The 6 Best Credit Cards for Groceries in 2021
With the right credit card, you can earn up to 6% cash back on food purchases. Some cards even offer big signup bonuses.
Here, we’ll look at six cards that are great for grocery spending. With each card, we’ll calculate the approximate benefit you could get from the card if you spend $600 per month, or $7,200 per year, at qualifying grocery stores. Remember, though, that your mileage may vary.
Our Top Pick For The Best Credit Card For Groceries
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
If you can qualify for this premier rewards card, it’s one of the best options around for grocery-related spending. It gives you 6% cash back on up to $6,000 per year in U.S. supermarket purchases. After that, you get 1% cash back on grocery purchases. You’ll also get 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and some department stores, and 1% cash back on everything else.
The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express does carry a $95 annual fee. But right now, you can easily outearn that fee just with the bonus. When you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first three months of card ownership, you’ll get a $250 credit statement reward–enough to cover more than your first two years’ worth of annual fees.
Potential Earnings: $477 in the first year (earnings on grocery spending plus the $250 bonus, less the $95 annual fee)
Read our Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express extensive review.
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
Don’t quite have the credit score needed to qualify for the Blue Cash Preferred? The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express is another excellent option, which carries no annual fee.
With this card, you can get 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on your first $6,000 per year in purchases, and then 1% cash back after that. You’ll get 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and some department stores, and 1% cash back on everything else. Plus, when you spend $1,000 in the first three months of card ownership, you’ll receive a $175 cash back bonus. And this card has no annual fee.
Potential Earnings: $342 (earnings on grocery spending plus the $175 bonus).
Read our Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express extensive review.
Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card
If your food budget trends more towards lunches and dinners out than a big grocery bill, the Capital One Savor card might be a good option for you. It offers a whopping 4% cash back on dining and entertainment purchases, plus 2% cash back at grocery stores and 1% cash back on all other purchases. The broad dining and entertainment category includes restaurants, cafes, bars, bakeries, fast-food chains, aquarium or zoo purchases, purchases at video locations, and more. Grocery stores include supermarkets and specialty market stores but exclude superstores like Walmart or Target.
The annual fee is $95 per year, but it’s waived for the first year.
As far as bonuses go, this one has a nice one. You can get a $300 cash back bonus when you spend $3,000 in the first three months of opening your account. This card is great if you like dining out while traveling, since it has no foreign transaction fee.
Potential Earnings: Let’s say you spend half your $7,200 food budget dining out. In that case, you’d get $144 in cash back on dining out and $72 on grocery spending, plus the $300 cash back bonus. That’s a total of $516 in cash back in your first year of card ownership.
HSBC Cash Rewards MasterCard® Credit Card
If you don’t want to worry about rotating categories or categories period, the HSBC Cash Rewards MasterCard might be for you. It offers a flat 1.5% unlimited cash back on all purchases, plus a 10% anniversary bonus on all cash rewards you earn each year. It has no annual fee or foreign transaction fee.
Potential Earnings: If you only use this card for that $7,200 in annual grocery spending, you’ll get $108 in cash back.
This is a good card if you’re a lower spender. It offers a $150 cash back bonus when you spend just $500 on the card within the first three months of opening your account. It also has a 0% introductory APR on balance transfers and purchases for the first 15 months and no annual fee.
As far as regular cash back goes, this card offers 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories that rotate each quarter. You just need to remember to activate the categories. Outside of this, you get unlimited 1% cash back on every purchase. For 2021, the first quarter’s bonus is on gas stations, tolls, and drugstores.
Potential Earnings: If one quarter lets you get the 5% cash back bonus on grocery spending, you could get a total of $75 in cash back bonuses for that quarter, which is the max. So your first year’s annual total could be around $276.
Read our Chase Credit Cards review.
Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card requires excellent credit, but it’s a great go-to card for all of your purchases, especially if you don’t want to deal with remembering multiple bonus categories. It offers a flat 1.5% cash back on every purchase, plus a $150 bonus cash back when you spend $500 within three months of opening your account. It has no annual fee.
Potential Earnings: $258 (grocery earnings plus $150 bonus)
Read our Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card extensive review.
Which is Right for You?
Clearly, the winner based on straight-up value driven in the first year is the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express. But since it requires excellent credit, a hefty annual fee, and acts more like a charge card, it’s not the right option for everyone.
So be sure you’re choosing the right card for your particular needs. Here’s what you need to think about as you choose:
- Your Credit Score: If you have low-to-average credit, don’t apply for a credit card that is clearly for those with excellent credit. Start with one of the lower-credit options, and then work your way up. (Find out more about improving your credit score here.)
- The Annual Fee: If you spend a lot on groceries, you can likely out earn the annual fee on most of these cards, especially with the first year bonus many cards offer. But if your spending is lower, make sure you’ll earn enough in rewards to offset the annual fee. If not, consider going with a card with no annual fee, even if the rewards aren’t as strong.
- Your Shopping Habits: If you spend at wholesale stores often, consider a card that boosts those rewards, as well. Always be sure to check the fine print to see which stores or types of stores the credit card company includes. If you shop at smaller chains, for instance, your shopping may not be counted in the right category.
- The Other Rewards: If you don’t mind carrying several credit cards for different purposes, this is less important. Choose the one that will give you the most bang for your buck with grocery spending. But if you only want to carry one or two credit cards, look for one that gives preference to the type of spending you do most, or that gives a solid cash back reward across the board.
- Reward Options: Most of the cards on this list are cash back, which is an easy way to take advantage of rewards. But if you travel frequently, you might want a card that offers travel-based rewards. The American Express card is so valuable because when you use points for travel-related purchases, they’re typically worth more than percentage-based cash-back points.
Again, you have to use the above factors to decide which of these credit cards–or any others out there–will work best for your needs. But here are a few recommendations based on different situations:
The Busy Family: Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
If you’re feeding two or more kids, you likely spend enough on groceries to max out that $6,000 per year cap on the American Express Blue Cash Preferred. Add the gas you buy to shuttle the kids around town and your back-to-school shopping at local department stores, and you could be looking at hefty cash back. If you have the credit to qualify for this card, you can easily out-earn the $95 annual fee just by using it consistently. And if you don’t meet the credit qualifications, the American Express Blue Cash Everyday comes in a close second.
The Stockpiler: Chase Freedom
Chase hasn’t published all of its rotating bonus categories for 2021. With that said, there’s typically a quarter where wholesale stores are on the list. Whichever quarter that is is an excellent time to use this card to stock up on essentials and get up to $75 in cash back.
The Foodie: Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card
This card shines for the epicures of the world for two reasons. For one, the 5% cash back on dining out is an excellent benefit. For another, its list of qualifying stores for the grocery category is pretty broad and includes things like specialty markets. If you get interesting ingredients from local places and often dine out, this is definitely the card for you.
Why not stretch your grocery dollars further by using a great cash back or rewards credit card that gives you bonuses for grocery store spending? Any one of these cards is fine option to put some cash back in your wallet.