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Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express review: Grocery rewards MVP

Top-tier rewards at U.S. supermarkets make this card well worth the annual fee

 /  18 min
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Snapshot

4.4

Bankrate rating
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Rating: 4.4 stars out of 5

Bottom line

Whether you’re spending on everyday essentials like groceries and gas station purchases or spending a night in with streaming services, this versatile card has you covered.

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Best for Groceries
Apply now Lock
on American Express's secure site
See Rates & Fees , Terms Apply
  • Rewards value
    Rating: 5 stars out of 5
    5 / 5
    APR
    Rating: 1 stars out of 5
    1 / 5
    Rewards flexibility
    Rating: 3 stars out of 5
    3 / 5
    Features
    Rating: 3 stars out of 5
    3 / 5
Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
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Recommended Credit
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Intro offer

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1% - 6%

Rewards rate

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Annual fee

Regular APR

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express Overview

Boasting one of the highest rewards rates available at U.S. supermarkets, the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express remains one of the best cards for groceries. However, its generous benefits and unlimited cash back in essential categories like U.S. gas station purchases, transit and select U.S. streaming subscriptions elevate the Blue Cash Preferred into a top-tier card for maximum cash back on everyday spending.

Despite its value as a leading cash back card, you’ll need to make up for the card’s yearly cost. It has a $95 annual fee — which may intimidate modest spenders. However, the annual fee is waived the first year, and monthly credits for select streaming service and home fitness subscriptions can help offset the fee without eating into your hard-earned rewards value. That way, you should have plenty of time to determine if the Blue Cash Preferred is rewarding enough for your budget.

  • Credit Card Cash Back

    Rewards

    • 6 percent cash back on U.S. supermarket purchases (up to $6,000 per year, then 1 percent) and select U.S. streaming subscriptions
    • 3 percent cash back at U.S. gas stations
    • 3 percent cash back on transit purchases (including taxis, rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more)
    • 1 percent cash back on all other purchases

    Expert Appraisal: Exceptional
    See our expert analysis

  • Rewards

    Welcome offer

    • $250 statement credit after spending $3,000 in purchases within the first six months

    Expert Appraisal: Good
    See our expert analysis

  • Credit Card Apr

    0% intro APR offer

    • 0 percent intro APR on purchases for 12 months
    • 0 percent intro APR on balance transfers for 12 months
    • 19.24 percent to 29.99 percent variable ongoing APR

    Expert Appraisal: Good
    See our expert analysis

  • Credit Card Search

    Rates and fees

    • No annual fee for the first year
    • $95 annual fee (after the first year)
    • 2.7 percent foreign transaction fee

    Expert Appraisal: Typical
    See our expert analysis

  • Congrats

    Other cardholder perks

    • Up to $84 in annual Disney Bundle streaming service statement credits (up to $7 per month back as a statement credit after you spend at least $9.99 each month on an eligible subscription - subject to auto renewal; enrollment required)
    • Up to $120 in statement credits annually when you pay for an auto-renewing subscription for Equinox+ (up to $10 per month. Enrollment required; subject to auto-renewal)
    • Amex Offers reward opportunities with participating merchants
    • Pay It Plan It alternative payment features
    • Access to American Express Experiences events and ticket pre-sales
    • Complimentary ShopRunner expedited shipping membership
    • Purchase protections, including car rental loss and damage insurance and purchase, extended warranty and return protections

    Expert Appraisal: Good
    See our expert analysis

Blue Cash Preferred pros and cons

Pros

  • Checkmark

    The card provides top-rate, year-round cash back on groceries, gas, transit and streaming subscriptions, so you can earn rewards on everyday spending.

  • Checkmark

    The Disney Bundle streaming service and Equinox+ fitness annual credits are more than valuable enough to offset the annual fee without relying on rewards spending.

  • Checkmark

    It offers strong purchase protection, return protection and extended warranty benefits.

  • Checkmark

    It has a respectable welcome offer and introductory APR for new purchases and balance transfers.

Cons

  • The card has a $95 annual fee after the first year, which may be a deal breaker for cost-conscious people.

  • The high-earning U.S. supermarket category is capped at $6,000 in annual spending (then 1 percent) and excludes groceries at wholesale clubs (like Costco), superstores (like Walmart and Target) and online grocery retailers (like Amazon.com)

  • It has limited rewards redemption options compared to other cash back cards.

Why you might want the Blue Cash Preferred

The Blue Cash Preferred can be an excellent cash back card for a variety of budgets thanks to its top-notch reward categories, cash back rates and stand-out bonus perks. However, there’s plenty of first-year value as well with the great welcome bonus and intro APRs.

