Grocery Stores are one of the most common bonus categories amongst points and miles cards. It’s also a special category amongst points and miles enthusiasts because of manufactured spending. But for non-enthusiasts, these cards are a still a great way to earn points.
I am not including cards that are great for warehouse clubs like Costco and Sam’s Club in this post. That category might be discussed in a future post. Instead, regular supermarkets and grocery stores will be the focus.
Transferrable Points Cards
American Express cards dominate the grocery store rewards category. Therefore, three Membership Rewards (MR) point–earning cards are highlighted. Fortunately, these cards are some of the most versatile and generous in the industry.
American Express’ golden charge card earns 4x MR points at US Grocery Stores and US Restaurants. There is a shared $25,000 annual spend limit for both categories. The Gold Card also offers $220 in dining and airline credits each year. These credits can help to justify the card’s $250 annual fee (NOT waived the first year) if you can use them to the fullest.
The Gold Card currently has a 35,000-point public sign-up bonus. This bonus can be earned after spending $2,000 in the first three months. There are targeted bonuses worth 50,000 points for the same minimum spend. Take the targeted offer if you can find it.
This is a great card if you want a balance between perks and rewards. For $250 per year, you will receive a nice suite of perks as well as the credits. It’s also a relative bargain compared to the Platinum Card, whose earning potential isn’t as good for everyday spend. But if you want more travel perks, the Platinum Card is simply unrivaled.
The first of many clear cards in this post, the Everyday Preferred earns 3x MR points at US Grocery Stores. It also earns 2x points at US Gas Stations and a single point on other purchases.
You will earn a 50% points bonus if you use the card at least 30 times per month. This means that you can earn 4.5x points at Grocery Stores, 3x points at Gas Stations, and 1.5x points on everything else. The Everyday Preferred card has the potential to best the Amex Gold Card if the points bonus is included.
This card has a $95 annual fee (NOT waived the first year), making it a cheaper option than the Gold Card. It also has a 15,000-point public sign-up bonus which can be earned after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months. Targeted bonuses worth up to 30,000 points for $2,000 minimum spend are out there as well.
This card is the no annual fee alternative to the Everyday Preferred Card. The Everyday Card earns 2x MR points at US Grocery Stores and just one point on other purchases (including Gas Stations).
Like its “big sibling”, the Everyday Card has a points bonus. But it’s a smaller percentage that requires fewer monthly purchases. This card will earn you 20% extra points if you use it at least 20 times per month. Therefore, you have the potential to earn 2.4x points at Grocery Stores and 1.2x points on other purchases.
This is a great option for those who want a travel card without an annual fee. In fact, it’s the only personal Amex card that has direct access to the travel partners without an annual fee.
It also has a 10,000-point public sign-up bonus which can be earned after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months. Targeted bonuses worth up to 25,000 points for $1,000 minimum spend are out there as well.
This no annual fee Chase card earns 5x UR points in quarterly rotating categories, which often includes restaurants. This card practically prints points if you can max out the categories each quarter. There is a $1,500 spend limit each quarter. This means that you will earn only one point in bonus category spend if you exceed that limit.
The Freedom comes with a sign-up bonus of 15,000 points (or $150). It can be earned after spending just $500 in the first three months. But you need to have either the Chase Sapphire Reserve, Sapphire Preferred, or Ink Preferred alongside this card to transfer your points.
Either way, this card is great for beginners and as a supplementary card provided you can max out the categories.
Cash Back Cards
Cash back cards are not as powerful as transferrable points cards. However, they shouldn’t be pushed aside. Straight cash can oftentimes cover travel expenses that transferrable points can’t. American Express dominates the cash back market as well with two more of its cards highlighted below.
American Express Blue Cash Preferred Card
Don’t get this American Express card confused with the two Everyday cards mentioned above. This one earns cash back whereas the Everyday cards earn MR points.
Amex’s flagship cash back card earns an industry-leading 6% at US Grocery Stores! It also earns a nice 3% at Department Stores and Gas Stations. However, the Blue Cash Preferred has a $95 annual fee (NOT waived the first year).
This card has a $200 sign-up bonus that can be earned after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months. That’s like getting 20% cash back not including cash back from the bonus categories themselves. There are targeted bonuses worth $250 for the same minimum spend. If you’re interested in this card, look for the higher bonus before rushing to apply.
American Express Blue Cash Everyday Card
This cash back card earns a nice 3% at US Grocery Stores. It also earns 2% at Department Stores and Gas Stations. Despite having lower earning potential than its “big sibling”, the Blue Cash Everyday has no annual fee.
This card has a $150 sign-up bonus that can be earned after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months. That’s like getting 15% cash back not including cash back from the bonus categories themselves. There are targeted bonuses worth $200 for the same minimum spend.
Discover’s flagship card is like the Chase Freedom in that it earns 5% cash back on quarterly rotating categories. Grocery Stores are also a regular category for Discover whose card lets its holders earn up to $75 in cash back each quarter.
Discover also has an unconventional sign-up bonus that solely depends on how much you spend. Discover will double the amount of cash back earned within the first 12 months. You would need to spend $3,000 in the 5% categories to earn $150 in cash back. That requires you to maximize any two categories, which can take up to 6 months.
Flat Rate Cards
These cards are probably the best option for you if you’re not interested in earning Amex MR points. Those who want simplicity and those who don’t like American Express will also find flat rate cards to be better options.
I recommend either the Chase Freedom Unlimited or the Citi Double Cash as my favorite non-Amex flat rate cards. Both cards earn cash back at high flat rates.
This flat rate card from Chase earns 1.5x UR points (or 1.5% cash back) and has no annual fee. By itself, its flat rate is low. However, you can earn UR points if you also have either the Chase Sapphire Reserve, Sapphire Preferred, or Ink Preferred.
This card has Chase’s highest earning rate for grocery stores because grocery stores are not a bonus category on any UR-earning card. But if UR points are more valuable than MR points, grocery stores become non-bonus category spend.
Citi Double Cash
This card earns a total of 2% cash back: 1% upon purchase and another 1% upon paying your bill. It’s one of the best flat rate cash back cards in the industry because of this earning structure.
The Double Cash is the best Citi Card for grocery stores. Like the UR-earning cards, grocery stores are not a Thank You (TY) point card bonus category. But unlike the UR-earning cards, Citi does not have a card that earns TY points at a flat rate.
Grocery shopping is one of the easiest ways to earn travel rewards and cash back. This is especially true if you find Amex MR points valuable.
Also note that your mileage may vary. The cards listed above are my suggestions and you might have another card that works better for you.