We all have to eat, whether that comes in the form of eating at restaurants or at home. I’ve written in the past about the best credit cards for dining out, and in this post wanted to write about the best credit cards for grocery store and supermarket spending.
This is a category that’s more important to many people than ever before, given that coronavirus has caused a lot of people to start cooking more.
There are lots of great credit cards offering bonuses on supermarket spending, whether you want to earn cash back, transferable points, airline miles, or hotel points.
In all cases, I’ll only be looking at cards earning at least 2% back (or the equivalent of that based on my valuation of points).
What Qualifies As Grocery Store or Supermarket Spending?
We all have different places that we buy our groceries, so to start it’s probably worth clarifying for the purposes of credit cards what qualifies as grocery store spending, and what doesn’t. Here are a few things to be aware of up front:
- The grocery store category generally excludes warehouse stores, Walmart, Target, drugstores, convenience stores, etc.; so you should only expect to earn bonus points or bonus cash back when shopping at “traditional” grocery stores, whether that’s Publix, Albertsons, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, etc.
- For American Express cards offering bonuses on grocery store spending, this is limited to U.S. supermarket locations only; so foreign grocery store spending doesn’t earn you bonus points or bonus cash back, and neither will a mini-market or other non-supermarket location where you may purchase groceriesg
- This also all comes down to how a particular merchant chooses to categorize themselves; for example, while I imagine it’s not supposed to be the case, I’ve also found that liquor stores are sometimes categorized under the “grocery” category
- Generally, I’ve found that Instacart orders from supermarkets earn bonus points or cash back, but that’s also not consistently the case
6 Best Credit Cards for Groceries and Supermarkets for November 2021
While you can potentially earn a better return on the Amex EveryDay (see below), the American Express Gold Card is the all-around better choice for those who don’t want to fuss with managing how many transactions they have each cycle. The card earns 4x points at U.S. supermarkets on up to the first $25,000 per calendar year, and then 1x.
The card comes with a slew of other benefits, and you also earn 4x points on dining purchases worldwide, making it one of the top cards for dining and restaurants as well. This card does have a higher annual fee, but it’s such a well-rounded card, and a great option for those looking for a more simplified strategy.
Reward for U.S. supermarket spending: 4x Membership Rewards points (which I value at 6.8¢)
Card annual fee: $250 (Rates & Fees)
Other things to be aware of: This card offers bonus points only on U.S. supermarket purchases, and only on the first $25,000 spent every calendar year. After that, you’ll earn 1 point per dollar.
When leveraged correctly, the Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card offers the best return of any credit card on purchases at U.S. supermarkets. The card earns 3x points at supermarkets on up to $6,000 in purchases per calendar year. When you make at least 30 transactions with the card in a billing cycle, you earn 50% bonus points, bringing the total rewards up to 4.5 points per dollar.
The card earns 2x points at U.S. gas stations with no caps, and you can also leverage the 50% bonus with that bonus category.
Reward for U.S. supermarket spending: Up to 4.5x Membership Rewards points (which I value at 7.65¢)
Card annual fee: $95
Other things to be aware of: This card offers bonus points only on U.S. supermarket purchases, and only on the first $6,000 spent every calendar year; the card offers 3x points at supermarkets, but if you have at least 30 transactions per billing cycle you earn a 50% points bonus, for 4.5x points
The Blue Cash Preferred Card From American Express earns cash back instead of Membership Rewards points. You can earn 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets, on the first $6,000 in purchases per year.
This card is great for people who value cash back rewards instead of travel rewards. It also earns 3% cash back on transit purchases and at U.S. gas stations.
Reward for U.S. supermarket spending: 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year, and then 1%)
Card annual fee: $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95. (Rates & Fees)
Other things to be aware of: The cash back comes in the form of rewards dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit
The Citi Double Cash Card earns 1% cash back on every purchase, and then an additional 1% cash back when you pay for that purchase. If you have another Citi card that earns ThankYou points, you can convert the cash rewards points to ThankYou points, which transfer to a number of different airline partners.
This is a rewarding card not just for spending not at grocery stores, but for any other purchases that you wouldn’t otherwise earn bonus points on. The card doesn’t have an annual fee either, making the return even more lucrative.
Reward for grocery store spending: 1% + 1%
Card annual fee: $0
Other things to be aware of: This card doesn’t actually offer bonus points specifically on groceries, but does offer 1% cash back when you make a purchase, and 1% cash back when you pay for a purchase, making it a very well rounded card
Best Credit Cards for Groceries by Category
Given that groceries are such a big-budget item, it’s no wonder that there are tons of cards competing to be at the front of your wallet. We’ve done the comparison work for you, so you can easily choose the best credit card for your grocery purchases (keep in mind that Amex cards only offer bonus points at U.S. supermarkets):
- Best Overall – American Express® Gold Card
- Best for Rotating Bonus Category – Chase Freedom FlexSM Credit Card
- Best for Cash-Back – Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
- Best for Grocery Delivery Through Instacart – Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card
- Best for Rounding up Rewards – Citi Rewards+® Card
- Best for Wholesale Clubs (that take Mastercard) – Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card
- Best for Costco – Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi
- Best for Whole Foods – Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card
- Best for International Grocery Purchases – Citi Premier® Card (review)
Best Credit Cards for Earning Points
Personally, I love to earn points for my credit card spending, since I can get outsized value with those points by redeeming them for international first & business class tickets. So while it’s not for everyone, there are some incredible cards that can earn you lots of bonus points on your grocery store and supermarket purchases.