Rewards: Exceptional cash back for commuters and groceries

The Amex Blue Cash Preferred offers tiered cash back, which means you’ll earn rewards at different rates across multiple year-round categories. Cash back bonus categories often offer up to 3 percent or 4 percent cash back on fixed categories, which makes the Blue Cash Preferred’s best-in-class rewards rates at U.S. supermarkets and on select U.S. streaming services so exceptional. 

Combined with its unlimited U.S. gas station and transit categories, the Blue Cash Preferred may be one of the most lucrative cash back cards on the market for many different types of spenders since grocery runs and commuting expenses are hard to avoid. It collects some of the most popular bonus categories available onto one credit card and cranks up the value with some of the best rewards rates you’ll find for these categories, which make the annual fee more than worthwhile for many spenders. Even urban commuters who don’t drive can rake in cash back on the comprehensive transit category since it includes taxis, buses, trains, rideshares, parking, toll roads and more.

However, the stellar U.S. supermarket category limits its 6 percent cash back rate to the first $6,000 in supermarket purchases each year (then 1 percent). This isn’t unusual since many cards cap high-tier rewards at $1,500 in purchases per quarter. Plus, this gives you year-round flexibility to meet the cap on your terms rather than a quarterly restriction limiting you. It’s important to note that groceries you buy at wholesale clubs and superstores like Walmart won’t count in this category, though, since these retailers aren’t classified as supermarkets.

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Bankrate Insight

Beyond the bonus categories, the Amex Offers program could help sprinkle additional rewards on your spending. Amex Offers are limited-time deals you can activate in your account to earn extra cash back or Membership Rewards points on purchases from participating retailers, such as Hulu or Uber. The offers might not rake in rewards, but it’s a good way to help maximize the Blue Cash Preferred.

Welcome offer: Sizable cash back kickstart

Cash back credit cards often carry a $200 welcome offer value in exchange for spending $500 or $1,000 on purchases within the first three months. This is a typical bonus value for no-annual-fee cards, which cash back cards tend to be. Premium rewards cards usually provide more valuable welcome bonuses, and the Blue Cash Preferred continues the trend with its heftier $250 intro statement credit — which similarly poses a larger $3,000 spending requirement in the first three months.

This isn’t much more valuable than the usual cash back offer, but the spending requirement shouldn’t be too difficult for many cardholders since it would only require spending at least $500 per month.There are very few premium cash back cards on the market, but, for comparison, the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card* offers a $300 intro cash bonus after spending $3,000 within the first three months.

The Savor card’s slightly higher cash bonus poses a much stricter spending requirement, but the Blue Cash Preferred’s accessible welcome offer is certainly worth jumping on. Although $250 is a slight decrease from a previous offer of $350 in statement credits after the same spend in the same timeframe, this was in exchange for waiving the annual fee in the first year — which is essentially a $95 value. Plus, the current offer still beats out many of the bonuses you’ll find on competing cash back cards and offers double the typical timeframe for reaching the bonus spending threshold — six months versus the usual three months.

Intro APR: A rare offer with premium rewards

Premium rewards cards generally don’t carry intro APR offers, but the Blue Cash Preferred is one of the few exceptions. The card’s 0 percent intro APR on purchases and balance transfers only lasts 12 months compared to the usual 15-month offers no-annual-fee rivals carry, but this is still plenty of breathing room from snowballing interest to pay down your balance.

Fortunately, the low end of the 19.24 percent to 29.99 percent variable APR after the intro APR expires is slightly below the current average interest rate as well.

Learn more: How to do a balance transfer with American Express

Perks: Credits can recoup the card cost

The Blue Cash Preferred doesn’t carry nearly as many benefits as American Express’s best rewards cards. However, standard Amex perks like shopping and travel protections, are still rather useful considering cash back cards usually don’t pack many features beyond the rewards program.

You can enjoy staple Amex perks like access to the American Express Experiences and Pay It Plan It features, plus complimentary ShopRunner membership for expedited shipping. However, the main attractions are the annual credits for eligible payments for The Disney Bundle streaming service and Equinox+ fitness subscriptions. The Equinox+ credits more than make up for the annual fee themselves, but this perk may not be as useful for as many cardholders as the streaming credits.

If you’re a fan of Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+, you can get a ton of value from the Blue Cash Preferred. Along with its top-tier rewards rate on streaming services, the card earns $7 back each month if you use it to spend $9.99 or more each month on an eligible subscription (subject to autorenewal) to The Disney Bundle, which includes Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ (enrollment required). That essentially gets you all three services for the price of one and adds up to $84 in savings if you squeeze the full value out of the offer. That’s almost as much as the card’s annual fee.

