Looking for the best card to use while grocery shopping? These options will help you score major savings in the form of cash back, regardless of your credit profile.
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Everyone has to eat, which means everyone has to go grocery shopping every week and credit card issuers know this.
That’s why the credit cards tying reward points to this weekly activity are getting more numerous and their offers are getting increasingly more competitive. In 2019, a whole new class of cards is ready to reward you for your grocery spending.
Here are best cards whether you like those premium rewards, are an everyday shopper, are building credit, you’d rather skip the prep and go straight to the meal or you like to buy groceries at superstores.
See related: Best cards for restaurants
Best credit cards for groceries
Amex Gold gives you an unprecedented rewards rate whether you’re dining in or out. If that weren’t enough, paying at certain restaurants after enrollment, can get you up to $10 a month in statement credit.The intro bonus of 35,000 points when you spend $4,000 in the first three months is fair and there are many redemption options, including gift cards, merchandise and travel with no blackout dates.
You also get up to $100 every year in airline fee credits, which you can use to pay for things like baggage fees or upgrades – and in some cases, even airline gift cards.
The card charges an annual fee of $250, but if you take advantage of both the dining and airline fee credit, keeping the Amex Gold card will essentially cost you $30 every year.
If you are OK with only redeeming travel directly through Amextravel.com or Amex’s airline partners in order to maximize the value of the Membership Rewards points you’ll earn, this is a great card for foodies and travellers.
Here’s a closer look at the features:
- 35,000 American Express Membership Rewards points when you spend $4,000 in the first three months.
- 4 points per dollar spent at U.S. supermarkets on up to $25,000 per year in purchases – 1 point thereafter.
- 4 points per dollar spent at restaurants worldwide.
- 3 points per dollar spent on flights booked directly through airlines or on amextravel.com.
- Up to $120 annual dining credit (up to a $10 statement credit monthly) when you pay at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris and participating Shake Shack locations (enrollment required).
- Up to $100 annual airline fee credit.
- No foreign transaction fees.
Even though it has fewer features than the Amex Gold, it gives you perhaps the highest cash back rate available on groceries, and it has a lower annual fee – $95. Plus, running errands like groceries is way easier when you get cash back on gas for the commute. Take a closer look:
- $250 statement credit when you spend $1,000 in the first three months.
- 6 percent cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 in purchases per year, then 1 percent.
- 6 percent cash back on select U.S. streaming services, such as Netflix, Hulu or HBO.
- 3 percent cash back at U.S. gas stations.
- 3 percent on transit purchases.
- 1 percent cash back on all other purchases.
The Bank of America Cash Rewards card offers grocery shoppers the opportunity to double down on cash back for food by selecting dining for its 3 percent category along with its very good 2 percent rate on grocery stores and wholesale clubs, with no annual fee.
If cardholders want something other than dining for the 3 percent rate, Cash Rewards offers the flexibility to let them choose their own category. However, the $2,500 quarterly spending cap on both categories is low.
Have a closer look:
- $200 in online cash rewards when you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days.
- 3 percent cash back on a category of your choice (gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores or home improvements and furnishings).
- 2 percent cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs.
- $2,500 combined quarterly limit on 2 percent and 3 percent cash back categories.
- 1 percent cash back on all other purchases.
- No annual fee.
For those who don’t want to have to choose a spending category, but still want no annual fee, the Chase Freedom Unlimited offers a consistent 1.5 percent cash back on all purchases.
- 1.5 percent cash back on all purchases.
- $150 bonus if you spend $500 in the first 3 months.
- Cash back rewards do not expire.
- 0 percent intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months (then 16.49% – 25.24% variable).
- No annual fee.
This card is for those with way too packed a social life to buy groceries. Sure, you get 2 percent cash back at grocery stores for those times your social calendar eases up and you can actually get to the store, but otherwise, you get way more return on your cash back when you dine out or see a show.
Plus, if you love concerts, 8 percent cash back on tickets through Vivid Seats is absolutely unprecedented.
The intro no annual fee stipulation doesn’t hurt either (then $95 annually).
Check out the details:
- $300 cash bonus if you spend $3,000 in the first three months.
- 8 percent cash back on tickets through Vivid Seats (offer expires May 2020).
- 4 percent cash back on dining and entertainment.
- 2 percent cash back at grocery stores.
- 1 percent cash back on all other purchases.
- No annual fee in the first year, $95 after that.
Why go to a standard grocery store when superstores allow you to get the grocery shopping done all in one shot? For those who prefer one-stop shopping, there are some great credit card options for superstore shoppers that will give you monster returns you don’t often see with standard cash back cards as long as you use them in-store.
The Target Redcard has no annual fee. This combined with its standard offer of 5 percent off in-store purchases applied right at the checkout counter and 5 percent off at Target.com with free shipping makes it a great card for frequent Target shoppers, especially since the five percent discount is applied in perpetuity. You can also stack your discount with others available through Target’s Cartwheel app and in-store.
