Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express review

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express review

Updated: July 27, 2021

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Updated: July 27, 2021

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Ratings Policy
Cash Back Rating:
4.0 rating
4.0 rating
4.0 / 5
Rewards Value:4.9
Annual Percentage Rate:1.0
Rewards Flexibility:2.0
Features:3.0
Issuer Customer Experience5.0

In a Nutshell:

Despite its high annual fee after the first year, the Blue Cash Preferred card is one of our favorite cards for families: It helps take the sting out of car pool lines and long commutes by offering a generous rewards rate on U.S. gas station spending and it offers one of the highest cash back bonuses you can get when you use your card at U.S. supermarkets.

Learn more about this card

Rewards Rate

  • 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 in purchases per year, then 1%)
  • 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions
  • 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and on transit
  • 1% cash back on general purchases
  • Terms apply
Excellent

Introductory Bonus

  • $150 statement credit after spending $3,000 in first 6 months
  • Earn 20% back on Amazon.com purchases on the card for first 6 months (up to $200 back)
  • Terms apply
Excellent

Annual Bonus
None

Poor

Annual Fee

Poor

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$406

Excellent

APR
13.99-23.99% (variable) (See rates and fees)

Fair

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • No rotating categories
  • No enrollment
  • Occasional option for gift cards or merchandise
  • Redeem for previous purchases

Cons

  • 6% bonus at U.S. supermarkets limited to $6,000 in purchases per year (1% thereafter)
  • 3% and 6% rewards are only available in the U.S.
Very Good

American Express Customer Service Ratings

  • J. D. Power 2020 customer satisfaction rating: 838 (no issuers in this category ranked higher)
  • 24/7 customer service?: Yes
  • Online chat available?: Yes
  • Google Play Store mobile app rating: 4.3/5
  • Apple Store mobile app rating: 4.9/5
Excellent

Other Notable Features: Cash back tracker, purchase protection, return protection, entertainment access, Global Assist Hotline

Low Interest Rating:
3.0 rating
3.0 rating
3.0 / 5
Rates, Fees, Penalties:2.9
Rewards:4.2
Features:3.0
Issuer Customer Experience5.0

In a Nutshell:

The Blue Cash Preferred card offers a fairly low interest rate and a decent introductory period new purchases, though cardholders may find the annual fee too pricey.

Learn more about this card

Regular APR
13.99-23.99% (variable) (See rates and fees)

Poor

Introductory Purchase APR
0% for 12 months (See rates and fees)

Excellent

Introductory Balance Transfer APR
None

Excellent

Fees

  • $95 annual fee, $0 intro annual fee for the first year
  • 2.7% foreign transaction fee
  • 5% cash advance fee (or $10, whichever is greater)
  • (See rates and fees)
Average

Penalties

  • Up to $40 late payment fee
  • 29.99% variable penalty APR
  • Up to $40 returned payment fee
  • (See rates and fees)
Fair

American Express Customer Service Ratings

  • J. D. Power 2020 customer satisfaction rating: 838 (no issuers in this category ranked higher)
  • 24/7 customer service?: Yes
  • Online chat available?: Yes
  • Google Play Store mobile app rating: 4.3/5
  • Apple Store mobile app rating: 4.9/5
Excellent

Other Notable Features: Cash back tracker, purchase protection, return protection, entertainment access, Global Assist Hotline

Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express Review: More Details

The Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express boasts a great rewards rate, offering one of the highest rates of cash back you can find on select U.S. streaming subscriptions – making your next binge night a great way to rack up rewards.

Most appealing of all, the Blue Cash Preferred card comes with an incredibly generous rate on U.S. supermarket purchases, making it a top choice for families who spend a significant amount on groceries each month. Even with a yearly spend cap on the category, the Blue Cash Preferred is an incredibly rewarding option for U.S. supermarket purchases.

Indeed, it’s been by far my favorite credit card to use during the pandemic. With COVID-19 halting travel and keeping me cooped up at home, I found myself spending much more on groceries than I used to. Thanks to the Blue Cash Preferred card’s terrific rewards rate at U.S. supermarkets, I ended the year with $500 in cash back on food I would have bought anyway, more than covering the card’s annual fee.

Earning cash back

Earning cash back with the Blue Cash Preferred card is simple, with a generous rate on everyday spending such as U.S. gas station and supermarket purchases. Cardholders earn a whopping 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 in purchases per year, then 1%) and 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations.

