Southwest Miles for Groceries: Safeway Delivery Review

While trying to earn miles toward a Southwest Companion Pass, I’ve expanded beyond the normal route of putting all my credit card spending on a Southwest card, and focused more and more on using Rapid Rewards Shopping.

Of course, you don’t want to go buying things you don’t need just to accumulate points. That’s why I love the opportunity to earn points for necessities I would have bought anyway. And nothing fits that definition better than groceries.

There are several grocery stores where you can order for pickup or delivery through the Rapid Rewards portal. I didn’t pay too much attention to this option pre-Covid because I prefer to go to the store and pick out my own groceries. But since the virus has surged so badly since Thanksgiving, especially in California, I have stopped shopping in the grocery store and turned to ordering services. Thus, I’m racking up some regular miles ordering on Safeway.com.

How has it been? So so.

First of all, I don’t know about you, but I find the process of picking out groceries online to be strangely time consuming. I’m a bargain shopper, so I’m not someone who could just reorder the same stuff week after week. In the physical store, I know where everything is and can scan the shelves for bargains very quickly. On the online store, I feel like I’m stumbling around blindly. But I know the more I shop this way, the better I will get at it.

I find myself making silly mistakes in buying things that I would never make if I held the item in my hand. Like, I just bought the kids unsweetened mini wheats and they were like whaaaat? I had no idea when I clicked on the little picture of the box. I also sometimes buy packages that are too small for our family of five. It’s hard to get a sense of how big the packages are. And then, I put a buy one, get one free item in my cart last week, but only one! Somehow my intuition said that if something was listed as a BOGO deal, adding it to your cart would purchase both. Ah, nope.

Then there are the issues with Safeway’s service when fulfilling the orders. I often find that the first available delivery day is several days out, and of course you don’t always think of grocery shopping until you’re already low on things. Then I discovered I could generally make a pickup order for the same day so I tried that. Holy cow, Safeway pickup service is terrible! Every time I have tried it, I’ve ended up with a long list of items that were supposedly “out of stock.” On one trip, every single refrigerated item was listed out of stock. That made me suspect that what really happened was that my order had been picked off the shelves previously, and the in-store shopper was supposed to grab the refrigerated items at the last minute, but they didn’t have time, so they just clicked the “out of stock” button and brought my stuff out. I would blame my local Safeway, but we scheduled a pick-up order while we were staying in Tahoe City and the same thing happened. And by the way, I have managed to choose the wrong store location both times we ordered grocery pickup while traveling, on the web sites of two different chains. Both times I ended up driving right past a nearby outlet of the store to pick up my groceries at one miles away. But that was on me.

Friends told me Safeway’s delivery was better at fullfilling items than the pickup, so I tried that this week. Well, it might have been a little better, but it still left me with nine items undelivered. They didn’t give me my ice cream, frozen broccoli, pot roast, yogurt and a few other things. My husband had been looking forward to putting the roast on the smoker today, and I had already promised my kids ice cream, so that didn’t go over well.

I’m planning to continue ordering Safeway delivery for the miles, even though I’m less than thrilled with the service. Besides the miles, I also find Safeway.com more affordable than Instacart. I also like the idea of the orders being picked by unionized Safeway employees rather than by Instacart shoppers, who I know are not fairly paid.

If you’re not collecting Southwest miles, check the online shopping portal for your airline or program of choice to see if they, too, have groceries. Often the same companies appear on all the rewards sites, and Safeway is no exception; it’s on the American Airlines AAdvantage portal as well. If you live somewhere that they don’t have Safeway, other brands in the Safeway parent company are also on there: Albertsons, Vons, Jewel-Osco and Tom Thumb.

Sometime soon, I’ll share another way to earn miles buying food to cook at home: ordering meal kits.

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