While Walmart typically doesn’t count as a grocery store to card issuers, there are ways to get those bonus points.
Dear Cashing In,
I am looking into an American Express card that offers 6% back on grocery purchases. Most of my groceries are purchased through Walmart Grocery online for pickup. Do Walmart Grocery online purchases qualify as a grocery store or a superstore under American Express’s classification system? – Angela
We all have in our heads an image of what a grocery store is. It’s probably the place near your house where you check out the meat and seafood counters, pick your fruits and vegetables and stock up on canned goods, frozen foods and things to drink.
However, that conventional view of a grocery store is changing. People are now increasingly shopping for groceries at superstores and warehouse clubs, and greater numbers of people are ordering groceries online – and not always from a traditional grocer.
The COVID-19 pandemic has escalated this trend, with 68% having bought groceries online between March and September 2020, according to a survey from online market Good Eggs. Over half of respondents (56%) also said they shopped for groceries online at Walmart during that period.
Typically, credit cards that provide bonus points for grocery shopping have been slow to adapt to this trend. Generally, with a credit card that gives category bonuses for groceries, you receive the bonus only for shopping at traditional grocery stores. If you buy online with one of those grocers, that counts. But if your online or in-store grocery shopping is with Amazon, Walmart, Costco or similar stores, you are usually out of luck. But not always.
Do online Walmart grocery orders code as a supermarket purchase?
Usually, the best way to find out if charges with a particular merchant qualify for extra reward points is to read the fine print associated with the card and try to determine how the merchant is coded by payment networks and card issuers. This can help you sort out some of the gray areas, such as what counts as a travel expense, a restaurant or a grocery store.
For instance, with the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express ($0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95), the offer terms state: “You will earn a reward of 6% on the first $6,000 of eligible purchases in a calendar year at supermarkets located in the U.S. (superstores and warehouse clubs are not considered supermarkets).” That would seem to exclude Walmart. You’ll earn 1% after reaching the spend cap.
If the card were a Visa, you could then check the Visa Supplier Locator to see if charges at a particular merchant qualify for bonus points. If it’s not a Visa, you might have to scour the internet or rely on trial and error.
In the case of American Express, I have a similar card that gives bonuses at supermarkets. When the charge qualifies for extra points, it shows up as “Merchandise & Supplies – Groceries.” This week, I used the card to order groceries online at Walmart in two different ways. In the first instance, I went to Walmart’s homepage and ordered some cat litter and bottled water to be delivered. The charge showed up on my statement as “Merchandise & Supplies – Internet Purchase” and did not qualify for extra points.
But customers also have reported online that charges at Walmart Neighborhood Markets – smaller stores that sell groceries exclusively – might qualify for the grocery bonus on American Express cards.
Usually, the trouble with charging groceries at superstores is that when the retailer rings up the purchase, there is no way for the retailer to distinguish between an order of groceries and an order of camping gear. That’s why those larger stores don’t usually count toward extra points for groceries. But in the case of Walmart, if the charge is with a separate division such as a Walmart Neighborhood Market, you might receive credit for a grocery purchase.
It is one small step toward making credit card bonuses reflect the new realities of grocery shopping.
How to earn rewards on Walmart grocery purchases
If you’re looking for a credit card that will reward you for online purchases at Walmart, you should consider the Capital One Walmart Rewards® Mastercard®, which earns 5% cash back on Walmart.com purchases, including grocery pickup and delivery orders, 5% back on in-store purchases for the first 12 months when using Walmart Pay (2% afterward), 2% back on dining, travel and gift cards at Walmart and 1% back on everything else.
Additionally, if you’re a Walmart+ member, this card will earn you 5% cash back on Free Unlimited Delivery orders, 5% back on in-store purchases made using the card with Scan and Go in the Walmart app for the first 12 months after approval and 2% cash back on fuel purchases at Walmart and Murphy USA fuel stations on top of the $0.05 fuel discount received through your Walmart+ membership.