Amex Blue Cash Preferred card review: Earning 6% back at the supermarket is a no-brainer

The Blue Cash Preferred is a great pick for grocery purchases at US supermarkets.

The Blue Cash Preferred is a great pick for grocery purchases at US supermarkets.
American Express
  • The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express offers a shocking 6% back on your first $6,000 spent at US supermarkets each year (then 1%) and on select US streaming services, plus 3% back at US gas stations and on transit including rideshares, taxis, tolls, trains, and more.
  • Redeem your points for statement credits, gift cards, or merchandise.
  • The card charges a $95 annual fee, but you can easily earn over $600 in rewards your first year.

While it’s fun to splurge now and again, most people spend the bulk of their money in the most boring ways possible. We pay our mortgage or rent payments, put gas in the car, and cover the high costs of raising kids and healthcare. Oh, and we put food on the table – lots and lots of food.

But, what if you could earn some cash back on all those grocery bills? What if you could earn a lot of cash back?

The Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express offers exactly that – 6% back on your first $6,000 in supermarket spending each year. The card does come with a $95 annual fee, but we feel the fee is well worth it.

In this post, we’ll explain all the reasons why.

Amex Blue Cash Preferred card details

Annual fee: $95

Welcome bonus: $250 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in the first three months

Cash-back earning: 6% back on select US streaming subscriptions, 6% back at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year (then 1% back), 3% back at US gas stations and on transit including taxis, rideshares, parking, tolls, trains, buses, and more, and 1% back on everything else

Foreign transaction fee: 2.7%

Who is the Amex Blue Cash Preferred for?

Before we dive into the gritty details, it’s important to understand what the Amex Blue Cash Preferred is, and what it isn’t.

By and large, the Amex Blue Cash Preferred is a straight-up cash-back credit card that doesn’t offer a lot of ways to redeem your rewards. You can cash in your points for statement credits, and you do have the option to redeem for gift cards (starting at $25) or merchandise. On the flip side, you can’t redeem your points for travel like you could if you had an American Express card that earns Membership Rewards points. You also cannot transfer your points to airline or hotel partners.

If you only want cash back though, the Blue Cash Preferred is a star. Not only do you earn 6% back on your first $6,000 spent in US supermarkets each year (then 1%), but you also earn 3% back at US gas stations.

Plus, in 2019 Amex added a new 6% cash-back category: select US streaming services including Hulu, Netflix, and Spotify. You’ll earn 6% back on these streaming services with no cap, and you’ll also now earn an uncapped 3% back on transit, which includes everything from Lyft and Uber to train fares, tolls, and subways.

You’ll earn an additional 1% back on all other purchases as well, which is pretty standard for cash-back credit cards.

You can also earn a welcome bonus of $250 if you use your card for $1,000 in purchases within the first three months.

That’s a lot of cash back for sure, but you will have to pay a $95 annual fee that is not waived the first year.

Earn $600+ in rewards: Here’s how

While there are oodles of cash-back credit cards without an annual fee, this card is still well worth it due to the astronomical rewards you can earn if you take full advantage. But, how much can you earn? Here’s a good example:

Imagine you are the average family who spends a lot more than $6,000 per year (or $500 per month) at the supermarket. In fact, you spend $10,000 per year at Kroger or Whole Foods.

With the Amex Blue Cash Preferred, you would earn $360 in cash back on the first $6,000 you spent and another $40 back earning 1% beyond the $6,000 cap.

That’s $400 already in the bank, but don’t forget that you also earned a $250 welcome bonus provided you used your card for $1,000 in purchases within three months of account opening. You’re now up to $650. Now imagine you spend another $100 per month at US gas stations. At 3% back, that’s another $36.

At this point, you’re already up to $686 in rewards the first year – and that’s if you didn’t use your Amex Blue Cash Preferred to pay for eligible US streaming services and transit expenses, no to mention regular spending and bills.

This is why the $95 annual fee is no big deal – especially the first year.

If you maximize the 6% back at US supermarkets, you’ll get $360 in rewards every year at a bare minimum. That’s more than enough to make up for the annual fee – and a lot more than you’d earn with a standard 1% cash-back credit card.

What to watch out for

The annual fee is the biggest downside you’ll face with this card, but it’s not the only one.

Don’t forget that you’ll eventually pay interest on all your charges if you don’t pay your balance in full each month. The Amex Blue Cash Preferred does offer 12 months with 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers requested within 60 days of account opening, but your rate will reset between 14.99% and 25.99% after that.

You don’t have to be a genius to know that paying up to 25.99% APR to earn 6% back isn’t smart. If you plan to carry a balance for the long haul, you would be much better off with a card that offers a lower ongoing rate.

Also note that late payments and returned payments come with a $39 fee. If you make late payments on your credit card, you can also get whacked with a penalty APR of 29.99%. Ouch!

The bottom line

The Amex Blue Cash Preferred is a genius cash-back card for consumers who spend a lot of money at US supermarkets, and who use one or more streaming services that are eligible for 6% cash back. However, this card works best for people who are debt-free and able to pay their balances in full every month.

If this describes you, you should absolutely consider the Amex Blue Cash Preferred and all it has to offer – despite its annual fee. Paying $95 for the card every year may not be ideal, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find any other card that offers 6% back at US supermarkets on your first $6,000 in spending each year (then 1%).

Of course, there are plenty of other cash-back credit cards to consider. If you’re tired of spending money on boring bills without any return, check out the best rewards and travel cards and all they have to offer. While few cards offer returns as high as 6% in popular categories like supermarket spend, the perfect rewards card is different for everyone.

Click here to learn about the Amex Blue Cash Preferred from our partner The Points Guy