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American Express Blue Cash Preferred: Blue Is Best

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Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express Editor's Rating: 4.4 / 5

BADGE_Top10CreditCards_EverydaySpendingIf you’re looking for unparalleled rewards for your everyday purchases, look no further than Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express. You earn top-notch rewards on gas and department stores, plus an unparalleled 6% rewards at grocery stores, up to $6,000 spent annually (then 1%). And since it pays out in cash, you don’t have to contend with gimmicky rewards programs or unwieldy airline miles. So if you eat food, wear clothing and drive cars — which, I venture to say, is a good portion of us — the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express has some of the best rewards out there.

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Apply Now on American Express's secure website

Pros

  • Leading cash back rewards for groceries
  • Sign-up bonus
  • 0% APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers

Cons

  • Has annual fee - but if you spend more than $31/week the rewards offset the fees
  • American Express isn’t accepted at as many merchants as Visa or MasterCard

Bonus Offer

Earn $150 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. You will receive the $150 back in the form of statement credits.

Annual Fee

$95 ($75 if your application is received by 8/3/16)

Intro APR Promotions

0% on Purchases for 12 months and 0% on Balance Transfers for 12 months

APR

  • APR: 13.24%-23.24% Variable
  • Penalty APR: Up to 29.49%, Variable
  • Cash Advance APR: 25.49%, Variable

Card Details

  • Earn $150 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. You will receive the $150 back in the form of statement credits.
  • Earn Cash Back: 6% at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, 3% at U.S. gas stations & select U.S. dept stores, 1% on other purchases. Terms and limitations apply.
  • With the Blue Cash Preferred® Card, you can get 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 12 months, then a variable rate, currently 13.24% to 23.24%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors.
  • Terms and Conditions apply.
  • View Rates and Fees

At a glance
Annual fees $95 ($75 if your application is received by 8/3/16)
Foreign transaction fee 2.7%
Rewards program Cash back
Sign-up bonus Earn $150 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. You will receive the $150 back in the form of statement credits.
Verdict: If you spend money on gas and groceries, this is the card for you.
Good for:
  • Someone who spends a lot on gas or groceries
  • Someone who spends money at places that sell gift cards at grocery stores (we’ll explain later)
  • Someone looking for a solid cash back credit card
Bad for:
  • Someone who spends less than $61 a week on groceries
  • Someone who travels often

In this article:

The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express basics
Bluebloods: Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express vs. other cash back credit cards
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express vs. Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
Where the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express shines
Where it falls short
What is a standalone grocery store anyway?

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express Basics

This is pretty much one of the best credit cards out there for gas and grocery spending, and the rewards rate is unparalleled. It gives a full 6% rewards at grocery stores up to $6,000 spent annually (then 1%), plus an unlimited 3% on gas and department stores and 1% elsewhere. The 6% rewards is pretty much the best we’ve seen anywhere on any bonus category.

The card’s 6% rewards at grocery stores opens up an opportunity for a neat trick: you can purchase gift cards for Starbucks, Exxon, the Gap, whatever, at the checkout line, thus securing 6% rewards on virtually anywhere you spend — just keep in mind the $6,000 annual cap.

Don’t be deterred by the $95 ($75 if your application is received by 8/3/16) annual fee — spend just $31 a week on groceries and you’ve made up for the fee, not to mention the sign-up bonus. If you’re anti-annual fee, the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express is a $0-annual-fee, lesser-rewards version of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express. This card gives 3% rewards on groceries, also up to $6,000 annually (then 1%), plus 2% on gas and department stores and 1% elsewhere. You can read more about the tradeoff between the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express and Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express here.

Sound too good to be true? Nope, it’s real … but there are a few caveats.

First off, there’s the $6,000 a year cap on groceries. Spending past the $6,000 threshold earns just 1% cash back — an unlimited 6% cash back is indeed just too good to be true. Another letdown of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is simply that: its name. Unfortunately, Amex isn’t as widely accepted as other credit card networks, so we recommend having a no-fee Visa or MasterCard as a backup. Also, world travelers be warned: there’s a 2.7% foreign transaction fee. If you frequently travel abroad, check out these cards with no foreign transaction fee.

