Who is This Credit Card Best For?
Diligently searches for the best products and delights in a good bargain
Prioritizes sticking to their budget while buying what they want and need
The value of the rewards is so unimpressive that it’s pretty hard to recommend this card, but if you’re a fan of Kroger stores (or Dillons, Ralphs, or the other stores owned by Kroger Co.) and have good credit, the Kroger REWARDS World Mastercard may be able to save you quite a bit on gas at Kroger stations. There are some hoops to jump through, but if you can manage those, you can save 25 cents per gallon at Kroger fuel centers during the first year you have an account. That could add up to $200, based on what the average household spends annually on gas.
Gas discount for first year
Terrible points value
One restrictive redemption option
- Gas discount for first year: You’ll get 25 cents off per gallon for the first year you have an account, as long as you redeem at least 100 fuel points earned through Kroger’s loyal shopper program whenever you use your card at the pump. It shouldn’t be hard for regular customers at Kroger-owned stores to do this on a consistent basis, since they earn 1 fuel point per $1 they spend on groceries. (More on this below.)
- Decent APR: This card’s lowest variable APR (for the most creditworthy customers) is better than many competing cards. While carrying a balance is never recommended, if you have to incur finance charges, the lower the APR, the better.
- Terrible points value: Each point earned with this card is only worth 0.5 cents each, so even the highest rewards rate of 3 points per $1—applicable only to certain food brands—is worth just 1.5 cents. You can easily find a cash-back card offering at least 2% cash back (2 cents per $1) on all of your grocery purchases, so this is a terrible deal. Plus, you can use the rewards from competing cards in many more ways.
- One restrictive redemption option: Unlike cash-back cards that let you redeem your rewards for actual cash, you can only use your rewards toward purchases at participating Kroger stores. What’s more, you’ll only get your rewards four times per year, in the mail, in the form of $5 certificates.
Kroger REWARDS World Mastercard Sign-Up Bonus
It’s not a standard sign-up bonus, but the fuel discount of 25 cents per gallon at Kroger fuel centers during your first year is definitely an incentive for new cardholders. By our calculations, it could be worth $200.
Assuming you spend $175 a month on gas (as the average American household does), and the average price per gallon is $2.55, you could save about $17 a month. That is, if you shop enough at Kroger-owned stores. To get the 25 cents off, you must be able to simultaneously redeem at least 100 fuel points earned through the loyal shopper program (if you’re not already in it, you’ll automatically be enrolled.) That’s easily doable if you spend at least $100 a week on groceries (you earn 1 fuel point per $1 of groceries purchased) and use about a tank of gas each week.
While $200 isn’t a bad value, several competing cards offer a sign-up bonus of at least $150 you can earn with far less fuss. (Often just by charging $500 to your card in the first three months.) Still, this card has more upside. If your gas budget is double the average household’s, the per-gallon discount could amount to a first-year savings of about $400.
Besides being restricted to Kroger fuel centers, there are a number of stipulations that make this bonus pretty high-maintenance. For one, you must use your fuel points by the end of the month after the month you earn them or they will expire. Also, the maximum number of gallons you can get per fill-up is 35.
Earning Points & Rewards
The Kroger REWARDS World Mastercard pays 3 points per $1 on select brands within the Kroger family, 2 points per $1 spent in Kroger’s network of stores, and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases. The brands include Kroger, Heritage Farm, Luvsome, Bakery Fresh Goodness, Fresh Foods Market, Big K, and Pet Pride, among others. Stores in the network include:
- City Market
- Food4Less (select stores)
- Foods Co
- Fred Meyer
- Fred Meyer Jewelers
- King Soopers
- Jay C Food Store
- Kroger Marketplace
- Littman Jewelers
- Barclay Jewelers
- Pay-Less Super Markets
- Smith’s Food and Drug
There is no limit to the rewards you can earn, but you can only earn them in 1,000-point increments, through a $5 certificate. Certificates expire a year after they’re issued. Any points that cannot be turned into a $5 certificate (because they don’t round to an even increment of 1,000), will be rolled over to the next quarter.
In addition, once the first-year gas promotion is over, you’ll get a 5-cent per gallon discount at Kroger fuel centers when you redeem 100 fuel points and pay with your card. (As of February 2019, 1,537 of the 2,764 supermarkets under the Kroger umbrella included a fuel center.)
The points on the Kroger REWARDS World Mastercard are worth just 0.5 cents apiece—pretty bad by any standard. You also have just one redemption option. Your $5 certificates (one per 1,000 points earned) are doled out once per quarter and are only good at the Kroger network of stores, and only for one year.
With comparable cash-back cards, you can redeem your rewards for a credit on your statement or request that the funds be deposited into your bank account. You may even be able to boost the value of the rewards by booking travel with them.
You can use your certificates for merchandise as well as groceries, and some Kroger stores sell household supplies, dishes, and small appliances too. You cannot, however, use them for alcohol, cigarettes, or prescriptions.
How to Get the Most Out of This Card
No matter how you look at it, you won’t get much value out of this card—at least in terms of ongoing rewards. There are plenty of cash-back credit cards with no annual fee that will reward you more handsomely, and you can still shop at all your favorite local stores. Competing cards give you 1.5% back on everything or 2%-3% back on groceries, and many even offer a sign-up bonus with roughly the same value.
If you tend to like the more popular name brands, you should definitely pass on this card. The 3 points per $1 is only for house brands. All other purchases at Kroger stores earn just 2 points per $1, or the equivalent of 1% cash back. Almost all rewards credit cards offer at least 1% cash back, and often the cash is usable anywhere.
Having said that, you can apply for this card for the gas discount the first year and use another rewards card that pays more whenever you’re at the checkout. Just make sure to keep a separate loyal shopper card to earn those fuel points.
Kroger REWARDS World Mastercard’s Excellent Perks
There are so many benefits available to credit cardholders these days, we narrowed down the ones we think have an exceptional value. This card has one benefit that made our cut:
Cell phone coverage: Cardholders can get up to $600 per claim if they’re phone is damaged or stolen. The coverage is automatic if you pay your cellphone bill with your card. A $50 deductible applies and the maximum benefit is $1,000 every 12 months.
Kroger REWARDS World Mastercard’s Other Features
- Insurance for stolen or damaged purchases
- Refund when merchant won’t accept returned item
- Travel amenities and planning services
The Kroger REWARDS World Mastercard is issued by U.S. Bank, which received a so-so rating in J.D. Power’s 2019 customer satisfaction study. The study, which considered the opinions of more than 28,000 credit card customers nationwide, gave U.S. Bank 785 out of 1,000 possible points, below the average of 806 for national issuers.
While U.S. Bank doesn’t have a lot of flashy customer service features, it does let you manage your account through a mobile app, and you can check your rewards balance online.
U.S. Bank offers standard security features including free fraud monitoring and automatic logouts after periods of inactivity.
Kroger REWARDS World Mastercard Fees
Besides the decent APR, this card’s fees are relatively standard for a retail card. It’s worth noting that you won’t pay foreign transaction fees on purchases made outside the U.S.