The best credit cards for groceries
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In 2018, food spending by U.S. consumers, businesses and the government entities totaled $1.71 trillion, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. More than half of that — 54.4% — was spent on away-from-home food. Americans spend more annually on groceries than on any other major household expense that can be easily paid for with a credit card.
To that end, you should have a rewards card in your wallet that maximizes the biggest line item of your personal budget. But unlike travel 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 many 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 spent on your grocery shopping. We found six credit cards that pay rewards worth $190 or more annually for the typical household. That’s enough to buy more than two weeks of groceries each year. If your grocery budget is bigger, you stand to benefit even more from a rewards card tailored for grocery spending.
Best Credit Cards for Groceries in 2019
- The Amex EveryDay Preferred® Credit Card from American Express
- American Express® Gold Card
- Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
- Target REDcard
- Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card
- The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express
Comparing the best grocery credit cards
Now, let’s take an overall look at the six best cards to have when you’re at the supermarket, ranked by value on grocery spending:
|Earning Rate on Groceries
||Annual Fee||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 at U.S. supermarkets, then 1x, plus a 50% bonus when you use the card 30 times a month. Terms Apply.||$95||2 cents each||6 to 9 cents|
|American Express® Gold Card||4x points up to $25,000 per year at U.S. supermarkets; then 1x. Terms Apply.||$250 (see rates and fees)||2 cents each||8 cents|
|Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express||6% cash back up to $6,000 per year at U.S. supermarkets; then 1%. Terms Apply.||$95 (see rates and fees)||N/A||6 cents|
|Target REDcard||5% savings on qualifying purchases at Target||None||N/A||5 cents|
|Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card||5% cash back on Whole Foods and Amazon.com purchases||None, but must be an Amazon Prime member||N/A||5 cents|
|The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express||2x points up to $6,000 per year at U.S. supermarkets, plus a 20% bonus when you use the card 20 times a month. Terms Apply.||None||2 cents each||4 to 4.8 cents|
The information for the Amex EveryDay, Amex EveryDay Preferred, Amazon Prime Visa Signature has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Let’s dive deeper into the details of these credit cards — not only the bonuses on grocery-store spending but also the total first-year value of each one.
Grocery rewards: Earn 3x points at U.S. supermarkets, on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1x).
Other rewards and perks: Earn 2x points at U.S. 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: 13,089 points valued at $262 if you make fewer than 30 transactions each month (or 19,633 points valued at $393 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 2 cents apiece.
That means for every dollar spent at supermarkets — which doesn’t include superstores and warehouse clubs — you’ll earn 3 points worth 6 cents. Then if you hit 30 monthly transactions, those 3 points per dollar spent turn into 4.5 points per dollar spent worth 9 cents apiece, making this the most valuable grocery card available.
Taking into account the welcome bonus and annual fee, I estimate a typical card holder who paid for nothing but groceries with this card could earn at least $467 during the first year of card membership. (I did not take into account the potential transaction bonus in this figure.) The information for The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Grocery rewards: Earn 4x points at U.S. supermarkets, on up to $25,000 per year in purchases (then 1x).
Other rewards and perks: Earn 4x points on dining, 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. No foreign transaction fees (see rates and fees).
See the full card review for more details.
Welcome bonus: Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards points after you make $4,000 in purchases in your first three months.
Annual fee: $250 (see rates and fees)
Estimated annual cash back/points from grocery spending (at U.S. supermarkets): 17,452 points valued at $349
Keep in mind: Although this card has great supermarket (not including superstores and warehouse clubs) and restaurant bonuses, you’ll want to use a different card on gas purchases. Make sure you use the monthly dining credits as well as the annual airline-fee credit, since these credits can effectively offset the annual fee.
Taking into account the welcome bonus, annual fee, annual airline-fee credit and monthly dining credits, I estimate a typical card holder who paid for groceries at U.S. supermarkets, $100 of airline fees and $10 per month at eligible restaurants with this card could get about $1,019 of value from the card during the first year of card membership. For more content on the Amex Gold card, visit our card hub.
Grocery rewards: Earn 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%).
Other rewards and perks: Earn 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming services, 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations, 3% cash back on transit and 1% back on other purchases.
See the full card review for more details.
Welcome bonus: Receive a $250 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases within the first three months.
