Why the Amex Blue Cash Preferred might be the best cash-back card right now
Whether a big trip is on your radar or not, now may be a great time to save for your next getaway ... or perhaps earn some cash back to use however you wish.
One way to do that is to collect points and miles to prepare for the journey ahead. But there is also the simplicity and appeal of cash back, too. If you prefer to be rewarded in cents instead of points — or find yourself at least currently prioritizing cold hard cash — a cash-back card may be the best rewards card choice.
And there's a cash-back card that has captured my attention more than any other during the pandemic: the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express. While it carries a $0 intro annual fee for first year, then $95 (see rates and fees), this is more than offset by its generous (and timely) category bonuses.
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If earning cash back is more your current style than miles or points, here are three reasons why the Blue Cash Preferred might become your new go-to card.
Bonus categories perfect for being closer to home
In my view, no card has had a better permanent combination of cash-back category bonuses than this one.
The Blue Cash Preferred has bonus earnings on U.S. supermarkets, select U.S. streaming services, U.S. gas stations and transit. In every single one of those categories, it's made our list of best credit cards.
Let's break it down further.
The Blue Cash Preferred earns 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 of spending each calendar year, then 1%). While it's a bit frustrating to have the $6,000 annual cap, you would still get $360 in cash back if you fully maximized this bonus category.
Last year, grocery spending saw a tremendous surge and while that has since leveled off, groceries remain a key spending category as the pandemic lingers.
Related: Best credit cards for groceries
Next up, you'll also get 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions with the Blue Cash Preferred.
A 2020 study from Deloitte highlighted just how prevalent streaming and subscriptions have become. Before the start of the pandemic, the average U.S. consumer had 12 paid entertainment subscriptions. That number jumps to 17 subscriptions if we're talking specifically about millennials.
For months, streaming was a primary source of entertainment. And while that is no longer the case, there is still strong demand for streaming. Here is the latest list of qualifying stream services from Amex for that 6% back:
Amazon Music Unlimited, Apple Music, Apple TV+, AT&T TV Now, Audible, CBS All Access, Disney+, ESPN+, Fubo TV, HBO Max, HBO (standalone streaming subscription only, formerly known as HBO Now), Hulu, iHeartRadio, Kindle Unlimited, Luminary, MLB.TV, NBA League Pass, Netflix, NHL.TV, Pandora, Peacock, Prime Video, Showtime, Sling TV, SiriusXM Streaming and Satellite, Spotify, Stitcher, Tidal Music, YouTube Music Premium, YouTube Premium and YouTube TV
Related: Best credit cards for streaming
With this card, you'll receive 3% back at U.S. gas stations for running around town. And if you're ready for a fall road trip, you'll be all set too. As you might have guessed, this card is indeed on our list of best credit cards for gas.
While fewer U.S. residents are commuting, the transit category can still be worthwhile since it covers some expense types not just in the realm of public transit, but also when driving your own car. The Blue Cash Preferred earns 3% cash back on transit, including parking, tolls, ride-hailing, subway, etc.
Bike-share and other mobility-related expenses might also count toward earning 3% back. There's a reason why this card made it onto our permanent list of best cards for transit.
No confusing temporary categories
Instead of limited-time temporary bonus categories, you might prefer something simple (instead of keeping track of perks when they kick in or expire).
The Blue Cash Preferred is ideal for that. It has bonus categories that are relevant to our current environment and has the ease of cash-back earning. To redeem, you can receive a statement credit (my preferred choice), get gift cards or shop directly with your rewards.
Higher welcome offer
New Blue Cash Preferred applicants now receive a $250 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card within the first six months.
Creating a viable points, miles or cash-back strategy is smart. If cash back happens to be more up your alley right now — and these bonus categories align with your spending — then you can't go wrong with the Blue Cash Preferred.
Just remember there are pros and cons to picking a cash-back card over a travel rewards card, but if you don’t travel frequently and want the flexibility to spend your rewards in other ways, the Blue Cash Preferred might be right for you.
For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred, please click here.