1-2-3 REWARDS Visa Card

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The 1-2-3 REWARDS Visa Card is The Kroger Co.’s co-branded credit card, offering reward points that can be redeemed either toward free groceries or discounts on gas. The main attraction with the U.S. Bank-issued card is its first-year benefit of 25 cents off of every gallon of gas at a Kroger-owned Fuel Center, with the caveat that you have to redeem 100 Fuel Points earned within a single month.

Review

The 1-2-3 REWARDS Visa Card should be called a 3-in-1. The card is a somewhat baffling blend of loyalty card, gas card and Visa credit card. You can earn 3 points per $1 spent on Kroger-branded products, 2 points per $1 spent on most items at nearly any store within the Kroger family — except Kroger Fuel Centers —  and 1 point per $1 everywhere else you use the card.

Beyond Kroger’s expansive chain of grocery stores, the company also owns dozens of other retail and grocery brands including Fred Meyer, Harris Teeter and Pick ‘n Save. Nearly all of the retailers and grocery purveyors fall under the Kroger’s points-earning umbrella, earning you the 2 points per $1 spent using this card. For example, if you shop at Fred Meyer Jewelers and pay for a qualifying purchase with the 1-2-3- REWARDS Visa, you’ll earn 2 points per $1 spent there.

Here’s where the rewards system of this card starts to get confusing. The card doesn’t earn any points at Kroger Fuel centers. But in your first year of card ownership, every time you redeem 100 points, you can get an additional 25 cents per gallon discount, up to 35 gallons per visit when you fill your car at a Kroger Fuel Center or participating Shell gas station.

This makes a point worth about 4 cents in gas spending, which puts it on a par with some of the best credit cards for gas we’ve seen. But after that first year the offer drops down to 5 cents off per gallon, up to 35 gallons per visit each time you redeem 100 points at the pump. This makes a point worth only about .08 cents at the pump.

There are a couple of tricks to earning more fuel points to get the Kroger gas discount. If you get a flu shot or fulfill some other health need at The Little Clinic, a walk-in medical clinic located inside select Kroger-owned supermarkets, you’ll earn 50 fuel points. You also can take advantage of promotions that periodically pop up that pay 2 points per $1 spent on gift card purchases at a Kroger family store.

But after that first year you’re still stuck at a measly 5 cents a gallon off with every 100 points. You could just join Shell’s Fuel Rewards program for nothing and get 5 cents off per gallon without having to keep track of anything.

If you don’t have much of a need for gas, you can also redeem your points for groceries. For every $1,000 points, you’ll get $5 worth of free groceries. This makes a point worth about half a cent, an all-around terrible value.

Bottom line: You’d be much better off with a different card that pays higher rewards on groceries or gas.

Who should get this card

We can’t recommend this card when there are better options.

Advantages
  • There's no fee to own this card.
  • If you spend a lot at any of the Kroger family of stores, you’ll earn discounts on future grocery purchases.
  • The potential to earn a 25 cent per gallon discount for the first year of card ownership can save you money.
Disadvantages
  • The reward terms are somewhat confusing.
  • After the first year, the redemption value for gas is poor.
  • The rewards rate on groceries is low.
  • You don’t earn any rewards for buying gas at a Kroger Fuel Center.
  • Other cards offer greater value on grocery spending.

Fees and APR

  • Pay no annual fee.
  • Purchase and balance transfer APR is a variable 14.99% to 24.99% based on creditworthiness.
  • On balance transfers, pay $10 or 4% of the amount transferred, whichever is more.
  • Pay a 2.8% foreign transaction fee on all purchases made outside of the U.S.
  • Late payments won’t affect your APR, but you may be subject to a penalty fee of up to $38.

Extras, perks and using points

This card comes with travel and emergency assistance benefits and Auto Rental Collision Damage coverage. The card also provides 90 days of purchase security and extended warranty protections, up to one year.

Accumulated points are redeemable for reward certificates for use at the Kroger Co. stores. Certificates will be rewarded periodically (at least four times a year) after you earn at least 1,000 points (worth $5).

How this card compares

Citi® Double Cash Card
Card Details
  • Earn cash back twice on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
  • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back
  • 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 14.49% - 24.49% based on your creditworthiness
  • Click 'Apply Now' to see the applicable balance transfer fee and how making a balance transfer impacts interest on purchases.
  • No categories to track, no caps on cash back, no annual fee*
Credit Needed Excellent
Regular APR 14.49% - 24.49%* (Variable)
Annual Fee $0*
Purchase Intro APR N/A
Balance Transfers Intro APR 0% for 18 months*

When it comes to rewards value, the Citi Double Cash Card ranks among the very best cash-back credit cards that charge no annual fee.

The card earns an unlimited 1% cash back when you make a purchase and another 1% back when you pay for those purchases. Big spenders may find this nets more cash-back overall as there’s no ceiling on what you can earn back.

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
Card Details
  • $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • No annual fee.
  • 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%).
  • 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores, 1% back on other purchases.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable rate, currently 13.99% to 24.99%.
  • Expanding merchant acceptance: Over 1 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in the last year.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be easily redeemed for statement credits, gift cards, and merchandise.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Credit Needed Excellent
Regular APR 13.99%-24.99% Variable
Annual Fee $0
Purchase Intro APR 0% on Purchases for 15 months
Balance Transfers Intro APR 0% on Balance Transfers for 15 months

The Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express is an ideal credit card for families on the go. It offers enhanced rewards at U.S. supermarkets, U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores, allowing you to earn a substantial amount of cash back on food, gas and clothing.

That’s like getting automatic coupons every time you shop.

Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi
Card Details
  • Exclusively for Costco Members: Go Big with Cash Back Rewards
  • 4% cash back on eligible gas for the first $7,000 per year and then 1% thereafter
  • 3% cash back on restaurants and eligible travel purchases
  • 2% cash back on all other purchases from Costco and Costco.com
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
Credit Needed Good
Regular APR 16.24* (Variable)
Annual Fee $0
Purchase Intro APR 0%* for 7 months on Purchases*
Balance Transfers Intro APR N/A

If you spend a ton on gas, or at Costco, and you don’t mind waiting to get your once-a-year disbursement, the Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi offers one of the industry’s highest payouts at the pump and is the only card offering year-round rewards for shopping at Costco.

Card Details
  • Intro Offer: Discover will match all the cash back earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
  • Earn 5% cash back at Amazon.com and Target now through December 2017, on up to $1,500 in purchases when you activate. Plus, 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Redeem your cash back for any amount, any time. Cash rewards never expire.
  • 100% U.S. based customer service.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • New! Receive Free Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
  • No annual fee.
Credit Needed Excellent
Regular APR 11.99% - 23.99% Variable
Annual Fee $0
Purchase Intro APR 0% for 14 months
Balance Transfers Intro APR 0% for 14 months

You won’t earn one of those huge sign-up bonuses other cards offer, but if you’re looking for a no-frills cash-back card, the Discover it credit card does come with one intriguing feature: Discover automatically matches all the cash back you earn at the end of your first year.

EDITORIAL NOTE

Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.