Is the Amex Blue Cash Preferred worth it?

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Courtesy of American Express

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The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is frequently considered one of the best credit cards for groceries, and for good reason. This card gives you 6 percent cash back on up to $6,000 in spending at U.S. supermarkets each year, as well as an unlimited 6 percent back on select U.S. streaming services. Cardholders also receive 3 percent cash back on transit and U.S. gas station purchases and 1 percent back on all other purchases—and that’s on top of the generous welcome bonus available in the first three months.

Most experts agree the Amex Blue Cash Preferred is worth owning due to the grocery-related category alone. You can max out this rewards category by spending $500 per month, and the exceptional earning rate would net you $360 in cash back rewards per year. However, the Amex Blue Cash Preferred has plenty more benefits you should consider before you sign up.

Is the Amex Blue Cash Preferred Card worth it? This guide will help explain how this card works, who it’s best for and other cash back credit cards or general rewards credit cards you may want to consider.

Details of the Amex Blue Cash Preferred

The Amex Blue Cash Preferred’s annual fee is: $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95. So you get a full 12 months to try out the benefits and rewards. Once you sign up, you get the chance to earn 20% back on Amazon.com purchases on the Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership, up to $200 back. Plus, earn $150 back after you spend $3,000 in purchases on the Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership. You will receive cash back in the form of statement credits. From there, cardholders can earn:

  • 6 percent cash back on up to $6,000 spent at U.S. supermarkets each year (then 1 percent back)
  • 6 percent back on select U.S. streaming services
  • 3 percent back on U.S. gas station purchases
  • 3 percent back on transit purchases (taxis, ride-shares, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more)
  • 1 percent back on everything else

The Amex Blue Cash Preferred also lets you enjoy an introductory 0 percent APR on purchases for 12 months, followed by a variable APR of 13.99 percent to 23.99 percent. This makes it an attractive option for cardholders who need to make a large purchase and pay it off slowly over time.

Is the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express worth it?

Only you can decide if the Amex Blue Cash Preferred is worth it or whether you should consider another rewards credit card altogether. However, there are quite a few details to consider before you decide, including the following:

Rewards potential

One of the biggest reasons to sign up for the Amex Blue Cash Preferred Card is its lucrative rewards scheme, which lets you rack up 6 percent cash back on up to $6,000 spent at U.S. supermarkets each year (then 1 percent back), 6 percent back on select U.S. streaming services, 3 percent back on U.S. gas station purchases and transit and 1 percent back on everything else. When you take time to run the numbers, it’s easy to see where this card can be worth it—even after accounting for the $95 annual fee, you’ll pay the second year and beyond.

Let’s say you use your card for $1,108 in U.S. supermarket spending each month ($13,296 per year), which is the average “moderate” amount of spending for a family with two children ages six through eight and nine through 11, according to the USDA. Meanwhile, let’s say you spend $2,094 per year on gas, which is the average household expenditure according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. To round things out, you also spend another $1,000 on miscellaneous purchases on your card each year.

In that case, you would earn:

  • $360 in rewards on the first $6,000 spent at U.S. supermarkets each year
  • $72.96 in rewards on other grocery spending
  • $62.82 in rewards on gas spending
  • $120 in rewards on all other purchases

This amount equals $615.78 in rewards within a year, which is considerably more than the $95 annual fee you’ll pay after the first year of card membership. Also, this amount does not include the generous welcome bonus you can earn.

Redemption options

One major factor to consider with the Amex Blue Cash Preferred is its very basic rewards program. This card does not accrue American Express Membership Rewards and instead offers regular cash back that can only be used for “reward dollars” and redeemed for statement credits.

If you want a credit card with rewards you can redeem for gift cards, merchandise, travel or other flexible options, you may want to consider a different cash back card option or even a travel credit card.

Annual fee

The Amex Blue Cash Preferred does have a $95 annual fee after the first year. While the rewards can make this card worth the annual fee, keep in mind that there are other American Express credit cards with similar rewards and no annual fee.

For example, the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express doesn’t charge an annual fee, yet you can earn 3 percent cash back on up to $6,000 spent per year at U.S. supermarkets (then 1 percent back), 2 percent back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores and 1 percent back on everything else. The Amex Blue Cash Everyday also starts you off with a welcome bonus: 20% back on Amazon.com purchases on the Card in the first 6 months of Card membership, up to $150 back. Plus, earn $100 back after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months of card membership. You will receive cash back in the form of statement credits.

Cardholder benefits

There are other cardholder perks you get when you sign up for the Amex Blue Cash Preferred, including secondary auto rental coverage, access to a Global Assist hotline, Amex purchase protection, return protection and the Amex Pay It Plan It feature. Make sure to consider the Amex Blue Cash Preferred benefits and whether you’ll use them before you commit.

Should I get the Amex Blue Cash Preferred?

While the Amex Blue Cash Preferred could work for almost anyone, some types of customers might love this card more than others. Here are some signs you should sign up for this card, as well as signs the Blue Cash Preferred may not be worth it:

Who should get the Amex Blue Cash Preferred

  • Anyone who spends at least $6,000 at U.S. supermarkets each year
  • Commuters who spend a lot of money on gas
  • People who want a low introductory APR on purchases for the first year
  • Anyone who wants to redeem rewards for statement credits only
  • People who don’t mind paying an annual fee for a credit card after the first year

Who should pass on the Amex Blue Cash Preferred

  • People who rarely spend money on groceries or gas
  • People who are averse to paying credit card annual fees
  • Travel enthusiasts who prefer to earn rewards for travel-related purchases
  • Someone who wants a card with better benefits, such as annual travel credits, elite hotel status or airport lounge access

How to maximize your rewards with the Amex Blue Cash Preferred

If you believe you’re the ideal customer for the Amex Blue Cash Preferred, there are several ways you can maximize its benefits. Consider these tips to earn more rewards throughout the year.

Max out bonus categories

Using your card for all your regular spending will help you rack up more cash back throughout the year, but you’ll get the most bang for your buck if you focus on using this card in as many bonus categories as you can. Use it for all spending at U.S. supermarkets, and make sure to add this card as your preferred method of payment on all your U.S. subscription service accounts. Also, be sure you use your card for ride-sharing and filling up your tank, as well as any other transit purchases you regularly make.

Pay attention to Amex offers

Amex Offers is a free benefit that comes with your American Express credit card. This program lets you add new offers to your card, which gives you more cash back on purchases with select retailers and brands. And remember, the cash back you can earn with Amex Offers is given separately from the rewards you earn with your credit card.

The bottom line

The Amex Blue Cash Preferred is one of the most popular cash back credit cards on the market today, and it’s worth considering if you spend a lot of money on groceries, gas or transportation.

Still, there are plenty of other rewards credit cards to consider, including American Express credit cards with different earning structures or rewards programs. Make sure to compare several top credit cards from different issuers before you decide and consider pairing a few cards that offer complementary benefits and perks.

Written by
Holly D. Johnson
Author, Award-Winning Writer
Holly Johnson began her career working in the funeral industry, which may make you wonder why she works in personal finance now. Yet, the funeral industry taught the author everything she needs to know about the value of one's money and time. Johnson left the mortuary business a decade ago in order to explore her passion for personal finance and travel the world, and since then, she and her husband have built a debt-free lifestyle that has them on the path to retire very wealthy in their 40s. Holly's love of budgeting also led to the creation of her debt payoff book, “Zero Down Your Debt: Reclaim Your Income and Build a Life You’ll Love."
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