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2021 Review: Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express – Big Rewards for Everyday Purchases

Updated Jul 22, 2021 | Published Oct 30, 20209 min read

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Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Min Credit Level Good
Annual Fee $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95
Regular APR 13.99% - 23.99% Variable
At a glance

The Blue Cash Preferred provides high rewards at U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations, and for streaming services and transit expenses. It has an annual fee, but you can easily make it back if you find yourself in the grocery aisle or at the gas pump often enough.

Credit Card Insider receives compensation from advertisers whose products may be mentioned on this page. Advertiser relationships do not affect card evaluations. Advertising partners do not edit or endorse our editorial content. Content is accurate to the best of our knowledge when it's published. Learn more in our Editorial Guidelines.

Our Rating: 5 Out of 5 Stars

The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is incredibly rewarding, featuring top-level cash back rates and decent perks. The annual fee is minuscule when compared to the card’s overall earning potential.

Why We Like It

  • A very high rate of 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets and for U.S. streaming services
  • Solid rewards at U.S. gas stations and for transit
  • Welcome bonus: 20% back for Amazon purchases in the first 6 months, up to $200 back; $150 back for spending $3,000 in the first 6 months (earned as a statement credit)
  • 0% intro APR for purchases
  • Helpful benefits

Why It Could Be Better

  • There’s an annual fee
  • $6,000 annual spending limit for U.S. supermarkets, and then your 6% rate falls to 1% cash back

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express (Rates & Fees)

When we talk about the grocery and gas rewards below, we’re only referring to groceries bought from U.S. supermarkets and gas purchased from U.S. gas stations. Groceries from other stores, like Walmart or Costco, or from gas stations, won’t earn 6% with the Preferred.

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Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
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  • Min. credit levelGood
  • Annual Fee$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95
  • Regular APR13.99% - 23.99% Variable

Rates & Fees

American Express is a Credit Card Insider advertiser.

The Blue Cash Preferred is a great choice if you spend a lot on groceries, gas, or streaming subscriptions.

The 6% it earns is potentially the highest around for groceries. You could comfortably make $95 back to cover the annual fee, even if you spend as little as $2,000 on groceries per year.

Just that amount of spending will give you a return of $120. Most people all too easily spend far more than that. And that’s not even taking into account the other categories of gas, transit, and streaming services.

There’s also the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express (Review). It’s a step down from the Preferred, and as such offers less substantial rewards, but it doesn’t have an annual fee (Rates & Fees). Take a look at an in-depth comparison of the two cards.

However, as stated above, it’s all too easy to spend a lot on groceries (and gas too) in a year, so you’ll quickly be able to cover the annual fee of the Preferred, and then some.

Insider Advice: Getting the Most Out of Your Card

  • Update all of your subscriptions: Don’t forget to move all your auto-pay subscriptions to this card to get 6% cash back for them.
  • Keep on eye on the spending: If you’ve reached the $6,000 annual spending cap at U.S. supermarkets, consider switching to another card for groceries.
  • Reach the welcome bonus: If you’re using this card as you should for gas, groceries, transit, and streaming services, reaching the introductory bonus should prove relatively easy.
  • Redeem your rewards as statement credits: There are a few different redemption options available, but we recommend redeeming your rewards as statement credits to ensure you get a 1:1 reward-to-dollar ratio.
  • Take advantage of Amex Offers: One of the more useful benefits this card provides is a changing selection of retailers where you’ll receive extra cash back and occasional exclusive discounts.
  • Consider pairing with another card: You can use the Blue Cash Preferred whenever you shop at U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations, and for all of your streaming services and transit purchases. Consider a flat-rate rewards card for every other purchase. That makes things simple, and helps maximize the cash back you earn.
  • Worry a little less about interest, for a time: There’s a 0% intro APR for purchases, for 12 months (then your rate will be 13.99% - 23.99% Variable). That means you can make purchases without having to worry about your balance accruing interest (but minimum payments are still required). (Rates & Fees)

The Rewards

Earning

Spending Rewards
  • 6% cash back:
    • U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 spent annually, then 1%)
    • Select U.S. streaming services
  • 3% cash back:
    • U.S. gas stations
    • Transit
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
Introductory Bonus
  • 20% back for Amazon purchases in the first 6 months, up to $200 back; $150 back for spending $3,000 in the first 6 months (earned as a statement credit)

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 like Walmart or Target, 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
Gristedes Foodtown Meijer Pathmark Shoprite
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, and Amazon 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.

Redeeming

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:

  • Statement credits: Recommended, most rewarding method, guaranteed $1 per 1 Reward Dollar
  • Gift cards: Second-best method, usually $1 per 1 Reward Dollar but not always
  • Shopping: Worst method, offers less than $1 per 1 Reward Dollar

Cash back redemptions are always in increments of $25, unless otherwise noted.

