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Updated to include Chase Freedom & the Hilton Honors Credit Card from American Express
Under normal conditions, American Express is the overwhelmingly dominant issuer of credit cards that offer a good return on grocery spending (it issues 5 of 6 best cards to use) but these are far from normal conditions. In recent days we have seen a whole host of credit cards adding grocery spending to the list of categories in which they offer bonuses and this has muddied the water when it comes to deciding which cards are best to use when paying for your groceries…so I’ve compiled a league table.
Key Things To Know
Multiple Chase and American Express cards now offer bonus points for grocery spending, but there are a number of things you should bear in mind:
- Most Chase-issued cards which are currently offering bonuses for grocery spending are only offering these bonuses though to the end of June.
- Most of the American Express cards that have recently started to offer bonuses on supermarket spending are only offering these bonuses though to the end of July.
- Most cards you’ll find in the table below set a spending limit (monthly, yearly, or through a specified date).
- While all the Chase credit cards that currently offer bonuses for grocery shopping will credit cardholders with bonus points for shopping at most grocery stores and supermarkets worldwide, the American Express cards specifically limit the bonus points to spending made at US supermarkets – it’s possible that spending at some smaller neighborhood grocery stores will not trigger the bonus points and spending outside the US will definitely not trigger any bonus points.
- The table I’ve set out below ranks the cards which currently offer bonuses for grocery spending based on my valuation for the points the credit cards earn. If your valuations differ from mine your own league table may look slightly different.
- A significant number of credit cards in the table below are no longer open to new applicants so I shall be concentrating on the cards that are currently available in my comments.
The Best Credit Cards For Grocery Shopping (Right Now)
*These cards are not open to new applicants
** Cardholders must make 30 transactions of any kind within a billing period to earn 4.5 points/dollar
*** Cardholders must make 20 transactions of any kind within a billing period to earn 2.4 points/dollar
Note: The table above does not take into account annual fees or the other benefits and earning rates that the various cards offer – this is simply a table setting out which cards offer the best return on grocery spending right now.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve Card is one of my favorite credit cards (it never leaves my wallet) so the ability to earn 5 points/dollar at grocery stores through to the end of June (max $1,500/month) on top of the 3 points/dollar it already offers on most travel spending and on dining is a very nice bonus to get and it’s a bonus I’ll almost certainly be maxing out.
The Chase Freedom card comes with no annual fee and, as luck would have it, it has been offering a quarterly bonus on grocery spending since the beginning of April….but you have to be a little careful with this card. If you only hold the Freedom card you’ll just receive 5% cash back on up to $1,500 grocery spending but, if you hold this card in conjunction with one of Chase’s Sapphire cards, this 5% cash back can be converted to 5 Ultimate Rewards points which I value at 7.5 cents (equivalent to a 7.5% rebate).
It’s not surprising to see the Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card sitting very near the top of this table as it’s one of the very best cards you’ll find for spending in US supermarkets but, for the next couple of months, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is the better card to use (assuming you have both). The Amex EveryDay card requires a cardholder to make 30 or more transactions on the card to earn the 4.5 points/dollar that it offers (it’s 3 points/dollar otherwise) and only offers the bonus points at US supermarkets – the Chase card doesn’t come with any such restrictions.
It’s a little surprising to see a card like the United Club Infinite Card so high up the table because I value MileagePlus miles lower than most, but it’s there on merit as it’s currently offering an impressive number of miles/dollar for grocery spending. Personally speaking, I wouldn’t choose to earn airline miles over a transferable currency like Ultimate Rewards or Membership Rewards right now and, if you hold the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card (whose points transfer over to United MileagePlus in a ratio of 1:1) that card offers a better return.
The Blue Cash Preferred Card is the best cash back card you’ll find for shopping at US supermarkets and, as a cash back card, it’s a “safe haven” if you’re currently not interested in collecting miles or points.
The American Express Gold Card is a good all-around card and, at 4 points/dollar for spending at US supermarkets and on dining worldwide, its an especially useful card to have at this point in time.
With 7 credit cards offering a return of 6% or more for spending at grocery stores/US supermarkets, I wouldn’t choose to put any grocery spending on a card offering less than that unless I had already reached the spending cap on my higher-earning cards or unless I was trying to earn a welcome bonus on one of the other cards.
As far as welcome offers go, the World of Hyatt Credit Card and the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card both look interesting right now (click the links to see why) so anyone tempted to apply for either of those cards may want to consider applying sooner than later so they can make the most of the enhanced points offering on grocery spending as they earn their way to the welcome offer.
Until the end of June, the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card is the best card to use when shopping at a grocery store so that’s the card I’ll be using until I hit the $1,500/month spending limit. After that, I’m going to have to use my Ritz-Carlton credit card for all my grocery spending because, as I’m seeing out the pandemic outside of the US and all my American Express cards specifically exclude grocery spending made abroad, my Amex cards are of little use.
One world of advice I’d offer up to anyone trying to decide which cards to use when they’re doing their weekly shopping is this: At this point in time (and unless I was trying to earn a welcome bonus) I would choose to earn a transferable currency (Chase Ultimate Rewards or Amex Membership Rewards) over a currency linked to a specific airline or hotel chain because they offer a lot more flexibility and protection from sudden devaluations. Transferable currencies are the safe harbor currencies in the miles and points world.
Which card(s) are you using when you do your grocery shopping and in which order are you using them?