Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express Benefits & Review 2021
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Even if you travel regularly, you may prefer to earn cash rewards on your daily spending instead of the periodic travel booking. The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express can earn up to 6% back on groceries, gas, local transit, and streaming.
Here is an in-depth look at the Blue Cash Preferred and if it’s better than a travel credit card.
You will benefit the most from this card if your most significant monthly purchases tend to fall in this budget categories:
- Local transit (i.e., rideshares, parking, tolls, and trains)
- Gas stations
Each purchase earns cash rewards. As a result, you have more flexibility than travel rewards that you may have to redeem with a specific airline or hotel loyalty club.
This card offers some of the highest rewards rates for groceries, commuting, gas stations, and streaming. It can be worth the upgrade from your run-of-the-mill cash rewards credit card.
However, you must decide if the enhanced rewards are worth the $95 annual fee ($0 introductory annual fee for the first 12 months).
|Benefits at a Glance|
|– Annual Fee: $0 for the first 12 months and then $95|
– Current Bonus: Up to $350 cash back. Earn $150 back after $3,000 in purchases in the first 6 months. Get 20% back at Amazon.com purchases (up to $200 back) in the first 6 months.
– 0% APR on Purchases for the first 12 months
– Up to 6% back at U.S. Supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year, then 1% back)
– 6% back on select U.S. Streaming subscriptions
– 3% back on select Transit purchases
– 3% back at U.S. Gas Stations
– 1% back on all remaining purchases
– Secondary Rental Car Insurance
– No Annual Fee for additional cards
– Good or Excellent Credit Score Required (680+)
– Terms Apply. See the card’s Rates & Fees.
Featured Blue Cash Preferred Benefits
Here are the best benefits of this cash-back credit card.
Up to $350 Cash Back Welcome Offer
The current signup bonus is worth up to $350 and has two different spending challenges:
- Spend $3,000 in the first 6 months to earn $150 bonus cash
- Get 20% back on the first $750 in Amazon.com purchases during the first 6 months for up to $200 back
You will receive the welcome offer payout as a cash statement credit.
Introductory 0% APR on Purchases
You can also benefit from the introductory 0% APR on purchases for the first 12 months. The variable APR is 13.99% to 23.99% after the promotion period ends.
Up to 6% Back on Groceries
The first $6,000 per year in grocery purchases at U.S. supermarkets earn 6% back. After that, all remaining supermarket purchases earn 1% back.
This cash back bonus doesn’t apply to discount stores or wholesale clubs such as Walmart, Target, Costco, and Sam’s Club.
The Vacationer Tip
Taking advantage of the full 6% per year at U.S. supermarkets on the first $6,000 spent allows you to earn $360 in cash back each year. That more than covers the $95 annual fee.
6% Back on Streaming Services
Select U.S. streaming subscriptions earn unlimited 6% back. This spending category applies to many popular video, music, and satellite radio providers.
3% Back at Gas Stations
U.S. gas stations purchases earn unlimited 3% back. This perk can benefit commuters, road trippers, and parents driving their children to school and sports activities.
If you drive instead of fly when you travel, you will earn 3% back on each gas stop. Assuming you spend around $3,000 per year at gas stations, you can earn $90 in cash back.
3% Back on Transit
The Blue Cash Preferred Card can be one of the best cards for commuters as these transit-related purchases can earn 3% back:
- Trains and subways
This perk and the 3% back on gas stations can help workers with a daily driving commute save money.
At Least 1% Back on Purchases
All non-bonus purchases earn 1% back. This cashback rate is standard for tiered rewards cards and similar to the base rate for travel credit cards.
However, this card has a 2.7% foreign transaction fee which exceeds the cash rewards you earn on international purchases.
Other Blue Cash Preferred Features
These other card benefits can stretch your spending power and provide peace of mind.
Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance
Most car rentals qualify for secondary collision and theft coverage. To qualify for this benefit, you will need to decline the car rental agency’s collision damage waiver (CDW) policy. With secondary coverage, you must file a claim with your personal auto insurance company first. This benefit does not include liability coverage.
Global Assist Hotline
The Global Assist Hotline is a complimentary service when traveling at least 100 miles from home. An agent can help you find medical, legal, financial, and emergency assistance.
Third-party fees can apply from the service providers.
Qualifying purchases can qualify for return protection of up to $300 per item within 90 days of the purchase date. The annual benefit limit is $1,000 per calendar year.
Qualifying purchases that are accidentally stolen or damaged during the first 90 days can qualify for purchase protection.
This benefit covers up to $1,000 per covered purchase and up to $50,000 per calendar year. However, natural disaster-related benefits only cover up to $500 per covered event.
American Express will extend the warranty by 1 additional year for eligible purchases with an original warranty of 5 years or less.
Free ShopRunner Membership
This card qualifies for free ShopRunner membership that lets shoppers get free 2-day shipping and return shipping at participating online stores.
Pay It Plan It
“Buy now, pay later” is a new feature many credit cards offer to help consumers pay for large purchases over several months.
This Plan It feature lets you make up to 10 monthly payments for purchases larger than $100.
These purchases earn cash back but have a fixed monthly plan of up to 1.33%. This fee can be lower than the purchase variable APR.
There are no plan fees for the first 12 months as the promotional 0% purchase APR applies.
Cash statement credits are the only redemption option for the Blue Cash Preferred Card. The redemption minimum is $25.
While other cash back cards have similar redemption minimums and you can cash out monthly if you spend at least $2,500 per month (if every purchase earns the 1% base rate).
Here are the most critical Blue Cash Preferred Card fees:
- Annual Fee: $0 for the first year and then $95 each subsequent year
- Foreign Transaction Fee: 2.7%
- Introductory Purchase APR: 0% for the first 12 months
- Ongoing Purchase APR: 13.99% to 23.99% variable APR
- Plan Fee: 0% for the first 12 months. Then up to 1.33% of the purchase amount.
- Overlimit Fee: $0
- Late Payment: Up to $40
- Returned Payment: Up to $40
Blue Cash Preferred Compared to Similar Cards
These Blue Cash Preferred alternatives can also help you earn cash rewards or travel rewards.
Blue Cash Everyday Card:
The Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express is the little sibling to the Blue Cash Preferred. It has smaller cash back rates but also doesn’t have an annual fee.
You can earn up to 3% back on purchases:
- 3% back at U.S. supermarkets (on the first $6,000 per year then 1% back)
- 2% back at U.S. gas stations
- 2% back at select U.S. department stores
- 1% back on all non-bonus purchases
The bonus categories have some variations to the Blue Cash Preferred. However, the supermarket and gas station bonus categories remain the best reason to consider either Blue Cash card.
The redemption minimum is $25 for cash statement credits.
Chase Freedom Unlimited:
The Chase Freedom Unlimited can be an exciting option as every purchase earns at least 1.5% back. There is no annual fee or redemption minimum as well.
Rewards categories include:
- 5% on travel purchases on Chase Ultimate Rewards
- 3% on dining and eligible delivery services
- 3% back on drugstore purchases
- 1.5% back on all remaining purchases
Your redemption options include cash statement credits, bank deposits, award travel, and gift cards. Thankfully, there isn’t a redemption minimum for cash payouts.
This card can be a better option if most of your monthly spending falls into the non-bonus categories instead of the tiered rewards categories.
While you won’t pay an annual fee, there is a 3% foreign transaction fee.
Chase Freedom Flex:
The Chase Freedom Flex earns up to 5% back on the first $1,500 in combined spending on quarterly bonus categories.
Some of the bonus categories can include gas stations, supermarkets, streaming plans, and online shopping. Non-bonus purchases earn 1% back.
Rewards categories include:
- 5% back on the first $1,500 in quarterly bonus categories, then 1% back
- 5% back on travel purchases on Chase Ultimate Rewards
- 3% back at restaurants and select delivery services
- 3% back at drugstores
- 1% back on all non-bonus purchases
Redemption options include cash, award travel, and gift cards where each point is worth 1 cent each.
The annual fee is $0 but the foreign transaction fee is 3%.
