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Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express vs. American Express Cash Magnet® Card

Summary

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.

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If you make a lot of regular purchases with a credit card for the sake of convenience, you may 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 rewards 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 and U.S. gas stations – and a bigger introductory bonus to boot. The problem? This card charges a $95 annual fee, which is rare among cash back credit cards.

By contrast, the American Express Cash Magnet card doesn’t charge an annual fee, nor does it have any categories to keep track of. Once you’re approved, you’ll earn a flat 1.5 percent back for every dollar you spend with no limits on the amount 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. The table and commentary below can help you decide which card to sign up for.

Blue Cash Preferred vs. Cash Magnet

Blue Cash Preferred
Blue Cash Preferred
American Express Cash Magnet
Cash Magnet
Rewards rate
  • 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%)
  • 6% on select U.S. streaming services
  • 3% cash back on transit and U.S. gas station purchases
  • 1% cash back on other purchases
  • Terms apply
  • 1.5% cash back on all purchases
  • Terms apply
Introductory bonus$250 cash back if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months$150 cash back if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months
Annual fee$95$0
Estimated yearly rewards value ($15,900 spend)$406$288
Pros
  • Superior rewards at U.S. supermarkets and gas stations
  • Large introductory bonus
  • Generally offers a higher overall rate of cash back thanks to generous earning categories
  • No annual fee
  • Simple flat rate on every purchase with no bonus categories to keep track of
Cons
  • High annual fee that isn’t waived the first year
  • Bonus on U.S. supermarket purchases is capped at $6,000 annually
  • Only earn 1% back on regular purchases
  • No bonus categories to maximize your earnings
  • Smaller introductory bonus
Who should get this card?
  • Someone who spends a moderate amount at U.S. supermarkets each year
  • Anyone who spends a lot at U.S. gas stations
  • Cash back enthusiasts who don’t mind paying an annual fee for more rewards
  • Anyone who wants to earn a flat rate of cash back
  • Someone who hates annual fees
  • Consumers who want to keep their rewards game simple
  • Cardholders looking for a good card to pair with the Blue Cash Preferred card

Best card for someone who doesn’t want to pay an annual fee: American Express Cash Magnet

For some rewards enthusiasts, even a $95 annual fee is way too much. If you’re someone who wants to earn cash back without paying for the privilege, the American Express Cash Magnet is a better choice.

You earn a flat 1.5 percent 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 to pay, those rewards are “free” provided you pay your balance in full each month and never pay a dime in interest. Like the Blue Cash Preferred from American Express, the American Express Cash Magnet lets you redeem rewards for statement credits, gift cards or merchandise.

Best card for someone who wants a bigger introductory bonus: Blue Cash Preferred from American Express

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. This card does charge a $95 annual fee that isn’t waived the first year, but you will get a $250 welcome bonus after you spend $1,000 on your card within three months of account opening.

The introductory bonus alone is worth more than two years of annual fees on its own, and, remember, the bonus is on top of rewards you earn on regular spending.

Best card for someone who wants to keep things simple: American Express Cash Magnet

Some people love credit cards that offer more rewards in special categories, but other people don’t have the time or the patience to keep track of categories. If you’re someone who doesn’t want to worry about bonus categories or bonus earning caps, the American Express Cash Magnet is a better choice.

The fact this card doles out 1.5 percent back on every purchase means it will leave you better off than most credit cards that only offer 1 percent back on regular spending. Plus, you’ll never have to wonder if you’re using the right card in the right place. You’ll always earn the same rate of rewards no matter what you buy.

Best card for someone who wants to maximize rewards on grocery and gas spending: Blue Cash Preferred from American Express

While not everyone wants to pay the $95 annual fee that comes with the Blue Cash Preferred from American Express, doing so could leave you with more rewards in the end. The fact you can earn 6 percent back on up to $6,000 in U.S. supermarket spending each year (then 1 percent) means you could easily earn rewards to cover this fee and have some leftover. After all, 6 percent of $6,000 in spending works out to $360 for the year.

If you spend a lot on gas as well, that’s even more reason to consider this card. You’ll earn 3 percent back on U.S. gas station spending, 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 every purchase you make and maximize grocery and gas categories each year, you could end up well ahead of your potential earnings on the Cash Magnet card.

The bottom line

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 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 percent bonus categories and rotate in the Cash Magnet card to earn 1.5 percent cash on the rest of your purchases. The correct answer to “Which of these cards should I apply for?” could be “Both!”

See related: Why the Amex Blue Cash Preferred and Cash Magnet cards are the perfect pairEnhanced Blue Cash Preferred Card adds bonus categories and $250 welcome bonusAre the new bonuses for Amex Blue Cash Preferred worth it?

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Published: June 13, 2019

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Credit Card Rate Report Updated: August 14th, 2019
Business
15.55%
Airline
17.50%
Cash Back
17.63%
Reward
17.50%
Student
17.69%

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