Bluebloods: Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express vs.  Chase Freedom®

Time for the big leagues: How do the Blue Cash cards stack up the cash-back contender?

Chase Freedom®

Apply Now on Chase's secure website

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • Qualify with Good credit

Cons

  • If you value simplicity, a flat rate cash back card may be better

Bonus Offer

Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening

Annual Fee

$0

Intro APR Promotions

0% Intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers

APR

  • APR: 14.24%-23.24% Variable
  • Cash Advance APR: 25.24%, Variable

Card Details

  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 14.24-23.24%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • Enjoy new 5% categories every 3 months like gas stations, restaurants, and wholesale clubs
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
  • No annual fee

The Chase Freedom® offers 5% cash back in bonus categories that change every quarter and can range from gas and drugstores to Amazon.com and Macy’s. It has an annual fee of $0 and comes with a sign-up bonus: Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. It comes with a cap: bonus rewards are limited to the first $1,500 spent every quarter. Basically, if a hefty chunk of your money goes to groceries, go blue; if not, go with a bit more variety.

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

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

Apply Now on American Express's secure website

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • 0% on Purchases for 12 months and 0% on Balance Transfers for 12 months

Bonus Offer

Earn $100 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. You will receive cash back in the form of statement credits.

Annual Fee

$0

Intro APR Promotions

0% on Purchases for 12 months and 0% on Balance Transfers for 12 months

APR

  • APR: 13.24%-23.24% Variable
  • Penalty APR: Up to 29.49%, Variable
  • Cash Advance APR: 25.49%, Variable

Card Details

  • Earn $100 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. You will receive cash back in the form of statement credits.
  • Earn Cash Back: 3% at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, 2% at U.S. gas stations & select U.S. dept stores, 1% on other purchases. Terms and limitations apply.
  • Simple and straightforward: 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 12 months, then a variable rate, currently 13.24% to 23.24%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors.
  • Terms and Conditions apply.
  • View Rates and Fees

How do you know whether to get the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express or the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express? It’s pretty simple. Looking only at grocery rewards, you should get the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express if you spend at least $61 a week on groceries (or gift cards at grocery stores). At that spending level, the extra 3% in grocery rewards outweighs the annual fee. If you can’t meet that threshold, go with the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express.

Where the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express shines

The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is at its best when used by households – people who spend the bulk of their money on feeding the family and shuttling the kids around. If you’re spending $61+ a week on groceries, or if you’re filling up your tank often, this is the ideal card for you.

Where it falls short

As we mentioned above, if you spend less than $61 a week on groceries, you’re better off with the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express. Another case where the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express isn’t ideal is if you travel often, particularly if you travel internationally. Frequent travelers might want to forgo cash back for potentially more valuable travel points, or aim for a card that gives bonus rewards on travel spending. The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express carries a 2.7% foreign transaction fee, and American Express’ international acceptance lags behind Visa and MasterCard’s. You can check out our list of the best travel credit cards to find an ideal card.

What is a standalone grocery store anyway?

The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express earns 6% rewards at stand-alone grocery stores, and the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express earns 3%, up to the first $6,000 spent per year (then 1%). But what counts at a grocery store? Generally speaking, if the main product is food, you’re in the clear — this means Safeway, Whole Foods and Stop & Shop. This does not include superstores and warehouse clubs (such as Costco, Walmart and Target). Amex Canada’s site can give some color into what consitutes a grocery store:

Purchases at merchants where [grocery] sales are not their primary business (including superstores, wholesale clubs, alcohol retailers and general merchandise retailers) and purchases at sponsors do not qualify for the earn rate in this category.

Per the Blue Cash’s website, though, we can see what Amex considers to be department stores:

Bealls, Belk, Bloomingdale’s, Bon Ton Stores., Boscov’s, Century 21 Department Stores, Dillard’s, J.C. Penney, Kohl’s, Lord & Taylor, Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Sears, and Stein Mart