Young man pays for groceries with credit card
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Everyone has their occasional trips to the supermarket, but families and in-home chefs know that grocery bills can start to be a burden. Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture determined that the average individual spent around $200 at grocery stores per month in 2018, but that number takes a jump when expanded beyond one person. The same study shows that the average family of four spends around $550 per month on groceries alone.

Many cash back credit cards are tailored to help you earn money back on entertainment or dining, but there are plenty of options that’ll discount your routine trips to Wegman’s, Trader Joe’s, Safeway or any other supermarket chain in your area. When using select cards at the checkout counter, you’re able to earn as much as 5%-6% cash back. Your supermarket VIP or loyalty membership can get you sales prices while shopping, but having a good credit card will give you access to additional savings — so you might want to jot some of these cards down on your shopping list.

Top cards for grocery savings

There are a variety of options and rewards structures when it comes to earning cash back, so get into the details to find the one that best fits your lifestyle. Keep in mind that you may need good or even excellent credit to qualify.

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

  • Annual fee: $95
  • APR: 0% for 12 months, 14.49% – 25.49% (variable)
  • Credit needed: Good/Excellent

The top-earning card specifically for groceries, this card offers an unparalleled 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 in purchases per year (1% thereafter). For the average spending family, you may end up hitting that limit, but it shouldn’t be until the end of the year. Although it does come with an annual $95 fee, just hitting the $6,000 threshold will save you $360 — making the card well worth the price for frequent shoppers.

On top of the grocery savings, this card earns 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming services, 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations, 3% cash back on transit (e.g., taxis/rideshares, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more) and 1% cash back on all other purchases.

The Blue Cash Preferred® Card also features a generous $250 statement credit that you can earn after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of card ownership. American Express is consistently a top rated card providers for customer service; and when combining that with the quality rewards, you have an all-around excellent credit card.

If you’re not ready to commit to the Blue Cash Preferred’s annual fee you might be interested in its sibling, the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, which has no annual fee in exchange for lower cash back. Check out our guide to the differences between the Blue Cash Preferred and Blue Cash Everyday cards from American Express.

Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card

  • Annual fee: $0
  • APR: 0% for 15 billing cycles, 15.74% – 25.74% (variable)
  • Credit needed: Good/Excellent

Thanks to its one-of-a-kind rewards structure, this card provides ways for you to earn when shopping for groceries and in a customizable category of your choice. Also, for those partial to bulk discounts and sample-grabbing at certain wholesale clubs, this may be the card for you.

Cardholders earn 2% cash back when shopping at wholesale clubs and grocery stores as well as 3% cash back in your choice of category (up to $2,500 in combined category purchases quarterly) and 1% back elsewhere. For the customizable category, you have the choice of (1) gas, (2) online shopping, (3) dining, (4) travel, (5) drug stores as well as (6) home improvement and furnishings. If you do any of your grocery shopping on Amazon.com, you have another way to save on food expenses thanks to the online shopping option. You can change your choice category each month, which gives you the opportunity to customize your rewards to your spending habits — especially if you plan on making any big purchases.

New cardholders who sign up online earn a $200 intro bonus after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days. Additionally, you’ll be welcomed with a 15-billing cycle 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers made in the first 60 days (15.74% – 25.74% variable thereafter).

If you’re already a member or become a Bank of America Gold, Platinum or Platinum Honors Preferred Rewards client, you’ll have the chance to earn a little extra. When members redeem their cash back into their checking or savings account, their rewards will be worth 25% to 75% more depending on their account status. This card is a wonderful option for any grocery shopper, but even better for anyone who spends at wholesalers or has a customized category that catches their eye.

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

  • Annual fee: $0
  • APR: 0% for 15 months, 16.74% – 25.49% (variable)
  • Credit needed: Good/Excellent

One of the most well-rounded cards of the bunch, the Chase Freedom Unlimited comes with a $150 welcome bonus after you spend $500 in the first 3 months and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases. The fixed rewards rate makes for straightforward earning and no need to manipulate your purchases to rotating bonus categories, plus a great opportunity to pair with another Chase card.

When redeeming through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, the value of your cash back could be worth up to 1.5x more. Also, you’ll be welcomed with an introductory 0% APR period on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months (and a variable 16.74% – 25.49% after that). If you’re looking for a versatile card with consistent rewards, this is a great choice for everyday spending.

 

Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

  • Annual fee: $0 intro for first year, $95 thereafter
  • APR: 16.24% – 25.24% (variable)
  • Credit needed: Good/Excellent

Capital One certainly had foodies in mind with this card. You’ll earn 4% cash back when dining out at restaurants and on entertainment, as well as 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases. While there are other options that give you a better rate for your weekly food shopping, this card also earns cash back any time you’re headed to dinner or entertainment, including sporting events, amusement parks, zoos, record stores and bowling alleys. Shoppers who spend $400 a month at grocery stores and $250 a month on eating out and going to events could clear $200 in cash back before the end of the year, without even factoring in all other spending.

