The Best Credit Cards for Buying Groceries in 2019

The average U.S. family spends over $4,000 per year on groceries. With the right credit card, you could earn hundreds of dollars in cashback rewards.
11/16/19 | By Kat Tretina
Best Credit Cards for Buying Groceries

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When you’re coming up with your monthly budget, you’re probably blown away by how much you spend on food. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, American households spend $4,363 on food consumed at home, on average. That’s a substantial chunk of your income going toward groceries.

But what if you could earn cash back on that grocery spending? You could get valuable rewards just for spending money on food you’d buy anyway — a total win. Here are the best credit cards for groceries and what you should know to get the most bang for your buck.

What are the best credit cards for groceries?

We selected these credit cards based on their value to consumers. When evaluating each card, we looked at their cashback rate on grocery store purchases, their spending limits to earn cash back, their total possible rewards, redemption methods, and annual fees.

These are the best credit cards for buying groceries:

Card Reward rate Cap on grocery rewards Credit needed Annual fee
Blue Cash Preferred by American Express 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on first $6,000 in purchase per year, 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming services, 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and on eligible transit, and 1% cash back on all other purchases Up to $6,000 spent per year Excellent, Good $95
Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Card 8% cash back on tickets purchased through Vivid Seats (through May 2020), 4% unlimited cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores, and 1% cash back on all other purchases Unlimited Excellent $95 (waived first year)
Discover it Cash Back 5% cash back in quarterly rotating categories (including gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, and Amazon.com), up to quarterly maximum; 1% cash back on all other purchases Up to $1,500 spent per quarter Excellent, Good, Fair $0
Citi Double Cash Card Earn 2% cash back on all purchases, 1% as you buy and 1% as you pay Unlimited Excellent, Good $0
Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card 3% cash back on the category of your choice; 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (on to first $2,500 spend each quarter); and 1% cash back on all other purchases Up to $2,500 spent per quarter Excellent, Good $0

1. Blue Cash Preferred by American Express

With the Blue Cash Preferred, you’ll get 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 of purchases per year. If you spend the average amount on groceries — $4,363 — you’d earn $261.78 in cashback rewards each year. Plus, you’ll get a $250 bonus if you spend at least $1,000 on purchases within the first three months.

While the card does have an annual fee, the potential cashback rewards outweigh its cost. In addition to cash back at U.S. supermarkets, you’ll also earn:

  • 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming services, including Netflix, Audible, Spotify, and Showtime
  • 3% cash back on transit, including taxis or rideshares, parking, tolls, train tickets, and bus fares
  • 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases

The Blue Cash Preferred card is perfect for those who spend more than the national average on groceries and who want to redeem their rewards for statement credits. The card allows you to redeem your rewards whenever your balance hits $25 or more.

However, if you do most of your shopping at specialty shops or superstores, this card may not be for you. Groceries purchased at Amazon, Walmart, Target, or warehouse stores aren’t eligible for the 6% cashback rate. And you’ll need to have good-to-excellent credit to qualify for this card. If your credit isn’t quite that high yet, you may need to look for a different card.

2. Capital One Savor

While it does have an annual fee, the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Card gives you 2% cash back at grocery stores, with no limit on how much you can earn. If you spend the average amount on groceries, you could earn $87.26. That amount is significantly less than you’d earn with the Blue Cash Preferred card, but the Savor’s other benefits may make it worth the difference.

You’ll also earn:

  • 4% cash back on dining out and select entertainment purchases
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases

Dining out is likely a significant expense for you. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average household spends $3,365 on food away from home each year. If you spent that amount and used the Savor card to pay for it, you’d earn $134.60 in additional cash rewards. If you eat at restaurants often, the Savor card can be a great option. And you can redeem your rewards for statement credits or even a check.

As an added perk, you’ll get a $300 cash bonus if you spend at least $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening an account. However, you do need good-to-excellent credit to qualify for the card, so the Savor card isn’t for everyone.

3. Discover it Cash Back

If you want to earn rewards on groceries without paying an annual fee, the Discover it Cash Back card is a smart choice. Unlike the Savor or the Blue Cash Preferred, the Discover it Cash Back has rotating spending categories, allowing you to earn a higher rate of rewards on select purchases each quarter. Spending categories can include grocery stores, gas, and purchases at Amazon.com.

Each year, you can earn 5% cash back on purchases made at grocery stores during the quarter, up to $1,500 in purchases. If you spent $4,363 on groceries per year, you’d earn 5% on the first $1,500 spent during the quarter, giving you $75. After that, you’d earn 1% cash back, allowing you to earn an additional $28.63 in rewards, for a total of $103.63 in cash back for your grocery spending.

Even better, Discover offers a cashback match. At the end of your first year as a cardmember, Discover will match all the cash back you earned over the year, with no limit. If you earned $103.63 in cash back, Discover would double it, giving you a total of $207.26 in rewards.

To qualify for the Discover it Cash Back, you’ll need good-to-excellent credit.

4. Citi Double Cash

If you don’t want to worry about keeping track of spending categories or paying annual fees, consider the Citi Double Cash Card. You’ll earn 2% cash back on all purchases, 1% as you buy and 1% as you pay.

There’s no limit to how much you can earn. If you spend the average amount on groceries, you’d earn $87.26 in rewards. But you’d also earn 2% cash back on every other purchase you make, including fuel for your car, clothes, and other essentials.

However, you’ll need to have good-to-excellent credit to qualify for the card.

5. Bank of America Cash Rewards

If you’re looking for a card to help you earn rewards on dining out as well as groceries, check out the Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card. It has a unique structure; you’ll earn 3% cash back on the category of your choice; 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (on to first $2,500 spend each quarter); and 1% cash back on all other purchases.

