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If you find yourself in wanderlust while quarantined to your couch, there is some good news for you: Now is a great time to prepare for future travel. And one you can prepare is by leveraging the best rewards credit cards to use on groceries and takeout.
Here are the credit cards which will reap the biggest rewards when you use them to pay at supermarkets and restaurants:
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass
The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card has a generous bonus of 130,000 Hilton Honors points and allows you to earn 6 points per dollar on groceries and takeout.
The AMEX Hilton Surpass card earns at least 3 Hilton Honors bonus points for every dollar you spend:
- 6 Hilton points per dollar spent at US supermarkets
- 6 Hilton points per dollar spent at US restaurants
- 6 Hilton points per dollar spent at US gas stations
- 12 Hilton points per dollar spent at Hilton Hotels & Resorts
- 3 Hilton points per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases
Hilton Honors points can be redeemed for stays at Hilton Hotels including Hilton, Conrad Hotels & Resorts, Embassy Suites, and Homewood Suites:
Free Weekend Night Reward
Hilton rewards Honors Surpass card members who spend $15,000 in a year with a Free Weekend Night reward.
This reward can be redeemed for one weekend night standard accommodation at eligible Hilton properties. Keep in mind, there are some hotels excluded from the Free Weekend Reward night.
Hilton Honors Status
The American Express Hilton Honors Surpass Card comes with complimentary Hilton Gold status. Hilton Gold status benefits include free continental breakfast, free wifi, and room upgrades (up to executive level rooms, pending availability).
Beyond Gold status, card members who spend $40,000 in eligible purchases on their American Express Hilton Honors Surpass card can even earn Hilton Diamond status. Benefits of Honors Diamond status, above and beyond the Hilton Honors Gold status benefits, include guaranteed executive lounge access (where available), premium wi-fi, and upgrades up to a one-bedroom suite (where available).
The Honors Surpass Card also comes with Priority Pass Select, providing access to over 1,300 airport lounges around the world. Furthermore, there a number of airport restaurants where Priority Pass members can receive a credit toward their final bill.
This benefit allows up to 10 free Priority Pass airport lounge visits each year, once enrolled.
The card also comes with a 24/7 Global Assist Hotline to provide medical, legal, financial and other services. This hotline, available if you are traveling over 100 miles from home, can assist with medical emergencies, passport replacement, and missing luggage.
The American Express Hilton Honors Surpass Card has no foreign transaction fee, but it does have an annual fee of $95.
The Hilton Honors Surpass Card from American Express is one of the best credit cards for earning points on both groceries and takeout.
In addition, the card comes with great travel benefits including Hilton status, Priority Pass Select membership, and a Global Assist hotline.
Chase Freedom Flex
The Chase Freedom Flex earns 5% cashback on rotating bonus categories, 5% travel purchases made through Chase, 3% on restaurant and drugstore purchases, and 1% on all other purchases. The card also offers a $200 welcome bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 months of getting the card.
You may be ineligible for this offer if you have received five (5) or more personal credit cards in the past 24 months. This general rule, known as the “Chase 5/24 Rule,” applies to credit cards issued by any bank which may appear on your credit report.
After satisfying the spend requirement, the welcome bonus will be credited in the form of Ultimate Rewards points.
With the Chase Freedom Flex, you can earn up to 5% cash back on up $1,500 in quarterly revolving bonus categories.
In addition, cardmembers may earn 5% cashback on Lyft rides until March 2022. The Chase Freedom card earns 1% cashback on all purchases, other than Lyft rides and quarterly bonus categories.
Redeeming Rewards for Cash Back
The welcome bonus can be redeemed in the form of cash back via the Chase Ultimate Rewards Portal. Cash back can be received as either a credit card statement credit or in the form of a deposit to your bank account.
Redeeming Rewards for Purchases
Chase Ultimate rewards points can used for purchases with Amazon, Apple, and gift cards.
Ultimate Rewards points used for Amazon purchases are redeemed at a rate of 0.8 cents each, while points used for Apple and gift card purchases are redeemed at a rate of 1 cent per point.
Redeeming Rewards for Travel through the Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal
One of the better ways to use Ultimate Rewards points is to book travel through the Ultimate Rewards Travel portal. Through this portal, You can book flights, hotels, vacation rentals, cars, cruises, and even experiences like tours and museums.
