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American Express is known for offering some of the best travel credit cards on the market, but the issuer also has quite a few cash-back card options to choose from as well. These days, the ability to redeem cash back to help you save money might be higher on the priority list than stocking up points for a vacation.
Two of the more notable cash-back cards are the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express and the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express. Both offer bonus rewards at U.S. gas stations and U.S. supermarkets, but there are also divergent bonus categories to consider — along with different earning rates and annual fees.
Today, we're walking through the benefits offered by both and when it makes sense to choose one over the other.
The information for the Blue Cash Everyday card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
When you should get the Blue Cash Everyday
Objectively, the Blue Cash Preferred is definitely the superior card. But the Blue Cash Everyday does have two benefits the Blue Cash Preferred does not: 2% back at U.S. department stores and no annual fee (see rates and fees).
Department stores are a bonus category you don't often find anymore. If you're looking for a card that specifically earns bonus rewards at U.S. department stores, this card will be more helpful than the Blue Cash Preferred. However, keep in mind that you can get 2% cash back with the no-annual-fee Citi® Double Cash Card across all purchases (1% when you buy and 1% when you pay your bill). This has the potential to be more lucrative if you're considering applying for the Blue Cash Everyday based mostly on that rare department store bonus category.
Related: Best no-annual-fee credit cards
Something you really should consider is your monthly budget. Both cards earn bonus rewards at U.S. supermarkets and gas stations, though at differing rates. You'll need to earn enough rewards with the Blue Cash Preferred to offset the cost of the $95 annual fee (see rates and fees). If you are a credit card beginner who is only going to spend $100-$200 per month total on your card, the no-fee Everyday might be the better choice.
When you should get the Blue Cash Preferred
For the vast majority of those looking for a credit card, the Blue Cash Preferred is the better choice. For starters, for the same spending requirement, you're getting an extra $100 with your welcome offer. That alone will cover your Preferred's annual fee for the first year. Plus, you're getting a higher earning rate across the board — an extra 3% at U.S. supermarkets, an extra 1% at U.S. gas stations, and additional bonus categories in transit and streaming services.
Let's say you spend an average of $150 per month on groceries, $80 on streaming, $150 on gas and/or transit combined and $100 at department stores — which evens out to a modest $480 in card spending per month within the potential bonus categories. With the Blue Cash Preferred, that would mean $231.60 in rewards over the course of the year. The Blue Cash Everyday would earn $123.60.
Even after you factor in the $95 annual fee (see rates and fees) with the Blue Cash Preferred, it still comes out on top, with $136.60 in rewards each year. And $430 in card spend per month is a conservative estimate for most people's monthly budgets in these categories.
Something else to consider is that the Blue Cash Preferred comes with return protection. If you try to return an eligible item within 90 days from purchase date and the merchant refuses to take it back, Amex will refund up to $300 per item, excluding shipping and handling charges, up to a maximum of $1,000 per year per cardholder account.
Related: Amex Blue Cash Preferred card review
It's no secret that the Blue Cash Preferred is the all-around better card. You're getting a better welcome offer, higher earning rates, expanded bonus spending categories and superior protections. Even though the card does come with a $95 annual fee (see rates and fees), the higher bonus you'll earn after spending $1,000 in the first three months makes the card worth it over the Everyday, no matter your budget for the first year. And if you continue to spend more than a couple hundred dollars on the card per month, you're going to end up getting more value with the Preferred, even after your first year with the card.
Featured image by The Points Guy staff.
For rates and fees of the Amex Blue Cash Preferred, click here.
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