine how much you can increase your credit card limit.

How do I transfer money from my Commonwealth bank credit card to my bank account?

Your Commonwealth bank credit card may include a cash advance benefit, but you won't be able to transfer money to your bank account. 

You can, however, withdraw cash from your credit card at an ATM. You should remember that you have to pay a fee for such transactions, and you’ll be charged interest from the day you withdraw the cash. 

Unlike other credit card transactions, you don’t get an interest-free repayment period for cash advances. Also, you may not be able to access your full credit card limit for a cash advance.

What to consider before transferring money from your credit card to your bank account in Citibank?

You can transfer money from a Citibank credit card to a bank account depending on the available limit of each. The process is known as a cash advance transaction, and Citibank should allow you to transfer some portion of the total credit limit.

Transferring funds from a credit card to a bank account is likely to attract additional charges, so please consider the following potential costs:

  • A cash advance fee, which is a per cent of the total transfer amount
  • A 2 per cent transaction fee when you transfer money from a Citibank credit card to a bank account
  • Cash advance interest rate applicable on the transfer amount without any interest-free period.

To learn more about such transfers, you can contact the bank via the online service desk, email, or by calling 13 CITI (13 24 84).

How does the Commonwealth Bank credit card instalment plan work?

Commonwealth Bank credit card instalment plans allow you to structure the schedule for repaying your outstanding credit card balances. So, rather than pay the entire amount on the due date, you’ll pay a fixed amount on every due date for a particular period.

You can choose from three types of plans. The first is to pay-off a one-time large purchase exceeding $100 made during the previous 14 days. The second plan is to pay off the credit card balance (excluding cash advance, balance transfers, and existing instalment plans) of $600 or more in whole or part over a predetermined period. The last plan allows you to pay off the cash advance balance of $600 or higher in part or fully, over a certain period.

You can break down large purchases into affordable instalments over some time that you specify. Additionally, you enjoy the flexibility to cancel or prepay the plan before its last instalment. You can simultaneously have ten active plans without additional credit checks on all eligible cards.

Once you select the eligible purchase or balance and the desired repayment term, the monthly instalment and due date are shown in the next statement, which includes the new payment and the summary of the plan’s progress. In case you miss a payment, the plan isn’t cancelled, but an unpaid instalment is re-transferred to the applicable balance, and you’ll be charged the standard rate. The plan can be revoked at any time, and the outstanding amount is added to the cash advance or purchase balance as applicable.

How to pay a credit card

There are a few ways to pay a credit card bill. These include:

  • BPAY - allows you to safely make credit card payments online.
  • Direct debits - set up an automatic payment from your bank account to pay your credit card bill each month. You can choose how much you want to pay of your credit card bill when you set up the auto payments.
  • In a branch.
  • Via your credit card provider's app.

How to get a new credit card

To get a new credit card, generally you need to be at least 18 years old and have a good credit rating. You don’t need to be an Australian citizen. Usually you can apply online or in person at a branch of the card issuer. You’ll typically have to supply information like:

  • Your income and living costs (e.g. rent/mortgage, loan repayments, living expenses)
  • Your employer’s contact details
  • Details of your assets and any debts you are paying off