Comparison of the cheapest grocery stores
We compared the same grocery basket among the most popular grocery stores in Quebec:
- Super C
- Giant Tiger
We then compared them to see which was the cheapest. But beyond the simple number at the bottom of the receipt, there’s another factor to consider: reward points!
Is a low-price grocery store better than one that gives points?
Which grocery store is the cheapest?
For this research, we used a grocery basket with items and/or food that can easily be found in any supermarket:
- Prices were collected in person on August 19 and 20, 2023 at IGA, Maxi et Cie, Giant Tiger, Metro, Super C and Walmart grocery stores located in the Sainte-Rose area in Laval, Rosemère, Sainte-Thérèse and Boisbriand.
- In-season vegetables and fruit are preferred
- Given the back-to-school period, a number of items have been selected to illustrate this period.
- For each item, the least expensive special or equivalent private label product has been selected.
For 24 specific products, here are the prices for each grocery store:
|Walmart||Maxi||Super C||Giant Tiger||IGA||Metro|
|Product||Walmart||Maxi||Super C||Giant Tiger||IGA||Metro|
|Cheese (400 g)||$5.50||$5.49||$5.30||$6.48||$4.44||$5.47|
|Rice (900 g)||$4.47||$3.79||$2.99||$4.97||$5.49||$2.99|
|Rice Krispies cereals||$3.33||$4.99||$5.47||$6.97||$5.47||$5.49|
|Peanut butter (1 kg)||$5.77||$3.99||$3.99||$6.49||$4.99||$5.99|
|Broccoli or Cauliflower||$2.97||$2.49||$1.76||$3.47||$2.00||$2.99|
|Peaches (3 L basket)||$3.44||$3.44||$4.21||$5.97||$6.99||$6.99|
|Ground beef (1 kg)||$13.97||$11.44||$8.53||$7.94||$14.99||$15.41|
|Chicken (2 kg)||$8.68||$14.94||$12.88||$12.47||$13.18||$19.80|
|Oatmeal (1 kg)||$3.97||$2.99||$2.99||$2.77||$4.99||$3.99|
|Product||Walmart||Maxi||Super C||Giant Tiger||IGA||Metro|
|Hot dogs||$ 5.00||$ 3.00||3.99 $||$ 3.47||3.99 $||3.99 $|
|2 cans of tuna (240 g total)||$ 2.54||$ 2.98||$ 2.58||$ 2.54||$ 2.98||$ 3.58|
|Juice boxes||$ 2.77||$ 2.49||$ 2.79||$ 2.78||$ 4.49||$ 3.25|
|Blueberries||$ 2.97||$ 2.99||3.99 $||$ 2.97||$ 4.99||3.99 $|
|Laundry detergent (approx. 3 L)||$ 7.77||$ 7.98||$ 10.99||$ 7.97||$ 11.99||$ 16.99|
|Granola bars||$ 1.97||$ 1.80||$ 2.97||$ 3.47||$ 2.97||$ 2.99|
|Sliced ham (about 350g)||$ 5.27||$ 6.00||$ 6.00||$ 6.00||$ 6.00||$ 7.93|
|Pasta||$ 1.27||$ 2.00||$ 2.29||$ 1.97||$ 1.11||$ 1.27|
|2 POM (or Villagio) white breads||$ 6.00||$ 8.78||$ 6.00||$ 5.50||$ 7.98||$ 7.49|
|Milk (4 L)||$ 7.56||$ 7.56||$ 7.56||$ 7.56||$ 7.56||$ 7.56|
|Bananas (1 kg)||$ 1.50||$ 1,52||$ 1,52||$ 2.25||$ 2,96||$ 1.96|
|Butter (454 g)||$ 6.48||$ 6.49||$ 6.49||$ 6.47||$ 5.44||$ 6.49|
|Total||$ 116.67||$ 120.39||$ 121.21||$ 126,40||$ 137.48||$ 151.47|
So, Walmart is the big winner for cheapest groceries!
Here are the standings:
|Cheapest grocery basket|
|3rd||Super C||$ 121.21|
|4th||Giant Tiger||$ 126,40|
The difference between the first and last positions is around $35. Over a year, this represents $1,820 in savings by shopping at Walmart versus Metro! The $1,820 saved is the equivalent of three and a half months of groceries at Walmart.
Of course, prices will change as the weeks and specials go by, but the trend is there. Moreover, the difference between the top 3 positions is so tiny that a super special at a grocery store during a week can change the ranking.
Which grocery store is the cheapest with rewards points?
Thanks to the above comparison, Walmart is the least expensive grocery store. But let’s not forget one tool that can tip the balance: loyalty programs.
This article selected the best credit card combinations for each grocery store. We’ll use the same best credit cards for each grocery store.
