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They both offer higher cash back at U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations, and their potential interest rates are identical, but the Preferred card is an upgraded version that provides quite a bit more cash back (at the cost of an annual fee) (Rates & Fees).
Both of these cards feature contactless technology, allowing for quick tap-and-go payments.
These cards are great for everyday spending, whether you get the Everyday or Preferred version. Read on to learn what makes them different, how to make the Preferred worth the annual fee (Rates & Fees), and how they can help you save money on some of the things you buy the most.
|Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express (Review)||$0 (Rates & Fees)||
|Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express (Review)||$95 (Rates & Fees)||
We give both the Blue Cash cards 5 out of 5 Stars because they are both great reward cards for the niches they intend to fill. They’re designed for spending at U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations for the most part, with the Everyday version meant for lower spenders and the Preferred version meant for higher spenders.
The Blue Cash Everyday, with no annual fee, offers a solid 3% back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year, then 1%) and 2% back at U.S. gas stations and some U.S. department stores, making it one of the best reward cards without an annual fee (Rates & Fees). The Blue Cash Preferred has a $95 annual fee, but for that price you’ll earn 6% back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year, then 1%) and on select U.S. streaming services, plus 3% back at U.S. gas stations and on transit. These high rewards make it pretty easy to offset the annual fee and earn quite a bit of profit on top of that (Rates & Fees).
Both cards have a good introductory bonus. For spending $1,000 with the card in the first 3 months, you’ll get $150 cash back with the Everyday version and $250 cash back with the Preferred. This will pay for the Preferred’s annual fee for two years, so that’s a pretty nice offer compared to the fee.
We found that if you spend more than $2,600 at U.S. supermarkets and $1,300 at U.S. gas stations every year, the Blue Cash Preferred will end up providing more cash back, even after you pay the annual fee. If you spend less than that amount every year, the Blue Cash Everyday will be more profitable to use. For a thorough discussion of which card to use in different financial situations, see the Which Card Is Better For You? section below.
Overall, they do well on all the main card features: good cash back rewards, good benefits, and fair costs and fees.
|Introductory Bonus Offer|
|Introductory Bonus Offer|
When I got my Blue Cash Preferred, and the bonus was only $150, I first checked to see if I was prequalified for the card. It turned out that I had an offer available for a $250 introductory bonus instead of the normal offer, which I happily took. A great value for easy work! Take some time to check if you’re prequalified, and you might be pleasantly surprised.
The U.S. supermarkets category is quite broad, and probably includes most retailers that you’d classify as a U.S. supermarket. This category does not include specialty food stores, superstores, or warehouse clubs.
The list of eligible stores in the U.S. supermarkets category includes, but is not limited to:
|U.S. Supermarket Category Example Retailers|
|Stop and Shop||Vons||Wegmans||Whole Foods||Online supermarkets like FreshDirect|
When it comes to “select streaming services,” you can generally expect popular picks like Netflix, Hulu, Apple Music, Spotify, HBO Now, and Prime Video Unlimited (and more) to be covered.
The ‘U.S. gas station’ category defines a gas station as “a merchant that is in the primary business of selling gasoline to consumers,” so that will include pretty much every gas station you’ll ever find in the U.S. Take note that this category does not include superstores, supermarkets, and warehouse clubs that sell gas.
Eligible examples of transit include taxis and rideshares, parking, tolls, trains, and buses. But it’s important to know that airfare and car rentals aren’t on the list.
For the ‘select U.S. department stores’ category, there are currently only 16 retailers where this is applicable. The list includes some pretty big brands, however, and online purchases are eligible for the 2% cash back, so it shouldn’t be too hard to make use of this reward category.
Here’s the current and complete list of department stores where this reward category is eligible:
|Complete List of Department Store Retailers|
|Bealls||Belk||Bloomingdale’s||Bon Ton Stores||Boscov’s||Century 21 Department Stores||Dillard’s||J.C. Penney (JCP)|
|Kohl’s||Lord & Taylor||Macy’s||Neiman Marcus||Nordstrom||Saks Fifth Avenue||Sears||Stein Mart|
You’ll get your cash back in the form of Reward Dollars, which are basically credits that are ready and waiting to be used. You’ll get 1 Reward Dollar for every $1 in cash back that you earn, but the value you get in the end will depend on how you redeem those Reward Dollars.
