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Credit Cards

Kroger World Elite Mastercard review: Earn up to 5% cash back and discounts every time you go grocery shopping

There's no welcome bonus, but this card offers a strong referral bonus and savings on gas.

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The high price of food means a trip to the grocery store can often feel like getting taken to the cleaners, so it makes sense to pay with a credit card that earns you rewards for this unavoidable expense. The Kroger Rewards World Elite Mastercard® is one of the many grocery chain-specific credit cards designed to give its customers some perks and benefits, but how does it compare to other cards in its class? Below, CNBC Select dives into the card's features to help you figure out if the Kroger Rewards card is right for you.

Kroger Rewards World Elite Mastercard®

Information about the Kroger Rewards World Elite Mastercard® has been collected independently by Select and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.
  • Rewards

    Earn 5% cash back on mobile wallet transactions up to $3,000 per calendar year (then 1%), earn 2% cash back when shopping in stores and paying with the card and earn 1% cash back when shopping outside of the store

  • Welcome bonus

    None

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    N/A

  • Regular APR

    19.24% to 29.99%

  • Balance transfer fee

    4% of each transfer amount, $10 minimum

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Not disclosed

Pros

  • No fee charged on purchases made outside the U.S.
  • No annual fee
  • Referral bonus offered
  • Savings offer on gas

Cons

  • No welcome bonus
  • Rewards points expire after 36 months

Welcome bonus

Unlike many popular travel rewards credit cards and cash-back credit cards, the Kroger Rewards card doesn't offer a welcome bonus for signing up and spending a certain amount of money within a certain timeframe.

However, it does give you an opportunity to earn a referral bonus. Cardholders can receive an extra 2,000 rewards points for each referral who applies, gets approved and makes their first purchase on the Kroger rewards credit card. There is no limit to how many people you can refer so you can keep earning the bonus every time a referral signs up and makes their first purchase. Plus, the person you referred will earn a $50 statement credit after they make their first purchase.

Benefits and perks

The Kroger rewards credit card offers a handful of travel and lifestyle benefits for cardholders. The most enticing of these is its savings offer on gas: Cardholders can save $0.55 per gallon of fuel every time they redeem 100 fuel points at Kroger Fuel Centers for their first year. Fuel points are loyalty points you earn when using your Kroger Rewards credit card to shop at the chain. You can earn 1 fuel point on every dollar spent on most groceries, and 2 fuel points for every $1 spend on most gift cards.

However, fuel points expire on the last day of the month after they are earned. For instance, fuel points earned in April expire on May 31.

Other perks include:

  • Access to Mastercard's complimentary Lifestyle Manager service that can help you plan a vacation.
  • A lowest price guarantee when it comes to booking hotels: If you book a prepaid hotel stay using the card and then find the same stay at a lower rate, the card will refund you the difference.
  • No foreign transaction fees, making the card a solid option for charges when outside the country.
  • Mastercard ID Theft Protection, which monitors the surface, dark web and deep web to notify you about any possible instances of identity theft and compromised personal information.

How to earn and redeem Kroger rewards

You earn 5% cash back on mobile wallet transactions up to $3,000 per calendar year, after which you earn 1% cash back (this excludes transactions made using Kroger Pay, the brand's app that allows for contact-free mobile purchases).

You can also earn 2% cash back when shopping in stores and paying with the card and 1% cash back when shopping outside of the store and making eligible purchases.

According to the Kroger rewards card website, 1,000 rewards points is worth $10. Points can be redeemed for a statement credit or Real-Time Rewards listed in the Kroger Rewards Center. If you earn at least 2,500 rewards points (equivalent to $25), you can opt to redeem them for a $25 Kroger Family of Companies Gift Card.

Keep in mind that Kroger rewards points do expire after 36 months so you'll have to use them or lose them.

How does it compare?

Much like the Kroger Rewards Elite Mastercard, the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi also allows cardholders to earn rewards points for purchases made in the store. However, the Costco credit card offers a more robust array of tiered earnings based on the category of goods.

Here's what you can earn with the Costco Anywhere credit card:

  • 4% cash back on eligible gas and EV charging purchases for the first $7,000 per year and then 1% thereafter
  • 3% cash back on restaurants and eligible travel purchases
  • 2% cash back on all other purchases from Costco and Costco.com
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases

The Costco Anywhere card also offers lifestyle perks that the Kroger Rewards credit card doesn't, like presale ticket access and preferred seating with Citi Entertainment and worldwide car rental insurance. Still, though, the Kroger credit card's referral bonus is appealing and sweetens the deal a bit since cardholders can potentially earn additional points without even having to make purchases on their card. Plus, referral bonuses aren't a common credit card feature even among more popular rewards credit cards.

Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi

On Citi's secure site
  • Rewards

    4% cash back on eligible gas and EV charging purchases for the first $7,000 per year (then 1%); 3% cash back on restaurants and eligible travel purchases; 2% cash back on all other purchases from Costco and Costco.com; 1% cash back on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    No current offer

  • Annual fee

    $0, Costco membership required

  • Intro APR

    N/A for purchases and balance transfers

  • Regular APR

    20.49% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    5% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent

See rates and fees. Terms apply.

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Who is the Kroger Rewards World Elite Mastercard® for?

The Kroger Rewards Elite MasterCard will appeal the most to people shopping at Kroger and paying with a mobile wallet platform — like Apple Pay®, Samsung Pay, Google Pay™, Garmin Pay™ and LG Pay® — since this is how you can earn the most rewards points for your spending.

If you don't shop at Kroger and don't use mobile wallet platforms to pay for items, other credit cards let you earn more rewards for shopping at any grocery store. The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is a strong choice since it lets cardholders earn 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1% after), and earn cash back for other categories like streaming services (6%), gas stations (3%), transit (3%) and 1% back on all other purchases. Terms apply.

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

On the American Express secure site
  • Rewards

    6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%), 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions, 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations, 3% cash back on transit (including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more) and 1% cash back on other purchases. Cash Back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit or at Amazon.com checkout.

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card within the first 6 months. 

  • Annual fee

    $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95.

  • Intro APR

    0% for 12 months on purchases from the date of account opening

  • Regular APR

    19.24% - 29.99% variable. Variable APRs will not exceed 29.99%.

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

  • Foreign transaction fee

    2.7%

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

See rates and fees, terms apply.

 

Plus, unlike the Kroger Rewards card, the Blue Cash Card offers a welcome bonus; cardholders can earn a $250 statement credit when they spend $3,000 in purchases within the first 6 months. 

Bottom line

The Kroger Rewards Elite Mastercard is a fairly bare-bones credit card for shopping at the grocery store chain. Unlike many other rewards cards, it doesn't offer a welcome bonus and to earn the highest reward tier, cardholders need to make mobile wallet purchases only. Still, it's a solid option for helping avid Kroger shoppers get the most bang for their buck.

Why trust CNBC Select?

At CNBC Select, our mission is to provide our readers with high-quality service journalism and comprehensive consumer advice so they can make informed decisions with their money. Every credit card review is based on rigorous reporting by our team of expert writers and editors with extensive knowledge of credit card products. While CNBC Select earns a commission from affiliate partners on many offers and links, we create all our content without input from our commercial team or any outside third parties, and we pride ourselves on our journalistic standards and ethics. See our methodology for more information on how we choose the best credit cards.

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For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, click here.  

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.
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