Even with a $6,000 per year spend cap on the 6% rate on U.S. supermarket purchases, this is a lucrative category. If you meet that cap every year – or spend about $500 on those purchases per month – you can bring in $360 per year in rewards on U.S. supermarket purchases alone.

See related: Best credit cards for grocery shopping

In addition to great rewards on U.S. supermarket and gas station purchases, the Blue Cash Preferred card offers 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming services (including options like Hulu, Netflix, Apple Music and more), 3% on transit purchases and 1% on other purchases. This makes it a valuable choice for cardholders who take public transportation.

With so many great bonus categories to earn significant cash back, we estimate that the Blue Cash Preferred card is one of the most rewarding cash back cards on the market – despite its $95 annual fee after the $0 intro annual fee the first year. Here’s a quick look at the card’s estimated earning rate compared to other popular cash back cards. (Note: To calculate the estimated earning rate, we took information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to estimate both category and overall spend.)

See relatedBest fixed bonus category cash back cards

Unique new welcome bonus

The Blue Cash Preferred card is currently offering new cardholders a $150 statement credit after spending $3,000 in the first six months. On top of that, Amex is offering up to $200 back on Amazon.com purchases during your first six months as a cardholder: You’ll earn 20% back on all Amazon.com purchases made during this period, up to the $200 cash back limit.

Taken together, these elements make for a welcome bonus worth up to $350 if maximized, beating the card’s previous offer. That said, while earning cash back on Amazon purchases for your first six months is a nice perk, it’s a clear downgrade in terms of flexibility versus the card’s last offer. On the other hand, you’ll have six months to reach the spending threshold – double the timeframe you’ll find on most rewards cards.

Redeeming cash back

To redeem cash back earned with your Blue Cash Preferred card, you’ll need to reach a minimum of $25 in rewards. Once you reach that threshold, you can redeem your rewards for a statement credit, gift card or merchandise purchase.

Unfortunately, you can’t apply your cash back toward a travel booking with American Express Travel. However, you do have full access to the booking platform, so you can use your cash back toward a statement credit to offset the cost.

Intro APR for new purchases

The Blue Cash Preferred card also offers new cardholders a 0% intro APR on new purchases for the first 12 months (13.99% to 23.99% variable thereafter). This means cardholders can use the Blue Cash Preferred to finance a large purchase over the first year without worrying about incurring interest. Just be sure to make a plan to pay off your balance before the introductory period ends, as the ongoing APR can be high.

Other benefits

The Blue Cash Preferred card comes with several additional perks that add to its value – especially for frequent shoppers.

  • Free ShopRunner membership – With the Blue Cash Preferred card, you’ll get a free ShopRunner membership, which gives you free, two-day shipping with dozens of online retailers (enrollment required).
  • Extended warranty – On eligible warranties of five years or less, you can add an additional two years to the original manufacturer’s warranty.
  • Purchase protection – For items purchased with your card, you can be covered for 120 days in the case of accidental damage or theft.
  • Return protection – If you try to return a purchase made with your card in the first 90 days and the merchant won’t take it back, American Express will refund the price up to $300 per item (max of $1,000 per year).
  • Car rental insurance – When you book and pay for your rental car with the Blue Cash Preferred, you can receive secondary coverage in the case of damage or theft.
  • “Pay It Plan It®” – Pay off small purchase amounts (under $100) right away and split larger purchases (over $100) into a custom monthly payment plan for a fixed fee with this flexible payment option. Payment plans can last from three to 24 months and eligibility is based on your account and credit history.

To take advantage of all of these benefits, put all major purchases on your Blue Cash Preferred card.

See related: American Express card benefits

American Express acceptance

Though it’s true that American Express cards are not accepted as widely as Visa or Mastercard, American Express is accepted in more and more locations every year. If you primarily use your card in the U.S., you likely won’t have many problems with merchant acceptance. However, American Express is not as widely accepted abroad – a big deterrent for international travelers.

Approval odds

The Blue Cash Preferred card is designed for users with good to excellent credit (above 670), so you’ll want to ensure you meet those qualifications before you apply. Additionally, while American Express doesn’t impose a strict limit on how many cards you can have open with the issuer, we recommend you stay under five open cards at a time.

