AmEx Blue Cash Wins on Grocery Spending - NerdWallet
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AmEx Blue Cash Wins on Grocery Spending

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AmEx Blue Cash Wins on Grocery Spending

True, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express and the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express no longer dole out unlimited bonus rewards on groceries. As of 2012, you can earn the higher cash-back rate only on the first $6,000 you spend per year at standalone supermarkets (then 1%). But spending caps and all, these cards may still be your best bet for maximizing rewards on everyday grocery purchases.

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
American Express Blue Cash Preferred Credit Card
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on American Express's
secure website

American Express Blue Cash Everyday Credit Card
Apply Now

on American Express's
secure website

Bonus Offer
Get $150 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. You will receive $150 back in the form of a statement credit. Get $100 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. You will receive $100 back in the form of a statement credit.
APR
0% on Purchases for 15 months and 0% on Balance Transfers for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 13.24%-22.24% Variable 0% on Purchases for 15 months and 0% on Balance Transfers for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 13.24%-22.24% Variable
Annual fee
$75 $0
Details
  • Get $150 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. You will receive $150 back in the form of a statement credit.
  • Earn Cash Back: 6% U.S. supermarkets up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%), 3% U.S. gas stations & select U.S. dept stores, 1% other purchases. Terms and limitations apply.
  • With the Blue Cash Preferred® Card, you can start earning cash back. No rotating reward categories. No enrollment required.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit. Cash back is earned only on eligible purchases.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, then a variable rate, currently 13.24% to 22.24%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors.
  • Terms and limitations apply.
  • View Rates and Fees
  • Get $100 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. You will receive $100 back in the form of a statement credit.
  • Earn Cash Back: 3% U.S. supermarkets up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%), 2% U.S. gas stations & select U.S. dept stores, 1% other purchases. Terms and limitations apply.
  • With the Blue Cash Everyday® Card, you can start earning cash back. No rotating reward categories. No enrollment required.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit. Cash back is earned only on eligible purchases.
  • No annual fee. Plus, 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, then a variable rate, currently 13.24% to 22.24%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors.
  • Terms and restrictions apply.
  • View Rates and Fees

Where Blue Cash shines

There are plenty of reasons we still love the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express and the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express. Here are a few:

1. Lots of earnings on groceries – Even with the spending caps, these cards still offer bigger cash back rewards on groceries than much of the competition. The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express earns 6% cash back on groceries up to $6,000 spent annually (then 1%), and the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express earns 3% cash back on groceries up to $6,000 spent annually (then 1%).

For the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, that’s $285 in savings per year, once you subtract the $75 annual fee. And for the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, that’s $180 in annual savings.

2. Signup bonuses – Both cards offer signup bonuses, a rare feature for cash back cards. You’ll earn these automatically once you meet the spending minimums.

3. No rotating rewards – Sometimes, simple is just better. If you hate keeping track of unpredictable earnings categories, the easy-to-understand earning structures on these cards may make them easier for you to use.

4. Options for different spending styles – You don’t have to be a big spender to get excellent grocery rewards. With the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, you’ll come out ahead if you spend at least $50 a week on groceries. And if you shell out more than that, it can boost your earnings even higher.

Other grocery contenders to consider

The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express and the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express aren’t for everyone. If you do all your grocery shopping at a place that isn’t a standalone supermarket, such as Walmart or Target, or if you want to earn more cash back in other categories, consider going with a different offer.

Chase Freedom Credit Card
Learn More
If your spending habits are always changing: Chase Freedom®

With rotating rewards categories, the  Chase Freedom® offers 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in select categories per quarter (which adds up to $6,000 a year, matching American Express’s cap). Sometimes, these categories include groceries. If your spending needs align with these quarterly groups, you may be able to earn more cash back overall than you would with other cards.

US Bank Cash+(TM) Visa Signature(R) Card Credit Card
Learn More
If you want to choose your own rewards adventure: U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

With the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card, you can choose two rotating categories to earn 5% back on up to $2,000 in combined net purchases. You’ll also earn 2% cash back on your choice of an everyday category – which, in this case, could be groceries. Because there’s no limit on how much cash back can be earned in total, this card may offer larger returns in the long run for people who spend more at the supermarket.

