Does it seem like you spend a ton on groceries and gas these days?
Yeah….me, too. Here’s a card that helps ease the pain of that spending with some great cash back rewards on gas, department stores, and the best we’ve seen on groceries.
It’s the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express credit card, another card in the “Blue” family of American Express cards.
They’re offering a decent Welcome Bonus right now, too – if you charge $1,000 to the card in the first three months, you get 100 in Reward Dollars. AND you can also get a free year of Amazon Prime if you satisfy the bonus requirement. Nice!
Now Let’s Dig Deeper Into the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Get Cash Back Every Day
So, here’s what you earn back when you use this card:
6% back on Groceries
3% back on Gas
3% back on Department Store purchases
1% back on all other purchases
Those are some great numbers for Reward Dollars, which equal cash 1:1 cash back. So, if you have 250 in Rewards Dollars, you get $250 back in cash.
It’s that simple.
I really like this card, both because of the simplicity AND the ease with which you can earn cash back. You’re earning money back on such basic necessities of life – food and gas!
The thing you need to consider about this card — it has a yearly fee of $75. (Here’s the no-fee version — Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, but it also has less cash back)
Before you go on about how bad it is to pay an annual fee let’s run the numbers. First, you’ll get $150 back for the Welcome Bonus. So that covers the first two years of the annual fee right there. But I say keep the $150 and enjoy it, because using this card for your basic expenses alone can earn you back the fee fairly quickly.
Let’s say you spend just $100/week in groceries. That’s $400 a month, so you get back $24 a month right there, totaling $288 per year.
Most of us spend a lot more — the U.S. Department of Labor estimates that the average family of four spends $9,525 per year on groceries, or about $793 per month (as of June, 2012). You can earn the 6% rewards on up to $6,000 in groceries per year (after that, 1%), so you may get as much as $395 back per year in groceries alone!
Then let’s add the 3% you get back on gas.
The Energy Information Administration reported that the average household spent $2,912 on gasoline in 2012. That’s another $87.36 back per year. If you spend more than average, you get more back – there’s no cap on rewards for gas.
So, your cash back totals for food and gas alone could easily be at least $482 or more a year.
That’s not even counting the 3% back on department stores (no cap) or the 1% back on ALL OTHER PURCHASES!
So, that $75 is negligible IF you are careful.
You should use this card EVERY time you go shopping for groceries and EVERY time you get gas. Extra cards for your family on your account are free, so if they are responsible and they drive or buy groceries you may want them to carry it, too.
Want to earn cash back even faster? Many grocery stores sell gift cards – earn back the 6% on those non-grocery purchases that way!
Take a Closer Look – Is this Card for You?
Of course, if you have another card that works better for your needs, you may want to save all those grocery and gas purchases for rewards on that card, and pass on this one.
There are also restrictions which may also make this card a no-go for you.
The one I ran into is that the rewards don’t work if a store is categorized as a “superstore.” “Specialty Stores” and “Warehouse Stores” don’t work with the program, either. So, not only are your Costco’s and your BJs ineligible but others you may not suspect, too (if you do a lot of Costco’s shopping then you should check the TrueEarnings® Card from Costco and American Express). Check the list below, but it’s not complete. If you don’t see your preferred stores there, call Amex to check if they are eligible.
Your other option would be to switch to doing your shopping at stores that ARE eligible. This, of course, is only worth it if they don’t cost more than your usual store, because of basic prices or coupon deals, etc. That could be difficult to figure out beforehand.
0% Intro APR
You can get a 0% introductory APR on both purchases and balance transfers for 15 months. If you have a big purchase coming up or you are carrying a balance on another card then the intro APR can work out great for you.
Where Can You Use It?
Check out a basic rundown of the eligible and ineligible supermarkets, gas stations, and departments below.
Remember — you do get the 1% back at all of the ineligible stores, just not the additional percentages back for the specific categories.
Shop at these stores and get an extra 5% back (for a total of 6% back) on purchases there (for up to $6,000 per calendar year):
- Stop and Shop
- Whole Foods
- Online supermarkets such as FreshDirect
You WON’T get the extra rewards at:
- Specialty stores (e.g., fish markets, cheese shops, wine shops, and other specialty food stores )
- Superstores (e.g. Amazon, Target and Wal-Mart)
- Warehouse clubs (e.g. BJ’s Club and Costco Wholesale)
Again, you may need to call and double check about a specific store. For instance, in my area our Kroger-owned supermarket was NOT eligible. Basically, if they sell much more than basic groceries, they probably aren’t eligible.
Here are some of the gas stations that reward you the extra 2% (for a total of 3%) back:
- Murphy USA
- Murphy Express
You WONT get points when buying gas at:
**Costco TrueEarnings Cardmembers will earn additional rewards on gas purchases at Costco.
Here are some of the Department Stores where you can shop to get the extra 2% rewards (totaling 3%):
- Bon Ton Stores
- Century 21 Department Stores
- J.C. Penney (JCP)
- Lord & Taylor
- Neiman Marcus
- Saks Fifth Avenue
- Stein Mart
Your cash back can be redeemed on the American Express rewards site when you have 25 or more points, and can be redeemed in increments of 25, 50, or 100. You can also use your points for gift cards or products through the site like electronics, fashion and sports equipment.
Travel Safe with an Amex Card
An American Express card can be a great card to have while traveling – check out these free services:
Renting a car?? Simply use your card to reserve and pay for the rental, and decline the collision damage waiver at the rental car counter. You can be covered if the car is damaged or stolen.
Use the Global Assist® Hotline for medical, legal, financial, or other emergency assistance while traveling more than 100 miles from home. They will direct you to medical and legal professionals, provide emergency cash wires, help with lost luggage and passports, and more.
Travel Accident Insurance can provide coverage when the entire farehas been charged to the card.
Get Unique Purchase Protections
American Express is known for protections it provides you as the consumer.
We’ve all bought items only to have it broken or stolen. Usually you just deal with it, right? Eligible items purchased with the card can be protected from accidental damage or theft for up to 90 days from the moment you buy them. Restrictions apply.
What if you just change your mind? If you try to return an eligible item within 90 days from the date of purchase and the merchant won’t take it back, American Express may refund the full purchase price, up to $300 per item, excluding shipping and handling, up to a maximum of $1,000 annually per Card account, if you purchased it entirely with thecard.
Warranty just ran out and now the thing’s not working? When you use your card for eligible purchases, membership can extend your warranty up to one year.
This card really packs a punch when it comes to cash back rewards.
Everyone eats, and most of us need to buy gas at some point. This card offers a really generous percentage back on both, even with the cap of $6,000 per year on groceries. The 0% intro. APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months can be helpful as well. The first two years of the annual fee are covered by the Welcome Bonus, so I would definitely recommend trying it out, especially if the merchants you already use are eligible for the extra Reward Dollars.
Terms & restrictions apply.
*As you always should, make sure you read through the card details to make sure this card fits your needs and you understand the terms and conditions. Be aware that the terms may change after this article’s publication.
“Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by American Express. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of American Express, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express. This site may be compensated through American Express Affiliate Program.”