AmEx Unveils Two New Rewards Cards: Blue Cash Everyday and Preferred - NerdWallet
Advertiser Disclosure

AmEx Unveils Two New Rewards Cards: Blue Cash Everyday and Preferred

You can trust that we maintain strict editorial integrity in our writing and assessments; however, we receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners and get approved. Heres how we make money .

Aw nerds! It looks like this page may be out of date. Please visit NerdWallet’s Best Credit Cards page for updated info.

American Express has changed the Blue Cash to two new versions: the Blue Cash Everyday, and the Blue Cash Preferred.

The old Blue Cash card had “everyday categories” that earned extra rewards: spending on drugstores, supermarkets and gas (though gas from Costco and other warehouse stores doesn’t count for the bonus). It also came with a threshold rewards system: for every dollar spent up to $6,500 a year, cardholders received 1% back on these everyday categories and 0.5% back on everything else. For spending above $6,500, cardholders got 5% back on everyday and 1.25% back on everything else.Both have a base rewards rate of 1%. The Everyday gives 2% back on gas and department stores and 3% back on supermarkets, while the Preferred gives 3% back on gas and department stores plus 6% back on groceries. Cardholders also receive a bonus, $25 for the Everyday and $75 for the Preferred, for referring a friend to the Blue Cash cards. There’s no bonus for referring someone to another AmEx card.

Despite our past gripes about the American Express Blue Cash, the newcomers will be welcome improvements for suburbanites who don’t necessarily reach the spending thresholds for maximum rewards. Like everything in life, the new Blue Cash Everyday and Preferred come with tradeoffs, but for many families, the changes are for the better.

What’s different about the new Blue Cash cards?

The old Blue Cash had no annual fee, while the new ones offer an option to pay the fee and receive better rewards. The new ones also have no spending threshold: you earn the top rewards rate from the first dollar spent. As for redeeming the rewards, the previous Blue Cash card only allowed users to get their cash back once a year, at year end, but the Blue Cash Everyday and Preferred will allow for redemptions at any time, in increments of $25 or higher.

The new rewards program has shifted primarily towards lower rates in a greater number of categories, so depending on your spending habits, you may prefer the old or new rewards system. The new structure rewards department stores rather than drugstores, but has a lower rewards rate almost across the board. The only category with a higher earn rate is supermarket spending with the Blue Cash Preferred. However, the lowered rewards rates will be offset by the nixed spending threshold for many households.

A nice feature of Amex’s new Blue Cash cards is that the rewards program stays constant. Some rewards cards have rotating 5% bonus categories that change by the quarter and require you to enroll every three months to get your rewards. AmEx’s program is simple: you don’t have to opt in, or keep abreast of changing categories.

When should you go with Blue Cash?

There are a number of excellent rewards cards out there. Some have good base rates, but most privilege certain purchases with “bonus” rewards. So choosing the right credit card for your own needs means analyzing your own spending habits, and picking the card that will reward them.

For social butterflies: The AmEx Blue Cash cards are not for those in their thirsty twenties. They favor groceries over dining out and department store shopping over movies. If you live in a city and take public transit or taxis, the gas rewards won’t be particularly helpful. Our choice for these urban socialites is the Citi Forward, which pays out 5% rewards on music, movies, books, restaurants and bars (it even works with small, non-chain restaurants), and 1% on everything else.

For Ramen-noshers: If you’re single, frugal, public-transit-taker or biker who grows her own vegetables and doesn’t often shop at department stores, you won’t be helped out much by AmEx’s preferred categories. We suggest a rewards card with no annual fee, if you won’t be putting much money on the card. If you have a Fidelity investment, retirement, or checking account, the Fidelity American Express contributes 2% of all your purchases to your account and charges no annual fee.

For suburbanites: Do you buy groceries for a family of four (especially one that includes a teenage boy), buy a lot of gas, and/or shop at Macy’s far too often (perhaps replacing the rapidly outgrown clothes of said teenage boy)? Then the Blue Cash cards are perfect for you. They reward the purchases of those who drive a lot, and cook most of their meals at home. They also favor department stores over smaller boutique stores. It’s a card tailored to the spending habits of commuters and busy parents. The closest competitor for those who match this profile is the TrueEarnings from Costco, which pays 3% on gas and restaurants, and 2% on travel.

Which is better: the old Blue Cash, the Everyday or the Preferred?