The Blue Cash Preferred has a $95 annual fee (Rates & Fees), so you’ll want to make sure you’re getting at least that much value from the rewards and benefits. Otherwise you’re losing money every year.
So how much cash back would you need to earn to offset that fee, and how much would you need to spend to get it?
The basic Blue Cash Everyday card has no annual fee, so you don’t have to worry about offsetting it (Rates & Fees). As long as you pay your bills on time and avoid interest, you’ll always come out ahead no matter how much you spend. But in many cases the cardholder would earn more with the Preferred, even after paying the fee; see our Which Card is Better For You? section below for a discussion on this.
More specifically, how much would you need to spend at U.S. supermarkets and/or U.S. gas stations every year? You’ll earn 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year, then 1%) and 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations, so with that combined spending it will be pretty easy for most people to offset the annual fee (Rates & Fees). We’ll assume that you redeem your cash back as a statement credit, so you’ll be sure to get the full $1 for every $1 in cash back you’ve earned.
The most cost-efficient way would be to earn that cash back at the 6% rate. If you spend $1,584 at U.S. supermarkets ($132 per month) you’ll get just over $95 cash back, and any more cash back you earn is all profit. But a more realistic way to use the card is to use it for purchases at both U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations.
With that combined spending, one minimal way to offset the annual fee would be to spend just $1,100 at U.S. supermarkets and $1,100 at U.S. gas stations in a given year ($92 per month for each), which will earn you $99 in cash back (Rates & Fees). If you know you’ll be spending at least that much on those purchases every year, you can be confident you’ll be able to offset the annual fee (though you won’t be making much profit — see our Which Card is Better For You? section below).
In a more realistic scenario you’ll probably be spending much more than that. How much cash back would you earn, for example, if you spent $3,600 per year at U.S. supermarkets ($300 per month) and $1,200 per year at U.S. gas stations ($100 per month)?
You’d end up getting $216 back for the purchases at U.S. supermarkets and $36 back for the purchases at U.S. gas stations, for a total of $252 cash back per year. When you subtract the annual fee of $95 (Rates & Fees), you’re left with $157 cash back. Not too shabby.
You’ll get 1 Reward Dollar for every $1 in cash back that you earn, but the final value you get will depend on how you redeem those Reward Dollars. There are three ways to redeem the Reward Dollars that you earn:
You’ll be required to redeem your cash back in increments of $25, unless otherwise noted.
As you can see, both of these cards have valuable features but the Preferred version is quite a bit more rewarding. You’ll get twice as much cash back when shopping at U.S. supermarkets, and a bit more back at U.S. gas stations.
But the Preferred card also has an annual fee of $95 (Rates & Fees), while the Everyday version is free to use (Rates & Fees). So is the Blue Cash Preferred worth the cost, compared to the Blue Cash Everyday? The answer to this will depend on how much you typically spend at U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations every year.
In our examples below, we calculated that if you spend more than about $2,600 at U.S. supermarkets and $1,300 on U.S. gas stations per year, the Blue Cash Preferred Card will be more profitable to use. If you spend that much or less per year, the Blue Cash Everyday will be more profitable to use.
Using the Preferred Card you’ll get 6% back at U.S. supermarkets and 3% back for U.S. gas stations. Let’s say, for example, that you spend $100 at U.S. supermarkets and $50 at U.S. gas stations per week, for a total of $5,200 and $2,600 per year, respectively. That means you’ll get $312 back for the U.S. supermarkets spending and $78 back for the U.S. gas station spending, for a total of $390. That’s more than enough to pay for the annual fee, with $295 in profit after you pay it (Rates & Fees).
But what if you won’t spend that much? If you only spend half as much, $50 at U.S. supermarkets and $25 on gas per week, that would equal $2,600 at U.S. supermarkets and $1,300 at U.S. gas stations per year. That will provide $156 back for U.S. supermarkets and $39 back for U.S. gas stations, for a total of $195. That’d pay for the annual fee with only $100 in profit (Rates & Fees).
Here’s a table summarizing those results, along with another even lower-spending example:
|Annual U.S. Supermarket Spending||Annual U.S. Gas Station Spending||Total Cash Back||Net Cash Back After Annual Fee|
Let’s go over the same spending examples with the Everyday card.
That sounds fine for the Preferred Card, but what if you did the same spending with the basic Blue Cash card? You would earn less cash back, getting 3% back for U.S. supermarkets and 2% back for U.S. gas stations, but you also wouldn’t need to pay an annual fee (Rates & Fees). So does it end up being a better deal?