Walmart is not linked to a rewards program. So stick to credit card points or cash back.
The best credit cards to use at Walmart are :
|Accumulation at Walmart Supercentre||Value|
|National Bank World Elite Mastercard||5 points/$1 purchase||583 NBC points = $5.25|
|BMO® CashBack® World Elite®* Mastercard®*||5 % Cash Back||$ 5.83|
|Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card||2% Cash Back||$3.50|
In short, a $116.67 grocery cart at Walmart with a BMO® CashBack® World Elite®* Mastercard would reduce the net bill by $5.83.
The total would be $110.84.
The only drawback of this card is that its maximum spending is only 5% on groceries. Only the first $500 of grocery purchases per statement period are eligible for the 5% cash back. For purchases over $501, the earning rate drops to 1%.
Also, note that in some Walmart grocery stores, the American Express Cobalt® Card recognizes the expense as groceries (i.e. 5 points per dollar or 5%).
Finally, if you store regularly at Walmart.ca, you can earn 3% cash back with the Walmart World Mastercard Rewards Card (and 1.25% cash back at your Walmart grocery store).
How to save at Walmart: advanced level
Buy Walmart gift cards at Couche-Tard!
American Express cards are accepted at Walmart, but the latter is not generally coded as a “grocery store.”
The trick is to buy Walmart gift cards with the American Express Cobalt® Card at Couche-Tard, where there’s an earning of 5 points per dollar.
With its flexible Membership Rewards points, the American Express Cobalt® Card gives you the option of simply using them to deduct from the card balance (like cash back), or turning them into Aeroplan, Marriott Bonvoy, or Hilton Honors points for future travel.
Maxi (Optimum PC program)
Maxi is linked to the PC Optimum program, and the only way to earn PC Optimum points is to buy products that earn bonus points.
In our example, the bill at Maxi amounts to $120.39. Unfortunately, none of the items we bought earned bonus points.
Personalized offers are also available every week. The current offer that appeared for me was 15,000 points for $150 in purchases. So I would have had to buy about $30 more to get $15 off (15,000 points = $15 off the bill at checkout).
|National Bank World Elite Mastercard||5 points/$1 purchase||602 NBC Rewards points = $5.41|
|BMO® CashBack® World Elite®* Mastercard®*||5 % Cash Back||$ 6.02 cash back|
|CIBC Dividend® Visa Infinite* Card||4% Cash Back||$4.82 cash back|
|Scotia Momentum® VISA Infinite* Card||4% Cash Back||$4.82 cash back|
|CIBC Dividend Platinum® Visa* Card||3% Cash Back||$3.61 cash back|
With the BMO® CashBack® World Elite®* Mastercard®*, $6.02 ($120.39 X 5%) would have been saved, for a net grocery total of $114.37. Here again, the problem is the $500 monthly purchase limit.
Super C (Moi program)
Super C is associated with the Moi program. The only way to earn Moi points at Super C is to buy products that earn bonus points.
Pasta costing $2.29 gave a bonus of 20 Moi points. This has a value of 16 cents.
With the co-branded moi RBC Visa Card, I earn 1 Moi point for every dollar I spend at Super C (121 Moi points = 96 cents). The total discount would have been $1.12.
But there’s more to accumulate at Super C, thanks to those credit cards and our $121.21 grocery bill:
|American Express Cobalt™ Card||5 points/$1 purchase||605 Membership Rewards points = $6.05|
|Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card||5 points/$1 purchase||605 Scène+ points = $6.05|
|BMO® CashBack® World Elite®* Mastercard®*||5 % Cash Back||$ 6.05 cash back|
|Scotia Momentum® VISA Infinite* Card||4% Cash Back||$4.84 cash back|
|CIBC Dividend Platinum® Visa* Card||3% Cash Back||$3.64 cash back|
Giant Tiger does not have a points-based rewards program. However, members of its TG VIP program get exclusive deals and offers on everything in store.
So stick to points or cash back on your payment card to save even more.
The best credit cards to use at Giant Tiger for our $126.40 grocery basket are:
|National Bank World Elite Mastercard||5 points/$1 purchase||632 NBC points = $5.69|
|BMO® CashBack® World Elite®* Mastercard®*||5 % Cash Back||$ 6.32|
|CIBC Dividend® Visa Infinite* Card||4% Cash Back||$5.06 cash back|
|Scotia Momentum® VISA Infinite* Card||4% Cash Back||$5.06 cash back|
|CIBC Dividend Platinum® Visa* Card||3% Cash Back||$3.79 cash back|
At Giant Tiger, with The BMO Ascend™ World Elite®* Mastercard, $6.32 ($126.40 X 5%) would have been saved, for a net grocery total of $ 120.08.
