2017 Blue Cash Preferred Review – WalletHub Editors
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The Verdict: One of the market’s elite everyday offers, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express (American Express is a WalletHub partner) provides an impressive rewards package aimed at some of the most common consumer-spending categories. In addition to a $150 initial bonus for spending at least $1,000 during the first three months your account is open, you will earn 6% cash back on the first $6,000 spent at U.S. supermarket purchases that you make each year (1% thereafter), 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores, and 1% cash back on everything else.
This steep fixed cost means that the Blue Cash Preferred® Card is ill-suited to someone who infrequently pays with plastic, as it would be difficult to earn enough rewards to cover the annual fee. But if you’re prepared to make it your primary spending vehicle, and groceries and gas are among your biggest expenses, then Blue Cash Preferred®certainly warrants a closer look. And though it’s not necessarily an offer to seek out for financing purposes, it’s far from a liability and actually lends itself quite well to helping you both earn rewards and avoid interest on a big-ticket purchase that will take more than a few months to pay off.
We’ll take a closer look at the ins and outs of this offer below, in addition to seeing how the Blue Cash Preferred® Card compares to its no annual fee sibling, Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express.
- $150 Initial Bonus: Spending at least $1,000 during the first three months that you have the Blue Cash Preferred® Card will score you a $150 statement credit. That’s nearly 47% more than the average initial cash-back bonus of $102.26, according to WalletHub’s latest Credit Card Landscape Report.
Up To 6% Cash Back: At 6%, Blue Cash Preferred®’s maximum cash-back earning rate certainly is high. However, it’s important to note that it applies only to the first $6,000 in supermarket purchases you make each year. That means this particular component of your rewards package can earn you no more than $360 in cash back each year. On the bright side, if you’re thinking that you don’t spend $6,000 on groceries each year – the average person spends just $3,977, after all – you’ll be pleased to hear that the 6% earning rate does indeed apply to gift cards purchased at supermarkets.
When you factor in the 3% cash back earned at gas stations and select department stores as well as the 1% cash back you’ll get everywhere else, the average person is looking at earning roughly $1,235 over the first two years of use, after subtracting the annual fee and assuming they manage to spend the full $6,000 at supermarkets.
By the way, superstores, warehouse stores and wholesale clubs (e.g., Costco, Walmart and Target) do not qualify as supermarkets, gas stations or department stores. If you’re curious about the meaning of “select” department stores, it refers to U.S. locations of the following chains:
- $95 Annual Fee Starting Second Year: The Blue Cash Preferred® Card’s most glaring weakness is the fact that it takes from you. Sure, the rewards that you stand to earn will help you quickly recoup your investment in this plastic, but you’re still paying 466% more per year than the average credit card charges ($16.78) starting year two. That’s what prevents applying for this card from being a no-brainer.
- Above-Average APR: If you get approved for Blue Cash Preferred®, you will be assigned an APR that could be 13.99% - 24.99% (V), depending on your exact creditworthiness. Not only is the low end of this range above the average charged by “excellent-credit” credit cards, but the high end is even above the average for “fair-credit” credit cards, according to WalletHub Landscape Reports. The result is plastic that will prove quite expensive if you carry a balance from month to month.
Other Things To Consider
- Free ShopRunner Membership: Your Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express scores you free two-day shipping for items purchased through the service, which offers products from more than 140 stores and thousands of brands. You can sign up for the benefit here. Ordinarily, a ShopRunner membership will cost you $79 per year or $8.95 per month.
- $25 Cash-Back Redemption Requirement: You need at least $25 in rewards to redeem your earnings for cash back or gift cards, and statement credits only come in increments of $25. That means you’ll have to wait longer than you should to enjoy the fruits of your spending, and it necessitates careful timing to maximize the amount you are able to redeem.
- 2.7% Foreign Transaction Fee: American Express already has one strike against it when it comes to international spending, as its cards are accepted in far fewer countries (130+) than Visa and Mastercard (200+ each). The fact that it charges a fee equal to 2.7% of any purchase made outside of the U.S., whether you’re traveling abroad or just shopping from an internationally based merchant, is strike number two. It is higher than the 1.97% market-average foreign transaction fee and a deal breaker for any frequent traveler.
- No Annual Fee For Authorized Users: Some rewards cards charge annual fees to authorized users in recognition of the fact that they have the same earning privileges as primary accountholders and should thus foot some of the bill. Blue Cash Preferred® is not among them. You can add an unspecified number of authorized users, whose spending will yield rewards for you, without paying extra. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you should rush to add authorized users, as doing so still poses distinct risks, but it’s certainly a feature worth knowing about.
Compared To The Competition
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer
Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®
|Annual Fee||None 1st yr, $95 after||$0||$0||None 1st yr, $89 after|
|Rewards Bonus||$150||$100||N/A||50,000 miles|
|Rewards Rate||1 - 6% Cash Back||1 - 3% Cash Back||1% + 1% Cash Back||2 miles / $1|
|Purchase Intro APR||Not Offered||0% for 12 months||Not Offered||Not Offered|
|Transfer Intro APR||Not Offered||0% for 12 months|
Transfer Fee: 3% (min $5)
|0% for 18 months|
Transfer Fee: 3% (min $5)
|0% for 12 months|
Transfer Fee: 3% (min $5)
|Regular APR||13.99% - 24.99% (V)||13.99% - 24.99% (V)||14.49% - 24.49% (V)||16.99% - 23.99% (V)|
|Editors’ Rating||4.6 / 5||4.2 / 5||5.0 / 5||5.0 / 5|
|Details, Rates & Fees||Learn More|
Rates & Fees
Rates & Fees
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