Citibank Citi® Double Cash Card Credit Card
Learn More
If you don’t want to bother with categories at all: Citi®Double Cash Card

You can earn a flat 1% cash back per dollar spent on the Citi®Double Cash Card, plus another 1% on every dollar you pay off. Because there are no limits on how many rewards you can earn, you don’t have to worry about spending more in certain categories or hitting any spending caps. You may earn more cash back in the long run this way – especially if your spending is more diversified.

The takeaway

At the end of the day, if you want a good grocery rewards credit card, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express and the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express are hard to beat. If you spend less than $6,000 a year on groceries, the spending caps won’t make a difference to you. And if you spend more, you may still be earning more cash back on groceries than you would with other cards.

Claire Davidson is a staff writer covering personal finance for NerdWallet. Follow her on Twitter @ideclaire7 and on Google+.


Image via iStock.

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  • http://twitter.com/hawaii2000 mike swanson

    I would think that many, if not most, Blue Cash Preferred cardholders easily spend $6000 in annual grocery purchases. This comes out to an average of only $500 spent on groceries a month and our family of two spends at least $600 on groceries a month! This is disappointing news.

    • BigD

      LOL….so glad that I didn’t fall for this BS and apply for this card. Now your favorite card isn’t so great now Nerdwallet!. Paying $75 annual fee for any credit card is a total ripoff and now Blue Cash cardholders are really going to lose out here and get their grocery spending capped at $6,000. They would not have capped it if they didn’t have a bunch of cardholders milking them dry. The saying always holds true, if its to good to be true, it probably is. Suckers!

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

        Hi there, Big D:

        Unfortunately, if you’re a big groceries spender, it’s hard to do better (unless you stay at the Hilton). Here are our calculations:

        No other widely available card (that we know of) offers 6% rewards on groceries, or even 5% on a consistent basis. So we’ll compare the Blue Cash cards to a generic no-fee card that offers an unlimited 3% rewards on groceries (ignoring, for now, that the Preferred also earns an unlimited 3% on gas and department stores). How much would you have to spend on groceries before the Preferred’s rewards cap makes it worse than the no-fee?
        Preferred: 6% * $6,000 – $75 = $285
        Generic: 3% * $9,500 = $285

        You’d have to spend $9,500 on groceries annually (or about $180 per week) for an uncapped 3% card to outweigh the capped 6% Preferred card. The Preferred’s sweet spot is between $2,500 and $9,500 annually, or around $50-$180 per week. Any less than that, and you don’t make up for the $75 fee; any more and the $6,000 cap makes it less attractive than an unlimited 3% card. But.

        The upper limit is pretty much hypothetical. No major card gives an unlimited 3% rewards on groceries (anymore) except for the Hilton HHonors cards, one of which has no fee and one of which has a $75 annual fee. We base that 3% rewards rate on the assumption that you stay at the Hilton and will redeem your rewards there. If you do, fantastic, if not, your rewards rate drops dramatically. The potent combination of cash back, 3% on groceries and no rewards cap can no longer be found, so the Blue Cash is pretty much the best you can do.

      • disqust101

        BigD for Big Dummy, I presume? $75 fee was an absolute steal for unlimited purchases at grocery stores (which sell gift cards that effectively allows 5% CB on all your spend). Couple with Chase Ink and USBank Cash Plus and you virtually get everything at 5% cb.

  • http://twitter.com/hawaii2000 mike swanson

    I would think that many, if not most, Blue Cash Preferred cardholders easily spend $6000 in annual grocery purchases. This comes out to an average of only $500 spent on groceries a month and our family of two spends at least $600 on groceries a month! This is disappointing news.

  • mike

    I would think that many, if not most, Blue Cash Preferred cardholders easily spend $6000 in annual grocery purchases. This comes out to an average of only $500 spent on groceries a month and our family of two spends at least $600 on groceries a month! This is disappointing news.

    • BigD

      LOL….so glad that I didn’t fall for this BS and apply for this card. Now your favorite card isn’t so great now Nerdwallet!. Paying $75 annual fee for any credit card is a total ripoff and now Blue Cash cardholders are really going to lose out here and get their grocery spending capped at $6,000. They would not have capped it if they didn’t have a bunch of cardholders milking them dry. The saying always holds true, if its to good to be true, it probably is. Suckers!