If you decide that the gas/groceries/department store rewards are the way to go, you now must select a card in the Blue Cash family. Existing Blue Cash customers will have the option to either keep their current rewards program, or switch to the Everyday or Preferred, but new AmEx customers will only have the new versions to choose from.

If you already have a Blue Cash card, consider staying with the old one if you a) spend a lot of money, b) spend a lot on gas, or c) shop at drugstores a lot. You should switch if you a) don’t spend quite enough money to maximize rewards over the $6,500 spending threshold or b) frequent department stores more than drugstores.

Between the Blue Cash Everyday and the Blue Cash Preferred, the Preferred is almost always the better option. The Preferred card offers twice the rewards on supermarket purchases, and 1.5 times the rewards on gas and department stores. That means the deal is worth it if you can make up the $75 annual fee in spending in those categories.

So when should you go with the old Blue Cash, the Everyday or the Preferred? We’ve broken down a few different spending scenarios, in terms of money spent in each category per month – it’s far easier to calculate how many times you fill up in four weeks than fifty-two. However, the verdict is the savings you’d get from using the chosen card over the course of a year.

Spending Profile Monthly Spending** Category Breakdown Rewards Rate after Fees Best Blue Cash Card
Average US consumer* $1,713
  • Drugstores: $132
  • Groceries: $574
  • Gas: $226
  • Department stores: $150
  • Preferred: 2.75% after annual fee
  • Blue Cash Everyday: 1.89%
  • Old Blue Cash: 2.49%
Preferred
Light-spending consumer $1,170
  • Drugstores: $70
  • Groceries: $400
  • Gas: $150
  • Department stores: $100
  • Preferred: 2.60%
  • Everyday: 1.90%
  • Old: 2.09%
Preferred
Smaller household $1,325
  • Drugstores: $100
  • Groceries: $450
  • Gas: $150
  • Department stores: $100
  • Preferred: 3.96%
  • Everyday: 2.55%
  • Old: 2.41%
Preferred
Environmentally friendly $900
  • Drugstores: $25
  • Groceries: $500
  • Gas: $0
  • Department stores: $75
  • Preferred: 3.25%
  • Everyday: 2.19%
  • Old: 1.85%
Preferred
Single commuter $710
  • Drugstores: $35
  • Groceries: $175
  • Gas: $100
  • Department stores: $50
  • Preferred: 1.77%
  • Everyday: 1.70%
  • Old: 1.23%
Preferred

*From the US Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Survey. Other values are our own estimations, for illustrative purposes.
**Total monthly spending put on the card

It largely comes down to how much you’ll put on the card. If you spend substantially more than the $6,500 threshold of the old Blue Cash, you’ll benefit greatly from the 5% rewards on gas, supermarket and drugstore spending, as well as the bumped-up base rewards rate. On the other hand, if you spend a lot of money at department stores, but don’t put a lot on your card overall, you’re better off with the new one.

See how the Blue Cash cards stack up against the competition with our cash back credit card finder!

  • Did you find this article helpful?
  • yes   no
  • http://twitter.com/sunkcosts slug

    The 6% for groceries is pretty compelling, as well as the $100 to offset the $75 fee, but knowing that I would cancel the card near the end of year 2 to avoid a second annual fee makes me just not want to bother.

    • http://www.nerdwallet.com/ Tim

      Not a fan of paying annual fees?

  • Steve

    So the categories are: supermarkets, gas stations, department stores, and everything else.

    Supermarkets: If you are a suburbanite and are doing enough grocery shopping to make up for the annual fee ($1875 in groceries over using a 2% Fidelity AMEX), doing your grocery shopping at Costco and using the 2% Fidelity AMEX will net you more return on your money. You can also get Executive Membership and get 4% back total.
    Gas Stations: Fort Knox FCU Visa, 5% back on gas, 1.25% on everything else.
    Department Stores: Get the card from the actual store. Not only do you get 3%+ rewards rate, you also get the bonus offers such as 20% off /$20 off on individual purchases.
    Everything Else: Fidelity AMEX 2% on everything (no need to open a Fidelity account if you wait to redeem at $250)

    The only way to make the Blue Cash Preferred card worth it is if you abuse the 6% and purchase Visa Gift Card recharges from your grocery store. That way you get 6% off everything.

    • http://www.nerdwallet.com/ Tim

      Absolutely right on all points. The only problem here is that you then have
      to carry 3 or more different credit cards. I do, of course, but I think a
      number of users enjoy the convenience of having one well-rounded rewards
      program to cover the bases wherever they spend the most money. And these
      two cards do a much better job of covering the gamut than the old Blue Cash
      did.

