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How to avoid credit card fees at the supermarket

What you could pay when shopping at supermarkets such as Aldi, Coles and Woolworths – and how to keep costs down.

While the biggest supermarket brands in Australia – Coles and Woolworths – don't have surcharges for using a credit card, you could pay cash advance fees (and high interest rates) if you withdraw cash.

What fees apply when I use my credit card at the supermarket?

Surcharges

SupermarketVisa SurchargeMastercard SurchargeAmex Surcharge
Coles0%0%0%
Woolworths0%0%0%
Aldi0.5%0.5%Not accepted
IGA0%0%0%

The surcharges above also apply when you make a contactless payment with your debit card, as tap-and-go transactions are processed through the credit card network. This surcharge covers the cost of processing the card transaction.

All retailers must inform customers of any surcharges at the checkout, so make sure to check if a fee applies before paying with a credit card. If it does, you might be better off paying with a debit card (by inserting your card) or cash to avoid the surcharge.

Getting cash out

If you use your credit card to withdraw cash at the supermarket checkout, you'll be charged a cash advance fee. This fee is typically around 3% of the transaction amount and is charged by your credit card provider, not Coles, Woolworths or any other supermarket that offers cash out.

You'll also be charged a cash advance interest rate that applies as soon as you make the transaction. Depending on your credit card, you may also be charged a cash advance fee for other "cash equivalent" transactions such as purchasing gift cards or reloading a prepaid card. So if you need to get cash out, consider using your debit card instead to avoid the high interest and fees.

How much will supermarket fees cost?

The surcharge is based on the value of your transaction. So if you buy $150 worth of groceries at Aldi, and need to pay the surcharge of 0.5%, you'll pay an extra 75 cents on your total bill.

Finder survey: Where do Australians regularly shop for groceries?

Response
Coles76.1%
Woolworths75.8%
Aldi44.92%
IGA17.63%
Costco6.47%
Harris Farm3.49%
Other3.39%
Drakes2.09%
Foodworks1.89%
Friendly Grocer1.2%
Source: Finder survey by Pure Profile of 1004 Australians, December 2023

4 ways to avoid or reduce credit card fees at the supermarket

  1. Use a debit card. Supermarkets are less likely to charge a fee if you pay with a debit card. If they do, it is usually lower than the cost of using a credit card.
  2. Insert your card. Contactless payments may go through as EFTPOS transactions, sometimes leading to extra fees.
  3. Use cash. This is a sure way to avoid card fees. You could even ask to split between cash and card if you don't have enough on you.
  4. Pay off your credit card quickly. If you use a credit card to get cash out or if you pay a surcharge, repaying what you've spent quickly helps you save on interest charges.

How can I get more value out of using my credit card at the supermarket?

On top of saving money on fees, you can also get more value at the supermarket if you have a rewards card. As long as you pay your balance in full every statement period, these credit cards help reward your grocery shopping:

  • Supermarket credit cards. Examples of supermarket credit cards in Australia include Coles credit cards and Woolworths credit cards. Some of these supermarket cards are linked with the supermarket loyalty programs, including Coles Flybuys and Everyday Rewards. These cards award more points per $1 spent at the supermarkets and come with perks to suit shoppers, with discounts on your monthly shop.
  • Rewards credit cards. Rewards credit cards are linked with a bank loyalty program and typically earn points per $1 spent on purchases. You can redeem rewards such as gift cards, merchandise or cashback on your credit card. Some rewards cards also allow you to convert your rewards points into frequent flyer points with their frequent flyer partners.
  • Frequent flyer credit cards. These are linked with an airline loyalty program and can also collect points per $1 spent. You can redeem your points for travel rewards, including flights and upgrades, accommodation and travel packages. You can start comparing frequent flyer credit cards linked with Qantas or Velocity on Finder.

Using a credit card at the supermarket can be a useful way to manage your expenses and earn points, but there can be costs involved. Before you swipe your card, check if any surcharges or fees apply. If they do, you might want to pay with cash or credit cards instead.

Other guides you might want to read

Images: Getty

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5 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    mazAugust 19, 2015

    Hi Jonathan,
    Thanks for the speedy response. It’s a Visa card issued by Travelex.

    Regards
    Maz

    Default Gravatar
    mazAugust 18, 2015

    I am South African and visit my children and grandchildren in Australia. Initially I had a travel card which I could use to withdraw “cash out” at supermarkets, however when my new card was issued, now with a chip, I was unable to withdraw cash from the supermarkets, only at ATM’s. How can I get around this problem. Many thanks

      AvatarFinder
      JonathanAugust 19, 2015Finder

      Hi Maz, thanks for your inquiry!

      The eligibility of using a travel card overseas depends on the card network e.g. AMEX, MasterCard, Visa etc. So I can assist you further could you please state which travel card you are using?

      Cheers,

      Jonathan

    Default Gravatar
    KimMay 7, 2015

    When making purchases (groceries) in germany, Italy, can cash be withdrawn at the same time when paying by travel cash card with Euros on it

      AvatarFinder
      JonathanMay 7, 2015Finder

      Hi Kim,

      Thanks for your inquiry.

      Cash withdrawal facilities with purchases depend on the retailer’s policies and partnerships with banks/ATM facilities. You may like to refer to the following link for a guide on travel money in Germany.

      Cheers,
      Jonathan

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