Kroger may be the company behind your grocery store, even if you don’t know it. And it can be the name on your prepaid debit card if you get a Kroger Visa—the Kroger REWARDS Prepaid Visa card.
Krogers operates 2,674 grocery and food and drug stores in 30 states in the U.S. Kroger stores include Kroger (surprise), Vitacost, Fry’s, Smith’s, Baker’s, Metro Market, Ruler Foods, Fred Meyer, City Market, Ralphs and Food 4 Less. Many of those stores have gas stations and pharmacies too.
The Kroger prepaid Visa debit card isn’t just a prepaid debit card. Note the word “rewards” in the name. It isn’t a Visa credit card either, so there’s no interest and no credit card fees. The card pays rewards through the Kroger 1-2-3 REWARDS® Program. For every $1 you spend with your card, you earn rewards points you can redeem for groceries at Kroger’s grocery stores.
Earn 1, 2 or 3 Points for Every Dollar You Spend
The card includes the 1-2-3 REWARDS Program that lets you earn 1, 2 or 3 points depending on where you shop and what you purchase. With your card and the program, you earn:
- 1 point for every $1 you spend on anything not bought at Kroger stores or supermarkets
- 2 points for every $1 spent on eligible purchases at Kroger stores
- 3 points for every $1 spent on eligible Kroger branded products
Kroger offers a sample of potential earnings similar to this one.
not at a Kroger store
at a Kroger store
on Kroger branded items
|Earn||300 points||500 points—double rewards points||210 points—triple rewards points||1,101 points
and $5 off on groceries
For every 1,000 points you earn, you get $5 in free groceries. Free groceries are rewarded in the form of a coupon added to your Kroger Visa at the end of the month. You redeem your coupon by swiping the bar code on the back of your rewards card at checkout.
Your card also saves you 5 cents a gallon on gas purchased at Kroger store gas stations.
Note that Kroger offers both a temporary card and a reloadable card. 1-2-3 REWARDS program points can be earned only with a reloadable card.
More than Just Points
On top of points earned, the Kroger Visa offers added benefits including:
- A one-time $10 bonus on your card when you sign up for direct deposit to have funds automatically loaded on your card
- No liability for unauthorized charges made with your card
- No overdraft fees—charges that exceed your limit are declined
- The ability to use your card at merchants worldwide that accept Visa credit cards
- A variety of ways to load new funds on your card, including via a mobile app
- No interest charges—your Kroger card is a prepaid card, so you spend only what you already have and have loaded to your card
- No credit check to get your card—get a Kroger card without getting a hard inquiry on your credit file
A debit card also frees you from carrying cash and checks, which can be a nice convenience.
The Less-than-Plus Side of a Kroger Card
Prepaid cards are a great way to avoid paying interest on a credit card. Avoiding interest and even avoiding a credit card altogether can be a good way to manage your money if you have a history of not being very good at it.
The big “but” is that prepaid cards, including the Kroger Visa, do charge fees, including:
- No annual fee, but a $4.95 monthly maintenance fee if you have a balance on the card. If have no balance, there’s no fee. And if your balance is less than $4.95, your fee is less as well.
- A one-time $1.50 fee to get the card.
- Fees to reload your card when you Swipe Reload with cash at the register, use a Recharge Card (purchased from Kroger for $3), use the Ingo Money App or use Visa Readylink.
- Direct deposits, card-to-card transfers and electronic reloads are free.
- A $2.50 ATM withdrawal fee
- A $.50 ATM balance inquiry fee in the U.S., $1 internationally.
- You can check your balance for free anytime using the card’s mobile app—available for both iOS and Android.
- A 3% foreign transaction fee
The card is free of daily transaction fees, which are sometimes charged every time you use a prepaid card. It also won’t charge you for paper statements—some cards do. Other fees this card won’t charge you include:
- Decline fee
- Inactivity fee
- Bill payment fee
Is The Kroger Visa for You?
Maybe the biggest potential drawback to the Kroger card is its somewhat paltry rewards. Coupons earned also expire after 1 year.
The ideal user for the card is someone who shops at Kroger stores regularly and fills up his/her tank at a Kroger fuel center. If that describes you, you can maximize your earnings and offset any fees. Still, your earnings won’t be out of this world compared to a rewards credit card. But, they will be better than with a prepaid card that doesn’t pay rewards at all.
Say you have a family of four and spend $200 a week on groceries at a Kroger-owned store. If you preload a Kroger’s Visa with that $200, you earn 400 points at least—more if some of that $200 spend is on Kroger-branded items.
For simplicity, say you earn 400 points weekly, that’s 1,600 points a month and 19,200 a year. Divided by 1,000, that means you get 19 $5 coupons toward your groceries or $95 off your groceries a year. In the same time, you spend $59.40 on monthly fees. You’ve come out just $35.60 ahead.
But, another big “but,” is that you do earn 1 point for every dollar spent outside of Kroger. Say you load another $200 on the card each week and spend it, you earn another 800 points a month. That way, you get another 9 $5 coupons for groceries for a total savings of $140 on groceries. Minus your monthly fee, you’re now $80.60 ahead.
You can load up to $10,000 on your card. So if you use your card to cover airfare and hotel accommodations for a trip, you could rack up a few free groceries.
And there are the savings on gas. Say you spend $2.70 a gallon on gas and buy 43 gallons of gas a month, you save $25.80 a year on gas with your Kroger REWARDs card.
The Finer Print for the Kroger Rewards Visa
There are some limits to using your Kroger Rewards Visa, although the limits won’t likely impact you much. Limits include:
- Maximum card balance of $10,000
- Maximum daily deposits of $5,000 with no more than 10 transactions
- Maximum daily direct deposits of $5,000 with no more than 5 transactions
- Maximum daily transaction of 20 for no more than $5,000 total
See the card’s fee schedule for full details.
If you are a frequent Kroger store shopper, prefer using debit cards rather than credit cards and don’t mind a few fees, a Kroger REWARDS Prepaid Visa card may be the perfect card for you. If you get one, you can earn points toward free groceries and enjoy some savings on gas when you shop at a Kroger grocery chain. And if you get one and then decide to not use it, you won’t pay any fees other than the $1.50 to get your card.
At publishing time, the Kroger REWARDS Prepaid Visa card is offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for this card. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).