The Best 5 Credit Cards for Groceries

By Elizabeth Lang. Last updated 22 April 2014. 18 comments
Photo: Bigstockphoto

Last year my Chase credit card, with which I had earned 5% back on groceries and gas since 2007, suddenly changed. They switched to some sort of rotating-category-that-earns-more-points system that I didn't particularly care for. Every few months, I have to opt in all over again to take advantage of whatever category they're giving the most points for that month. Even though I do my best to keep up with credit card rewards, I don't take credit card reward hacking to the extreme. I'd prefer not to have to carry around 10 cards in my wallet.

Nevertheless, I do prefer to get the most points in categories that I actually spend a lot of money on. After our mortgage, the highest percentage of our monthly expenses comes in the form of groceries. We prefer organic and local food, which can be pricey. So, I set out to determine which credit cards actually give the highest percentage back on groceries. (See also: Best Credit Cards for Travel)

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

    Amex Blue Cash Preferred
  • Get 100 Reward Dollars, redeemable for a $100 statement credit, after you make $1,000 in purchases with your new Card in the first three months.
  • Plus, get one year of Amazon Prime after you sign up for a new membership with your Card and meet the spending requirement in the same time period.
  • As an Amazon Prime member, you get unlimited Free Two-Day Shipping on millions of items.
  • Earn Cash Back: 6% US supermarkets up to $6,000 per year in purchases, 3% US gas stations & select US dept stores, 1% other purchases. Terms and limitations apply.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, then a variable rate, currently 12.99% to 21.99%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors.
  • Terms and Restrictions Apply.

Like all American Express cards, the Blue Cash Preferred (review here) also comes with great customer service.

RedCard From Target

    Target
  • 5% off everything at Target
  • $0 annual fee

If you shop at a SuperTarget for groceries, the Target RedCard gives you 5% off at everything you purchase at the register. This isn't just a grocery rewards credit card; the cardholder will receive the same discount on all Target purchases. If you have a Target nearby that also sells groceries, this is a great way to save 5% on food, as well as a variety of other department store purchases. Unfortunately, this card has no affiliation with any credit card payment network such as Visa or MasterCard, so you can’t use it outside of Target stores.

Click here to apply for the RedCard From Target

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

    Amex Blue Cash
  • Get 50 Reward Dollars, redeemable for a $50 statement credit, after you make $1,000 in purchases with your new Card in the first three months.
  • Plus, get one year of Amazon Prime after you sign up for a new membership with your Card and meet the spending requirement in the same time period.
  • As an Amazon Prime member, you get unlimited Free Two-Day Shipping on millions of items.
  • Earn Cash Back: 3% at US supermarkets, up to $6,000 per year in purchases, 2% at US gas stations & select US dept stores, 1% on other purchases. Terms and limitations apply.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, then a variable rate, currently 12.99% to 21.99%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors.
  • Terms and Restrictions Apply.

The Blue Cash Everyday card is largely the same as the Blue Cash Preferred, but it has no annual fee and half the rewards across the board. Nevertheless, 3% cash back on groceries and 2% cash back at gas stations and select major department stores still represents a competitive rate of return. Finally, this is one of the few American Express cards offered without an annual fee.

Cash Rewards Visa Signature Card From Bank of America

    Bank of America
  • Online-exclusive $100 cash rewards bonus after you spend at least $500 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
  • 3% on gas
  • 2% on groceries
  • 1% on everything else
  • $0 annual fee

With the exception of the extra cash back at department stores, the Cash Rewards Visa Signature card has a similar reward structure to the Blue Cash Everyday card from American Express. Cardholders can receive their cash-back rewards as a direct deposit in any checking or savings account, as a statement credit, or even as a payment towards a mortgage held by Bank of America. In fact, rewards redeemed into a Bank of America checking and savings accounts receive an additional 10% bonus. Unfortunately, the bonus percentages only apply to customer’s first $1,500 spent in each category each quarter.

Click here to apply for the Cash Rewards Visa Signature Card From Bank of America

The Best Credit Card Offer for You

If you like credit card rewards programs, but have recently been unhappy with changes to your card, it may be time to consider a new one. The best way to choose a cash-back rewards card is to simply look at what your biggest category of spending is each month, and find a card that gives you the most cash back on that category. For me, this category was groceries.