In our first higher-spending example, you spend $5,200 at U.S. supermarkets and $2,600 on at U.S. gas stations per year. With the basic Blue Cash card, you would earn $156 back for the U.S. supermarkets and $52 back for the U.S. gas stations, for a total profit of $208 cash back. Compare that to the Blue Cash Preferred, which would provide $295 profit after paying its annual fee with this level of spending (Rates & Fees).
In the second lower-spending example, you spend $2,600 at U.S. supermarkets and $1,300 at U.S. gas stations per year. The basic Blue Cash card would provide $78 back for the U.S. supermarkets and $26 back for the U.S. gas stations, for a total profit of $104 cash back. Compare that to the Blue Cash Preferred, which would only provide $100 cash back per year at this level of spending. In this example you’ll actually earn more back with the basic Blue Cash card, but only by $4.
Here are those results summarized, and compared to what you’d get with the Blue Cash Preferred:
|Annual U.S. Supermarket Spending||Annual U.S. Gas Station Spending||Total Cash Back with Blue Cash Everyday||Net Cash Back with Blue Cash Preferred|
There is a particular level of spending that constitutes a cutoff point for the Blue Cash Preferred card. If you spend less than this, you shouldn’t be using the Preferred card because you can get a more profitable deal with the Blue Cash Everyday.
If you spend less than about $2,600 at U.S. supermarkets and $1,300 at U.S. gas stations every year, the Blue Cash Everyday will be right for you. If you spend more than this every year, the Blue Cash Preferred will be more profitable to use as long as you redeem your cash back for the full $1 value, as explained above.
Keep in mind that we were somewhat conservative with these estimates because we didn’t take into account any other spending you might do with the card, at department stores or anywhere else. Chances are that if you’re the average American consumer, you’ll be spending more than our low-spending example.
So, if you’re going to be shopping at U.S. supermarkets quite regularly, the Preferred version of this card will probably be the right move. And if you’re shopping for an entire family you’ll almost certainly be better off with the Preferred. The cash back you earn from U.S. supermarkets alone should offset the annual fee, and this doesn’t even take into account other purchases or the other benefits you’ll get with this card (Rates & Fees).
The Everyday and Preferred cards offer the same set of additional entertainment, shopping, and travel benefits. Check your card terms for details on your benefits and how to access them. Since they’re the exact same here, you won’t have to worry about choosing between benefits if you’re wondering which one of these cards to get.
A couple of them, like the Amex Offers, can be quite rewarding if you find deals that you’ll be able to make use of. Also, look for the 10% discount on utilities, which could end up saving you quite a bit over time.
Here are the most valuable and interesting benefits, though this list doesn’t cover everything these cards offer.
You’ll have access to discounts at a wide variety of merchants — currently there are 73 different offers available, and the selection changes now and then.
You just need to head to the Amex Offers program and click ‘Add to Card’ for the deals you want. Then, just use your card as you normally would to make a purchase with that merchant. Your savings will appear as a statement credit later on, reducing your account balance. You may or may not earn additional rewards at the regular rate — this will depend on the particular offer.
Many of the deals can be quite valuable, saving you from $5 up through more than $100 for some of them. For most of them, you’ll need to spend a certain amount to get a certain discount. Some of the current offers include:
|Merchant||Need to Spend||Cash Back||Maximum Savings|
|Raymour & Flanigan||$750||$115||15.33%|
|Dollar Shave Club||$70||$5||7.14%|
There are many fantastic deals waiting to be had here, though many other credit card issuers will offer a similar service. For example, Chase provides the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, Bank of America has its BankAmeriDeals offers, and Citi has the EasyDeals service. You’ll find a range of discounts in all of them.
Occasionally you’ll be given the opportunity to save 10% on your cable, satellite TV, and/or cell phone bills. Just find the offer and click ‘Add to Card,’ and then use your card to pay for the utility as normal.
This benefit, also called Membership Experiences, provides pre-sale tickets to a variety of sports, music, and cultural events, as well as access to certain exclusive experiences. You’ll be able to search by interest, artist, event, or venue.
A couple of offers that were available when this review was written are special access to the LUCKYRICE™ Miami Feast on the affordable end (for $88 per ticket), to VIP Access to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on the more expensive end (for $9,800).