The Benefits

  • Amex Offers: You’ll have access to extra cash back at a wide variety of merchants, 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.
  • $120 Equinox+ Credit: Get up to $10 per month for a stand-alone monthly membership to the Equinox+ app. Will not apply if you purchase the membership through the Equinox app or a third party.
  • Entertainment Access: 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.
  • Lowest Hotel Rates Guarantee: 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.
  • Complimentary ShopRunner membership: Cardholders will have access to free two-day shipping and returns through the ShopRunner service.
  • Global Assist Hotline: Should you need legal, medical, or travel assistance, you have it thanks to this benefit.
  • Car Rental Loss & Damage Insurance: Decline the rental car provider’s insurance offer and charge the full amount to your card, and your eligible rental will be covered against damage and theft.
  • Purchase Protection: Your eligible new purchases are covered against accidental damage and theft for 90 days.
  • Return Protection: If the merchant won’t take back an eligible item within the first 90 days that you purchased with your card, you could be refunded.
  • Extended Warranty: Extends an eligible manufacturer’s warranty for another year.

Enrollment required for select benefits; terms and limitations apply.

The Terms & Fees

Purchase APR Balance Transfer APR Cash Advance APR
0% for 12 months, then 13.99% - 23.99% Variable 13.99% - 23.99% Variable 25.24% Variable
Annual Fee Foreign Transaction Fee
$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95 2.7% of each transaction after conversion to US dollars
Balance Transfer Fee Cash Advance Fee
None Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater
Penalty APR Late Fee Returned Payment Fee
29.99% Variable Up to $40 Up to $40

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express (Rates & Fees)

So there’s an annual fee, but you should be able to limit the impact that’ll have on your finances by how much you’re earning in rewards. There’s also a 0% introductory APR for purchases, so you’ll have additional time to pay before the balance begins to take on interest.

Take note, however — if you make a late or returned payment, you could lose that intro period early, so make sure you’re paying your monthly payments on time.

The Bottom Line

The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is one of the most rewarding cards on the market. The 6% cash back you earn is pretty incredible, and 3% in the other categories is also very good.

Although this card has a $6,000 limit for the 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 one year this still equates to $360, quite a nice return on purchases you’ll already be making. And that doesn’t even take into account the other categories.

While the Preferred card does have an annual fee, the rewards you earn should easily cover it.

Plus, it comes 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).

How Do I Apply for the Blue Cash Preferred Card?

The application process for the Preferred will be through the card issuer’s website. Simply follow the link below to apply now.

What Credit Scores Do I Need to Qualify for the Blue Cash Preferred?

The Blue Cash Preferred is designed for people with good credit.

To qualify for good credit, your credit scores would need to be in the ranges of 670–739 for FICO or 700–749 for VantageScore.

If your scores are below that range you still have a chance, because credit card issuers will look at more than just credit scores. And if you’re in or above that range, you still have a chance of denial.

Qualifications and Requirements

  • Must be 18 to apply
  • Personal information: Name, date of birth, Social Security number, U.S. citizenship status
  • Address and contact information: Home address, phone number, email address
  • Financial information: Total annual income, monthly mortgage or rent payment
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Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
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  • Min. credit levelGood
  • Annual Fee$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95
  • Regular APR13.99% - 23.99% Variable

Rates & Fees

American Express is a Credit Card Insider advertiser.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the Amex Blue Cash Preferred’s benefits?

Some of the more useful benefits include Amex Offers, which provides increased rates at a changing selection of online retailers, and Lowest Hotel Rates Guarantee, which will match the price of an online hotel listing if you book with Amex Travel. There are also a few shopping and travel protections included, like return protection and rental car insurance.

Take a look at the complete list of benefits you can expect.

What’s the difference between the Blue Cash Preferred and the Blue Cash Everyday?

The main differences lie in their rewards and fees. The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express (Review) offers 3% at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 spent per year, then 1%) compared to the Preferred’s 6%, only earns 1% on streaming services, and earns 2% at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores.

However, there’s also no annual fee, compared to the Preferred’s $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95 fee.

It also lacks the return protection, extended warranty, and rental car insurance protections, but the other benefits are the same.

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Alternatives to the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express

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  • Min. credit levelGood
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Regular APR13.99% - 23.99% Variable

Rates & Fees

  • Earn 20% back on Amazon.com purchases on the Card in the first 6 months of Card membership, up to $150 back.
  • Plus, earn $100 back after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months of card membership. You will receive cash back in the form of statement credits.
  • 3% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%).
  • 2% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores.
  • 1% Cash Back on other purchases.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 15 months on purchases from the date of account opening, then a variable rate, 13.99% to 23.99%.
  • Plan It® gives the option to select purchases of $100 or more to split up into monthly payments with a fixed fee.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be easily redeemed for statement credits.
  • No annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
Why We Picked It

The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express (Review) is the basic version of the Blue Cash Preferred. It has no annual fee, but features less-impressive rewards.

