4 min read

how to find the best credit card for groceries

Written By

Clay Shiffman

Grocery shopping is a recurring expense that can add up quickly, making it an ideal area to optimize for savings. Every dollar saved counts, and one of the most effective ways to reduce your monthly expenses is by choosing the right credit card for your grocery shopping. Finding the best credit card for grocery purchases can help you earn rewards, cash back, and other benefits that can make a noticeable difference in your budget.

With so many credit cards on the market offering different perks and incentives, it's essential to know what to look for to make the most of your grocery spending. In this guide, we help you navigate the options and identify the features that can lead you to the perfect credit card for your grocery needs.

Best credit card for groceries

  • KOHO Premium Prepaid Visa

    • Interest Rate: N/A (Prepaid)

    • Rewards: 2% cash back on groceries, restaurants, and transportation, 0.5% on everything else.

    • Benefits: No foreign transaction fees, no interest charges, and budgeting tools.

  • American Express Cobalt™ Card

    • Interest Rate: 20.99%

    • Rewards: 5 points per $1 spent on groceries and dining, 2 points per $1 on travel and transit, 1 point per $1 on everything else.

    • Benefits: Comprehensive travel insurance, flexible points redemption, monthly fee structure.

  • BMO® CashBack® World Elite® Mastercard®

    • Interest Rate: 20.99%

    • Rewards: 5% cash back on groceries, 4% on transit, 3% on gas, 2% on recurring bills, 1% on everything else.

    • Benefits: Comprehensive insurance coverage, free roadside assistance, and travel and medical protection.

  • Scotiabank Momentum® Visa Infinite Card*

    • Interest Rate: 20.99%

    • Rewards: 4% cash back on groceries and recurring payments, 2% on gas and transit, 1% on all other purchases.

    • Benefits: Travel insurance, concierge service, purchase protection, and extended warranty.

  • CIBC Dividend® Visa Infinite Card*

    • Interest Rate: 20.99%

    • Rewards: 4% cash back on groceries and gas, 2% on transportation, dining, and recurring payments, 1% on everything else.

    • Benefits: Roadside assistance, travel insurance, extended warranty, and purchase protection.

  • MBNA Smart Cash Platinum Plus® Mastercard®

    • Interest Rate: 19.99%

    • Rewards: 2% cash back on groceries and gas, 0.5% on everything else.

    • Benefits: No annual fee, extended warranty, purchase protection, and price protection.

  • PC Financial® World Elite Mastercard®

    • Interest Rate: 19.97%

    • Rewards: 30 PC Optimum points per $1 at Shoppers Drug Mart, 45 PC Optimum points per $1 at Loblaws stores, and 10 PC Optimum points per $1 everywhere else.

    • Benefits: No annual fee, comprehensive travel insurance, price protection, and extended warranty.

  • Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

    • Interest Rate: 19.95%

    • Rewards: 2% cash back on up to three categories of your choice (including groceries), 0.5% on everything else.

    • Benefits: No annual fee, customizable rewards categories, no limits on cash back earned.

  • Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card

    • Interest Rate: 20.99%

    • Rewards: 5 points per $1 spent on groceries and dining, 3 points on gas, transit, and select streaming services, and 1 point on all other purchases.

    • Benefits: No foreign transaction fees, extensive travel insurance, concierge service, and purchase protection.

  • SimplyCash™ Preferred Card from American Express

    • Interest Rate: 19.99%

    • Rewards: 4% cash back on gas and groceries, 2% on all other purchases.

    • Benefits: Comprehensive insurance coverage, access to American Express Invites, extended warranty, and purchase protection.

  • RBC Cash Back Mastercard

    • Interest Rate: 19.99%

    • Rewards: 2% cash back on groceries, 1% on all other purchases.

    • Benefits: No annual fee, purchase security, extended warranty.

  • Neo Financial Mastercard®

    • Interest Rate: 19.99%

    • Rewards: Up to 5% cash back at Neo partners, 1% on everything else.

