Review of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Last Updated: 11/2/2012

The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is without a doubt one of the best cash back cards out there, if not the best, and according to the PlasticIQ ranking engine, one of the absolute all-around top cards available. Add to that the support provided by Amex, and you may very well be looking at the Muhammad Ali of credit cards.

Continue reading to learn more about what makes this card so awe-inspiring.

Snapshot: Blue Cash Preferred® Card From American Express

 

Earning Rewards With the Blue Cash Preferred® Card From American Express

The earnings power of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card, is…well…remarkable. It’s the only card out there that I know of that offers 6% on anything, let alone the valuable supermarket category (e.g. 6% on movie tickets is much less interesting to write home about). While some may be scared away by the $75 annual fee, just spending $25 per week at US stand-alone supermarkets earns you $78, putting you ahead of the game. If you spend $160 weekly in the supermarket spend category, that would add up to $500 cashback for a year.

Note that your 6% cash back at U.S. stand-alone supermarkets is capped to $6,000 of spend per year, after which any additional spend at supermarkets earns at the more pedestrian 1% cash back rate. But that’s still $500 per month of spend that’s covered by an awesome bonus.

You also earn 3% cash back at U.S. stand-alone gas stations and select major department stores–rewards that anywhere else would be leading role material, but here are slightly overshadowed by the supermarket rewards.

Reedeming Rewards Is Straightforward

Really no tricks or complications here. Once you accumulate $25 or more in cashback, you can simply apply that amount as a statement credit. Statement credit redemptions are my favorite form of reward redemption–no worries about getting checks in the mail and so on. Not much more to write about here.

A Quick Note on the Blue Cash Everyday® Card Vs. the Blue Cash Preferred® Card

While it’s tempting to apply for the no-annual-fee version of the card (the Blue Cash Everyday® Card), I’d recommend against doing this unless your monthly spend on supermarkets is fairly low–$208 or less, to be exact. Furthermore, that $208 break-even point only moves higher if you also make gas and department store purchases, since the Preferred card has a slight rewards advantage there as well.

If you want to go into more detail on the comparison between the 2 cards, you can either read our post comparing the Blue Cash Everyday Card versus Blue Cash Preferred Card, or you can visit our PIQ Ranking Engine (found from our home page), which will calculate our best estimate of what each and every card is worth to you, based on your unique spend profile.

PIQ’s Closing Musings

By now hopefully it’s clear that if you spend even modest amounts of dough at U.S. stand-alone supermarkets (roughly, $200 or more per month), the Blue Cash Preferred® Card From American Express should be in your wallet (as it is in mine!). If you don’t buy food at supermarkets, gasoline for your car, or clothes for your body, then this card probably isn’t for you. But in that case, you’re probably living off the grid.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by American Express. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of American Express, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express. This site may be compensated through American Express Affiliate Program.

Tags: ,

  • rick v

    hello there, im new at this but i am definitely interested in this card specially by the way you are talking about it, so let me get this straight i would have to spend 160 in the supermarket in a monthly basis for 12 months for me to get the 500 cashback for a year or just one month of 160 supermarket spending?. thanks btw

  • admin

    Rick, thanks for checking out the post. As the line above the “$500″ notes, if you spent only $25 per week at supermarkets, you would break-even on the $75 annual fee. So the $160 in spend is actually a weekly spend at supermarkets (not beyond the realm of reason for a family of 4, say); that would total annual supermarket spend of $8,320, and 6% of that is $500. Sorry if there was any confusion, I’ve gone ahead and added the word “weekly” to that section of the post to avoid any future confusion.

  • jay

    One possible dumb question, what supermarkets are included or how do they know the purchase was at a supermarket. Do they have a list of affiliated supermarkets etc or would mom and pop grocery stores ever count. I know this may be a dumb question just wondering how they know or track that so the 6% comes into play

  • admin

    Not a dumb question at all, and in fact it’s a topic of discussion on some blogs. So in general the way it works is that merchant themselves are responsible for assigning their businesses to specific categories, such as supermarkets. It’s possible that a merchant that appears like a supermarket or grocery store to you and me may have categorized itself as something not covered by Amex’s list (e.g. maybe they classified themselves as a convenient store). I’ve never tried this, but I suspect if you call up Amex and ask them how a specific merchant is categorized, they may be able to tell you (again, never tried it). Hope this helps!

  • imz

    hi, does anyone know if walmart/sams/target/costco and any of these “super” stores are considered grocery stores? This is a definitely a huge factor for a lot of people who get most groceries from one of these stores

  • nate

    I spoke with an Amex rep earlier today and asked this same question. he said Target and Costco are not defined as supermarkets or department stores. Bummer. So, i would suspect the same would hold true for WalMart and Sam’s Club, but definately call up Amex for confirmation. Some of the names he did throw my way as qualifying supermarkets were Whole Foods, Trader joe’s, Safeway, etc. Kind of Obvious things. As for department stores, he listed Blooming dales (as if normal people shop there), Nordstrums, Macy’s, Kohls, Sears, etc. But apparently, there is no “pubnlished” list online. I only wish this card included some bonuses for resterants as I do tend to eat out quite often.

