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The Best Credit Cards for Groceries

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Introduction

You'll get two weeks worth of free groceries every year if you pick and use the AMEX Blue Cash Preferred card

Do you find yourself in line at the grocery store pretty much every day?

Wouldn't it be nice if you got more than just a daily glance at the tabloid covers?

Shopping at the grocery store is a real chore.

Shouldn't you be trying to make the most of it by earning cash or rewards?

JD Power recently published the results of a customer satisfaction survey for credit card holders.

Consumers reported that the cards they liked best provide cash back on purchases.

Their favorite cards were those that gave cash-back on the things they spent the most on.

Especially groceries!

Leading U.S. Food Retailers (2016)

The grocery card landscape is diverse. There are lots of credit cards out there that reward you with points or cash-back for grocery shopping.

But deciding which one is the best is tough.

There are annual fees, rotating reward categories, caps on earning, and other unique features for every card.

It's hard to calculate which ones are most valuable based on your habits.

Let's figure it out together. Maybe you've tried to take advantage of cash-back or rewards credit cards but haven't seen a lot of actual cash-back or rewards.

Or, maybe you've never had a cash-back or rewards card and want to figure out which one works best for groceries.

We're going to help you harness the power of your grocery bill to earn you money!

Blue Cash Preferred Amex is our pick. As you'll see, once we looked at all the cards out there, this one rose to the top for cash-back on groceries.

The Blue Cash Preferred Amex does cost $95 in annual fees. But its cash-back rate for groceries rules. And it's got an awesome welcome offer.

What You Need To Know

Pay attention to the annual fees if you want to truly benefit

The rewards might not be worth the fee. A lot of the cards out there providing cash-back or rewards for grocery purchases have an annual fee.

If you're not using the card to purchase a lot of groceries, the fee might not be worthwhile.

Here's an example:

Let's say you only spend $4,000 on groceries over a year (about $77 a week).

And let's say your credit card offers 2.5% cash-back on groceries but also charges a $95 annual fee.

It would be easy to think you just earned yourself $100 in cash-back.

But you paid a $95 annual fee to have the cash-back card. $100 in grocery cash-back over the year would barely cover the $95 annual fee.

Avoid missing out on grocery points by shopping at the wrong stores

Make sure your grocery store is a qualifying "supermarket." There are many cash rewards credit cards that only provide grocery cash-back or reward points rates for shopping at "supermarkets."

That means if you usually buy groceries from Walmart, Costco, or Amazon you would not get the grocery cash/points rate.

Check the card you're applying for to make sure your stores are included as "supermarkets."

The store needs to report to your credit card as a grocery merchant.

How We Picked These Cards

Pick from these top 4 cards to find the one that is best for you

The best picks are all here. We've looked at all of the cards that provide cash-back or rewards for spending on groceries.

We've found the top 4 and compared them all here.

We considered features like the rate for cash-back spent on groceries. We looked at the reward points you can earn, and how to redeem them.

We reviewed the annual fees charged by some of the cards.

And we checked out if they have special limits or caps on what you can earn or spend.

You can use these comparisons to find the credit card that's best for your grocery shopping habits.

How Do You Buy Your Groceries? (2017)

Blue Cash Everyday by AMEX

Blue Cash Everyday by AMEX is perfect for people who don't spend a lot at grocery stores but want to earn cash-back when they do

The Blue Cash Everyday by AMEX is good because it offers decent cash-back on grocery store purchases, and best of all it doesn't charge you a fee.

We picked the Blue Cash Everyday by AMEX because it suits the average grocery shopper

Did you know the average American spends $3,899 a year buying food to eat at home?

For families, the average monthly grocery spend is $1,455.

Does that sound like you?

If you're only spending around $4,000 a year on groceries then the Blue Cash Everyday by AMEX is right for you.

Cash-back on everything, especially groceries. First, the Blue Cash Everyday offers 3% cash-back on all grocery store purchases up to $6,000.

So you would earn $120 a year in cash-back on the $4,000 you spend on groceries alone.

Then you get 2% cash-back on gas purchases and purchases from select U.S. department stores.

And you get 1% cash-back on all other purchases.

If you go over $6,000 in groceries in a year you get 1% cash-back for the rest.

The best part is there's no annual fee. But what's best about the Blue Cash Everyday by AMEX is that there is no fee.

So when you earn $120 cash-back after spending $4,000 on groceries, you keep $120.

If you're choosing this card because it gives you good cash-back then you'll love the welcome offer.

All you have to do is spend $1,000 in the first three months and you get $200 cash-back.

That's the same as earning 3% cash-back after spending $6,666 on groceries!

The Blue Cash Everyday by AMEX has low credit limits, which can limit what you earn

If you can't spend a lot you can't earn a lot. Some people apply for the Blue Cash Everyday by AMEX and find they get approved, but just for a $1,000 credit limit.

That could mean limits to the amount of cash-back you can earn.