    • Benefits: No annual fee, flexible credit limits, mobile app for tracking rewards.

  • BMO® CashBack® Mastercard®

    • Interest Rate: 19.99%

    • Rewards: 3% cash back on groceries, 1% on recurring bill payments, 0.5% on all other purchases.

    • Benefits: No annual fee, extended warranty, and purchase protection.

  • TD® Cash Back Visa Infinite Card*

    • Interest Rate: 20.99%

    • Rewards: 3% cash back on groceries, gas, and recurring bill payments, 1% on all other purchases.

    • Benefits: Travel insurance, purchase security, extended warranty, concierge service.

  • PC Financial® Mastercard®

    • Interest Rate: 19.97%

    • Rewards: 10 PC Optimum points per $1 spent on all purchases.

    • Benefits: No annual fee, exclusive PC Optimum offers.

  • Scotiabank Value® Visa

    • Interest Rate: 12.99%

    • Rewards: 1% cash back on all purchases.

    • Benefits: Low interest rate, no annual fee for the first year, extended warranty, purchase protection.

  • BMO® Preferred Rate Mastercard®

    • Interest Rate: 12.99%

    • Rewards: 0.5% cash back on all purchases.

    • Benefits: Low interest rate, extended warranty, purchase protection.

  • Walmart Rewards™ World Mastercard®

    • Interest Rate: 19.89%

    • Rewards: 3% cash back in Walmart Rewards on Walmart.ca, 1.25% at Walmart stores, 1% on all other purchases.

Benefits: No annual fee, extended warranty, and purchase protection.

What is a grocery credit card?

A grocery credit card is a type of credit card specifically designed to provide rewards and benefits for purchases made at grocery stores. These cards typically offer higher cash back rates, points, or miles for grocery purchases than other types of spending.

For example, a grocery credit card might offer 3% to 6% cash back on groceries, whereas it may only offer 1% on other purchases. The aim is to reward consumers for their regular and necessary spending on food and household essentials, helping them save money or earn rewards more quickly.

In addition to higher rewards for grocery spending, many grocery credit cards come with additional features and perks. These can include introductory bonuses, such as a significant amount of cash back or points if you spend a certain amount within the first few months of opening the card.

Some may also offer additional benefits like no annual fees, low interest rates, or discounts on grocery delivery services. By using a grocery credit card wisely, consumers can maximize their savings and get more value from their everyday purchases.

Pros of grocery credit cards

By weighing the pros and cons of grocery credit cards, you can determine if they align with your spending habits and financial goals, ensuring you get the most benefit from your credit card choice.

Let's explore the pros of a grocery credit card.

Higher rewards on grocery purchases

Grocery credit cards are designed to maximize rewards at eligible grocery stores. For example, some cards offer up to 6% cash back at major supermarkets, which can translate into substantial savings for families that spend a significant portion of their budget on groceries. Over a year, these rewards can add up to hundreds of dollars in savings.

Introductory bonuses

Many grocery credit cards offer lucrative sign-up bonuses. These bonus points often require a certain amount of eligible spending within the first few months of opening the account. For example, a card might offer $150 cash back if you spend $500 in the first three months. This immediate reward can significantly enhance the value of the card early on.

Build credit

Using a credit card for grocery shopping is a great way to help boost your credit. Since most cardholders buy groceries frequently, using the credit card and repaying the balance on time each billing cycle improves your payment history. Your payment history is one of the most influential factors in your credit score.

Fraud protection

Grocery credit cards, like other credit cards, come with robust fraud protection measures. If your card is lost or stolen, your liability for unauthorized charges is typically limited. You have peace of mind when using your card for everyday purchases.

Convenience and security

Using a credit card for grocery purchases is often more convenient and secure than cash or debit cards. Credit cards offer easy tracking of expenses, and many provide contactless payment options, enhancing both convenience and security.

Budget management

Using a grocery credit card can help you manage your budget more effectively. The card statements provide a clear record of grocery spending, making it easier to track and categorize expenses. It can be particularly useful for families looking to manage household budgets or individuals trying to control their food spending.

