Last year, over half of Americans with New Year’s resolutions planned to improve their finances and eat healthier. Tackling both of those at once can seem daunting, but luckily, a rewards credit card can be the right tool to kick-start 2021.
The USDA estimates the average U.S. family of four on a moderate budget spends up to about $1,107 per month on groceries. Just 2 percent cash back would give you nearly $266 back per year with the right grocery credit card. Depending on your biggest everyday expenses, the best credit card for groceries might also help you rack even more cash back or miles on other parts of your budget, like gas or dining.
Take a look at this year’s top cards for groceries and grocery delivery and learn how you can use them to maximize your rewards.
Best grocery credit cards
- Best for cash back: Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
- Best for rotating categories: Chase Freedom Flex℠
- Best for wholesale clubs: Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card
- Best for superstores: Discover it® Cash Back
- Best for travel rewards: American Express® Gold Card
Best for cash back: Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
With 6 percent cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year, then 1 percent), the Blue Cash Preferred card offers the best cash back for groceries available on a rewards card. It’s also one of the few cards to offer 6 percent back on select U.S. streaming services, and the 3 percent cash back on transit and U.S. gas station purchases, making it a front-runner for commuting shoppers.
Even with a $95 annual fee, the Blue Cash Preferred is a leading choice at its price tag.
Best for rotating categories: Chase Freedom Flex℠
The Chase Freedom Flex edges out other rotating category cards like the Discover it® Cash Back because of its extra ongoing reward categories. You can earn unlimited 5 percent back on Chase Ultimate Rewards travel and Lyft purchases (Lyft offer through March 2022), with another 3 percent on dining and drugstore purchases to boot.
Although the main drawback is that Chase Freedom Flex rotating categories are only announced one quarter in advance, pairing it with other Chase Ultimate Rewards cards (like the Chase Sapphire Reserve®) could make it a valuable addition.
The Reserve card is also excellent for grocery rewards, since the Pay Yourself Back feature allows you to cover grocery store purchases through Apr. 30, 2021, at a boosted 1.5-cent value per point redeemed. Plus, grocery store purchases can be covered by the Reserve’s annual $300 travel credit until Jun. 30, 2021.
Best for wholesale clubs: Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card
If you value versatility but want a higher reward rate than a flat-rate credit card, the Bank of America Cash Rewards card is your safest bet. It earns 2 percent cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, which can increase by up to 75 percent in value if you’re a Bank of America Preferred Rewards member.
The card is also a great choice for those whose budgets are more flexible, as it comes with 3 percent back in a category of your choice (from six options) that you can change once per month. That way, you can pair your grocery earnings with cash back on purchases such as travel, home improvement or dining based on what matches your spending. Just keep in mind that your 2 percent and 3 percent rewards categories share a $2,500 in combined purchases per quarter spending limit (then 1 percent back).
Best for superstores: Discover it® Cash Back
Besides the usual October to December Walmart.com, Target.com and Amazon.com rewards, Discover rotating categories consistently provide grocery and superstore coverage throughout the year. The Discover it Cash Back card typically offers 5 percent cash back (activation required, on up to $1,500 in quarterly purchases, then 1 percent) on PayPal purchases in the third quarter, which extends to online superstore grocery orders. It’s also common to receive the same high cash back rate on grocery and wholesale club purchases each calendar year.
Best for travel rewards: American Express® Gold Card
Amex Membership Rewards are treasured as some of the most valuable credit card points on the market due to their sheer travel redemption power. The American Express Gold card’s 4X points on up to $25,000 in U.S. supermarket purchases per year and monthly statement credits toward delivery services like Boxed could give you a massive head start toward your next getaway—if you can justify the $250 annual fee.
Other great cards for grocery shopping
- Best for online grocery shopping: Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card
- Best for Walmart delivery and pick-up: Capital One® Walmart Rewards™ Card
As a rule of thumb, grocery stores that count toward your bonus category will generally earn rewards for delivery too. So will grocery-specific delivery services like Instacart and Shipt, but you might need a retail credit card to earn substantial rewards with other popular retailers that deliver groceries.
The Amazon Prime Rewards Visa card, for instance, is a must-have for frequent Amazon Prime and Amazon Pantry users. You’ll earn unlimited 5 percent back on Amazon purchases—including grocery deliveries—and another 20 percent back on rotating Amazon categories and products.
If you prefer in-store pick-up, you’ll also get 5 percent back at Whole Foods, along with 2 percent rewards on other essential categories restaurant (counting deliveries), gas station and drugstore purchases.
The Walmart Rewards Mastercard could also be a useful addition to your wallet if you like to one-stop-shop or if Walmart is the main grocer in your area. You can earn 2 percent cash back on in-store Walmart purchases (intro 5 percent for the first 12 months with your card and Walmart Pay), but the unlimited 5 percent cash back on Walmart.com pick-up and delivery purchases are the main appeals.
Comparing the best grocery cards
|Card name||Best for…||Rewards rate||Annual fee||Welcome offers|
|Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express||Cash back||
|Chase Freedom Flex℠||Rotating categories||
|Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card||Wholesale clubs||
|American Express® Gold Card||Travel rewards||
|Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card||Online grocery shopping||
||$0 (Amazon Prime subscription required)||
|Capital One® Walmart Rewards™ Card||Walmart delivery and pick-up||
How to maximize your cash back on groceries
The first step is to read your card terms carefully to understand which purchases are eligible for rewards. Once you know the ins and outs of its features, here are a few starter tips for making the most of your grocery rewards card.
- Consolidate your spending and shop outside the box. Take the time to learn your favorite retailers’ merchant category codes, and try to do as much of your shopping at these locations that fit inside your bonus categories. You can then find a few creative cash back opportunities.
- Use grocery delivery services at stores that don’t earn rewards. Services like Instacart will sometimes count as grocery merchants on your card, so use them to buy from superstores and wholesale clubs that wouldn’t normally collect cash back. This trick offers another layer of savings, since you don’t even need a wholesale club membership to get big-box discounts.
- Keep an eye out for limited-time promotions. Some credit cards may cycle in special deals that can earn you more cash back. For instance, Chase Freedom Flex offers three months of complimentary DoorDash DashPass with a lower subscription fee period afterward.
How to pick the best credit card for groceries
Finding the best grocery credit card for you comes down to three key considerations:
- Can you take advantage of the reward categories, redemption options and benefits?
- Are you getting enough value to offset the rates and fees?
- Which card complements your shopping habits the most?
Footing the bill for a premier card like the Amex Gold is pouring cash back down the drain if you can’t take full advantage of its features. Make sure to plug each card’s fees and potential reward earnings into your budget so you can compare the returns you’d get with every option you’re considering. Then, you can develop a game plan for how to maximize your rewards.
All information about the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card and Capital One® Walmart Rewards™ Card has been collected independently by Bankrate and has not been reviewed or approved by the issuer.