The Amex Blue Cash Preferred Card — Full Review [2020]

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The Amex Blue Cash Preferred Card — Full Review [2020]

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"A Stay-at-Home Lifestyler’s Dream"

This card is great for those who want to earn cash-back with U.S. supermarkets, U.S. streaming subscriptions, and U.S. gas stations.

Apply Now (at Amex's secure site)

Kids dropped off at school? Check. Errands run at Whole Foods and the other 3 places on your list? Check.

Filled up with gas so you can pick kids back up again, take them to their friends’ this weekend, and repeat the routine? Double check.

With the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, you can reward yourself for all the cooking and driving around you do every week, whether you’re a parent or just someone with a routine at-home lifestyle!

Blue Cash Preferred Card — Snapshot

The Ideal Cardholder

Busy Mom Multitasking
Image Credit: NotarYES via Shutterstock

Welcome Bonus and Earning Cash-Back

The Blue Cash Preferred card carries a modest annual fee, but high cash-back possibilities in the categories of U.S. supermarkets (6% on up to $6,000 spent; 1% thereafter), U.S. streaming subscriptions (6% cash-back), U.S. gas stations (3%), and transit including taxis/rideshares, parking, tolls, trains, busses, and more (3%). There is a 1% cash-back on everything else.

Those who like to cook at home will see the biggest benefits. If you’re a typical American, it’s not unheard of to spend at least $100/week at the supermarket.

Just be sure to use your card at the right types of stores and track the $6,000 limit on the 6% cash-back per year.

You won’t get a cash-back reward at smaller specialty stores, nor will you get it at Amazon, Target, or your favorite warehouse club. So plan accordingly!

Earn a cash-back credit for making the required dollar amount in purchases within the allotted time (see summary table for current offer).

This probably won’t be that hard to do, considering Americans spend an average of $400/month at supermarkets and $200/month on gas.

Bottom Line: The Blue Cash Preferred card earns 6% cash-back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 spent, plus 3% cash-back at U.S. gas stations.

Outside the Supermarket: Other Benefits

The Blue Cash Preferred card rewards are pretty nil beyond these. While you do get access to some American Express benefits, you cannot use this card to build up loyalty program points.

Card Drawbacks: Fees and Minimum Redemptions

Outside of your at-home routine, the card won’t offer many benefits.

It has a foreign transaction fee, so the world traveler won’t be too excited and definitely has better options (especially since many of the rewards are U.S.-location specific).

With this reward card, your cash rewards are simply stored in a “cash-back” account until you apply them toward your bill.

It’s important to note that Amex does not make it exceedingly easy to use your rewards: you can only redeem them in increments of $25 when using it towards statement credit.

That means you’ll have to continue using your card to reach the minimums, which is annoying compared to Discover cards for instance that typically allow you to redeem cash-back in any increment.

Using your cash-back for store or gift card purchases is usually at face value or worse. For instance, we found DVDs in the store for 58 rewards dollars, and TVs for well over 5,000!

You are obviously much better off taking straight account credit and saving yourself the hassle of getting gift cards (which are the same value).

Great Card If

  • You spend heavily at supermarkets and eat at home a lot
  • You or your family use car(s) to commute and shuttle kiddos around regularly
  • Your daily job requires lots of driving (even better if you’re reimbursed for gas from your company)
  • You’re a routine-type person and will continually use the card (ensuring you reach the redemption minimums)

Don't Get If

  • You eat out more than you cook
  • You do all of your shopping at warehouse clubs or big-box stores like Target
  • You won’t use the card frequently enough to pay off the annual fee

Blue Cash Preferred Card — Fees

  • Annual Fee
    • $0 for the first year, then $95
  • Foreign Transaction Fees
    2.7% of each transaction after conversion to US dollars.
  • Interest Rates
    • 0% on purchases for 12 months, from the date of account opening
    • Ongoing APR: 13.99%-23.99% Variable
  • Late fees
    • Penalty APR: 29.24% Variable
    • Fee: Up to $40
  • Cash Advance APR
    • 25.24% Variable
    • Fee: Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater.
  • Additional Info

Best Way to Maximize Cash-Back Rewards

Maximizing your points strategy with this reward card will actually involve the use of other cards to fill the gaps this card can’t.

Certainly, always use your Blue Cash Preferred card at U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations. The cash-back in these 2 categories beats all the other cards on the market. Here’s a detailed list:

Tip #1: Buy all groceries at supermarkets with this card. Remember it only counts if they are in the U.S.!

Tip #2: Purchase all fuel with this card (unless it’s during a 5% cash-back rotating quarter on the Discover or Chase rotating rewards cards and you’re a cardmember with them).

Tip #3: Get your family members cards (free) so you can more easily hit that $6,000 spend in the U.S. supermarket category and also rack up more points on gas (even better if they’re paying you back in cash!).

Tip #4: Use this card to purchase gift cards to stores where you would potentially be able to fill gaps in your points strategy; e.g. restaurants, gas stations, or whatever else may be available for purchase. This helps you meet your $6,000 limit.