If you choose to go this route, you’ll be welcomed with a year of no annual fee and the opportunity to earn a $300 cash bonus if you spend $3,000 within the first 3 months. This card also features no foreign transaction fees, allowing travelers to spend comfortably on things like concerts, tourism, events and local cuisine when abroad. With its specialized structure, this card is a great choice to pair with another card with complementary rewards. For grocery shoppers who love to treat themselves to a nice lunch or fancy dinner, this may be the best choice for you.

 

Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

  • Annual fee: $0
  • APR: 0% for 15 months, 15.74% – 25.74% (variable)
  • Credit needed: Good/Excellent

A more affordable option also designed with restaurant-goers in mind, this card not only earns 2% cash back at grocery stores, but also 3% cash back on dining out, with no quarterly or annual spending limits. Cardholders will also get 1% cash back on all other purchases.

For new member benefits, there’s an introductory bonus of $150 that you can earn after spending $500 on purchases within the first 3 months, as well as 15 months where you can carry an interest-free balance (15.74% – 25.74% variable APR thereafter). With unlimited flat-rate earning in select categories, the Capital One® SavorOne® is another great candidate for fine diners and foodies everywhere.

Top cards to pair with

While the cards above are rich in rewards and savings, there are less traditional cards that may earn their place in a smart shopper’s wallet.

Discover it® Cash Back

  • Annual fee: $0
  • APR: 0% for 14 months, 13.49% – 24.49% (variable)
  • Credit needed: Good/Excellent

With a rotating cash back card, each quarter of the year will feature a different selection of categories where you’ll earn a higher rate. This card, for example, offers 5% cash back in rotating categories per quarter — an opportunity to max out your savings with some well thought-out spending. You can earn heightened rewards in a variety of categories over the course of the year, such as dining, gas, Amazon.com, department stores, entertainment, wholesale clubs and yes, grocery stores, up to the quarterly maximum (activation required). You’ll also earn 1% on purchases outside of the bonus categories, although you can always maximize your cash back by pairing with a card with complementary rewards categories.

Discover certainly welcomes their new cardholders, offering a 14-month window of 0% APR on both purchases and balance transfers (13.49% – 24.49% variable APR thereafter). This period is a great time to use your card to make a big purchase in one of the featured bonus categories. On top of it all, Discover will match the cash back you earn in your first year. These extraordinary cash back rates make the Discover it® Cash Back a great fit for any savvy spender’s wallet.

Chase Freedom®

  • Annual fee: $0
  • APR: 0% for 15 months, 16.74% – 25.49% (variable)
  • Credit needed: Good/Excellent

Another way to capitalize on rotating categories, the Chase Freedom® gives access to 5% in bonus categories each quarter up to $1,500 each quarter when you activate. Chase offers expedited earning in the traditional rewards categories, but also in some more unique areas like PayPal, Lyft/Uber, and charges made through mobile wallets like Apple Pay, Samsung Pay or Google Pay. Your spending outside of the designated bonus categories will also earn you 1% cash back.

The value of your earnings will be boosted up to 15% more when shopping through the Chase portal and you can earn a $150 bonus when spending $500 in your first 3 months. Buying a big item in your first quarter bonus category can cover that welcome opportunity, plus you won’t have to worry about carrying interest over for 15 months thanks to an introductory 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers (16.74% – 25.49% variable APR thereafter).

How to redeem rewards

Earning your cash back rewards starts with the right credit cards and strategized spending, but redeeming the right way can also earn you a little extra.

For starters, be wary of ever redeeming for merchandise. You’ll likely get more value out of a statement credit, check or bank deposit, so go with whatever works best for you in redeeming for cash. You may not immediately recognize the benefit of cash rewards, however, the added value of your cash back will become clear when reviewing your statements.

Take advantage of any offered bonus rewards when redeeming, such as value increases when going through your card provider’s rewards portal. These can be a great opportunity to capitalize on the full benefit of your card and make your spending worthwhile. Also, pay attention to whether your rewards expire. You may need to set reminders for yourself, but letting earnings go unutilized is a big no-no.

If you’re debating whether to close a credit card or not, know that your rewards will likely be lost. Make sure to get the most out of your earnings by redeeming beforehand or exploring alternatives to canceling your credit card.

The bottom line

No matter the size of your grocery budget, anyone can benefit from earning with a well-rounded cash back card. However, those who fill their shopping carts on a regular basis can really benefit from a great grocery-saving card; and for spenders willing to put in some added effort, pairing a traditional cash back card with a rotating category card could lead to substantial annual cash back savings.

Only you will know how much you can benefit from one of these cards, so evaluate your spending and determine the best fit for you. Your supermarket trips aren’t going away any time soon, but finding a card that softens your spending could change your monthly budget and feel as necessary as carrying all your bags in just one trip.