  • admin

    Yes in the terms and conditions for Blue Cash Preferred, it does say “supermarkets, excluding warehouses and superclubs”. Regarding restaurants, check out our review of the Citi Forward Card, which gives you 5 ThankYou points per dollar of spend.

  • imz

    does anyone know what would be the best cashback card to use at “warehouses and superclubs” like walmart? Would it just be the base 1%?

  • admin

    For sure you can do better than 1% cashback. The Fidelity Investment Rewards Amex Card is a no-questions-asked 2% cashback card. The Discover Escape Card is effectively a 2% cashback card (you just apply your earnings to any travel purchases and get a statement credit, so as long as you do some traveling at some point in your life, you’ll be able to get an effective 2% cashback. The CapitalOne Venture Card also offers a similar deal to the Discover Escape Card.

  • gau

    @imz – Cap1 Nohassles gives 2% cashback at walmart. Lovin it!

  • Andrew

    Amazon.com is classified as a department store. This makes the card an even better overall value.

  • Nick

    Andrew,

    I read elsewhere that Amazon.com, though classified as a “department store” on your Amex Bill, only earns 1%, as do all purchases made through *online* “department stores” such as macys.com and nordstrom.com.

    I have not verified this personally. Only read it on a different forum.

  • Percy

    Nick is correct, Amazon only earns 1%. The way it was explained to me was Amazon doesn’t have a B&M presence and is only an Online Distributor so it doesn’t count as a department store while places like Macys have B&M stores so buying online from them do count as department stores.

  • Mike

    Costco only accepts Amex credit cards so this would be a good choice.

  • Hi There

    My purchases from Amazon are listed as Department Store, which should be %3.

    3rd party stores on Amazon are listed as AMAZON MKTPLACE-Internet Purchase, thus earning %1.

    It’s hard to tell what they are actually rewarding as I have so many purchases with varying rewards to tell. I just can’t see Amex only giving %1 when Amazon is clearly designated as a Department Store and not “Internet Purchase”.

    I purchased something from K-Mart (didn’t even know they were still around) and it wasn’t classed as Dept Store but as a Wholesale Store. Was kind of suprised about that.

    I really do wish there was a published list for national/regional stores–would come in very handy.

  • travelingmom

    So, I’ve read that others are buying gift cards from their local grocery store and then using them at the superstores and amazon so they can get the 6%. u00a0Has anyone ever tried this? u00a0Does it actually work?u00a0

  • http://www.plasticiq.com/ Marc Davis

    Hmm, really clever idea. I’ll do some digging around (and maybe a hands-on experiment!) to see if it works. Thanks for sharing with the community.

  • Michael Nappi

    I just recently switched from the old AMEX Blue Cash to the AMEX Blue Cash Preferred and since I only have 1 month of transactions that have gone toward rewards I can see from my activities that Target transactions only get me a 1% return. u00a0I also shop at Publix and Whole Foods and all those transactions get 6%. u00a0Since Target is our main household items store, it looks like it is time to sign up for the 5% Target card!nnGoing by the category in AMEX is fairly accurate, but not 100%.

  • http://www.plasticiq.com/ Marc Davis

    I wouldn’t have expected Target to be classified as a supermarket, so not hugely surprising to me (personally). But that’s just my own perception. Thanks for the info though. I have this card too, and I do dig the 6% cash back at supermarkets, since food is my major expense these days!

  • Tim

    Seems like starting next year, the BCP is being capped. For the first $6,000.00 in groceries you’ll get the 6%, but afterwards it will be reduced to 1%. Truly sad news.

  • http://www.plasticiq.com/ Marc Davis

    Tim, thanks for raising this! I just called Amex, and verified this is true, effective Jan 15, 2013. Both the Blue Cash Preferred and Blue Cash Everyday will have the same $6,000/year spend cap on supermarkets, after which you’ll only earn 1%. This is really a bummer. I’m going to revise the post to work in the impact of this cap on the value of BCP. Thanks for raising!

  • Bob Parmacek

    At your recommendation I applied for and just received my cash preferred card. In reading over the documentation the card now pays 6% on stand alone supermarkets up to a limit of $6000. This is probably something new so I thought I would mention it. For me this card is a real winner

  • http://www.plasticiq.com/ Marc Davis

    Bob, thanks for calling this out, yes this is a fairly recent change Amex has made to both their Everyday and Preferred versions. It’s a slight bummer for me personally, as my family does spend a bit more than that per year at supermarkets, but still, $6K is a pretty tolerable spend cap. Frankly, I’m surprised they’ve been able to maintain the 6% bonus this long!