Families across the U.S. could be missing out on getting cash back on dollars they are already spending every week. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that the average family of four with kids ages 6 to 11 spends between $642.10 and $1,281.60 per month at the grocery store. There’s a huge disparity between those figures, but the numbers reflect the difference between thrifty and generous food plans as well as unique family tastes. This amount also doesn’t include funds spent dining out, which means total food spending is significantly higher. But, what if families could save some money on their grocery spending and other bills — and without even using coupons? With the right rewards credit cards, many families could earn up to 6% cash back for their grocery spending as well as ample rewards on other regular bills.

According to our analysis, the best rewards cards for grocery spending in 2018 include:

Review criteria

Any cash back credit card can help you earn rewards on your grocery spending, but certain cards ramp up earnings in this category at least part of the year. To come up with this list of the best cards for grocery stores, we considered cards that offer bonus points on grocery spending. We also looked for cards with no annual fee, a signup bonus, and other perks that incentivize consumers to sign up. Since you shouldn’t pursue cash-back rewards if you carry a balance, however, we didn’t consider ongoing interest rates.

Factors we took into account when we selected the cards for this list include:

  • Ongoing rewards: We looked at the earning rate you’ll receive for all purchases on your card as well as bonus earnings on grocery spending.
  • Signup bonus: We gave precedence to rewards cards that offer a signup bonus, particularly ones that are easy to earn with a low minimum spending requirement.
  • Annual fee: We gave preference to cards without an annual fee but considered cards with annual fees provided they offered superior earnings on grocery spending.
  • Redemption options: We looked for rewards cards that let you redeem points in more than one way, giving preference to cards that let you redeem for cash back, gift cards, or merchandise.

Editor’s picks: Best credit cards for groceries in 2018

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

While the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express is the only card on our list with an annual fee, it made the cut due to its unprecedented return on grocery spending. This card also extends its bonus earnings to other categories and lets you redeem points easily via statement credits.

  • Best For: Groceries, gas stations, and department stores.
  • Credit Needed: Good/Excellent.
  • Rewards Rate: 6% back on your first $6,000 spent at U.S supermarkets, 3% back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores, and 1% back on other purchases.
  • Annual Fee: $95

Editor’s Take: Since the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express offers a $200 welcome bonus after you spend $1,000 within three months of account opening, this card is a no-brainer for U.S supermarket spending. If you max out the $6,000 grocery earning limit each year, you’ll earn $360 in cash-back rewards in that one category alone.

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

The Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express is basically the no-fee version of the Blue Cash Preferred. This card offers a slightly lower rate of return in its bonus categories, yet you’ll still earn more rewards on food then you would with a standard cash back credit card. The welcome bonus on this card also makes it a spectacular deal.

  • Best For: Groceries, gas stations, and department stores.
  • Credit Needed: Good/Excellent.
  • Rewards Rate: 3% back on your first $6,000 spent at U.S supermarkets, 2% back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores, and 1% back on other purchases.
  • Annual Fee: $0

Editor’s Take: If you’re averse to annual fees, this card is a great alternative to the Blue Cash Preferred. You won’t pay a fee to keep the card, but you’ll still earn 3% cash back on your first $6,000 in U.S. supermarket spending each year. Add in the fact that you can earn a $150 welcome bonus after you use your card for $1,000 in spending within three months of account opening and you can see why this card made our list.

Citi® Double Cash

The Citi Double Cash is a solid option if you don’t want to worry about bonus categories or spending limits. You won’t earn more rewards on your grocery spending, but instead, you’ll earn a flat rate of return on everything you buy. This card made our list due to its higher-than-average cash-back rate as well as the fact there are no limits on the rewards you can earn.

  • Best For: All your regular bills.
  • Credit Needed: Good/Excellent.
  • Rewards Rate: Earn 1% back when you spend and another 1% back when you pay your bill for a total of 2% cash back.
  • Annual Fee: $0

Editor’s Take: Since you earn 2% back on all your spending and there are no limits, this card is a solid option for grocery purchases as well as other bills. Since this is a Citi credit card, you’ll also get access to the Citi Price Rewind program, a benefit that ensures you are paying the best price for your purchases. Terms and conditions apply but the process is simple: you enroll an item you have purchased in the program and if the price drops you are refunded part of the purchase price.

