As the largest supermarket chain in the U.S. (by revenue), Kroger is a brand a lot of people quickly recognize. Plus, if you live in a region where Kroger is the grocery store of choice, you likely spend a good chunk of your paycheck there.
If that’s the case, at some point you’ve probably been offered the opportunity to sign up for the Kroger credit card and wondered if it could really save you money. In this review, we aim to answer that question.
Below, we’re outlining the card benefits, the rewards program details, and the card’s fees and drawbacks, as well as some recommendations on alternative card options that could save you even more.
The Kroger REWARDS World Mastercard® at a Glance
|Main Benefits||🛒 3 points per $1 on Kroger Co. Family of Stores brand products|
👨👩👧👦 2 points per $1 spend in Kroger Co. Family of Stores (excluding fuel centers)
💳 1 point per $1 spent anywhere Mastercard is accepted
⛽️ 55¢ off per gallon for 1 year at Kroger Co. Family of Stores fuel centers
🍏 Every 1,000 points = $5 in FREE groceries
💰 Potential sign-up bonus such as $100 cash-back after $200 spend within 40 days
|APR||12.99% to 24.99% (variable) based on creditworthiness|
|Late Fee||Up to $39|
The Kroger Mastercard is a co-branded card issued by U.S. Bank National Association.
Bottom Line: Since it’s a Mastercard, you can use it anywhere Mastercard is accepted and in doing so, you’ll earn rewards even at a base level.
There’s no annual fee for this card, but it’s important to note the wide variance in APR — the better your credit, the better your assigned APR percentage and vice versa.
Kroger Mastercard Benefits — In-Depth
So far, we’ve talked about the basic benefits you get with a Kroger Mastercard. Below, we’ll go through each benefit in detail.
🛒 3 points per $1 spent on Kroger Co. Family of Stores brand products
This means you’ll earn 3 points per eligible net dollar on all the Kroger (or Kroger Co. Family of Stores) brand products you buy within its stores.
At the time of writing this piece, Kroger Co. Family of Stores brand products may include:
- Bakery Fresh Goodness
- Bloom Haus
- Everyday Living
- HD Designs
- Heritage Farm
- Home Chef
- Murray’s Cheese
- Pet Pride
- Private Selection
- Simple Truth
Of course, Kroger states that it reserves the right to exclude certain products from the rewards points calculations. This could include but isn’t limited to fuel, beer, wine, cigarettes, tobacco, pharmacy, office services, and other items that may be prohibited by law.
👨👩👧👦 2 points per $1 spent in Kroger Co. Family of Stores (excluding fuel centers)
Kroger refers to this as earning “Inside Our Stores.” This means you’ll earn 2 points per eligible net dollar spent at any Kroger Family Company, excluding its fuel centers.
At the time of writing the Kroger Co. Family of Stores includes:
Of course, Kroger admits this is subject to change at any time but does maintain an updated list.
💳 1 point per $1 spent anywhere Mastercard is accepted
Kroger refers to this as earning “Outside Our Stores” and this perk is pretty basic. You’ll earn 1 point per eligible net dollar on any purchase that isn’t included above, anywhere Mastercard is accepted.
Considering the above 3 categories, Kroger has a tool to gauge how much you could earn in rewards per quarter:
Here’s another example for a basic per month* calculation of earnings:
*We do find it a bit confusing that Kroger states in the fine print above the table that this is earnings during a typical 13-week Rewards cycle, which would imply a quarter, but it reports earnings for 1 month. You can find more on how often rewards are disbursed below in the “How Rewards Are Issued” subsection.
⛽️ 25¢ off per gallon for 1 year at participating Kroger Co. Family of Stores Fuel Centers
For an entire year after card approval, Kroger Mastercard holders can earn an additional 25¢ off each gallon of fuel they purchase at a participating Kroger Co. Family of Stores fuel center when they earn at least 100 fuel points in a single month.
After the year is up, cardholders will continue to receive 5¢ off per gallon of fuel when they redeem fuel points.
To receive this benefit, cardholders must scan, redeem points, and pay with their Kroger Mastercard.
Hot Tip: You can also earn 50% more fuel points on grocery purchases if you link your Kroger Pay account, so don’t forget to do this!
Remember, these purchases do NOT earn Rewards Points even though they’re purchases made at Kroger or Kroger Co. Family of Stores-branded fuel centers.
Hot Tip: If fuel rewards are important to you, don’t miss our piece on the best credit cards for gas purchases.
💰 Occasional Sign-Up Bonus
From time to time, there is a bonus offered when a new account is opened. An example of a previous sign-up bonus includes $100 cash-back with $200 spent within 40 days.
