Living with credit, Rewards, Shopping

Rewards cards + Whole Foods’ new loyalty program = more savings

Jeff Herman

Amazon Prime members who are members of Whole Foods’ new loyalty program will save 10 percent off on specials throughout the store, but what’s not in the news release and news stories is how you can stack those savings with your credit card rewards.

Whole Foods' new loyalty program has expanded to 12 statesFirst, the new loyalty program that debuted at Florida Whole Foods stores has expanded to cover Whole Foods in 12 states and all U.S. Whole Foods 365 stores. The loyalty program will roll out at Whole Foods across the U.S. starting this summer.

For many of us, it will be months before we can save 10 percent on some items at Whole Foods, but we all can save a bit now when you pay at Whole Foods with a rewards card with bonus cash back or points for grocery purchases.


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How Whole Foods app will know you are an Amazon Prime member.What’s new: At checkout, shoppers will be asked if they are Amazon Prime members, a Whole Foods spokeswoman explained. Prime members will scan the QR code on the Whole Foods app at the register to receive 10 percent off sale items, plus weekly deep discounts on select best-selling items.

What this means: Pay with a rewards credit card that has bonus points or cash back for groceries or supermarkets and you can stack your rewards.

How you can save more at Whole Foods

By pairing your Amazon Prime membership with a rewards credit card you can take even more off the price of your cart of Whole Foods groceries.

For example, show your Amazon Prime membership via the Whole Foods app to get 10 percent off some of what’s in your cart, then charge your groceries with your Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express and you’ll get 6 percent cash back on everything.

According to the AmEx website, Whole Foods purchases are included in its U.S. supermarkets category for the 6 percent bonus.

Pay with your Chase Amazon Prime Rewards Visa card and you will get 5 percent cash back on everything you’re stuffing in your environmentally friendly shopping bags. If you are a Prime member, you will get the extra 10 percent off featured Whole Foods items.

Other options: With the Chase Amazon Rewards Visa or the Blue Cash Everday® Card from American Express (both of these cards are in my wallet), I get 3 percent cash back at Whole Foods. Since I’m not a Prime member, though, I wouldn’t get the added 10 percent off on some items.

Comparing Whole Foods prices

The goal of the new loyalty program and added discounts appears to be to get more Amazon Prime shoppers to visit Whole Foods. Amazon purchased Whole Foods in 2017.

As CNBC reported, roughly 75 percent of Whole Foods shoppers are Amazon Prime members, but less than 20 percent of Amazon Prime members are Whole Foods shoppers, a source told CNBC.

But will 10 percent make a difference?

Earlier this year, Mike Cetera’s blog post asked, “Can 5 percent cash back help Whole Foods compete on price?

Cetera compared Whole Foods’ and Kroger’s prices on 17 items and subtracted the 5 percent discount if you pay with the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa card.

His verdict: In total, Whole Foods charged $65.93 for the 17 items, while Kroger wanted $59.10. If you used the Prime Visa to purchase the 17 items, you’d save $3.30, well short of the $6.83 price difference between the two stores.

The Amazon Prime and rewards card combo

As Cetera found, a 5 percent cash back reward isn’t enough to make up for Whole Foods’ higher prices.

Another 10 percent off on select items may or may not level the grocery prices playing field. It all depends on what your family regularly buys, what the specials are for a given week and if you are already a frequent Whole Foods shopper.

Our tip: Whenever you shop at Whole Foods now, pay with a credit card that has bonus rewards for groceries. If you’re an Amazon Prime member, show the app at checkout to save even more (when the 10 percent special items show up at your local store).

See related: Is Amazon Prime worth it?, AmEx Blue Cash Everyday versus Blue Cash Preferred, Retail rewards credit cards, Retail credit cards – reviewsWhich is the best card to use on Amazon purchases?

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