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Review: Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express

By Peter Andrew

Review: Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express

Editor's note: This offer expired and is no longer available. I just got home from the supermarket and am depressed. It's only my partner and I living in the house now, yet we spend an absolute fortune on groceries and the like. Today's shopping and a tankful of gas came to close to $400, which is way more than our friend Sarah would spend, and she has a husband and four kids to buy for. Of course, it's my own fault. I know very well that I couldn't pick out my favorite cola in a blind tasting, but insist on buying Coke. And it's the same for all those other premium brands that may or may not be better than their cheaper competitors.

Worse, I spent many years working in advertising and marketing, and have a pretty good idea of how branding works. I'm more depressed about being an idiot than I am about the $400.

The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express would be great for me -- and not just because I'd love the 150 Reward Dollars sign-up bonus that's currently being offered (see below). However, it is usually marketed at people like Sarah: those with big families for whom a trip to the supermarket is inevitably costly, and who are also likely to spend serious sums on gas and in department stores. That's because this particular piece of plastic offers truly exceptional cash-back rewards for those types of purchases.

Among the best credit card reward programs for families?

Indeed, the Blue Cash Preferred Card may be among the best credit card reward programs for families. True, you might be put off by its $75 annual fee, but wait until you discover just how good those cash-back rewards are before you judge:

Get six percent cash back at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases. I could have saved more than $15 on my shopping today.

Three percent cash back on gasoline at US gas stations. That competes with the deals offered by many dedicated gas cards with rewards. I'd have saved close to $4 when I filled my empty, gas-guzzling tank this morning.

Three percent cash back at select US department stores, including, among many others, Bloomingdale's, JC Penney, Macy's, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Saks and Sears.

One percent cash back on other purchases.

Terms and limitations apply.

If you spend more than $24.04 a week in supermarkets, you should have earned back that $75 annual fee in a year. Anything more than that, and you're in profit. And that's not counting your gas, department store and other purchases.

Other details you should know

Here are the other key features and issues you need to know about the Blue Cash Preferred Card.

Your cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit. Simple and Straightforward: With the Blue Cash Preferred Card, you can start earning cash back. No rotating reward categories. No enrollment required. Terms and Restrictions Apply.

Unlike many American Express products, it's a credit card rather than a charge card, so you can spread payments. For the first year, it's not a bad idea to roll forward balances because you get a 0 percent introductory APR on purchases for fifteen months. After the introductory APR period ends for purchases your purchase APR will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate, and currently is at 12.99 to 21.99 percent variable APR, depending on your creditworthiness, which, by the way, is a good APR range for a cash back rewards card.

Also at the time of writing, you get a sign-up bonus of 150 Reward Dollars, which you can take as a statement credit, providing you make $1,000 or more in purchases in the first three months you have the card. That's two years' annual fees right there.

It's an American Express card, so you get world-class customer service.

Should you apply?

Of course, if you eat out all the time, don't have a car and buy all your clothes from designer stores, you should pick a different product. But, for many, many Americans, the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express deal is as close to a no-brainer as you're likely to get.

Does this review make me sound as if I'm on a retainer from American Express's marketing department? I promise I'm not -- though, with my spending habits, I'm open to offers. (Only kidding.) It's just that sometimes -- very rarely -- a card is so good that it's hard not to be effusive.

Peter Andrew has over 25 years of experience writing about marketing, advertising and management. He regularly covers consumer credit card topics for IndexCreditCards.com and other personal finance publications including Fox Business, TheStreet and MSN Money. He also writes frequently about mortgages and auto loans. Peter has spent extended periods living overseas, in the UK, France and Africa. He lives with his partner of 20+ years, and wastes too much of his time on cryptic crosswords.

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