Blue Cash Preferred Review: Worth $95 Annual Fee?
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If you are looking to get cashback rewards on common household categories like gas and groceries, consider the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express. Amex created the Preferred card as an upgrade to the Blue Cash Everyday.
Pros and Cons
- 6% at US supermarkets (up to $6k/year in purchases)
- 3% at US gas stations
- Bonus cash back promotional offer
- Intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months
- $95 annual fee
- Not a Visa/MasterCard
Excellent cash back credit card for groceries and gas
The American Express Blue Cash Preferred Card earns 1% cash back. Nothing to get excited about right?
But here's the kicker: for certain purchases, you have the potential to earn more...
You earn 6% cash back for your purchases at US supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%); 3% cash back at US gas stations and select US department store purchases.
Keep in mind, before you go on a caviar and lobster shopping spree, only the first $6,000 of purchases at US supermarkets in a year qualifies for 6% cash back (1% thereafter).
For practical families, this is one of our favorite grocery credit cards.
Who This Card Is Good For
- Weekly grocery shoppers: Do you spend too much on groceries?
If you have more than your own mouth to feed, you’ll enjoy the boost you'll get with this card’s 6% cash back on items you buy at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 worth of purchases).
- Commuters: Do you drive to work?
Some cards give you extra rewards on gas but only for 3 months out of the year. With this card, you get 3% back for what you pay at the pump at U.S. gas stations year-round.
Need a Cash Back Card? Why This Card
- Consistent Rewards Program: Read the details of what kind of cashback you get, for what kind of purchases, and you're set — there’s no need to memorize special categories that change every 3 months like other popular cash back credit cards.
- There is a nice bonus offer waiting: Spend $1,000 with this new card within the first three months and you get $150 back. You'll get the $150 cash rewards in the form of a statement credit.
What would you do with $150?
To take advantage of this promotion, visit American Express' secure website -- remember you need to spend $1,000 within the first 3 months to qualify for the $150 offer.
- 0% intro APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers. After that, your APR will be a variable rate, currently 13.49% - 23.49% depending on your creditworthiness and other factors.
You might be wondering, what is a "U.S. supermarket"?
How you interpret what that offer means may differ from the credit card company. American Express considers a supermarket as a store that offers a variety of food and household products, including produce, meat, and dairy as well as cleaners and pet food.
Chances are if a store sells groceries in addition to clothes and electronics, it is not — in Amex’s view — a supermarket. So-called big-box stores (like Wal-Mart and Target), online superstores (like Amazon), and warehouses (like Costco) are NOT considered supermarkets. Your mom-and-pop corner grocery store or specialty shop that only sells cheese or meat are also NOT considered supermarkets. Retailers that qualify include Whole Foods, Meijer, Shoprite, Winn-Dixie, Stop and Shop, Vons, Pathmark, and online supermarket FreshDirect, among others.
Gas Station List
The good news about this card’s cash back for gas station purchases is it goes beyond just gas. If the gas station you frequent also has a convenience store, consider using your Amex at the pump and inside the store to get your milk or other last-minute items (don’t go crazy just to get the cash back, however, as items you buy in a gas-station store are usually more expensive than you can buy elsewhere).
Amex views qualifying gas stations as those in the United States that primarily sell gasoline, so supermarkets (like Safeway) and warehouse clubs (like Costco) do NOT fall under this category even if they have their own pumps. Shell, Mobil, Hess, Exxon, Gulf, and Murphy are some gas stations where you can get 3% back with this card.
Department Store List
Earn 3% cash back at select department stores in the U.S.. You can get cash rewards for purchase made online or at the stores that have these specific names:
- Bon Ton Stores
- Century 21 Department Stores
- J.C. Penney (JCP)
- Lord & Taylor
- Neiman Marcus
- Saks Fifth Avenue
- Stein Mart
- Earns bonus cash back on specific categories: 6% US supermarkets up to $6,000/year in purchases, 3% US gas stations & select US dept stores
- Earn $150 back after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in purchases during the first 3 months
- 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for the 12 months. After that, a variable rate, currently 13.49% to 23.49%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors.
- $95 annual fee
- Not a Visa/MasterCard
- 2.7% foreign transaction fee
Is It Worth the Annual Fee?
With the Blue Cash Preferred, you have the potential to earn at least $360 a year just for doing your regular grocery shopping (if you spend at least $500 per month at U.S. supermarkets). That's still $265 in your pocket if you factor in the $95 annual fee. Plus, that does not even take into account the other cash back you could earn from gas, department store purchases, and other types of spending you can do with the card. Compare that to the EveryDay's 3% on U.S. supermarkets, which would give you just $180 in a year on the first $6,000 you spend at U.S. supermarkets.
