4.5/55 percent back on $4,000 in eligible travel purchases on the card within the first six months.
There are two versions of this card. While there are some notable differences, both offer a fixed percentage of cash back in non-rotating and useful spending categories.
What the Blue Cash cards offer is simplicity thanks to their unchanging bonus categories. For many, that’s preferable to cards with rotating bonus categories and quarterly reward enrollments. In fact, the Blue Cash cards are among the more straightforward reward programs you will find. With both versions, the cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit. While you can’t redeem for travel, merchandise and other things you can get with other cards, many people might prefer the ease of straight-up cash. Keep in mind, though, that you must redeem a minimum of $25 cash back – a high redemption minimum compared with other cards.
How much will you save in 2016 and beyond?
U.S. Supermarkets: Those who regularly buy groceries (especially those with large families) can save some serious money with these cards, considering the Blue Cash Preferred gives 6 percent back and the Everyday gives 3 percent. Up to $6,000 per year spent in this category qualifies for the higher cash back, after which you’ll earn 1 percent.
U.S. Gas Stations: The Blue Cash Everyday card gives you 2% back at U.S. gas stations, while the Preferred card gives you 3%. Even though gas prices aren’t as bad as they’ve been the past couple years, 3 percent back still gets you a 6-cent rebate on the average gallon of gas. Best of all, both cards let you earn rewards at all stand-alone U.S. gas stations instead of just one brand. Gas stations at superstores, supermarkets and warehouse clubs aren’t eligible, however.
Select U.S. Department Stores: Not a frequent clothes shopper? Consider all the other things major department stores sell. Heading to a department store for appliances, tools and electronics will get you a little extra cash back (2 percent with the Everyday and 3 percent with the Preferred), assuming you shop at one of these stores (list current as of August 2016):
- Bon Ton Stores
- J.C. Penney (JCP)
- Lord & Taylor
- Neiman Marcus
- Saks Fifth Avenue
- Stein Mart
- Century 21 Stores
If you spend roughly the amount on the above chart, you’ll earn more than $500 cash back per year with the Preferred card and more than $300 with the Everyday. Secondary cards on the account also earn rewards, so add your spouse and together you can rack up reward points that much faster.
Insider Tip: Planning to shop at a place that isn’t a grocery or department store and still want to earn bonus cash back? You can often buy gift cards for places like The Home Depot, iTunes, Kohl’s and other retailers while shopping at U.S. supermarkets. Use your Blue Cash to buy gift cards there — that way you can earn 3 or 6 percent back when buying them. Then use the gift cards to make your planned purchases.
As mentioned above, you have to make $1,000 in purchases on the card in the first three months after opening the account to get the bonus Reward Dollars.
Plus, the cards have a special offer going on right now. For the first $4,000 you spend on eligible travel in the first six months of card membership, you’ll get 5 percent back. If you maximize this bonus, that’s an extra $200 cash back.
In addition to some of the highest cash-back categories around, these cards also carry the following benefits:
Extended Warranty Coverage: If you’re buying expensive electronics, the extended warranty the store tries to sell you might be worth the price. But what if you could get free extended warranty coverage on eligible purchases? With both of these cards the terms of the original manufacturer’s warranty will be matched up to one additional year on U.S. warranties of five years or less.
Purchase Protection: Ever damaged a brand-new purchase, just days after buying it? This benefit reimburses you for accidental damage and theft of eligible items for up to 90 days from the date of purchase.
Return Protection: Returns can be a hassle. Maybe you’ve lost the receipt, or maybe the store is just giving you a hard time. With Blue Cash cards, you have free return protection. If you try to return an eligible item within 90 days of purchase and the merchant won’t take it back, American Express will refund the full purchase price, up to $300 per item – and up to $1,000 annually per account – assuming the item is in like-new condition.
Car rental loss and damage insurance: If you decline the rental agency’s pricey coverage and pay for the entire rental with your card, you’ll get secondary insurance coverage for the rental. If the car is damaged or stolen, the coverage your card provides will kick in after your regular car insurance pays out. This means your card’s coverage could take care of your deductible and other fees your regular car insurance may not cover. Check your card’s terms for restrictions (such as vehicle types that are not covered).
Which one is best for you? Ask yourself these 3 questions…
- How much do I spend on groceries? The biggest difference between the two cards is the Preferred card’s 6 percent rebate at supermarkets in the U.S. For families, the value is obvious. But even individuals could get a lot of value if they frequently buy prepared foods at places like Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, etc. The bottom line is if you spend $100 per week at supermarkets, that’s $5,200 per year (which would net you more than $300 cash back with the Preferred card’s 6 percent).
- How much gas do I buy? If you use public transit or don’t drive much, obviously this category won’t be of much use. But those who drive will benefit from this rebate, especially when the price of gas shoots up.
- Do I use more than one credit card? If you’re using several cards to maximize rewards, then the no-annual-fee Everyday Blue Cash card might be the smartest choice (since your full spending won’t be going on this American Express, the $95 fee for the Preferred might not be worth it). Even if you do play the credit card game, as long as you’re able to spend at least $50 per week with the card on groceries from the supermarket, you’re earning more than $95 more per year by going with the Preferred versus Everyday.
In my opinion, Blue Cash Preferred is the way to go, and judging by the number of our forum members who list this card in their arsenal, it seems to be a frequent choice among people in the know. Even if you’re a light spender, given the bonus offer right now, it might make sense to start with the Preferred card and downgrade later if needed. But ultimately the choice is yours.
Why we gave them 4.5 out of 5 stars
The Blue Cash cards’ rating was based on our standards for cash-back cards. While they got docked for capping earnings in certain categories, they got a high rating thanks to their high rewards-earning rates, redemption value and simplicity – few cards are as hassle-free as the Blue Cash cards.
|Rewards-earning rate: Both cards meet our requirements in this category:
Preferred: Meets our standard for annual-fee cash-back cards of at least 2 percent back on all spending OR above 5 percent in at least one bonus category.
Everyday: Meets our standards for no-annual-fee cash-back cards of at least 1 percent on all spending OR above 3 percent in at least one bonus category.
|Redemption value: Both cards meet our requirement of a 1-cent-per-point value when it comes to cash-back redemptions.|
|Rewards simplicity and transparency: These cards require no category enrollment, and redemption is as simple as it gets (cash-back statement credits). However, we docked half a star for the earnings caps on some of the bonus categories.|
|Bonus-earning opportunities: These cards consistently offer sign-up bonuses and also participate in the AmEx offers program, which gives bonus savings at a variety of retailers|
|Unique perks: This card earns this star by offering free FICO-score access and Shoprunner (which offers free shipping on certain purchases).|
Updated Aug. 18, 2016