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How to Maximize Rewards on Grocery Spending

Oct. 18, 2019
Travel, Travel Credit Cards
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Groceries are a big spending category for most of us. Thanks to credit card category bonuses, shopping portal deals and mobile apps, it’s also a category we can earn something back in the form of points, miles, or cash. Whether you’re looking to earn points or cash back, here are a few ways you can maximize your return on grocery spending.

Credit cards

The first step to maximizing your grocery spending is to choose a credit card that offers bonus points or cash back in this category. The “best” card really depends on your goals: Are you saving up for a luxury vacation? Are you looking for flexible rewards? Maximum cash back? Below are some of the best cards to help you get the most out of your grocery spending.

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card earns 6 points per $1 at U.S. supermarkets (terms apply). While NerdWallet only values Hilton points at 0.4 cent each, your points can go a long way if you redeem them right. For example, I recently got over 1.5 cents worth of value out of a point redemption at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives. So putting your grocery spending on this card could get you the equivalent of a 9% return on your spending, but you should be able to get at least 2.4% return.

» Learn more: Hilton AmEx Surpass review: Decent value, lounge perks

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

If you prefer cash back on grocery spending instead of the uncertainty of point redemption value, look no further than the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express. The card earns 6% cash back on the first $6,000 spent at U.S. supermarkets every year (terms apply). The card does have a $95 annual fee, so factor that in when you’re calculating earnings based on your grocery spending habits.

» Learn more: American Express Blue Cash Preferred review: Perhaps the ultimate family card

Chase Freedom®

The Chase Freedom® offers 5% cash back on rotating categories every quarter. Grocery stores usually appear in one quarter — this year it was April through June. Be sure to check the Chase Freedom Calendar for a list of category bonuses.

While cardholders earn 5% cash back, keep in mind that it is limited to the first $1,500 spent per quarter. If you can’t quite max this out during such a brief period, consider buying grocery store gift cards to use throughout the year. I would only recommend doing this if you are able to pay off your credit card at the end of the month.

» Learn more: Chase Freedom review: $150 bonus and 5% cash back

American Express® Gold Card

The American Express® Gold Card earns 4 points per $1 on the first $25,000 spent at U.S. supermarkets every year (terms apply). The card is ideal for those who don’t want to be locked down into a single rewards currency. Membership Rewards points can be transferred to 19 different airline and hotel partners, providing plenty of opportunities to maximize the rewards earned from your grocery spending. Terms apply.

» Learn more: American Express Gold Card review: Dining rewards royalty

Discover it® Cash Back Card

Similar to the American Express® Gold Card, the Discover it® Cash Back earns 5% cash back on the first $1,500 in rotating categories every quarter. All other purchases earn 1% cash back. You must opt in to the program to participate. Grocery stores appeared on the calendar between January and March this year.

But what makes the Discover it® Cash Back card so great is that all cash back is matched during the first year. So you will end up with a total of 10% cash back on the rotating categories at the end of the first year.

The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express

The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express earns 3 points per $1 at U.S. supermarkets on the first $6,000 every calendar year. Every billing cycle when you charge 30 or more transactions on this card, you’ll get 50% bonus points, meaning you could earn 4.5 points per $1 on the first $6,000 of your grocery spending every year. Terms apply.

What we like about The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express is that it gets you access to AmEx Offers. These are statement credit offers that get updated quite a bit. They include statement credits for select hotel spending, discounts on cell phone bills, and more. Terms apply.

Shopping portals

Both airline and hotel reward programs offer substantial earnings when you use their shopping portals. This includes grocery stores like Safeway, which appears on both the United and American Airlines shopping portals. AAdvantage offers the biggest payout at 1 mile per $1 spent on the first order only.

It’s absolutely worth it to do a quick search on a shopping portal aggregator like Cashback Monitor to find out if your grocery store is eligible for extra rewards on online orders.

Third-party apps

Lots of mobile apps offer cash back or points when you link your card and shop at a participating grocery store. Some of them, like iBotta, feature a coupon function that rewards you with cash back on select items.

Other examples include Dosh, which partners with Sam’s Club to offer cash back rewards. Simply link your credit card to your Dosh account and you’ll get bonus cash back. At the moment, Dosh is offering 5% cash back at Sam’s Club.

When you combine this deal with your rewards credit card, the points (or cash back) can really stack up — even if your preferred credit card doesn’t code Sam’s Club as a grocery store.

All information about the The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express has been collected independently by NerdWallet. The The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express is no longer available through NerdWallet.

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2019, including those best for:

Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice:
Find the best travel credit card for you
Use ‘virtual malls’ to rack up airline mile on your next hotel
Earn more points and miles with these 6 strategies

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