You’ll earn less cash back at U.S. supermarkets with this card, and will lose the streaming services bonus category. And instead of earning 3% at U.S. gas stations and on transit, you’ll earn 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores. The benefits are pretty similar.

The main differences are the rewards and the lack of an annual fee. If your annual grocery spending doesn’t exceed about $2,500, this version might suit you more than the Preferred. Take a look at your spending habits, and see what card would work best for you. Check out our comparison of the Blue Cash Preferred with the Blue Cash Everyday for help.

Rewards
Spending Rewards
  • 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 spent annually)
  • 2% cash back at:
    • U.S. gas stations
    • Select U.S. department stores
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
Introductory Bonus Offer
  • 20% back for Amazon purchases in the first 6 months, up to $150 back; $100 back for spending $2,000 in the first 6 months (earned as a statement credit)
Key Features

  • Amex Offers: Earn extra cash back at a variety of merchants.
  • Complimentary ShopRunner membership: Register with ShopRunner for free two-day shipping and returns at select online retailers.
  • Entertainment Access: Exclusive tickets to events, concerts, sports, and shows
  • Travel protections: Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance, Global Assist Hotline
  • Purchase APR: 0% for 15 months, then 13.99% - 23.99% Variable
  • Annual fee: $0

Enrollment required for select benefits; terms and limitations apply.

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express (Rates & Fees)

American Express is a Credit Card Insider advertiser.

  • Min. credit levelGood
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Regular APRSee Terms
Why We Picked It

The Discover it® Cash Back (Review) is a cash back rewards card that works a bit differently than the Blue Cash Preferred. It features quarterly rotating categories that you have to activate every three months.

Instead of earning rewards in the same bonus categories day in and day out, you’ll earn 5% back in select categories (up to $1,500 spent per quarter, then you’ll earn 1%), along with 1% for every other purchase. So there’s a bit more flexibility here, and occasionally the categories might cover the same bonus categories as the Preferred, including groceries and gas.

The benefits, however, are not as nice as what you’d get with the Preferred. There aren’t any shopping or travel protections, shopping portals, or complimentary memberships. You will be able to monitor one of your credit scores, but this service is available to everyone, not only Discover cardholders.

But if you don’t feel like choosing, you could always combine the two. Use the Preferred where it earns the most, and then the Discover card where (and when) it’ll earn the most.

Rewards
Spending Rewards
  • 5% cash back in categories that rotate every three months, up to $1,500 spent per quarter, then 1% (activation required)
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
Introductory Bonus Offer
  • Cashback Match: Get double cash back for the first year, provided at the end of the first year

The 5% cash back calendar for 2021 is:

Quarter 5% Cash Back Categories
January – March Grocery Stores, Walgreens, CVS
April – June Gas Stations, Wholesale Clubs, Select Streaming Services
July – September Restaurants, PayPal
October – December Amazon.com, Target.com, Walmart.com
Key Features
  • Free FICO credit score: See your TransUnion-based FICO Score 8 on statements, online, and by mobile app.
  • Cash at Checkout: When shopping at participating locations, you can get immediate cash back by charging an additional amount over your purchase for no extra fee.
  • Refer a Friend: Receive a statement credit bonus when you refer someone you know to apply for a Discover card (if he or she is approved).
  • Free Social Security number alerts: Discover will let you know if your Social Security number appears on an extensive list of dark web sites.
  • New account and inquiry alerts: Get notified of new accounts and credit inquiries on your Experian credit report.
  • Purchase and Balance Transfer APR: See Terms for See Terms, then See Terms
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Annual fee: $0
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  • Min. credit levelGood
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Regular APR13.99% – 23.99% (Variable)
  • Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
  • To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time.
  • Balance Transfer Offer: 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 13.99% – 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back.
  • If you transfer a balance, interest will be charged on your purchases unless you pay your entire balance (including balance transfers) by the due date each month.
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 13.99% – 23.99% based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi’s discretion.
Why We Picked It

The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer (Review) is one of the most rewarding cash back credit cards available today.

It’s pretty simple, with a small twist. You’ll earn 2% cash back for every purchase you make, but your rewards are split. You’ll earn 1% when you make the purchase, and you’ll get the other 1% when you pay it off (you must pay at least the minimum due to earn cash back). So it’s not as rewarding as the Preferred, but you also won’t have to pay attention to how much you’ll earn at each store.

That also makes it a great companion card for the Preferred. Simply use the Preferred for all the purchases where it’ll shine, and then use the Double Cash for everything else.

