Amex credit card showdown: Blue Cash Preferred vs. Blue Cash Everyday

Sep 30, 2021

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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 solid cash-back card options to choose from. These days, the ability to redeem cash back to help you save money on whatever you need might be higher on your priority list than stocking up points for a future vacation.

Two of the more notable cash-back cards in the Amex lineup are the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express and the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express. Both offer bonus cash-back rewards at U.S. gas stations and U.S. supermarkets. Still, there are other divergent bonus categories to consider between the two cards — along with different earning rates and annual fees.

Currently, both cards are offering new, elevated welcome offers that might have you taking another look and trying to decide between them. Today, we’ll walking through the benefits provided by both and when it makes sense to choose one over the other.

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In This Post

Comparison overview

Card

Amex Blue Cash Preferred

Amex Blue Cash Everyday

Annual fee $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95 (see rates & fees) $0 (see rates & fees)
Welcome offer Earn a $300 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card within the first six months of card membership. Earn a $200 statement credit after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card within the first six months of card membership.
Earning rates 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year in purchases; then 1%)

6% cash back on select U.S. streaming services

3% cash back on transit and U.S. gas stations

1% cash back on everything else

Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed for statement credits.

Terms apply

3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year in purchases; then 1%)

2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores

1% cash back on everything else

Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed for statement credits.

Terms apply

Intro APR 0% intro APR on purchases for the first 12 months (see rates and fees), then a variable APR of 13.99% to 23.99% (see rates and fees) 0% APR on new purchases for the first 15 months, then a 13.99% – 23.99% variable APR after intro period ends (see rates and fees)
Other benefits
  • Secondary car rental loss and damage insurance
  • Global Assist Hotline
  • Return Protection
  • ShopRunner two-day shipping. Enrollment required.
  • Entertainment access
    • Enrollment required for select benefits.
  • Secondary car rental loss and damage insurance
  • Global Assist Hotline
  • ShopRunner two-day shipping. Enrollment required.
  • Entertainment access
    • Enrollment required for select benefits.
Foreign transaction fees 2.7% (see rates & fees) 2.7% (see rates & fees)

 

As you can see, there is quite a bit of similarity between the two cards. But which card should you get based on your spending habits? Let’s dig a little deeper into who might be better suited for each card.

When you should get the Blue Cash Everyday

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Objectively, the Blue Cash Preferred is the superior card of the two. But the Blue Cash Everyday does have three benefits the Blue Cash Preferred does not: 2% back at select U.S. department stores, an introductory APR offer for the first 15 months, and no annual fee.

Department stores are a bonus category you don’t often find with rewards cards anymore. If you’re looking for a card that specifically earns bonus rewards at select U.S. department stores (such as Bloomingdale’s, JCP, Macy’s, Kohl’s, Nordstrom, Saks or Neiman Marcus), this card will be more helpful than the Blue Cash Preferred. However, keep in mind that you can earn 2% cash back with the no-annual-fee Citi® Double Cash Card across all purchases (2% cash back; 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 mainly on that relatively rare department store bonus category.

Something else 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 that card’s $95 annual fee. For that reason, if you are a beginner with rewards cards who is likely only going to spend $100-$200 per month total on your card, the no-fee Everyday might be the better choice.

Last but not least, the Everyday does offer a 0% intro APR for the first 15 months (13.99% – 23.99% variable APR after intro period ends, see rates and fees), which is three months longer than that currently being offered by the Blue Cash Preferred. This can help you finance an upcoming large purchase without you having to pay interest.

Related: Blue Cash Everyday Card review: Tough sell in a competitive cash-back landscape

When you should get the Blue Cash Preferred

(Photo by The Points Guy)

The Blue Cash Preferred will likely be the better choice for the vast majority of those looking for their next rewards credit card.

For starters, you’re getting a higher welcome offer (though you do have to spend more with the Preferred to earn the bonus). But you’re also getting a higher earning rate in several categories — 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 at U.S. supermarkets, $80 on select U.S. streaming services, $150 on gas in the U.S. and/or transit combined and $100 at select U.S. 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 earning $231.60 in rewards over the course of the year. The Blue Cash Everyday would earn a mere $123.60 cash back. Many families spend much more than $150 per month on groceries, so adjust your numbers accordingly based on your own spending patterns.

Even after you factor in the $95 annual fee with the Blue Cash Preferred, it still comes out on top with that math, with $136.60 in rewards each year plus the higher welcome bonus. And $480 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 the 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 calendar year per cardholder account. That may not be a commonly used perk, but it helps when you need it and is not available with the Blue Cash Everyday.

Related: Amex Blue Cash Preferred card review

Bottom line

It’s no secret that the Amex Blue Cash Preferred is the all-around better card for most.

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, the higher welcome bonus 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.

Official application link: Amex Blue Cash Preferred with a $300 statement credit after spending $3,000 within the first six months of card membership.
Official application link: Amex Blue Cash Everyday with a $200 statement credit after spending $2,000 within the first six months of card membership.

For rates and fees of the Amex Blue Cash Preferred, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Blue Everyday, click here.

Additional reporting by Stella Shon.

Featured photo by The Points Guy staff. 

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

WELCOME OFFER: Earn a $300 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first six months of card membership.

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: Earn 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming services and 3% cash back on transit. Plus earn 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%) and 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations. Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed for statement credits.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn a $300 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months.
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Buy Now, Pay Later: Enjoy $0 plan fees when you use Plan It® to split up large purchases into monthly installments. Pay $0 plan fees on plans created during the first 12 months after account opening. Plans created after that will have a plan fee up to 1.33% of each purchase amount moved into a plan based on the plan duration, the APR that would otherwise apply to the purchase, and other factors.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 12 months on purchases from the date of account opening, then a variable rate, 13.99% to 23.99%
  • 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%).
  • 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.
  • 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and on transit (including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more).
  • 1% Cash Back on other purchases.
  • Cash Back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
0% on purchases for 12 months
Regular APR
13.99%-23.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent, Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

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