Are you looking for a cash back credit card that offers both a set cash back reward and bonus categories? The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express is among the popular cards you’ll find in this competitive space.
With this card, Amex offers 1% cash back on everyday purchases with bonus rewards attached to some popular spending categories. And there’s no annual fee.
But are those bonus categories and the perks associated with this card enough to compete with other cash back credit cards that offer 2% on everyday purchases?
In this review, I’ll seek to answer that question by diving into the features of this card and comparing it to other popular cash back cards on the market.
Table of Contents
- What Is the Amex Blue Cash Everyday® Card?
- Card Specs and Perks
- Blue Cash Everyday® Card vs. Two Alternative Card Options
- Final Thoughts
Team Clark has spent time evaluating the credit card market in several categories including the best cash back credit cards. We’ve compared the Blue Cash Everyday® Card to the best cards in this segment of the market. And we’ve determined that it’s a viable choice — thanks to its bonus cash back categories and lack of an annual fee.
As you’re deciding whether this card is a fit for you, please use this review in conjunction with Clark Howard’s 7 Rules for Using Credit Cards.
What Is the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express?
The Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express is a cash back rewards credit card that carries no annual fee.
This card offers a standard cash back return of just 1% on everyday purchases. So it relies on bonus purchase categories (at places like grocery stores, gas stations and department stores) to lure users away from cards that offer a higher “fixed” rate of cash back compensation such as the Citi Double Cash and the Paypal Cashback Mastercard.
Amex Blue Cash Everyday® Card: Specs and Perks
Let’s take a look at the fine print to examine some of the card’s perks and drawbacks:
Cash Back Categories
While 1% cash back is the baseline reward for this card, there are opportunities to earn more than that in some popular spending categories.
Here’s how it breaks down:
- 3% Cash Back at U.S. Supermarkets: American Express likes to use this term as a way to rule out purchases at superstores like Walmart and Target and warehouse membership clubs such as Costco and Sam’s Club. This bonus is limited to $6,000 in purchases per year. But still, 3% on groceries at your local supermarket is a nice win. If you want to double down on this cash back perk, you may want to consider paying the $95 annual fee for the Blue Cash Preferred Card: It offers 6% cash back at U.S. Supermarkets.
- 2% Cash Back at Gas Stations: This bonus category does not have a spending cap, but it does have some restrictions on where you purchase your gasoline. For instance, gas purchased at superstores (Walmart) and warehouse clubs (Sam’s Club and Costco) also are restricted from this promotion. Instead, Amex gives examples of gas stations such as Shell, Mobil and Exxon as acceptable for this promotion.
- 2% Cash Back at “Select” Department Stores: This language is confusing, and clarification on which department stores qualify for the 2% are well-hidden on the American Express website. But, never fear— I found the list here. Some notable department store names included: Bealls, Belk, Bloomingdale’s, Bon Ton Stores, Boscov’s, Century 21 Department Stores, Dillard’s, J.C. Penney (JCP), Kohl’s, Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Stein Mart.
It is worth noting that American Express pays out cash back rewards in the form of “Reward Dollars,” which can be redeemed as statement credits.
- Welcome Bonus: The standard welcome bonus for this card is a $100 statement credit if you spend at least $1,000 with the card within the first six months of membership. You can expect to receive the reward from this fairly easy-to-achieve bonus within 8-12 weeks after you meet the threshold.
- Introductory 0% APR Period: This card offers a 15-month period for 0% APR on new purchases. This rates pretty well among cards in the cash back category, but money expert Clark Howard would caution you against spending exorbitantly on promotional APR offers. If you’re not careful, you may spend money you actually don’t have.
- Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance: You can get secondary coverage on select car rentals if you use your Amex card to pay for the full balance of your rental and decline the insurance offered by the car rental company.
- Targeted Offers That Could Increase Your Welcome Bonus: American Express sometimes targets select new cardholders with additional welcome bonus offers in an attempt to entice consumers with “desirable” customer profiles. I got an offer to earn up to an additional $200 via 20% cash back on Amazon purchases made within the first six months of membership. The spending limit on that was $1,000. It gave me a week to sign up and explicitly stated that the offer might not be available if I left the website without signing up.