Travel booked through the Ultimate Rewards Travel portal is redeemed at a rate of 1.25 cents of value per point.
Redeeming Rewards for Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partners
Often the best way to redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points is to transfer them to airline and hotel partners at a 1:1 ratio.
Airline transfer partners including British Airways, United, Singapore, Southwest, and United:
And the Ultimate Rewards hotel transfer partners are IHG, Marriott, and Hyatt:
The Chase Freedom Flex also comes with DoorDash benefits.
A complimentary 3-month subscription to DashPass is included. Dash Pass is DoorDash’s subscription service and provides an unlimited $0 delivery fee on DoorDash orders of $12 or more.
DashPass normally costs $9.99 per month. Once the 3-month subscription period ends, it will automatically be renewed at a 50% discount for the each month of the remaining year.
The Chase Freedom Flex has no annual fee, and has an introductory APR of 0% for the first 15 months from account opening.
DashPass benefits and the ability to earn and burn Chase Ultimate Rewards points make the Chase Freedom card a great one to use for both grocery and takeout purchases.
American Express Gold Card
The American Express Gold Card has a welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 on eligible purchases within 6 months of account opening. Plus, you can get the card in either gold or rose gold.
Cardholders will earn 4x points per dollar at restaurants (including takeout and delivery), 4x on Uber Eats, and another 4x points per dollar and U.S. supermarket s(up to $25,000 per calendar year). Meanwhile, you’ll also earn 3x points per dollar if you book directly on amextravel.com.
The AMEX Gold Card earns up to four (4) Membership Rewards points per dollar:
- 4x points at US grocery stores, on up to $25,000 in supermarket purchases each year
- 4x points on Uber Eats
- 4x points at restaurants worldwide
- 3x points on flights booked either directly through airlines or at amextravel.com
Redeeming Rewards for Shopping
Membership Rewards points can also be used at checkout for purchases with select merchants and services including Amazon, AMEX Express Checkout, Best Buy GrubHub, Saks Fifth Avenue, PayPal, and Walmart.
A similar option for using Membership Rewards points for purchases is AMEX’s own ‘Go Shopping’ portal. This portal allows points to be used to make purchases from brands like Apple, Google, Oakley, Tumi and more.
The key distinction with these two options is while points can be redeemed through AMEX’s shopping partners at a rate of 0.7 cents each, the Go Shopping portal allows a maximum redemption of 0.5 cent per point.
Redeeming Rewards for Gift Cards
You can also redeem Membership Rewards points for gift cards with dozens of retailers like Bath & Body Works, Macy’s, Nike, and World Market as well as American Express gift cards.
The value you can receive for Membership Rewards points by redeeming for gift cards varies from retailer to retailer, but you can expect to receive 0.5 – 1 cents per point.
Redeeming Points for Upgrades
AMEX Travel allows Membership Rewards points to be redeemed directly for flights, hotels, rental cars, and cruises.
One very intriguing way you can use American Express points for travel is to Upgrade Your Flight with Points:
American Express has partnered with over 20 different airlines to allow you to Upgrade Your Flight with Points on eligible itinerary. Your flight can be upgraded on eligible itineraries whether or not you booked through the respective airline(s) and regardless if you paid with your American Express card.
To redeem for travel and upgrades you do need at least 5,000 Membership Rewards points.
Points used for travel bookings through American Express travel are redeemed at a rate of 0.7 cents per point, while points used for flights and flight upgrades are redeemed at a rate of 1 cent each.
Redeeming Rewards by Transferring Points to Airline and Hotel Partners
Transferring points to airline and hotel transfer partners has the potential to be the best use of American Express Membership Rewards points. In most cases, points transfer to airline and hotel loyalty programs at a 1:1 rate.
American Express Membership Rewards airline transfer partners include Air Canada/Aeroplan, Delta, Hawaiian, and Singapore:
American Express Membership Rewards hotel transfer partners are Choice Hotels, Hilton, and Marriott.
The Gold Card comes with American Express’s own curated collection of luxury hotels, dubbed The Hotel Collection.
Benefits of hotel stays booked through The Hotel Collection include an upgrade (if available); and a $100 hotel credit for dining, spa or resort activities.
In addition, the American Express Gold Card comes with a $100 Airline Fee Credit. When you select one qualifying airline, you can receive up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year for eligible fees, like checked bags and in-flight refreshments.