You can earn up to $2,500 cash back in your 3% and 2% categories (your choice and grocery store purchases) each quarter, then you’ll earn 1% cash back. To put that in perspective, if you spent $3,365 per year at restaurants and $4,363 on groceries, you’d earn a combined $188.21 in rewards. That’s an excellent rate of return for a card that doesn’t charge an annual fee.

Also, you’ll get a $Get $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days cash rewards bonus if you spend at least $1,000 on purchases within the first 90 days of opening an account.

To qualify for the Bank of America Cash Rewards card, your credit score needs to be at least in the “good” range.

4 cards that are great for buying groceries at specific stores

If you’re loyal to particular stores or if your credit is less than stellar, you may be better off with a credit card designed for use at a specific store. These are four of the top options:

1. Target REDcard

If you do most of your grocery shopping at Target, signing up for the Target REDcard may be a good choice. You’ll get a 5% discount on every purchase you make at Target and Target.com. If you spent $4,363 on groceries each year, you’d save $218.15 with the REDcard. That’s a great offer from a credit card without an annual fee.

The card does charge a higher-than-average APR (annual percentage rate), so make sure you pay off your balance in full each month to avoid costly interest fees. Plus, the card is a store card, meaning it can only be used at Target stores and Target.com. But because it’s a store card, you may be more likely to qualify for it than other cards. The REDcard requires you to have a “fair” credit score.

2. Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card

Are you already an Amazon shopper? If you shop for groceries at Whole Foods Market, with AmazonFresh, or with Amazon Prime Pantry, consider the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card

With an eligible Amazon Prime membership, you can earn 5% cash back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market; 2% cash back at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores; 1% cash back on all other purchases. There’s no cap on how much you can earn, so if you spent $4,363 on groceries at Whole Foods, you’d get $218.15 in rewards. Those are excellent rewards for a card with no annual fee.

3. Costco Anywhere Visa Card

If you have a big family or like to shop at Costco, the Costco Anywhere Visa card may be for you. You’ll earn 2% cash back on Costco purchases. If you spend $8,000 per year on groceries, that means you’ll get $160 in rewards.

You’ll also earn:

  • 4% cash back on eligible gas purchases worldwide on the first $7,000 spent each year
  • 3% cash back on eligible restaurant and travel purchases
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases

Unlike most store-branded credit cards, the Costco Anywhere Visa card has strict credit requirements; your credit score will need to be in the “excellent” range to qualify.

And while it has no annual fee, you should be aware that you’ll need to have a Costco membership to apply. A basic membership costs $60 per year.

4. Walmart Credit Card

If you like the convenience of Walmart’s grocery pickup service, consider applying for the Walmart credit card. You’ll get 3% cash back on Walmart.com purchases, including grocery pickup orders. If you ordered all $4,363 worth of groceries on Walmart.com, you’d earn $130.89 in rewards.

You also get 2% cash back on Murphy USA and Walmart fuel purchases and 1% cash back on all other purchases.

There’s no annual fee, and you can qualify for the card as long as your credit is in the “good” range.

Using multiple credit cards could earn you the most rewards

Instead of using one credit card for all of your grocery purchases, it might make sense to use several cards to maximize your rewards.

For example, let’s say you have a big family and spend $10,000 per year on groceries. If you used the Blue Cash Preferred Card, you’d earn 6% cash back on the first $6,000 you spent at the grocery store, then 1% cash back after that. That means you’d earn $360 at the 6% cash back rate and $40 at the 1% cash back rate, for a total of $400.

While that’s a decent amount of cash, you could earn more rewards by using the Blue Cash Preferred along with other cards. Once you hit the $6,000 spending limit, you could switch to the Discover it Cash Back Card and earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 of purchases during the spending category incentive period. Using the Discover card would help you earn $75 in additional rewards.

Once the spending category period was over — or when you hit the $1,500 limit — you could switch to the Citi Double Cash card and earn 2% cash back on the remaining $2,500 of purchases. Doing so would help you earn an additional $50 for a total of $515 in rewards. By using several different credit cards for your grocery store purchases rather than just one, you’d earn an additional $85.

Juggling multiple cards requires you to be organized, as you may need to keep track of your spending toward the cards’ limits; you’ll also need to remember to sign up for rotating spending categories. But the payoff can be worth the extra effort.

An important detail: What’s considered a “grocery store?”

When thinking about which card is best for you, it’s important to remember how companies define a “grocery store.” In most cases, companies consider grocery stores to be supermarkets that primarily sell food, such as Giant Food, SuperFresh, Whole Foods, or Winn-Dixie.

Wholesale clubs and superstores, like Target or Walmart, don’t usually count as grocery stores. As always, be sure to read the details on your particular card before you create your spending plan.

Earning rewards on groceries

Putting food on the table is likely one of your biggest expenses as a family. However, finding the best credit card for buying groceries can help you earn valuable rewards and even discounts, softening the impact to your budget — and saving you money on food.

If you apply for a new credit card, make sure you spend the minimum required to earn the welcome bonus. These bonuses can be a significant reward, putting hundreds of dollars back in your pocket.

To avoid costly interest fees, make sure you pay your statement balance in full each month. By using the best credit cards for groceries wisely, you can maximize your rewards without carrying a balance.

#1 Cash Back at Supermarkets

Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express

Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express

Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express

Benefits

  • $250 statement credit welcome offer
  • 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming services and at U.S. supermarkets on first $6,000 in purchases per year
  • 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and on eligible transit
  • 0% Intro APR on balance transfers and purchases for 12 months
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