If you want a no annual fee credit card:
For a side-by-side comparison, here is how the Blue Cash Preferred stacks up against the Blue Cash Everyday, it's no annual fee sibling.
|See Rates & Fees||See Rates & Fees|
|Cash Back Deal||Introductory Bonus Cash Back: Earn $150 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.||Introductory Bonus Cash Back: Earn $100 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. You will receive cash back in the form of statement credits.|
|Cash Back||Cash Back Rewards: Everyday Cash Back: 6% at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%); 3% at U.S. gas stations; 1% other purchases. Terms and limitations apply.||Cash Back Rewards: Earn Cash Back: 3% at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, 2% at U.S. gas stations & select U.S. dept stores, 1% on other purchases. Terms and limitations apply.|
|Gas||Gas Rewards: 3% cash back at U.S gas stations. Terms and limitations apply||Gas Rewards: 2% at U.S gas stations. Terms and limitations apply|
|Grocery||Grocery Rewards: 6% cash back at U.S supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%). Terms and limitations apply||Grocery Rewards: 3% at U.S supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (1% thereafter). Terms and limitations apply|
If you want to earn Membership Reward points (instead of cash back):
You may want to consider the AMEX EveryDay Preferred. With the EveryDay Preferred, you earn Membership Rewards points.
Why would you want Membership Rewards points instead of cash back? If you like to travel, you can transfer Membership Reward points to a number of airline transfer partners and hotel partners. To learn more, read our beginner's guide to airline miles.
The Blue Cash Preferred card brings a lot to the table, but the EveryDay Preferred card holds its own. You'll earn triple reward points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to the first $6,000 you spend each year), double points at U.S. gas stations, and one point per $1 on other purchases.
On top of that, you have the opportunity to earn 50% more points on your purchases when you use your card 30 times or more in a billing period.
Compared to the Blue Cash Preferred card, the EveryDay Preferred card has the edge in terms of how rewards can be used (see Blue Cash Everyday vs EveryDay Preferred).
Interest Rates and Fees
|Introductory APR for Purchases||0% introductory APR for 12 months||0% introductory APR for 12 months|
|Introductory APR for Balance Transfers||0% introductory APR for 12 months||0% introductory APR for 12 months|
|Purchase APR||13.49% to 23.49% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factors||13.49% to 23.49% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factors|
|Balance Transfers APR||13.49% to 23.49% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factors||13.49% to 23.49% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factors|
|See Rates & Fees||See Rates & Fees|
Benefits and Features
|Cash Back Deal||Introductory Bonus Cash Back: Earn $150 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.|
|Points Deal||Introductory Bonus Reward Points: Earn 15,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.|
|Cash Back||Cash Back Rewards: Everyday Cash Back: 6% at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%); 3% at U.S. gas stations; 1% other purchases. Terms and limitations apply.|
|Bonus Reward Points||Bonus Reward Points: Use your Card 30 or more times on purchases in a billing period and earn 50% more points on those purchases less returns and credits. Terms and limitations apply.|
|Points||Point Rewards: 3x points at US supermarkets, on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1x); 2x points at US gas stations; 1x points on other purchases. Terms and limitations apply.|
|Gas||Gas Rewards: 3% cash back at U.S gas stations. Terms and limitations apply||Gas Rewards: 2x points at US gas stations. Terms and limitations apply|
|Grocery||Grocery Rewards: 6% cash back at U.S supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%). Terms and limitations apply||Grocery Rewards: 3x points at US supermarkets, on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1x). Terms and limitations apply|
|Airline Transfer Partners||Airline Transfer Partners: Airline transfer partners include Delta, Hawaiian Airlines, Aeromexico, Air Canada, Air France, Emirates, Cathay Pacific (Asia Miles), Virgin Atlantic, Singapore Airlines, Etihad, Alitalia, All Nippon Airways and more.|
In our opinion, families who spend the most on categories such as groceries and gas should consider the American Express Blue Cash Preferred Card. Since this card charges a $95 annual fee, you need to use your card often to justify this program. If you do not pay by credit card often, you are better off with the no annual fee American Express Blue Cash Everyday Card. Remember, as with all credit card offers, terms and limitations apply.
David R is a contributing writer at CreditDonkey, a credit card comparison and financial education website. Write to David R at email@example.com. Our data-driven analysis has been recognized by major news outlets across the country and has helped consumers make savvy financial and lifestyle decisions.
Editorial Note: This content is not provided by American Express. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express. This site may be compensated through the Advertiser's affiliate programs.
Disclaimer: This content was first published on March 23, 2012. This content may have been updated on January 12, 2017. Information including APR, terms and benefits may vary, be out of date, or not applicable to you. Information is provided without warranty. Please check American Express website for updated information.