Your Blue Cash Preferred card comes with several protections that nearly all American Express cards (and many cash back cards) provide. However, return protection is a rare perk nowadays and can be valuable for online shopping and retailers with strict return policies.

  • Return protection: You can return eligible purchases of under $300 even when the merchant doesn’t offer returns (a limit of up to $1,000 in returns per year applies).
  • Purchase protection: If an item you purchased with the card needs to be repaired or replaced, you can get reimbursed up to $1,000 per eligible incident (up to $50,000 per year total).
  • Extended warranty: You get an extra year of coverage on items with an existing warranty of up to five years (up to $10,000 in coverage per eligible item and $50,000 per card).
  • Car rental loss and damage insurance: If a vehicle you’ve rented with your card is damaged or stolen in an eligible country, you can take advantage of secondary insurance coverage.

Why you might want a different cash back card

Overall, the Blue Cash Preferred likely brings more advantages to the table than drawbacks for many cardholders. However, the annual fee may be intimidating at first for modest spenders, and the limited reward redemption options might be disappointing for some rewards strategists as well.

Rates and fees: $95 price tag after the first year

The Blue Cash Preferred generously waives the annual fee for the first year, but the $95 fee after that may be intimidating for modest spenders. This is still a relatively low price tag considering the card’s rewards and perks could deliver more than enough ongoing value for even the average spender. However, it still may be an obstacle for some applicants.

Fortunately, you’ll have an entire year to figure out whether the annual fee aligns with your spending habits. If that’s the case, you can downgrade to its no-annual-fee counterpart, the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express.

The other fees are par for the course, but keep in mind there’s a 2.7 percent foreign transaction fee, which can eat into your rewards value if you use the card abroad.

Rewards redemption: Limited cash back options

The Blue Cash Preferred card categories may fit into many different lifestyles, but the reward redemption options are unfortunately less versatile. Like other cash back cards from American Express, you earn cash back initially as “Reward Dollars,” which you can redeem for a statement credit or at Amazon.com checkout.

This may not be a dealbreaker for many people, but it’s still disappointing considering competing cash back cards provide a range of redemption options, like a direct deposit, physical check, gift card or even physical cash from an ATM. The rewards also can’t be pooled with Membership Rewards Point-earning Amex cards if you’re interested in strategic travel redemptions. However, redeeming for a statement credit is one of the most versatile rewards options since it can directly pay doiwn your balance.

First-year value vs. ongoing value

Not only will your first year with the Blue Cash Preferred bring bonus cash back without an annual fee to worry about, but you can also save big on interest. Intro purchase APR offers aren’t common among cards with annual fees, and the intro bonus’ total cash back ranks among the biggest bounties on the cash back card market.

Although there’s an annual fee, opening the floodgate to the generous grocery and gas rewards can easily be worth it. In fact, the yearly Disney Bundle and Equinox+ credits alone more than make up for the annual fee. Even if you don’t plan on using those perks, you’d only need to spend about $132 at U.S. supermarkets — or about $264 across your 3 percent categories — each month to earn enough cash back to offset the annual fee. 

To make your research easier, we’ve calculated the Blue Cash Preferred card’s first-year and ongoing value based on our card value formula and a $22,500 annual spend.

Benefits and Costs First-year value Ongoing value (no welcome offers)
Yearly rewards* +$591 +$591
Welcome offers +$250 (after $3,000 in purchases in the first six months)
Perks (of monetary value)
  • +$120 ($10 monthly Equinox+ statement credits after paying for an auto-renewing subscription at equinoxplus.com)
  • +$84 ($7 monthly Disney Bundle streaming service credits after at least a $9.99 monthly payment on an eligible subscription subject to auto renewal)
  • +$120 ($10 monthly Equinox+ statement credits after paying for an auto-renewing  subscription at equinoxplus.com)
  • +$84 ($7 monthly Disney Bundle streaming service credits after at least a $9.99 monthly payment subject to auto renewal) 
Annual fee $0 intro annual fee for the first year ($95 a year thereafter) -$95
Total value $1,045 $700

*Based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics's annual consumer expenditures.

Bankrate staff experience

The Blue Cash Preferred card’s unique everyday value has impressed several credit card and personal finance experts here at Bankrate, including resident senior credit card analyst Ted Rossman.

Rossman has written at length about why he loves the Blue Cash Preferred, believing its focus on grocery cash back is the perfect fit for his family. But it’s not just the $360 he earns in cash back every year that keeps him happy. Rossman makes sure to take full advantage of the card, earning cash back rewards in all its bonus categories while also taking advantage of the many “perks that protect my online and in-store purchases.” These include purchase and return protections, as well as an extended warranty clause.

