Recommended Credit Score
Top-tier rewards at U.S. supermarkets make this card well worth the annual fee
At Bankrate we strive to help you make smarter financial decisions. While we adhere to strict , this post may contain references to products from our partners. Here's an explanation for . The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of the offers mentioned may have expired. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.
Whether you’re spending on everyday essentials like groceries and gas station purchases or treating your family to a night in with streaming movies, this versatile card has you covered.
Recommended Credit Score
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. It’s supported by a generous welcome offer and unlimited cash back in essential categories like U.S. gas station purchases, transit and select U.S. streaming subscriptions. Nearly everyone can find a way to maximize their cash back on everyday spending with this highly competitive card.
It comes with a $95 annual fee – which can put a stick in the spokes of modest spenders. Despite its value as a cash back king, you’ll need to spend quite a bit to offset the card’s cost in a regular year. However, the annual fee is waived the first year, meaning your first two years with the card will cost you $95. This is plenty of time to offset that fee with your cash back earnings and give you breathing room to adjust your spending for the third year.
Outstanding tiered cash back on groceries, gas, transit and streaming subscriptions
Purchase protection, return protection and extended warranty benefits
Complimentary ShopRunner membership
The high-earning U.S. supermarket category excludes low-cost options like big-box stores and warehouse clubs
Limited rewards redemption options
New Blue Cash Preferred cardholders can earn a $250 statement credit after spending $3,000 within the first six months of card membership. This is a slight decrease from the card’s previous offer of $350 in statement credits after the same spend in the same timeframe.
This change coincides with a new annual fee structure: New cardholders now get a $0 intro annual fee for the first year, after which the regular $95 annual fee applies. Plus, this 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.
The Amex Blue Cash Preferred offers tiered cash back, which means you’ll earn rewards at different rates across multiple categories.
Some tiered rewards cards impose spending caps on your high-earning bonus categories, reverting your rewards rate to 1 percent after spending a certain amount. Many cards cap high-tier rewards at $1,500 in purchases per quarter, but the Blue Cash Preferred card’s 6 percent U.S. supermarket category’s limit is $6,000 per year in purchases. This gives you year-round flexibility to meet that cap on your terms rather than a quarterly restriction limiting you.
You’ll earn cash back on category purchases at the following rates:
These high-earning categories have the potential to reap significant rewards since they’re diverse enough to cover a sizable portion of your day-to-day expenses. In fact, if you spend at least $132 each month at U.S. supermarkets, you should earn enough rewards to cover your annual fee.
You can then take advantage of your card’s flexibility and create more opportunities to maximize your cash rewards. Along with its rewards at U.S. supermarkets and gas stations, two categories that most cardholders spend heavily in, the Blue Cash Preferred card may help you earn bonus rewards with the Amex Offers program. 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.
Unfortunately, the Blue Cash Reward Dollars you earn don’t provide many redemption options. However, cash back (unlike rewards points and miles) is an incentive system strengthened by simplicity. You can redeem rewards for a statement credit, gift cards ($25 minimum) or merchandise.
Although your cash back can’t be a direct deposit or a check, earning statement credits with your Amex Blue Cash Preferred is a great way to save money on grocery purchases. Redeeming for a statement credit is the most versatile rewards option since it can cover anything a gift card can while cutting out the middleman.
Since the Blue Cash Preferred is a cash back card, the Blue Cash Reward Dollars you earn are equivalent to actual dollars. Whether you redeem for a statement credit, gift card or other merchandise, your rewards are still worth up to $1 per Reward Dollar.
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, Pay It Plan It and the complimentary ShopRunner membership (enrollment required) are still rather useful.
If you’re a fan of Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+, you can get a ton of unexpected value out of 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 $12.99 or more each month on an eligible subscription 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 provide, as well as the less-common return protection.
Since the Blue Cash Preferred is a personal U.S. Amex card, you’ll have a complimentary ShopRunner membership (enrollment required) while your card is active. ShopRunner gives you free two-day shipping at checkout when you shop with over 100 online merchants.
If you’re trying to whittle down your balance, the Amex Pay It Plan It feature provides alternative payment strategies. You can use Pay It to immediately take care of purchases under $100. Meanwhile, Plan It allows you to slowly pay off larger qualifying purchases over $100 and pay them over a set period on up to 10 different payment plans.
Plan It can be useful for earning cash back on small purchases because using your card essentially becomes as easy as using a debit card. However, your mileage might vary with Plan It. In lieu of interest payments, you’ll still owe a fixed monthly plan fee, which could be more expensive in some cases.
Fortunately, you can enjoy $0 intro plan fees when you use Plan It monthly installment plans during your first 12 months from the date of account opening. After that, your plans will have a monthly plan fee of up to 1.33 percent of each purchase amount moved into the plan based on its duration (the APR would otherwise apply to the purchase and other factors).
