American Express is a powerhouse when it comes to issuing credit and charge cards. There’s a card option for every business operation, large or small, and personal cards that match any spending profile.
The 2 American Express cards we’re comparing today are cards you might use daily — cards you could use to purchase gas, buy groceries, or to pay for a restaurant meal. Earning rewards on purchases you’re already making is an easy way to accumulate extra value, whether it’s points, miles, or even cash-back.
And while both the American Express® Gold Card and the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express function well as cards that earn rewards for everyday purchases, each card differs in how it delivers those rewards.
Additionally, you’ll find differences in how rewards can be redeemed and the collection of benefits that come with each card. How can 2 everyday cards be so similar, yet so different?
Let’s get started.
Credit card issuers frequently offer incentives, in the form of a welcome bonus, to apply for a specific card. These welcome bonuses are typically earned by meeting minimum spending requirements within the first few months after you’re approved for the card.
Here’s how we’d estimate the value of current welcome bonuses on the Amex Gold card and the Blue Cash Preferred card.
The Value of a Welcome Bonus
American Express® Gold Card
Membership Rewards points received as a welcome bonus can be redeemed for eligible travel with Amex Travel for 1 cent per point. While welcome bonuses can vary, a bonus of 35,000 points could be worth up to $350.
You can also transfer these Membership Rewards points to travel partners and potentially receive more value.
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
The Blue Cash Preferred card offers a cash-back welcome bonus in the form of a statement credit after meeting minimum spending requirements within the first 3 months after card approval.
You can expect the cash-back welcome bonus to be worth $200-$300.
Bottom Line: While welcome bonuses on the 2 cards can be similar in value, Membership Rewards points have the potential to be worth more because they can be transferred to airline and hotel loyalty programs to be redeemed for flights and/or hotel rooms.
Comparing Earning Power
Both of our featured cards earn rewards on every purchase and bonus rewards on specific everyday purchase categories including U.S. supermarkets, restaurants, and gas stations.
The Amex Gold card earns Membership Rewards points while the Blue Cash Preferred card earns cash-back. Let’s look at how each card earns rewards.
|Amex Gold card|
- 4x earnings per dollar spent at U.S. supermarkets (limit of $25,000 in purchases per calendar year, then 1x) and restaurants
- 3x earnings on airfare purchased directly from the airline or on AmexTravel.com
- 1 Membership Rewards point per dollar spent on all other purchases
- Terms apply
|Blue Cash Preferred card|
- 6% cash-back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 in purchases per year
- 6% cash-back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions
- 3% cash-back on transit, and U.S. gas purchases
- 1% cash-back on all other purchases
- Terms apply
The Amex Gold card has the potential to earn 100,000 Membership Rewards points (worth at least $1,000 towards eligible travel) if you maximize the 4x earning categories. The Blue Cash Preferred card could earn just a maximum of $360 for $6,000 in U.S. supermarket purchases but also rewards select U.S. streaming subscription purchases at 6% cash-back.
If you also spend a lot on travel, the Amex Gold card is a better choice with 3x earnings versus the Blue Cash Preferred card at 1% cash-back on travel purchases. If you’re spending a lot on transportation, streaming services, and on gas, the Blue Cash Preferred card may be a better choice.
Bottom Line: The card that will deliver the best earnings for you will depend on your mix of spending. If you’re spending more than $500 per month at U.S. supermarkets and spend a lot on travel, the Amex Gold card delivers better value. If you subscribe to select streaming services and spend a lot on transit or gas, consider the Blue Cash Preferred card. Another consideration will be whether you prefer to earn cash-back or Membership Rewards points.
Comparing Redemption Options
While cash-back earned on the Blue Cash Preferred card is certainly the most liquid form of rewards you can earn, Membership Rewards points earned on the Amex Gold card have the potential to be redeemed for greater value when transferred to travel partners.
|Card||Best Redemption Options||Additional Redemption Options|
|Amex Gold card|
- Transfer to airline/hotel partners
- Redeem for 1 cent per point for flights on Amex Travel
- Qualifying travel via Amex Travel, gift cards, statement credits, retail shopping, event tickets, NYC taxi fares, and more
|Blue Cash Preferred card|
- Cash-back in the form of a statement credit
If you’re looking for simplicity, it doesn’t get easier than redeeming cash-back in the form of a statement credit. However, the advantages of earning Membership Rewards points include the option to receive higher value by transferring points to travel partners.
When Membership Rewards points are transferred to airline partner frequent flyer programs, for example, they are exchanged for miles that can then be redeemed for award flights. It is possible to receive a much higher value for your points when doing so.
Bottom Line: If you’re looking for a good cash-back card option, the Blue Cash Preferred card will serve that purpose effectively. However, if you’re interested in redeeming rewards for travel, the Amex Gold card provides additional redemption options that may deliver greater potential value.
Hotel Program Benefits
Both the Amex Gold card and the Blue Cash Preferred card offer cardholders the Lowest Hotel Rate Guarantee when booking on Amex Travel. If you book a prepaid hotel via Amex Travel and find the identical room at a lower price online, they’ll refund you the difference. Terms and conditions do apply.
