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Is the Amex Blue Cash Preferred the best card for big families?

Bankrate logo Bankrate 12/6/2021 Aja McClanahan
Mother working from home while daughters homeschool © MoMo Productions/DigitalVision/Getty Images Mother working from home while daughters homeschool

Having a large family means everything is bigger-from the family home to the family car and, of course, the family budget. If you are managing a budget for your large family, you are always looking for ways to save and manage money. That's where a rewards credit card could come in.

With many respectable cash back cards out there, it can make a lot of sense to tap a card like the Blue Cash Preferred(R) Card from American Express, for assistance. With one of the highest cash back rates on U.S. supermarket purchases plus cash back on a number of other common family spending categories, now would be a good time to see if this card is right for your big family.

Blue Cash Preferred card details

Quick highlights

  • Rewards rate: 6 percent cash back on U.S. supermarket purchases (up to $6,000 per year, then 1 percent); 6 percent back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions; 3 percent cash back on transit; 3 percent back on U.S. gas station purchases; 1 percent back on all other purchases
  • Welcome offer: Earn a $300 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card within the first six months
  • Annual fee: $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95
  • Purchase intro APR: 0 percent for 12 months
  • Balance transfer intro APR: N/A
  • Regular APR: 13.99 percent to 23.99 percent variable

Earning rewards

Unlike rotating bonus category cards that require you to activate your spending categories to earn rewards, this card does all work for you. You simply swipe your card on purchases to rack up cash back.

Earning 6 percent back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year, then 1 percent) can mean huge savings for large families with substantial spending on groceries. The 3 percent back on U.S. gas station purchases can also be helpful for busy families that fuel up often for bigger vehicles. Adding streaming and transit to the mix, plus the 1 percent back on all purchases, also opens up increased earning opportunities.

Redeeming rewards

Unlike other reward cards, you cannot redeem your cash back as a direct deposit or check. Instead, you'll redeem your "Rewards Dollars" for a statement credit, gift cards ($25 minimum) or merchandise.

Welcome bonus

Another benefit of this card is the sign-up bonus. You can earn a $300 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card within the first six months. This can add substantially to the first-year value of your card.

Introductory APR


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If you've got a large purchase on the horizon, this feature could help you stretch out payments over time. With the Amex Blue Cash Preferred card, you'll get a 0 percent intro APR for 12 months. After that period is over, the regular APR is 13.99 percent to 23.99 percent variable.

Large family spending example

Let's say your family of two adults and four children has the following monthly expenses:

  • Groceries-$1,400
  • Dining out and entertainment-$500
  • Gas and fuel-$500
  • Streaming-$50
  • Transit-$100
  • Miscellaneous credit card expenses-$750

This monthly spending is equal to $39,600 in annual spending, which adds up to $852 in cash back on an annual basis. If you factor in the $300 sign-up bonus (earned after spending $3,000 in your first six months), you'll net over $1,100 from this card in the first year. After the first year, you'll have an annual fee of $95, which could still put you over $1,000 in cash back with this card on an annual basis.

How does the Amex Blue Cash Preferred compare to other cash back cards?

Although you stand to earn a nice amount of cash back with this card, the $6,000 annual cap on the U.S. supermarket spending category will limit your cash back. For instance, the Chase Freedom Unlimited offers 5 percent back on grocery store purchases (not including Target or Walmart purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year and gives you 1.5 percent back once you hit that limit.

This means you can earn up to $672 cash back on grocery purchases the first year versus the $486 you can earn with the Blue Cash Preferred on U.S. supermarket spending. Plus, the Freedom Unlimited has no annual fee, a welcome bonus and a generous rewards structure for other common family-spending categories (along with the ability to earn and redeem rewards for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal).

If grocery shopping is a much larger chunk of your family budget, you'll look for cards that offer the highest cash back rate for this category. The American Express(R) Gold Card has a great rewards structure for families that spend a lot on both dining and groceries: 4X points at restaurants (including Uber Eats purchases) and U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X points). Even with the $250 annual fee, you could still net $1,000 or more in value each year with this card just by hitting the supermarket spending limit.

How to make the most of the Amex Blue Cash Preferred

If it seems like this card would work well for your large family, here are some tips on how to maximize your rewards.

Make the most of your supermarket spending

The great thing about this bonus category is that you can get more than groceries at supermarkets. There's everything from hot prepared foods to kitchenwares and even gift cards. Note: different supermarkets treat gift card purchases differently. Make sure you understand how these purchases will be coded to your American Express credit card.

Connect this card to your entertainment subscriptions

If you want to earn 6 percent back on your streaming services, there are more than 30+ subscription services you can choose from for this category. If you connect your monthly or annual charges to your Amex Blue Cash Preferred, you'll get rewards on this spending.

Use your Blue Cash Preferred card for transportation expenses

You can earn 3 percent back on U.S. gas station purchases and transit, which covers gas, parking, train tickets, tolls and ridesharing expenses. If you've got a few responsible adults in your larger family, consider adding them as authorized users so they can also help you rack up more rewards in this category.

The bottom line

The Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express offers cash back on many categories that any typical family spends on-whether big or small. When you can earn cash back on groceries and gas, it can help shave off costs associated with those common family expenses. The first year is when you see the most value due to the welcome bonus and annual fee being waived, but even after that, you can still get value from this cash back credit card just by using it on your everyday expenses.

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