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Offering temporarily elevated rewards (instead of permanent changes to the rewards program) is a good way for card issuers to get new applicants in the door. And American Express is using this enticement strategy with its Blue Cash cards.
New cardmembers who apply for the Blue Cash Preferred ($95 annual fee) or Blue Cash Everyday (no annual fee) by May 3, 2017, can get 10 percent cash back at U.S. restaurants for the first six months of cardmembershilp. That’s up to a cap of $200 in cash back. American Express is a CreditCardForum advertising partner.
Should you jump on this promotion?
No matter how good a promotion seems, you need to look not only at the value of the promotion itself, but at the value of the card in the long term.
Ten percent cash back at restaurants is indeed competitive. For comparison, cards offering restaurants as a permanent bonus category may offer 2X or 3X back in rewards. Cards offering restaurants as a temporary quarterly category generally cap out at 5 percent cash back.
With this offer, you get 10 percent back for half the first year of cardmembership.
Keep in mind, though, this offer is temporary. It’s also capped — your earnings will be capped at $200 in cash back ($2,000 in U.S. restaurant spending). If you max it out, though, that’s $200 in your pocket.
You’ll also need to weigh the offer in terms of the credit pull. Applying for the card will result in a hard pull on your credit, so think about whether you want one of the Blue Cash cards beyond the first exciting six months.
If you’re a fan of cash back, though, they may very well be good cards to have:
Blue Cash Preferred ($95 annual fee): 6 percent back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6k in spending each year, then 1 percent); 3 percent back at U.S. gas stations; 3 percent back at eligible U.S. department stores; 1 percent cash back on other purchases.
Blue Cash Every Day (no annual fee): 3 percent cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6k in spending each year, then 1 percent); 2 percent back at U.S. gas stations; 2 percent back at U.S. department stores; 1 percent back on other purchases.
If you regularly hit these bonus categories, either of the Blue Cash cards could be a good asset. The no-annual-fee Everyday card would let you try the Blue Cash program on for size at no cost (beyond the credit pull).
The thing about cash-back cards, though, is that the value of your rewards is capped — in the case of the Blue Cash cards, it’s capped at a specific percentage of your spending, redeemable via statement credit. If you’d prefer flexible points, which would allow you to squeeze extra value out of each point and redeem for travel, airline-miles transfers and more, American Express has you covered there too: