Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Did you know that some rewards cards offer better return based on where you spend the most money? For example, do you find yourself frequenting grocery stores? If so, you might want to take a look at the Blue Cash Preferred card from American Express.
The card earns a cashback multiplier at grocery stores, gas stations and select department stores. The card also comes with a welcome offer of $200 cash back after spending $ 1,000.
You might be interested in this credit card if you’re not into traveling or managing points in different frequent flyer accounts. All cash back can be redeemed in the form of a statement credit; it’s that simple. Unfortunately, the card charges an annual fee of $95, but we’ll discuss exactly how much you need to spend on it to make it worth your while.
Bonuses and Benefits
Knowing what benefits come with a credit card can help you decide if it’s a good fit for you. Here we cover the bonuses and perks that the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express offers and the value of the AMEX cashback you earn.
To get you started earning rewards, the Blue Cash Preferred card offers $200 in cash back to cardholders who spend $1,000 in the first three months of account opening, which is a low minimum spending requirement. You’ll be able to track your cashback progress on the American Express website and apply the amount toward any statement whenever you want. At the end of your card membership year, you will have access to a year-end summary that will show how much money you spent in which categories.
What You Get
- $200 cashback after spending $1,000 within the first 3 months
- 0% APR on purchase and balance transfers for 12 months
- 6.0% back at supermarkets on up to $6,000 a year
- 3.0% back at gas stations and department stores
Cash back earned with the American Express Blue Cash Preferred card does not expire as long as the account is open and active. Should you close your account for any reason, the points may expire. For this reason, make sure to redeem all your points for cash back prior to closing the card.
What is the value of American Express Cash Rewards?
The points earned with the Blue Cash Preferred card cannot be transferred to Amex’s travel partners, which limits their use and value. When redeemed for cash back, Membership Rewards have a fixed value of 1 cent per point. However, spending in bonus categories, such as at grocery stores and gas stations, gives you a higher and quicker return for every dollar spent. For example, grocery store spending earns 6 percent cash back, which means you get six cents back for every $1 you spend on groceries.
The Best Ways to Redeem American Express Cashback
Because there are no travel partners or other transfers allowed, points earned with the Amex Blue Cash card are best redeemed for statement credits. Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that is basically as good as real money. Redemptions have no limitations, and redeeming your points for statement credits is easy. Simply apply it to any purchase on any statement.
Other ways you can redeem cashback
Hotel Stays3 partners3 part.
You cannot transfer the points you earn with the Blue Cash Preferred card to any hotel loyalty programs, but you can use the cash back you earn to pay for stays at any hotel.
Car Rental4 partners4 part.
The Blue Cash card does not allow transfers to travel partners, including car rental agencies. But you can use your cash back to pay for a rental car.
Gift Cards64 partners64 part.
Buy gift cards from any retailer you want with the cash back you’ll earn with the Blue Cash card.
The Blue Cash Preferred card earns 6.0 percent cash back at U.S. supermarkets (capped at $6,000 per year), 3.0 percent cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores, and 1.0 percent cash back in all other categories. If you have a big grocery bill every month, you can make out like a bandit with this Amex card. Just watch your rewards add up to statement credits.
- Select department stores
- All Other Purchases
The U.S. department stores that earn 3.0 percent cash back are Bealls, Belk, Bloomingdale’s, Bon Ton, Boscov’s, Century 21, Dillard’s, J.C. Penny, Kohl’s, Lord & Taylor, Macy’s, Neiman Marucs, Norstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Sears and Stein Mart.
Foreign Transaction Fee
Every purchase you make abroad will incur a 2.7% fee.
Fees: the cost of Having the Card
The Blue Cash Preferred card charges an annual fee of $95, which is not waived for the first year. Sure, the $200 welcome bonus is nice, but it applies to your account just one time, so you have to think about whether keeping the card long term is worth paying $95 per year. To offset the annual fee, you need to spend at least $950,000 at U.S. grocery stores every year, or $792 every month. All the rewards you earn after that are pure profit.
- Annual Fee
- Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
- Foreign Transaction Fee
- 2.7% of each transaction in U.S. dollars
- Late Payment Fee
- Up to $38
See What It Takes to Cover an Annual Fee:
We’ve broken out our estimates for the first- and second-year net earnings you’ll get with the Blue Cash Preferred card from American Express. Is the card worth getting, and should you keep it after you get the sign-up bonus? Let’s find out.
These estimates are based on an annual monthly spend of $2,000
Top 5 Benefits of the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express
The Blue Cash Preferred Amex comes with several benefits for cardholders. Let’s review some of the best ones.
- Sign-Up Bonus: Spending just $1,000 on the card within three months of account opening results in $200 cash back that can be used toward any statement.
- Great Earning Potential: The card earns a cashback bonus at grocery stores, gas stations and department stores—all popular categories for an average American family.
- Hassle-Free Redemptions: Earn Reward Dollars with every purchase and redeem them for statement credits any time you want.
- Introductory 0% APR: The card offers 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers made within 12 months of card opening.
- American Express Benefits: The Blue Cash card comes with free ShopRunner membership, Entertainment Access and other exclusive Amex cardholder benefits.
Should You Get the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express?
If grocery stores and gas stations are your primary spending categories, I recommend giving the Blue Cash Preferred card a chance. Yes, the card charges an annual fee, but the earning potential outweighs the fee substantially as long as you use the card to make purchases in the bonus categories.
You’ll earn $200 for spending just $1,000 in the first few months of account opening, and that cash back can be redeemed for anything any time. That bonus covers the annual fee for two years, essentially giving you a chance to try the card out for free.
Ironically, the major downside is the card is the ease of redemptions. Membership Rewards points earned with most Amex credit card can be transferred to travel partners for a potentially better return on every point, but the points earned with the Blue Cash Card can be used for cash back only. Depending on what your goals are, this card can still offer great value to cardholders.
Need more info? Check out our frequently asked questions. If you have other questions, please click on “Ask Now” below.
- American Express will not approve members for more than two Amex cards in a 90-day period. Additionally, the issuer implements a once-per-lifetime rule when it comes to earning multiple sign-up bonuses on the same Amex cards. Only those applicants who haven’t previously received a bonus for the Blue Cash Preferred card are eligible for the welcome offer.However, if you’ve received a bonus on the no-fee Blue Cash Everyday card and not the Preferred card, you can still qualify for the Preferred card’s bonus. The two cards are considered different products.
- Yes and no. The points earned with the Blue Cash Preferred card are as good as cash and are valued at one cent each when redeemed for statement credits. They can be redeemed toward any purchase, including travel. For example, 10,000 points can erase a $100 purchase, including travel expenses or anything else.However, the points earned with this card cannot be transferred to Amex travel partners, such as Delta Air Lines, Air Canada Aeroplan or Hilton Honors. In most cases, transferring points to partners offers a higher value for your points, and this is where this card is lacking.
- Depending on the card issuer and the card network, foreign transaction (FX) fees can vary between 1 percent and 3 percent per transaction. Unfortunately, the Blue Cash Preferred Card charges a fee of 2.7 percent for each purchase made outside of the United States.It might not sound like much, but it can add up to quite a bit if you prefer using credit cards to cash when traveling abroad or purchasing items over the Internet from international merchants. Foreign transaction fees might not be a huge deal for those cardholders who don’t travel internationally, but if you do, I recommend swiping other credit cards that waive FX fees abroad.
American Express offers a couple of other versions of the Blue-branded cashback credit cards. Let’s review some other options.
Other American Express Cash Rewards cards
|Blue from American Express®|
|Sign-up bonus||$150||$200||0 points|
|APR On Purchases||13.99% to 24.99% Variable±||13.99% to 24.99% Variable±||16.24% to 21.24% Variable±|
|Second Year Value||$240||$240||$120|
The Blue Cash Everyday card offers new card members $150 cash back after spending $1,000. This card doesn’t charge an annual fee, but it also earns a bit less in bonus categories. The Amex Blue Cash Everyday card earns 3.0 percent back at U.S. supermarkets (capped at $6,000 annually), 2.0 percent back at U.S. gas stations and 1.0 percent back on all other purchases. Carrying this card presents absolutely no risk to cardholders who want to earn rewards without paying annual fees.
Blue from American Express is the most basic of the cards in the Blue lineup. The card earns just 1 point per dollar on all purchases, except 2 points with AmexTravel.com. The card doesn’t offer a sign-up bonus, but it charges no annual fees. Although this card isn’t the least rewarding on the market, cardholders can earn a lot more rewards with other cards.