You can also check CardMatch to see if you have a preapproved offer. This only requires a “soft” credit pull – which has no impact on your credit score – and it should also give you your best chance at knowing whether you’ll be approved before you apply.

Customer service

Among major credit card issuers, American Express has an excellent customer service reputation. In J.D. Power’s 2020 customer satisfaction survey, American Express rated 838, beating out all 11 other major issuers. In addition to 24/7 customer service – including an online chat feature – American Express offers a highly rated mobile app.

Existing cardholders can get help or get in touch with American Express customer service by phone at 1-800-528-4800 or by visiting the issuer’s online customer service portal.

Pairing the Blue Cash Preferred with other rewards cards

Because the Blue Cash Preferred card comes with generous cash back rates in several popular bonus categories, it makes an excellent pair for other rewards cards. If you don’t mind juggling a few different credit cards to maximize your cash back, pairing the Blue Cash Preferred card with another card that offers a good flat rate of cash back can be a great way to boost yearly rewards.

See related: How to stack cards to get the most on your everyday spending

For example, imagine you have both the Blue Cash Preferred card and the Citi® Double Cash Card – which offers 1% cash back on general purchases and an additional 1% cash back when you pay your bill on time (for up to 2% on every purchase). If you use the Blue Cash Preferred card for all its bonus category purchases and the Citi Double Cash Card for general purchases, you’ll earn the following rewards rate:

Potential rewards rate: Blue Cash Preferred card + Citi Double Cash Card

  • 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 in purchases per year, then 1%)
  • 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming services
  • 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and on transit purchases
  • 2% cash back on general purchases (1% when you pay and an additional 1% for paying your bill on time)

We estimate this card pairing will bring in an average of 3.19 percent cash back – significantly more than the estimated 2.63 percent with the Blue Cash Preferred card alone.

Blue Cash Preferred vs. Blue Cash Everyday

If earning rewards on U.S. supermarket and gas station purchases fits in well with your spending patterns – but you are hesitant to pay an annual fee after your first year – American Express also offers a great no annual fee card. The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express offers 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%), 2% back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores and 1% cash back on general purchases. While the Blue Cash Everyday card does not include the same great rates on streaming services and transit as the Blue Cash Preferred, it never charges an annual fee.

See related: Blue Cash Everyday vs. Blue Cash Preferred

However, for cardholders who spend a significant amount on groceries, we estimate it is easy to offset the Blue Cash Preferred card’s higher annual fee after the first year and still earn more rewards. Since the rate on U.S. supermarket purchases is so much higher on the Blue Cash Preferred card, we estimate a Blue Cash Preferred cardholder would only need to spend $3,200 per year on groceries (or $267 per month) to beat the Blue Cash Everyday.

Annual cash back on U.S. supermarket purchases (after the first year, on a $3,200 spend)

Blue Cash Preferred cardBlue Cash Everyday card
$3,200 U.S. supermarket spend x 6% cash back – $95 annual fee = $97$3,200 U.S. supermarket spend x 3% cash back = $96

Plus, the bonus categories on the Blue Cash Preferred card are much more extensive. If you spend even moderately on streaming services or transit purchases, you can use those categories to boost rewards.

How does the Blue Cash Preferred card compare to other cash back cards?

The Blue Cash Preferred card is an incredibly rewarding cash back card for users who spend a significant amount on U.S. supermarket purchases, but its ongoing $95 annual fee can be a big deterrent, even if it has an intro $0 annual fee in the first year. Additionally, cardholders who spend more on other categories – such as dining out – might not get as much value out of the card. Here’s a quick look at a few popular alternatives:

Citi Double Cash Card
Citi Double Cash Card
Capital One Savor card
Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card
Chase Freedom Flex
Chase Freedom Flex
Rewards rate

  • 1% cash back on general purchases
  • Additional 1% cash back as you pay for those purchases
Rewards rate

  • 8% cash back on tickets through Vivid Seats (offer ends January 2022)
  • 4% cash back on dining and entertainment
  • 2% cash back at grocery stores
  • 1% cash back on other purchases
Rewards rate

  • 5% cash back on rotating bonus categories that you must activate each quarter (up to $1,500 per quarter)
  • 5% cash back on Ultimate Rewards travel
  • 3% back on dining and drugstore purchases
  • 1% cash back on general purchases
Sign-up bonus

