What Can You Expect From Grocery Rewards Credit Cards?
Here’s what you need to know about grocery rewards credit cards.
Rewards earning: All the grocery cards surveyed earn at least two points per dollar or 2% cash back on grocery store purchases. A quarter of the cards surveyed earn at least five points per dollar or 5% cash back on grocery store purchases.
Rewards redemption: You can redeem rewards flexibly with cash back or other options using all the grocery cards surveyed.
Sign-up bonus value: You can earn a sign-up bonus of at least $50 with more than 80% of grocery credit cards.
Annual fee: Nearly 60% of grocery cards charge no annual fee. All but one of the grocery cards surveyed have an annual fee of $100 or less.
APR: All but one of the grocery cards surveyed have a minimum APR of between 15% and 18.99%.
How Can You Earn Rewards With Grocery Credit Cards?
The average family of four spends more than $10,600 on groceries annually, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. With a grocery rewards credit card earning at least 2% cash back, that could mean getting more than $200 back each year. But some cards offer more than cash.
Grocery rewards cards usually feature a few bonus rewards categories beyond groceries. This can make them a good choice for everyday rewards. For example, the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express earns 6% cash back on up to $6,000 in spending each year at U.S. supermarkets, then 1%; 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions; 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and on transit, including taxis, ride-hailing services, parking and buses; and unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
Some grocery rewards credit cards earn points or miles with loyalty travel programs. With this type of card, you can earn rewards from grocery expenses and use them for your next trip.
What’s the Value of Grocery Credit Cards?
A credit card that earns well for grocery purchases could put hundreds of dollars back into your budget each year. But before you choose a card for your grocery expenses, calculate its potential earning value, factoring in any annual fee.
“Almost everyone can benefit from cards with grocery store rewards,” says Richard Kerr, founder of Award Travel 101, a Facebook community that helps members maximize rewards programs. He encourages consumers to look at grocery rewards bonuses as well as other benefits of cards that may make them competitive.
If you spend $10,000 annually at U.S. supermarkets with the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express, you could earn $400 in cash back. Spend $1,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months, and you will earn a $250 statement credit. Combined, you can earn $600 in grocery rewards in the first year with this card. However, the card has a $95 annual fee, which brings its first-year value down to $505, if used exclusively for grocery rewards.
How Should You Choose a Grocery Store Credit Card?
Consider your grocery spending level when choosing a credit card for grocery rewards. Some grocery rewards cards have annual or quarterly limits on the bonus rewards you can earn on grocery purchases.
For example, the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express earns 6% on the first $6,000 in annual U.S. supermarket purchases, then 1% after that. If you spend $10,000 on groceries annually, you’ll exceed the limit of the card’s bonus rewards for U.S. supermarket purchases. Although this card earns well while the bonus applies, you will earn much less at a rate of 1% if you surpass the bonus spending limit.
Consider using multiple credit cards to maximize your potential for earning rewards for grocery expenses. For example, you could use the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express for your first $6,000 in U.S. supermarket purchases, then switch to another card with grocery bonus rewards for the rest of the year.
If you don’t want to juggle multiple credit cards or track your spending carefully, a card that offers unlimited grocery bonus rewards may be a good choice. However, cards with unlimited grocery bonus rewards may have lower earning rates.
Or, you can look for a card that doesn’t place a limit on how much you can earn. If you’re an Amazon Prime member, with the Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card, you can earn unlimited 5% back on purchases at Whole Foods Market. However, the bonus can only be earned at Whole Foods Market, unlike other cards that earn grocery rewards with multiple grocery store retailers.
As with all credit cards, paying off your balance each month is a good idea to maximize the value of rewards you earn with grocery store spending. The interest charged on any balance you carry, with an average minimum APR of about 17%, will easily outweigh the value of your rewards, even if you’re earning as much as 6% cash back. Also, avoid spending more than you normally would to earn rewards.
How Can You Maximize Rewards With a Grocery Credit Card?
Although everyday grocery spending can earn bonus rewards, certain strategies can help you rack up even more rewards. Keep in mind that you can earn bonus rewards when you purchase gift cards for movie theaters, retail stores and other merchants at the grocery store, Kerr says. Grocery stores often have their own rewards systems, too, so you could earn credit card bonus rewards and grocery store loyalty points when buying gift cards there.
When using your card, consider which stores will count toward grocery store purchases. “Some stores, like Walmart or Costco, don’t actually code as supermarkets or grocery stores,” says Alex Miller, founder and CEO of UpgradedPoints.com, a website that helps consumers maximize their credit card rewards. If that’s the case, you won’t earn grocery store bonus rewards at that store.
Because coding varies by card type and store location, Kerr suggests first testing a small purchase to make sure you can earn points with a retailer that is not exclusively a grocery store. If it counts as a grocery purchase, then you can make larger purchases there because you know you’ll earn at the grocery store bonus rate.
A card that earns well on grocery store rewards isn’t necessarily a good card for other types of spending. Become familiar with the rewards rates for your credit cards, and choose the right one for each purchase. Depending on your earning rates, you may want to use one card for grocery store purchases and another for restaurants, gas stations or other purchases.