Are there surprises in the fine print?

Make sure you're on time with payments. One thing that pops out when you look closely at the fine print is its high penalty APR.

If you miss a payment or have a payment returned you get charged 29.99% on everything.

The penalty APR applies for 6 months (if you get back on track with on-time payments).

Time your Blue Cash Everyday by AMEX application wisely

Plan to spend a grand to take full advantage. Before you apply, make sure you plan to spend $1,000 on your card over the first three months.

It's worth $200 as part of the generous welcome offer.

If you don't spend $1,000 you get no extra cash. So if you don't usually spend that much you might want to wait for Christmas or a big upcoming purchase when you know you'll spend the $1,000.

Blue Cash Preferred by AMEX

Blue Cash Preferred by AMEX is best for big grocery spenders

Although there's a fee, the chance to earn 6% on groceries with the Blue Cash Preferred is a huge strength for big shoppers.

Big household?

Teenagers?

Rampant foodies?

This card is for YOU.

We picked the Blue Cash Preferred by AMEX for people who spend more than average on groceries

Above average spenders and big families take note. We mentioned that the average American spends close to $4,000 on food to eat at home a year.

But that's only about $77 per week. And that's not even counting non-food grocery purchases!

If you're clocking $6,000+ a year in grocery purchases, the Blue Cash Preferred by AMEX is a better option for you than the Blue Cash Everyday.

The best card for grocery rewards, hands down. In fact, the Blue Cash Preferred is so strong it's our pick for the best card for groceries.

It's highest for earning cash-back on groceries at 6% on the first $6,000 you spend.

If you spend $6,000 a year on groceries you earn $360! Subtract the $95 annual fee, and that covers more than two weeks' of grocery shopping!

And that's all before you start earning 3% on gas and 1% on everything else.. You get a great welcome offer.

The card earns good cash-back for gas.

And the annual fee is more than worth it if you go to grocery stores a lot.

How do You Pay at the Supermarket? (2016)

What about the welcome offer?

The welcome offer is even better than the Blue Cash Everyday. If you spend $1,000 in the first three months, you get $250 in cash-back.

That's a 25% return on the first $1,000 you spend!

You have to pay to play. Unlike the Blue Cash Everyday, the Blue Cash Preferred has an annual fee.

You pay $95 every year for the card.

But if you spend a lot on groceries it is definitely worth it.

Don't jump on board blindly though. If you're not a person who spends a lot at grocery stores, this is not the card for you.

We did the math and anyone spending near or below the $4,000 average should go with the Blue Cash Everyday card or look elsewhere.

Cardholders complain that people shouldn't expect to get rich from this card.

They say it's a big burden to pay a fee in addition to paying interest, especially if you don't maximize the cash-back.

It won't be hard to get the Blue Cash Preferred by AMEX sign-up bonus

You'll want to make sure that you're taking advantage of the welcome offer for this cash rewards credit card.

All you have to do is spend $1,000 in the first three months and you get $250.

But you should definitely be spending that much: you chose the card because you spend $500+ a month on groceries!

Penfed Platinum Rewards

The PenFed Platinum Rewards card is great for the biggest grocery spenders

The only card here with no rewards limit. For many families one of the biggest monthly expenses is groceries.

If you're looking for no limit on the amount you can spend to earn rewards, the PenFed Platinum Rewards card is for you.

We picked the PenFed Platinum Rewards card for people who spend the most on groceries

Spend big and earn big points. Does your family spend $200+ a week on groceries?

Then you could be earning 600+ points a week with the PenFed Platinum Rewards card.

It provides 3X reward points for all grocery purchases with no limits.

For gas, it's even better.

You get 5X the reward points for every dollar you spend at the gas station. All other purchases earn you a point per dollar spent.

Fill up on points every day. People love that you can earn high-rewards points for the most common purchases of gas and groceries.

They also love that you can get good rewards and cash back with no annual fee.

Types of Rewards Owned by Credit Card Users (2017)

But make sure you understand how the card works

There's confusion amongst customers. You can tell from the online reviews that not everyone understands the value of the rewards points from this credit card issuer.

You can use them for online shopping and travel through the PenFed rewards center.

But you can also redeem them for gift cards, prepaid Visas, or to pay your credit card balance with statement credit, which pretty much turns it into a cash-back card.

It's OK we've done the math and the news is good. It's actually pretty complicated but we've crunched the numbers and this is what you need to know:

For gift cards, prepaid Visas, and statement credit on your card balance, it costs 5,880 points for $50.

We know that you earn triple points on grocery purchases. So that means for every $39.20 you spend at the grocery store, you earn $1.

That's a 2.55% cash-back rate on groceries.

That's a pretty good cash-back rate, especially when there is no limit on grocery purchases.

And the 5X gas cash-back rate comes out at 4.25%.

So how much cash would you get for spending $200 a week on groceries?

In one year if you spent $200 a week on groceries you would earn $265.20 in gift cards, prepaid Visa, or credit towards your card balance.

