American Express Blue Cash Preferred Card vs. the Blue Cash Everyday

Imagine you’re standing in front of the display counter at the local bakery. You’ve come in for some pastries, and there’s quite a few on offer.

You’re eyeing a particularly delicious looking danish for $3, but then you see the chalkboard. There’s a special going on: Buy three, get a fourth on the house. And you know there are hungry mouths waiting at home that would more-than-happily devour a quality pastry. So by spending more, you actually end up getting more danishy goodness per dollar for you and yours.

That decision between buying one and getting less, or buying three and getting more, is mirrored by the choice between the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express and the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express.

The latter is the upgraded version, with higher rewards and an additional bonus category, but also an annual fee. (Rates & Fees) The former lacks an annual fee, but offers less-impressive rewards. (Rates & Fees)

Both still have a lot to offer, but the Blue Cash Preferred will provide more overall rewards if you spend enough. If you typically spend less than that, the Blue Cash Everyday will end up being the more rewarding option for you.

Take a look at a brief comparison of the two cards:

Card Annual Fee Rewards
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express (Review) $0
(Rates & Fees)
  • 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
    • Select U.S. department stores
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • $200 statement credit for spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express (Review) $95, $0 first year
(Rates & Fees)
  • 6% cash back for:
    • U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%)
    • Select U.S. streaming subscriptions
  • 3% cash back for:
    • U.S. gas stations
    • Transit
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • $300 statement credit for spending $3,000 in the first 6 months

Keep reading to see a more in-depth breakdown, and to find out how one might be the card for you.

How Do the Blue Cash Everyday and Blue Cash Preferred Compare?

As you can see, one of the most obvious differences between these two cards is their annual fees. And with the Preferred’s higher fee comes a better set of bonus categories. (Rates & Fees)

The Preferred earns twice as much at U.S. supermarkets, and adds a new 6% category for streaming services. It also features a slightly higher rate at U.S. gas stations (3% compared to the Everyday’s 2%), and instead of a bonus category for select U.S. department stores, you’ll get one for transit.

There’s a small difference in the benefits between the cards as well, with the Preferred adding a few protections you won’t get from the Everyday.

In the end, the choice between these cards comes down to your spending habits and how much you’d earn from each, particularly from your spending at U.S. supermarkets.

When we talk about grocery spending below, we’re only referring to groceries bought from U.S. supermarkets. Groceries from other stores, like Walmart or gas stations, won’t earn 3% with the Everyday or 6% with the Preferred. Similarly, all gas spending refers to gas bought at U.S. gas stations.

Which Card Would Work Best for You?

Because of the Blue Cash Preferred’s annual fee, you’ll want to make sure your spending suits the card. There’s a certain point where one becomes more rewarding than the other, so let’s run through each card’s rewards, based on a year of spending.

Overall, we’ll find that the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express has the advantage over the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express for a fairly typical year of expenses, but you may find that your spending patterns give a different result.

Spending Over the Course of a Year

If you’re using your card for most of your purchases, your spending might look a little like this. Granted, everyone is different, and these are just estimations based on how much the average person might spend. You can adjust it as necessary to figure out how much you’d likely earn with these cards.

Here’s a sample spending table for a year:

Spending Category Annual Spending
Groceries $3,500
Streaming services $348
Gas $2,000
Select U.S. department stores $600
Transit $150
All other purchases $6,000

Remember, the Blue Cash Preferred earns 6% at U.S. supermarkets compared to the Blue Cash Everyday’s 3%. That means this category will likely determine which card is best for you.

For gas, another major expense, the Preferred earns 3% while the Everyday earns 2%. That single percent difference doesn’t amount to too much, as we’ll see, so look more closely at the other categories.

Let’s see how these cards would earn rewards, based on the annual spending above.

Grocery Rewards

Annual Grocery Spending
Card Annual Spend Rewards
Blue Cash Preferred (6%) $3,500 $210.00
Blue Cash Everyday (3%) $3,500 $105.00

The Everyday earns decent rewards here, but the Preferred quickly and easily outpaces it.

Even if you’re spending a measly $1,600 per year on groceries with the Preferred, you’d already cover its annual fee. (Rates & Fees) And that’s without taking the other categories into account. Many people probably spend double that, easily, so you might be missing out on a good chunk of rewards by sticking with the Everyday.

Streaming Rewards

The Preferred has the advantage of including a 6% category for streaming services. But the Everyday will still earn 1% cash back for them as well, like it does for every purchase outside of its bonus categories:

Annual Streaming Spending
Card Annual Spend Rewards
Blue Cash Preferred (6%) $348 $20.88
Blue Cash Everyday (1%) $348 $3.48

So your rewards will get a little extra boost, depending on how many streaming services you subscribe to. The spending example of $348 covers the current cost of Prime Video, Disney+, and Netflix for a year, if you subscribe to their most popular plans.

With the Preferred, you can expect to earn 6% cash back from all the major streaming services.

Gas Rewards

Annual Gas Spending
Card Annual Spend Rewards
Blue Cash Preferred (3%) $2,000 $60.00
Blue Cash Everyday (2%) $2,000 $40.00

The Preferred still has a slight advantage over the Everyday in this category, but not by much.

Department Store Rewards

Now the cards split a bit more. The Preferred earns 3% cash back on transit while the Everyday earns 2% at select U.S. department stores.

