Kids dropped off at school? Check. Errands run to Macy’s, Whole Foods, and the other three 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 shopping, cooking, and driving around you do every week, whether you’re a parent or just someone with a routine at-home lifestyle!
Card Summary Table
- Card Bonus & Info (Partner Content)
- Card Provider
- Card Type(s):
- Card Focus:
- Department Stores
- Gas (Driving)
- Annual Fee
- Rewards CenterRedeem cash-back through your American Express Account
- Foreign Transaction Fees2.7% of each transaction after conversion to US dollars.
- Typical UsersParents / Families, The Average Spender
- Customer Service Number
1-800-528-4800 (Available 24/7)
- Login Link
- Interest Rates
- 0% on Purchases for 12 months
- Ongoing APR: 14.49%-25.49% Variable
- Late fees ?
- 29.99% Variable
- Balance Transfers
- 0% on Balance Transfers for 12 months
- Ongoing APR: 14.49%-25.49% Variable
- Cash Advance APR
- 26.74% Variable
The Ideal Cardholder
Sign-Up Bonus And Earning Cash Back
This reward card carries a modest annual fee of $95 (up from $75 previously), but high cash-back possibilities in the categories of U.S. supermarkets (6% on up to $6,000 spent), U.S. gas stations (3%), and select U.S. department stores (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.
Outside the Supermarket: Other Benefits
The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express 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 2.7% 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).
Stay-at-home parents and the home-routine worker will rejoice in the quality of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express.
Like most reward cards, you can add additional authorized users so all family members can fill their cars and accrue more points.
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
- You buy your clothes and make other big purchases at big department stores (select stores included)
- 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 travel frequently in ways other than automobile (especially if you’re overseas)
- You eat out more than you cook
- You’re against spending money at big department stores
- 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 $95 annual fee
U.P. Pro Tips
Not just for groceries! Many U.S. supermarkets sell gift cards, meaning you can earn the 6% reward rate while getting money to spend elsewhere, in case you just aren’t spending $6,000 per year at the supermarket (hey, not everyone is a bodybuilder!).
Find some gift cards to places where you need to spend money, but won’t get much cash back reward (such as a Home Depot or other niche stores), and purchase these on your Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express.
How to Use Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express: The Upgraded Way
Best Way to Maximize Points
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 from American Express at U.S. supermarkets and 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: Purchase all your clothes and other items for the year at eligible department stores if you can’t get more than 3% cash-back or rewards on other cards.
Tip #5: 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 #6: 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 #7: Business owner? You could use additional cards for your employees and rack up extra points for gas if they travel for work.
We all have a variety of expenses, so make sure you plan your spending ahead of time to maximize rewards!
Best Way to Redeem Points
Not much to say here for the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express: you can basically only use the cash-back as 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
Select U.S. Department Stores: there is an exclusive list here.
- Macy’s, Kohl’s, Neiman Marcus, Sears, Bealls, Bloomingdale’s, J.C. Penney
Let’s get geeky. We have a modest annual fee, 3 different tiers of rewards, and a sign-up bonus.
So far in this review for the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, we’ve discussed the benefits to the ideal cardholder. Now, let’s put some numbers behind it.
A Quick Recap: Card at a Glance
The following table summarizes the cost and reward information.
|Annual Fee||U.S. Supermarket Rewards||U.S. Gas & Select Dept. Stores Rewards||All Other Rewards|
|$95||6% ($1,250 spend)||3% ($2,500)||1% ($7,500)|
*Numbers in parenthesis represent the equivalent spending to offset the annual fee. (Terms and Conditions Apply)
Our goal, as always, is to meet and beat the annual cost of the card. While you could easily make up the annual fee just spending in either of the top 2 reward tiers, it’s more likely you’ll have a mix-and-match style of spending.
One caveat to this reward card is the $6,000 limit per year on the U.S. supermarket bonus, topping out at $360 cashback.
As we said before, the average spend for an American family is around $400/mo, which actually falls below this maximum cap and equates to $288/yr in cashback.
However, there is no imposed limit on U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores, so if you spend an average of $200/mo on gas and $1,000/yr on new clothes, you could make an additional $102.
Using Our Model Families To Compare Value
Let’s employ the help of our fictitious families to see how the spending on this card can pay off over the year. For this calculation, we will just look at the spending over the higher rewards categories.
We can pull normal spending for U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations, but we’ve never specified the select U.S. department store spend since this isn’t a very common category.
So, we will make up some numbers based on their actual spend to get a realistic amount spent each year on clothes.
|Family||U.S. Supermarkets*||U.S. Gas Stations||Select U.S. Department Stores|
*Note: we will count all spend in supermarkets, however after $6k you will only get a 1% reward rate. (Terms and Conditions Apply)
Next, we will use the rewards amounts shown above to calculate the total amount of cash-back earned.
|Family||Total Cash Back Reward|
Alternatives to the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
It’s always smart to compare any card to some of your other options out there.
In the Citi Double Cash Card review, we showed that for a more across-the-board spender using just one card, this card came out about even with the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express.
Find some good data points for yourself by doing some quick calculations, or checking out some of our other reviews.
Math Conclusions and Final Value
The above shows the gross value you earn over the first year at different levels of spending. Note that this card has a $95 annual fee, so the sign-up bonus basically covers your first 2 years with the card.
Technically, the maximum you could earn is unlimited based on U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores.
But maxing out the supermarket spend each year (throw some dinner parties or something) will more than pay for the annual fee, and no other card gives this high of a return.
The Gritty Details: Everything Else You Need To Know
If you’re already an American Express card holder (it doesn’t matter which one you have), you might not be eligible for their sign-up 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, gas stations, and department stores 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 from American Express.
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 Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express.
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.
Photo Credits / Credit/Copyright Attribution:
Busy Mom: NotarYES/Shutterstock
Gift Cards: joingate/Shutterstock
Expense Planning: Gajus/Shutterstock
Family Grocery Shopping: Dmitry Kalinovsky/Shutterstock
The card is marketed to the non-traveler or family-type buyer. For those who shop frequently at U.S. gas stations, select U.S. department stores, and U.S. supermarkets, this card will be very beneficial.
You earn 3% cash-back reward for the former 2 categories and a 6% reward rate for the latter.
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® from American Express.
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.
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.
Amex does provide an exhaustive list of department stores here. Big stores include Macy's, Neiman Marcus, Sears, Kohl's, J.C. Penney, Bloomingdale's, and Bealls.
You can sign in to your card at the American Express login.
Please refer to the rates & fees of this card for up-to-date APR information.
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.
Yes. The annual fee is $95 per year.
The foreign transaction fee is 2.7%.
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.
The difference between these two is that the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express 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 from American Express are 1%, 2%, and 3%; the Blue Cash Preferred rewards are 1%, 3%, and 6%. Second tier categories are U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores, 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 from American Express.
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.
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.
This depends on your goals. The Amex is targeted toward the stay-at-home type who shop in supermarkets and department stores 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 from American Express.
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 from American Express 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.
Again, the main difference is that the Chase Sapphire Preferred is geared towards travel rewards.
The Blue Cash Preferred 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, U.S. gas stations, and select U.S. department stores frequently, then the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is likely the better card for you.