Tip #5: Purchase snacks and other items at a U.S. gas station. Generally, if the store is mainly a gas station, you can also get inside purchases categorized as such (but be sure to check your statement).

Tip #6: Business owner? You could use additional cards for your employees and rack up extra points for gas if they travel for work.

For all other categories, find the best card that fits your spending. Much better cards exist for traveling, hotels, airlines, and dining out.

We all have a variety of expenses, so make sure you plan your spending ahead of time to maximize rewards!

Expense Planning
Business owners might find the Blue Cash Preferred card useful for taking clients out to eat or buying food for work! Image Credit: Gajus via Shutterstock

Best Way to Redeem Cash-Back Rewards

Not much to say here for the Blue Cash Preferred card: you can basically only use the cash-back as a statement credit.

Financially, the best way to plan this out is to think about when you may need additional cash flow, such as when you want to make a small investment or a bigger purchase.

Using the cash-back during those times helps you offset the cash flow rather than just applying it each time you get it.

Remember that you can only redeem cash rewards in increments of $25, so plan accordingly.

Also note that while you have the option to purchase things through their online store and exchange your cash-back for gift cards, we don’t find this very valuable.

In the case of the store, most of the items seem to be priced well above their actual value, but never below.

For gift cards, your value is the same, so why not just redeem for statement credit rather than waste time dealing with gift cards?

As long as you’re keeping your reward card active the rewards will never expire, so you can save them and think about your budget while doing your financial planning for the year, quarter, or however you manage it.

Below are some examples of places that are included for the various categories on this card.

This card does not offer any specific partners or travel benefits (other than the fringe benefits discussed below), so just be sure to use your card at the right vendors to maximize your rewards.

(These lists are not exclusive, and just give examples.)

U.S. Supermarkets: a place where food is the main offering along with other products.

  • Whole Foods, Safeway, Kroger, Stop and Shop, Winn-Dixie, Meijer, Shoprite

U.S. Gas Stations: a place where gas is the main product; this one can change drastically between locations and merchants so be sure to check around). 

  • Exxon, Shell, BP, Murphy USA, Gulf

Alternative Cards to the Blue Cash Preferred

If you’re undecided on which credit card to go for, take a look at our comparison article for the Blue Cash Preferred vs American Express Gold Card.

The Gritty Details: Everything Else You Need to Know

If you’re already an American Express cardholder (it doesn’t matter which one you have), you might not be eligible for their welcome bonuses.

You’ll need to call and confirm, but it appears that people are often not receiving the advertised cash back bonus due to this small loophole for Amex.

Be sure your supermarket and gas stations are categorized as such by checking your statements (remembering they must be U.S. based).

Some people have found that their favorite stores don’t qualify as the category they thought, which means you only end up with 1x points.

Other Unique Features

Here are the rest of the benefits you have access to with your Blue Cash Preferred card.

If you have to use these benefits one day, then you can certainly get some value out of them. However, you won’t find anything here beyond typical benefits offered by other cards.

Roadside Assistance – Connects you to an assistant that can help you get towed, change flats, and more. You can pay with your card, but the services are not complimentary like with the American Express® Gold Card.

Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance – Allows you to get reimbursed for damage done to a car while renting it.

The rental must be less than 30 days, and there are general guidelines for how much they will cover. It does not cover luxury cars and cars costing over $50,000.

Global Assist Hotline – Your assistant overseas…or anywhere you’re over 100 miles from home. Call them up to help you out of any kind of trouble, from lost credit cards to legal disputes!

The call is complimentary, but any services provided (including by a third party) must be paid for by you.

Entertainment Access – Amex pre-purchases tickets so their card members can get access to things that may otherwise sell out, including shows, concerts and more.

Check it out if you want to get into a show; you may be able to get a good deal on a VIP ticket!

Extended Warranty – If you are concerned about an item’s warranty, you can get an extended warranty if you paid for it with your card.

Any extension will be equal to the length of the warranty if less than 1 year, or one additional year if the warranty is between 1 and 5 years.

Extensions are not granted for warranties longer than 5 years, and the limit is $10,000 per occurrence or $50,000 per year.

Travel Accident Insurance – If you get into an accident while traveling, this benefit can cover you or your dependents/beneficiaries with up to $250,000 in damages.

ShopRunner – If you qualify for this benefit, then you can get two-day free shipping and other good deals at the ShopRunner portal. Go to the site and put in your details to see if you qualify with this card.

Purchase Protection – Coverage for up to $1,000 per item and $50,000 in a year in the case of broken or stolen items, as long as it wasn’t the user’s fault.

You must have detailed information including receipts and anything else that goes along with it, and American Express will either replace, repair, or reimburse you depending on the incident.

Return Protection – Purchase Protection’s twin brother, this benefit allows returns from 90 days of purchase if the merchant won’t take an item back.

The maximum value returned is $300/item and has a $1,000 per year maximum. Check out the details to see what is acceptable.

For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred card, click here.

Frequently asked questions

Is the Blue Cash Preferred card worth it?

