The Blue Cash Preferred® and Blue Cash Everyday® from American Express, a CreditCardForum advertising partner, are known for their high rates of cash back on everyday spend categories. However once upon a time there was a big caveat to this rewards program...

American Express Blue Cash Review
Previously this program came with a big catch – a tiered rewards program. That meant using the dreaded term "earn up to" when referencing the cash-back structure. Annual spending up to $6,500 earned only 0.5 percent cash back, making the card less beneficial to those who spent less (such as those spreading out spending across multiple cards).

Fortunately a couple years ago, American Express fixed that. The current rewards structure offers a fixed percentage cash back in several non-rotating spending categories.
Blue Cash Preferred
Blue Cash Preferred
This version has an annual fee of $75 per year, but it gives higher rewards for certain spend categories. Even if you're a light spender, consider starting with this one because it comes with a bigger bonus (you can always downgrade later on if needed).
  • Get $150 back after you spend $1,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. You will receive $150 back in the form of a statement credit.
  • Hassle-free cash back: no enrollment required, the same great reward categories year-round.
  • Earn Cash Back: 6% US supermarkets up to $6,000 per year in purchases, 3% US gas stations & select US dept stores, 1% on other purchases. Terms and limitations apply.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.
  • A credit card that gives you cash back with a 0% Intro APR Offer on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months.
  • After that, your APR will be a variable rate, currently 12.99% - 21.99% based on your creditworthiness and other factors.
  • Terms and restrictions apply.
Apply for the Blue Cash Preferred here

Blue Cash Everyday
Blue Cash Everyday
The "Everyday" card is the no-annual-fee version of the "Preferred." It has a smaller bonus offer and less cash back on category spending.
  • Get $100 back after you spend $1,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. You will receive $100 back in the form of a statement credit.
  • Hassle-free cash back: no enrollment required, the same great reward categories year-round.
  • Earn Cash Back: 3% US supermarkets up to $6,000 per year in purchases, 2% at US gas stations & select US dept stores, 1% on other purchases. Terms and limitations apply.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.
  • No Annual Fee. A Credit Card that gives you cash back with a 0% Intro APR Offer on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months.
  • After that, your APR will be a variable rate, currently 12.99% - 21.99% based on your creditworthiness and other factors.
  • Terms and restrictions apply.
Apply for the Blue Cash Everyday here

Some may find these cards a simpler option than cash-back cards with rotating 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. You can't redeem for travel, merchandise and other things you can get with other cards – but many people might prefer the simplicity of straight-up cash.

How much will you save in 2014 and beyond?
  • U.S. Supermarkets: Those who regularly buy groceries (especially those with large families) will earn some serious money with these cards, considering the Preferred gives 6 percent and the Everyday gives 3 percent. Up to $6,000 per year spent in this category qualifies for the higher cash back, then it reverts to 1 percent.
  • U.S. Gas Stations: The Everyday card gives you 2 percent back at U.S. gas stations, while the Preferred card gives you 3 percent. These days, earning 3 percent back on gas with the Blue Cash Preferred is like getting discount of 10 cents per gallon on an 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. With both these cards, buying 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 October 2014):
  • Nordstrom
  • Bloomingdale's
  • Belk
  • Bon Ton Stores
  • Kohl's
  • Dillard's
  • J.C. Penney (JCP)
  • Boscov's
  • Bealls
  • Lord & Taylor
  • Macy's
  • Neiman Marcus
  • Saks Fifth Avenue
  • Sears
  • Stein Mart
  • Century 21 Stores

Comparison of the AmEx Blue Cash Everyday vs. Preferred annual savings:
Everyday versus Preferred card comparison

If you spend roughly the amount on the above chart, you'll earn more than $500 in 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: As you know, 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.
When I originally applied for my BC card it did not come with any sign-up offer whatsoever. Now both cards offer sign-up bonuses for those who qualify:
Blue Cash Preferred: Here is the link to earn 150 Reward Dollars
Blue Cash Everyday: Here is the link to earn 100 Reward Dollars


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.

In addition to some of the highest cash-back categories around, these cards also carry benefits that you won't get from every other credit card company. These are included at no additional cost:
Extended Warranty Coverage: It seems like stores try and sell you an extended warranty on everything you buy these days, and if you're buying expensive electronics, it might be worth the price. But what if you could get free extended warranty coverage on eligible purchases? With both of these cards, you can shop worry-free knowing that 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: Have you ever bought something brand new, only to accidentally damage it a few days or weeks later? This benefit protects eligible items against accidental damage and theft 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 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.

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 – meaning you card's coverage could take care of your deductible and other fees your regular car insurance may not cover. Be sure to 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...
  1. How much do you 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 for individuals, it still could be worth it if you buy a lot of 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).
  2. How much gas do you 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, since the price at the pump hovers around $3.60/gallon (or more).
  3. Do you 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 $75 fee for the Preferred might not be worth it). Even if you do play the credit card game, as long as you spend at least $50 per week on groceries from the supermarket, you're earning more than $75 more per year by going with the Preferred versus Everyday.
Verdict? The Blue Cash cards get you consistent cash back year round for realistic and useful everyday spending categories. Few other reward cards out there come close.

So the only question left is which one? 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 on Blue Cash Preferred, it might make sense to start with that and downgrade after the first year if needed. But ultimately the choice is yours.

Editorial Disclosure: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.