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Wealth and Wants

My take on the Just for U grocery rewards program

This loyalty points program can save you a bundle at stores like Albertsons, Safeway and Acme; here’s how it works

Summary

The Just for U rewards program is offered by the Albertsons family of grocery stores. I typically shop at Acme, and I find the program to be a useful way to earn additional cash back. Here’s how it works, and how to decide if it’s a good fit for you.

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The Just for U rewards program is offered by the Albertsons family of grocery stores. Its brand names include Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Jewel-Osco, Shaw’s, Acme, Tom Thumb, Randalls, United Supermarkets, Pavilions, Star Market, Haggen and Carrs.

I typically shop at Acme, and I find this rewards program to be a useful way to earn additional cash back at the grocery store. That’s on top of my already significant discount for using the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express (which gives 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 in annual spending, then 1% cash back after that).

See related:  Best credit cards for grocery shopping

How the Just for U program works

Shoppers typically earn 1 point for every $1 they spend on grocery and pharmacy purchases at Albertsons Companies locations (many of these brand names are listed above; Albertsons operates stores in 34 states and Washington, D.C.).

The earn rate doubles to 2 points for every $1 spent on gift cards. There are some exclusions, such as general-purpose, grocery and gas gift cards as well as beer, wine, tobacco and lottery tickets. There are also some bonuses, such as weeks when categories like meat and produce earn double points.

Every 100 points equal 1 reward. The value of a reward varies. Here are some examples:

  • 1 reward can be redeemed for $2 off an in-store bakery purchase (2 cents per point)
  • 4 rewards for $7 off a meat department purchase (1.75 cents per point)
  • 2 rewards for $3 off a produce department purchase (1.50 cents per point)
  • 7 rewards for $10 off your entire purchase (1.43 cents per point)
  • 5 rewards for $7 off your entire purchase (1.40 cents per point)
  • 3 rewards for $4 off your entire purchase (1.33 cents per point)
  • 4 rewards for $5 off your entire purchase (1.25 cents per point)
  • 2 rewards for $2 off your entire purchase (1 cent per point)
  • 1 reward for $1 off your entire purchase (1 cent per point)

You can also redeem directly for merchandise, such as:

  • 3 rewards for 12 double rolls of Signature Select Softly Bath Tissue (retail price $7.99, so 2.66 cents per point)
  • 4 rewards for a 16-pack of Signature Select (store-brand) AA or AAA batteries (retail price $9.99, so 2.50 cents per point)
  • 1 reward for a two-pound bag of Signature Select All Purpose Flour (retail price $1.19, so 1.19 cents per point)

Finally, you can redeem for gas discounts. I could turn each of my Acme rewards into a 10-cent per gallon discount at participating ExxonMobil stations (there’s some regional variety with this one – Safeway rewards can be redeemed at Chevron and Texaco locations, for example).

You can combine up to 10 gas rewards in one fill-up (so 2 rewards would save you 20 cents per gallon, all the way up to 10 rewards for $1 off each gallon).

See related:  Test-driving the BPme app for potential savings

How I use it

The best way to examine this one is with a real-world example. The Mobil gas station closest to my house charges $3.07 for a gallon of regular unleaded, and my car can hold about 16 gallons of gas. Most Just for U participants cap gas rewards at 25 gallons per fill-up (Jewel-Osco’s cap is 20 gallons).

If I spent one reward to bring that per-gallon price down to $2.97, and I bought 15 gallons (I’m saying 15 not 16 because I don’t want to be running on fumes), I’d pay $44.55 instead of $46.05.

That reward would be worth 1.50 cents per point, which is pretty good, but not as good as some of the alternatives. The total savings would be greater, but the cents per point would remain the same if I opted for the maximum $1 per gallon discount (which would require 10 rewards).

Redeeming for gas isn’t the best deal. There are other (non-Mobil) stations in the area that charge a lot less, including a Citgo right across the street that charges $2.75 per gallon (about 10% less than $3.07). In my case, I’m better off paying for my own gas (using the right rewards credit card, of course!) and saving my Acme rewards for grocery purchases.

Another quirk of the Just for U program is that you can only redeem each category once per month (e.g., 1 reward for $2 off an in-store bakery purchase). And rewards expire relatively quickly (they’re good for the remainder of the calendar month in which you earn them, plus one more calendar month).

I typically work my way down the list of in-store discounts in the order listed above ($2 off at the bakery, $7 off meat and so on). I find the merchandise redemptions to be much more limiting, although I still keep them in mind because they can provide solid value if I find an item I need.

It’s important to comparison shop, too. Just because the aforementioned bath tissue redemption is worth 2.66 cents per point doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best deal. As with gas, sometimes it makes sense to buy certain products out of pocket and save rewards for something else.

See related:  Use these credit cards to earn cash back at department stores

Who should take advantage?

I definitely recommend the Just for U program to anyone who shops at an eligible grocery store. More generally, this is an excellent reminder that stacking discounts (as in, double- or even triple-dipping with various strategies) is a great way to earn extra rewards.

Other examples include doing your online shopping through a credit card, airline or cash back portal, entering any applicable coupon codes and paying with a rewards credit card. And mixing coupons with card-linked offers such as Amex Offers and Chase Offers.

Editorial Disclaimer

The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

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