Did you know you can use discount gift card sites, credit card rewards, and free gift card deals to save money on your regular grocery purchases?

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Although our panic-buying days seem like they're behind us, American families are still spending a lot of money at the grocery store. A survey by LendingTree on grocery shopping trends during the pandemic found that families are spending $100 more on groceries each month—increasing from an average $163 per week pre-pandemic to $190 now. The same LendingTree survey also reported that 54% of parents are using coupons more often because they shop more frequently due to the pandemic, and overspend most often.

An image of a mother and daughter shopping in a supermarket.
Credit: Getty Images.

But coupons aren't the only way you can save money grocery shopping. We spoke to consumer savings and budget expert Andrea Woroch to get tips on smart ways you can use gift cards to save money on groceries. "You can get a gift card to just about any retailer these days, including grocery stores. And there are ways to save money on your groceries by using a grocery gift card—you just have to use a few strategies," Woroch tells Parents. Here are some top tips on how you can take advantage of free gift card deals, discount gift card sites, and more to save money on your next grocery run.

Exchange unwanted gift cards for grocery gift cards.

You know those gift cards you get from family members that you never actually end up using? Well, instead of letting it go to waste, exchange it for a gift card to a grocery store using a discount gift card site. "A lot of people don't realize that there are these online marketplaces where you can buy other people's unwanted gift cards at a discount," says Woroch. She recommends Raise and Gift Card Granny. Both sites have a wide variety of discounted gift cards to choose from, including ones to grocery stores like Walmart, Safeway, Whole Foods, and even InstaCart. Plus, you can get cash back on the gift cards you buy. Gift Card Granny gives $0.25 to $1 cash back on grocery gift cards. Once you earn $5 cash back, you can redeem it for free gift cards, or a cash payout when you get $10 in credits. Raise offers 10% off of all gift cards for first time users.

Redeem credit card rewards for grocery gift cards.

If your credit card offers rewards on grocery purchases, go to the grocery store to buy your gift cards. It will count as a "grocery store purchase" on your credit card, so you can maximize your cash back rewards. Woroch recommends the Blue Cash Preferred® card from American Express, which offers 6% cash back on all U.S. supermarket purchases, and the Chase Freedom Unlimited card, which offers 5% cash back on groceries. Woroch also says to keep an eye for sign on bonuses given by credit cards. For example, you can get $200 back if you send $500 within the first three months of opening your card.

Look for free gift card deals at stores.

Keep an eye out for free gift card with purchase deals. "You'll oftentimes see these over the holidays. Like if you're buying an iPhone or Apple AirPods, they give these incredible gift cards with purchase, like a $50 Target gift card or something like that," says Woroch. Woroch says she comes across these deals all year round at Target—just the other day she was able to get a $5 Target gift card for buying two laundry items.

Ask a friend for a Costco Cash Card.

You don't have to be Costco member to benefit from those bulk deals on groceries. Just ask a member to buy you a Costco Cash card—you can shop with it to save on groceries without being a member.

Refer a friend to a discount gift card site for rewards.

Sites like Gift Card Granny, Raise, and CardCash give you $5 in rewards for every friend you refer to their site. Woroch suggests referring friends so you can use the credit you earn to put toward grocery store gift cards.