Guide to Best Credit Cards for Grocery Store Spend

 

Introduction

Whether you live alone or have a growing family, everybody spends money at the grocery store. Credit card issuers know this and in turn offer significant rewards on a variety of different credit cards specifically for spend at grocery stores. Additionally, many grocery stores carry third party gift cards. By purchasing these gift cards with a credit card that incentives spend at the grocery store, the consumer is able to lock in the rebate offered by the credit card at any third party retailer.

This guide contains details regarding the best credit cards to use at the grocery store. Note that in this context, “grocery store” generally does not mean a superstore or club warehouse such as Wal-Mart, Target, Costco, Sam’s Club, etc.  However, if one of these stores are your primary source of grocery spend, we have also included the a list of best credit cards for your situation.

Earning Miles/Points

Amex Gold Card – earns 4 Membership Rewards (MR) per dollar spent at U.S. grocery stores on up to $25,000 spent per calendar year. Maxing out this spend would earn 100,000 MR worth an estimated $1,600. This Gold Card also earns an uncapped 4 MR per dollar spent on restaurants (worldwide), 3x MR on airfare, and carries an annual fee of $250.

Amex Everyday Preferred – earns 3 MR per dollar spent at U.S. grocery stores on up to $6,000 spent per calendar year. Additionally, if you make 30 or more transactions with your card at any retailer in the calendar month, you will get a 50% multiplier on the points and earn 4.5 MR per dollar spent. Maxing out the $6,000 spend with the multiplier would earn 27,000 MR worth an estimated $432. The Everyday Preferred also earns 2 MR per dollar spent at U.S. gas stations and carries an annual fee of $95.

Amex Hilton Surpass – earns 6 Hilton Honors points per dollar spent at U.S. grocery stores with no annual cap. If you value Hilton points, this is your best options for generating them. The Ascend also earns 12 Hilton Honors points per dollar spent at Hilton portfolio hotels worldwide, 6 points per dollar spent at U.S. restaurants and gas stations, and 3 points on all other purchases and has an annual fee of $95. Every $1,000 in grocery store spend would earn 6,000 Hilton Honors points. We value Hilton points at roughly 0.4 cents per point, resulting in an effective return on spend of 2.4%. Due to the lower value of Hilton points, we suggest there are probably better cards for grocery store spend for most people.

Amex Everyday – earns 2 MR per dollar spent at U.S. grocery stores on up to $6,000 spent per calendar year. Additionally, if you make 20 or more transactions with your card at any retailer in the calendar month, you will get a 20% multiplier on the points and earn 2.4 MR per dollar spent. Maxing out the $6,000 spend with the multiplier would earn 18,000 MR worth an estimated $230. The Everyday has no annual fee.

Amex Hilton Honors  – earns 5 Hilton Honors points per dollar spent at U.S. grocery stores with no annual cap. The Amex Hilton Honors card has no annual fee. Every $1,000 in grocery store spend would earn 5,000 Hilton Honors points. We value Hilton points at roughly 0.4 cents per point, resulting in an effective return on spend of 2%. Due to the lower value of Hilton points, we suggest there are probably better cards for grocery store spend for most people.

Bank of America Travel Rewards and Bank of America Premium Rewards each of these products earns 2.625% back (points are worth 1 cent per point) on all purchases if you qualify for Bank of America Platinum Rewards membership. Each of these products will earn a multiplier based on the amount of money you have with Bank of America or Merrill Edge, up to a maximum bonus of 75% on all rewards earned.

Earning Cashback

Amex Blue Cash Preferred – earns 6% cashback at U.S. grocery stores on up to $6,000 spent per calendar year. Maxing out the $6,000 spend would earn $360. The Blue Cash Preferred also earns 6% cashback on streaming services, 3% at U.S. gas stations and transit (Uber/Lyft/taxis, parking, tolls, trains, buses, and more) and carries an annual fee of $95.

Amex Blue Cash Everyday – earns 3% cashback at U.S. grocery stores on up to $6,000 spend per calendar year. Maxing out the $6,000 spend would earn $180 cashback. The Blue Cash Everyday

Amex Amazon Business Prime Rewards – earns an uncapped 5% cashback per dollar spent at Whole Foods and Amazon (must be a Prime member) and has no annual fee.

Chase Amazon – earns an uncapped 5% cashback per dollar spent at Whole Foods and Amazon (must be a Prime member) and has no annual fee.

Bank of America Cash Rewardsearns 3.5% cash back if you qualify for a Bank of America Platinum Rewards membership. However, this grocery spend on this product shares a quarterly $2,000 cap with an additional category you select, limiting your total spend bandwidth. The Cash Rewards card has no annual fee.

Rotating 5% Categories

A number of credit card products earn 5% cashback on all purchases up to $1500 in spend in categories that rotate quarterly (i.e. 4 times per year). If you were to max out the $1,500 spend on one of these cards, you would earn $75 cashback. Grocery stores have been a recurring rotating category for the following credit cards:

Chase Freedom –  can be transferred as Ultimate Reward points if you have the Chase Ink Preferred, Chase Sapphire Preferred, or Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Discover IT – cashback is doubled at the end of the first year, meaning you will earn 10% cashback the first year of card membership during each quarter.

USBank Cash Plus – earns a straight 5% cashback up to $2,000 in spend per quarter on up to two categories you choose (one can be grocery). Earns 2% on all additional grocery purchases, in addition to 2% at gas stations and restaurants.

Superstore/Club “Non Grocery-Store” Options

If you shop for groceries exclusively at a warehouse store, you won’t be able to take advantage of the “Grocery Store” bonus category that the cards listed above are able to. This includes Target, Wal-Mart, Costco, Sam’s Club, BJ’s, and others. However, you still have a number of options.

USBank Altitude Reserve earns 3x points for all mobile payments. If you use Apple Pay or Samsung Pay, you can use your mobile payment method at the supermarket and earn this bonus. Those points can be redeemed at 1.5 cents per point through the USBank travel portal, meaning the Altitude Reserve earns 4.5% cashback on all spend when redeemed for travel redemptions, which is a best-in-class earning rate. Samsung Pay can be used at nearly any point-of-sale system, whereas the point-of-sale system at your retailer must be equipped to accept Apple Pay.

Alliant Visa Signatureearns 3% back on all purchases the first year and 2.5% back on all purchases after the first year.

Citi Costco Visaearns 4% back on gas station purchases in addition to 2% back on all Costco purchases and 3% cashback at restaurants. That combination is tough to beat if you purchase both gas and groceries at Costco. If you do not purchase gas at Costco, you’d be better putting your grocery spend on of the products above and carrying an additional card with a high earning rate at gas stations.

Bank of America Travel Rewards and Bank of America Premium Rewards each of these products earns 2.625% back (points are worth 1 cent per point) on all purchases if you qualify for Bank of America Platinum Rewards membership. Each of these products will earn a multiplier based on the amount of money you have with Bank of America or Merrill Edge, up to a maximum bonus of 75% on all rewards earned.

Amex Gold Card – some Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market’s (the version of Wal-Mart where the building is painted bright green) code as grocery for Amex and therefore earn 4x MR capped at $25,000 spend per year. However, this is store-specific and YMMV. Other Wal-Mart’s, like Wal-Mart Supercenters, do not code as grocery.

Conclusions

Grocery store spend is one of the most consistent expenses in the average household. By figuring out your credit card rewards strategy now, you can keep some of your hard earn money or help off set your next trip. If there are additional products you think we should consider for this guide, please let us know in the comments below!


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