The kicker is that you get to keep it all, unlike with the Blue Cash Preferred by AMEX and other cards that charge annual fees.

Spend after signing up for PenFed Platinum Rewards

If you spend $1,500 in the first 90 days after you sign up for the card, you get a $100 statement credit. Since this is the card for big grocery spenders, that should not be hard at all.

BankAmericard Cash Rewards Card

The BankAmericard Cash Rewards card is solid for cash-back

Especially if you do your other banking with Bank of America.

The BankAmericard Cash Rewards card gives you 2% cash-back on groceries and wholesale clubs.

But even more impressive, you get a 10% bonus on your cash-back if you deposit it into a Bank of America checking account.

The limit is higher and you can get a bonus

Earn cash, and then earn some more. The BankAmericard Cash Rewards card lets you earn 2% on groceries and 3% on gas up to $2,500 per quarter.

So if you were just spending $10,000 a year on groceries, you'd earn $200, And if you deposited that $200 into a Bank of America account you'd get $220.

That 10% bonus can become 25-75% in extra rewards. If you have other investments or bank account balances with Bank of America, your cash-back can grow even more with the Preferred Rewards program.

For people with $50,000 in assets, the cash-back bonus is 25%. For $75,000 balances, it's 50%.

If you've got $100,000 with them, you get a 75% bump in cash-back.

So that $200 for spending $10,000 a year on groceries can become $250, $300, or $350! Considering that this card has no annual fee, that will pay for a lot of groceries!

But customer service is lacking

A lot of the negative online reviews focus on poor customer service. People who otherwise report satisfaction with the card give low scores for how they are treated.

Customers also noticed that if they're not paying their balance in full the cash-back isn't worth the interest they pay.

There is a pretty good intro offer where you earn $150 if you spend $500 in the first 90 days of opening your account.

There is no annual fee for the BankAmericard Cash Rewards card. You keep the cash you earn!

The smartest way to apply for the BankAmericard Cash Rewards card

When you sign up you need to spend $500 in the first 90 days to earn $150.

You also get a 0% APR for the first 12 months on purchases and balance transfers within the first 60 days, so it would be smart to take advantage of that offer if you can move a balance from another card with a higher APR.

FAQ

Which Blue Cash AMEX cash-rewards card is easier to get?

The Blue Cash Everyday by AMEX is easier to get approved for than the Blue Cash Preferred.

You need a good FICO credit score (700-749) to get approved for the Blue Cash Everyday Amex.

For the Blue Cash Preferred by AMEX, there are cardholders who report getting approved with a good (700-749) FICO credit score.

But remember one of the customer complaints about the Blue Cash Preferred by AMEX was the low credit limit.

The lower your approved credit score, the lower your credit limit will be.

Do any of these cards have rotating cash-back/rewards categories?

No. None of the four cards reviewed here have cash-back or reward categories that change. That's one of the reasons they were chosen.

The most well-known cash-back card that has rotating rewards categories is the Chase Freedom card.

The Chase Freedom card offers 5% cash-back rewards on groceries, but only from April to June, and only up to $1,500 in spending.

You also have to register every quarter to qualify for the Chase Freedom card's categories. We didn't think it was worthwhile compared to our top 4.

Which of these cards has the best APR?

  • The APR for the PenFed Platinum Rewards card is 9.74-17.99%.
  • BankAmericard Cash Rewards has a variable APR of 13.99-23.99%.
  • The Blue Cash Everyday by AMEX offers 13.99-24.99% APR.
  • The Blue Cash Preferred by AMEX also has an APR between 13.99-24.99%.

Your APR is going to be set based on things like your credit score. But the PenFed Platinum Rewards card is the clear winner for the lowest range of APR.

Do these cards have 0% introductory APR periods?

Yes, all four credit cards have 0% intro APR offers.

  • The Blue Cash Everyday by AMEX has a 0% introductory APR for 15 months.
  • The Blue Cash Preferred by AMEX has a 0% intro APR period for 12 months.
  • The PenFed Platinum Rewards card also has a 0% intro APR period for 12 months.
  • The BankAmericard Cash Rewards card also offers a 0% intro APR rate for the first 12 months.

All of these 0% intro APR periods apply to purchases and balance transfers

Blue Cash Preferred gets the win

Are your ready to earn cash by going on your weekly (or daily!) trip to the grocery store? The card you end up picking should be based on your shopping habits.

But for people who are above-average spenders at the grocery store, the Blue Cash Preferred by AMEX is for you.

It's got it all: the highest cash-back for groceries.

It offers good cash-back for gas.

The annual fee is easily covered if you shop frequently. And there's an awesome welcome offer for signing up.

Do you use credit cards that give cash-back or rewards for groceries?

How has your card worked out for you?

Any great tips (or nightmares) to share with the rest of us when it comes to cash rewards credit cards and groceries?

Let us know in the comments below.


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