If you’re not sure whether the Blue Cash Preferred card fits your spending habits, the 12-month 0 percent introductory APR on purchases and waived annual fee will buy you some time to decide. After that, the ongoing APR is 18.49 percent to 29.49 percent variable and the annual fee is $95.
You may also be able to transfer your balance to the Blue Cash Preferred card, as Amex is currently accepting balance transfers to this card. You can get 12 months of 0 percent APR to chip away at your debt, after which you’ll face the card’s 18.49 percent to 29.49 percent variable APR.
The ongoing annual fee might be something some cardholders would avoid, but it takes only modest grocery spending to offset that cost. Nevertheless, fee-averse cardholders can opt for the Blue Cash Preferred’s sibling card — the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express.
There is also a 2.7 percent foreign transaction fee if you’re traveling outside the U.S.
Not only will your first year with the Blue Cash Preferred bring bonus cash back, 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 in the premium cash back card world.
Although there’s an annual fee, opening the floodgate to these potential grocery and gas reward paydays can be worth it.
|Benefits and Costs||First-year value||Ongoing value (no welcome offers)|
|Welcome offers||+$250 (after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card within the first 6 months)||—|
|Perks (of monetary value)||N/A||N/A|
|Annual fee||$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($95 a year thereafter)||-$95|
*Based on the following estimates for annual expenditures by category: groceries ($6,000); dining ($2,100); household utilities, fuels and public services ($4,000); household supplies, furnishings and home improvement ($2,800); apparel and services and department stores ($1,800); gas and gas stations ($2,000); transit and ride-shares ($800); entertainment ($3,000); personal care products and services, household operations and other miscellaneous spending ($3,300); travel ($2,000); pharmacies and drugstores ($1,300); online shopping ($1,800).
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 from American Express as well as the American Express® Gold Card.
“For my money, there’s no topping the Blue Cash Preferred.”
— Ted RossmanSenior Credit Card Analyst at Bankrate
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 other types of purchases with a rotating category card is a better match, alternative rewards card choices come down to the rewards structure and categories that best fit where you shop.
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
The battle of the Blue Cash cards isn’t much of a fight. The Blue Cash Preferred Card provides the most long-term value, which can more than make up for the $95 annual fee ($0 intro annual fee for the first year). You get not only a bigger welcome offer, but also twice as much cash back on your U.S. supermarket spending, not to mention the higher bonus rewards for spending at U.S. gas stations and on transit.
The Blue Cash Everyday Card may be a better fit for people who don’t like paying annual fees and who would like 3 percent cash back on U.S. online retail purchases, on up to $6,000 per year, then 1 percent.
In most cases, the Blue Cash Preferred tops the Citi Custom Cash Card. For example, you’ll have to spend more to get the Blue Cash Preferred’s welcome offer, but it’s worth $100 more than the Custom Cash Card.
The Blue Cash Preferred is also far more flexible. You can spend as much as you want each month at U.S. supermarkets until you hit your $6,000 spending limit for the year. After that, you’ll earn 1 percent cash back for the rest of the year. But your Blue Cash Preferred Card will still pack a lot of value because you earn bonus rewards in multiple categories. And the other spending categories don’t have spending limits.
Unfortunately, the Citi Custom Cash Card is only good for spending in one category, on up to $500 each billing cycle. You earn a high 5 percent cash back rate in one of its fixed categories (restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, select travel, select transit, select streaming services, drugstores, home improvement stores, fitness clubs and live entertainment). All other purchases earn 1 percent cash back. Once you spend $500 in your top category each billing cycle, the Custom Cash Card only earns 1 percent cash back in that category for the rest of the billing cycle.
Since it has no annual fee, the Citi Custom Cash Card is a great choice for someone who will use it to make purchases in one (and only one) category each month. For example, make it your credit card that earns 5 percent cash back on gas. Or use it as a high-earning grocery rewards alternative if you max out your yearly spend with the Blue Cash Preferred card’s U.S. supermarket category. But for all your other purchases, the Blue Cash Preferred will more than make up for its $95 annual fee ($0 intro annual fee for the first year) with its welcome offer, rewards and additional benefits.
The Citi® Double Cash Card makes an excellent partner card. It’s a no-frills, flat-rate credit card that offers 2 percent on every purchase: 1 percent when you buy and 1 percent when you pay. It has no annual fee and is a fantastic complement to the tiered rewards structure of the Blue Cash Preferred Card. Use your Amex card for all of your spending that falls in the bonus categories, and then pull out your Double Cash Card for any purchase that would normally only earn 1 percent.
What if you surpass $6,000 each year in groceries? In that case, the Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express is an excellent backup card for another 3 percent at U.S. supermarkets (also capped at $6,000 annually, then 1 percent).
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 have a tough time finding just one rewards credit card that delivers similar opportunities for all of their spending.
Read more: Is the Amex Blue Cash Preferred worth it?
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.
* 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.