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Why I love the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express

Images By Tang Ming Tung / DigitalVision / Getty Images
Images By Tang Ming Tung / DigitalVision / Getty Images
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Although many other credit cards have piled on grocery rewards over the last few years, to me, there’s no topping the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, the OG of grocery rewards cards.

My family of four spends a lot on groceries. The bigger the family, the higher the spending. The Blue Cash Preferred is a great fit for us because it provides 6 percent cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year, then 1 percent after that). If you maximize that limit as we do, that’s $360 in cash back each year. After subtracting the card’s $95 annual fee, the net benefit is $265.

Plus, this card provides 6 percent cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions, 3 percent cash back on transit and U.S. gas station purchases and 1 percent cash back on all other purchases. You can save even more via Amex Offers, which are digital coupons you load onto your card. New cardholders can also earn $350 back (in the form of statement credits) after spending $3,000 within the first six months of account opening.

Additional Blue Cash Preferred benefits

The many levels of protection are what make this card (as well as others) so valuable. With the Amex Blue Cash Preferred, I receive perks that protect my online and in-store purchases. Some of the card benefits include:

  • Purchase protection. This protection covers eligible damages for up to 90 days (capped at $1,000 per item and $50,000 per calendar year).
  • An extended warranty clause. This clause adds up to one additional year to original manufacturers’ warranties of five years or less (up to $10,000 per covered purchase and $50,000 per calendar year).
  • A free ShopRunner membership. Valued at $79 annually, this membership unlocks free two-day shipping and free returns from more than 100 popular retailers.
  • Return protection. If a retailer won’t take an item back and it has been 90 days or less since the item was purchased, Amex will refund you up to $300 per item and up $1,000 per year. Note that return protection is a reward most American Express cards don’t offer.
  • Top-notch customer service. American Express has topped J.D. Power’s U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study 12 times in the study’s 16-year history.

Alternative cards I’ve considered

At times, I’ve been tempted to switch to the American Express® Gold Card. This card provides 4X Membership Rewards points at U.S. supermarkets, at restaurants and on Uber Eats purchases (on up to $25,000 in annual spending, then 1X points). It also offers 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines or via American Express Travel and 1X points on all other purchases.

My family spends about $12,000 on groceries each year, so the higher $25,000 cap is attractive. However, I’m much more interested in cash back than free travel, and the Gold Card would only yield 2.4 percent cash back on groceries and dining. That’s because Membership Rewards points are worth 0.6 cents each when redeemed to cover card charges.

The Gold Card also has a much higher annual fee of $250, but it can be offset by various credits. For example, you’ll get up to $120 in annual Uber Cash ($10 per month, expires at the end of the month) toward U.S. rides and U.S. Eats orders. Just be sure that your Amex Gold card is linked to the Uber app to automatically receive your monthly Uber Cash. You’ll also receive up to $120 in dining credits annually ($10 per month; enrollment required) when you pay with your Amex Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations.

The bottom line

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 sibling, the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, which does not charge an annual fee. The drawback is that it only provides 3 percent cash back at U.S. supermarkets with the same $6,000 yearly cap (then 1 percent back). As my family grew, I upgraded my card 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.

Have a question about credit cards? Email me at ted.rossman@bankrate.com and I’d be happy to help.

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.

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Part of  Introduction to the Blue Cash Preferred Credit Card from American Express