Do you reguarly do your grocery shopping at Kroger?
If so, you’ve probably seen advertisements for the Kroger Rewards World Elite Mastercard®; you may have wondered whether it’s worth adding to your wallet.
In this review, I’ll look at the merits of adding this Kroger rewards card to your wallet.
Table of Contents
- What Is the Kroger Rewards World Elite Mastercard®?
- Card Specs and Perks
- Comparison With Top Grocery Credit Card
- Pros and Cons
Team Clark has spent time evaluating the credit card market in several categories including the best credit cards for grocery shopping.
I’ve compared the Kroger Rewards World Elite Mastercard to the best cards in this segment of the market. And I’ve determined that it’s a viable option for some consumers thanks to its cash back rewards and the fact that it doesn’t have an annual fee.
As you’re deciding whether this card is a fit for you, please use this review in conjunction with Clark Howard’s 7 Rules for Using Credit Cards.
What Is the Kroger Rewards World Elite Mastercard®?
If you’re confused as to why Kroger is in the credit card business, don’t be. This is simply a co-branded card. The card issuer is U.S. Bank, and the processor is Mastercard, so there are two well-known financial stalwarts behind it.
The premise of the card is pretty simple: Kroger offers bonus cash back opportunities for purchasing groceries in its stores and using a mobile wallet for payment with the card. It then offers you an enhanced value for redeeming your rewards for gas at its fuel stations.
Any other type of purchase with the card is going to earn you 1% cash back. This is fine, but you can do much better with those purchases by using a flat 2% cash back credit card.
Kroger Rewards World Elite Mastercard®: Specs and Perks
Let’s take a look at the fine print to examine some of the card’s perks and drawbacks.
You’ll earn Kroger Rewards points with purchases made with this credit card. With a redemption value of one cent per point, you’re looking at an effective range of 1% to 5% back on your purchases.
Here’s a look at how that breaks down:
- 5 rewards points per $1 spent: on the first $3,000 of mobile wallet transactions with the card per calendar year. After that, rewards will be 1 point per dollar for this payment method. Eligible wallets include: Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, LG Pay, Fitbit Pay and Garmin Pay. Unfortunately, Kroger Pay is excluded from this promotion.
- 2 rewards points per $1 spent: on all eligible in-store purchases at Kroger’s family of companies. Unfortunately, purchases made at Kroger fuel centers do not earn rewards points.
- 1 rewards point per $1 spent: on all eligible purchases outside Kroger’s family of companies.
You may be surprised to learn that Kroger has more than just grocery stores that are eligible for the 2% back from this card. That perk includes any of its businesses. The Kroger Co. Family of Stores includes:
- City Market
- Food 4 Less
- Foods Co.
- Fred Meyer
- Jay C Food Store
- King Soopers
- Metro Market
- Pay-Less Super Markets
- Pick ’n Save
- Smith’s Food and Drug
A full list of eligible stores can be found here.
Once you have compiled some Kroger Rewards by shopping with the card, you’ll have some options for how you redeem them.
Kroger says rewards can be redeemed via the following methods:
- “Real-Time Rewards” after making an eligible purchase of $10 or more at Kroger Family of Companies
- Statement credit once you have earned a minimum of 1,000 Rewards Points (worth $10)
- Kroger Family of Companies gift cards when you have earned a minimum of 2,500 Rewards Points (worth $25)
Kroger is clearly trying to steer you into redemption at its stores, which makes sense. And if you’re getting this credit card, it’s likely because you’re a serious Kroger shopper. So it stands to reason you’d have ample opportunity to redeem the points without stretching to spend on things you don’t need.
Fuel Center Rewards Redemption Bonus
You may have frowned when you read that this card doesn’t give rewards points for gas purchases at Kroger’s fuel centers, but there still is reason to use this card at the Kroger pumps.
Kroger is instead incentivizing you to buy its gas by upping the potential redemption value of the rewards points.
During your first year of card membership, you can get up to 55 cents per gallon back if you’re willing to both redeem points at Kroger fuel center and use your Kroger Mastercard to pay the bill.
Here are the details of that offer, as pulled from the fine print of the card’s rewards program disclaimer:
- Discount is available at Kroger Fuel Centers each time you redeem at least 100 existing fuel points earned in a single month.
- You must scan, redeem fuel points and pay with your Kroger Family of Companies Rewards World Elite Mastercard® in order to receive the fuel discount.
- The first-year additional 55¢ discount offer expires one year from the cardmember’s approval date and does not require a spend minimum.
- However, if your posted spend is at least $6,000 on net eligible purchases during the first 12 months that your Account is open, once the additional 55¢ discount has expired, you will receive a 25¢ discount for the remainder of that calendar year and for the entirety of the next calendar year, ending the following January 31.
- After that, eligibility is determined on a calendar year basis. If your posted spend equals at least $6,000 on net eligible purchases in a calendar year, you get the 25¢ discount for the remainder of that calendar year (starting the month after you met the minimum spend requirement) and for the entirety of the next calendar year, ending the following January 31.
- If the additional 25¢ (or introductory 55¢) discount has expired and you have not met the minimum posted spend requirement in the prior or current year, you will instead receive an additional 5¢ fuel discount at Kroger Family of Companies Fuel Centers when you scan, redeem fuel points and pay with your Kroger Family of Companies Rewards World Elite Mastercard®.
Here’s a quick look at some of the fees with the Kroger Rewards World Elite Mastercard:
- Annual Fee: None
- Balance Transfer Fee: Either 4% of the amount of each transfer or $10 minimum, whichever is greater
- Cash Advance Fee: Either 5% of the amount of each advance or $10 minimum, whichever is greater
- Foreign Transaction Fee: None
- Late Payment Fee: Up to $41
Kroger Rewards World Elite Mastercard® vs. Top Card for Grocery Perks
As I mentioned earlier in the article, Team Clark has evaluated the credit card market for the best options to use while buying groceries.
The card we focus on most often when people say they want to maximize rewards for grocery shopping is the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express. This card has a $95 annual fee ($0 intro annual fee for the first year), but it offers 6% back on your first $6,000 in U.S. supermarket purchases each year (1% back after that). See rates and fees.
This effectively offers you the chance to earn three times the rewards you could earn on your spending at Kroger with the Kroger Rewards Mastercard. But the reward has a spending limit (including the money you spend at other U.S. supermarkets).
Setting the other perks available on each card aside for a moment, let’s look at the cash back potential for using each card as a regular Kroger shopper:
|Annual Spending |
|Cash Back Earned |
With Kroger Rewards World Elite Mastercard®
|Cash Back Earned
With Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
The Big Takeaways
Here are some things to consider coming out of that comparison:
- If your spending volume is below $2,500 per year, getting the 2% back from the Kroger Rewards Mastercard is worth avoiding the annual fee from Amex.
- Once your spending tops $2,500 per year, the advantage starts tilting heavily toward paying for the Amex card. If you’re able to max out your $6,000 per year at the 6% U.S. supermarket reward, you’d stand to earn $240 more than the Kroger card would. When you factor in the $95 annual fee, you’re still clearing an additional $145 per year by using the Blue Cash Preferred.
- When the spending goes beyond $6,000 per year, we used the 1% rate the Amex card pays for each additional dollar. Even with that decrease, things don’t begin to even back out between the two cards until you top $20,000 in annual spending at Kroger.
- You could actually use the Amex card for your first $6,000 per year and then use a second card that earns more than its 1% afterward to maximize returns.
- Redemption method matters for the Kroger card. If you’re committed to using your rewards points to achieve bonus redemptions at Kroger fuel centers, you may be able to squeeze out an effective value of more than 2% per dollar spent.
Kroger Rewards World Elite Mastercard®: Pros and Cons
Are you considering adding the Kroger Rewards World Elite Mastercard® to your wallet? Let’s review some of the major pros and cons of the card before you make your final decision:
|Up to 5% off select purchases||Only 1% back on non-Kroger, non-mobile wallet purchases|
|No annual fee or foreign transaction fees||Rewards program tilts heavily toward redemption at Kroger.|
|The welcome offer gives opportunities to save even more money on Kroger fuel purchases.||Kroger fuel purchases do not earn rewards points.|
Bottom Line: This card has a very particular audience. For it to be worth your while, you need to be so entrenched in the Kroger ecosystem that you regularly buy your groceries and more at its properties and also make full use of the promotional fuel offer.
Otherwise, you’re likely better off using a flat 2% cash back credit card. This will both match the in-store rewards rate and give you the opportunity to get 2% back for non-Kroger purchases. Money expert Clark Howard often mentions the Citi Double Cash as a good choice for this.
If your main goal in considering this card is to maximize rewards on grocery spending, you may be better off paying the annual fee to use the Blue Cash Preferred from American Express to get 6% back at U.S. supermarkets on your first $6,000 in spending each year (see rates and fees).
Do you have experience with the Kroger Rewards World Elite Mastercard? Let us know how you like it in the Clark.com Community!
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.