      Excellent point about the Visa gift cards. If there are any serious rewards
      hackers reading this, I’m sure they could make the most of that.

      • Steve

        Good points.

        For an all purpose card though, you’d have to be putting more than 50% of your annual purchases on groceries for the Everyday card to be worth more than a 2% cashback card.

        And while doing the Visa gift cards is great in theory, I’m guessing AMEX will start doing Financial Reviews for those who abuse it.

        As a side question and I hope this doesn’t come off as rude, but do you receive affiliate benefits for posting reviews on new cards?

        • http://www.nerdwallet.com/ Tim

          It’s not rude at all, in fact we’re pretty upfront about it on our About Us page.

          We don’t get anything for the reviews themselves, no. We do get paid if
          people sign up for some of these cards after they read the reviews.

          Emphasis on some, however, since we have more than 1,400 cards in our
          database and we get paid for a small fraction of them. If you check out our
          search/decision tool, you’ll clearly see which ones say “Sponsored.”

          Hope that answers your question!

  • GK

    I got the regular Amex Blue Cash 2 months ago. Are they gonna switch us to the new Everyday version? I am not gonna reach the limit of 6,500 / year so I guess the new Everyday version of the card will be more suitable for me.

    • http://www.nerdwallet.com/ Tim

      They won’t switch you automatically, no. Old Blue Cash customers get to
      keep their current rewards programs.

      If you want to switch, however, I believe they’ll make it easy for you.

      • GK

        I have recently contacted them, and the reply was: because my account is almost brand new, I will have to wait for 4-6 months to be eligible to switch my rewards program to the Blue cash Everyday.

        However if I want to enroll to the Preferred, this can be done today… ! Lame

  • Wombat

    As soon as I found out about these new cards, I went through my statements and I couldn’t stop but notice that it appears that Amazon.com is counted as a Department Store purchase; not Marketplace, Kindle store or Amazon Pay orders, but plain old Amazon orders. So if you shop a lot from Amazon.com, this could be worth it since their own card gives something like 3% i believe.

  • Brent Healy

    I am keeping the old Blue Cash. I’ve had it for 9 years, and spend above the $6500 threshold pretty quickly. I get about $1100 back annually, with no annual fee and no finance charges (I’m down to 10.27%) Plus the AMEX customer service is second to none. I’m happy.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5EHUSJKSBE3BROVKFMJRPGVCZU shane schaetz

    thanks for the great post. i guess i’ll hang with the old blue cash!

  • Anonymous

    I have had the traditional Amex Blue Cash for years, and sadly, I only discovered this news today (many months after it came out). As an Amex Blue Cash holder, I was not notified in any way of these changes. I only noticed because I saw in the account page on the website that I could redeem my cash reward now (which was strange to me since I always had to wait a full year).

    Is there any penalty in redeeming the cash on a month to month basis? Right now I am at $600 in cash rewards (just sitting in there) and I have gone over the $6500 threshold so the rewards will now be at 5% going forward (we spend about $500 a month on gas and $1500 a month on groceries for a large family, and don’t really use the card for anything else with the exception of things we want to track like medical co-pays).

    I think it makes sense for me to leave the old plan for now as I get 5% back on everything, but then switch to preferred (6/3 breakdown) after the end of the year when my $6500+ bonus period resets. Does that make sense?

    Gas is pretty much a constant for us that we cannot change, so using the card for that makes sense, but groceries is a dangerous game as we tend to spend more on the card than we do with a budgeted debit approach, sort of offsetting the 6% reward.

    • http://www.nerdwallet.com/ Tim

      There’s no penalty in redeeming your rewards on a month-to-month basis. As long as you have at least $25 in rewards accrued, you are eligible. So if I were you, I’d cash in ASAP!

      And going forward, I think you have the right strategy. Keeping the old card will likely net you the most money for the rest of the year, but then you should consider switching to the Preferred. By my calculations, you’d get ~$940 per year with the old Blue Cash, or ~$1185 with the Preferred. That’s only counting gas and groceries, and taking the $75 annual fee into account.

      Plus if you use the card at all for department store purchases, you’ll do even better.

      • Anonymous

        Thanks!

      • Anonymous

        Also, how did you arrive by my name? I didn’t think it was available in my profile.

        • http://www.nerdwallet.com/ Tim

          As the moderator, I can see your email address (no one else can).  Sorry that was silly of me to use your name though, so I edited my comment accordingly.

