The Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express Review
While I personally focus a lot of my credit card spending on points and miles earning cards, I realize that cash back is much easier to understand for the average consumer. We’ve focused our coverage on the best cash back credit cards in the past, and near the top is the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express. Let’s dig into the reasons it deserves a spot in your wallet.
Why The Blue Cash Preferred Card is Our Favorite Credit Card for Streaming Services.
This card issued from American Express doesn’t earn Membership Rewards points like the Platinum Card or Gold Card. Rather, it earns straight cash back, which is appealing to many that want to know exactly what their credit card returns in rewards for their spending. The downside is that you’re getting a fixed return, unlike with points and miles, which can sometimes return much more to you in savings when it comes time to redeem for travel. Either way, it’s good to earn rewards for your spending, so long as you’re paying your bills on time to make these rewards truly “free” (after the $95 per year annual fee).
What Is The Blue Cash Preferred’s Sign Up Bonus?
The Blue Cash Preferred Card offers a $250 cash back sign up for spending $1,000 in the first three months of cardmembership. That’s like 25% back (plus the rewards for category spending, detailed below). There are larger cash back sign up bonuses out there, but the Blue Cash Preferred card does have a lower spending threshold to hit the bonus, which to me is great since cardmembers won’t be tempted to overspend to meet the requirements.
How Do I Earn Cash Back with the Blue Cash Preferred Card?
In addition to the sign-up bonus, the Blue Cash Preferred card also gives you cash back for spending. The amount back depends on what category your purchase lands in. The categories are:
- 6% back on U.S. streaming subscriptions
- 6% back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 a year)
- 3% back on transit (parking, tolls, ride-sharing, subway, etc.)
- 3% back at U.S. gas stations
- 1% everywhere else
The 6% cash back on U.S. streaming subscriptions makes this our pick, so if you’re quarantining with lots of expenses in this area, this card is for you. Keep in mind, the Platinum Card recently launched a $20/month credit for streaming subscriptions through December for cardmembers in response to the coronavirus crisis.
The 6% cash back bonus for U.S. supermarket spending is also strongest in the cash back category, though capped at $6,000 per year. We’ve detailed my favorite card for grocery spending, the Amex Gold card, in the past, which earns 4 Membership Rewards points per dollar, up to $50,000 in spending a year. Based on my valuation of Membership Rewards points, that’s like 8% back in rewards, which beats this card.
For the other categories, 3% cash back on transit, including rideshare services, and gas is helpful for commuters, and 1% cash back everywhere else is standard for the industry.
How Do I Redeem My Cash Back with the Blue Cash Preferred Card?
Certainly, cash back is easier to redeem that points and miles. Once your cash back balance reaches $25 in your account, you can redeem for a statement credit, redeem for gift cards, or shop with your rewards. The only option you should ever consider is a statement credit. If you’re going to do more shopping, why not put it on your card to earn more cash back, and use the statement credit to pay off the purchase?
What Are Other Features of the Blue Cash Preferred Card?
The card also features some ancillary benefits, like:
- 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months, then a variable rate of 12.99%-23.99%
- Secondary rental car insurance (not the same as primary, like what’s offered with the Chase Sapphire Preferred)
- Up to two year extended warranties for purchases made with the card
- Return protection
One other benefit not often mentioned are Amex Offers, which can really save you money depending on the offer at hand. Most years, I’ll get my annual fee wiped away by the savings given to me from American Express.
Are There Better Cash Back Credit Card Options?
If you’re in the market for a cash back credit card, it’s helpful to know how you spend your money to determine what’s the best cash back credit card for you. If you’re spending a lot on groceries each year, this may be the best bet for your family. However, if you enjoy spending money at restaurants, you’ll notice you’ll only receive 1% cash back for those purchases with the Blue Cash Preferred Card. Cards like the Citi® Double Cash card make sense for those that want to earn 2% on everything, and not worry about what category their purchase falls into. Plus, that card doesn’t have an annual fee.
The Blue Cash Preferred Card offers a solid benefit for the $95 annual fee. After the first year, you’ll need to be spending a lot on the card to justify the annual fee. That’s one reason why I prefer other cash back offerings to this card, but every person’s situation is different. Hopefully, this review will help you decide if the card is the right one for your family.