This $100 is applied in the form of a statement credit within the cardholder’s account and can take up to 6 to 8 weeks from the date earned to be disbursed.
Standard Mastercard Benefits
In addition to the specific Kroger benefits, simply having the Mastercard distinction allows for some additional perks with this card.
✈️ Travel assistance services
🚗 MasterRental car rental collision damage waiver insurance
🌎 Mastercard Global Service
🚫 Zero fraud liability
👍 Satisfaction guarantee
🛍 Purchase assurance
🔐 Identity theft resolution services
📆 Warranty manager service
You can find more detailed information on these benefits online as well as in the Guide to Benefits received upon card approval.
Reward Program Terms — In-Depth
Upon approval for this card, members are automatically enrolled in the rewards program associated with the card. The cardholder’s account must be open and in good standing to earn (and redeem) rewards points.
With the Kroger Mastercard, rewards are earned on every purchase as long as the Kroger Mastercard is the payment method at the time of purchase (rewards cannot be applied retroactively).
As you’ll remember from above, points can be earned in tiers of 1, 2, or 3 points to the dollar depending on the spending category.
- 3 points per dollar (net purchases) on Kroger Co. Family of Stores brand products
- 2 points per dollar (net purchases) inside Kroger Co. Family of Stores (excluding Kroger Fuel Centers)
- 1 point per dollar (net purchases) outside Kroger Co. Family of Stores
Kroger defines “net purchases” as the total of all new purchases charged to the account during the billing cycle minus the credits posted to the account (returned purchases or adjustments) during the same billing cycle.
Hot Tip: There’s no limit to the amount of rewards points a cardholder can earn (other than the credit limit set by your account). However, unused reward certificates do expire 1 year after they’re issued, so make sure you use them!
Kroger reserves the right to round net purchases up or down to the whole dollar amount to disburse rewards points.
Several purchases don’t earn points, including (but not limited to) purchases at Kroger Fuel Centers, money orders, wire transfers, and traveler’s checks. You can find out more about these exclusions in the terms and conditions.
How Rewards Are Issued
The way Kroger issues rewards is fairly atypical compared to other co-branded rewards programs.
The FAQ page states:
“1-2-3 Rewards® certificates are issued four times a year and mailed to customers in February, May, August and November if your Account is open and in good standing. Remaining points, less than 1,000, will roll over into the next cycle.”
Managing Your Rewards
The status of your rewards (your points accumulation) is listed on your monthly account statement. Please see the Login and Online Account Management section below for more information.
In addition, you can use the mobile app to see your point balance over time. The app is available for both Android and iOS users.
Using Your Rewards
Using your 1-2-3 Rewards certificates is easy as you can redeem them at any of the Kroger Co. Family of Stores. Simply present them at the register when you’re making your purchase.
The certificates cannot be redeemed for cash-back and technically, your purchase amount must exceed the amount of rewards certificates you’re paying with, meaning you won’t be given any change.
Remember, your certificates expire a year from the issue date.
Fees and Drawbacks of the Kroger Mastercard
We mentioned some basic fees in the “at a glance” table above but we think it’s worth looking into the additional fees of the Kroger Mastercard in a bit more detail here.
|Purchase APR||12.99% to 24.99% (variable) based on creditworthiness|
|Balance Transfer APR||12.99% to 24.99% (variable) based on creditworthiness|
|Balance Transfer Fee||4% amount of each transfer or $10 minimum, whichever is greater|
|Cash Advance APR||26.25% variable|
|Convenience Check Cash Advance Fee||4% amount of each transfer or $10 minimum, whichever is greater|
|Cash Advance ATM Fee||4% amount of each transfer or $10 minimum, whichever is greater|
|Cash Advance Fee||4% amount of each transfer or $10 minimum, whichever is greater|
|Cash Equivalent Advance||4% amount of each transfer or $20 minimum, whichever is greater|
|Overdraft Protection Fee||$0|
|Foreign Transaction Fee||$0|
|Late Payment Penalty||Up to $39|
|Returned Payment Penalty||Up to $35|
Let’s talk about APR first — if you’ve got a good credit score you’ll likely land an APR on the lower end of the APR range. However, if you have a less than desirable credit score, you’re looking at the high end of that range.
A 24.99% APR is pretty massive, and you’ll see the cash advance APR is even higher, so if you’re slotted into this level, make sure you act as a responsible cardholder at all times to avoid excess fees and penalties.
Hot Tip: Check out our definitive guide to credit card fees (and how to avoid them) for some great tips on being a more responsible cardholder!