  • http://tristantom.com Tristan

    Keep in mind, if you don’t send over $208 at grocery stores that qualify for the ‘grocery’ cash back, the Everyday no-fee version of the Amex Blue Cash card is a better deal.

    Only if you spend or than that on groceries is the Preferred version (with $75. annual fee) worth it. 

    • Cadowyn

      This is mostly true. Get the preferred card at buy gift cards for all of these places and you’re getting 6% cash back….Use Chase’s Freedom for online shopping. You can get as much as 20% cash back!

  • http://twitter.com/KARMA773 Karma

    educate me, i spend about $30 on gas everyday 7 days a week whole year, i buy groceries at store called dominicks, jewel osco here in illinois, i wonder if that is called supermarket.

    which card is better regular bluecash everyday or prefered with the $75 fee? i already have the amex simply or whatever that business card is it gives unlimited 3% cashback on gas.

    • Cadowyn

      Preferred would be better. Buy a bunch of gas gift cards so you are getting 6% cash back (you’re getting the 6% because you’re using the credit card to buy the gift card…that purchase gives you 6%).

  • Noreen Esannason

    I just got my preferred card and will be spending more that $6,500 in two months does that mean after 2 months I will be getting 5% on everything from then on.

    • http://www.nerdwallet.com/ NerdWallet

      No, sorry. That was the old Blue Cash. The Preferred doesn’t have the spending threshold and the rewards rates are as described above on every dollar you spend.

  • Rsbk

    I have the American Express Preferred cash card. It’s all great if the merchants you purchase things from would cooperate. After speaking with American Express about my transactions that didn’t show up under the “fuel” category because the merchant categorized my gas transaction as “Merchant Snack” I was told that I would have to contact each merchant and ask them to change the wording on their card machine to make it apply. So I am currently very disappointed.

    • Rsbk

      I do need to make a correction to my previous comment. After speaking with American Express again they assured me that all of my charges do apply to a category. The person I spoke with previously apparently didn’t have correct information. This person assured me that the gas transaction that was categorized as “Merchant Snack” did qualify as a gas purchase. I’m a lot happier now!

      • Cadowyn

        Don’t even use your Preferred card for gas stations–unless you have to. I use my AAA card for that that offers 5% at Gas stations (It’s through Bank of America). Buy gas station gift cards at a grocery store so you’re getting 6% cash back.

  • inquisitor

    So if I shop at Wal-Mart weekly for my groceries (not a Neighborhood market) is that going to earn the 3%?

    • Cadowyn

      No, it won’t. Walmart, Target, Sam’s Club and Costco don’t count. If you’re going to shop at Target just use the RedCard and get 5% off most things in the store. You can’t use the RedCard savings on gift cards. The good thing about the Preferred card from American Express is that you can use it to buy gift cards and get 6% on gas, restaurants, video games, Best Buy, basically anything that you can buy a gift card for. Also, if you buy your liquor at a Publix, or a grocery store, you’re getting 6% cash back on that! lol

  • laura lou

    With Chase freedom, you have to keep $15,000.00 total in that bank for rewards, right? Do other banks require you to keep money in their banks for cash rewards?

    • Cadowyn

      I don’t even have a Chase checking account and I have the Freedom card. I get the rewards.

  • laura lou

    With Chase freedom, you have to keep $15,000.00 total in that bank for rewards, right? Do other banks require you to keep money in their banks for cash rewards?

  • Matt Hess

    I know this is old, but I’m assuming Costco qualifies as a grocery store? And if I buy gas from a grocery store that has an attached gas station, would that count as a gas station or grocery store? Thanks for the post.

    • http://www.doctorofcredit.com/ doctorofcredit

      Should do. Usually they have different terminals for the gas station section so it’ll depend on where you make your purchase.

      • Cadowyn

        Costco doesn’t count. Nor does Target and Walmart.

  • mh1361

    I know this is old, but I’m assuming Costco qualifies as a grocery store? And if I buy gas from a grocery store that has an attached gas station, would that count as a gas station or grocery store? Thanks for the post.

  • Cadowyn

    Costco doesn’t count. Nor does Target and Walmart.

  • Cadowyn

    I don’t even have a Chase checking account and I have the Freedom card. I get the rewards.

  • m K

    The Barclaycard Sallie Mae is another option: 5% back on gas up to $250/month, 5% back on groceries up to $250/month, and 5% on bookstores(Amazon) up to $750/month.