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Generally speaking, American Express dominates the market when it comes to issuing cards that offer strong earnings rates on supermarket spending, but with Chase offering limited-time deals on its excellent Freedom cards, this is a very good time to take another look at which cards currently offer the best return on grocery spending.
The Amex Limitation
Before I start discussing the various cards that currently offer good returns or grocery spending, it’s important to address a key limitation that the American Express cards have – unlike cards issued by Chase or Citi, American Express cards only offer bonuses for spending at U.S. supermarkets.
There are two key takeaways from that statement:
- American Express has been very careful to state that bonus points are earned for spending made at stores that it categorizes as “supermarkets”. This can mean that some smaller local establishments will not be recognized as a supermarket and spending at such establishments will not earn bonus points or cash back.
- If you find yourself shopping outside of the United States, an Amex card will not earn you a bonus for supermarket spending. This point is considerably less important than the first, but it’s one that’s worth keeping in mind.
The Best Cards For Grocery Spending (Now)
Right now, these are the best cash back cards to use when you’re doing your grocery shopping:
- The Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express
- The American Express Gold Card Gold
- Chase Freedom Flex Card
- Chase Freedom Unlimited Card
The Blue Cash Preferred Card
The Blue Cash Preferred Card offers 6% cash back on up to $6,000 of spending at US supermarkets per year and that’s the highest rate of cash back offered by any card in this category. That alone makes this a fantastic card to use when you’re next at the supermarket.
On top of this stellar rate of cash back at US supermarkets, the Blue Cash Preferred Card also offers 6% cash back on select streaming services, 3% cash back on transit purchases and gas station spending, and 1% cash back on spending in all other categories.
Ordinarily, the Blue Cash Preferred Card comes with a $95 annual fee but at the time of writing, this fee is being waived for the first year for new applicants. In addition, the Blue Cash Preferred Card is currently offering new applicants $300 back in statement credits after they spend $3,000 in the first 3 months of opening a new account and, as long as you never carry a balance and get charged interest, that’s effectively free cash.
Note: The welcome bonus is only available to applicants who have not held this card before.
The American Express Gold Card
The American Express Gold Card is a card that’s well worthy of consideration if you’re looking for a strong return on your spending at US supermarkets because no other Membership Rewards card can match the Gold Card’s earnings.
Cardholders will earn 4 points/dollar on up to $25,000 of spending at US supermarkets per year and as I value Membership Rewards Points at 1.5 cents each (based on the value I know I can get out of them with very little effort), that effectively sees the Amex Gold Card offering a fantastic 6% rate of return.
The Gold Card’s strong earnings don’t end there as it offers 4 points/dollar at restaurants worldwide and 3 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com – no Amex card offers stronger earnings in both categories.
The Amex Gold Card comes with a hefty $250/year annual fee (the highest annual fee out of any card in this article) but to help cardholders offset this fee, the card also offers up to $120/year in dining credits at select restaurants and food delivery services, a $100 airline fee credit (ending on 31 December 2021) and $10/month Uber Credits (coming in 2021).
Just in case all of that isn’t enough to tempt you into making sure that the Gold Card is part of your portfolio, American Express has recently launched a new welcome bonus on this card which offers new applicants 60,000 bonus points (which I value at $900) when they spend $4,000 on their new card in the first 6 months of card membership.
The Freedom Flex Credit Card
The Freedom Flex Credit Card is the newest credit card from Chase and it’s a fantastic no annual fee card that should have a home in most people’s wallets.
The card is making an appearance in this article because, for the first year of card membership, the Freedom Flex Credit Card is offering 5% cash back on up to $12,000 of spending at grocery stores and, by any standards that’s a great rate of return. It’s a truly amazing rate of return for a card that doesn’t charge an annual fee.
As well as the great rate of return on 1st-year grocery spending, the Freedom Flex Credit Card also offers incredibly good returns in other categories too:
There’s 5% cash back on:
- Up to $1,500 of spending in quarterly revolving categories.
- Travel purchased through Chase’s travel portal
- Lyft rides through March 2022
There’s 3% cash back on:
- Dining (includes take-out and delivery)
- Spending at drugstores
The Freedom Flex Credit Card earns 1% cash back in all other spending categories.
When you consider that this card also offers cardholders benefits such as cell phone cover, Lyft credits, and trip cancellation/interruption insurance and that it’s currently offering new applicants $200 in statement credits after they spend $500 on the card in the first 3 months of opening their new account, it’s easy to see why this is such a great all-around card to have.
Click here for a full review of the Freedom Flex Credit Card (and to see how the cash back it earns can be even more valuable than it may first appear).
The Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card
The Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card is a no annual fee card which got a refresh at the same time as the Chase Freedom Flex credit card was unveiled. It’s appearing in this article because like its sister card, it’s also offering cardholders 5% cash back on up to $12,000 of spending at grocery stores in the first 12 months after opening a new account. There’s no other no annual fee card on the market that can beat that rate of return.
Just like the Freedom Flex card, the Freedom Unlimited Card offers impressive cash back in a variety of spending categories…
5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards and on Lyft rides (through March 2022), 3% cash back on dining at restaurants (including takeout and eligible delivery services) and at drugstores.
…but its party piece is that it offers an impressive 1.5% cash back on spending in all other categories. That’s one of the higher base rates of cash back offered by any no annual fee card.
Click here for a full review of the Freedom Unlimited Credit Card (and to see how the cash back it earns can be even more valuable than it may first appear).
Other Cards To Consider
- Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card – Earns up to 4.5 Membership Rewards Points/dollar on up to $6,000 of spending at US supermarkets per year.
- The Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express – No annual fee and earns 3% cash back on up to $6,000 of spending at US supermarkets per year.
- Amazon Prime Rewards Visa – Earns a 5% rebate at Whole Foods and on all Amazon.com purchases.
- Citi Premier Card – Earns 3 points/dollar on groceries worldwide (which I equate with a 4.5% rebate on spending).
The 4 main cards discussed above are currently the best charge/credit cards to hold in your wallet if you’re trying to maximize your returns when shopping for groceries. I have chosen not to suggest which card I consider to be the best of the 4 as each has its own merits and a card that’s best for one person may not be best for the circumstances of the next person – that’s part of the fun of the miles and points world. Still, with no annual fee cards mixed in with cards that charge an annual fee and with cashback cards mixed in with points earning cards, there should be a credit card in here for everyone.
What card do you use when you’re paying for your groceries?