With the right credit card, you can earn up to 6% cash back on food purchases. Some cards even offer big signup bonuses. Here’s are list of the best credit cards for groceries in 2018.
One of the easiest ways to get more money back on your credit card is to use a card with hefty rewards for grocery spending. After all, everyone spends money on food, right? In fact, groceries are probably a big chunk of your budget, especially if you’re feeding kids.
So 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?
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.
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 $200 statement credit–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 $200 bonus, less the $95 annual fee)
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 get a $150 cash back bonus. And this card has no annual fee.
Potential Earnings: $342 (earnings on grocery spending plus the $150 bonus)
Discover it® Cashback Match™
This card has rotating categories, so you’ll only get the hefty cash back rewards on groceries for part of the year. However, it’s got a great matching program right now that doubles your first year’s cash back rewards at the end of the year.
For the rotating categories, you’ll get 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases in that category for the quarter. In 2018, the first and fourth quarters’ categories include wholesale clubs, and the second quarter’s category is grocery stores. So we’ll say you can get that 5% cash back on $3,500 of your grocery purchases in a year.
After you hit the cap and for the rest of the year, you’ll get 1% cash back on groceries and everything else. This card has no annual fee.
Potential Earnings: $424 ($3,500 at 5% cash back and the rest at 1%, doubled for the first year)
Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express
This points-based credit card is great for saving up for travel rewards, even as you spend on groceries. It offers 2X points on spending at U.S. supermarkets, but you can also get 3X points on flights booked directly with the airline, 2X points on restaurant and gas station spending, and 1X points on everything else.
With this card, you’ll earn 25,000 bonus points when you spend $2,000 in the first three months of card membership. The annual fee is $0 for the first year, but $195 per year after that. This card requires that you pay off the balance in full each month unless you participate in the Pay Over Time feature for certain charges.
Potential Earnings: 39,400 points, worth about $748 according to this valuation (earnings on groceries plus the bonus, but remember the annual fee kicks in on the second year)
Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card
If you split your grocery shopping between regular stores and wholesale stores, this might be the card you’re looking for. While many cards prohibit bonus points at wholesale stores, this one includes them. You’ll get 2% cash back at both grocery and wholesale stores and 3% back on gas, plus 1% cash back on everything else.
The catch is that you’ll only get those rewards on up to $2,500 in grocery and gas purchases each quarter. We’ll say you use another credit card for cash rewards, though, so you can get the full 2% cash back, in our example, for all your grocery purchases. The card has no annual fee and a $150 bonus when you spend at least $500 within three months of opening your account.
Potential Earnings: $294 (grocery cash back earnings plus $150 bonus)
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)
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 outearn 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: Discover it® Cashback Match™
- This year, the Discover it category rotation features wholesale stores twice. Unless you spend at these stores often, you may need to do some pre-planning to take advantage of the generous 5% cash back in these quarters. But if you don’t mind stockpiling giant packs of toilet paper and jars of ketchup, this could result in a really good deal, especially the first year.
The Traveler: Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express
- Many travel rewards credit cards don’t favor grocery spending at all, so when you find one that does, you might want to snap it up. If you travel frequently, the points from this card could seriously come in handy. Just remember you need great credit to qualify, and you’ll need to pay off the card every month.
Updated May 10, 2018 and originally published April 20, 2018.
Comment Policy: We love comments! However, the comments below are not provided or commissioned by this site or its advertisers. Comments have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by this site or its advertisers. It is not this site or its advertisers' responsibility to ensure all comments and/or questions are answered.