What's your biggest category of spending each month? Do you earn extra credit card points for those cards?

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.

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Guest's picture
Guest

Also be sure to check for sign-up bonuses. I had the same complaint about the Chase card changes, but I figured that the $200 sign-up bonus from a similar rotating rewards program from Citi-Bank would be more "rewarding" in the short term (2-3 years) than the other programs available.

Guest's picture

I have the blue cash amex. didn't know i could save 3% at grocery stores. very cool! does this apply to stores like trader joe's and whole foods?

Guest's picture
Maria Adams

Here is the list of supermarkets that Amex counts:

https://www.americanexpress.com/us/content/rewards-info/retail.html

It looks like Whole Foods made that list! :)

Examples of merchants* that accept the Card and where you can earn additional rewards include:
Gristedes
Foodtown
Pathmark
Shoprite
Stop and Shop
Vons
Whole Foods
Winn-Dixie
Online supermarkets such as FreshDirect

*This is not a complete list.

Examples of merchants where you will NOT earn additional rewards include:
Specialty stores (e.g., fish markets, cheese shops, wine shops, and other specialty food stores )
Superstores (e.g. Amazon, Target and Wal-Mart)
Warehouse clubs (e.g. BJ's Club and Costco Wholesale)

Guest's picture
Harm

I'm not sure, but I think the higher cash back would apply at WF and Trader Joe's.
However, I think it does NOT apply to grocery shopping at WalMart and Target. Ask,
before you go on a grocery buying buying spree at WalMart with the expectation
of the higher rewards. I'm not a member at a club store, so I don't know about
those....

Guest's picture
me

TJ's shows up as a supermarket on my rewards card. I never shop at WF.

Guest's picture
Aaron

Walmart and Target show up as discount stores unfortunately on the AMEX bill, so you don't get any cash back.

Guest's picture
Grace

The cash registers closest to the grocery section at Walmart ring up as groceries.

Guest's picture
sumiya 18

american express card not only gives discount on purchasing gas but also on groceries and others.there is no annual fee having this card.about 2% cash back from departmental store one can get.

Guest's picture

The Blue Cash from AMEX is a good card to have. Although I don't condone credit cards since I help peolple get out of debt for a living, if you had to use one for groceries the first one would be the ideal card.

Guest's picture

I personally have the 6% back AMEX card, I recommend that one the most! Very good perk for a credit card I think.

Guest's picture
Scott

At the grocery store, you can buy no-fee giftc ards for many non-grocery merchants .. including iTunes, Home Depot, Kohl's, etc. You can even buy an American Express or Visa gift card. You get your 6% cash back. Then, you use the gift card for your other purchases. It works!

Will Chen's picture
Will Chen

I love shopping at Target generally but I don't see them as a viable grocery alternative. You can pick up basics like eggs, milk, peanut butter etc, but their selection isn't big enough I still have to make a second trip.

But our local Target is a big supporter of our local schools. It wouldn't hurt to do more shopping there.

Guest's picture
Ree Klein

I use Costco's AMEX card, which offers 3% on gas, 2% on restaurants and 1% on everything else. For me it makes sense and has netted me a pretty nice check at the end of the year.

HOWEVER, I am completely against using credit cards to accrue "benefits" for anyone who is in debt. The cash system is the only answer until you are debt free and really know how to handle a credit card. Meaning...you never carry a balance.

Just my 2 cents...
Ree ~ I blog at EscapingDodge.com

Guest's picture
frugal jon

My Target Redcard is a VISA as well. They also offer it as a debit card.

Guest's picture

I have Visa Signature Card From Bank of America but don't find the discounted value in my monthly bill.

Guest's picture
Guest

Discover did the same thing, played the game of luring you to their card, then changing the rules. All of them are doing that these days because their customers were making good on those initial offers. Had to do something about that! So, I'm looking for a credit card (not American Express--rejected at too many merchants) that offers consistent rewards on groceries. Any ideas besides Target?

Guest's picture
Guest

Consider also gasoline money, $0.25 per mile on my car, and time spent checking out if it is worth for an extra dollar. I find Capital One only redeems $0.50 per $1.00 earned.

Guest's picture
Maria Adams

On the topic of credit card rewards, I use a free app called Wallaby that keeps track of my rewards and bonuses for me (including rotating quarterly categories). Just wanted to share it because I find it useful.