For the Everyday, the U.S. department store category covers purchases at Macy’s, JCPenney, Bloomingdale’s, Kohl’s, Lord and Taylor, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, and a few more. It only applies to “major” department stores in the U.S.

Annual Select U.S. Department Store Spending
Card Annual Spend Rewards
Blue Cash Preferred (1%) $600 $6.00
Blue Cash Everyday (2%) $600 $12.00

Transit Rewards

The Preferred’s transit category includes purchases for rideshares like Uber and Lyft, taxis, buses, tolls, trains, and more. Pretty much anything that takes you from point A to point B, without flying.

Annual Transit Spending
Card Annual Spend Rewards
Blue Cash Preferred (3%) $150 $4.50
Blue Cash Everyday (1%) $150 $1.50

So, the rewards from these categories aren’t as impressive as what you’ll likely rake in from the others, but if you spend more time in U.S. department stores and Ubers, maybe they’ll make more of a difference for you.

General Purchase Rewards

All Other Annual Spending
Card Annual Spend Rewards
Blue Cash Preferred (1%) $6,000 $60.00
Blue Cash Everyday (1%) $6,000 $60.00

The Grand Total

With all of those calculations out of the way, we can simplify it a little bit, and compare the rewards side by side to see which card would suit you better:

Total Rewards Earned
Card Annual Spend Rewards (Annual Fee Deducted)
Blue Cash Preferred $12,598 $266.38
Blue Cash Everyday $12,598 $221.98

Even with the annual fee deducted, the Blue Cash Preferred (Rates & Fees) earns more rewards than the Everyday at these spending levels. If you typically spend even more on groceries, gas, or streaming services, that’ll make the Preferred all the more worth it.

Insider tip

These cards work well in addition to a flat-rate rewards card. You could use either the Blue Cash Preferred or Blue Cash Everyday when spending in the above-mentioned bonus categories, and the other rewards card for everything else.

The Benefits

The two cards largely share the same benefits, but the Preferred still has a leg up here. It features a few extra shopping and travel protections the Everyday doesn’t have: return protection, extended warranty, and rental car insurance.

The benefits these cards share include:

  • Amex Offers: You’ll have access to extra cash back at a wide variety of merchants, and the selection changes now and then.
  • Entertainment Access: This benefit is also called Membership Experiences. It provides pre-sale tickets to a variety of sports, music, and cultural events, as well as access to certain exclusive experiences.
  • Lowest Hotel Rates Guaranteed: If you book an eligible prepaid hotel room through Amex Travel and then find the same room being advertised online for a lower price, you can be refunded for the difference. You must submit your claim before the check-in date, and be sure to check your card details because some restrictions apply.
  • Complimentary ShopRunner membership: Cardholders will have access to free two-day shipping and returns through the ShopRunner service.
  • Global Assist Hotline: Should you need legal, medical, or travel assistance, you have it thanks to this benefit.
  • Purchase Protection: Your new eligible purchases are covered against accidental damage and theft for 90 days.

So you’ll get a little more coverage from the Preferred with the inclusion of these three protections:

  • Return Protection: If the merchant won’t take back an eligible item that you purchased with your card within the first 90 days, you could be refunded.
  • Extended Warranty: Extends the manufacturer’s warranty for another year, for eligible warranties of five years or less
  • Car Rental Loss & Damage Insurance: Decline the rental car provider’s insurance offer and charge the full amount to your card, and your rental will be covered against damage and theft.

While those extra protections can prove to be pretty helpful, they alone likely won’t tip the scales for you one way or the other. But it’s still always nice to have a little more protection.

The Verdict

Clearly, either of these cards could be a good choice. The benefits are relatively comparable, but the Preferred does have three additional protections over the Everyday. The welcome bonuses are too similar to really tip the scales, so what’s important is where you plan on using your card, and how much you typically spend.

If you only consider your grocery and gas spending, if you spend more than $2,500 at U.S. supermarkets, and around $2,000 or more at U.S. gas stations, the Blue Cash Preferred will provide more rewards. At those spending rates, you’ll offset the Preferred’s annual fee and still earn more than you would have with the Everyday. (Rates & Fees) If you spend less than that, the Everyday might prove the better choice, because the Preferred’s annual fee will eat up too much cash back.

That said, it’s still pretty easy for the Preferred to outpace the Everyday. All it takes is a few extra groceries, a few more gallons of gas, and a couple streaming subscriptions. Not to mention if you travel often and take advantage of transit services.

It is important to note, however, you should never adjust your spending to match a card. Instead, the card should always work for you. So if the Everyday is a better option, great, if the Preferred suits you more, perfect. Take a look at your spending habits, and choose which card works best for you!

Insider tip

I’ve had the Blue Cash Preferred for just under half a year now. I spend around $300 on groceries a month, and probably another $100 on gas. I subscribe to Disney+, Spotify, and Hulu streaming services, but rarely partake in Lyft or Uber rides (especially since March).

I’ve already earned a fair amount of rewards, more than enough to cover the annual fee, and it hasn’t even been a full year yet. (Rates & Fees) I’ll likely earn over double what it costs to have the card before the year is up, if that helps put things in perspective for you.

For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, please click here.

For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, please click here.

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