If you rack up spending at the gas pump and grocery checkout, the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express could be a good choice among rewards cards.
For a $0-annual-fee card, it offers an excellent 3% cash-back rate at U.S. supermarkets, along with a competitive 2% rate at gas stations and some department stores.
Nevertheless, the card will always be compared with its big brother, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, which is perhaps the ultimate gas and groceries card. Its relatively high annual fee has a $95 (This offer is no longer available through our site.) in exchange for elevated bonus-category rewards: a best-in-class 6% back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 spent per year (then 1%) and 3% at gas stations and select department stores.
Overall, the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express offers good rewards in a few practical spending categories. But the argument to make it your only rewards credit card breaks down when comparing it with its big brother and the best of its cash-back competition. That leaves it mostly as a decent gas and groceries card for lighter spenders and those who refuse to pay an annual fee to boost rewards.
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express: Basics and benefits
- Cash-back rewards:
- 3% back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 spent per year (then 1%)
- 2% back at U.S. gas stations and select department stores
- 1% back on all other purchases
- Annual fee: $0
- Sign-up bonus: Offer is no longer available through our site. $100 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months. Terms Apply.
- Annual percentage rate: 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 12 months, and then the ongoing APR of 13.99% - 24.99% Variable APR
Getting 3% back on your U.S. supermarket spending is a nice return on a potentially big portion of the household budget. It essentially means getting a discount on all the food, paper goods, personal care products and other items you buy regularly at the grocery store.
Rewards are based on where you’re shopping — in this case, U.S. supermarkets — not what you buy there. American Express’ definition of U.S. supermarkets excludes wholesale clubs such as Costco and Sam’s Club, superstores like Target and Wal-Mart, specialty food stores and others. So consider not only how much you spend on groceries but also where you most often buy them.
The 3% rewards rate applies to the first $6,000 in U.S. supermarket spending annually. That’s generous for a rewards spending cap. Maxed out, it’s worth $180 annually in cash back. But it’s still a cap — one a family could blow through before the year is done. The average U.S. household of four spends about $5,600 on food at home annually and hundreds more on housekeeping supplies and personal care products that are also common purchases in supermarkets, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ most recent Consumer Expenditure Survey. So a family of four could bump up against its limit for 3% rewards and then revert to 1% cash back.
A 2% cash-back rate at gas stations and department stores is double the mundane 1% that many cards offer, although it’s not as special as it was just a few years ago. The nice part is that those double rewards are unlimited.
However, restrictions apply here, too:
- Higher gas rewards are available only at traditional stand-alone gas stations. Warehouse clubs, superstores and supermarkets that sell gas don’t count, according to American Express.
- Elevated rewards for department stores apply only at named merchants, although the list includes most of the largest national department store chains, including Macy’s, Kohl’s and Sears. Discount retailers such as Target and Wal-Mart are excluded, and your regional department store chain might not count. American Express maintains a list of qualifying stores.
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express comes with a sign-up bonus: Offer is no longer available through our site. $100 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months. Terms Apply. That’s a nice incentive, considering most cash-back cards don’t offer a bonus.
0% INTRODUCTORY APR
If you regularly carry a monthly balance, getting cash back — or any rewards — shouldn’t be your priority. Instead, seek a card designed to ease the burden of carrying a balance. Still, a no-interest period with this card is nice to have: 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 12 months, and then the ongoing APR of 13.99% - 24.99% Variable APR.
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express: Pitfalls and other possibilities
Blue cash vs. blue cash
A primary consideration with the card is deciding whether you should instead apply for its big brother. The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express pays 6% back at U.S. supermarkets up to $6,000 spent per year (then 1%) and an unlimited 3% at U.S. gas stations and select department stores. But it comes at a price. The annual fee is $95 (This offer is no longer available through our site.) — steep for a cash-back card.
When is the annual-fee card a better deal? An easy comparison is to look at supermarket spending only. If you spend at least $61 per week at U.S. supermarkets, you’ll earn more with the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, even after the annual fee. Our comparison of the two Blue Cash cards goes into more detail and includes a calculator for comparing rewards.
If you don’t spend enough on groceries or some combination of other bonus categories to justify the big-brother card, the best alternative isn’t necessarily a step down to the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express. Instead, a flat-rate card that pays rewards on all spending might be a better fit.
For example, a no-fee alternative is the low-hassle Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer, which pays 1% cash back on all purchases, then another 1% back when you pay them off. No spending categories to remember.
Or consider the generous 5% rotating bonus rewards categories of the Chase Freedom® and Discover it® - Cashback Match™, which have in the past included grocery stores and gas stations. Or if you prefer to have reward rates on the categories flipped, the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card offers 3% cash back on gas and 2% on groceries. (With these cards, the amount of spending eligible for bonus rewards is capped; click through to their pages for details.)
American Express cards are not as widely accepted by U.S. merchants as Visa, Mastercard and Discover. You might have to carry a backup card with broader acceptance. The card is not ideal to use abroad because acceptance internationally lags Visa and Mastercard, and it charges a 2.7% fee on international purchases. Some cards charge no foreign transaction fee.
Is the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express right for you?
The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express offers good, relevant cash-back rewards that could match your needs if you spend modest amounts at the supermarket, gas pump and department stores — modest enough not to justify applying for the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express. Before you decide, check out flat-rate and quarterly category cash back cards, which might match your spending better and pay slightly higher dividends.
Updated Aug. 2, 2017.