Some links to products and travel providers on this website will earn Traveling For Miles a commission that helps contribute to the running of the site. Traveling For Miles has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Traveling For Miles and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone and have not been reviewed, endorsed, or approved by any of these entities. For more details please see the disclosures found at the bottom of every page.
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 targeted bonuses on some of its co-branded cards, as well as a grocery bonus for the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card, this is a good time to take another look at which cards currently offer the best return on grocery spending.
The Best Cards For Grocery Spending (Not Targeted)
Right now, these are the best cards to use when you’re doing your grocery shopping assuming that you haven’t been targeted for any special offers.:
- The Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express
- The American Express Gold Card Gold
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
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.
The Blue Cash Preferred Card is currently offering new applicants $250 back in statement credits after they spend $1,000 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, so 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 currently has a 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.
Chase Sapphire Reserve Card
The Chase Sapphire Reserve Card is Chase’s premium travel card that offers cardholders some truly fantastic benefits and great earning rates but which also comes with a significant annual fee.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve Card making an appearance in this post because, through 30 April 2021, holders of the card will automatically earn 3 points/dollar on up $1,000 of grocery store purchases per month.
As I value Chase Ultimate 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 card offering a solid 4.5% rate of return.
On top of this, the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card earns 3 points/dollar on travel spending and dining, 10 points/dollar on all spending with Lyft, and, among a host of other benefits, it offers cardholders a $300 travel credit which Chase has now said can be used to offset gas station and grocery store spending through 30 June 2021.
Chase has started off the year by targeting some holders of select co-branded credit cards for spending offers that include spending at groceries. Some of these cards still aren’t worth considering when you’re doing your grocery shopping (even with the bonuses) but a few of them are worth a closer look.
One of Chase’s current targeted offers gives cardholders 5 points per dollar on up to $1,500 in combined spending at grocery stores, gas stations, & drugstores between 1 January and 31 March 2021, and of the cards that have been targeted, the following offer the best returns:
- All targeted Southwest co-branded cards – I value Southwest Rapid Rewards points at 1.30 cents each so the 5 points/dollar on offer at grocery stores represents an effective rebate of 6.5% (check which Southwest Card is best for you).
- All targeted United Airlines co-branded cards – I value United miles at 1.30 cents each so the 5 points/dollar on offer at grocery stores represents an effective rebate of 6.5%.
- All targeted Avios-earning co-branded cards (BA, Iberia, Aer Lingus) – I value Avios at 1.00 cents each so the 5 points/dollar on offer at grocery stores represents an effective rebate of 5.0%.
Note: While the targeted offers highlighted above all give an excellent rate of return, the fact that the earnings are only valid on a maximum of only $1,500 of spending across the first quarter of 2021 makes them less attractive than the targeted offer mentioned earlier.
The Amex Limitation
Before you decide which card you should be using when grocery shopping (or which card to apply for), it’s important to consider a limitation that the American Express cards have – unlike the cards issued by Chase, 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 (whichever your card earns).
- 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 currently considerably less important than the first, but it’s one that’s worth keeping in mind as travel begins to open up.
For most people this doesn’t diminish the value of the American Express cards at all, but it’s something to bear in mind when you come to pay at the checkout.
All of the cards discussed above are currently great 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 as each has its own merits, and a card that’s best for one person may not be best for the circumstances of someone else – 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?