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4.7 / 5

american express blue cash preferred
  • $250 initial bonus
  • Up to 6% cash back
  • Annual fee
  • Above-average regular APR
  • 2.7% foreign-transaction fee

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 $250 initial bonus for spending at least $1,000 during the first three months your account is open, you will earn 1% – 6% cash back on purchases.

Blue Cash Preferred has financing chops, too, offering 0% introductory interest rates on new purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months. But it does come at a cost, charging a 3% (min $5) balance-transfer fee and a $95 annual fee. 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.

The Highlights

  • $250 Initial Bonus: Spending at least $1,000 during the first three months that you have the Blue Cash Preferred® Card will score you a $250 statement credit. That’s more than the average initial cash-back bonus, 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. This rate applies to U.S. streaming subscriptions and U.S. supermarkets, for the first $6,000 in supermarket purchases you make each year. When you factor in the 3% cash back earned at gas stations and on transit, as well as the 1% cash back you’ll get everywhere else, the average person is looking at earning roughly $1,250 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 or gas stations.

    The Lowlights

    • $95 Annual Fee: 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. 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 15.24% – 26.24% (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. 
    • 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 fewer countries than Visa and Mastercard. 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 1.50% 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

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