Is the Amex Blue Cash Preferred the best card for big families?
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Having a large family means everything is bigger — from the family home to the family car and, of course, the family budget. If you’re managing a budget for a large family, you’re always looking for ways to save and manage money. That’s where a rewards credit card can come in.
Although there are many great cash back cards out there, you might want to consider a card like the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express for assistance. With one of the highest cash back rates for U.S. supermarket purchases — not to mention high cash back rates on a number of other common family spending categories — this card could be the right choice for your family.
Blue Cash Preferred card details
Unlike rotating bonus category cards that require you to activate your spending categories to earn rewards, the Blue Cash Preferred does all the work for you. You’ll simply swipe your card on purchases to rack up high rates of cash back.
With this card, you’ll earn 6 percent back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year, then 1 percent), which can mean huge savings for spending on groceries. You’ll also earn 6 percent back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions, 3 percent back on transit and U.S. gas station purchases and 1 percent back on all other purchases.
The 3 percent back on U.S. gas station purchases can be helpful for busy families that fuel up often, especially since this category doesn’t have a spending cap. Add in streaming and transit, plus the 1 percent back on all other purchases, and you’ll have even more earning opportunities.
Unlike other reward cards, you cannot redeem your cash back as a direct deposit or check. Instead, you can redeem your Rewards Dollars for statement credits, gift cards ($25 minimum) or merchandise.
Another benefit of this card is the sign-up bonus for new cardholders. You can earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $3,000 on your new card within the first six months. Earning this bonus can add substantially to the first-year value of your card.
0% intro APR
If you’ve got a large purchase on the horizon, a 0 percent intro APR on new purchases could help you stretch out payments over time. With the Amex Blue Cash Preferred card, you’ll get a 0 percent intro APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers. After that period is over, the regular variable APR will kick in at 18.49 percent to 29.49 percent.
The Blue Cash Preferred has an annual fee of $95, but this fee is waived for the first year.
Large family spending example
Let’s say your family (two adults and four children) has the following monthly expenses:
- Groceries: $1,400 ($16,800 annually)
- Dining out and entertainment: $500 ($6,000 annually)
- Gas: $500 ($6,000 annually)
- Streaming: $50 ($600 annually)
- Transit: $100 ($1,200 annually)
- Miscellaneous expenses: $750 ($9,000 annually)
This monthly spending of $3,300 is equal to $39,600 in annual spending, which adds up to $870 in cash back earned on an annual basis. That annual cash back is broken down as:
- Groceries: $468 ($360 earned on the first $6,000 spent, then $108 earned on $10,800 spent)
- Dining out and entertainment: $60
- Gas: $180
- Streaming: $36
- Transit: $36
- Miscellaneous expenses: $90
If you factor in the $250 sign-up bonus (earned after spending $3,000 in your first six months), you’ll net over $1,120 from this card in the first year. Plus, since you won’t have to pay an annual fee for the first year, you won’t have to factor that in to your rewards haul.
How does the Amex Blue Cash Preferred compare to other cash back cards?
Although you stand to earn a nice amount of cash back with this card, the $6,000 annual cap on the U.S. supermarket spending category will limit the amount of cash back you can earn. If grocery shopping is a large chunk of your family budget, you may want to look for cards that offer a higher spending cap or no spending cap on groceries. You may also want to consider cards that offer boosted rewards in other categories like dining, entertainment or travel.
For example, the American Express® Gold Card has a great rewards structure for families that spend a lot on both dining and groceries. With this card, you can earn 4X points on restaurants, 4X points on Uber Eats purchases, 4X points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 in purchases per year, then 1X points), 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines or via American Express Travel and 1X points on all other purchases. Even with the $250 annual fee, you can still get plenty of value out of this card thanks to its high rewards rates on groceries and dining, higher spending cap on groceries and numerous annual statement credits, among other benefits.
Or, you may want to consider a card like the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card, which comes with no annual fee and no spending cap on groceries, plus high rewards rates on entertainment, dining and select travel purchases. This card offers 8 percent back on Capital One Entertainment purchases; 5 percent back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel; 3 percent back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and grocery store purchases (excluding superstores like Walmart and Target); and 1 percent on all other purchases.
How to maximize the Amex Blue Cash Preferred
If it seems like this card would work well for your family, here are some tips on how to maximize your rewards.
Make the most of your supermarket spending
The great thing about this bonus category is that you can get more than groceries at supermarkets. There’s everything from hot prepared foods to kitchenware and even gift cards.
Connect this card to your entertainment subscriptions
If you want to earn 6 percent back on your streaming services, there are more than 30 subscription services you can choose from for this category. If you connect your monthly or annual charges to your Amex Blue Cash Preferred, you’ll earn a high rate of rewards on this spending.
Use your card for transportation expenses
You can earn 3 percent back on U.S. gas station purchases and transit, which covers gas, parking, train tickets, tolls and ridesharing expenses. If you’ve got a few responsible adults in your larger family, consider adding them as authorized users so they can also help you rack up more rewards in this category.
The bottom line
The Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express offers high rates of cash back on many categories that many families often spend on — whether big or small. When you can earn cash back on groceries and gas, it can help shave off costs associated with those common family expenses. The first year is when you’ll see the most value from the card due to the welcome bonus and annual fee being waived, but even after that, you can still get value from this cash back card just by using it on your everyday expenses.