Credit Cards Credit Card Reviews

Blue Cash Preferred from American Express Review

overall rating
4.1

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The American Express Blue Cash Preferred card offers exceptional 6% cash-back rewards for spending at supermarkets and on streaming services, and a generous 3% rate for gas and transit purchases—although superstores and warehouse clubs are excluded. It has a $95 annual fee, but you could justify that over the year if you spent $31 per week on groceries alone.

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Overall Rating
4.1
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
On American Express' Secured Site.
Current Offer

Earn a $300 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months. Offer Expires 12/10/2020.

Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 13.99% - 23.99% variable
Annual Fee $0 introductory annual fee for one year, then $95
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 6% back at US supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases), 6% back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions, 3% back on eligible transit and US gas stations, and 1% back on other purchases.
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 12 Months
Balance Transfer Fee None
Foreign transaction fee (%) 2.7%
how this card stacks up
When compared among all rewards cards in our database:
Rewards
Benefits
Low Fees
Security/Customer Experience
Low Interest
worst best

Review of American Express Blue Cash Preferred

Pros
  • Outstanding cash-back rewards at U.S. supermarkets and on select U.S. streaming services

  • Generous welcome offer for new cardholders

  • 0% intro APR on purchases

Cons
  • $95 annual fee, where many cards in this category have none

  • 2.7% fee on foreign transactions

  • Cashback rewards on groceries are capped, and some chains are excepted

  • American Express isn't as widely accepted as Visa or Mastercard

Pros Explained

  • Outstanding Cash-Back Rewards, Especially at Supermarkets and Streaming Services: This card offers the top cash back rewards rate for groceries and streaming services in our database. It currently offers 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets, on up to $6,000 in spending per year, and on select services like Hulu, Netflix, and SiriusXM. 
  • One-Time Offer for New Cardholders: The one-time offer is one of the most generous that’s currently available, and should be fairly easy to achieve. New cardholders can earn a $300 statement credit after spending $3,000 in purchases within the first six months of membership. 
  • 0% Intro APR on Purchases: For the first 12 months of membership, all purchases with this card have a 0% APR. That can be useful for financing a major purchase and paying it off before the introductory period is up. The APR increases to between 13.99% to 23.99%—a typical range—after the first year is up.

Cons Explained

  • $95 Annual Fee: American Express charges an annual fee of $95, which means you need to use it fairly extensively to recoup that expense after you’ve benefited from the generous first-year signing bonus. To break even on the fee within the year, you’ll need to spend at least $31 per week at a combination of supermarkets and streaming services or $62 per week on gas or transit. Naturally, you can mix spending in these categories, and supplement your rewards with other spending, which earns an unremarkable 1% cash back.
  • Superstores and Warehouse Clubs Are Excluded from the Top Cash Back Earnings: Grocery purchases at superstores like Walmart and Target and wholesale clubs like Sam’s Club or Costco do not qualify for the 6% cash back tier, nor do gasoline purchases at these retailers gasoline qualify for 3% cash back. Rather, all purchases at these earn only the default 1% cash back. The same applies to groceries purchased almost anywhere else but a supermarket, such as at convenience stores. Online grocery shoppers are in luck, however, since some online services like FreshDirect are eligible for 6% cash back.  
  • 2.7% Foreign Transaction Fee: This charge makes the card at best a mediocre choice for travel, since some travel rewards cards waive this fee. American Express charges a 2.7% foreign transaction fee, which is triggered whenever a foreign merchant or bank is involved in a credit card transaction.
  • American Express Isn't as Widely Accepted as Visa, Mastercard, or even Discover: While American Express can be used at thousands of merchants, its level of international acceptance is significantly lower than other major card networks, though its domestic acceptance at near parity with Visa, Mastercard and Discover. It is, however, accepted by most major streaming services. Before you decide on this card, though, check that the merchants you frequent, and especially your local supermarkets and gas stations, accept American Express. 

This Card is Best For

  • Avatar for Cash Back Strategist Persona
    Seeks to maximize cash back earnings across spending categories
    Cash Back Strategist
  • Avatar for Frequent Diner Persona
    Dines out regularly while traveling or in home city
    Frequent Diner
  • Avatar for Head of Household Persona
    Primarily responsible for household grocery and other major purchases
    Head of Household
  • Avatar for Driver/Commuter Persona
    Incurs gasoline or other commuting expenses each month
    Driver/Commuter

The American Express Blue Cash Preferred card is best suited to those who buy their groceries at traditional supermarkets or subscribe heavily to streaming services, or both. Purchases in these categories come with an unequaled 6% rewards rate. If you maxed out your spending at supermarkets at the capped limit of $6,000, for example, you'd earn $360 in cash back--more than three times the $95 annual fee. Spending $50 per month on streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, HBO Now and ESPN+ could net you another $36 in cash back per year. 

The card is also a fine choice for commuters, since it earns a 3% cash back on gas and transit purchases. If you charge to this card the average amount spent by a household on gas, which is $1,977 per year according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, you’d earn $59 in cash back. If you’re a transit commuter, you could earn about $25 a year in cash back if you spent an average of $70 per month on transit passes.

