Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express review: Best cash-back credit card for families winner
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
CardRatings Editor's Analysis: Pros & Cons
- Earn 6% back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions and on up to $6,000 spent annually at U.S. supermarkets, 3% back on transit purchases and at U.S. gas stations, and 1% back on everything else.
- For a limited time, earn a $300 bonus statement credit after you spend $3,000 in the first six months of account membership.
- A best credit cards of 2020 winner in the best credit cards for families category.
- This is a great card with outstanding benefits for those who spend a lot; however, if you don't spend a lot at U.S. supermarkets you may have a difficult time offsetting the annual fee.
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is one of the most popular cards with our readers because of such generous cash back on everyday purchases. In fact, its popularity earned it a spot on our best credit cards of 2020 list as the best cash-back credit card for families. American Express is a CardRatings advertiser.
In addition to 6% back on up to $6,000 spent at U.S. supermarkets annually, unlimited 3% back at U.S. gas stations, and 1% back on everything else, users can also earn 6% back on select U.S. streaming services and 3% back on transit purchases.
The card carries an annual fee, but for a limited time new cardholders can enjoy a $0 introductory annual fee for one year, then $95 annual fee, as well a $300 statement credit once spending $3,000 on purchases within the first six months of opening an account (offer expires 12/10/20). Plus, there's also a low intro APR period of 0% APR for 12 months on purchases (then 13.99% - 23.99% Variable). (See Rates and Fees.)
The bonus categories aren't rotating so the cash back-eligible businesses are predictable. If you're more of a set-it and forget-it type of person who doesn't want to have to worry about activating bonus categories and missing out on extra rewards, this card is perfect - especially if you regularly spend money at U.S. supermarkets and gas stations, have a U.S. streaming subscription such as Spotify, Hulu, Netlix, or Pandora (which who doesn't these days?) or if you're a regular commuter. It should be noted though that "transit" is exclusive to ground transit, meaning you won't gain points on flights. However, "ground transit" in this case has a broad meaning, covering everything from taxis, to ferries to parking fees.
Really, with this card, we love the high-rewards rate and the simplicity of the rewards program. Plus, the high rewards rate in the supermarket category lends itself to a unique opportunity cardholders may not think about: cash back for gift cards. Many supermarkets have racks filled with gift cards for popular restaurants and stores that may not fit within the cash-back categories of this card, but a gift card can be purchased at a supermarket, with the 6% cash-back rate, and then used elsewhere. This concept is the definition of using credit cards as a tool.
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express has a limited time offer $0 introductory annual fee for one year, then $95 annual fee attached to its membership (offer expires 12/10/20), but don't let this deter you. Think of it this way: if you spend $1,585 at U.S. supermarkets annually, at 6% cash back you've already covered the annual fee (6% x $1,585 = $95.10)! If you’re an avid card user, the high rewards percentages allows you to quickly offset the annual fee, assuming you use your credit card for the categories honored by American Express like at U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations.
American Express doesn't explicitly state what credit score is needed to receive the Blue Cash Preferred® Card; however, this card is reserved for those with good to excellent scores. A good FICO score is typically anything above 670, according to the credit scoring agency Experian, but having a score above 740 or even 800 may further increase your chances of approval. Please note though that these numbers can vary between different bureaus.
Earning 6% cash back on supermarket purchases is one of the biggest benefits of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card. Although, to make the most of this perk, you need to understand how American Express defines a supermarket. Not every store that sells groceries will qualify.
For instance, American Express does not consider any of the following to be supermarkets:
- Superstores such as Walmart and Target
- Convenience stores
- Specialty shops such as cheese or wine stores
- Warehouse clubs like Costco or Sam's Club
The company defines supermarkets as stores that offer a wide variety of food items as well as household goods, pet supplies and pharmacy products. They include the following chains, among others:
- Whole Foods
- Stop and Shop
To receive the 6% cash back, all purchases must be made at a qualifying U.S. location.
Like with any credit card it's imporant to read the fine print. In this case, as we discussed above, some stores that may seem like "supermarkets" may not actually qualify for the rebate. Wholesale clubs, superstores and alcohol retailers are typically the culprits for this confusion.
Also, while this rewards card is excellent for particular categories, if you’re a traveler who uses airlines frequently or a fine restaurant dining connoisseur, you may be missing the boat with the rewards offered with this card.
