Maximize Your Family's Wallet With 6% Back on the Amex Blue Cash Preferred
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As great as it would be if there was one credit card that did it all, there's not. I have different credit cards for airline miles, travel perks and lounge access. Then there are the hotel cards for hotel elite status and annual award night certificates. Next come the workhorses, the flexible point earning cards. Finally, there are those niche spots where cards that aren't necessarily great for travel perks can still save us money or provide other tangible benefits on things like cellphone bills, shopping, groceries, dining or even -- streaming services.
Miles and points that I can maximize for travel and experiences are generally my favorite types of credit card rewards to earn, but it's (very) hard to argue with cash -- especially 6% cash back.
The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express was already a family favorite with 6% cash back at US supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year, then 1%), but it has recently gotten even better with 6% cash back on select US streaming subscriptions (think Apple Music, Hulu, Netflix and HBO Now). Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed for statement credits. With its new earning potential (and welcome bonus Earn a $300 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first six months of card membership.)
Assuming you like to travel and can avoid racking up balances on your cards, a well-balanced family wallet might look something like this:
Cards With Travel Perks
If you fly with your family, you probably need an airline card (or two) to enjoy waived checked bag fees, get some of your redeemed miles back, earn maximize annual companion certificates or maybe even enjoy lounge access.
On the hotel side, many hotel cobranded credit cards give you annual award night(s) and elite status that you either get outright or earn by spending with the card. This can help make your family's hotel stays cheaper and more enjoyable.
There are also credit cards that give you credits for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, access to lounge networks, built-in travel protections, travel credits and more. If you like to travel with any regularity, you'll want some of these sort of cards with travel perks in your wallet to make the journey more affordable and comfortable.
Cards With Flexible Points
While I have a nice collection of cobranded hotel and airline credit cards with travel perks, they aren't necessarily the cards I use the most day in and day out. The ones I use the most to fund our adventures earn flexible points that can be used for travel. For example, if I rack up transferrable Amex Membership Rewards points I don't have to use them on just one airline or at one hotel chain. I can transfer them to Delta, British Airways (to fly American), Singapore (to fly United) or to ANA to fly to Europe and back in business class on a Star Alliance partner for just 88,000 miles. I have options, which is a very good thing when it comes to miles and points.
Rewards for Where You Spend the Most
Last but not least, a well-rounded and fully maximized wallet will contain some credit cards that reward you where you spend money the most. For example, if you spend lots of time at the grocery store, you need a card that is as rewarding as possible on groceries. If you have a few gym or workout class memberships, pick up a card that is rewarding in that category. Pay for a family full of cellphone plans? Have a card that is rewarding and offers some built-in protections in case a phone is lost or stolen.
The revamped Amex Blue Cash Preferred card falls into this category. Earning 6% back at US supermarkets is very good, especially if you just want to focus on cash back for now instead of earning miles and points. Assuming you spent an average of $500/month at the grocery store over the course of the year, that's $360 cash back just on that category.
Getting 6% back on select US streaming services is also not only still relatively unique in the rewards card space, but a very nice rewards rate. Average spending on streaming services has increased in recent years, with a premium Netflix plan now almost $200 annually. The ad-free version of Hulu is $144 per year and can easily cost several times that if you add on live TV or premium channel options. And it's virtually guaranteed many families will owe more each year for streaming services when Disney releases its platform in a few months.
Whether you use public transit or fill your tank with gas, most families also need a card that racks up rewards on transit. The Blue Cash Preferred already had US gas stations as a 3% cash back category, but it has now added transit as a second new bonus category. The card earns 3% back on ride-share services (Lyft, Uber, etc.), parking, tolls, train fares, ferries, buses and subways without limits.
The Blue Cash Preferred isn't the absolute winner in some of these categories, but it is toward the top of several category lists, especially if you prefer to earn some old-fashioned cash.
With its new bonus categories, it is clear that the Blue Cash Preferred can fill an important niche in a family's wallet. It can be a way to max out earning rewards in categories where it is the strongest, such as at US supermarkets and select US streaming services, as a part of a diverse card line-up. Or if your family only wants to have two or three total credit cards with simple rewards, it could be that card that ensures you are getting 3–6% back across a variety of common everyday bonus categories ranging from gas to trains to groceries and even Netflix.
I'd love to hear if and how your family maximizes your spending and whether the Blue Cash Preferred is a part of your strategy.
For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred, click here.