The average American household spent more than $4,000 on groceries in 2015, but few are collecting big credit card rewards on their spending. It’s a shame, because some grocery-centric cards offer impressive rewards. One in particular doles out as much as 6% cash back on purchases in the grocery category, which can add up to more than $240 in recurring reward value each and every year from just one small portion of the average household budget.
Below, we’ll lay out the case for three of the highest-paying rewards cards for grocery spending.
Bonuses on top of bonuses
The card offers 3% cash back on gas, 2% on grocery and wholesale club spending, and 1% on all other spending. It also has some of the highest bonus caps of any category-based card. Gas, grocery, and wholesale club category bonuses are capped to a combined limit of $2,500 of spending per quarter, after which bonuses only earn the standard cash-back rate of 1%.
Bank of America customers can earn a bonus on top of regular rewards. Cardholders who simply redeem their rewards into an active Bank of America® checking or savings account qualify for a 10% bonus and thus receive a $27.50 credit to their bank account after redeeming just $25 in rewards. Depending on banking status, the bonus can rise as high as 75%. At the high end of the scale, including the preferred banking bonuses, the all-in rewards rate jumps to 5.25% on gas, 3.5% on groceries and wholesale clubs, and 1.75% on everything else.
New cardholders can get off to a quick start with this card, given that it offers a new cardholder bonus of $150 to qualifying cardholders who spend $500 in the first 90 days after opening an account. Rewards can be redeemed in amounts as low as $25. Learn more in our full review of the BankAmericard Cash Rewards™ credit card.
The biggest supermarket bonus
The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express offers compelling value to cardholders who can maximize spending in its bonus categories. The card offers cash-back rewards of 3% on U.S. supermarkets, 2% on gas and select department stores, and 1% on everything else.
Unfortunately, the card’s standard bonus rate is somewhat offset by lower caps on purchasing volume. Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express cardholders earn an elevated rate on the first $6,000 of supermarket spending each year, after which the card earns at a standard cash-back rate of 1%.
For heavy spenders, a variant of this card, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, may be a better bet, as it rewards at a rate of 6% on supermarket spending but comes with a $95 annual fee. Due to the annual fee, cardholders would only be better off with the Preferred variant if they spend more than $3,166 at U.S. supermarkets each year. At that point, the higher cash-back rate more than pays for the $95 annual fee.
Prospective applicants should be careful to note which purchases qualify. The card does not pay bonus rewards on warehouse club purchases, thus Sam’s Club or Costco charges would only qualify for the standard 1% cash-back rate, not the bonus rewards for supermarket spending. Qualifying cardholders can get started quickly with a new cardholder bonus of $100 for spending $1,000 in the first three months after account opening. Rewards can be redeemed in amounts as low as $25. Learn more in our full review of Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express.
The simple choice for grocery rewards
Don’t want to bother with bonus categories and limitations on cash-back bonuses? If so, the Citi® Double Cash Card may be the ideal card for you. This card offers a simple 2% cash-back program in which cardholders earn 1% cash back on purchases, plus 1% cash back when they pay off their balances.
The simplicity of its cash-back rewards program makes this card particularly attractive for people who would prefer to carry one good cash-back card that offers a high rewards rate on every dollar of spending. Generating and redeeming rewards with Citi® Double Cash Card is easy and predictable. The card carries a minimum redemption of $25, so cardholders will qualify for redemption after spending $1,250 and paying it off in full. Most cardholders should be able to reach the minimum redemption several times a year with normal spending patterns. Learn more in our full review of Citi® Double Cash Card.
Why grocery cards?
We at Fool.com believe grocery rewards credit cards are a great choice because they incentivize spending on needs, whereas many travel cards and other rewards cards incentivize wants — luxurious spending on airfare, hotels, and top restaurants. Grocery-centric cards also tend to have low spending requirements to receive new cardholder bonuses, whereas many cards require as much as $4,000 of spending in just three short months to qualify.
Each of the three cards above have their own pros and cons, but one thing is clear: Families who spend heavily at the grocery store are missing out on hundreds of dollars in rewards each year if they’re not using one of the cards above for their grocery purchases.