Though most people don’t need 120 days to return an item, you get that with this card when its extra 30 days is combined with Target’s standard 90-day return policy. The extra time could allow greater piece of mind on those large ticket items you buy.
However, if you’re known to carry a balance, this isn’t the right card for you. The high 24.65 percent variable APR can far outweigh the 5 percent discount, so pay the card off after each billing cycle.
Here’s a snapshot of all the benefits on this card:
- 5 percent off eligible Target purchases in store and online at Target.com (except pharmacy purchases)
- Can be used together with Cartwheel app and other discounts.
- Free two-day shipping on orders from Target.com with no spending minimum
- An extra 30 days to return items on top of the standard 90-day return policy
- Early access to special events, products and promotions
- No annual fee
This card is great because, unlike Target’s Redcard, it offers some cash back outside of Walmart purchases, including 2 percent cash back at restaurants and 1 percent cash back on all other purchases.
However, while Target’s Redcard offers its in-store 5 percent discount with no limit, the Capital One Walmart Rewards Mastercard only offers the same discount in-store for a year and you have to use Walmart’s mobile wallet on your purchases to get it.
Where this card really shines is online, especially if you do a lot of grocery pick-up or delivery orders from Walmart.com.
It’s very easy to apply for and, like the REDcard, it carries no annual fee, as well as some smaller benefits you’ll see below:
- 5 percent cash back on Walmart purchases online, including grocery and delivery orders
- 5 percent cash back on in-store purchases in the first year when you pay using the Walmart Pay digital wallet.
- 2 percent cash back on restaurant purchases
- 1 percent cash back on all other purchases
- No annual fee or foreign transaction fee
- Easily apply via text message
- Card is automatically transferred to Walmart Pay digital wallet on approval.
- Fraud alerts and ability to freeze your account
Walmart Rewards Card
The standard Walmart Rewards Card is almost identical to the Capital One Walmart Rewards Mastercard, but without the additional cash back offered outside Walmart stores. However, it offers an additional 2 percent cash back at Walmart fuel stations. This is a great option if you shop at Walmart almost exclusively and don’t eat out enough for cash back from restaurants to be worth it.
Here’s a snapshot of the offering:
- 5 percent cash back on purchases at Walmart.com
- 5 percent cash back on in-store purchases when you pay using the Walmart digital wallet for the first 12 months.
- 2 percent cash back on in-store purchases after the first year
- 2 percent cash back on purchases at Walmart fuel stations
See related: Walmart Pay: How to set up and use at checkout
How to pick the right card for grocery shopping
For most of us, using a credit card at a grocery store simply involves taking it out in the checkout line. But if you want to up your grocery shopping game and save some serious money, here are some tips and secret strategies from credit card experts and the most seasoned shoppers we could find.
When picking the credit card you’ll use at the grocery store, most experts recommend either a card with a high cash back rate that can provide a percentage off every time you shop or a tiered rewards card that offers specific rewards every time you use it for groceries.
“When you use a cash back card, it’s like having a coupon to save a certain amount off your total purchase each and every time you buy groceries. This savings isn’t limited to grocery stores — a flat-rate rewards card will apply the same cash back or miles to all of your purchases,” says Ashley Dull of CardRates.com
However, if you’re picking a tiered rewards card with a grocery store category, they often have a limit on how much you can earn annually.
For example, American Express limits the 6 percent cash back rate spent at U.S. supermarkets annually on its Blue Cash Preferred Card to $6,000 in purchases (after that it’s 1 percent), so be mindful of those restrictions.
Russell Zwanka, an assistant professor of marketing at Siena College in Loudonville, New York, says you also need to consider how fast you will receive your cash back. For example, the Amazon Prime card gives you your cash back four weeks later, while the new Apple Card gives you cash back every day.
You also want to pick a card where rewards don’t expire, there are multiple options for redemption and you can transfer rewards between accounts. Always keep track of the terms of your credit card and compare card features vigorously before making your final selection.
How to earn the most rewards while grocery shopping
If you really want to maximize your rewards at the grocery store, stack your savings with a cash back app such as Ibotta, Fetch Rewards or Checkout 51. Your grocery store’s loyalty app is also a great way to double-dip on savings.
“By taking a few minutes to scan in your grocery receipts, a family of four can easily earn over $25 a month in rewards,” says Nermeen Ghneim of The Savvy Dollar personal finance blog.
Finally, if you’re choosing a store-branded credit card because you tend to shop at the same store all the time, make sure you pay off the balance before the billing cycle resets because store cards tend to have very high interest and fees.
“Many people know that making a habit of paying off high interest credit cards will actually have a slight negative effect on their credit,” says Dan Gallagher, author, retired financial planner and personal finance expert at ScoreSense.com. “But some grocery credit cards are in-house credit extensions, especially the ones that are valid in-store-only. The in-store-only variety do not harm your score for avoiding interest and paying balances off early, so do not fear a grocery store credit card.”