If you’re using a credit card to buy groceries in 2023, it’s important to understand which cards can bring you the biggest return in rewards.
Groceries can be a tricky rewards category for consumers, as some credit cards may “disagree” with you on whether the store where you buy food actually qualifies for grocery rewards.
But don’t worry. Team Clark is here to help you make sure you’re getting the top rewards possible for your spending.
There are a variety of rewards credit cards that can pad your wallet as you buy your essentials. This article will highlight some of the top choices based on your shopping habits.
Terminology Is Key When Picking a Credit Card for Grocery Shopping
Most consumers casually toss around the term “grocery shopping” as a way to describe stocking up on food supplies for their household.
But when it comes to credit cards, the type of store from which you buy these goods matters a great deal.
For example, you may do your grocery shopping at Walmart and thus consider it to be your “grocery store.” But some credit card providers, including American Express, do not consider Walmart to be a “U.S. Supermarket” when it comes to dishing out rewards for your spending.
So using your Amex card at Walmart expecting increased rewards simply because you purchased eggs and milk is likely to leave you disappointed.
How To Get the Best Credit Card Rewards on Groceries
As a general rule, you want to make sure that the card you’re using has rewards geared toward the stores you frequent most often. After all, you’re much more likely to change your credit card to fit your shopping habits than you are to change your grocery store just to get credit card rewards.
To achieve optimal rewards, you have three options:
- Pick a card that specializes in supermarket or grocery rewards.
- Go with a brand-specific card for your favorite store.
- Simply pick an everyday cash back card that lets you earn rewards no matter where you shop.
Remember: Generally speaking, stores like Walmart, Target and Costco are not considered “supermarkets” for the purposes of credit card rewards. These would fall into the superstore or wholesale club category, respectively. Credit card companies usually limit “supermarket” rewards to more traditional grocery stores such as Kroger, Publix or Albertsons.
To be sure about this, you’ll want to check with each individual card issuer to see if your favorite store qualifies. Team Clark has a guide to help with that here.
Best Credit Cards for Grocery Shopping
Best Credit Cards for Spending in U.S. Supermarkets
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
If you’re serious about getting the most cash back from your U.S. supermarket spending, the 6% the Blue Cash Preferred card offers is going to be extremely hard to beat. Though this card does carry a $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95 (see rates and fees), you’ll make that money back — and then some — if you’re a regular shopper at U.S. supermarkets such as Safeway, Sprouts and Trader Joe’s.
The cap for annual spending on the 6% cash back reward is $6,000 in purchases. If you spend an average of $500 per month, you’ll earn $360 in a year. Once you’ve crossed the $6,000 threshold, rewards drop to 1% on grocery purchases.
This card also offers 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions as well as 3% on U.S. gas and transit. You can read Team Clark’s full review of the Blue Cash Preferred here. Terms apply.
The Citi Custom Cash Card offers 5% cash back, on up to $500 in spending, for the category in which you spend most each month. Grocery store purchases are one of the categories for this card, so you could easily turn this no-annual-fee card into your “grocery credit card” and know that your first $500 of grocery purchases would return you $25 in cash back each month.
Similar to the Amex card we talked about above, this card does limit the stores that qualify for grocery store spending when it comes to earning your 5% back.
It’s worth noting that other popular categories, such as gasoline purchases, are included with this card, so you could pivot to a different category to earn the 5% cash back if you end up getting a better deal on your grocery spending with another card.
Other Cards To Consider: If you’re a Whole Foods shopper, you may want to consider the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card. Purchases at Whole Foods made with this card are eligible for 5% cash back if you’re an Amazon Prime member.
Another card worth considering is the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express. It carries a similar name to the Preferred card recommended above, but there’s no annual fee (see rates and fees). However, instead of getting 6% cash back for purchases at U.S. supermarkets, you’ll earn just 3% on up to $6,000 in purchases per year (then 1%). Terms apply.
Best Credit Cards for Spending in Superstores
Capital One® Walmart Rewards® Card
If you’re a Walmart shopper, you should consider using the Capital One® Walmart Rewards® Card. But there’s a catch: You have to make your purchases through the Walmart app or website. If that’s OK with you, you can get 5% cash back on purchases. The card comes with no annual fee.
If you use the card in-store, you’ll get only 2% cash back. That’s a little disappointing, but Walmart offers a 12-month introductory period that earns you 5% back on purchases you make in the store if you use the app’s Walmart Pay feature.
In the past few years, Target has made an investment in expanding the grocery sections in many of its stores. And that makes grocery shopping with the RedCard a pretty enticing idea for Target loyalists.