No annual fees

Some grocery credit cards have no annual fee, making it easier to justify having the card even if your grocery spending varies. This feature enhances the card’s overall value, as you can earn rewards without worrying about an annual fee cutting into your savings.

Balance transfer offers

Some grocery credit cards come with promotional balance transfer offers. These can include low or 0% interest rates on balance transfers for a set period. It can help you pay down debt more efficiently while still earning rewards on grocery purchases.

Additional perks

Beyond the basic rewards structure, grocery credit cards often have extra benefits. These can include discounts on grocery delivery services, extended warranty insurance on purchases, price protection, and return protection. Some cards offer free or discounted access to credit scores and financial planning tools.

Disadvantages of grocery store credit cards

While we explored the benefits of credit cards for grocery purchases, let's also dive into some of their cons.

Limited rewards categories

While grocery credit cards excel in offering high rewards for grocery spending, they often provide lower reward rates for other spending categories. For instance, purchases outside grocery stores might only earn 1% cash back. If you have diverse spending habits, you might miss out on higher rewards in other areas.

Exclusions and restrictions

Rewards structures can be complex, with some cards excluding certain stores or types of purchases from the higher rewards rate. For example, purchases at big-box retailers like Walmart or wholesale clubs like Costco might not qualify for grocery rewards, limiting where you can earn the maximum cash back or points.

Annual fees for premium credit cards

Some premium grocery credit cards come with annual fees from $50 to over $100. While the rewards might offset the fee, ensure your grocery spending justifies this cost. If you don’t spend enough to cover the fee, the card might not be worth it.

Reward limits

Many grocery credit cards limit the amount of spending eligible for higher rewards. For example, a card might offer 6% cash back on the first $6,000 spent annually on groceries, after which the rewards rate drops to 1%. If you spend more than this cap, your overall rewards rate will decrease.

Complex redemption options

Some grocery credit cards have complex reward redemption options. You might earn points that are only redeemable for certain purchases or through specific platforms. On the other hand, a standard rewards card may let you redeem your points or cash back as a statement credit. It can make it harder to use your rewards effectively.

Types of grocery store credit cards

When it comes to grocery store credit cards, there are several types, each offering unique benefits tailored to different spending habits and preferences. It's crucial to balance the fees with the potential rewards and benefits. For example, a card with a high annual fee might be worth it if the rewards and perks outweigh the cost. On the other hand, a no-fee card might offer lower rewards but still provide significant savings without the upfront cost.

To make the best decision, calculate your expected annual grocery spending and compare the rewards earned with any fees. It can help you determine which card offers the best net benefit based on your spending habits.

Here are the common fees to be aware of:

Cash back credit cards

Cash back credit cards offer general and tiered cash back rewards. Earning cash back at grocery stores is a great way to save money on purchases. General cash back cards offer a higher cash back rate on grocery purchases. They typically also provide lower cash back rates for eligible purchases in other spending categories. Tiered cash back cards offer different cash back rates for different categories, with groceries often being one of the top-tier ones.

Rewards point credit cards

General rewards cards accumulate points for every dollar spent, with higher points awarded for grocery purchases. You can redeem points for travel, gift cards, merchandise, or cash back. Some grocery stores offer store-specific rewards cards. These credit cards have enhanced rewards for shopping at their stores.

Grocery store-branded credit cards

A grocery store-branded credit card is co-branded with a specific grocery chain and offers the best rewards and benefits when shopping at that chain. They often have perks like fuel discounts, personalized coupons, and special financing options.

Rotating category credit cards

These cards offer higher reward rates on categories that change quarterly, which often include groceries at least once a year. Cardholders must activate the bonus categories each quarter.

Premium credit cards

While not exclusively focused on groceries, premium cards offer substantial points on groceries alongside travel and dining benefits. These cards often come with higher annual fees but provide comprehensive rewards and perks, such as travel credits, lounge access, and more. Premium credit cards may also provide more bonus rewards for many eligible card purchases, helping you earn cash back or points faster.