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

        Hi there, Big D:

        Unfortunately, if you’re a big groceries spender, it’s hard to do better (unless you stay at the Hilton). Here are our calculations:

        No other widely available card (that we know of) offers 6% rewards on groceries, or even 5% on a consistent basis. So we’ll compare the Blue Cash cards to a generic no-fee card that offers an unlimited 3% rewards on groceries (ignoring, for now, that the Preferred also earns an unlimited 3% on gas and department stores). How much would you have to spend on groceries before the Preferred’s rewards cap makes it worse than the no-fee?
        Preferred: 6% * $6,000 – $75 = $285
        Generic: 3% * $9,500 = $285

        You’d have to spend $9,500 on groceries annually (or about $180 per week) for an uncapped 3% card to outweigh the capped 6% Preferred card. The Preferred’s sweet spot is between $2,500 and $9,500 annually, or around $50-$180 per week. Any less than that, and you don’t make up for the $75 fee; any more and the $6,000 cap makes it less attractive than an unlimited 3% card. But.

        The upper limit is pretty much hypothetical. No major card gives an unlimited 3% rewards on groceries (anymore) except for the Hilton HHonors cards, one of which has no fee and one of which has a $75 annual fee. We base that 3% rewards rate on the assumption that you stay at the Hilton and will redeem your rewards there. If you do, fantastic, if not, your rewards rate drops dramatically. The potent combination of cash back, 3% on groceries and no rewards cap can no longer be found, so the Blue Cash is pretty much the best you can do.

      • disqust101

        BigD for Big Dummy, I presume? $75 fee was an absolute steal for unlimited purchases at grocery stores (which sell gift cards that effectively allows 5% CB on all your spend). Couple with Chase Ink and USBank Cash Plus and you virtually get everything at 5% cb.

  • Kevin

    One thing to keep in mind is that grocery stores typically have much higher prices than big box stores. As a result, I don’t spend much at standalone grocery stores. I shop at grocery stores for fresh fruit, and very specific items. Everything else I purchase at Wal Mart (As much as I hate to endure it). They are cheaper than standalone grocery stores by at least 5-10% on most items, especially name-brands. Therefore, the Amex Blue Cash Everyday will work best for me, after my grandfathered Blue Cash card expires next winter.

  • Kevin

    One thing to keep in mind is that grocery stores typically have much higher prices than big box stores. As a result, I don’t spend much at standalone grocery stores. I shop at grocery stores for fresh fruit, and very specific items. Everything else I purchase at Wal Mart (As much as I hate to endure it). They are cheaper than standalone grocery stores by at least 5-10% on most items, especially name-brands. Therefore, the Amex Blue Cash Everyday will work best for me, after my grandfathered Blue Cash card expires next winter.

  • Kevin

    One thing to keep in mind is that grocery stores typically have much higher prices than big box stores. As a result, I don’t spend much at standalone grocery stores. I shop at grocery stores for fresh fruit, and very specific items. Everything else I purchase at Wal Mart (As much as I hate to endure it). They are cheaper than standalone grocery stores by at least 5-10% on most items, especially name-brands. Therefore, the Amex Blue Cash Everyday will work best for me, after my grandfathered Blue Cash card expires next winter.

  • Pingback: The Rumors are True: Amex Blue Cash Capping Grocery Rewards … | Supreme Credit Cards()

  • wash_st_native

    As of Jan 15th you can forget about 6% I just received a letter that the cash back drops to 3% for the 1st $6k and 1% after that. I just signed up for this card in August 2012 should have known better…

    • DL

      Nerdwallet, can you confirm this?

    • wash_st_native

      I just received a new letter earlier this week, (Dated Dec 21st) stating that they sent me the previous letter in error. Amex Blue Cash Preferred will continue at 6% until $6,000 is reached; after that, the reward drops to 1% for the remainder of the calendar year. This will go into effect on January 15, 2013. Sorry for Amex adding to the confusion…

  • wash_st_native

    As of Jan 15th you can forget about 6% I just received a letter that the cash back drops to 3% for the 1st $6k and 1% after that. I just signed up for this card in August 2012 should have known better…

  • wash_st_native

    As of Jan 15th you can forget about 6% I just received a letter that the cash back drops to 3% for the 1st $6k and 1% after that. I just signed up for this card in August 2012 should have known better…

    • DL

      Nerdwallet, can you confirm this?

