Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express Review

The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express offers up to 6% cash back and a sizable welcome bonus. It does come with an annual fee after the first year, but offers a 0% introductory APR on purchases.

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Our Rating: 4.5
4.5/5

Annual Fee

$0 introductory annual fee for one year, then $95

Rewards Rate

1%-6%

Welcome Bonus

$300

Est. Credit Required

Good to Excellent 670 – 850

0% on Purchases

12 Months

0% on Transfers

N/A

Snapshot

  • Limited Time Offer$300 statement credit after you spend $3,000 on purchases with the card in the first 6 months.
  • Earn Cash Back: 6% at U.S. supermarkets up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%), and 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions including Spotify, Netflix, Hulu, HBO, ShowTime, Pandora, Apple Music, Amazon Music or Video (Does not include Prime membership).
  • Earn 3% at U.S. gas stations and on transit including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more.
  • 1% on all other purchases. Terms and limitations apply.
  • Annual Fee: $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95
  • 0% APR on purchases for 12 months, then an ongoing APR of 13.99% – 23.99% Variable].
  • Terms Apply. (See Rates & Fees)

Pros and Cons

What we like

  • Up to 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets
  • Up to 6% cash back on U.S. streaming services
  • Up to 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and transit
  • Excellent welcome bonus
  • Amex customer services

What could be better

  • Annual fee
  • Spending cap on 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets

Rewards Value

The big question for anyone considering the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is the value of the cash back rewards. The value will of course depend on how much you charge to the card and in what categories. To evaluate and compare the card, we constructed hypothetical budgets for singles, couples and families of four based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and J.D. Power (for U.S. streaming average spending).

Based on this data, which we modified to conform with credit card spending categories, here’s the potential annual cash back rewards (excluding any welcome bonus or annual fee).

SpendingSingleCoupleFamily (4)
Groceries$151$278$363
U.S. Streaming Services$34$34$34
U.S. Gas Stations$33$63$91
Transit$7$14$15
Other$154$285$348
Total Annual Cash Back$379$674$851

Next we factored in the annual fee and welcome bonus, and compared the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express to the best 1.5% cash back cards and the best 2% cash back cards. For the 1.5% cards, we assumed no annual fee and a $200 signup bonus (the best in that category). For the 2% cards, we assumed no annual fee and no signup bonus, which is typical for cards in this category.

Card1st Year2nd Year3rd Year (Cumulative)
#colspan#Single
Blue Cash Preferred$679$284$1,247
1.5% Cash Back Card$497$297$1,091
2% Cash Back Card$396$396$1,188
#colspan#Couple
Blue Cash Preferred$974$579$2,132
1.5% Cash Back Card$741$541$1,823
2% Cash Back Card$721$721$2,163
#colspan#Family (4)
Blue Cash Preferred$1,151$756$2,663
1.5% Cash Back Card$878$678$2,234
2% Cash Back Card$904$904$2,712

The results show that the Blue Cash Preferred competes well, although 2% cash back cards outperform on most scenarios. Beyond three years, the 2% cards will pull further ahead.

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Cash Back Rewards Program

There are four components of the rewards program: (1) the $300 welcome bonus; (2) 6% cash back;  (3) 3% cash back; and (4) 1% cash back.

  1. $300: Spend just $3,000 on the card in the first 6 months and you’ll pocket a $300 cash bonus in the form of a statement credit.
  2. 6% Cash Back: For rewards, you earn 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%). You also earn 6% cash back on U.S. streaming subscriptions. This is one of the highest cash back rewards available from any card.
  3. 3% Cash Back: You’ll earn 3% on transit (e.g., taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more) and at U.S gas stations.
  4. 1% Cash Back: On all other purchases.

Now it’s not all good news when it comes to the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express.  There is a $95 annual fee that is waived for the first year. But when you take into account the welcome bonus and cash back rates in a variety of categories, big spenders will love this card long-term.

For example, if you just take advantage of the 6% cash back on $6,000 at U.S. Supermarkets, you’ll earn $360 a year. That more than makes up for the annual fee and doesn’t account for cash back earned in the other categories.

Reward Dollars

With the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, the cash back is paid in what Amex calls “reward Dollars.” Whenever I see rewards paid in anything but cold, hard cash, I start asking questions. Here, it turns out that the reward Dollars can be used as statement credits. You can’t get a check sent to you or a direct deposit into your checking account.

Generally, I don’t think that limitation matters much. Money is fungible, after all. But there are at least two potential limitations.

First, you may take advantage of the 0% offer on purchases (see below). If you do, you probably want to make the minimum payment until the 0% offer is about to expire. If you make a large purchase, you may want to receive your rewards in cash while making that minimum payment. You can’t do that with this card.

Second, you can’t use reward Dollars to satisfy your minimum payment. They get applied as a statement credit, but you must still make the minimum payment from your own funds. For many this may not be a problem. But for some it may cause you to look at other credit card offers.

Check out our complete list of the best cash back credit card offers.

0% APR Introductory Offers

The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express also offers an introductory 0% APR. The 0% APR lasts for 12 months on purchases. We view this as a secondary feature of the card. It’s nice to have if you plan a big purchase and want cash back rewards. If your primary goal is a 0% APR, however, there are much better interest free credit cards.

Other Card Benefits

Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance: When you use the card to reserve and pay for the entire eligible vehicle rental and decline collision damage waiver, you can be covered if the car is damaged or stolen. As always, be sure to read the fine print on this coverage.

Global Assist Hotline: You get 24/7 access to medical, legal, financial and other emergency assistance when you travel more than 100 miles from home.

Return Protection: If a seller won’t accept a return, you can return eligible purchases to American Express up to 90 days from the date of purchase. Coverage is up to $300 per item, $1,000 per calendar year per card account. Only purchases made in the U.S. or its territories are covered.

Entertainment Access: Get exclusive access to ticket presales and card member-only events.

Fraud Protection: You won’t be held responsible for fraudulent charges on the card.

Blue Cash Preferred Rewards Calculator

Frequently Asked Questions

With a $95 annual fee, the answer depends on how much you use the card. If you max out the 6% cash back on groceries each year, the card more than pays for itself. Six percent back on $6,000 in groceries will earn you $360. Add to that any additional cash back, and the card is easily worth the annual fee.

No. Blue cash preferred is a credit card. You can pay it off in full each month, which is always the best approach. But if you need to pay it off over time, you can.

The Blue Cash Everyday card by American Express is a no annual fee version of the Blue Cash Preferred card. In exchange for no annual fee, your rewards rates are lower. For example, rather than 6%, you’ll earn 3% cash back on up to $6,000 in groceries each year with the Blue Cash Everyday card.

Yes–2.7% of each transaction after conversion to US dollars.

No. Amex Blue Cash Preferred earns Reward Dollars that can be used for statement credit, merchandise, or gift cards. For those who want to earn Membership Rewards, consider the Everyday and Everyday Preferred cards.

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