According to USA Today, the average American family spends 10% of their income to pay for food, with that spending split almost evenly between eating out and eating at home. Plenty of credit cards provide bonuses for spending on restaurants, fast food and coffee shops but far fewer provide a bonus when buying groceries.
For a spending category that, on average, is 5% of your income, it makes sense to have a card that maximizes the points earned on those purchases. If you don’t want to have a card just for grocery spending, you should at least know which one of your cards will earn you the most amount of points possible.
These bonuses do not include grocery purchases made at Walmart, Target or any discount club like Sam’s Club, Costco or BJ’s.
We may receive a referral bonus if you sign up for credit cards with the links in this article or links in our credit card reviews.
Best Points and Miles Cards
For this category, we use the American Express Everyday Preferred card. ($95 Annual Fee) It earns 3X Membership Rewards points at US grocery stores/supermarkets up to $6,000 per year. Each month you make 30 or more transactions, you earn a 50% bonus, which includes the bonus categories. So we earn 3X to 4.5x Membership Rewards points for our groceries at Publix, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Lucky’s Supermarket and Fresh Market.
Since Sharon is the primary shopper in the family, this is her primary card for its ease of use and her using it regularly helps us get the 30 transactions each month.
This is by no means the only card that earns points for groceries.
- American Express Gold Card ($250 Annual Fee) – 4X Membership rewards for the first $25,000 at US supermarkets
- American Express Everyday (No Annual Fee) – 2X Membership Rewards for the first $6,000 at US supermarkets. 20% bonus per month after 20 transactions
- CNB Crystal Visa Infinite ($400 Annual Fee) – 3X points for grocery store spending with no limit.
- US Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards ($49 Annual Fee) – Earn 2X points for the category you spend the most in each month (grocery, travel, gas, etc.)
- Hilton Honors Ascend American Express ($95 Annual Fee) – Earn 6X Hilton points for grocery store purchases
- Citi Rewards+ Card (No Annual Fee) – Earn 2X points on the first $6,000 of supermarket purchases. Thank You points earned with this card can not be transferred to airline programs, but you can transfer if you have another Citi card that allows point transfers (Premier or Prestige)
Cash Back Cards
Two American Express cash back cards offer bonuses for supermarket spending:
- Blue Cash Preferred American Express ($95 Annual Fee) – 6% back on US grocery store spending up to $6,000 per year.
- Blue Cash Everyday American Express (No Annual Fee) – 3% back on US grocery store spending up to $6,000 per year.
Rotating Bonus Categories
The Discover cards and the Chase Freedom card have rotating bonus categories that often will include grocery stores.
Discover’s bonus ran this year from January to March
The Chase Freedom bonus is going on right now.
Targeted Spending Bonuses
Occasionally, banks will send out offers by mail or email for bonus points for spending in specific categories (often including grocery stores) for a limited time. For example, they might offer 5X points for grocery store, gas station and ride-sharing spending up to $2,500 for the next three months. You usually have to enroll to take advantage so be sure to check your mailboxes (real and virtual) for these offers.
What if you don’t have any of these cards?
If you don’t have any of the above cards, don’t give up. You should then use whatever card you earn the best reward for non-bonused spend. Maybe you have a Citi Double Cash card, Fidelity Rewards Visa or Capital One Venture card that earns 2% back on all purchases. By all means, that should be your card to use.
That is unless you’re currently trying to reach a signup bonus on a card. I hope any bonus you signed up for will earn more per dollar spent than even the best return on groceries. Don’t be afraid to lose out on a category bonus if you need that spending to meet the sign-up bonus requirement.
Creative ways to boost earnings
If you want to get creative, you can buy supermarket gift cards at a location where you earn a large bonus on that category. Since I earn 5X Ultimate Rewards at office supply stores with the Ink Cash card, I can purchase Whole Foods cards from our local Office Depot. Personally, it’s not worth the extra 1/2 point we’d earn over the Amex Everyday Preferred for us to keep running for gift cards (and I think Sharon would kill me if I kept handing her cards to use when she goes shopping) (Note from Sharon: I dunno if I would kill you – cuz then how would I get to travel anymore? I don’t know nuthin’ about these credit cards – I might give you a whole lot of side eye).
You may also be able to find grocery store gift cards at home improvement stores or gas stations if you have a card which earns a large bonus at those locations.
But, I get my groceries from Costco
If you’re a Costco shopper, you might look into getting the Costco Anywhere card. For no annual fee, you’ll earn 2% back for all your Costco purchases. There are also a few higher level ways to maximize Costco purchases but those are outside the scope of this post.
No matter if you decide to sign up for a new card with a high multiplier for grocery store spending or just juggling cards in your wallet to get the most from the cards you have, taking a few minutes to make sure you’re getting the most amount of points possible in a category that makes up 5% of your spending is well worth the effort.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary