The American Express Blue Cash credit card is well known for its high cash back on categories. However there was a catch to this rewards program…
American Express Blue Cash Review
Blue Cash Everyday
Previously this card came with a big catch – a tiered reward program which mostly just benefited large spenders (because annual spending up to $6,500 only earned 1/2% to 1% cash back).
Fortunately about a year ago, American Express launched a better, new program which I am about to tell you about. If you are an existing cardholder and were grandfathered in with the old program, you may want to call customer service and ask to be switched to the new “Everyday” or "Preferred" version, which is far more beneficial than the old program for most consumers.
This is the no annual fee version and probably the best one for you to start with (you can always upgrade later on). The only difference between the two cards is that the Blue Cash Everyday pays a bit less on your categories, yet it's still extremely generous:
Blue Cash Preferred
This version has an annual fee of $75 per year, which means it's typically only appropriate for the hardcore spenders in these categories:
Best of all, these cards have none of those "rotating categories" or quarterly rewards enrollment to hassle with. These are about the most simple, straightforward reward programs you will find.
How much will you save in 2013?
- Gas Stations in the US: Think about it… it’s like a 12 cent per gallon discount on $4 gas with the unlimited 3% you get on the Blue Cash Preferred. Best of all, you get this on gas at every stand-alone station in the US. Right now there is not a gas station or bank-issued card on the market that will give you an unlimited 3% like this does.
- Supermarkets in the US: The average American spends nearly 10% of their income on food. Earning 3% (or a whopping 6%) all year long will equal some serious money, especially if you buy groceries for your entire family. Up to $6,000 of purchases per year in this category qualifies for the higher cash back, then it's 1%.
- Select Department Stores in the US: Not only will you be saving money on clothes, but also the appliances, tools, electronics and whatever else you buy at these stores.
Comparison of the AmEx Blue Cash Everyday vs. Preferred annual savings:
You can save over $500 with just average spending! Secondary cards on the account earn the same rewards, so add your spouse and together you will earn even more!
In addition to some of the highest cash back categories around, these cards also come with free benefits that you won't get from any other credit card company...
Purchase Protection: Have you ever bought something brand new, only to accidentally damage it a few days or weeks later? This plan is a free benefit which protects eligible items against accidental damage and theft for up to 90 days from the date you buy them.
Return Protection: Don't you hate it when you can't make a return because you've lost your receipt or the store is just giving you a hard time? With AmEx Blue Cash you have free return protection - if you try and return a designated item within 90 days and the merchant won't take it back, American Express will! They will refund the full purchase price, up to $300 per item, up to $1,000 annually per account.
Extended Warranty Coverage: It seems like stores try and sell you an extended warranty on everything you buy these days. Usually it's too expensive to be worth the price. But what if you could get a free extended warranty? With the Buyer's Assurance Plan (included) you can shop worry-free knowing that the terms of the original manufacturer's warranty will be matched up to one additional year, on warranties of five years or less that are eligible in the U.S. This is a free service American Express includes with your Blue Cash Preferred or Everyday card!
Insider Tip: As you know, often you can buy gift cards for places like Home Depot, iTunes, Kohls and other retailers while shopping at supermarkets. Use your Blue Cash to buy gift cards there - that way you can earn 3 or 6% when buying them!
Which one is best for you? Ask yourself these 3 questions...
Verdict? Without a doubt this line of cards is the smartest choice you can make for consistent, high cash back year round in all these popular categories. Nothing else out there comes even close.
- How many people are in your household?
The biggest difference between the two is the Preferred card's 6% rebate at supermarkets in the US. It's definitely lucrative, but keep in mind it will be costing you $75 per year for that privilege. It probably won't be worth it for singles and couples. The amount they spend per year at those stores won't compare to a big family (who the Preferred card is best suited for).
- How much gas does your household buy?
For most people the no annual fee Everyday Blue Cash card is the smartest choice. To earn an extra 1% cash back on gas with the Preferred is nice, but once again you have to factor in the costs. For the average driver it simply isn't worth it.
- Do you use more than one credit card?
If you're like me, you use more than one in order to maximize your rewards. If that's the case, it means your full spending won't be going on this American Express. To get your money's worth with the $75 version, you will probably want to be using it for most of your credit card purchases.
So the only question left is which one? Obviously in my opinion, the free version is best for most people (and it's what I use myself). If you're on the fence about the Blue Preferred, then just start with the Everyday and test the waters. You can always upgrade your account at anytime. But ultimately the choice is yours.
Everyday: Apply now and earn a bonus of $100 Reward Dollars
Preferred: Apply now and earn a bonus of $150 Reward Dollars
To qualify for the bonus, just spend at least $1k during your first 3 months. In the past when I applied for my BC card it did not come with any signup bonus whatsoever. That means now is definitely the time to get one, while AmEx is still running these promotions.