One caution is that when you book your hotel through Amex Travel you will not receive any hotel loyalty program benefits that might otherwise apply.
While the Blue Cash Preferred card does not offer any specific additional hotel program benefits, the Amex Gold card comes with these additional benefits:
Book a 2 night or longer stay with your Amex Gold card via Amex Travel and receive several benefits:
- Receive a $100 check-out credit per stay towards the purchase of on-site activities, spa services, dining, and more.
- Upgraded room, based on availability.
- Earn 2x points per dollar spent when paying with your card for prepaid stays via Amex Travel.
- Select to pay for your stay upfront using your Membership Rewards points.
The Travel Collection is a members-only group that offers travel perks and discounts. Membership normally costs $295 per year but it comes complimentary with the Amex Gold card.
Book your hotel for 2 nights or more with The Travel Collection using your Amex Gold card and receive these benefits:
- Room upgrade at check-in, when available
- Daily breakfast for 2
- Early 1 p.m. check-in
- Free Wi-Fi
- $50 hotel credit
- The option to pay for your stay with points
Bottom Line: While the hotel program benefits that come with the Amex Gold card are better than the Blue Cash Preferred card, these benefits can only provide additional value if you can take advantage of them.
Rental Car Program Benefits
The Amex Gold card and Blue Cash Preferred card both receive special car rental program discounts and perks with most major car rental companies. Discounts range from 5% to 25% and include participating companies such as Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, and National Car Rental.
These American Express car rental discounts can be found on the car rental program links above.
Annual Fees and Adding Additional Users
The lower annual fee on the Blue Cash Preferred card makes it simple to offset with earnings alone. Although the Amex Gold card charges a much higher annual fee, the higher limit on 4x earnings can result in much greater earnings.
Annual fees can change. To view current pricing, including annual fees, access our Blue Cash Preferred review, and our Amex Gold card review.
Adding Additional Users
The Amex Gold card does not charge a fee for adding up to 5 additional authorized users. The annual fee for the sixth card and beyond is $35 for each additional card (see rates & fees).
There is no charge for adding authorized users to the Blue Cash Preferred card (see rates & fees).
Statement credits can provide direct economic value. While the Blue Cash Preferred card doesn’t offer any specific annual statement credit offers, the Amex Gold card offers the following:
- Receive up to $10 per month and up to $120 per year in dining statement credits for purchases at GrubHub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, and participating Shake Shack locations.
Travel Protection and Insurance
While neither of these cards comes with a lot of travel protection coverage, there are a few benefits that can save you money or assist you during your travels.
|Benefit||Amex Gold card||Blue Cash Preferred card|
|Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance||Secondary car rental insurance||Secondary car rental insurance|
|Baggage Insurance Plan||Receive up to $1,250 for lost, damaged, or stolen carry-on and $500 for checked luggage when traveling on a common carrier||None|
|Concierge and Travel Assistance||Included||Included|
|Global Assist Hotline||24/7 service||24/7 service|
Both cards provide complimentary secondary car rental insurance but for a low fee that ranges $12.25-$24.95, you can cover your entire rental period with Premium Car Rental Protection which provides primary car rental insurance coverage.
Bottom Line: If you’ll be using your card for worldwide travel, the Amex Gold card is the better choice as it does not charge foreign transaction fees. It also earns 4x points on restaurant purchases worldwide and offers baggage insurance.
Shopping Benefits Provided With Both Cards
- Amex Offers — Receive special cash-back or bonus Membership Rewards points when specific purchases are made with your eligible card. You can save hundreds of dollars per year with Amex Offers. Offers are posted to your online card account periodically.
- American Express Auto Purchasing Program — Administered by TRUEcar, the auto purchasing program can save members thousands of dollars on new car purchases, plus allow you to charge at least $2,000 of the purchase price to your eligible card.
- Return Protection — Eligible purchases charged entirely on your card that are not accepted for return by the selling merchant may receive up to $300 per item, $1,000 per account per calendar year. Coverage is provided for 90 days from purchase.
- Entertainment Access — Gain priority access to special events such as sporting events, concerts, and food/wine events.
Additional Shopping Benefits Provided on the Amex Gold Card
- Extended Warranty — For U.S. manufacturer’s warranties of 5 years or less, an extension of 1 year will be added for eligible items. If the manufacturer’s warranty is less than 1 year in length, it will be matched.
- Purchase Protection — Coverage is provided for eligible items up to 90 days from the purchase date for damage, theft, or loss. Coverage limits are $10,000 per item, $50,000 maximum per account per calendar year.
The earning power for everyday purchases with the Amex Gold card is strong. The card also offers a broad selection of redemption options, statement credits, and a few extra shopping protections.
Although the annual fee on the Amex Gold card is much higher than the Blue Cash Preferred card, the potential for increased earnings in 4x categories and 3x earnings on travel offsets that fee rather quickly.
If you prefer cash-back earnings, a lower annual fee, and you do not spend on travel or care about travel redemptions, the Blue Cash Preferred card may work well for you.
For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, click here.