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Blue Cash Everyday® Card and Preferred® Card from American Express

by Ryan Guina

A few months ago, I had to cancel my credit card because I noticed some fraudulent activity on it. That was when I realized I didn’t have a backup card. It was more of an inconvenience than anything, but I recognized the value of having another credit card in reserve. So I researched the best cards on the market and found a deal I couldn’t pass up – the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express. This card is so good it actually became my primary credit card and relegated my old faithful to reserve status.

This card comes in two versions, the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, and its big brother, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express. These cards offer similar benefits, but  the Preferred version comes with stronger cash back and an annual fee. That said, I broke my personal rule for having a card with an annual fee and opted to pay $75 for the Preferred version – and I’ve already made my money back and then some. Let’s take a look at these cards and I’ll show you why both of them are great cash back credit cards for many people to own, and why the card with the annual fee may be the better option for you.

Comparing the Blue Cash Versions

Both of these cards offer an easy to remember cash back rewards program:

  • Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express: Earn Cash Back: 6% US supermarkets up to $6,000 per year in purchases, 3% US gas stations & select US dept stores, 1% other purchases. Terms and limitations apply.
  • Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express: Earn Cash Back: 3% at US supermarkets, up to $6,000 per year in purchases, 2% at US gas stations & select US dept stores, 1% on other purchases. Terms and limitations apply.

The primary difference is the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express offers higher cash back rewards, but it comes with a $75 annual fee. But after running the numbers for my situation, I quickly realized the $75 annual fee is well worth paying, especially in light of the current bonus offer for new cardmembers.

For example, new cardmembers who open a Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express can get 100 Reward Dollars, redeemable for a $100 statement credit, after you make $1,000 in purchases with your new Card in the first three months.

New cardmembers who open a Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express 50 Reward Dollars, redeemable for a $50 statement credit, after you make $1,000 in purchases with your new Card in the first three months.

Plus, cardmembers for both cards will get one year of Amazon Prime after you sign up for a new membership with your Card and meet the spending requirement in the same time period. As an Amazon Prime member, you get unlimited Free Two-Day Shipping on millions of items. I am an Amazon Prime member, and I love it!

Let’s compare the cash back benefits over the course of the year for some hypothetical spending levels (plug in your own numbers to see how much cash you may be able to earn in a year):

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American ExpressBlue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Spending CategoryMonthly SpendingAnnual Cash BackSpending CategoryMonthly SpendingAnnual Cash Back
Groceries (3%)$500$180Groceries (6%)$500$360
Gas (2%)$200$48Gas (3%)$200$72
Department
Stores (2%)
$100$24Department
Stores (3%)
$100$36
Other (1%)$750$90Other (1%)$750$90
Annual Cash Rewards
(no annual fee)
$342Annual Cash Rewards
(Minus $75 annual fee)
$483

Note: The calculations don’t include the cash back bonus, since it is a one time deal.

Verdict? I prefer the Preferred version by a mile. Even after accounting for the $75 fee, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express comes out well ahead. It’s possible to earn much more than this in cash returns as well, if you have larger expenses, or pay more items with your credit card, including things such as utilities, cell phone bills, etc.

The Annual Credit Card Fee That Pays for Itself

I’ve rarely been a fan of credit cards which have an annual fee. There are plenty of great credit cards out there which have no annual fees and offer solid cash rewards or other benefits. But in this case, the higher tiered rewards were too good to pass up. Most of the top tier cash back credit cards offer a 1% cash back as their base line rewards, then up to 5% cash back in rotating categories (often with a cap for the rotating categories).

Both Blue Cash cards offer the same 1% baseline, but you don’t have to deal with the rotating categories or low rewards caps featured on many other credit cards. Since groceries and gas are two expenses we know we will always have, it makes sense to maximize our rewards in those categories. We will always make enough cash back from those two categories to justify the $75 annual fee – and then some.

How I use this card

I opened this card right before Christmas and promptly put all my Christmas shopping on the card. I quickly reached the $1,000 spending requirement to receive the sign up bonus when I combined my holiday spending with our regular expenses like gas and groceries. I also opened a joint credit card with my wife so we could both use this card on our groceries and gas so we could more quickly rack up the cash back bonuses. (The benefit of opening a joint card is to avoid paying two annual fees. We typically use this card for family expenses, and we each maintain individual credit cards for gifts or other purchases we don’t want to classify as family expenses).

More Card Features

These cards don’t have any minimum or maximum spending tiers for your rewards, so you don’t have to worry about juggling cards to ensure you are getting the most return for your time. You can redeem your rewards as statement credits, which effectively lowers you payment. And you can wait as long as you like, since your rewards never expire.

It’s not all perfect, of course. If I had one complaint about this card it’s that American Express Cards are not accepted everywhere. But it’s accepted at all the places I shop for gas and groceries, so I use this card for virtually all my spending in those categories, and I use the Chase Freedom VISA for purchases at places which don’t accept American Express.

It’s all in the Details

As far as the best cash back cards on the market go, this is probably my favorite, and it’s one that I personally carry. Here is a more detailed list of bullets for these cards. Compare them and find which is the best for you.

Blue Cash Everyday(SM) from American ExpressBlue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express quick hits:

  • Get 100 Reward Dollars, redeemable for a $100 statement credit, after you make $1,000 in purchases with your new Card in the first three months.
  • Plus, get one year of Amazon Prime after you sign up for a new membership with your Card and meet the spending requirement in the same time period.
  • As an Amazon Prime member, you get unlimited Free Two-Day Shipping on millions of items.
  • Earn Cash Back: 6% US supermarkets up to $6,000 per year in purchases, 3% US gas stations & select US dept stores, 1% other purchases. Terms and limitations apply.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, then a variable rate, currently 12.99% to 21.99%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors.
  • Terms and Restrictions Apply.
  • Apply for the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express.

