AmEx Gold vs. Blue Cash Preferred: Gold Triumphs for Travel

Even though the AmEx Gold earns less at U.S. supermarkets than the Blue Cash Preferred, its high-value travel redemption options make it the superior pick.
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Written by Jae Bratton
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If you're deciding between the American Express® Gold Card and the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, you probably have a sizable food budget and want to be rewarded for those expenses. Truth is, both cards are among the best credit cards for groceries on account of their high rewards rates at supermarkets.

But if you want to use rewards for travel, you'll get the maximum value from the AmEx Gold. You’ll be able to rack up points quickly on dining and grocery spending, and if you transfer those points to travel partners, you'll increase their redemption value.

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is by no means a slouch, though. Many people will benefit from this card as long as it fits their spending and redemption preferences. And if you don't want to use your rewards toward travel, it's probably the right card for you.

Here’s how to decide between these two cards from American Express.

At a glance

American Express® Gold Card

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

American Express® Gold Card
NerdWallet rating 
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
NerdWallet rating 

Annual fee

$250.

$0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95.

Sign-up bonus

Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.

Earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months. Terms Apply.

Rewards

  • 4X points at restaurants worldwide.

  • 4X points at U.S. supermarkets, on up to $25,000 in purchases.

  • 3X points on airfare on a scheduled flight charged directly with passenger airlines and charged directly with amextravel.com.

  • 1X points on everything else.

  • Terms apply.

  • 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%).

  • 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.

  • 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and on transit.

  • 1% back on everything else.

  • Terms apply.

APR

See Pay Over Time APR.

0% intro APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 19.24%-29.99% Variable APR.

Extra perks

  • $120 dining credit. (Enrollment required.)

  • Up to $120 Uber Cash credit.

  • Terms apply.

  • $84 Disney Bundle credit.

  • Terms apply.

Why the American Express® Gold Card is better

Food-centric rewards and perks

Households that spend big on groceries and dining out can get more rewards with the American Express® Gold Card.

Yes, the AmEx Gold earns just 4X points at U.S. supermarkets compared to the Blue Cash’s 6% rate. But, the cap on that rewards rate is significantly higher — up to $25,000 — than the Blue Cash’s $6,000 annual limit. Many households will easily spend more than $6,000 per year on groceries and will probably want the American Express® Gold Card to avoid a measly 1% rate on any spending that exceeds the $6,000 annual cap. Terms apply.

The American Express® Gold Card is the better card for people who spend a chunk of their budget at restaurants, too. Restaurant spending, which includes takeout and delivery, nets 4X points with the AmEx Gold; with the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, dining earns just 1%. Terms apply.

Here's a breakdown of the superior earning potential of the American Express® Gold Card based on $4,000 spending at U.S. supermarkets and $4,000 on dining.

Rewards

Reasonable redemption value

Total rewards value

First year annual fee

Net gain

American Express® Gold Card

$4,000 (supermarkets) at 4X = 16,000.

$4,000 (dining) at 4X = 16,000.

Total Membership Rewards: 32,000.

2 cents.

$640.

$250.

$390.

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

$4,000 (supermarkets) at 6% = $240.

$4,000 (dining) at 1% = $40.

Total Reward Dollars: $280.

1 cent.

$280.

$0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95.

$280 ($185 each subsequent year).

American Express® Gold Card cardholders also receive annual dining credits up to $120, issued in monthly increments of $10, when an eligible purchase is made. Enrollment required. GrubHub orders and purchases from The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations qualify for the dining credit. Terms apply.

🤓Nerdy Tip

The American Express® Gold Card’s annual Uber Cash credit, up to $120 and doled out in $10 monthly increments, is good toward UberEats orders and Rides. To get the credits, you must add the AmEx Gold Card as the payment method in the Uber app.

Valuable travel reward redemptions

If you’re interested in funding part or all of your travel expenses with rewards from your card, the American Express® Gold Card is the clear winner over the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express.

Purchases made with the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express earn Reward Dollars, which can only be redeemed for cash back. However, each swipe of the American Express® Gold Card earns American Express’s proprietary currency, Membership Rewards, which have superior value when redeemed for travel.

NerdWallet values Membership Rewards at 2 cents each. This is a baseline value, drawn from real-world data, not a maximized value. In other words, you should aim for award redemptions that offer 2 cents or more in value from your American Express Membership Rewards.

In order to get that higher value, though, you'll have to transfer your points to AmEx's travel partners. Understanding which partners offer the best value, and which even offer flights or hotels that match your travel plans and have award availability, can be a challenge.

If you'd rather not navigate the complex (but rewarding) process of transferring to travel partners for award redemptions, this may not be your best bet.

Who might prefer the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Better cash back redemption value

As mentioned earlier, Reward Dollars earned with the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express can only be redeemed for statement credits that reduce your total balance. But, that option may be enough for those who just want some cash back on their everyday spending. American Express® Gold Card holders can redeem their Membership Rewards for a statement credit, too, but the redemption rate is a mere 0.6 cents per point.

Let's look at an example $1,000 spent at U.S. supermarkets. You’d come away with a $60 statement credit by paying with the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express but a mere $24 credit if you used the AmEx Gold for the same purchases. Terms apply.

Annual grocery spend is less than $6,000

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans spent an average of $5,259 on food at home in 2021. If that number is close to what your family spends at the grocery store, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is likely the better choice for you. You can spend freely knowing that most, if not all, of your grocery spending will get 6% back. An annual spend of $5,000 at U.S. supermarkets at 6% would generate $300 in statement credits per year, more than making up for the Blue Cash's annual fee. Terms apply.

Lower annual fee

Some people don’t want to pay big annual fees to carry a card, and indeed, some cards charge hundreds of dollars a year. As the fee increases, people tend to be more mindful of taking advantage of a card’s credits and aligning their spending with its rewards structure.

Breaking even with the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express should be fairly easy for most people. The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express waives the annual fee in the first year. After that, you’ll only need to spend $1,600 a year on groceries to outearn the card’s annual fee. Terms apply.

Streaming perks

The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express earns 6% on U.S. streaming services, a rate that is virtually unmatched by other cards. Most major streaming services such as Apple TV+, Prime Video and Spotify qualify for the 6% back. With the AmEx Gold, streaming subscriptions earn just 1 Membership Rewards point per $1 spent. Terms apply.

You’ll save even more if you have a Disney Bundle streaming package that costs at least $9.99 a month. Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express cardholders will get a $7 statement credit for every month that an eligible Disney Bundle is charged to the card. Terms apply.

Which card should you get?

Let your redemption preferences guide your decision. If you want to supplement your travel budget with rewards from your card, and you're willing to put in a little work with transfer options to maximize value, the American Express® Gold Card is your winner. But when you aren’t interested in travel hacking — or you already have your travel card of choice — the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is a stellar card for groceries and other everyday spending.

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