Today, we are going to explore the ways you can multiply your spend at grocery stores. Armed with these two bonus categories, you will be swimming in points like a tiger shark.*
*I do not know much about tiger sharks
Why is it important to maximize Groceries?
Grocery purchases present a massive opportunity to get creative with your purchases to leverage your dollars, and are more regular purchases for most people than dining or travel. For a lot of people, grocery is their number one spending category.
What is categorized as Groceries?
Groceries are any food retailer that primarily sells groceries. Yesterday I mentioned some restaurants sell grocery items but still count as restaurants. This is the opposite.
It is a pretty simple category, but keep in mind most cards do not count warehouse clubs (Costco/Sam's) as grocery stores. However, any purchase inside a grocery store will count as groceries. More on that in a minute!
How can I maximize Groceries?
This is where we can really shine. I had a glaring hole in my credit card strategy as I eat a LOT of lunches and dinners at Whole Foods. Remember, dining is always getting us two points per dollar, but if we don't have a card that would maximize our grocery purchases, we would be giving huge numbers of points if we eat meals there or Central Market, etc...
This can also be an opportunity to grab extra points above dining, and we'll discuss that when we get to what cards are best.
Other ways to maximize your points include beer and wine purchases. We all love beer and wine, right? Buy them at the grocery store instead of liquor store. You should be buying your wine at Trader Joe's if you have one near you, anyway. Seriously. Best and cheapest wine selection around.
What cards are best for Groceries?
American Express Everyday Preferred Card ($95 fee): 3 points per dollar on Groceries
-This is the Italian Mastiff** when it comes to grocery credit cards. Not only do you earn three freaking points per dollar on grocery spend, when you make 30 purchases in your billing cycle you get a 50% bonus on your points. That brings you up to 4.5 points per dollar on grocery. Mayhem. Right now you can get 15,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $1,000 in three months, but they run several special signup deals. I love this card and will never part with it.
**Italian Mastiffs are huge badass dogs that I love and I wish I had one really badly.
Amex Blue Cash Preferred Card ($95 fee): 6% cash back on Groceries
-Normally I will not put cash back cards onto any of my lists, but if you can get 6% cash back on your spend (up to $6,000 per year in purchases) you have the green light from me to go for it. If you spend over $1,583/year on groceries, you will make money on the card and you can go for it.
Chase Freedom Card (No fee!): Up to 5 points (or 5%) on Groceries
-As you may remember, the Chase Freedom card has a rotating group of categories that can earn 5% cash back, or 5 points back if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Reserve card. I only recommend using this card if you have the premium card to convert your cash back to points, and if you only spend on the categories that earn you the 5x bonus.
Chase Freedom Unlimited (No fee!): 1.5 points (or 1.5%) on Groceries
-Pretty self-explanatory, this card (like the Freedom) is only recommended if you have a premium Chase card to convert the cash back to points. 1.5 points per dollar is a great return on just about everything.
Starwood Preferred Guest Amex ($95 fee): 1 point per dollar on Groceries
-The real kicker for this card comes when you are ready to transfer your points. When you transfer 20,000 Starpoints you get a 5,000 point bonus. That means you'll earn 1.25 points per dollar on your spend. I <3 anything over 1 point.
JetBlue Plus Card ($99 fee): 2 points per dollar on Groceries
-This isn't a popular card due to JetBlue's limited route network, but if you travel to or from a hub that they operate out of, this can be a solid card as it earns double points on groceries (restaurants too). You can earn 30,000 TrueBlue points right now after spending $1,000 in 3 months. There is a no-annual fee version that only awards 5,000 points after spending $1,000 in 3 months with the same earning structure.
IHG Rewards Card ($49 fee): 2 points per dollar on Groceries
-I don't really recommend this card much, but it has some value for its low annual fee, annual free night benefit and double point bonus on groceries and restaurants. I didn't recommend it in the Dining installment (like the JetBlue card) as there are too many other great cards that offer bonus spend on dining, whereas groceries don't have quite as many. This card currently offers 60,000 points after spending $1,000 in thee months.
HHonors American Express Card (No fee!): 5 points per dollar on Groceries
-Don't get too excited about the 5 points per dollar as Hilton HHonors points are not that valuable. Still, it is considered a bonus spend for groceries
As you can see, grocery spend isn't as rewarding on the top-level travel rewards cards, but if you open yourself up to having multiple credit cards (only if you can pay off your statements EVERY MONTH) you can really set yourself up to maximize your spending.
Don't let yourself fall victim to not multiplying your spend. Get creative, work hard be aggressive.
Grabbing two points per dollar or more on your spending will get you where you want to go, fast.