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How to maximize the Amex Blue Cash Preferred

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No matter the size of your family or where you live in the United States, chances are you purchase items at the grocery store, pay for a few streaming services and use some form of transportation. Thankfully, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express offers rewards on such purchases.

The Amex Blue Cash Preferred offers a way to earn cash back on items you would be purchasing anyway, plus it increases your purchasing power with a 0 percent introductory APR on purchases for the first 12 months (15.49 percent to 25.49 percent variable APR thereafter).

Finding the best way to maximize the American Express Blue Cash Preferred card with both rewards and benefits can add much needed relief to your monthly budget. Let’s take a look at how to do so.

Earning rewards with the Blue Cash Preferred

Grocery purchases

The Blue Cash Preferred rewards cardholders with 6 percent cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 in purchases each year (then 1 percent back). If you happen to max out the $6,000 spending cap, you’ll earn $360 cash back. With higher food prices, the cash back from this card is one way to offset the price hike many are noticing at the supermarket.

If you are unsure whether $6,000 is a realistic number for you to hit at the grocery store throughout the year (it’s $500 per month), keep in mind the numerous purchase options in addition to food. Grocery stores carry a wide variety of goods, ranging from pet food, prescriptions, school supplies, books and more. A grocery store might not be top of mind when you need to run errands, but if you make it your first stop for everyday household purchases, you’ll quickly rack up more points.

Gas stations and transit

Unfortunately, the budget squeeze can also be felt in the gas category for many consumers. Thankfully, the Amex Blue Cash Preferred offers a minor form of relief with 3 percent cash back on U.S. gas station purchases. Unlike the U.S. supermarket category, there is no spending cap on U.S. gas station purchases, which means you can reach for this card whenever you’re paying at the pump.

Bear in mind, the 3 percent cash back rate on U.S. gas station purchases does not apply to warehouse clubs, grocery stores or supermarket gas stations, so you may need to change where you fuel up.

For those who rely on mass transit or other forms of transportation, the Amex Blue Cash Preferred has you covered. The card offers an unlimited 3 percent cash back on transit, which applies to rideshares, tolls, taxis, buses, parking and more. Whether you’re on your daily commute or headed downtown to the theatre, you can easily be rewarded.

Streaming services

While streaming service subscriptions aren’t essential, they’re certainly found in the majority of U.S. households. Over 78 percent of homes have at least one streaming service, with Netflix dominating. The Amex Blue Cash Preferred offers a generous 6 percent cash back on select popular streaming services, including big names like Netflix and Disney+.

To take advantage of this cash back rate, you’ll need to update your preferred method of payment as the Amex Blue Cash Preferred for any streaming services you use. With most streaming services requiring autopay, this should be an effortless method for earning rewards.

All other purchases

If you choose to use your card for purchases outside of the highlighted categories, you’ll still be rewarded with 1 percent cash back. It may seem like a trivial cash back amount, but the 1 percent can quickly add up (and is standard across rewards cards).

Where you’ll really see the potential for rewards is if you use your Blue Cash Preferred to pay for household bills, such as water and electricity. For example, using this card to cover $500 worth of household utility bills gives you the chance to earn minor cash back with little effort.

Blue Cash Preferred benefits to take advantage of

The Blue Cash Preferred card does include a $95 annual fee. If you take advantage of the card’s rewards structure and benefits, though, you should have no problem offsetting the annual fee.

Introductory APR of 0% on purchases for 12 months

One of the many benefits of the Blue Cash Preferred is the 0 percent introductory APR on purchases for the first 12 months (15.49 percent to 25.49 percent variable APR after) that can be used strategically for financing larger purchases. With 12 months to pay your purchases off without interest, you’re saved from having to use other services, such as Klarna, Afterpay or store credit offers.

Make sure you pay off any purchases within the first 12 months, otherwise you’ll be subject to a 15.49 percent to 25.49 percent variable APR once the promotional period ends. Not paying off purchases before then can quickly subtract from your rewards earnings.

Welcome bonus

New Blue Cash Preferred cardholders can earn a $350 statement credit after spending $3,000 in purchases within the first six months. If you plan to use this card every day for groceries, gas, household payments and streaming services, meeting the $3,000 spending requirement over half a year might be easier than you think.

Other purchase rewards and protections

Besides the Blue Cash Preferred’s rewards offerings, introductory APR and welcome bonus, this cash back credit card offers a few other benefits worth mentioning.

The return protection benefit allows you to return an item to American Express within 90 days of purchase if the seller will not accept the return. This is worth up to $300 per item and up to a maximum of $1,000 per calendar year.

Lastly, American Express credit cards come with other purchase and travel protections, including:

  • Purchase protection: If you make a purchase with your Blue Cash Preferred card that needs repair or replacement later on, purchase protection of up to $1,000 per incident and $50,000 total in a calendar year is included.
  • Extended warranty: Get an extra year of warranty coverage on items with a warranty of up to five years that are purchased with your card. This is worth up to $10,000 per item or $50,000 total.
  • Car rental loss and damage insurance: If you pay for a rental car with your Amex Blue Cash Preferred, you’ll get additional insurance protection (as long as you’re using it in an eligible country).

Enroll in Amex Offers

For American Express cardholders, Amex Offers is a way to earn additional rewards or take advantage of special offers related to travel, shopping, dining and more. For example, you may earn additional Hilton Honors points if you reach a certain spending threshold or receive additional cash back if you make a purchase at a select retailer.

To enroll, simply select the incentive you would like to earn when you log in to your Amex online account. Browse through the offers (which are constantly changing and have set expiration dates) and select the ones you’re most interested in. There is no penalty for letting a selected incentive expire, so you should go ahead and add ones to your card if there is the slightest chance you will use it.

How to maximize rewards earned with the Blue Cash Preferred

Knowing how to maximize Blue Cash Preferred rewards doesn’t stop when you make a purchase; there are other methods to help you get the most from your earnings.

Best ways to redeem your rewards

Once you reach $25 worth of rewards points, you can start redeeming them for a statement credit. The other options for redemptions include gift cards and merchandise, which is somewhat limited compared to other credit card rewards programs. Redeeming for a statement credit is the best way to use your rewards and increase your overall buying power.

Best credit cards to pair with the Blue Cash Preferred

Given the Amex Blue Cash Preferred’s solid cash back rates on U.S. supermarket purchases, select U.S. streaming subscriptions, transit and U.S. gas station purchases, it may make sense to pair it with a flat-rate cash back card for all non-category spending.

For example, the Chase Freedom Unlimited offers 1.5 percent cash back on all purchases and doesn’t charge an annual fee—meaning you could swipe this card for all non-category purchases to earn a half percent more compared to the Blue Cash Preferred.

The Citi® Double Cash Card is another great option for pairing. You earn 1 percent cash back when you make a purchase and an additional 1 percent when you pay your balance. This means you don’t have to keep up with any rotating categories or promotions, and it encourages you to pay off the amount each month. There’s no annual fee, either.

The bottom line

The Amex Blue Cash Preferred offers a strong cash back rewards structure for everyday purchases. By following the tips outlined above, both large and small households can get rewarded for using this card in places they would likely be spending anyway.

Written by
Sara Coleman
Former Insurance Contributor
Sara Coleman is a former insurance contributor at Bankrate. She has a couple of years of experience in writing for insurance domains such as The Simple Dollar, Reviews.com, Coverage.com and numerous other personal finance sites. She writes about insurance products such as auto, homeowners, renters and disability.
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