The American Express Gold Card also comes with access to a 24/7 Global Assist Hotline.
Monthly Dining Credit
The American Express Gold Card also comes with a monthly dining credit – which could really come in handy for restaurant takeout!
Through this credit, card members can receive a $10 each month when you pay with your Gold card for purchases with Boxed, The Cheesecake Factory, Grubhub,, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, and participating Shake Shack locations. Bon Appetite!
While the American Express Gold Card does have a $250 annual fee, but it does have not have any foreign transaction fees.
Earning 4 Membership Rewards points per dollar for at supermarkets restaurants and including a monthly dining credit makes the American Express Gold Card one of the best credits for groceries and takeout.
Citi Premier Card
With the Citi Premier Card, you can earn Citi Thank You points and a big welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 within three months of getting the card.
The Citi Premier Credit Card has a very competitive points earning structure. The card earns:
- 3 points per dollar on travel including gas stations, airfare, hotels, car rentals, and restaurants (including takeout).
- 1 point per dollar on all other purchases
Redeeming Rewards for Purchases
You can Shop with Citi Thank You PointsPoints in two different ways: Points can be used when you checkout, and used to pay for purchases with Amazon and PayPal.
Alternatively, you can use points for statement credits at 1-800-flowers.com and BestBuy. Your card will be charged for the full purchase amount, the selected amount of points will be deducted, then you will receive a statement credit in 2-3 days.
While the redemption rate to use Thank You points for purchases may vary, at most you can get 1 cent per point redeemed.
Redeeming Rewards for Gift Cards
Another way to redeem Thank You points with marginally more value is redeem for gift cards from dozens of restaurants and retailers. Points can redeemed for gift cards are redeemed at a rate of 1 cent per point.
Redeeming Rewards for Cash Back or Statement Credited
Citi Thank You Points can be redeemed as cash back or a statement credit.
Thank You points used for statement credits will post in one to two billing cycles.
If you choose to redeem your points for cash back, Citi will make a check payable to you in denominations of either $50 or $100. Checks will be sent via USPS First-Class Mail and arrive within one (1) to three (3) weeks of redemption.
Both statement credits and cash back are redeemed at a rate of 1 cent per point.
You can also use points to pay for all of or part of a bill through Online Bill Pay with Points, but you will only get 0.75 cents per point.
Redeeming Rewards for Travel through the Citi Thank You Travel Portal
A better way to redeem Citi Thank You points to book travel through the Citi Thank You Travel Portal.
Through this portal you can book flight, hotels, rental cars and cruises. Points redeemed through this portal are currently redeemed for 1.25 cents each now through April 10, 2021. After that, points redeemed through Thank You Travel portal will be worth 1 cent each.
Transferring Rewards to Arline and Hotel Transfer Partners
Your best optoin for using Citi Thank You points is likley going to be to transfer them 1:1 to the following Citi Thank You’s airline transfer partners:
- Asia Miles (Cathay Pacific/Cathay Dragon)
- Avianca LifeMiles
- Emirates Skywards
- Etihad Guest
- EVA Air
- Flying Blue (AirFrance/KLM)
- JETBLUE TRUEBLUE
- Jet Airways InterMiles (Formerly JetPrivilege)
- Malaysia Airlines Enrich
- Qantas Frequent Flyer
- Qatar Privilege Club
- Singapore Airlines
- Thai Royal Orchid Plus
- Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
Annual Hotel Savings Opportunity
With the Citi Annual Hotel Saving Opportunity, you can enjoy $100 off of a single hotel stay of $500 or more. Just book through Citi Thank You Rewards Portal and pre-pay for your complete stay.
The card does have an annual fee of $95, but it has no foreign transaction fees.
The Citi Premier Card offers a lot of value, even beyond the Citi Thank You point welcome bonus. While you can earn points per dollar on takeout currently,, beginning in August cared members can earn up to 3 miles per point on groceries and takeout. And the Premier Card allows the points earned to be redeemed on over a dozen airline transfer partners.
What Points Panda Recommends
While there are a lot of great travel credit cards for earning miles and points, we recommend what makes the best sense for you – both in terms of earning miles and points on groceries and takeout, and in redemption options that fit your future travel goals. If you need credit card or award booking assistance, you can sign up for our travel concierge and get unlimited travel hacking advice for one year!