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.
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.