While some of the most lucrative rewards credit cards are geared to consumers who want to score free travel, there are plenty of people who can’t be bothered to deal with complicated airline and hotel loyalty programs. For many rewards enthusiasts, a standard cash-back credit card is all they need. With cash-back to spend, they can redeem their points how they want, whether that means cashing them in to treat themselves somehow — or even to pay bills.
The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is a cash-back credit card that works for people who want to keep their rewards game on the simple side. Not only does this card offer a big signup bonus, but it lets you earn considerable rewards in categories people tend to spend the most in.
It all starts with a one-time cash bonus of $250 you can earn when you spend $1,000 in purchases within three months. You can also earn 6% back at supermarkets on up to $6,000 in spending per year (then 1%), 3% back at U.S. gas stations, and 1% back on all other purchases. The catch? There’s a $95 annual fee, and it’s not waived the first year.
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express: A Smart Cash-Back Credit Card for Nearly Everyone
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the average family of four with children between ages 6 and 11 spends over $1,050 per month on food. That’s part of the reason the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is such a smart card for families. Once you sign up, you’ll earn 6% back on up to $6,000 in grocery spending each year (then 1%), which works out to only $500 per month in food spending. If you were able to maximize this category throughout the year, you would yield $360 in bonus rewards on groceries alone — considerably more than the annual fee.
The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express also offers 3% back at U.S. gas stations, which can add up quickly if you have a long commute or a gas-guzzler to fill up every week. We also appreciate the signup bonus on this card, including the low minimum spending requirement of just $1,000 to earn it.
On the redemption side of the equation, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express keeps things simple. All the cash back you earn with this card can be redeemed as Rewards Dollars in the form of a statement credit. This means you get to use them as a discount off any purchase you make with your card.
If you have a large purchase to make or debt you want to consolidate, there is yet another reason to sign up for the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express. Currently, consumers who sign up for this card qualify for 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months (followed by a variable rate of 14.49% to 25.49%). There is a balance transfer fee of 3% (or $5, whichever is greater) on balances you transfer from other cards, but the fee can be well worth it based on the interest savings alone.
In summary, we think the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is an intriguing offer that could work for just about anyone. Most people spend at least $500 per month at the grocery store, and almost everyone winds up paying for gas. The signup bonus and 0% APR offer on this card are just icing on the cake.
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express: Where it Comes Up Short
The biggest downside of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is the fact that it charges an annual fee of $95. Since many cash-back credit cards never charge any sort of annual fee, you’ll need to make sure you can justify the fee before you can sign up.
Also note that, while this card does offer generous bonus categories, the 6% back at grocery stores is limited to just $6,000 in spending each year. That’s a high limit that yields up to $360 per year in bonus cash back, but you can’t really maximize this bonus category to the hilt like you could if the rewards were unlimited.
Finally, it’s important to remember you can only redeem points in the form of a statement credit. That’s great for consumers who only want cash-back anyway, but not so wonderful for cardholders who prefer to transfer points to airlines or hotels for maximum value. If you find yourself leaning towards travel rewards, you should check out cards that offer flexible travel points instead.
The Bottom Line
While the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is far from perfect and not as flexible as some travel credit cards, it could still work well for almost anyone — and especially for families. It’s hard to beat earning 6% back on grocery spending, even if that rate only applies to your first $6,000 in food purchases each year. Earning 3% back at U.S. gas stations simply sweetens the pot, particularly for people who drive long distances to work.
With these details in mind, we think the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is best for:
- Pretty much anyone who spends at least $500 per month at the grocery store
- People who drive a lot and fill up with gas frequently
- Anyone who doesn’t mind paying a $95 annual fee for a cash-back credit card
- Consumers who only want to redeem points for cash back
If you’re worried about the lack of flexibility in cash back, you should also remember that the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American doesn’t have to be your only rewards card. You could easily get this card to score huge returns on gas and groceries and pick up another rewards card for the rest of your spending and bills.
It’s totally up to you to decide which rewards you want to pursue — and which combination of cards might suit you best. Your best bet is comparing all the travel and rewards cards available before you decide.
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