Bank of America Cash Rewards vs. Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express

Which card is best for you?

Gas rewards cards

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Whether you have a road trip in your future, commute a long distance to work each day or simply drive to run errands, a gas rewards card is a great way to earn cash back on a major everyday purchase. Two popular options are the Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card and the Blue Cash Preferred card: The Bank of America Cash Rewards card offers 3 percent cash back on gas (on up to $2,500 in combined gas, grocery and wholesale purchases each quarter), and the Blue Cash Preferred card offers 3 percent cash back at U.S. gas stations. Both cards pay 1 percent cash back on general purchases.

In addition to the bonus rate on gas, the Bank of America Cash Rewards card offers a 2 percent bonus on grocery and wholesale club purchases (on up to $2,500 in combined gas, grocery and wholesale purchases each quarter) and a $200 sign-up bonus when you spend $500 in the first 90 days – all without charging an annual fee. The Blue Cash Preferred card, by contrast, offers a 6 percent bonus at U.S. supermarkets and a $200 welcome bonus after spending $1,000 in the first three months, but also charges a $95 annual fee.

Which card is better?

While both cards pay the same introductory bonus and cash back rate on gas and general purchases, the Blue Cash Preferred card’s higher rewards rate at U.S. supermarkets may make it seem like the obvious choice. But keep in mind that the Preferred card also comes with a $95 price tag each year.

Before deciding which card is best for you, see how they compare side by side in the table below:

Bank of America Cash Rewards vs. AmEx Blue Cash Preferred

  Bank of America® Cash Rewards
Bank of America® Cash Rewards
Blue Cash Preferred®
Blue Cash Preferred®
Rewards rate
  • 3% cash back on gas (on up to $2,500 in combined grocery/wholesale club/gas purchases per quarter, then 1%)
  • 2% cash back on groceries and wholesale club purchases (on up to $2,500 in combined grocery/wholesale club/gas purchases per quarter, then 1%)
  • 1% cash back on general purchases
  • 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 in purchases per 1 percent cash back per year, then 1%)
  • 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores
  • 1% cash back on general purchases
  • Terms apply
Introductory bonus
$200 online cash rewards when you spend $500 in first 90 days
  • $200 cash back when you spend $1,000 in first 3 months
  • Terms apply
Annual fee
$0 $95
Estimated yearly rewards value (for someone who spends $15,900) $335 $370
Pros
  • No annual fee
  • Low spend requirement to receive sign-up bonus
  • No rotating categories
  • No rotating categories
Cons
  • Gas, grocery and wholesale club bonus capped at $2,500 per quarter
  • Short introductory APR offer on balance transfers
  • Supermarket bonus capped at $6,000 per year
  • Annual fee
  • Higher spend requirement to receive the introductory bonus
Who should get this card?
  • Cardholders who don’t want to charge a large sum
  • Cardholders who prefer to shop at wholesale clubs
  • Someone who plans to transfer a balance
  • Someone who spends at least $3,200 per year on groceries

As you can see, even with its annual fee, the Blue Cash Preferred card offers a higher value each year by our estimates. But overall, we think the best card for you depends on your needs and how you plan to use the card.

Best for someone who wants to earn the most cash back at supermarkets: Blue Cash Preferred card

In general, the Blue Cash Preferred card offers the best rewards value for the average cardholder, despite its $95 fee. In particular, it makes a great grocery card. No other card can match the Blue Cash Preferred card’s 6 percent cash back at U.S. supermarkets, and it doesn’t take much grocery spending to offset the card’s annual fee (only $1,500 in supermarket purchases per year). You can earn $360 cash back on supermarket purchases each year if you spend just enough to reach the card’s $6,000 cap on its 6 percent cash back bonus (approximately $500 in supermarket purchases per month).

Best for someone who wants to spend a modest amount: Bank of America Cash Rewards card

Because the Bank of America Cash Rewards card offers rewards on everyday purchases, such as gas and groceries, cardholders don’t need to purchase large ticket items to earn a generous amount of cash back. For example, based on the average consumer who spends $15,900 on gas, groceries, department stores and general purchases each year, we estimate that you can earn $335 in cash back from the Cash Rewards card annually.

Along with not charging an annual fee, the spend threshold required to receive the sign-up bonus for the Cash Rewards card is also relatively low: Cardholders only have to charge $500 in the first 90 days – for an average of $167 per month.

By contrast, the Blue Cash Preferred card charges a $95-annual fee and requires cardholders to spend $1,000 in the first three months to receive the introductory bonus – an average of $333 per month. That said, we estimate that the average consumer can earn $370 annually with the Blue Cash Preferred card. So, it really boils down to how much you want to spend each year.

Best for someone who wants a higher cap on groceries: Bank of America Cash Rewards card

While the Cash Rewards card offers 3 percent back on gas purchases and the Blue Cash Preferred card offers 3 percent back at U.S. gas stations, they also limit the amount of money you can earn the bonus on.

The Bank of America Cash Rewards card, for example, caps the bonus at $2,500 per quarter – meaning that cardholders can earn 3 percent back on gas and 2 percent back on groceries and at wholesale clubs on up to $2,500 in combined purchases every four months – an average of $625 per month. Once you reach the cap, you will earn 1 percent cash back on those purchases.

The Blue Cash Preferred card, on the other hand, caps the 6-percent bonus on U.S. supermarket purchases at $6,000 per year – meaning you can earn the bonus on an average of $500 per month. After that, cardholders will earn 1 percent back on those purchases.

However, there is no limit on the amount of cash back that Preferred cardholders can earn the 3 percent rate on gas and department store purchases.

Best for someone who doesn’t want to pay an annual fee: Bank of America Cash Rewards card

If you are leery about paying a $95 annual fee, the Bank of America Cash Rewards card is a great alternative for earning a large amount of cash back on gas and grocery purchases.

In fact, the Bank of America Cash Rewards card is one of the best no-annual-fee gas cards around. See how it compares to other gas cards in the table below:

  Rewards rate Introductory bonus Annual fee
Bank of America Cash Rewards
  • 3% cash back on gas (on up to $2,500 in combined grocery/wholesale club/gas purchases per quarter, then 1%)
  • 2% cash back on groceries and wholesale club purchases (on up to $2,500 in combined grocery/wholesale club/gas purchases per quarter, then 1%)
  • 1% cash back on general purchases
$200 online cash rewards after $500 spend in first 90 days $0
Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express
  • 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 in purchases per year, then 1%)
  • 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores
  • 1% cash back on general purchases
  • Terms apply
  • $200 statement credit after $1,000 spend in first 3 months
  • Terms apply
$95
Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express
  • 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 in purchases per year, then 1%)
  • 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores
  • 1% cash back on general purchases
  • Terms apply
  • $150 statement credit after $1,000 spend in first 3 months
  • Terms apply
$0
Discover it chrome
  • 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants (on up to $1,000 in combined purchases per quarter)
  • 1% cash back on general purchases
Matches all the cash back earned at the end of your first year $0

As you can see – at 3 percent – the Bank of America Cash Rewards and Blue Cash Preferred cards offer the highest amount of cash back on gas and U.S. gas station purchases among these cards.

One caveat: If you are a Chase Freedom cardholder, you can earn an even higher rate of cash back during the third quarter of 2018. From July 1 through Sept. 30, 2018, the Chase Freedom card will offer 5 percent cash back on gas purchases on up to $1,500 in combined purchases upon enrollment. To activate the Q3 bonus category for 2018, click here.

See relatedBlue Cash Everyday vs. Blue Cash Preferred: Which card is best for you?, Chase unveils its cash back category for Q3 2018


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Updated: 10-20-2018