While there’s no overdraft fees or foreign transaction fees, you’ll notice some hefty penalties for grabbing a cash advance on this card, so you’ll want to avoid that at all costs!
The late fee and returned payment fees on this card are average — you’ll find fees similar to this with most other co-branded credit cards.
While the fees mentioned above are certainly drawbacks on their own, there are some other downsides to this card that you may want to consider.
What Are My Points Worth?
Since cardholders earn $5 in rewards for every 1,000 points they earn, this essentially means each point is worth 0.5 cents. If you’re earning 1 point to the dollar, you’re earning 0.5 cents on each $1 you spend.
If you’re earning 2 points to the dollar, that’s 1 cent on each $1 you spend and if you’re earning 3 points to the dollar, that’s 1.5 cents on each $1 you spend.
All this to say, your earnings ratio isn’t really all that great.
Moderately Inflexible Rewards
Common for many co-branded credit cards, Kroger’s issuance of the 1-2-3 Rewards certificates ensures you’ll come back to spend your money within the Kroger Co. Family of Stores and nowhere else.
While some shoppers will have no problem utilizing their $5 rewards certificate (since there are so many options), others may wish to receive their rewards in true cash-back or in the form of a statement credit. If that’s the case, this card may not be right for you.
Other Reasons This Card Is Not for You
Other notable drawbacks are seen clearly when we start mentioning other reasons this card may not be right for you.
Alternative Rewards Cards (Our Recommendations)
The Kroger REWARDS Debit Card has the ability to have funds withdrawn directly out of your checking or savings account (using a PIN). It can be used at the entire Kroger Co. Family of Stores and even offers a 2% discount on Kroger store brands. This debit card comes with no annual fee and earns 50% more fuel points on grocery purchases if you link your Kroger Pay account.
If you want the flexibility of a credit card without any overdraft fees or credit check, you should consider the reloadable Kroger REWARDS Prepaid Visa® — simply load this prepaid Visa or Mastercard with funds and use it at the checkout line. You can even earn a signup bonus such as a $10 credit when you sign up for direct deposit.
If you’re spending money consistently at supermarkets (we figure you are) and are looking for alternative credit cards, then we’d highly recommend using cards that have big bonuses for money spent at supermarkets.
For example, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express earns 6% cash-back at U.S. supermarkets, up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%). Cash-back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.
Alternatively, the American Express® Gold Card earns you 4x Membership Rewards points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1x).
Applying for a Kroger Mastercard
Prospective cardholders can apply for the Kroger Mastercard online or by phone at 888-219-1822 ext. 30981.
Credit Score Needed
The minimum credit score needed for approval on this card isn’t officially listed by Kroger, Mastercard, or U.S. Bank.
As the terms and conditions give a range of APRs based on credit score, we assume that a range of credit scores would be approved. However, multiple credit card review sites state prospective applicants will need a “good” credit score to be approved.
Kroger’s FAQs state that most online applications will be approved or denied immediately, but in some cases, it may take longer to review. If you’re approved for the card, you should receive it in the mail within 7 to 10 business days.
Upon approval for the Kroger Mastercard, if you don’t already have a Kroger Co. Family of Stores “Shopper’s card number,” 1 will be automatically assigned to you.
Upon receipt of your card, you’ll need to call the phone number listed on the card to activate it.
Login and Online Account Management
To utilize online account management for your Kroger Mastercard, you have to enroll in U.S. Bank’s online banking program.
Kroger provides detailed instructions on how to do so, whether you do or don’t have a checking or savings account with U.S. Bank.
Once enrolled, cardholders can perform several tasks within the online portal, including:
- Make payments
- View balances and transaction histories
- Go paperless
- View rewards points
- Request a credit limit increase
Cardholders can also manage their account on the Kroger REWARDS Credit Card App (Android, iOS).
If you’re a loyal Kroger shopper and also shop with its Kroger Co. Family of Stores, then the Kroger Mastercard may be a good fit for your wallet, especially since you’ll reap some pretty nice rewards at Kroger fuel stations in the first year as well as a fairly decent welcome bonus.
However, you’ll want to remember that the earnings ratio is pretty poor, you’ll only be able to use your rewards certificates within the Kroger Co. Family of Stores, and the extra fees and penalties can really add up if you carry a balance on the card.
That being said, there are plenty of great alternative cards that will reward you for spending on groceries, as well as alternative cards that can earn you a lot more in other everyday spending categories, too.
While we have nothing against Kroger, we think it’s definitely worth doing your research and considering all available options before choosing the right card for you.
The information regarding the Kroger Mastercard was independently collected by Upgraded Points and was not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, click here.