Blue Cash Preferred Card One-Time Offer 

New cardholders can earn a $300 statement credit after making $3,000 or more in purchases on their card within the first six months of membership. The reward comes in the form of a statement credit that posts eight to 12 weeks after you meet the minimum $3,000 spending threshold.

That’s a relatively small spend for a relatively hefty reward. Indeed, the one-time offer represents over a 10% return on the card’s initial spend alone, on a net basis for the year. (Our calculation subtracts the card’s $95 annual fee from the net reward. It does not, however, count the extra $10 to $60 you’d earn in cash back from the required $3,000 spend within three months, or the continuing cash back you might make by using the card for the remainder of the year.)

Few, if any, $3,000 investments deliver a predictable double-digit return on spending, and within a matter of just three months to boot. By comparison, the one-time offers for other cards come with spending requirements as high as $3,000, but often for cash rewards of at most $150, $200, or $250. With other cards, the one-time offer comes in the form of points, which is a less direct form of reward than the statement credit you earn with the American Express Blue Cash Preferred Card, which essentially represents cash in your pocket.  

Rewards Earning Details

This card offers 6% cash back at supermarkets in the U.S, up to a maximum spend for rewards of $6,000; 6% cash back on most streaming video and audio services in the U.S., and 3% cash back on transit and gas expenses. All other purchases earn a 1% cash back reward.

All streaming service purchases must be on American Express' approved list in order to qualify for cash-back rewards. The list is expansive, encompassing most or all of the major audio (Spotify, Audible, Apple Music) and online video (Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now) streaming services. Online cable alternatives (Sling TV, YouTube TV, DirectTV now) are also included, as SiriusXM service, either online or via satellite. Not included, notably, is service billed through major cable or satellite TV services. 

Transit purchases include taxis, ride sharing services, ferries, tolls, parking, buses and subways. Spending on airfare, car rentals, and cruises are not eligible.

Rewards Redemption Details

Cash back rewards are received in the form of rewards dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit once they total $25 or more.

How to Maximize Your Rewards

The best way to get the most out of this card is to max out the 6% cash back on supermarket purchases, up to the $6,000 cap for receiving that rewards amount. Then charge all your streaming services to the card, to earn the same hefty 6% rate, as well as purchasing as much as possible of your gas and other transit expenses with the card, to earn a still-generous 3% in cash back. All other purchases earn 1%, which can still add up.

Average case

Let's say you're the average family who spends $7,061 on groceries per year, $348 on streaming services, $254 on transit and $1,977 on gas. You’d earn $458 in cash-back rewards from this card, without considering other miscellaneous purchases that would earn 1% in cash back. 

That's a weekly spend of approximately $136 at supermarkets (assuming you buy all of your groceries there), $7 on streaming services, $5 on transit, and $38 on gas. 

Aspirational case 

Families can really maximize this card by opting to buy more items at the supermarket, shifting their TV-service spending from ineligible cable and satellite services to eligible streaming services, and charging all local transit and gas purchases to the card.

For example, if you can’t reach the $6,000 cap for supermarket spending (to earn $360 in cash back) through food alone, supplement your spending there by purchasing pharmacy products, pet supplies, household cleaners, and other items that you might otherwise buy elsewhere. Cutting the cord on cable or satellite and increasing your spending on streaming services could also help. In addition to on-demand providers such as Netflix, services like DirecTV Now are often cheaper than cable or satellite while still allowing for live TV streaming. You could save a further $36 a year by charging a $50-per-month cable alternative streaming service to the card.

And since this card doesn't charge for additional cards for others, adding the entire family to maximize spending on ride sharing and gas would be beneficial as well. A family that together spends $3,000 on gas annually, for example would earn $90 in cash back. 

Overall, that's $486 in cash-back rewards per year, again without counting in additional rewards from charging miscellaneous purchases to the card to earn 1% cash back.

Blue Cash Preferred Card Outstanding Benefits

  • Purchase plans for large items

Standard Benefits

  • Fraud and return protection
  • Extended warranties
  • Free shipping through ShopRunner membership
  • Rental car collision insurance (secondary to your own policy)
  • Sports, music, and event ticket presales, plus VIP access at some events
  • Global Assist Hotline

Cardholder Experience

American Express received a rating of 830 in J.D. Power's 2018 customer satisfaction survey, ranking just below the top-ranked Discover at 836. 

Customers can utilize the company's help center on its website or its mobile app for inquiries about their card; they'll find frequently asked questions and how-to videos. 

The customer service call center is available 24/7 at 800-528-4800. Members can also log into their account on the website or app and chat with a representative.

Security Features

Credit cards from American Express come with a slew of security benefits. Cardholders have access to free credit reports, credit report alerts, and credit score updates. 

This card also has pre-purchase verification to confirm that your use of the card on certain purchases is authentic, as well as benefiting from Amex alerts for irregular account activity. 

If you lose your card, American Express will replace it for free. It will be delivered within a few days, and sometimes the next day. 

American Express offers Social Security Number monitoring, dark web monitoring, and other identity monitoring services for a cost. 