Here’s a quick look at some of the fees you may encounter with this American Express card:
- Annual Fee: None.
- Balance Transfer Fee: This card does not offer balance transfers as of this writing.
- Cash Advance Fee: 5% of the total cash advance or $10, whichever is greater.
- Foreign Transaction Fee: 2.7% of each transaction after conversion to U.S. dollars.
- Late Payment Fee: Up to $40 per instance.
Blue Cash Everyday® Card vs. Citi Double Cash and Blue Cash Preferred Card
If you’re considering a cash back credit card, you’re likely looking for a card that is going to optimize your rewards based on your spending habits.
To determine if the Blue Cash Everyday Card is actually your best option, I decided to do a little comparison between two cards that are likely alternatives for the consumer who is considering this card.
Citi Double Cash
If your spending is sporadic and spans many different spending categories, a 2% cash back card like the Citi Double Cash may be the simplest way for you to get a good return on your purchases.
In this scenario of the Blue Cash Everyday versus the Citi Double Cash, the 3% supermarket reward is the only area in which the Amex card will consistently out-earn the set 2% that you’ll get with the Double Cash on all purchases (1% when you buy, 1% when you pay your bill).
To help understand the impact of a steady 2% return vs. the Blue Cash Everyday’s category bonus approach, here are a few monthly spending samples:
Sample Monthly Spending Scenarios
Sample A: If you spend $500 per month on groceries, $100 at department stores, $100 on gas, and $1,300 on miscellaneous spending:
- Blue Cash Everyday: $32 cash back
- Citi Double Cash: $40 cash back
Sample B: If you spend $300 per month on groceries, $50 at department stores, $200 on gas, and $1,000 on miscellaneous spending:
- Blue Cash Everyday: $24 cash back
- Citi Double Cash: $31 cash back
Sample C: If you spend $200 per month on groceries, $100 at department stores, $100 on gas and $1,500 on miscellaneous spending:
- Blue Cash Everyday: $25 cash back
- Citi Double Cash: $38 cash back
As you can see, the Double Cash pretty consistently outperforms the Blue Cash Everyday, even when you focus on spending in Amex’s bonus categories.
That’s why money expert Clark Howard carries the Citi Double Cash in his wallet as a cash back credit card and would endorse it over the Blue Cash Everyday.
Blue Cash Preferred from American Express
If you’re considering the Blue Cash Everyday on the merits of its top rewards category (3% cash back on U.S. Supermarkets), it’s probably fair to consider whether or not you’re actually better off paying $95 per year to double that reward. The Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express offers that opportunity.
Both cards limit the grocery reward to $6,000 in annual spending. That means you’ll cap out at $180 in potential cash back reward bonus with the Blue Cash Everyday Card and at $360 with the Blue Cash Preferred Card. That $180 spread in rewards easily covers the $95 annual fee attached to the Blue Cash Preferred, but you’ll need to do the math to see if you’re actually going to max out this reward with your annual grocery bill.
The Blue Cash Preferred also offers 6% cash back on streaming purchases, as well as 3% cash back on gas and transportation purchases. So there are other areas in which you could pay off that $95 annual fee.
Are you considering adding the Amex Blue Cash Everyday® Card to your wallet? Let’s review some of the major pros and cons of the card before you make your final decision:
Amex Blue Cash Everyday® Card: Pros and Cons
|Bonus spending categories can earn you up to 3% cash back on purchases like groceries||Only 1% cash back on everyday purchases|
|Easy-to-achieve welcome bonus||Can’t claim grocery or gas bonuses at popular retailers like Walmart and Costco|
|15 months of 0% APR on new purchases||Welcome bonus offers are targeted and may vary|
Bottom Line: It’s hard to pinpoint the perfect consumer for this cash back credit card. If you’re serious about dedicating yourself to a grocery store cash back card from American Express, you may want to consider spending the extra $95 in annual fees to get 6% back from the Blue Cash Preferred. And if you are looking for straightforward cash back rewards, you may be better off with the steady returns of a 2% cash back card.
Do you have experience with the Amex Blue Cash Everyday® Card? Let us know how you like it in the comments below!