Discover it®

The Discover it is another no-fee rewards card that can be especially lucrative for grocery purchases. This card offers 5% back in categories that rotate every quarter, and they tend to include grocery spending during one quarter of the year. You also get the standard 1% back on all purchases. Plus, Discover has promised to double all the rewards you earn the first 12 months.

  • Best For: Spending in 5% rotating bonus categories.
  • Credit Needed: Good/Excellent.
  • Rewards Rate: Earn 5% back on your first $1,500 spent in categories that rotate each quarter plus 1% back on other purchases; Discover will also double all rewards earned after the first year.
  • Annual Fee: $0

Editor’s Take: Since Discover is doubling all the rewards you earn the first year with this card, you’ll wind up with 2% back on all purchases and 10% back in bonus categories up to the limits, including grocery purchases. That’s hard to beat considering this card doesn’t charge an annual fee. We also like the fact that you can redeem points for cash back, gift cards, and even merchandise. The only disappointment here is that there’s no signup bonus.

Chase Freedom®

The Chase Freedom is consistently called out as one of the top cash-back cards on the market due to its bonus earning categories and flexible rewards program. You’ll also earn a $150 signup bonus after you spend $500 on your card within three months of account opening – and all with no annual fee.

  • Best For: Spending in 5% rotating bonus categories.
  • Credit Needed: Good/Excellent.
  • Rewards Rate: Earn 5% back on your first $1,500 spent in categories that rotate each quarter plus 1% back on other purchases.
  • Annual Fee: $0

Editor’s Take: Like the Discover it, the Chase Freedom offers 5% back on your first $1,500 spent in bonus categories each quarter. Since grocery spending is usually one of those categories, this card is a smart option for food spending as well as other “bonused” purchases throughout the year. The Chase Freedom also lets you redeem your points for multiple rewards options, such as cash back, gift cards, purchases made through Amazon.com, and even travel. The fact there’s no annual fee and a signup bonus is just icing on the cake.

How to maximize your rewards haul

Before you sign up for a rewards card that helps you maximize your grocery spending, it’s smart to have a plan in place. A handful of strategies can help you earn more rewards over time. Consider these tips:

  • Decide whether you want to deal with bonus categories.  While some rewards cards offer special bonus earnings on grocery spending part of the year, you must remember you’ll earn a flat 1% back on those purchases thereafter. If your grocery spending is high enough year-round, you may be better off with a flat-rate rewards card that offers a higher rate of return all year long.
  • Make sure you earn your signup bonus, if applicable. If your card offers a signup bonus, make sure you meet the minimum spending requirement within the allotted timeline. Doing so will net you a rush of rewards right at the start.
  • Use your rewards card for other bills. While it’s smart to earn up to 6% back on grocery spending, don’t forget how other bills can help you earn more rewards over time. Even 1% back on regular purchases can add up quickly when you use your card regularly.
  • Pay your bill in full every month. Don’t forget that you’ll only benefit from cash back and other rewards if you never pay interest on your purchases. Pay your credit card bill early or on time every month to avoid debt and interest charges.

The bottom line

You’re going to spend money on groceries anyway, so why not earn cash back for every dollar you spend? The right rewards or cash back card can help you earn up to 6% on food purchases as well as 1% to 2% for purchases you make in other categories. Provided you pay your credit card in full every month, you’ll wind up ahead.

Author: Holly Johnson | Last Updated: August 22, 2018

Author Spotlight: Holly Johnson is a credit card expert and award-winning writer who is obsessed with personal finance and getting the most out of life. A lifelong resident of Indiana, she enjoys gardening, reading, and traveling the world with her husband and two children. Holly owns Club Thrifty and is the co-author of Zero Down Your Debt: Reclaim Your Income and Build a Life You’ll Love. You can follow her on TwitterInstagram, or Pinterest @ClubThrifty.