Kroger Credit Card Review – Is This Card Worth Getting?

Kroger Storefront

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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, it’s likely you 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 1-2-3 REWARDS® World Mastercard® at a Glance

Kroger REWARDS® World Mastercard®
Image credit: krogermastercard.com
Kroger 1-2-3 REWARDS® World Mastercard®
Main Benefits 🛒 3 points per $1 on Kroger Family of Companies brand products
 👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 2 points per $1 spend in Kroger Family of Companies (excluding fuel centers)
 💳 1 point per $1 spent anywhere Mastercard is accepted
 ⛽️ 25¢ off per gallon for 1 year at Kroger Family of Companies fuel centers
 🍏 Every 1,000 points = $5 in FREE groceries
——-
💰 Sign-Up Bonus: $100 cash back after $200 spend within 40 days
Annual Fee$0
APR14.24% – 26.24% (variable) based on creditworthiness
Late FeeUp to $38

The Kroger 1-2-3 REWARDS® World Mastercard® (also referred to as the Kroger REWARDS® World Mastercard® or simply the Kroger Mastercard®) is a co-branded card issued by U.S. Bank National Association.

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.

Co-Branded Benefits

🛒 3 points per $1 spent on Kroger Family of Companies brand products

This means you’ll earn 3 points per eligible net dollar on all the Kroger (or Family of Companies) brand products you buy within their stores.

At the time of writing this piece, according to Kroger, “Kroger Family of Companies Own Brand Products” may include:

  • Kroger
  • Heritage Farm
  • p$$t check this out
  • Luvsome
  • Bakery Fresh Goodness
  • Fresh Foods Market
  • Fresh Selections by Kroger
  • Home Sense
  • Comforts for Baby
  • Simple Truth Organic
  • Simple Truth
  • Abound
  • Private Selection
  • HemisFares
  • Big K
  • Pet Pride

Of course, Kroger states that they reserve 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 Family of Companies (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 their fuel centers.

Kroger Family of Companies
Image credit: thekrogerco.com.

At the time of writing the Kroger Family of Companies includes:

  • Kroger
  • Kroger Marketplace
  • Fred Meyer
  • Ralphs
  • King Soopers
  • Dillons
  • Smith’s Food and Drug
  • Smith’s Marketplace
  • Fry’s Food and Drug Store
  • Fry’s Marketplace
  • QFC (Quality Food Centers)
  • City Market
  • Baker’s
  • Owens Market
  • Jay C Food Stores
  • Gerbes
  • Pay-Less Super Markets
  • Food 4 Less (CA, NV, IN, and IL stores only.)
  • Foods Co
  • Fred Meyer Jewelers
  • Littman Jewelers
  • Barclay Jewelers

Of course, Kroger admits this is subject to change at any time. However, they do keep an updated list here: Kroger Credit Family of Companies.

💳 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.

Basic Calculations

Considering the above three categories, Kroger makes a tool to gauge how much you could earn in rewards per quarter:

Kroger REWARDS® World Mastercard® How Rewards Add Up
Image Credit: krogermastercard.com.

Here’s another example they give for a basic per month* calculation of earnings:

Earning Rewards with the Kroger REWARDS® World Mastercard®
Image credit: krogermastercard.com.

*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 they report earnings for one 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 Family of Companies Fuel Centers

For an entire year after card approval, Kroger Mastercard holders can earn an additional 25¢ off each gallon of fuel the purchase at a participating Kroger Family of Companies 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.

In order to receive this benefit, cardholders must scan, redeem points, and pay with their 1-2-3 REWARDS® World Mastercard®.

Remember, these purchases do NOT earn Rewards Points even though they’re purchases made at Kroger or Family 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

💰 Sign-Up Bonus: $100 cash back with $200 spend within 40 days

Once an applicant has been approved for the Kroger Mastercard, they have the ability to earn $100 cash back if they spend $200 in net purchases within 40 days of the account’s opening date. (Current sign-up offer in May 2019)

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.

Additionally, the cardholder’s account must be open and in good standing at the time of disbursement.

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 here as well as in the Guide to Benefits received upon card approval.

Reward Program Terms — In Depth

Earning Points

Upon approval for this card, members are automatically enrolled in the rewards program associated with the card — Kroger 1-2-3 REWARDS®. The cardholder’s account must be open and in good standing in order to earn (and redeem) rewards points.

With the Kroger 1-2-3 REWARDS® World 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 Family of Companies brand products
  • 2 points per dollar (net purchases) inside Kroger Family of Companies (excluding Kroger Fuel Centers)
  • 1 point per dollar (net purchases) outside Kroger Family of Companies

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 for the purpose of disbursing rewards points.

There are a number of purchases that 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.

Kroger states:

“Rewards Certificates will be automatically issued periodically, but no less frequently than four (4) times each calendar year, generally when you have accumulated a minimum of 1,000 Rewards Points (worth $5). Rewards Points earned that total less than 1,000 Rewards Points will remain on your Account for up to thirty-six (36) months until the 1,000 Rewards Points minimum for Rewards Certificate issuance has been met.”

