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Americans spend more annually on groceries than any other major household expense that can be easily paid for with a credit card. You should have a rewards card that maximizes this big chunk of your budget. But unlike with travel rewards credit cards where the choices are plentiful, there are only a handful of points and cash back cards that offer groceries as a bonus category — and nearly all of the top choices come from one issuer, American Express.
Still, that doesn’t mean it’s hard to find a card that pays more than 1 cent per dollar on your supermarket shopping. We found five credit cards that pay rewards worth $150 or more annually for the typical household. Consumer expenditure data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the average household spends $4,121 on “food at home,” so $150 is enough to buy nearly two weeks of groceries for free each year. And if your grocery budget is bigger, you stand to benefit even more from a rewards card tailored for grocery spending.
The 5 Best Credit Cards for Groceries
First, let’s take an overall look at the five best cards to have when you’re at the supermarket, ranked by value on grocery spend:
|Earning Rate at US supermarkets||Value of Points (based on TPG valuations)||Total Value Per Dollar Spent|
|The Amex EveryDay®Preferred Credit Card from American Express||3x points up to $6,000 per year, then 1x, plus a 50% bonus when you use the card 30 times a month. Terms Apply.||1.9 cents each||8.55 cents|
|American Express® Gold Card||4x points up to $25,000 per year; then 1x. Terms Apply.||1.9 cents each||7.6 cents|
|Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express||6% cash back up to $6,000 per year; then 1%. Terms Apply.||1 cent each||6 cents|
|Target REDcard||5% savings on qualifying purchases at Target||N/A||5 cents|
|The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express||2x points up to $6,000 per year, plus a 20% bonus when you use the card 20 times a month. Terms Apply.||1.9 cents each||4.56 cents|
Let’s dive deeper into the details of these credit cards, including not only the bonuses on grocery store spending, but also the total first-year value of each one.
Grocery rewards: Earn 3x points at US supermarkets, on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1x).
Other rewards and perks: Earn 2x points at US gas stations and 1x points on other purchases. Use your card 30 or more times on purchases in a billing period and earn 50% more points on those purchases less returns and credits.
Welcome bonus: Earn 15,000 Membership Rewards points after you make $1,000 in purchases in your first three months.
Annual fee: $95
Estimated annual cash back/points from grocery spending: 12,363 points valued at $352.35 (if you make 30 or more transactions each month)
Keep in mind: Since this card is part of Amex’s Membership Rewards program, points are more valuable than the standard 1 cent each you’ll find with most cash back cards. According to TPG’s latest valuations, Membership Rewards points are worth 1.9 cents apiece. That means for every dollar spent at a grocer, you’ll earn 3 points worth 5.7 cents, or slightly less than the 6% cash back you’d earn with the Blue Cash Preferred. Then if you hit 30 monthly transactions, those 3 points per dollar spent turn into 4.5 points per dollar spent worth 8.6 cents apiece, making this the most valuable grocery card available.
Taking into account the welcome bonus and annual fee, I estimate a typical cardholder who paid for nothing but groceries with this card could earn at least $424.90 during the first year of cardmembership. (I did not take into account the potential transaction bonus in this figure.)
Grocery rewards: Earn 4x points at US supermarkets, on up to $25,000 per year in purchases (then 1x).
Other rewards and perks: Earn 4x points at US restaurants, 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com and 1x points on other purchases. Earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with your card at participating partner restaurants. Receive up to $100 annually in travel credits when the qualifying airline you choose charges you incidental fees.
Welcome bonus: Earn 25,000 Membership Rewards points after you make $2,000 in purchases in your first three months. Plus, if you apply by Jan. 9, 2019, you can earn 20% back as a statement credit at US restaurants with the Gold card within the first three months of cardmembership, up to $100 back.
Annual fee: $250
Estimated annual cash back/points from grocery spending: 16,484 points valued at $313.20
Keep in mind: Although Amex recently added the great supermarket and restaurant bonuses, it dropped the 2x bonus on purchases at US gas stations. You’ll have to use a different card at the pump. American Express also increased the annual fee on the former Premier Rewards Gold Card, up from $195. The new restaurant credit, potentially worth $120 annually, more than wipes out the increased annual fee.
Including the welcome bonus, credits and the annual fee, the typical cardholder could earn at least $758.20 on groceries during the first year of cardmembership.
