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American Express Blue Cash Showdown: Everyday or Preferred?

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American Express Blue Cash Showdown: Everyday or Preferred?

Choosing between the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express and the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express comes down to how much you spend on groceries, gas and department stores. Each card offers bonus cash back on all three categories.

The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express comes with higher cash-back rates. It also has a $95. The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express has a $0 annual fee, but the cash-back rates are lower.

The difference in annual fees is a consideration, but don’t let it completely guide your decision. If you spend a lot of money in these bonus categories, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express will earn much more cash back.

» CALCULATE: Compare the rewards you’d get on these cards


Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Comparing the cards

The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is essentially a souped-up version of the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express made for those who spend more on gas, groceries and department stores.

The main components of each card are broken down and compared below.

Grocery rewards 

  • The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express gives you 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 in spending annually, with 1% back beyond that limit.
  • The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express gives you 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 a year in spending, and 1% back beyond that.

Nerd tip

Many supermarkets now sell gift cards for a variety of retailers, restaurants and other merchants. By buying gift cards with either of the Blue Cash cards and then using those gift cards yourself, you can effectively extend your bonus cash back to a much wider range of categories.

Gas and department store rewards 

  • The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express earns 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores, with no cap on spending.
  • The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express comes in with a slightly lower 2% rate at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores.
  • Both cards offer 1% on all other purchases.

Sign-up bonuses

Both cards come with a sign-up bonus, with the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express offering a bit more.

  • The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express: $200 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months. Terms Apply.
  • The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express: $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months. Terms Apply.

» PRE-QUALIFY: NerdWallet now offers American Express Pre-Qualification. See whether you’re eligible for a better offer.

Making the choice

Which of these cards is right for you depends entirely on how much you spend. The chart below uses grocery spending to illustrate the relative value of carrying the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express and paying the annual fee. It shows three scenarios:

  1. The amount you’d need to spend with the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express to break even on the $95 annual fee.
  2. The amount you’d need to spend with the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express to earn more cash back than you would with the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, taking into account the cost of the $95 annual fee.
  3. The total amount of bonus cash back on the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express when you max out the 6% U.S. supermarket bonus category. (All spending over this amount earns 1% back on either card.)
 Yearly SpendingWeekly SpendingYearly Cash Back after subtracting Annual Fee
1. U.S. supermarket spending needed to break even on annual fee$1,583$31$0
2. U.S. supermarket spending needed to beat the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express$3,172$61$95
3. Maximum bonus cash back on U.S. supermarkets$6,000$116$265

Comparing your own spending to this chart helps determine whether you should choose the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express or the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express — but it doesn’t paint the whole picture, since you also have to take into account gas and department store spending. Use our calculator below to see which card is the better deal for you based on your monthly spending patterns.

Note: U.S. supermarket rewards apply only at stand-alone grocery stores and supermarkets — not warehouse clubs (e.g., Costco, Sam’s Club) or department stores with grocery sections (e.g., Target, Walmart). Gas rewards apply only at U.S. gas stations — not superstores, supermarkets or warehouse clubs that also sell gasoline.

Kevin Cash is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: kcash@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @kevin_cash.