However, 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.”

We find the lack of concrete definition and conflicting statements a bit confusing. Anyone else?

Managing Your Rewards

The status of your rewards (your points accumulation) is listed on your monthly account statement. Please see the appropriate section below for more information on online login and account management.

At this time, there’s no mobile app to use for managing your rewards.

Using Your Rewards

Using your 1-2-3 REWARDS® certificates is easy as you can redeem them at any of the Kroger Family of Companies. 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 Credit Card

Additional Fees

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.

Kroger 1-2-3 REWARDS® World Mastercard®
Annual Fee$0
Purchase APR14.24% – 26.24% (variable) based on creditworthiness
Balance Transfer APR14.24% – 26.24% (variable) based on creditworthiness
Balance Transfer Fee4% amount of each transfer or $10 minimum, whichever is greater
Cash Advance APR27.49% variable
Convenience Check Cash Advance Fee4% amount of each transfer or $10 minimum, whichever is greater
Cash Advance ATM Fee4% amount of each transfer or $10 minimum, whichever is greater
Cash Advance Fee4% amount of each transfer or $10 minimum, whichever is greater
Cash Equivalent Advance4% amount of each transfer or $20 minimum, whichever is greater
Overdraft Protection Fee$0
Foreign Transaction Fee$0
Late Payment PenaltyUp to $38
Returned Payment PenaltyUp to $35
Overlimit Penalty$0

Let’s talk about APR first — if you’ve got a good credit score it’s likely you’ll land an APR on the lower end of the 14.24% to 26.24% range. However, if you have a less than desirable credit score, you’re looking at the high end of that range.

A 26.24% APR is pretty massive, and you’ll see the cash advance APR is even higher at 27.49%, 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.

Additional Drawbacks

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 1/2 a cent. If you’re earning 1 point to the dollar, you’re earning 1/2 a cent on each $1 you spend.

If you’re earning 2 points to the dollar, that’s $0.01 on each $1 you spend and if you’re earning 3 points to the dollar, that’s $0.015 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 with them and nowhere else.

While some shoppers will have no problem utilizing their $5 rewards certificate within the Kroger Family of Companies (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)

If you’re spending money consistently at supermarkets (we figure you are), 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 US supermarkets, on 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 (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X).

Applying for a Kroger Card

Apply for Kroger REWARDS® World Mastercard®
Image credit: krogermastercard.com.

Prospective cardholders can apply for the Kroger credit card 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, it’s our assumption 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

Upon approval for the Kroger Mastercard, if you don’t already have a Kroger Family of Companies “Shopper’s card number,” one 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

In order 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 a number of tasks within the online portal:

  • Make payments
  • View balances and transaction histories
  • Go paperless
  • View rewards points
  • Request a credit limit increase
  • And more …

Final Thoughts

If you’re a loyal Kroger shopper and also shop with their Family of Companies, then the Kroger 1-2-3 REWARDS® World Mastercard® may be a good fit for your wallet, especially since you’ll reap some pretty nice rewards on 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 Family, 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.


Featured Image Credit: supermarketnews.com. 

FAQ

Does Kroger have credit cards?

Yes, Kroger has a credit card — The Kroger 1-2-3 REWARDS® World Mastercard® which we’ve reviewed in the above article.

Kroger also has a Kroger REWARDS Debit Card and a Kroger REWARDS Prepaid Visa® which are different than the above-reviewed card.

Can you use the Kroger credit card anywhere?

You can use the Kroger 1-2-3 REWARDS® World Mastercard® anywhere Mastercard is accepted.

That being said, you can only redeem rewards certificates earned through this card at Kroger and it’s Family of Companies.

Which bank issues the Kroger credit card?

The Kroger 1-2-3 REWARDS® World Mastercard® is issued by U.S. Bank National Association.

Is the Kroger credit card worth it?

It depends. If you shop at Kroger or their Family of Companies regularly and spend a decent amount of money with them, then the Kroger 1-2-3 REWARDS® World Mastercard® could possibly be worth a spot in your wallet.

However, the point earnings ratio is pretty poor, especially considering there are other credit cards out there which reward shoppers more handsomely for spending on groceries. Similarly, there are other card options that earn you rewards in tons of everyday spend categories (not just groceries) and those that offer true cash-back and/or more flexible reward options. (See our alternative cards section above)

It’s certainly worth doing your research before applying for the Kroger Mastercard.

Erin Miller

About Erin Miller

Erin currently maintains her status as Alex's adventure-seeking partner-in-crime and contributes to Upgraded Points through content creation & relationship management.
She caught the travel bug just after high school when her grandmother took her on a two-week, whirlwind trip around Europe. That was that - she's been gallivanting around the globe ever since (22 countries & counting)!

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