Grocery store credit cards with introductory offers

Some cards provide high initial rewards rates or sign-up bonuses that can be particularly lucrative for grocery spending. For example, a card might offer an introductory offer of 10% cash back on groceries for the first six months or a substantial welcome bonus after spending a certain amount within the first few months.

Fees for grocery credit cards

When considering grocery credit cards, it's important to understand the various fees that can be associated with them. These fees can affect the overall value you get from the card. Here are the common fees to be aware of.

Annual fees

Many credit card companies offer grocery cards with no annual fees. A no-fee card gives cardholders a cost-effective option to earn rewards without a recurring cost. However, some credit card issuers charge an annual fee for holding the credit card. Premium credit cards may have more expensive annual fees.

Cards with annual fees often come with higher reward rates or additional perks. It's important to weigh the costs and benefits of the annual and determine whether the additional features make the annual fee worth it. You either pay the annual fee at once or a small portion of it during your monthly billing period throughout the year.

Foreign transaction fees

Many grocery credit cards charge a fee for transactions made in foreign currencies, typically around 3%. This fee can be a consideration if you travel frequently and plan to use your card abroad.

Balance transfer fees

If you transfer a balance from another credit card, you might incur a balance transfer fee, typically a percentage of the amount transferred. While this fee is not directly related to grocery spending, it’s important if you plan to consolidate debt using your grocery credit card.

Cash advance fees

Taking out a cash advance on your credit card typically incurs a fee, which can be a percentage of the amount advanced or a flat fee, whichever is higher. Additionally, cash advances often come with higher interest rates compared to regular purchases.

Late payment fees

If you miss a payment, you’ll likely be charged a late fee. The amount you pay depends on the card issuer and the frequency of missed payments. Late payments can also result in a penalty APR, increasing your interest rate significantly.

Returned payment fees

If a payment is returned due to insufficient funds or other issues, you may be charged a returned payment fee.

Over-limit fees

Some credit cards charge a fee if you exceed your credit limit. However, this fee is less common today, as many card issuers automatically decline transactions that would push you over your limit.

Rewards redemption fees

While not common, some credit cards might charge a fee for redeeming rewards, particularly for specific types of redemptions like travel bookings through the card issuer’s portal.

Do most grocery stores accept credit cards?

Yes, most grocery stores accept credit cards as a form of payment. You can use your credit card at major grocery chains like Walmart and No Frills, as well as smaller and independent grocery stores. Credit card acceptance is widespread due to the convenience and security they offer both consumers and retailers.

Some smaller stores may have minimum purchase requirements for credit card transactions because of processing fees. They may pass on the credit card processing fee to customers, though it is less common for larger chains. It's always a good idea to check with a store's specific payment policies.

Can you get rewards for making grocery purchases with a credit card?

Yes, many credit cards offer rewards for making grocery purchases. These rewards can come in various forms, including cash back, points, or miles. Grocery spending is a common bonus category for credit cards because it's a regular and essential expense for most consumers. Common rewards include cash back, rewards points, miles, and bonus points on your grocery bill. Some cards let you earn bonus points and rewards for other purchases, such as eligible streaming services and gas purchases.

Maximizing your rewards starts with finding the best credit card for groceries based on your grocery spending habits. Review your grocery purchases and decide whether you benefit from a generic rewards credit card, a grocery store-branded card, a rewards points card, a rotating category credit card, or a premium credit card. Keep track of bonus rewards and sign-up bonuses to track up extra points in a specified period.

How to buy groceries online with a credit card

Buying groceries online with a credit card is a convenient and straightforward process. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to do it.

Choose an online grocery store

Start by selecting an online grocery store or delivery service that operates in your area. Popular options include Amazon Fresh, Instacart, Walmart Grocery, and local grocery chains that offer online ordering. Ensure your credit card is accepted by the grocery store. Some smaller or independent grocers may have a minimum purchasing requirement or charge a processing fee.