The mega-retailer offers a 5% discount on most purchases made with its RedCard both online and in-store. Unlike Walmart, there are no strings attached to the purchase method. And you get the savings immediately because the card awards you a discount rather than cash back reward or points.
Best Credit Cards for Spending in Wholesale Clubs
Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi
Money expert Clark Howard loves saving money at Costco, and you can save plenty by buying your groceries in bulk. So if you’re a Costco member, using this store-branded credit card is likely the way to go. Costco gives an unlimited 2% back on every purchase you make with the card, both in-store and online.
Purchases made with the Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi also can qualify for special Costco rewards, and the credit card itself serves as your membership ID card. You’ll also get 4% back on gas and EV charging purchases for the first $7,000 annually (1% afterward) and 3% on restaurant and travel purchases.
Sam’s Club® Mastercard®
The Sam’s Club® Mastercard® is an option for those who prefer doing their shopping at the other major wholesale club. Sam’s Plus members can earn up to 5% back on in-store shopping by combining the 2% back they get as a Plus member combined with the 3% they get back in Sam’s Cash by using the card for in-store purchases.
And no matter what your membership tier is with Sam’s Club, the card is great for gas at Sam’s (5% back) and dining or travel (3% back).
Other Cards To Consider: You may find you’re better off using an everyday 2% cash back card, such as the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer. Keep in mind that Costco accepts only Visa credit cards in the store, so your options may be limited there (The Citi Double Cash is a Mastercard). We’ll take a closer look at 2% cash back card options later in this article.
Best Credit Cards for Online Grocery Shopping
Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card
If you like doing your grocery shopping from the comfort of your couch, it makes sense to consider adding the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card to your wallet. This card gets you 5% off on purchases made through the Amazon Prime Grocery Pantry service (and other Prime purchases) as well as purchases made through Amazon-owned Whole Foods.
While there’s no annual fee for this card, you do need a Prime membership to enjoy the rewards. A regularly-priced annual subscription to Amazon Prime is $139.
PayPal Cashback Mastercard®
If your grocery source accepts PayPal as an online payment option, you may find that this card is the best option for consistent rewards.
That’s because the PayPal Cashback Mastercard® offers an unlimited 3% back on purchases made through the PayPal platform. And even if the grocery provider you use doesn’t accept PayPal, you can still use this card as a Mastercard and get 2% back.
Other Cards To Consider: If you’re using an online delivery service like Instacart, the Blue Cash Preferred from American Express mentioned earlier in this article (the one that gives 6% back at U.S. supermarkets) could be the ideal choice.
Also, keep in mind that the Capital One Walmart Rewards Card (also referenced earlier in this article) awards 5% back for grocery pickup and delivery orders placed online.
Best Cash Back Credit Cards for Grocery Shopping
Rotating 5% Cards
The Discover it® Cash Back has become famous for its rotating 5% cash back rewards. It features four different 5% cash back categories each year, giving you three months to earn up to $75 in cash back rewards in the featured category. Groceries are typically one of the categories each year.
The Chase Freedom Flex Mastercard operates similarly and generally offers groceries as a rotating 5% cash back category. If you had both of these cards in your wallet, it’s possible that you could have 5% back on groceries for as much as six months per year.
Some cards, such as the U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa Signature® Card, will let you choose your own year-round 5% cash back categories. However, groceries are typically a category that is restricted for this type of card. For example, U.S. Bank limits users to 2% cash back on groceries.
Steady 2% Cards
If you don’t want the hassle of sorting through which credit card is worth the most at each store, your best strategy may be to pick an unlimited 2% cash back credit card.
Money expert Clark Howard prefers the Citi® Double Cash Card card for its straightforward rewards policy: an unlimited 1% cash back when you purchase and then another unlimited 1% reward when you pay for those purchases. .
The PayPal Cashback Mastercard® offers a straight 2% cash back on all purchases, but as we mentioned above, you may be able to get an extra percent back if you’re able to pay for your groceries through the PayPal app or with PayPal online.
Other cards that offer 2% cash back on grocery purchases include the Capital One Savor Rewards Credit Card and the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card.
When picking the best credit card for your grocery purchases, it’s important to analyze your spending habits.
Do you buy your groceries consistently at one store, or do you shop around for the best prices? The answer to that question should help you decide which type of credit card is right for you.
If you regularly grocery shop at Walmart, Target or Whole Foods, snagging that 5% back with their branded cards is an easy choice.
But if you find that you shop around for groceries, a brand-related credit card may not be your best choice. Instead, you may want to consider using the Blue Cash Preferred from American Express at U.S. supermarkets and then a standard 2% cash back card at other grocery sources.
To see the rates and fees for the American Express cards featured, please visit the following links: Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express: See Rates and Fees; Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express: See Rates and Fees.