The Blue Cash Preferred packs so much value, Rossman prefers it over the Blue Cash Everyday Card as well as the American Express® Gold Card.

For my money, there’s no topping the Blue Cash Preferred. Since 2019, the Blue Cash Preferred from American Express has held a prominent place in my wallet. For five years before that, I had its no-annual-fee counterpart, the Blue Cash Everyday Card. As my family grew, I upgraded to the Blue Cash Preferred, ensuring I’d spend enough on groceries to come out ahead even after factoring in the annual fee. That was soon after the Blue Cash Preferred expanded its streaming and transit perks, which only sweetened the pot further.

— Ted Rossman— Senior Credit Card Analyst at Bankrate

 

How the Amex Blue Cash Preferred compares to other cash back cards

The Blue Cash Preferred is hard to beat in the cash back world when it comes to consistent, high-earning grocery and gas rewards. Unless you feel earning 5 percent cash back on various purchases with a rotating category card suits your spending, alternative rewards card choices come down to the rewards structure and categories that best fit where you shop. Otherwise, finding a card to compete with the Blue Cash Preferred comes down to accepting lower rewards rates in exchange for no annual fee — which may be more lucrative for modest spenders.

Image of Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
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See Rates & Fees , Terms Apply
Apply now Lock
on American Express's secure site

Annual fee

$0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95.

Intro offer

Earn $250
Info

Rewards rate

1% - 6%
Info

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info
Image of Citi Custom Cash® Card
Bankrate Score
See Rates & Fees , Terms Apply
Apply now Lock
on Citi's secure site

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

$200
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Rewards rate

1% - 5%
Info

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info
Image of Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
Bankrate Score
See Rates & Fees , Terms Apply
Apply now Lock
on American Express's secure site

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

Earn $200
Info

Rewards rate

1% - 3%
Info

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info

Best cards to pair with the Blue Cash Preferred

The Blue Cash Preferred card’s major strength is its narrow scope of popular bonus categories with outstanding rewards rates. So, almost any cash back card that rewards your other big expenses can be be a good way to maximize the Blue Cash Preferred as part of your rewards strategy. 

For example, the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card adds valuable dining, entertainment and travel categories to your repertoire, or you could use the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card to add wholesale clubs or categories of your choice to the mix. Granted, both of these cards also offer a few categories that overlap with the Blue Cash Preferred card’s categories. However, neither card charges an annual fee (See Rates & Fees for the Capital One SavorOne), and their grocery-related categories could help if you reach the Blue Cash Preferred’s $6,000 annual limit for the U.S. supermarket rewards rate. 

Who is the Blue Cash preferred right for?

The Blue Cash Preferred is among the best cash back credit cards for commuters with frequent grocery runs. The elevated cash back for U.S. supermarkets, U.S. gas stations and transit is hard to beat, making the annual fee an afterthought. Even if you're reluctant to take on an annual fee or you already have a flat-rate cash back card, the Blue Cash Preferred is still an ideal fit if you regularly shop in any of its bonus categories, cardholders needing to spend less than $150 per month to make up for the annual fee.

Bankrate’s Take — Is the Amex Blue Cash Preferred worth it?

The Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express is one of the best cash back credit cards that offers consistently high-earning cash back rates on everyday essentials like groceries, gas, transit and streaming subscriptions, which are a step above many other cash back cards’ reward offerings. Family shoppers, home cooks, heavy commuters and busy professionals will find that it’s worth it to have one rewards card that delivers similar rates for most of their spending.

Dig deeper: Is the Blue Cash Preferred worth it?

*The information about the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.

Eligibility and Benefit level varies by card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by Amex Assurance Company.

Frequently asked questions

Written by
Garrett Yarbrough
Writer, Credit Cards

Bankrate expert Garrett Yarbrough strives to make navigating credit cards and credit building smooth sailing for his readers. After regularly featuring his credit card, credit monitoring and identity theft analysis on NextAdvisor.com, he joined the CreditCards.com and Bankrate teams as a staff writer to develop product reviews and comprehensive credit card guides focused on cash back, credit scores and card offers.

Edited by Senior Editor, Credit Cards
Reviewed by Former Senior Director of Content

* See the online application for details about terms and conditions for these offers. Every reasonable effort has been made to maintain accurate information. However all credit card information is presented without warranty. After you click on the offer you desire you will be directed to the credit card issuer's web site where you can review the terms and conditions for your selected offer.

Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, is accurate as of the publish date. All products or services are presented without warranty. Check the bank’s website for the most current information.