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Back in the day (also known as 2010), American Express had just one version of the Blue Cash credit card. Now, after the Great Schism, we have the American Express Blue Cash Preferred and the Everyday. Like many other credit cards, the Blue Cashes come in fee and no-fee versions.
The Preferred has a $75 annual fee, a $100 bonus offer for new cardholders, and a better rewards rate (6% on up to $6k spent on groceries a year, unlimited 3% at gas stations and department stores and 1% elsewhere).
The Everyday has no annual fee, no bonus offer for new cardholders, and a lower rewards rate (3%, 2% and 1%).
It’s also worth noting that both have a refer-a-friend bonus: if you sign up a friend, you get $75 if you’ve got the Preferred and $25 if you’ve got the Everyday. However, if you do the refer-a-friend program, your bosom buddy must sign up for the same version as you: if you have the Preferred, they need to sign up for the Preferred for you go get the kickback.
Which card is better: the Everyday or the Preferred?
For the full analysis, complete with tables, statistics and percentages check out our blog post comparing the Blue Cash Everyday and Blue Cash Preferred. Otherwise, here’s the Cliffs Notes version:
There are some scenarios in which the old Blue Cash is better than the Everyday, but in almost every spending scenario, the Preferred tops both of them. It delivers the best value for a household, which a) spends a lot of money and b) spends a good chunk on groceries, gas and clothes. Still, the Preferred beats out both the Everyday and the old Blue Cash even if you’re a smaller household, if you don’t drive but shop for groceries a lot, or if you’re a single person who drives to work. Bottom line: do the math for yourself, but if we had to bet, we’d say the Preferred is the best choice for you.
Are the new Blue Cash cards better than the old one?
It’s a matter of some debate. The vintage Blue had a spending threshold, while the new Blue Cashes have a spending cap on groceries. The vintage Blue had “everyday categories” that earned a bonus: gas, groceries, and drugstores. Once you spent $6,500, you earned 5% rewards in those categories and 1.25% elsewhere, but until you hit that threshold you only got 1% in the bonus and ½% elsewhere. With the new Blue Cash Preferred, you earn 6% on the first $6,000 spent on groceries each calendar year (1% after that), unlimited 3% on gas and department store purchases and 1% elsewhere. With the new Everyday, you earn 3%, 2% and 1%, respectively.
Whether you earn more rewards overall is debatable. If you’ve got the Preferred, you earn an extra percent in groceries, and while you take a hit on gas, it’s likely that you spend more on department stores than you do at drugstores. Plus, households may actually earn more because of the nixed spending threshold. The verdict: whether or not the new Blue Cash is better for you depends highly on your spending habits.
How do the Preferred and Everyday stack up against other cash back credit cards?
A main draw of the Blue Cashes is their simplicity: you get straight up cash back instead of travel credits, airline miles, etc. So we’ll stack them up against similar cash back credit cards in order to avoid comparing apples to oranges.
Costco TrueEarnings: The Costco American Express doesn’t technically have an annual fee, so long as you pay for the Costco membership fee. The rewards rate is lower: 3% on gas up to $3k a year, 2% for restaurants and travel, and 1% elsewhere. We tend to prefer the Blue Cash because it has a higher rewards rate, and because you get cash back throughout the year (with the exception of the $6,000 grocery spending cap) rather than a once-a-year Costco voucher that is redeemable for cash. However, the Costco AmEx does give rewards on Costco gas, unlike the Blue Cash.
Preferred vs. Chase Freedom: The Chase Freedom gives a 1% base rewards rate, and 5% back in rotating bonus categories that change quarterly and can include hotel stays, gas, charity and movies. It also doesn’t have an annual fee, unlike the Blue Cash. The quarterly bonus categories do have rewards caps, so keep that in mind. The best card for you will depend highly on how you spend: if you’re more of a diverse spender, you’ll prefer the ever-changing bonus categories of the Freedom, but if you consistently buy a lot of gas and groceries, the Preferred’s the way to go.