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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.