If you book an eligible prepaid hotel room through Amex Travel and then find the same room being advertised online for a lower price, you can be refunded for the difference. You must submit your claim before the check-in date, and be sure to check your card details because some restrictions apply.
You must manually enroll in this benefit to make use of it.
Cardholders have the opportunity to apply for a loan through American Express (but only if they have been pre-approved). Loans are offered from $3,500 to $25,000, with fixed interest rates from as low as 6.90% up to 19.97%.
|Card||Annual Fee||Intro APR for Purchases and Balance Transfers||Regular APR for Purchases and Balance Transfers||Cash Advance APR||Foreign Transaction Fee|
|Blue Cash Everyday||$0||0% for 15 months||14.49–25.49% Variable||26.74% Variable||2.7%|
|Blue Cash Preferred||$95||0% for 12 months||14.49–25.49% Variable||26.74% Variable||2.7%|
|Card||Penalty APR||Late Fee||Returned Payment Fee|
|Blue Cash Everyday||29.99% Variable||Up to $39||Up to $39|
|Blue Cash Preferred||29.99% Variable||Up to $39||Up to $39|
You can see from the table that the costs and fees of these cards are almost completely identical. If you’re trying to choose between them, the annual fee is the only detail you need to worry about.
Both cards have a very generous 0% intro APR period on purchases and balance transfers — 15 months for the Everyday and 12 months for the Preferred — which are pretty long compared to most other options out there. After the introductory periods end the regular APRs of 14.49–25.49% Variable (Rates & Fees) and 14.49–25.49% Variable (Rates & Fees), respectively, start. You can use these periods to pay for large purchases at no interest, but you’ll still have to pay your bill every month. Just remember the high penalty APR, which could be implemented if you make a late or returned payment.
Take note that 0% intro APRs are great, but if you make a late or returned payment you could lose it before it officially ends, leaving you with the high penalty APR!
Since there is no annual fee for the Blue Cash Everyday (Rates & Fees), the cash back you earn will be all profit as long as you avoid accruing interest. With the Blue Cash Preferred, if you earn enough cash back to offset the annual fee as described above (Rates & Fees), any more you earn will be all profit as long as you avoid interest.
The Blue Cash cards from American Express are some of the most rewarding cards on the market. The 3% cash back for U.S. supermarkets with the Blue Cash Everyday card is usually as good as it gets, which makes the 6% back with the Blue Cash Preferred card pretty incredible.
Since these cards have identical benefits and nearly identical fees, the major deciding points are the amounts of cash back they provide and the annual fee.
Although each card has a $6,000 limit for 6% rate at U.S. supermarkets, you’ll still get quite a bit of cash back even if you hit that limit. If you spend the full amount in 1 year this still equates to $180 for the Everyday card and $360 for the Preferred, quite a nice return on purchases you’ll already be making. And that doesn’t even take into account U.S. gas station or select U.S. department store purchases.
While the Preferred card does have a $95 annual fee (Rates & Fees), you’ll be able to easily pay for it with the cash back you get as explained above, with a lot more to spare. You’ll also have the introductory bonus on each card, providing $150 for the Everyday and $250 for the Preferred, which will cover the Preferred’s annual fee for 2 years.
These cards also come with the award-winning customer service of American Express, so you can expect a relatively good experience if you need to deal with any problems that might come up (compared to some other card issuers).
The application process for each card will be through American Express, who will usually check your Experian credit report. The Everyday version is meant for people with good credit, while the Preferred version is designed for people with excellent credit.
The Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer (Review) is one of the best general-purpose cash back cards, offering a simple 2% cash back for every purchase you make. This card provides 1% cash back at the time of purchase, and another 1% cash back when that purchase is paid off. Gas, groceries, or anything else, you’ll get 2% back for all of it.
There is no annual fee for this card, and it has an introductory 0% APR offer for 18 months on Balance Transfers, before the regular 15.49% – 25.49% (Variable) APR starts.
The Blue Cash cards both have an introductory bonus, but the Double Cash has no bonus.
When you compare the Double Cash’s rewards to the Blue Cash Everyday’s, you’ll see that the Double Cash card is more versatile. It’s designed for all kinds of spending, not limited to just U.S. supermarkets, U.S. gas stations, and some U.S. department stores.
