Blue Cash Preferred from American Express Review: 6% Cash Back on Groceries ($6,000/Year), Netflix, HBO Now, Spotify

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New added features, bigger welcome offer. The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express has been updated with a bigger welcome offer and new 6% and 3% cash back categories. Thankfully, their best feature remains: 6% cash back at US stand-alone supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases. If you spend $65 a week at supermarkets, that alone will earn you over $200 a year in rewards. Here are the updated highlights:

  • $250 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%).
  • 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations.
  • 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions. (NEW)
  • 3% Cash Back on transit including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more. (NEW)
  • 1% Cash Back on other purchases.
  • $95 annual fee.

Basically, AmEx is trying to be trendy and cover things like Netflix, HBO Now, Spotify, and Uber/Lyft. Note that they are removing removing the ability to earn 3% cash back at U.S. department stores benefit on 7/31/2019. This works out well for my spending patterns.

Max out your benefit by buying gift cards at US supermarkets. Every December, I use this card to buy gift cards at a standalone grocery to use up the annual limit and get 6% back. My local Safeway has an entire wall of options, but I usually go with Amazon, Apple iTunes, or Starbucks. You can easily track how much you’ve spent on groceries on your online account. Just go to “Statements & Activity” > Chart logo (Graph and Filter your Transactions), and then click on “Merchandise and Supplies”. Adjust dates as necessary. Screenshot:

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Supermarkets details. “US stand-alone supermarkets” means that superstores, convenience stores and warehouse clubs are not considered supermarkets. This means no Super Wal-Mart, no Super Target, no Costco. Examples of merchants that count (and this is not a complete list!) are Safeway, Whole Foods, Meijer, Vons, Winn-Dixie, Gristedes, Shoprite, Stop and Shop, and online supermarkets such as FreshDirect.

Gasoline details. “US stand-alone gas stations” means that superstores, supermarkets, and warehouse clubs that sell gasoline are not considered gas stations. This means no Target, no Costco, no Sam’s Club. Examples of merchants that count (and this is not a complete list!) are Exxon, Mobil, Hess, Shell, Gulf, Murphy USA, Murphy Express.

US Streaming Subscriptions details. These are all included:

• Amazon Music
• Apple Music
• Audible
• CBS All Access
• Direct TV Now
• ESPN+
• Fubo TV
• HBO Now
• Hulu
• iHeartRadio
• Kindle Unlimited
• MLB.TV
• NBA League Pass
• Netflix
• NHL.TV
• Pandora
• Prime Video Unlimited
• Showtime
• Sling TV
• SiriusXM Streaming and Satellite
• Spotify
• YouTube Music Premium
• YouTube Premium
• YouTube TV

Annual fee. There is a $95 annual fee, so you’ll want to utilize that 6% cash back on groceries to maximize your value. If you spend the max cap of $500 a month at supermarkets, at 6% back that would net you $360 cash back in a year vs. $60 at 1% cash back. Note that simply spending $31 per week at supermarkets at 6% cash back will result in over $95 Reward Dollars per year to cover the annual fee.

If you don’t like the idea of paying an annual fee, the Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express offers 3% at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases with no annual fee. It currently offers a $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months. You can also learn more about this card and apply online at CardRatings.com.

Cash back is officially given in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit, gift cards, and merchandise. I always just stick with statements credit to directly pay down my monthly bill.

Bottom line. The Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express has the key feature of 6% cash back at US supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year). You can now also get 6% cash back on Netflix/Spotify/HBO Now as well as 3% cash back at US gas stations and transit (Uber/Lyft/train). New cardmembers can get a $250 statement credit after $1,000 in purchases within 3 months.

This has been a “keeper” card for me for many years now. I treat it like one of my 5% cash back cards, except there are no rotating categories or activations to worry about. Supermarket purchases (and gift cards) go on this card all year long. Then in December, I use up the rest of the $6,000 annual spending limit on gift cards for holiday presents. With the new features, I’ll also add it as default payment for any streaming apps and Uber/Lyft.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.



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Comments

  1. Add it works on gas cards from the grocery store too, which if you are willing to put in the effort it will give you 6% back on gas not 3%, I get Shell gas cards (which occasionally they have them 10$ off $50 at Publix)

  2. I have purchased various gift cards (e.g., Subway, Michael’s, Old Navy, McDonalds, Cold Stone, Target, JCPenny) at a local Safeway with 6% cash back success.

    In WA state, no sales tax on the gift cards. I can’t imagine any supermarket charging sales tax. If so, you’d be taxed twice – once to purchase gift card, and then again when you use it.

  3. RE: “You can buy Visa/MC reloadable cash cards, yes. I don’t think they can be used directly to pay off other credit cards though.”

    So if you buy these reloadable VISA/MC cash cards through your grocery store, you now have a VISA/MC cash card that has provided you 6% cash back. Am I missing something here?

  4. Bernard says:

    atc1: Most of the reloadable Visa/MC cards (at least in MA) carry a fee. Might be flat but I’ve seen it for around $5. So $100 card wouldn’t be much benefit, but if the fee is flat for higher values, it might still make sense.

  5. I’m planning to use my Chase Freedom and/or Discover More Cards when the categories switch to reward Groceries at 5%. That should keep me within the 6k limit on AMEX. If I have not used up my AMEX 6k limit at the end of the year I can still buy GC’s.

  6. my wife and i both have the amex preferred, i do the majority of the shopping, anyone have an idea if she can add me as an authorized user on her account even though i currently have my own account? Thanks for the feedback!

  7. @brian – Yes, you can do that, no problem at all.

  8. Jonathan, quick note about “You can easily track how much you’ve spent on groceries on your online account. Just go to “Statements & Activity” > Chart logo (Graph and Filter your Transactions), and then click on “Merchandise and Supplies”. Adjust dates as necessary.”

    I used this method as well until about a week ago. I noticed I had reached $6k on groceries and called AMEX just to verify before I switched to another card for late December groceries. The rep quoted me a grocery total of closer to $5k toward the grocery total for the year, thus giving me about $1k to spend at 6%.

    It turns out the “Statements and Activity” method was counting our local deli as a grocery store, where we buy not only deli items but beer and wine and soft drinks regularly, but the 6% cashback offer does not count it as a grocery store. This was particularly interesting because during the quarter that Chase Freedom did 5% at grocery stores, the same deli indeed DID count as a grocery store. So, your reader may want to call and check if there’s any iffy-ness about reaching the $6k total.

  9. Thank you for the informative article. As much as I despise annual fees, I think this one may be okay for me.

    I have the no-annual-fee version of this card and you answered tmy main question. You calculated that $31/week at supermarkets at 6% cash back will pay for the annual fee. This means that $62/week at supermarkets will break even with the no-annual-fee card (3% cash back at supermarkets). I think it is safe to say that I spend more than that at Publix every week.

    The aditional 6% cash back from US streaming services (Pandora, Spotify, YT Premium for me) will help lower that weekly grocery spending.

    Right now I’m getting 5% cash back from Chase Freedom this calendar quarter, so this would be a 1% improvement.

  10. Manish Patel says:

    I’m confused, why are these comments so old? Is this a new or old post?
    Don’t gift cards in grocery stores have fees to use them?
    Thanks!

    • This is an older review that I have updated with new details. Thanks for the feedback though; I’ll try to prune some of the confusing comments.

      If you have a Visa/Mastercard gift card, there are usually fees. However, you can buy gift cards to retailers without fees. For example, you can buy a $100 Amazon gift card at your supermarket with no fees. You get 6% cash back on this card, and then just redeem the gift card at Amazon for the full $100.

      • I thought I had added a comment about buying gift cards at Safeway using amex BCP card. I tried that method at the end of December 2018 and received only 1% cashback on amazon gift cards. Had I known that, I wouldn’t have spent $300 on amazon gift cards. Maybe they found a way to flag gift card purchases and categorize them as non-grocery item. I don’t know. I would try purchasing a small amount gift card to see what sort of cash back is earned on it, then decide on bigger gift card spending. I’m in San Francisco Bay Area, btw. Maybe it’s location specific.

        • Thanks for your comment. I can’t explain that, as it is inconsistent with my experiences for years, where I get 6% cash back every month on my Safeway purchases including any gift cards. How would they know if I added an Amazon or Starbucks gift card to my basket of bananas and milk? I don’t see how that is possible.

  11. Thanks for the heads up on the changes, Jonathan. It lists “Prime Video Unlimited” as one of the qualifying streaming services. Does this mean the annual prime membership fee is included as one needs to have this in order to get Prime video unlimited?

    • I did read that Amazon Prime membership dues are not included. I believe Amazon Prime membership is coded differently from other Amazon purchases.

    • Yeah I don’t think that ‘Prime Video Unlimited’ is actually a thing. It could mean prime membership but I kinda doubt that. Maybe its for the optional subscription channels for Amazon prime video? e.g. you can sign up for HBO, etc through Amazon with a subscription fee. Doesn’t match the name cited though.

  12. I’ve had this “Preferred” version of the Blue cash card in the past but the 6% didn’t work for me at grocery stores since our Fred Meyer where w eshop isn’t coded as grocery. 🙁 So I dropped it down to the plain Blue cash.

    However Amex just offered me an upgrade the preferred version again with the $250 bonus so I took the deal for that.

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