A Plastic Solution to a Hefty Grocery Bill


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I recently gave you my take on how to save money on groceries – big money. Numero uno was to shop at Aldi. I still highly recommend that. But what about those of you that don’t live near an Aldi or maybe just don’t like it (which would end our friendship)? How can you trim your food budget?

If you are inclined to use credit cards and groceries are one of the biggest line items in your budget (around $100 a week) there is a piece of plastic that is perfect for you. Check out the American Express Blue Cash Preferred Card. With this card you earn 6% cash back on every dime spent at the grocery store up to $6k a year – which would buy me a lifetime supply of ramen noodles. If your kids are eating you out of house and home, this can at least slow the bleeding. Think of it as a bunch of platelets coming to rescue your dollar bills.

If you aren’t a heavy spender on groceries this card isn’t for you. It carries a $75 annual fee so you’ll want to make sure that you spend enough to make it worth it. This involves math. If you aren’t good at math check out this breakdown and maybe think about attending a night class at your local community college. Amex is sweetening the pot on this card right now with a free $150 if you spend $1,000 within the first 3 months of membership. Yay. Free money.

Another perk of the card is 3% back on all of your gas station purchases which rivals the best gas rewards credit cards. You’ll also earn 1% on everything else so you won’t forego the cash rewards when purchasing that new smartphone.

There are also some great other benefits including a one year extension of the manufacturer’s warranty when your purchase is made with the card, purchase protection, car rental protection, and travel accident insurance. That makes this card even more valuable if you dabble in travel.

Don’t make this decision spur of the moment. Check it out and see if it would be good for your family. If this card isn’t up your alley because grocery stores just aren’t your thing I have one more recommendation – The Fidelity Rewards Card. This card gives you straight up 2% cash back towards the Fidelity account of your choice with an annual fee that can’t be beat, zero. It doesn’t get much better than that. Maybe it can help you jump start that whole retirement savings thing you’ve been putting off.

What’s in your wallet? What’s your favorite rewards credit card?

17 Comment responses

  1. Avatar
    March 29, 2013

    I use Amex 6% for grocery. As well gas (3%), so long as Chase/Citi/Discover don’t have a quarterly promo going on for gas. Fidelity 2% for everything else. It seems like the best you can do is Amex 6% for grocery (and gift cards at grocery stores), Chase/Citi/Discover 5% quarterly promos when they come around, Fido 2% everything else. It was really cool before Amex capped the rewards..for big spenders at grocery stores (and gift cards at grocery stores), you could really bank. My family and I earned over $2500 last year from the Amex 6%. Tax free too. Amex announced it would cap it, so I bought a ton of Publix gift cards before the cap. With interest rates so low, the opportunity cost was next to nothing.

    Reply

    • Avatar
      April 30, 2013

      Does AMEX charge monthly interest on your expenditures even when you pay off the monthly charges in full? We use a no annual fee Discover card, pay it off every month to avoid interest payments and always receive cash back – especially during the promotion periods.

      Reply

  2. Avatar
    March 29, 2013

    Mike,

    Sounds like you didn’t even need my post man! You have it down to a science.

    Reply

    • Avatar
      March 30, 2013

      You guys started me young! I’m 25 now, started listening to Clark in high school.

      Reply

      • Avatar
        March 30, 2013

        Well keep it up. And if you have any tips for me send em’ on over.

        Reply

  3. Avatar
    March 30, 2013

    Can you use this at any grocery store to get the 6%? Super Walmart?

    Reply

    • Avatar
      March 30, 2013

      In looking at the site it seems the answer is no :( It wouldn’t be worth shopping elsewhere to get the 6%

      Reply

      • Avatar
        March 30, 2013

        Hey Maureen,

        Unfortunately you are right. The answer is no. You would only be eligible for the savings at freestanding grocery stores. But if you currently do your shopping at Wal Mart you should give Aldi a try. You’ll be surprised at how much lower their prices are than even Wal Mart’s.

        Reply

        • Avatar
          March 30, 2013

          Thank you! :)

          Reply

        • Avatar
          April 30, 2013

          Our Aldi’s does not take credit cards – Cash, check or debit card only.

          Reply

          • Avatar
            April 30, 2013

            Neither does mine Bob. This credit card is perfect for folks that don’t have an Aldi close by or who for some reason prefer to shop elsewhere.

  4. Avatar
    March 30, 2013

    You can only use debit cards at our Aldi’s. How does that factor into this?

    Reply

    • Avatar
      March 30, 2013

      Hey Lou,

      The premise of the post was to help folks that can’t or don’t shop at Aldi save money. If you are an Aldi man like me though keep doing that. You still get your maximum savings there. If only Aldi took credit cards and we could stack that 6% on top of the already incredible prices. That would be amazing.

      Reply

  5. Avatar
    April 30, 2013

    Hey Bob, Amex won’t charge you any interest if you pay your card off in full every month. Basically, there will be two differences between the Amex and your Discover. 1 – you’ll have to pay an annual fee. 2 – You’ll probably get more cash back with it. So you just have to analyze your spending and see if the higher percentages of return would outweigh the annual fee for you. For most high dollar grocery spenders it easily does.

    Reply

  6. Avatar

    Doing the math, it looks like when you include the $75 annual fee, my family would save $512/year on grocery and gasoline purchases alone. I think that makes it worth the price! The cash-back savings from the regular fee-free Blue card would only be $302, which still isn’t bad at all.

    Here’s a good question, though. I typically spend $100/wk in gas by purchasing a fuel card at Speedway gas stations in order to collect bonus Speedy Rewards points (which I use quite frequently to turn into free snacks, drinks and more fuel cards). Would I get the 3% bonus for using the Amex card in a gas station, or does that ONLY apply when it’s used directly for fuel purchases?

    Reply

    • Avatar
      May 02, 2013

      Good news Kevin. It applies all of your purchases at a stand alone gas station, including food etc. So you’ll get that 3% on your Speedway purchases. By the way, Speedway is a fantastic gas station. So grab that card and get your reward points!

      Reply

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