None

Sign-up bonus

$300 if you spend $3,000 in first 3 months

Sign-up bonus

$200 if you spend $500 in first 3 months

Annual fee

$0

Annual fee

$95

Annual fee

$0

Other things to know

  • Lengthy intro APR on balance transfers
  • Rewards expire if card is not used over 12 months
Other things to know

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Redeem any amount of cash back at any time
Other things to know

  • Includes cell phone protection
  • Redeem points for cash, travel, merchandise or gift cards
  • Rewards don’t expire
  • Transfer points to other Chase Ultimate Rewards cards to potentially increase their value

Citi Double Cash Card

The Citi Double Cash Card doesn’t charge an annual fee, and it comes with one of the best flat rates of cash back you can find on all purchases. Cardholders receive 1 percent cash back on everything they buy, plus an additional 1 percent cash back as they pay for those purchases – for up to 2 percent cash back. If you don’t spend heavily on any particular category, a card with a high flat rate of cash back can ensure you still earn great rewards.

Capital One Savor card

The Capital One Savor card is popular among foodies – thanks to its generous rate on dining purchases. For cardholders who prefer dining out to cooking at home, the Savor card is one of the most lucrative dining cards available. While it comes with a $95 annual fee, it is packed with perks that help offset this cost – like a generous sign-up bonus.

Chase Freedom Flex

The Chase Freedom Flex requires a bit more maintenance than other rewards cards, as you’ll have to enroll in rotating bonus categories each quarter to earn a good rate of cash back. However, it is a lucrative option for cardholders looking to pair a card with generous bonus categories with a flat rate card. If you don’t mind keeping track of rotating categories, the cash back rate on the Freedom Flex is top-notch – even with a quarterly spend cap. The card also carries a solid rewards rate on Ultimate Rewards travel, dining and drugstore purchases, and rewards earned with the Freedom Flex are incredibly flexible and can be redeemed for travel purchases in addition to a statement credit or gift card.

Who should get the Blue Cash Preferred card?

  • Cardholders who spend a significant amount on U.S. supermarket, gas station, streaming or transit purchases
  • Cardholders looking for a large introductory bonus
  • Users who will take advantage of shopping perks like free, two-day shipping with participating merchants through ShopRunner and extended warranty
  • Cardholders looking for an intro APR on new purchases paired with a generous rewards rate

How to use the Blue Cash Preferred card:

  • Use the card for all U.S. supermarket, gas station and transit purchases to take advantage of bonus cash back.
  • Transfer all streaming service subscriptions to the card to earn rewards on your membership fees.
  • Sign up for ShopRunner and look for the program logo when shopping online to save on shipping fees.
  • Keep an eye out for Amex Offers that align with your spending to earn bonus cash back.

Is the Blue Cash Preferred card worth it?

For cardholders who spend a significant amount on U.S. supermarket purchases, the Blue Cash Preferred card offers some of the best rewards you can get while you buy groceries. Plus, it comes with several other lucrative bonus categories, including a great rate on select U.S. streaming services, U.S. gas station purchases and transit.

And don’t be scared off by the annual fee. While moderate spenders may struggle to offset the annual fee, if you make the most of this card’s rewards, you should be able to easily cover it. Indeed, CreditCards.com industry analyst and cash back expert Ted Rossman recently tried out the math for himself in his story on finding the best Amex cash back card, comparing the rewards he’d earn with the Blue Cash Preferred to those he’d get with the flat-rate, no annual fee American Express Cash Magnet® Card*:

“If I were to spend $30,000 annually on the Cash Magnet card, I’d earn $450 in cash back. Applying that same $30,000 example to the Blue Cash Preferred, let’s say $6,000 was grocery spending earning 6% cash back, $1,000 was gas earning 3% cash back and the remaining $23,000 earned 1% cash back. That’s $620 in annual rewards. After subtracting the ongoing annual fee, I’d still come out $75 ahead of the Cash Magnet.” This surprised him, as he’d thought the Blue Cash Preferred card’s 1% rate on general purchases would drag down his earnings. “It illustrates how amazing it is to get a 6% return on grocery spending, especially since it’s a big spending category for me.”

For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred Card, please click here.

About the author

*All information about the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card and American Express Cash Magnet® Card has been collected independently by CreditCards.com and has not been reviewed by the issuer.

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