IGA (Scene + program)
IGA has been with the Scene+ program since March 2023. Like Maxi and Super C, the only way to earn Scene+ points is to buy products with bonus points.
The following products earned additional Scene+ points:
- Sliced ham: 100 points
- Rice: 60 points
- Peach basket : 200 points
- Butter: 50 points
In addition, there was a coupon for 500 Scene+ points for any purchase of $100 or more. The total number of points accumulated during the purchase at the grocery store is 910 points. This has a value of $9.10.
Here are the rewards earned with certain IGA credit cards for a $137.48 grocery basket:
|Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card||6 points / $1 purchase||825 Scène+ points = $ 8.25|
|American Express Cobalt™ Card||5 points/$1 purchase||687 Membership Rewards points = $6.19|
|CIBC Dividend® Visa Infinite* Card||4% Cash Back||$5.50 cash back|
|Scotia Momentum® VISA Infinite* Card||4% Cash Back||$5.50 cash back|
|CIBC Dividend Platinum® Visa* Card||3% Cash Back||$4.12 cash back|
The Scène+ points earned on this trip to the grocery store are equivalent to $17.35 ($9.10 + $8.25) in rebates. The $137.48 bill at IGA then drops to $120.13.
Metro (Moi program)
Finally, Metro is linked to the Moi program, and every dollar spent earns 1 Moi point. So, the base accumulation is 151 Moi points for our example.
In addition, the peaches and ground beef had a bonus of 35 Moi points each. This purchase at Metro will have earned 221 Moi points (151 + 35 + 35).
Personalized offers came to the rescue to increase my total by an additional 175 Moi points:
- 100 points on purchases of $50 or more
- 75 points for cheese purchases
With the moi RBC Visa co-branded card, I earn 1 additional Moi point for every dollar I spend at Metro (151 Moi points = $0.96).
As a member of the Moi program, I was even entitled to an exclusive promotion with a free Ben’s Original side dish product, a $3.99 value.
The best credit cards to use at Metro for our $151.47 grocery basket are :
|American Express Cobalt™ Card||5 points/$1 purchase||757 Membership Rewards points = $7.57|
|Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card||5 points/$1 purchase||757 Scène+ points = $7.57|
|BMO® CashBack® World Elite®* Mastercard®*||5 % Cash Back||$ 7.57 cash back|
|CIBC Dividend® Visa Infinite* Card||4% Cash Back||$6.06 cash back|
|CIBC Dividend Platinum® Visa* Card||3% Cash Back||$ 4.54 cash back|
Moi points gave me 396 points ($3.17 value) and the best rebate was $7.57, for a total rebate of $10.74. The net cost is $140.73 for this grocery bill at Metro (plus a free bag of Ben’s Original).
Here is a summary of the analysis:
|Walmart||Maxi||Super C||Giant Tiger||IGA||Metro|
|Receipt total||$ 116.67||$ 120.39||$ 121.21||$ 126,40||$ 137.48||$ 151.47|
|Net total with points and cash back||$ 110.84||$ 114.37||$ 115.16||$ 120.08||$ 120.13||$ 140.73|
Despite not having a rewards program, Walmart is still the best place to go… if the right credit card is used!
An honorable mention goes to IGA. In fact, with the accumulation of her Scene+ bonus points and a Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card, she’s almost on a par (give or take 5 cents) with a Giant Tiger grocery cart !
|Grocery||Total bill||Grocery||Net invoice|
|1st||Walmart||$ 116.67||Walmart||$ 110.84 (-5 %)|
|2nd||Maxi||$ 120.39||Maxi||$ 114.37 (-5 %)|
|3rd||Super C||$ 121.21||Super C||$ 115.16 (-5 %)|
|4th||Giant Tiger||$ 126,40||Giant Tiger||$ 120,08 (-5 %)|
|5th||IGA||$ 137.48||IGA||$ 120.13 (-12,6 %)|
|6th||Metro||$ 151.47||Metro||$ 140.73 (- 7,1%)|
Despite all the analyses, it is very important to pay your credit card balances in full every month! Otherwise, all your savings will be wiped out by interest charges.
Even if using the right credit card only makes you save a small additional percentage, the savings are significant and real when accumulated over months and years.
Go to Walmart AND take out a credit card that gives you 5% or 5 points per dollar, like the National Bank World Elite Mastercard and BMO® CashBack® World Elite®* Mastercard®* (or the American Express Cobalt® Card with the gift card trick) is a great combination for saving money at the grocery store.
In the last table, the $30 per week difference between Walmart and Metro represents an annual difference of $1,540 .
Of course, not all supermarkets are in all regions. Find out more about the advantages of the payment method you use, the grocery store you frequent and its rewards program. That way, you’ll be able to get as much as you can, to your advantage!