Grocery rewards: Earn 6% cash back at US supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%).
Other rewards and perks: Earn 3% cash back at US gas stations and at select US department stores and 1% back on other purchases.
Welcome bonus: Receive a $200 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases within the first three months.
Annual fee: $95
Estimated annual cash back/points from grocery spending: $247.26
Keep in mind: When it comes to earning grocery rewards, not all stores are treated equally. American Express says you won’t earn 6% cash back at the following types of stores:
- Specialty stores like fish markets, cheese shops and wine shops
- Superstores, like Amazon, Target and Walmart
- Warehouse clubs like BJ’s Club
Including the welcome bonus and annual fee, the typical cardholder could earn at least $352.26 on groceries during the first year of cardmembership.
Grocery rewards: Earn 5% savings on qualifying purchases at Target.
Sign-up bonus: None
Annual fee: None
Estimated annual cash back/points from grocery spending: $206.05
Keep in mind: Target offers the REDcard as either a debit or credit card. Since this card is only valid at Target, my math assumes you’ll do all of your grocery shopping at Target — it doesn’t take into account any other shopping you might do at the large retailer. Also, unlike with other cards, you won’t actually redeem anything — you’ll just save 5% at checkout.
Since there’s no annual fee or welcome bonus, the estimated first-year value is the same as the estimated grocery spending savings.
5. The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express
Grocery rewards: Earn 2x points at US supermarkets, on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1x)
Other rewards and perks: Earn 1x points on other purchases. Use your card 20 or more times on purchases in a billing period and earn 20% more points on those purchases less returns and credits.
Welcome bonus: Earn 10,000 Membership Rewards points after making $1,000 in purchases in your first three months.
Annual fee: $0
Estimated annual cash back/points from grocery spending: 8,242 points valued at $156.60.
Keep in mind: This card earns slightly less value than the EveryDay Preferred, but you’ll pay no annual fee, so if grocery shopping is your number one goal for a card like this, Amex EveryDay is worth considering. Otherwise, choose the Preferred version, which offers more bonus categories, a larger welcome bonus and a larger monthly bonus based on number of uses. I estimate the first-year value of the Amex EveryDay to be worth $346.60
If you’re willing to put in some work, using business credit cards with an office supply store bonus — like the Ink Business Cash Credit Card or the SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express — to buy gift cards toward grocery shopping could help you earn 5% cash back (up to $25,000 per year for the Ink Cash and up to $50,000; then 1% for the Simply Cash). There aren’t necessarily a lot of grocery options to choose from, however, as Staples is showing just two grocery-related gift cards online: Whole Foods and Safeway. Of course, you may find more options in the chain’s physical stores. The office supply chain limits online gift card purchases in any one order to $2,000 or less “due to federal anti-money laundering regulations.”
There are also two other cards that have lower grocery reward returns, but when combined with their welcome bonuses, offer high overall first-year value. Those are the Chase Freedom Unlimited with a first-year return of $129.81 on grocery spend and $444.81 in total, and the basic Hilton Honors Card from American Express, which earns $123.63 in grocery spend return and $423.63 in total for the first year.
Everybody needs groceries, so you should be taking advantage of a card that offers bonus categories for supermarket shopping. Just keep in mind that the best card for groceries may not be the same card you should be using on other transactions, such as when you dine at a restaurant (Amex Gold not withstanding) or fill up at a gas station. But before you head to the grocery store, make sure at least
With some great bonus categories, the American Express Gold Card has a lot going for it. The card offers 4x points at US restaurants, at US supermarkets (up to $25,000; then 1x), and 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or through amextravel.com. It is currently offering a welcome bonus of 25,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 in the first three months.
- Get the American Express® Gold Card in Limited Edition Rose Gold, only available until 1/9/2019.
- Receive 20% back as a statement credit at U.S. Restaurants within the first 3 months, up to $100 back. Offer available to new Card Members who apply by 1/9/2019.
- Plus, earn 25,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $2,000 on eligible purchases with your new card within the first 3 months.
- Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at US restaurants. Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at US supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X).
- Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
- Earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the Gold Card at participating dining partners. Enrollment required.
- $100 Airline Fee Credit: up to $100 in statement credits per year for incidental fees at one selected airline.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- Annual Fee is $250.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees