Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express

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Big grocery spenders, this is the card for you.

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If you can get over the idea of paying the $95 annual fee, the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express is a must-have for any big grocery shopper. The 6% cash-back reward at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%) is the most lucrative available in this category.

Review

In late September 2017, American Express did a flip-flop with this card. It brought back an introductory offer, giving new cardholders 12 months interest free on purchases and balance transfers, before reverting to the standard variable rate of 13.99% to 24.99%. But it also stopped waiving the $95 annual fee for the first year of card ownership.

We think that even with that first-year annual fee, Blue Cash Preferred offers terrific value. Not only is the reward for grocery spending stellar, the card also pays 3% back at U.S. gas stations. That’s among the highest gas rewards available. Cardholders also will earn 3% cash back at select U.S. department stores.

We love that the cash-back benefits are both generous and easy to collect via a statement credit. If you have been considering a switch to a cash-back rewards card, this one is great for everyday household spending.

This probably shouldn’t be the only card you carry, however, as it offers low (1%) returns on restaurants, travel and all other spending categories. You’ll need at least one more card to fill in those gaps. We’re also disappointed in the issuer’s decision a few years back to place a cap on grocery rewards. You’ll receive 6% cash-back on the first $6,000 you spend annually, then 1%.

Who should get this card

Typical suburban families who spend heavily at supermarkets and the gas pump will likely benefit the most from this card’s rewards structure.

Advantages
  • You don't have to enroll to earn in any of the major categories this card offers.
  • If you spend $1,000 in the first three months of card ownership, you get a $200 bonus as a statement credit.
  • The introductory APR offer can help if you have high-interest balances on another card or want to finance a big purchase cheaply.
  • Terms apply.
Disadvantages
  • Most wholesale clubs and specialty grocers don’t typically count toward the 6% rewards on spending at U.S. supermarkets. If you spend heavily in either of these areas you may want to consider a dedicated rewards card for those stores instead.
  • There’s a high penalty APR that will last for at least six months if you’re late or miss a payment.

Fees and APR

  • The annual fee is $95.
  • Enjoy an introductory 12-month 0% offer on purchases and balance transfers, after which a variable 13.99% to 24.99% APR will apply based on your creditworthiness.
  • The balance transfer fee is 3%.
  • You’ll pay a 2.7% foreign transaction fee on all purchases made outside the U.S.
  • See Rates & Fees.

Extras, perks and using rewards

Keep in mind that with this card the only thing you can use your accrued cash-back rewards for are statement credits, gift cards or to make purchases through the Reward Dollars catalog. There’s no transferring to travel partners or other types of credits, but you can register your card with Amazon.com to pay for your purchases with your accrued rewards money.

To redeem your rewards, you have to log into your account and then click on the “Use Reward Dollars” option. You can only redeem in increments of $25. There is no fee to redeem your rewards.

The card also includes American Express’ travel protections like roadside assistance, auto insurance and global emergency help.

How this card compares

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
Card Details
  • $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • No annual fee.
  • 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%).
  • 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores, 1% back on other purchases.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable rate, currently 13.99% to 24.99%.
  • Expanding merchant acceptance: Over 1 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in the last year.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be easily redeemed for statement credits, gift cards, and merchandise.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Credit Needed Excellent
Regular APR 13.99%-24.99% Variable
Annual Fee $0
Purchase Intro APR 0% on Purchases for 15 months
Balance Transfers Intro APR 0% on Balance Transfers for 15 months

Depending on your spending habits, the no-annual-fee Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express may ultimately be a better value than its Preferred cousin. The rewards are slightly lower, but if you’re a light spender, this card may be better fit.

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
  • Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter like gas stations, restaurants and drugstores
  • 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 15.99-24.74%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
  • No annual fee
Credit Needed Good
Regular APR 15.99% - 24.74% Variable
Annual Fee $0
Purchase Intro APR 0% for 15 months
Balance Transfers Intro APR 0% for 15 months

If you’re up for the challenge of tracking bonus rewards categories, Chase Freedom can give you some real cash-back bang for your buck. For travel junkies and road warriors, this card is ideal when paired with an eligible Chase card to reap maximum travel rewards on your spending.

If you don’t want to do the work, get a card that offers a flat cash-back rate better than what you’ll find here.

Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Card Details
  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase — it's automatic
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 15.99-24.74%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
  • No annual fee
Credit Needed Good
Regular APR 15.99% - 24.74% Variable
Annual Fee $0
Purchase Intro APR 0% for 15 months
Balance Transfers Intro APR 0% for 15 months

Chase Freedom Unlimited is a solid, straightforward cash-back rewards card that’s ideal for cardholders who just don’t have the time or energy to track spending categories. It ranks among the very best cash-back credit cards we track.

There are other cards that offer better rewards, but the Chase Freedom Unlimited’s 1.5% cash-back on everything is an excellent reward coming from a no-annual-fee credit card.

EDITORIAL NOTE

Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.