American Express Gold Card:
The American Express Gold Card balances awarding bonus points on travel and lifestyle purchases. Consider this card if you want a supermarket bonus and are comfortable redeeming your points for award travel.
Card benefits include:
- 4x Membership Rewards on the first $25,000 at U.S. supermarkets, then 1x
- 4x points on restaurants worldwide
- 3x points on qualifying flight bookings
- 1x points on all remaining purchases
- Up to $120 per year in Uber Cash for rides and eats
- Up to 12 months of free Uber Eats Pass benefits (when you enroll 12/31/2021)
- Annual dining credits of up to $10 per month at select restaurants
The annual fee is $250 and there is no foreign transaction fee.
The Vacationer Tip
For those not spending a ton on groceries every year, the Amex Blue Cash Preferred card’s 6% earning rate on the first $6,000 spent at U.S. supermarkets is much better than the 4x points on the first $25,000 that the Amex Gold Card earns. Maxing out the 6% for the first $6,000 spent with the Amex Blue Cash Preferred earns $360 in cash back. You must spend at least $9,000 with the Amex Gold Card to equal that, assuming you redeem your points for at least 1 cent per point.
Citi Double Cash Card:
The Citi Double Cash Card earns 2% back on all purchases. You earn the first 1% when you make the purchase and the other 1% on your payments.
A flat-rate rewards card can be a better option if most of your spending is for non-bonus purchase categories.
Cash redemptions require a minimum $25 balance just like the Blue Cash Preferred.
There is also an introductory 0% APR on balance transfers for the first 18 months. A balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% applies. The Blue Cash Preferred introductory APR only applies to new purchases.
This card doesn’t have an annual fee but has a 3% foreign transaction fee.
Capital One Quicksilver:
Another top contender for a fixed cash back card is the Capital One Quicksilver.
Each purchase earns 1.5% back and there is no redemption minimum.
Your redemption options include cash statement credits, erasing recent purchases, and paper check payments.
The Quicksilver has no annual fee or foreign transaction fee. Unfortunately, most cash back cards still charge a foreign transaction fee.
The annual fee is $0 for the first month and then $95 per card renewal.
Each additional card is $0.
Each international purchase incurs a 2.7% foreign transaction fee.
The first $6,000 per year at U.S. supermarkets earn 6% back plus unlimited 6% back and then 1% back until the next card anniversary.
Popular U.S. streaming services earn unlimited 6% back as well.
Qualifying transit purchases and gas purchases at U.S. gas stations earn unlimited 3% back.
No, your cash rewards balance does not expire as long as your account remains open and active.
No, each purchase earns cash back redeemable as a cash statement credit.
Approximately 30 streaming services earn 6% back. Some of the leading platforms include Hulu, Netflix, Spotify, SiriusXM, FuboTV, and YouTube TV. See a full list here.
The first $6,000 in annual purchases at U.S. supermarkets earn 6% back. These stores specialize in selling food items.
Non-qualifying retailers include superstores (i.e., Walmart and Target), convenience stores, and warehouse clubs specializing in selling merchandise. Meal delivery kits also do not qualify for enhanced cash back.
Commuter rail, rideshares and taxis, buses, parking and tolls are many of the purchases that earn 3% back. However, airfare, car rentals, and cruises only earn 1% back as they classify as a travel purchase.
No, the card is entirely plastic. American Express metal cards are the premium travel credit cards including the American Express Platinum Card and the American Express Gold Card.
The current welcome offer is worth up to $350 in cash statement credits.
A minimum credit score of 680 (good credit) can give you high approval odds. American Express considers other credit factors as well.
The Vacationer’s Final Thoughts
The Blue Cash Preferred from American Express is one of the best credit cards for grocery purchases and commuting expenses. It can also be an excellent option for infrequent travelers that benefit more from cash statement credits than accumulating travel points.
The two most considerable drawbacks of this card are the $25 redemption minimum and the $95 annual fee beginning with the first card renewal. As an added bonus, the introductory $0 annual fee for the first 12 months boosts your earning power.
Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.
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