The benefits this credit card offers are meager when compared to the Preferred’s. There are no shopping or travel protections, or much of anything else aside from a concierge service and a credit monitoring tool. You will, however, have a 0% APR offer for 18 months on Balance Transfers (then your rate will be 13.99% – 23.99% (Variable)).

Rewards
Spending Rewards
  • 2% cash back for every purchase you make (must pay at least the minimum due on time):
    • 1% back when you make a purchase
    • 1% back when you pay for that purchase
Key Features
  • Free FICO credit score: See your Equifax-based FICO Bankcard Score 8 on statements, online, and by mobile app.
  • Citi Concierge: Get restaurant suggestions, reservations, travel arrangements, shopping research, and more.
  • Citi Entertainment: Get preferred access and pre-sale tickets to events and experiences, from music to movies.
  • Purchase APR: 13.99% – 23.99% (Variable)
  • Balance Transfer APR: 0% for 18 months on Balance Transfers, then 13.99% – 23.99% (Variable)
  • Annual fee: $0

Citi is a Credit Card Insider advertiser.

  • Min. credit levelGood
  • Annual Fee$250
  • Regular APRSee Pay Over Time APR

Rates & Fees

  • Rose Gold is back. You can now choose between Gold or Rose Gold.
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, including takeout and delivery, and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Earn up to a total of $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations. This can be an annual savings of up to $120. Enrollment required.
  • Get up to 12 complimentary months of an Uber Eats Pass subscription when you enroll with your Gold Card by 12/31/21.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
Why We Picked It

The American Express® Gold Card (Review) is a bit different than the other cards included here. Rather than a general rewards card, the Amex Gold is a mid-range travel card.

The annual fee is a fair bit higher than the Preferred’s, sitting at $250. (Rates & Fees) However, that effectively drops to a far more manageable $130 thanks to the $120 dining credit. There’s also a number of travel protections you won’t get from the Preferred. So the emphasis with this card might be more on the benefits than the rewards.

That said, the rewards are still pretty solid. You’ll earn 4X points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 annually, then 1X) and on dining, and 3X for flights booked through airlines and Amex Travel. And, if you transfer your points to Amex’s travel partners, you might be able to find a point value of 2 cents or more. That would get you a cash back equivalent in the 4X categories of 8% or more, so it could even outperform the Preferred card in some cases.

Rewards

Spending Rewards
  • 4X Membership Rewards points per dollar at:
    • Restaurants
    • U.S. Supermarkets (up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X)
  • 3X Membership Rewards points per dollar on:
    • Flights booked directly with airlines
    • Flights booked through amextravel.com
  • 1X Membership Rewards point per dollar for every other purchase
Introductory Bonus
  • 60,000 bonus points for spending $4,000 in the first 6 months

Key Features
  • $120 annual dining credit: Earn up to $10 in statement credits per month for purchases at eligible restaurants and food delivery services.
  • Point transfer: To airline and hotel loyalty programs, like JetBlue, Southwest, Marriott, and Hyatt
  • Up to $120 in Uber Cash: Add the Gold Card to the Uber App to get up to $10 in Uber Cash per month; U.S. Eats orders and rides only.
  • Uber Eats Pass: Get unlimited $0 delivery fees and 5% off orders at eligible restaurants for 12 months; must enroll by 12/31/21. Taxes and service fees may apply and do not count toward the order minimum. Eats Pass will start auto-billing 12 months from enrollment, at then-current monthly rate. Learn more.
  • The Hotel Collection: Provides up to $100 in credits for every eligible hotel stay of two nights or more, along with other perks.
  • Amex Offers: Find discounts and extra point opportunities at a changing selection of merchants (offers are limited; enrollment required).
  • ShopRunner membership: ShopRunner provides free two-day shipping and returns at participating online retailers.
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Annual fee: $250

Enrollment required for select benefits; terms and limitations apply.

American Express® Gold Card (Rates & Fees)

American Express is a Credit Card Insider advertiser.

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Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Min. credit levelGood
  • Annual Fee$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95
  • Regular APR13.99% - 23.99% Variable

Rates & Fees

American Express is a Credit Card Insider advertiser.

Do you use the Amex Blue Cash Preferred? Do you earn a lot of cash back from groceries? Let us know how you like it!

Not impressed? Take a look at some of our other favorite cash back cards. Best Cash Back Credit Cards of August 2021

For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, please click here.

For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, please click here.

For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, please click here.

Written by

Evan Zimmer

Evan graduated from SUNY Oswego with a degree in journalism and creative writing. In his professional writing career, he strives for precision and comprehension in his work. He’s written news articles, blog posts, and copy, working across a slew of different mediums. With in-depth research and great care for accuracy and detail, he now works to bring you the most up-to-date credit information.

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