    • wash_st_native

      I just received a new letter earlier this week, (Dated Dec 21st) stating that they sent me the previous letter in error. Amex Blue Cash Preferred will continue at 6% until $6,000 is reached; after that, the reward drops to 1% for the remainder of the calendar year. This will go into effect on January 15, 2013. Sorry for Amex adding to the confusion…

  • plmom

    Just received our statement and it looks like they are able to distinguish between gift card purchases and grocery purchases at supermarkets as we didn’t get the full 6% off of our supermarket purchases (and we bought some gift cards.) Can you confirm if this is true? We’ve had a hard time communicating with their customer service reps as every time we call we seem to be connected to an un-knowledgeable call center overseas.

  • plmom

    Just received our statement and it looks like they are able to distinguish between gift card purchases and grocery purchases at supermarkets as we didn’t get the full 6% off of our supermarket purchases (and we bought some gift cards.) Can you confirm if this is true? We’ve had a hard time communicating with their customer service reps as every time we call we seem to be connected to an un-knowledgeable call center overseas.

  • plmom

    Just received our statement and it looks like they are able to distinguish between gift card purchases and grocery purchases at supermarkets as we didn’t get the full 6% off of our supermarket purchases (and we bought some gift cards.) Can you confirm if this is true? We’ve had a hard time communicating with their customer service reps as every time we call we seem to be connected to an un-knowledgeable call center overseas.

  • mrkkk

    I dont see that 6000 cap for my old – Blue cash card

  • mrkkk

    I dont see that 6000 cap for my old – Blue cash card

  • mrkkk

    I dont see that 6000 cap for my old – Blue cash card

  • Mayor

    Asked American Express if the “Giant Eagle” grocery store was a qualified grocery store for the 6% cash back? Was told: “The grocery store must be in the United States and I can’t tell you beyond the site that is, “Partial List” of qualifying grocery stores. Well Giant Eagle is based in Pittsburgh so I still think that is in the United States, and would not tell me so when I used the card at the Giant Eagle American Express for some arbitrary reason would say does not qualify for the 6% cash back. BEWARE

  • Mayor

    Asked American Express if the “Giant Eagle” grocery store was a qualified grocery store for the 6% cash back? Was told: “The grocery store must be in the United States and I can’t tell you beyond the site that is, “Partial List” of qualifying grocery stores. Well Giant Eagle is based in Pittsburgh so I still think that is in the United States, and would not tell me so when I used the card at the Giant Eagle American Express for some arbitrary reason would say does not qualify for the 6% cash back. BEWARE

  • Mayor

    Asked American Express if the “Giant Eagle” grocery store was a qualified grocery store for the 6% cash back? Was told: “The grocery store must be in the United States and I can’t tell you beyond the site that is, “Partial List” of qualifying grocery stores. Well Giant Eagle is based in Pittsburgh so I still think that is in the United States, and would not tell me so when I used the card at the Giant Eagle American Express for some arbitrary reason would say does not qualify for the 6% cash back. BEWARE

  • Kristoffer Soguilon

    I have done quite a bit of research in this so hopefully this helps out people who are interested in getting the preferred as I did. The best way to take advantage of this card is buying gift cards for the store you need at Safeway. I have verified with their customer service that gift card purchases in Safeway are part of the 6% cashback. then take advantage of the Usave program that Safeway have in order to receive 20c per gallon savings for participating chevron and Safeway gas stores. + count your 3% cash back on gas.

    another side note* You can buy target gift cards, and wall mart gift cards in select Safeway locations, Ive seen a few.

    I hope this helps people

  • Kristoffer Soguilon

    I have done quite a bit of research in this so hopefully this helps out people who are interested in getting the preferred as I did. The best way to take advantage of this card is buying gift cards for the store you need at Safeway. I have verified with their customer service that gift card purchases in Safeway are part of the 6% cashback. then take advantage of the Usave program that Safeway have in order to receive 20c per gallon savings for participating chevron and Safeway gas stores. + count your 3% cash back on gas.

    another side note* You can buy target gift cards, and wall mart gift cards in select Safeway locations, Ive seen a few.

    I hope this helps people

  • Kristoffer Soguilon

    I have done quite a bit of research in this so hopefully this helps out people who are interested in getting the preferred as I did. The best way to take advantage of this card is buying gift cards for the store you need at Safeway. I have verified with their customer service that gift card purchases in Safeway are part of the 6% cashback. then take advantage of the Usave program that Safeway have in order to receive 20c per gallon savings for participating chevron and Safeway gas stores. + count your 3% cash back on gas.

    another side note* You can buy target gift cards, and wall mart gift cards in select Safeway locations, Ive seen a few.

    I hope this helps people