Add products to your cart

Once you've chosen a grocery store, browse their selection of products and add items to your virtual shopping cart. Most online grocery stores organize products by category, making it easy to find what you need.

Review your cart

Before proceeding to checkout, review your cart to ensure you've added all the items you need and that quantities are accurate. You can make adjustments to your order at this stage, such as removing items or changing quantities.

Checkout

If you're a new customer, you may need to create an account with the online grocery store. This typically involves providing your email address, creating a password, and entering your delivery address. If you're a returning customer, sign in to your existing account.

Select the delivery or pickup option

Choose whether you want your groceries delivered to your doorstep or if you prefer to pick them up at a designated location. Some online grocery stores offer both options, while others may only offer one.

Pay

When you're ready to check out, proceed to the payment section. You'll need to enter your credit card information, including the card number, expiration date, security code, and billing address.

Place your order

Take a final look at your order summary, including the total cost and delivery/pickup details. Ensure that all information is correct before proceeding. Once you're satisfied, confirm your order to complete the purchase.

What credit score do you need for a grocery store credit card?

The average credit score for Canadians is 680, which represents a good credit score and qualifies you for several credit cards. Credit card companies have varying credit score requirements to qualify for their products, so it's best to check the eligibility criteria before applying for any. Premium cards with either rewards and additional benefits typically have stricter credit score requirements than standard or store-specific cards.

Building a good credit profile can help you negotiate lower credit card interest and better loan terms for your credit card and other credit products. You may qualify for premium credit cards with higher credit limits and enhanced benefits to help you get more value out of each dollar you spend. You also have improved financial opportunities, making it easier for you to follow a budget, like the 50/30/20 budgeting rule, and reach your goals faster.

Can you get a credit card with no credit score?

It's possible to get a credit card with no credit score, particularly if you're new to credit or have limited credit history. For example, there are credit cards for newcomers in Canada with no Canadian credit score or a limited credit history. Here are several options for obtaining a credit card without an established credit score.

Secured credit cards

Secured credit cards are designed for individuals with limited or no credit history. With a secured card, you provide a security deposit, which typically becomes your credit limit. This deposit serves as collateral and reduces the risk for the credit card issuer, making it easier to get approved.

Student credit cards

Student credit cards are specifically designed for college students with limited credit history or no credit score at all. These cards often have lower credit limits and fewer rewards compared to other credit cards but can be easier to qualify for.

Credit builder loans

Some financial institutions offer credit builder loans, also known as secured installment loans. With these loans, you borrow a small amount of money, typically deposited into a savings account, and make regular payments over time. Once the loan is paid off, you receive the funds, and your positive payment history is reported to the credit bureaus, helping to establish credit.

Authorized user

If you have a family member or friend with a good credit history, you may be able to become an authorized user on their credit card account. As an authorized user, you can build credit by using the card responsibly, and the primary cardholder's positive payment history will be reported on your credit report.

Can you get a credit card with bad credit?

Your options may be more limited than someone with good or excellent credit. There are credit cards for people with bad credit, such as secured credit cards, that help you build your credit over time. Get a free credit report to understand what's causing your score to be less-than-ideal and work towards improving it. Consistent payments and low credit utilization are two simple ways to slowly improve your score.

Apply for a KOHO credit card and start earning rewards for groceries today

The KOHO virtual credit card empowers you to shop conveniently for your groceries, offering three distinct plans starting from just $4 monthly. Earn cash back for every dollar you spend at grocery stores, and bonus rewards if you choose a higher subscription plan.

Our mission is to assist you in managing your spending and savings goals while fostering strong financial management skills. Whether you're interested in earning interest on a high-interest savings account or responsibly utilizing credit, we're here to support you every step of the way.

From budgeting tools to overdraft protection coverage and expert guidance to build your credit with KOHO, we have you covered. We also have KOHO for businesses with enterprise financial solutions to support your business growth.

Note: KOHO product information and/or features may have been updated since this blog post was published. Please refer to our KOHO Plans page for our most up to date account information!