The Blue Cash Preferred® Card is also not really great for traveling abroad, or it's at least probably not the best card to exclusively hold if it's traveling abroad where you hope to earn your rewards, and plus, using it internationally will come at a price. Foreign transaction fees for this card are 2.7% of each transaction after conversion to US dollars. (See Rates and Fees.) This might not seem like too big of a deal, but think of it this way: if you spend $2,000 on a trip abroad, you'll end up paying $54 in fees. If you travel internationally often, this fee can cause things to add up in a hurry.
Blue Cash Preferred® vs. Citi Rewards+℠ Card
The Citi Rewards+℠ Card also earns bonus rewards at supermarkets and gas stations, but unlike the Blue Cash Preferred® card, it has no annual fee. With that said though, the earn rates are also lower.
With the Citi Rewards+℠ Card cardholders earn two ThankYou® Points at supermarkets and gas stations on up to $6,000 spent annually and one point per $1 after hitting that cap. You also earn one point per $1 on all other purchases.
This card, however, offers the unique benefit of automatically rounding your rewards up to the nearest 10 points on each purchase you make. So for example, say you spend $82 at a local restaurant, you'll earn 90 points instead of just 82, or you spend $155 at the supermarket, you'll earn 320 points instead of 310. When it comes to earning rewards, every little bit helps, so this is a nice feature. Another unique feature is that Citi gives you a 10% rebate on the first 100,000 ThankYou® Points you redeem each year. So, if you redeem 30,000 points, Citi will put 3,000 points back into your ThankYou® account.
The Citi Rewards+℠ Card also offers a 15,000-point bonus to new cardholders who spend $1,000 on purchases within three months of opening the account, and a 0% intro APR on balance transfers and purchases for 15 months (then, 13.49% - 23.49% (Variable)).
Blue Cash Preferred® vs. Blue Cash Everyday®
Some of the rewards categories are the same with these two cards, although, the earn rates are slightly lower for the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express at 3% earned on U.S. supermarket purchases (up to $6,000 spent annually, then 1%), 2% at U.S. gas stations, and 1% on everything else. The decision between which of the two offers is right for you will boil down to how much you use your card.
The Blue Cash Everyday® does not have an annual fee so if you spend less than $50 a week with your card it might make more sense. On the other hand, spending over $50 offsets the annual fee for the Blue Cash Preferred® card, and the higher rewards rates could be more beneficial to you. And not that you should choose a card based solely on it's welcome offer, but we should also note that the welcome offer with the Blue Cash Everyday® is a bit lower, too: earn a $100 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new card within the first six months of account membership. However, new Everyday® cardholders also have the opportunity to earn 20% back on Amazon.com purchases during the first six months of card membership, up to $200 cash back.
Blue Cash Preferred® vs. American Express® Gold Card
Both the Blue Cash Preferred® and American Express® Gold Card are solid rewards cards from American Express. However, they cater to different rewards seekers.
Offering 6% cash back on up to $6,000 spent at U.S. grocery stores, Blue Cash Preferred® is a strong cash back credit card contender. It also gives cardholders 3% cash back for transit and U.S. gas purchases and 1% cash back on all other purchases, making it a solid choice for everyday use.
Meanwhile, the American Express® Gold Card is geared primarily towards travelers. It offers 4X Membership Rewards® points for purchases at restaurants worldwide and 3X points for airfare booked directly with carriers or on amextravel.com. Points can be redeemed for travel or transferred to other rewards partners.
The Gold Card does also offer points on purchases at U.S. supermarkets— 4X Membership Rewards® on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X— but the other perks of the card are primarily focused on travel, such as a $100 hotel credit to spend on qualifying dining, spa, and resort activities, plus a room upgrade upon arrival, if available, when you book a stay of at least two consecutive nights with American Express Travel at over 600 properties, and no foreign transaction fees.
Both cards offer welcome bonuses although there is a lower spending requirement for the Blue Cash Preferred® card. With the Blue Cash Preferred®, for a limited time earn a $300 bonus statement credit after spending $3,000 in your first six months as a cardholder. Compare that to the $4,000 you must spend in six months to earn 60,000 bonus Membership Rewards® points with the Gold Card.
There is also a notable difference in the annual fees for each card. The American Express® Gold Card will set you back $250 each year, which is more than double what it costs to carry the Blue Cash Preferred® card.
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is great for frequent commuters, those who enjoy listening to their favorite albums throughout the day (or who appreciates a good Netflix binge), and for anyone who frequently spends at U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations: think soccer parents toting kids to and fro while simultaneously ensuring they have a home-cooked meal to keep their energy up (with maybe some good music on the background to help keep everyone happy).
To see the rates and fees for the American Express cards featured, please visit the following links: Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express: See Rates and Fees; Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express: See Rates and Fees; American Express® Gold Card: See Rates and Fees