Annual fee: $95 (see rates and fees)
Estimated annual cash back/points from grocery spending (at U.S. supermarkets): $262
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 superstore or warehouse clubs. Including the welcome bonus and annual fee, the typical card holder could earn at least $417 on groceries at U.S. supermarkets during the first year of card membership.
Grocery rewards: Earn 5% savings on qualifying purchases at Target.
Sign-up bonus: Get $35 off a future qualifying purchase of $70 or more when you’re approved.
Annual fee: None
Estimated annual cash back/points from grocery spending: $218
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 there — 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. Taking into account the welcome bonus, the estimated first-year value is $253.
Grocery rewards: Earn 5% cash back at Whole Foods and on Amazon.com purchases.
Other rewards and perks: Earn 2% cash back at restaurants, gas stations and drug stores. No foreign transaction fees.
Sign-up bonus: Get a $70 Amazon gift card when you are approved.
Annual fee: None, but you must have an Amazon Prime membership.
Estimated annual cash back/points from grocery spending: $218 of cash back if you purchase all of your groceries at Whole Foods or through Amazon.com.
Keep in mind: This card is especially valuable if you tend to shop at Whole Foods. Taking into account the sign-up bonus but not the cost of an Amazon Prime membership, the estimated first-year value is $288 — but it could be much higher if your Whole Foods expenses are higher than the average consumer’s grocery expenses.
The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express
Grocery rewards: Earn 2x points at U.S. 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: None
Estimated annual cash back/points from grocery spending: 8,726 points valued at $175 if you make less than 20 transactions each month (or 10,471 points valued at $209 if you make 20 or more transactions each month)
Keep in mind: I estimate the first-year value of the Amex EveryDay to be $675 (not taking into account the potential transaction bonus). This card earns less than the EveryDay Preferred, but it doesn’t have an annual fee.
Looking long term, if you’ll only put groceries on these cards then the break-even point between the EveryDay and EveryDay Preferred is when your annual grocery bill is $4,750. If you spend significantly less on groceries annually, the Amex EveryDay card will likely be the better choice.
Other grocery credit card options
If you’re willing to put in some work, using business credit cards with an office-supply store bonus — such as the Ink Business Cash Credit Card — to buy gift cards toward grocery shopping could help you earn 5% cash back (up to $25,000 per year for the Ink Cash). You may find a limited selection of gift-card options at most office-supply stores though, and some stores may place limits on the use of credit cards when purchasing gift cards.
A few cards like the Chase Freedom and Discover it® Cash Back offer quarterly bonuses in rotating categories, upon enrollment with a quarterly max of $1,500 spent on purchases. Discover’s fourth quarter 2019 5% cash back categories are Amazon.com, Target.com and Walmart.com (5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases made in various categories throughout the year). For the Freedom card, it’s department stores and payments using PayPal or Chase Pay. Both cards can be a good option for grocery spending when the quarterly category includes grocery stores.
There is another card that has lower U.S. supermarket reward returns but when combined with its welcome bonus and lack of an annual fee (see rates and fees), offers high overall first-year value. That is the basic Hilton Honors Card from American Express with a first-year return of $581.
Or, if you prefer cash back with no annual fee (see rates & fees), the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express may be a good pick since it provides 3% cash back on the first $6,000 you spend at U.S. supermarkets each year (then 1%). If you spend $4,363 per year at supermarkets, you’ll get $131 cash back — which isn’t spectacular, but also isn’t bad for a card with no annual fee.
Finally, if you’re looking for the best credit card for groceries purchased outside the US, you’ll likely do best with a general spending card without foreign transaction fees.
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, like when you dine at a restaurant (Amex Gold notwithstanding) or fill up at a gas station. But before you head to the grocery store, make sure at least one of the above cards is in your purse or wallet in order to rack up plenty of travel rewards or cash back.
Additional reporting by Benét J. Wilson
For rates and fees of the Amex Gold Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors Amex Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Everyday card, click here.
Featured photo by chantal garnier / Unsplash.
With some great bonus categories, the American Express Gold Card has a lot going for it. The card offers 4x points at restaurants worldwide, at US supermarkets (up to $25,000; then 1x), and 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or through amextravel.com.
- Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months.
- Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points when you dine at restaurants worldwide. Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. 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 a total of $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations. This can be an annual savings of up to $120. Enrollment required.
- $100 Airline Fee Credit: up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year for incidental fees at one selected qualifying airline.
- Choose to carry a balance with interest on eligible charges of $100 or more.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- Annual Fee is $250.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees