This is the best credit card for groceries—and binge-watching, too

Taylor Medine
·9 min read
Blue Cash Preferred cardholders earn 6% cash back on up to $6,000 spent at U.S. supermarkets per year.
Blue Cash Preferred cardholders earn 6% cash back on up to $6,000 spent at U.S. supermarkets per year.

— Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you sign up for a credit card after clicking one of our links, we may earn a small fee for referring you. However, our picks and opinions are independent from USA TODAY's newsroom and any business incentives.

If you're searching for one of the best cash-back cards, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express makes the cut as a value-packed option for everyday shoppers.

Cardholders earn 6% cash back on grocery shopping (up to $6,000 per year) and streaming subscriptions. If you’re signed up for multiple streaming services—let’s face it, who isn’t these days?—earning cash back on subscriptions could be a nice way to offset that cost.

It also rewards you for local travel by offering 3% cash back on transit and gas. Plus, there’s a $150 sign-on bonus if you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first six months, 0% APR on purchases for the first 12 months, and the $95 annual fee is waived the first year. (See rates and fees.) At the moment, Amazon shoppers can also earn up to $200 with 20% back on purchases for the first six months.

If you’re wondering whether the AmEx Blue Cash Preferred Card is right for you, we're about to break down what you need to know.

Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express

American Express Blue Cash Preferred
American Express Blue Cash Preferred

Fees and interest rates are subject to change. However, at the time of publishing, these are the terms and conditions:

  • Annual fee: $95 (waived the first year)

  • APR: 13.99% to 23.99%

  • Cash back: 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year in purchases, and excludes warehouses, superstores, and specialty stores), 6% on select U.S. streaming services, 3% at U.S. gas stations, 3% on transit, and 1% on everything else

  • Intro offer: 0% APR on new purchases for the first 12 months, and earn a $150 statement credit if you spend $3,000 within the first six months

  • Foreign transaction fee: 2.7%

  • See rates and fees

  • Learn more about the Blue Cash Preferred Card

Who should get the Blue Cash Preferred Card?

The Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express is ideal for families and commuters since you get 6% for stocking your pantry (up to $6,000 per year) and 3% for transit and gas when you’re getting around town.

Binge-watchers might also feel less guilty about paying for several video, music, and audiobook subscriptions when this card is around since those services earn an unlimited 6% cash back.

Shoppers who plan to make a large purchase in the near future could also find that the introductory bonuses (0% APR for 12 months, $150 statement credit if you spend $3,000 within six months, and up to $200 back on Amazon purchases for six months) are helpful.

Suppose YouTube DIY channels inspire you to do a light kitchen remodel. You could purchase items for the project on your card, get the $150 bonus if you spend more than $3,000, and slowly pay off the balance during the 12-month 0% APR period. Just remember that after that 0% APR period, interest jumps up to the standard rate, and you should stick to your plan of paying off the entire balance in that time frame. See rates and fees.

What points do you get with the Blue Cash Preferred Card?

Blue Cash Preferred cardholders score 6% on Netflix, Hulu, and other select U.S. streaming subscriptions.
Blue Cash Preferred cardholders score 6% on Netflix, Hulu, and other select U.S. streaming subscriptions.

The Blue Cash Preferred gives you 6% cash back on the first $6,000 you spend on groceries each year. That means if your budget is around $100 a week, you’ll fit comfortably under the spending cap—groceries beyond that limit earn 1% cash back. The grocery category excludes warehouses, superstores, or specialty stores, such as Walmart, Amazon, BJ’s Club, or the local fish market.

You also get an unlimited 6% cash back on U.S. streaming services, including Apple Music, AT&T TV Now, Audible, CBS All Access, Disney+, Hulu, Netflix, and more.

The card gives you another 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and on transit, including taxis, ride-shares, buses, trains, and more. Note that this bonus category does not cover airfare. On all other spending, you earn 1% cash back.

It’s important to point out that this card has an annual fee of $95 after the first year. So, to make the most of this card, you need to make sure you spend enough to offset that yearly expense. See rates and fees.

If you’re using this primarily for the grocery rewards, that means you need to spend at least $1,583 in the category each year to break even. The amount you spend beyond $1,583 on groceries (and everything else) is all cash back profit.

Cash back accumulates as Blue Cash Reward Dollars that can be used for a statement credit or, in some cases, gift cards.

What perks do you get with the Blue Cash Preferred Card?

American Express is known for cardholder benefits and features. Cardholders with the Blue Cash Preferred get the following perks:

  • Pre-qualify without a credit check: You can apply to pre-qualify for the Blue Cash Preferred Card without affecting your credit. Keep in mind, for your official application, the issuer may pull your credit score, which could temporarily knock it.

  • Free credit score: American Express offers weekly credit score updates free of charge so you can keep track of where you stand.

  • Car rental loss and damage insurance: If you use your card to pay for a rental car, it may be covered from theft or damage.

  • Global Assist® Hotline: The assistance hotline offers 24/7 medical, legal, and financial assistance when you travel 100 miles from your house.

  • Fraud protection: If someone uses your card without authorization, you may not be held responsible for fraudulent charges.

  • Return protection: Didn't get back to the store in time? Certain purchases are eligible for an extended return policy—within 90 days—through the issuer.

  • Online account management: American Express offers an online account dashboard where you can review transactions, monitor your rewards balance, and view annual spending.

How does the Blue Cash Preferred Card compare to other cards?

The Blue Cash Preferred Card offers one of the highest grocery cash back categories among competitors, but there’s an annual spending cap and an annual fee to factor into the equation. At the moment, there’s a $0 introductory annual fee for one year, then $95 following that. See rates and fees.

For this card to be worthwhile, you need to spend enough to cover the fee with rewards. This may not be as easy to do if you’re single or you tend to use debit rather than credit to make store purchases.

If you’re hesitant to commit to a card with an annual fee, several other cards with a grocery category don’t have a fee. For example, the PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card offers 5x per dollar on gas, 3x per dollar on groceries, and 1x per dollar on everything else.

We’re also a fan of the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, which offers 3% cash back on groceries, 2% at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores, and 1% on everything else.

Alternatively, if you’re a big spender and worried the $6,000 annual Blue Cash Preferred Card grocery cap is too limiting, the American Express® Gold Card could be another option. It offers 4x points on dining, 4x points on groceries up to $25,000 per year, and 1x points on everything else. While American Express Gold Card has a $250 annual fee, it backs it up with perks like Uber credits, dining credits, and no foreign transaction fee. See rates and fees.

What drawbacks does the Blue Cash Preferred Card have?

The Blue Cash Preferred Card is Reviewed's best credit card for groceries.
The Blue Cash Preferred Card is Reviewed's best credit card for groceries.

Rewards credit cards are generally for consumers with good credit or better. If you’re not sure whether you’re eligible, American Express makes it easy to pre-qualify online for the card, and the pre-qualification won’t hurt your credit score.

Bulk shoppers beware—the grocery category does not include Walmart, BJ’s Club, or any other superstore or warehouse store. If you shop heavily at Walmart or another superstore, getting a different store-specific card or flat-rate card could be the better move.

A few examples: The Capital One Walmart Rewards® Card offers 5% cash back at Walmart.com (online and pickup), 2% in stores, and 1% on everything else. The Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature matches that card rate for Prime members who shop at Whole Foods or order through Amazon Fresh. And the Citi Double Cash card offers an unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases (1% when you make a purchase, and 1% when you pay it off).

If you food shop across many stores—Walmart, Costco, Target, or Sam’s Club—a flat-rate card could help you maximize cash back everywhere with no limiting conditions. The Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card, for instance, earns rewards at wholesale clubs.

How does the Blue Cash Preferred Card rank in our reviews?

The Blue Cash Preferred Card is our best credit card for groceries because it offers the highest cash-back rate among competitors. This card is worthwhile even with the fee—you only need to spend about $131 per month to earn enough rewards to cover that fee.

It also provides high value outside of the grocery category. The 6% cash back on streaming could be helpful if you notice streaming services are becoming a significant household expense. And commuters who travel in many different ways (by car, train, ride-share, or bus) can all benefit from 3% cash back in the gas and transit category.

So, should you open a Blue Cash Preferred Card?

The Blue Cash Preferred Card is one of the best cards around for everyday household expenses. If you’re someone who’s shopping for a cash-back credit card to cover day-to-day purchases and not hotel stays or travel, this could be a good addition to your wallet. Just make sure to review your past spending and project future spending to ensure you’ll swipe the card enough to make the fee worthwhile.

Learn more about the Blue Cash Preferred Card

Reviewed has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Reviewed and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

Please note: The offers mentioned above are subject to change at any time and some may no longer be available.

See rates and fees for the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express. See rates and fees for the American Express Gold Card.

Other top credit card options

The product experts at Reviewed have all your shopping needs covered. Follow Reviewed on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for the latest deals, product reviews, and more.

This article originally appeared on Reviewed: Blue Cash Preferred Card review: For families, commuters, and binge-watchers