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, you probably 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. It also offers a 0 percent introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months (18.49 percent to 29.49 percent variable APR thereafter).
The Blue Cash Preferred comes with a $95 annual fee. But if you take advantage of the card’s rewards structure and benefits, you should have no problem offsetting the annual fee. So, what’s the best way to maximize all the rewards and benefits that the American Express Blue Cash Preferred offers? Let’s take a look at some of the best ways to do so.
Maximizing rewards with the Blue Cash Preferred
Use your card at grocery stores
The Blue Cash Preferred offers 6 percent cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 in purchases each year, then 1 percent back). If you max out the $6,000 spending cap, you’ll earn $360 in 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’re 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 items you can purchase 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 earn more rewards.
Use your card at gas stations and on 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. However, note that the 3 percent cash back rate on U.S. gas station purchases does not apply to warehouse clubs 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, too. 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 theater, you can easily be rewarded.
Add your card to your streaming services
While streaming subscriptions aren’t essential, they’re certainly found in the majority of U.S. households. The Amex Blue Cash Preferred offers a generous 6 percent cash back on select U.S. streaming services, including big names like Netflix and Disney+.
To take advantage of this cash back rate, you’ll need to update your payment method to the Amex Blue Cash Preferred for any streaming services you use. Since most streaming services require autopay, this should be an effortless way to earn rewards.
Pay for all other purchases with your card
If you choose to use your card for purchases outside of the highlighted bonus categories, you’ll still be rewarded with 1 percent cash back on those purchases. It may seem like a trivial 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 $5 in cash back with little effort.
Maximizing major benefits with the Blue Cash Preferred
Take advantage of 0% intro APR offers
One of the many benefits of the Blue Cash Preferred is its 0 percent intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months (18.49 percent to 29.49 percent variable APR after) that can be used for financing larger purchases or paying off debt.
Make sure you pay off any purchases or transferred debt within the first 12 months, otherwise you’ll be subject to a 18.49 percent to 29.49 percent variable APR once the promotional period ends. Not paying off balances before then can quickly subtract from your rewards earnings.
Earn the welcome bonus
New Blue Cash Preferred cardholders can earn a $250 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, it should be easy to meet the spending requirement. Or, think of it this way: You only need to spend $500 per month for six months to earn the bonus.
Use other card protections
Besides the Blue Cash Preferred’s rewards offerings, introductory APRs and welcome bonus, this cash back card offers a few other benefits worth mentioning:
- Return protection. This 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.
- Purchase protection. If you purchase an item with your card that needs repair or replacement later on, you’ll get purchase protection of up to $1,000 per incident and $50,000 per calendar year.
- Extended warranty. For items that are purchased with your card, get up to one additional year of coverage on items with a manufacturer’s warranty of five years or less. This is worth up to $10,000 per item and up to $50,000 per eligible card.
- Car rental loss and damage insurance. If you pay for a rental car with your Amex Blue Cash Preferred and decline the rental company’s insurance, you’ll get car rental loss and damage insurance through your eligible Amex card.
Earn more rewards through Amex Offers
For American Express cardholders, Amex Offers is a way to earn additional rewards through limited-time special offers related to travel, shopping, dining and more. For example, you may receive a certain amount or percentage of cash back if you make a qualifying purchase at a select retailer.
After logging in to your Amex account, you can browse through the available offers (which are constantly changing and have set expiration dates) and click on the ones you’re most interested in to add them to your card. There is no penalty for letting an offer expire, so you should go ahead and add all offers you’re interested in.
Additional ways to maximize the Blue Cash Preferred
Redeem rewards to offset high bills
The Blue Cash Preferred’s redemption options are somewhat limited compared to other credit card rewards programs since you can only redeem Rewards Dollars for statement credits. However, you can redeem rewards in any amount. To get the most from this option, you may want to consider using your rewards earnings to help offset a large credit card bill.
Pair other cards 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 half a percentage point more compared to the Blue Cash Preferred.
The Citi® Double Cash Card is another great option for pairing. You’ll earn a total of 2 percent cash back — 1 percent back when you make a purchase and an additional 1 percent back when you pay for your purchase. This means you won’t have to keep up with any bonus or rotating categories, and the rewards structure will encourage you to pay off your balance in full each month. There’s no annual fee, either.
The bottom line
The Amex Blue Cash Preferred offers a strong cash back rewards structure for many types of everyday purchases. By following the tips outlined above, both large and small households can get rewarded for using this card on spending they would likely be doing anyway.
*The information about the Chase Freedom Unlimited® has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.