The Blue Cash cards, and especially the Blue Cash Preferred, are both designed to be your primary cards for shopping at U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations. With the Blue Cash Preferred offering 6% back for U.S. supermarkets and 3% back for U.S. gas stations, it’s pretty much the best credit card offer available for this purpose.
Since the Double Cash card is versatile and the Blue Cash cards are specialized, a great credit card strategy would be to actually use the Double Cash along with one of the Blue Cash cards. Just use the Blue Cash card whenever you shop at U.S. supermarkets, U.S. gas stations, or certain U.S. department stores, and use the Double Cash card everywhere else. You’ll be maximizing your rewards for every purchase you make.
The Double Cash doesn’t provide much in the way of extra benefits; the American Express cards will have the better set, thanks in part to their Amex Offers.
The Discover it® Cash Back Credit Card (Review) is a very popular card, offering rewards in a different way. Instead of providing cash back in certain categories that are set from the start and never change, the Discover it has a rotating 5% cash back category that changes every 3 months. It provides 1% cash back for all other purchases.
There is no annual fee for this card, and it comes with a 14-month 0% introductory rate on purchases and balance transfers before its 13.74%–24.74% Variable APR starts. This makes it pretty comparable to the Blue Cash Everyday card.
The 5% cash back calendar for 2019 is:
|Quarter||5% Cash Back Category|
|January – March||Grocery Stores|
|April – June||Gas Stations, Uber, Lyft|
|July – September||Restaurants, PayPal|
|October – December||Amazon.com, Target, Walmart.com|
The great thing about the Discover it is that Discover will double the cash back you earn after your first year with the card. That means you’ll end up earning a maximum of 10% cash back on certain purchases, which is an excellent deal among credit cards.
It might seem difficult to compare this card, with rotating rewards, to the Blue Cash cards. Instead of just using one or the other, consider using both the Discover it and one of the Blue Cash cards. With this strategy you can use the Discover it whenever you’ll earn the 5% back, and save the Blue Cash card for purchases at U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations, and at some U.S. department stores. You’ll just have to remember when you’ll earn 5% cash back on gas with the Discover card, so you can use it during those months to maximize your cash back.
You’ll find better benefits with the Amex Blue Cash cards, since Discover doesn’t offer much in the way of extra perks.
The Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card (Review) is a solid rewards card: no annual fee, and a 0% introductory APR for purchases and balance transfers for 12 months before the regular 16.24%–26.24% Variable APR starts.
It provides 3% cash back in your choice of one of the following categories, and you can choose a new one every month if you’d like:
And you’ll also get 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, with 1% cash back everywhere else.
Similar to the Blue Cash cards, this card comes with a $200 introductory cash rewards bonus for spending $1,000 in the first 90 days. Take note that these welcome bonuses change somewhat often.
When it comes to the rewards, the Bank of America Cash Rewards is similar in some ways to the Blue Cash Everyday, but it’s more flexible because you can pick your own 3% category. The Everyday card provides 3% back for U.S. supermarkets and 2% back for U.S. gas stations. If you’re trying to pick between these two cards, the basic question should be pretty simple to answer: Do you spend more on groceries or on gas? If you spend more at U.S. supermarkets the Blue Cash Everyday would be more rewarding overall, and if you spend more at U.S. gas stations the Cash Rewards would be more rewarding overall.
But when you compare the Cash Rewards to the Blue Cash Preferred, you can see that the Preferred easily comes out on top for grocery spending. It provides 6% back for U.S. supermarkets — 3 times as much as the Cash Rewards — and 3% back for U.S. gas stations, which is equal to the Cash Rewards. So you’ll be earning way more cash back for U.S. supermarkets with the Blue Cash Preferred, and just as much back at U.S. gas stations.
The Blue Cash cards don’t have the other 3% categories, however. The online shopping category is particularly valuable, giving you more cash back for those purchases than you’ll find with other cards. If you’re going to spend a lot in any of those categories the Cash Rewards card could be pretty good for you.
Even though the Blue Cash Preferred has an annual fee of $95 (Rates & Fees), it can still end up being more profitable to use than the Bank of America card, which has no annual fee. As long as you spend enough with the card every year, you’ll be able to earn enough cash back to pay for the annual fee and then profit quite a bit. See our section above, Which Card Is Better For You?, to see if this card will work for your spending habits.
The American Express Blue Cash Everyday and Blue Cash Preferred credit cards offer great rewards programs with versatile spending categories, along with a small selection of simple benefits.
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