What are the best points cards for grocery store and supermarket spending?
Best Credit Cards for Online Grocery Orders
If you don’t have a grocery store nearby, don’t have the time to go to the store, or simply want to avoid the crowds, then ordering your groceries online may be the way to go. Here’s how you can maximize your online grocery orders for the top providers.
Amazon offers several grocery delivery services including Prime Now, Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods.
If you’re a loyal Amazon Prime member, you may want to opt for the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card as it will save you 5% on groceries. However, Chase often has special offers for Amazon grocery services where you can save up to 10% on orders. In that case, it’s better to use a card like the Chase Freedom Flex or Chase Freedom Unlimited. Just don’t forget to activate your Chase Offer.
If you’re an Amex cardholder, you should consider using the Amex Gold Card (4x on the first $25,000 in purchases; then 1x), the Amex EveryDay Preferred® Credit Card (3x up to $6,000 per year) or the Blue Cash Preferred (6% cash back up to $6,000 per year; then 1%).
Walmart has been quick to catch up with some of Amazon’s most popular features and innovations, including grocery delivery.
Walmart Grocery lets you order groceries online, and either pick them up locally or have them delivered. Groceries ordered through the Walmart Grocery app typically code as groceries. That means you can earn 4x points with an Amex Gold Card or 6% cash back with the Blue Cash Preferred from American Express. Walmart is in the process of phasing out the Walmart Grocery app and rolling it into the Walmart mobile app. When that happens it may impact how the purchases are coded, and the earnings of any bonus points.
If you’re someone that spends a lot of money at Walmart, they have their own cobranded credit card issued by Capital One. It has no annual fee, and you earn 5% back for orders place on Walmart.com or via the Walmart apps.
Instacart is another popular grocery delivery service. It’s available all over the US, and they partner with a number of different supermarkets and local pharmacies and retailers. Prices may be higher on the app than they are in stores, but for the convenience of delivery it may be worth paying more. Delivery is free for your first order. After that delivery starts at $3.99 for a single order, and there are monthly and annual subscriptions that include free delivery.
If you’re a frequent Instacart shopper, you’ll want to make sure you maximize your credit card earnings. Instacart purchases may either be processed by Instacart directly, or by the merchant. If Instacart processes the transaction, the purchase will code as groceries. That means you can earn 4x Amex points with the American Express Gold Card or 6% cash back with the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express.
If the merchant charges you directly, any bonus on spend will depend on how that merchant is coded. Grocery stores should code as grocery stores, but pharmacies may code as pharmacies, or retailers may code as shopping. This is a case of “your mileage may vary”. You can check how the charge will code with a small transaction before making any large purchases and expecting bonus points.
While Postmates may be more widely known for delivering food and drinks, you can also order groceries with them as well. Unfortunately, Postmates transactions now code as either “courier services” or “business services,” and thus aren’t eligible bonus for grocery purchases on many cards.
If you’re making a lot of purchases with Postmates, your best option is to use the Citi Double Cash Card that earns 2% cash back on all purchases, or 2x points on every purchase when paired with the Citi Premier or Citi Prestige.
Fresh Direct is an online grocery service that started in New York City and has expanded to New Jersey, Philadelphia, Delaware, and Washington, DC. They’re a more “boutique” on demand grocery service, and they’re wildly popular in the markets they serve.
If you’re lucky enough to live in an area serviced by FreshDirect, be sure to use a credit card that has a bonus category for grocery purchases. FreshDirect purchases code as groceries, so you will earn 4x points with the Amex Gold Card or 6% cash back with the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express.
Best Cash Back Credit Cards for Supermarket Spending in November 2021
While I like earning points, a lot of people prefer to earn cash back for their supermarket spending. This is especially true for families with a lot of people to feed, where earning cash back that you can put back into household expenses is useful.
So, what are the best cash back cards for grocery store and supermarket spending?
There are some really fantastic credit cards for grocery store and supermarket spending, ranging from earning 4.5x points transferable points, to earning 6% cash back. No matter your budget, using the right grocery credit card can earn you hundreds (or thousands!) of bonus points each year.
Just be sure to pay attention to the exact terms, as not everywhere you may purchase food codes as grocery/supermarket spend with all banks. When you make a purchase at local stores, I always recommend checking afterwards how they’re categorized. For example, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by bodegas, liquor stores, Instacart, etc., also sometimes coding as grocery stores or supermarkets. This often determines which cards I’ll use for those purchases going forward.
What cards do you use for grocery and supermarket spending?
The following links will direct you to the rates and fees for mentioned American Express Cards. These include: American Express® Gold Card (Rates & Fees), and Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express (Rates & Fees).