Blue Cash Everyday(SM) from American ExpressBlue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express details: 

  • Get 50 Reward Dollars, redeemable for a $50 statement credit, after you make $1,000 in purchases with your new Card in the first three months.
  • Plus, get one year of Amazon Prime after you sign up for a new membership with your Card and meet the spending requirement in the same time period.
  • As an Amazon Prime member, you get unlimited Free Two-Day Shipping on millions of items.
  • Earn Cash Back: 3% at US supermarkets, up to $6,000 per year in purchases, 2% at US gas stations & select US dept stores, 1% on other purchases. Terms and limitations apply.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, then a variable rate, currently 12.99% to 21.99%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors.
  • Terms and Restrictions Apply.
  • Apply for the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express.

Do you have either of these cards? What do you think about it?

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by American Express. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of American Express, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express. This site may be compensated through American Express Affiliate Program.


Published or updated December 30, 2013.
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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 DSO

I have the blue cash preferred and I love it. I use it exclusively for groceries and gas. I hated the old version of the card that required you to spend $6k to start receiving higher cash back levels. With the new preferred card I’m expecting to get $500+ back at the end of the year. All other charges go on the Chase Saphire.

Reply

2 Ryan Guina

My wife and I use the Blue Cash Preferred for all gas and groceries as well. I currently use the Chase Freedom and BCP for all other purchases, but I’m looking into getting something with different rewards – perhaps one of the airline cards that are offering solid bonuses right now.

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3 Bernard

I am also a keen user of the Blue Cash preferred, and in two months have got back $140, plus the $150 one time bonus. I use it only for groceries and gas (don’t go to dept stores!), using a 1.25% cash back card for the rest. (As others have pointed out, you can also buy gift cards for other vendors at grocery stores, getting 6% there as well, but I haven’t done this yet.)
My question is how American Express makes money on this! Not that I should over worry about them, but with the majority of the purchases earning 6% back, I assume that they are not getting this high a transaction fee from the grocery stores.

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4 Handles

I was interested in the Amex Blue Cash Preferred card but was concerned with the limitations on stand alone supermarkets and eligible purchases. However, Amex convinced me it was a bad deal. First, even though they could tell me what qualified, they did not have a list online so I wouldn’t have to call them every time I wanted to use the card. Second, I asked if Giant, my local supermarket (which by all standards is stand alone), is a stand alone supermarket and they did not know. That got me thinking about what is acceptable to Amex and the few I inquired about are either more expensive than my Giant, e.g., Trader Joe’s, or you end up spending significantly more at each visit, e.g., Costco where people go crazy and end up buying much more than they need and pay an annual fee to shop there. So if you spend 5-10% more on the food and only get 6% in rewards, who is the fool for getting the card? This is not rocket science. Amex knows exactly what it is doing and most consumers do not. Be careful on what you apply for.

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5 Ryan Guina

Handles, American Express bases the rewards upon how the individual stores report to them. On a personal level, I haven’t had any issues with the purchases on my American Express Blue Cash Preferred card being reported under the “wrong” type of store. As far as spending goes, you should never spend more with a credit card than you would with cash, regardless of the amount of rewards you earn. You should only spend based on what you need and what you would spend if you had cash in your hand. If you stick to treating your rewards cards that way, then you will be rewarded for spending you would have made anyways. It’s all about spending and shopping responsibly.

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6 bernard

I don’t think they really restrict it to expensive supermarkets, it’s just that they don’t have a list (and neither do Visa or mastercard providers in most cases). I have now used the card in a large number of cheap and expensive supermarkets, and have always got 6%. It’s the superstores that are more problematic. Most cheap grocery stores would be coded correctly I would guess.

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7 Ryan Guina

That has been my experience as well, Bernard. The credit card companies don’t give cash back based on what the purchase is, but rather how the store is coded. So buying groceries at a Super Wal-Mart or Super Target won’t normally earn the 6% cash back. But buying a Best Buy gift card at your local grocery store is often worth 6% cash back, since the purchase was made at a store coded as a grocery store. I haven’t run into any problems with my card, and I review the statement each month for accuracy. If I noticed any discrepancies I might consider altering my shopping habits if it made sense.

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8 William Charles

Ryan,

What do you think of the new EveryDay cards released by AmEx? They offer lower rewards (4.5 on groceries and 3 on gas) but you earn MR points instead.

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9 Ryan Guina

William, they look like good cards with a solid rewards program. However, the rewards you listed (4.5 on groceries and 3 on gas) aren’t the base rewards rates; they are the rewards rates after a bonus has been applied. You would need to use the card a minimum number of times per month to get that rate (20 times per month for the Everyday; 30 times for the Everyday Preferred). Because of the bonus structure, these cards are best used as a primary credit card. A good way to do that would be to use the card for automated purchases like utilities, cell phone, etc, and have another authorized spender on the account (such as a spouse).

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10 William Charles

You can pretty easily hit the 30 transactions required though, just purchase 30 $0.15 amazon gift cards.

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11 Ryan Guina

You can certainly do it that way. Credit card companies tend to get savvy to those kinds of practices over the long run, so it wouldn’t surprise me if they created a minimum purchase requirement at some point.

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