These cash back credit cards offer generous rewards, but they go about it in different ways. We’ll help you decide which card will leave you better off.
If you make a lot of regular purchases with a credit card for the sake of convenience, you might as well apply for a card that lets you earn cash back on your purchases. Both the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express and the American Express Cash Magnet® Card* make earning cash back easy, but one offers flat-rate rewards while the other offers lucrative bonus categories. Which card is best for you? That depends on your spending style and your goals.
We like the Blue Cash Preferred because you earn exceptional rewards at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 annually) and U.S. gas stations – and a bigger welcome bonus to boot. The problem? This card charges a $95 annual fee (waived for the first year), which is rare among cash back credit cards.
In contrast, the American Express Cash Magnet card doesn’t charge an annual fee, nor does it have any bonus categories to keep track of. Once approved, you’ll earn a flat 1.5% cash back for every dollar you spend with no limits on the rewards you can earn.
If you’re unsure which card could help you earn more cash back, it helps to compare all their details side by side.
Blue Cash Preferred vs. Cash Magnet
|Introductory bonus||$300 cash back if you spend $3,000 in first 6 months||$200 cash back if you spend $1,000 in first 6 months|
|Annual fee||$95 (waived for the first year)||$0|
|Estimated yearly rewards value ($15,900 spend)||$323||$239|
Praised as one of the best cards for groceries, the Blue Cash Preferred certainly meets expectations. The fact you can earn 6% cash back on up to $6,000 in U.S. supermarket spending each year (then 1 %) means you could easily earn rewards to cover the annual fee and have some leftover. After all, 6% of $6,000 in spending works out to $360 for the year. Quite a sum, and that’s only one bonus category on the card.
If you spend a lot on gas as well, that’s even more reason to consider this card. You’ll earn 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and on transit (such as taxis, rideshares, parking, buses and more), or $30 in rewards for every $1,000 in gas purchases at U.S. stations each year.
If you use your Blue Cash Preferred card for your every purchase and maximize grocery and gas categories each year, you’ll already be in great shape. The cherry on top: 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions, which include Apple Music, Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, Netflix, Spotify and many others. For families or movie buffs, this bonus category will earn you some serious coin while you enjoy your favorite show.
On the other hand, the Amex Cash Magnet is a flat rate cash back card that gives 1.5% cash back on every purchase. Though not as sparkly as the Amex Blue Cash Preferred, it will leave you better off than most credit cards that only offer 1% cash back on regular spending.
The Amex Blue Cash Preferred charges $95 annual fee (waived in the first year of account opening), but in return you stand to gain so much in cash back rewards from its high-earning bonus categories.
The American Express Cash Magnet has no annual fee, but that’s reflected in its lower earning, yet straightforward, rewards structure.
Maybe you want a bigger introductory bonus and don’t mind paying an annual fee along the way. In that case, the Blue Cash Preferred from American Express could be your best option. In return for the annual fee, you will get a $300 welcome bonus after you spend $3,000 on your card within six months of account opening.
The introductory bonus alone is worth more than two years of annual fees on its own, and the bonus is on top of rewards you earn on regular spending.
In terms of welcome bonuses, the Amex Cash Magnet holds its own. When you spend $1,000 in the first six months, you’ll receive $200. A reasonable intro offer plus an achievable spending goal sounds like a win-win.
Amex Cash Magnet: Best for keeping things simple
Some people love credit cards that offer more rewards in special categories, but other people don’t have the time or patience to keep track of categories. If you’re someone who doesn’t want to worry about bonus categories or earning caps, the American Express Cash Magnet is a better choice.
You earn a flat 1.5% cash back on every dollar you spend. That’s $150 in rewards for every $10,000 you charge to your card, which can add up quickly when you use credit for all your regular purchases. And don’t forget the initial $150 welcome bonus you’ll earn after you use your card for $1,000 in purchases within three months of account opening. Without an annual fee, those rewards are “free” provided you pay your balance in full each month and never spend a dime in interest.
Amex Blue Cash Preferred: Best card for maximizing rewards on grocery and gas
The Blue Cash Preferred from American Express offers bonus categories in U.S. supermarkets, gas stations and select streaming subscriptions allow you to go about your regular spending – buying groceries for meals, filling your car with gas and paying for Netflix – all while letting you earn cash back. Its bonus categories in these everyday purchases sets the Blue Cash Preferred apart from other cash back cards, which is why its popularity persists.
In the first year, after earning the welcome bonus and maxing the U.S. supermarket category, you can expect $660 – an impressive number with a single card. Even in following years, with the card’s everyday bonus categories you should expect to see solid cash back even when you maintain your usual spending habits.
Picking up a cash back credit card is an easy way to score some rewards, but that doesn’t mean all cards in this space are created equal. The Blue Cash Preferred from American Express is best for consumers who spend a lot on groceries and gas and don’t mind paying an ongoing annual fee, but the American Express Cash Magnet could work for pretty much anyone.
Keep in mind, also, that you aren’t limited to applying for only one of these cards. The Blue Cash Preferred and Cash Magnet cards make great companions – you can use the Blue Cash Preferred strictly for purchases in its 6% and 3% bonus categories and rotate in the Cash Magnet card to earn 1.5% cash on the rest of your purchases. The correct answer to, “Which of these cards should I apply for?” could be, “Both!”
*All information about the American Express Cash Magnet Card has been collected independently by CreditCards.com. The issuer did not provide the content, nor is it responsible for its accuracy. The American Express Cash Magnet Card is no longer available through CreditCards.com.