The card is marketed to the non-traveler or family-type buyer. Those who frequent U.S. gas stations will benefit by earning 3% Cash Back on purchases there and, when you shop at U.S. supermarkets, you can earn 6% Cash Back on up to $6,000 in purchases, then 1%.

The card has a $95 annual fee; if you’re not spending enough to pay for that, then you should downgrade to the Blue Cash Everyday.

However, there are some good benefits to this reward card. First, you can use the high value cash-back to purchase gift cards to places where you wouldn’t earn many points otherwise.

There are also a variety of benefits and insurances that can help while you’re traveling if you find that valuable.

What is the Blue Cash Preferred card U.S. supermarkets list? Does it work at Costco, Sam's Club, etc.?

The card does not work at warehouse stores like Costco and Sam’s. Check out the Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi Review if you’d like a wholesale store card.

You will have to see if your specific supermarket shows up on Amex’s list; if the store’s main offering is food and it also carries other products, then it will likely work.

Stores include Safeway, Whole Foods, Winn-Dixie, Kroger, Meijer, Shoprite, and Stop and Shop.

If a store you use isn’t on that list, you can always test purchase something and check your statement afterward to confirm the store’s category.

What is the Blue Cash Preferred card login?

You can sign in to your card at the American Express login.

What is the APR on the Blue Cash Preferred card?

Please refer to the rates & fees of this card for up-to-date APR information.

Can I earn points with the Blue Cash Preferred card? If so, do they expire?

No, unfortunately, the card only earns cash-back that can be added to your statement as credit or used as cash for their various shopping portal items.

The cash reward cannot be used directly for travel items at this time. Your cash-back will not expire as long as you keep your account open.

Is there an annual fee on the Blue Cash Preferred card?

Yes. The annual fee is $95 per year.

What is the foreign transaction fee for the Blue Cash Preferred card?

The foreign transaction fee is 2.7%.

Does the Blue Cash Preferred card offer car rental insurance? What about extended warranty?

Yes, a variety of insurances come with the card. These include car rental insurance, extended warranty ($10,000 per occurrence), travel accident insurance (up to $250,000), and purchase/return protection.

Which is better: the Blue Cash Everyday vs. Blue Cash Preferred card?

The difference between these two is that the Blue Cash Preferred card gives larger rewards and carries an annual fee. If your spending is at a high enough level to make up for the $95 annual fee, then you’ll want to go with this version.

Awards on the Blue Cash Everyday Card are 1%, 2%, and 3%; the Blue Cash Preferred card rewards are 1%, 3%, and 6%. The second tier category is for U.S. gas stations, and the third tier is U.S. supermarkets.

If you have a higher spend in those markets, then upgrade to the Blue Cash Preferred card.

Can I convert or upgrade my Blue Cash Everyday Card to the Blue Cash Preferred card? What about downgrade?

Yes. You can apply to upgrade your card at this link. You will simply pay the $95 annual fee and your awards rate will increase from that point forward. Please click here for the rates & fees.

You will not receive any retroactive rewards, and your card number and information will not change; they will simply send you updated cards. You may have to pay the $95 annual fee right away, but your awards rate will increase from that point forward.

Downgrading is possible; call your customer service number to inquire. If you’ve already paid your annual fee, ask if you can get it prorated back to you; they may be able to refund some of the cost.

Which is better: the Blue Cash Preferred card vs the Discover it Miles Card?

This depends on your goals. The American Express card is targeted toward the stay-at-home type who shop in supermarkets while using their cars a lot.

The rewards you earn are simply applied as statement credit or used in the shopping portal.

On the other hand, the Discover it Miles Card is marketed toward travelers. You earn the same amount of points anywhere you spend, and you can use those rewards to pay for travel rewards.

Depending on your situation, you may be able to earn more points on one or the other; you’ll have to check your own finances and spending patterns. If you aren’t a traveler, then you should go with the Blue Cash Preferred card.

How is the Blue Cash Preferred card vs. the Chase Freedom Card?

The difference between these two cards is mainly the fact that the Chase Freedom® Card can earn Ultimate Rewards Points, which can be used for travel rewards if combined with a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Chase Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card. They are both technically cash-back cards.

Your Blue Cash Preferred card rewards will simply go toward statement credit. This card does earn a higher rate in U.S. supermarkets, but the Chase Freedom Card earns 5% in the rotating categories.

One may be more useful than the other depending on your spending habits.

Here at Upgraded Points, we like travel rewards, so we would tend to learn towards the Chase Freedom Card.

How is the Blue Cash Preferred card vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred Card?

Again, the main difference is that the Chase Sapphire Preferred is geared towards travel rewards.

The Blue Cash Preferred card does earn at a much higher rate (6%) versus the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (2%), but the points can be redeemed for a higher value with Chase if done correctly.

If you’re not a traveler and shop in U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations frequently, then the Blue Cash Preferred card is likely the better card for you.

Alex Miller

About Alex Miller

Alex has been traveling for over 25 years and from a young age was lucky enough to set out on numerous family trips all over the world, which gave him the travel bug. Alex has since earned millions of travel points and miles, mainly through maximizing credit card sign-up bonuses and taking every opportunity to earn the most points possible on each dollar spent.

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