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 best credit card for families 2019 CardRatings.com Editor's Choice Award. (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, American Express recently improved the offer of the card, adding the opportunity to earn cash back in two extra bonus categories: 6% back on select U.S. streaming services and 3% back on transit purchases. (Terms apply.)
Better still, the welcome offer increased — new cardholders can now earn a $250 statement credit once spending $1,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening an account — and there's now a low intro APR period of 0% APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers. (Terms apply. See Rates and Fees.)
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express has a $95 annual fee attached to the membership, but don't let this deter you. (Terms apply. See Rates and Fees.) 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.
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.
Like with any credit card it's imporant to read the fine print. In this case, 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.
This 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. (Terms apply. See Rates and Fees.) That said, doubling up and having a card that you use for supermarket, streaming, transit, and gas station purchases, and another like Chase Sapphire Preferred® or the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card for travel can help you optimize your different types of spending.
Citi® recently rolled out an industry-changing program called Price Rewind which allows consumers to make purchases with their Citi® card and then ask Citi® if they’ve received the best deal. If they haven’t, Citi® will refund the cardholder the difference between the paid amount and the lowest qualifying price. Couple that with the Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer (Citi is a CardRatings advertiser) of 1% earned on purchases and 1% earned when you pay, on time, at least the minimum balance due each month, and you’ve found yourself a competitive card.
If your spending patterns don’t align with the categories the American Express card offers, or if you shop online frequently, Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer may be a better card for you. Furthermore, there's a nice intro 18-month 0% balance transfer offer with this card (then, 15.74% - 25.74%* Variable), which is a slightly longer time frame than what's offered with the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express.
Chase Freedom® offers 5% cash back for quarterly rotating categories such as gas stations, drugstores, grocery stores, and home improvement stores on up to $1,500 in combined purchases each quarter, and 1% on all other purchases. If your spending habits vary, this could potentially be a better card to hold as you can maximize your cash back opportunites every few months. However, if you use your card a lot at supermarkets, you'll likely fare better with the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express as it earns you 1% more in that category. And beyond that, 3% at gas stations and on transit is a good perk to be able to take advantage of all year long.
One other benefit the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express has over the Chase Freedom® is the $250 statement credit for new account holders. Chase Freedom®, however, has no annual fees.
Some of the rewards categories are the same with these two cards, however, 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. (Terms apply.) 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® Card from American Express does not have an annual fee so if you spend less than $50 a week on your credit card the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express might make more sense. (Terms apply. See Rates and Fees.) Spending over $50 offsets the annual fee for the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, and the higher rewards rates could be more beneficial to you.
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 supermarkets and 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)