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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. 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 ExpressBlue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
American Express Blue Cash Preferred Credit Card
Apply Now

on American Express's
secure website

American Express Blue Cash Everyday Credit Card
Apply Now

on American Express's
secure website

Signing Promo
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.
Intro APR Promo
0% on Purchases for 15 months; 0% on Balance Transfers for 15 months0% on Purchases for 15 months; 0% on Balance Transfers for 15 months
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.
  • Hassle-free cash back: no enrollment required, the same great reward categories year-round.
  • Earn Cash Back: 6% US supermarkets up to $6,000 per year in purchases, 3% US gas stations & select US dept stores, 1% other purchases. Terms and limitations apply.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, then a variable rate, currently 12.99% to 21.99%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors.
  • Terms and limitations apply.
  • 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.
  • Hassle-free cash back: no enrollment required, the same great reward categories year-round.
  • Earn Cash Back: 3% U.S. supermarkets up to $6,000 per year in purchases, 2% U.S. gas stations & select U.S. dept stores, 1% other purchases. Terms and limitations apply.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.
  • No annual fee. Plus, 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, then a variable rate, currently 12.99% to 21.99%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors.
  • Terms and restrictions apply.

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, and the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express earns 3% cash back on groceries up to $6,000.

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 the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express and Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express 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 Everyday® Card from American Express, you’ll come out ahead if you spend more than $50 a week on groceries. And if you shell out more than that, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express 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.

If your spending habits are always changing: Chase Freedom®

Chase Freedom Credit Card
Apply Now

on Chase's
secure website

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.

If you want to choose your own rewards adventure: U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

US Bank Cash+(TM) Visa Signature(R) Card Credit Card
Apply Now

on US Bank's
secure website

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.

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

Citibank Citi® Double Cash Card Credit Card
Apply Now

on Citibank's
secure website

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.

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.

  • 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.

        • BigD

          I hate the credit card companies just as much because they suck people in with to good to be true rewards and then dump it when deadbeats like Mr. Disqust above abuse it. This is why nothing lasts!

          • Steve

            Who’s the real sucker, the person taking advantage of the supposed loop holes, or the person who doesn’t?

        • Kevin

          Anyone who spends $6000 a year on grocery spending is crazy. To back up my post from a few days ago, I went shopping last night at both Kroger and Wal Mart, to compare prices. Almost every single item I looked at was cheaper at Wal Mart, by a huge margin. Peanut Butter: $5.50 at Kroger, $3.98 at Wal Mart. Bacon: $5.99 at Kroger, $3.98 at Wal Mart. Tissues: $2.79 at Kroger, $1.98 at Wal Mart. Bread: $3.29 at Kroger, $2.79 at Wal Mart. Just to name a few.

          I do not work for Wal Mart and have absolutely no desire to help their company. But the reality is that if you’re about saving money, there’s no better way to save than to shop at the big boxes. I’m not talking about Sam’s or Costco (I do NOT believe in shopping there), I’m talking about Target and Wal Mart, for the most part. I’m only getting 1% cashback on those purchases, but I’m saving $20-50 per week by shopping there over a traditional grocery store. You could give me a 10% grocery cashback card, and it still wouldn’t be enough to make up the difference.

          • http://twitter.com/silver6054 silver6054

            Kevin says: Anyone who spends $6000 a year on grocery spending is crazy.

            Might that possibly depend on family size (and less so, food choices)

          • BigD

            I think what he is getting at is he shops more at Walmart/Target than grocery chains which are higher, so he is missing out on the 6% and does not spend $6,000/yr at grocery chains.

          • fredfnord

            Wow. So you don’t believe in shopping at Costco (a company which sources responsibly, has a decent corporate responsibility rating, and treats its employees well) but are fine with Wal Mart (which destroys entire communities, treats its employees like crap (most Wal Mart employees make little enough to qualify for Medicaid, so the government pays for health care for Wal Mart’s employees), allows overseas workers to burn to death in order to save about a quarter of a cent per garment, and is just all around a vicious destructive force in the world?

            I can’t begin to imagine why.

        • BigD

          Nerdwallet you need to proofread your reviews more carefully. BOA Cash rewards is is 3% gas, 2% groceries which is complete opposite of Amex.

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

            Big D:

            You’re completely right, good catch! The BankAmericard Cash Rewards gives 3% on gas and 2% on groceries (up to $1,500 spent cumulatively per quarter). Unfortunately, there really isn’t anything that’s up to the Preferred’s level – and I’m sure they know this, which is why they can get away with the cap.

      • 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.

        • BigD

          Actually your the dummy! Enough said.

          • disqust101

            “your” the dummy??? Oh my. As ignorant as a post…

          • BigD

            I bet you eat prunes every morning for breakfast and brag that you got 6% back too. Get lost ya cheapskate.

          • albert

            we are all here because we are all cheapskates, :) Just saying.

          • BigD

            umm, thats not something to be proud of. You are the prime reason why none of these reward programs last. Just saying. :)

        • mkc

          My boyfriend would buy those visa gift cards for $100 at the grocery store for gas and travel for work – points rack up fast that way. even with the $6,000 cap we still make 280 dollars/year after the fee. We also get cash back on a lot of other stuff so its more than just the $280 we get from the grocery store, the card will always be one of my favorites!

          • Steve

            Visa gift cards have a fee to buy them in grocery stores around me, it’s around 3-7% depending on the price, so you lose some of your cashback. You are better off checking to see what stores are in the area you travel, then buying area specific gift cards.

  • 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.

    • Frank Hogan

      I agree with your assessment Kevin. I too choose to shop at the discount stores for product value as well as the Bank Americards 2% grocery rebate and 3% gas rebate. I also use the Fidelity AmEx Rewards for most other purchases.

    • Deeana Goets

      That is maybe true in rural areas but not big urban areas. My local Fresh Market stores are much cheaper than Walmart. Dairy is cheaper, eggs, meat, condiments. I have not found Walmart to be cost savings. I believe they still rely on their reputation to fool people into thinking they are cheaper. If you actually compare prices, it is not cheaper. Amazon subscribe and save saves me up to 50% on paper towels, toilet payper, and such with no taxes and free 2 day delivery. If you order 5 items you get 20%. I just bought on Amazon in Feb 2014, 16 Giant pack of Brownies papertowels for 11 bucks that is it. I am not affiliated with Amazon, just want to pass on the ways so save people some money.

  • 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…

  • 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