Compare Blue Cash Preferred Credit Card to Other Cards
Besides Amex, there are other issuers to consider for those on the market for a cashback credit card. Let’s review other possible options.
The CashForward World MasterCard from Barclays earns 1.5 points per dollar spent on all purchases, no matter the category, and the points can be redeemed at a rate of one cent each. The card also comes with a $200 sign-up bonus and no annual fees. Redemptions start at 5,000 points, worth $50. It’s a great card for customers looking to earn a flat rate on all purchases.
The AARP card from Chase offers a $200 cashback bonus for spending $500 in the first three months of account opening. The card earns 3 percent back at restaurants and gas stations, and 1 percent back on everything else. There are no annual fees, and the AARP card also offers 0% APR for 12 months. It’s a decent option for those looking to pay off some debt.
The Cash Wise Visa card from Wells Fargo offers customers $200 in cash rewards after they spend $1,000 in the first three months of card membership. The card earns 1.5 percent back on all purchases, no matter the category, and costs nothing to keep. It’s worth mentioning that this card offers cell phone insurance of up to $600 against theft or damage if you use it to pay your cell phone bill.
Whenever you apply for a credit card make sure you read the terms and conditions of the card and the rewards program to find out about minimum spend requirements and any restrictions to ensure you can successfully obtain the card and earn the rewards it offers.
Card Terms and Conditions
While it's easy to focus on the rewards offered by the Blue Cash Preferred card from American Express, it's worth taking a closer look at the terms and conditions. There's a lot to consider as you think about how you're going to use the card. Will you carry a balance, get a cash advance or maybe make a big purchase? Below is a rundown of the various interest rates, purchase protections, security features and mobile banking options that come with this Amex card.
- Intro APR:
- 0% introductory APR for the first 12 months
- Intro APR for balance transfers:
- 0% introductory APR for the first 12 months on balance transfers requested within 60 days of account opening
- Ongoing APR:
- 13.99% to 24.99% Variable±
- Minimum Grace Period:
- 25 days
- Extended Warranty Protection:
- Matches the length of the original warranty if the original manufacturer's warranty is less than one year, and provides one additional year if the original manufacturer's warranty is between one year and five years. Coverage is limited to a maximum of $10,000 per occurrence and $50,000 per year.
- Purchase Protection:
- Get coverage of up to $1,000 per occurrence and $50,000 per year against damage and theft of a new purchase.
- Return Protection:
- If a merchant refuses to take back an item within 90 days of purchase, Amex may give you a refund. Coverage limited to $300 per item and $1,000 per year.
Cash Advance Features
- Ongoing APR:
- 26.24% Variable±
- Cash Advance Fee:
- Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater
Security and Protections
American Express provides members with all the security features a cardholder might expect. The Blue Cash Preferred card comes with a chip technology, account alerts, a mobile app and access to a FICO score to help protect customers against unauthorized transactions and identity theft.
- Account alerts:
- Set up alerts to be notified when large transactions occur, if there’s an unauthorized withdrawal and when your bill’s due.
- EMV Chip Technology:
- Get global acceptance and enhanced security at merchants that use chip-enabled terminals.
- Credit Score Reports:
- Monitor your credit history for unusual activity, including recently opened accounts and inquiries made on your history.
American Express cards are compatible with NFC (near-field communication) payment options, such as Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay. The feature is easy to set up, safe to use and is convenient as more and more stores allow customers to pay via mobile wallet apps. It’s possible to use mobile wallets in stores and online at participating merchants.
Additional Cardholder Benefits
American Express Travel Benefits
- Roadside Assistance:
- Premium roadside assistance covers cardholders up to four times per year when they're in their car and need towing (up to 10 miles), winching, lockout service, battery jump, flat tire change or fuel delivery (up to 2 gallons). Coverage is available in the United States, District of Columbia, Canada, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
- Travel Accident Insurance:
- The benefit covers unexpected events, bodily injuries and loss of life when using a common carrier to travel. To be covered, card members must purchase the entire fare with the Blue Cash Preferred Card. The plan pays up to $125,000 for loss of one hand or one foot or sight in one eye and up to $250,000 for loss of both hands, feet, eyes or life.