Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I was wrong - It's only $25 in Free Groceries

Once I started looking into the rewards program to explain it to Mrs. Borrower, I remembered that little blurb I read somewhere about the change to the rewards program. Now 1000 points = $5 in free groceries. Up until this time, it had been 1000 points = $10 in groceries. *sigh*

I hope I can explain this clearly. Last summer, this card had a much larger balance on it (over $4,000). Then they jacked my rate from 7.49% to 11.24%. An unproductive phone call to them with an attitude-filled CSR totally pi$$ed me off and I swore to him I would NOT be paying 11.24%. Wasn't sure how that was going to happen but I ended up with a balance transfer offer at a much better rate. So I did a $3,200 balance transfer to the Bank Visa, and when I started the blog I had a remaining balance of $958.

But I hated not using the card. Even if the rewards are reduced, it's still free groceries and free gas.

You get:
  • 1 point for each dollar spent anywhere using the credit card.
  • 2 points if those dollars are spent at a Kroger store.
  • 3 points if it's for a Kroger brand (store brand) purchase.
  • For each 100 spent on groceries, you get a fill-up at 15¢ off per gallon. (You get 10¢ off for swiping your shopper card, an additional 5¢ for paying at the pump with the Kroger credit card).
  • Every 3 months, they redeem your points in multiples of 1,000 and send you "checks" to be used as payment in a Kroger store. What they redeemed on this billing cycle won't actually be sent to me until the latter part of February, but they are automatic every three months. You don't have to remember to request them.
  • I usually end up with about 3,000-4,000 points redeemed every three months. It must have been the extra Thanksgiving/Christmas provisions that pushed me over the top this time.

Although the Kroger closest to home doesn't have gas pumps, the one by dd's dance studio does. I just make it a habit to fill up once a week when I'm picking her up from dance practice. Saving 15¢ per gallon really makes me smile as much as free groceries does!

Once the balance on this card dropped into the $700-800 range, I realized that I was spending that much in groceries and gas each month anyway. So in effect it's working like a card that I would be paying off every month. The only difference is that the payments I'm making are actually out of the current month's budget for groceries and gas. And yes, Mrs. 444, this qualifies me as a weirdo. I pay for the groceries and gas within a day or two of when they are charged. That keeps me on track with my budget so I don't have to wait for the bill, segregate the money, and hope it doesn't get spent elsewhere before time to actually pay the bill. :)

What's ironic is that if I had followed traditional finance advice and gone strictly to a cash system, envelope system, cut up the card, etc., I'd be paying interest to the tune of $6 a month now. That's okay...I'll keep working my own system. I've been really diligent about paying off the charges within a few days -- although I do need to go pay for the gas I bought Monday and the little food run I made this afternoon. I'm avoiding interest, still earning my rewards, and focusing on other debts right now. Sooner or later this one will have a zero balance. But I'm voting for later.


  1. Fabulous! I love utilizing credit to decrease expenses! I do this too. I doubt I will ever give up the convenience of credit that pays me....unless they all add in some crazy annual fees then - gone they will be.

  2. This isn't too bad. Assuming you do the majority of your shopping at Kroger, that is about 1% cash back. Plus or minus a small amount for the Kroger brand stuff you buy and the stuff you buy elsewhere. It's obviously not as good as before but it's still not a horrible rewards card.

    As long as you pay the card off every month and aren't paying interest, I think you can consider this card taken care of. Even if you never bring it down to the point where it shows a $0.00 balance. At some point, you'll want to have enough set aside so you could bring it down to zero and still afford groceries. But for the time being, this card isn't a problem... it's a boon.