Sunday, October 18, 2015

4 Unusual Ways to Save Money at Whole Foods Market

Whole Foods Market has a reputation for costing more other grocery stores. While it may be true that Whole Foods commands a premium relative to conventional grocers, a lot of people decide it's worth it. If you do your regular grocery shopping at Whole Foods Market here are 4 ways I've found to save money on your purchases...

1. ApplePay with Discover [20% back]

Through the end of 2015, Discover is offering 10% cashback on all ApplePay transactions, capped at $10,000 in purchases. On top of that Discover is offering to double the cashback the first year for new account holders. If you're an existing Discover card holder you can call them and ask for the double cashback promo to be added to your account.

Not a Discover cardholder? Here's my referral link. $50 for you, $50 for me after your first purchase:
http://bit.ly/1Lws0k6

2. Earn by Microsoft [5% back towards the Microsoft Store, on top of credit card rewards]

This is a program where you connect your Visa/Mastercards to the Earn by Microsoft rewards program. Rewards can be redeemed for merchandise at the Microsoft Store *on top* of the rewards your credit card earns. That's stacking, and you know I love stacking.

The program is currently offering 5% back at Whole Foods. And 10% back on Starbucks reloads.

At the Microsoft store you can buy an XBox 360, laptops, and Microsoft software. I'm not immediately in the market for any of these, but if I had a few hundred dollars racked up in savings I could surely find it useful at some point.

Here's my referral link. $10 for you, $10 for me:
https://earn.microsoft.com/?borrfc=r_EKM

Earn by Microsoft is currently only available in MA, AZ, and WA.

3. Get a credit card that bonuses grocery stores [5+%]

This is kind of a foundational tip (rather than an unusal one) but grocery stores are a commonly bonused category of credit card spend. American Express has a number of cards that heavily bonus grocery spend - especially their "Blue Cash" cards which comes in a few different varieties. Which one to get depends on how much you plan to spend at grocery stores (and gas/drugstores which are also bonused).

If you're going to spend a lot at grocery/gas/drugstores, the Blue Cash from American Express [no longer actively marketed by AmEx, try opening in an Incognito browser window if the landing page doesn't come up for you] bonuses offers 5% cashback after spending $6,500 per year. The best thing about this card is that the 5% is capped at a generous $50,000 in annual spend.

If you're going to spend less than $6,000 annually at grocery stores, the Blue Cash Preferred offers 6% cashback at supermarkets, capped at $6,000 annually. But the card comes with a $75 annual fee. If you spend $6,000 at grocery stores at 6% that's $360 which makes the annual fee worth it.

I prefer the high $50,000 cap of the "old" Blue Cash from American Express.

Another option is the Wells Fargo Visa Signature which offers 5% back on gas/grocery/drugstore the first 6 months you have the card. That's a relatively short timeframe, but there's no spending cap and earned points can be redeemed for cash back OR are worth 1.5 cents per point when redeemed for air travel through their portal. That's 7.5% back towards mile-earning air travel AND it can be stacked with Earn by Microsoft since it's a Visa. Great card.

4. Buy Whole Foods gift cards [10+% savings]

Last December in Massachusetts, Whole Foods sold their own gift cards at a 10% discount if you bought $500 or more. This is an example of where "time shifting" can save you money. If you paid in December for future purchases you'd save 10%. We'll see if the deal comes back again this year.

Another thing you could do is "category shift". For example, if you have a credit card that bonuses spend at office supply stores (like the Chase Ink business credit cards) you could buy Whole Foods Market gift cards at office supply stores and earn 5 Ultimate Rewards points for every dollar you spend. Ultimate Rewards are worth a penny a piece towards cash back. Potentially more [much more] if redeemed effectively by transferring to their travel partners like United, Hyatt or Southwest Airlines.

If neither of these angles work for you, you can always buy Whole Foods gift cards from a gift card reseller to save around 10%. You have to tote around/keep track of gift cards but depending on how much you save it can be worth it.

Update: 11/9/2015 Bonus! American Express is running a targeted AmEx Sync deal for $10 off $60.

Question of the Day: What other ways have you found to save money on purchases at Whole Foods Market?

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