Virtual credit card numbers can be made through the American Express Go portal, and international travelers can set up a PIN for additional security while on the go.

Fees to Watch Out For 

This card doesn't come with a lot of fees, relatively speaking, and those it does carry are in line with industry standards. But for international travelers, that 2.7% fee for foreign transactions is in contrast to the absence of such a fee with some cards, including many aimed at travelers.  

Our Verdict

The high rewards rate in this card's main categories—groceries, streaming services, transit, and gas—makes it a stand-out card for day-to-day spending, as opposed to cards whose most generous rewards are in travel or entertainment categories. 

It's also a good fit for consumers who want a dual cash-back reward and. The 12-month 0% introductory APR provides the opportunity to finance a major purchase over a year's time while still earning rewards. 

Pairing this card with a high flat-rate cash-back reward card could make it an even better choice. The Citi Double Cash card, for instance, pays an unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, and then an additional 1% when you pay for those purchases. That's essentially 2% cash back on all purchases, making this card a good option when paying for everything else. There is also no annual fee or cap on rewards purchases with Double Cash.

Though the American Express Blue Cash Preferred card is a good option for those seeking cash-back rewards, it's probably not the best choice for frequent travel, especially if it’s outside the U.S. There's a 2.7% foreign transaction fee, and it lacks the higher cash-back rates for travel purchases and other travel perks of cards that focus more on travelers.

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For Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
on American Express' Secured Site.
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CURRENT CARD
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
overall rating
4.1
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 13.99% - 23.99% variable
Annual Fee $0 introductory annual fee for one year, then $95
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 6% back at US supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases), 6% back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions, 3% back on eligible transit and US gas stations, and 1% back on other purchases.
Investopedia Credit Card Rating Methodology
Investopedia is committed to delivering the best credit card recommendations in the industry. We’ll tell you when a card is good, we’ll tell you when a card is bad, and we’ll only call a card the best if we would recommend it to our friends or family members.
Overall Star Rating Explained
To rate credit cards we objectively assess, score and weight nearly 100 individual card features which roll up into five major feature sets: fees, interest, rewards, benefits and security/customer service. Here’s how we weighted those feature sets for the overall star rating of a card:
We have applied our proprietary rating methodology to every generally-accepted credit card in the U.S. domestic market to allow consumers to make fully informed choices. It’s important to note that for our overall score that we make a number of assumptions about how you would be using your credit card:
  1. While we make no assumption as to whether balances are carried on a given card we do assign varying weights to all credit cards’ introductory APR (if present) in addition to the regular, long term purchase and balance transfer interest rates.
  2. We utilize BLS (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) income and average category spending data to calculate annual earnings rates for rewards cards that offer cash back, points or miles rewards at a set rate on all spending or in consideration of bonus rewards for certain spending categories, like gasoline, groceries, restaurants or travel.
  3. We determine the maximum points value of rewards cards by dividing the points, cash back or miles required to exchange for the retail price of the most valuable redemption option (for example, in the case of a card that offers a domestic roundtrip airline ticket as a redemption option vs. another redemption option of lesser value that requires the same amount of points or miles to acquire, we would base the rewards value on the airline ticket).
  • Cards that are selected best overall in their respective categories generally feature most if not all of the following attributes:
  • Low or Reasonable Fees Credit card fees come in many forms but the primary ones involve those for annual card membership and balance transfer. There are a myriad of reward and non-reward card options that charge no annual fee but for the many that do assess an annual fee the cost is often justified by their lucrative ongoing rewards and initial signup bonuses. Balance transfer fees are occasionally waived during introductory periods with certain cards, a factor which is heavily and positively weighted in our scoring model for cards offering this benefit. When charged, balance transfer fees range between 3% - 5%, which we grade accordingly. Other standard fees can generally be avoided, such as those for paying late or taking cash advances but we rate those relative to other cards in the market for reference, though with less weight assigned
  • Competitive Interest Many cards offer 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for varying lengths and then revert to a permanent or regular APR (based on a variable rate tied to the prime rate) that applies to any balances not paid in full. We rate both introductory APR percentage and length (in months) along with the midpoint of the variable regular APR interest rate range.
  • Valuable Rewards Credit card reward programs can be based on cash back, points or travel rewards (which can be generic or travel partner-specific, as with airline and hotel co-brand card programs). For cards that offer rewards we determine the value per dollar spent along with average redemption values and assign more favorable ratings to cards that offer superior consumer value. We also assign value to sign-up bonus offers and their initial spending requirements, when present.
  • Excellent Benefits Credit card benefits cover a range of offerings like concierge service, TSA Pre-check, auto rental coverage, travel accident insurance, lost luggage assistance and free credit scores. We rate cards on the number and level of over a dozen standard and upscale benefits and provide extra weighting emphasis for those travel-related perks that apply to premium travel cards when present.
  • Solid Security/Customer Service Security and customer service features like lost or stolen card replacement, being able to lock one’s card from an issuer app and 24 hour customer support are becoming more standard across the card market and we provide a significant amount of weighting to features in this area.
  • You can also read the full version of our methodology for a more in-depth look at how we assess cards and award them the best in various categories.