Refreshed Amex Blue Cash Back Preferred: The Cash Back Card For Millennials

by Chris Dong

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While this is a travel blog that emphasizes how to maximize points, cash back cards are still incredibly popular purely for their simplicity. You spend a certain amount, and you receive a percentage of cash back in return. That’s it. No points valuations, transfer partners, or complexity.

American Express has refreshed one of its more lucrative cash back cards, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express. Here’s what is changing, including an increased initial bonus offer.

Cash Back Categories Are Changing On The Blue Cash Preferred

New card art

Say goodbye to department stores and say hello to streaming services (i.e. Netflix) and transit and rideshares (i.e. the subway and Uber). The cash back category bonuses on the Blue Cash Preferred are the primary changes being made to the card.

  • 6% cash back on U.S. streaming services (NEW)
  • 3% cash back on transit, including parking, tolls, trains, and rideshare (NEW)

These two bonuses are essentially replacing the 6% cash back on department store purchases. I see this as a net win. Sure, there may have been some bigger spend items at department stores which carry a wide range of items, but personally, I would have to go out of my way to spend at one of those stores. These category bonuses are ones that most people like myself — who live in a city and has multiple streaming services — would be spending on no matter what.

For that reason, I can completely see the appeal for a card like this. It’s not only simple in that it’s a cash back card, the new bonus categories are items that many people already spend money on anyhow.

Other Benefits On The Blue Cash Preferred 

These other benefits remain on the card — the 6% cash back at supermarkets is particularly lucrative. And if you own a car and commute to work, Amex was smart to retain the 3% cash back for gas stations.

  • 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 in purchases then 1%)
  • 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations
  • 1% Cash Back on other purchases (Cash Back is earned in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed for a statement credit)

The Latest Offer On The Refreshed Card

New eligible Card Members will receive a welcome bonus of $300 back after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of Card Membership (received in the form of a statement credit). Offer Expires 12/10/2020. That’s up from $200 and $250 previously. There is a $0 introductory annual fee for one year, then $95, this is a limited time offer that expires 12/10/20.  (See Rates & Fees)

Let’s take a look at real world example of my spend, and how much cash back I would receive if I were to use this card only on these categories.

How Much Yearly Cash Back Would I Earn Based On These Bonus Categories? 

3% back on transit

6% Cash Back Categories

  1. Streaming Services: My spend of $35 monthly x 12 = $420
  2. Supermarkets: My spend of $120 monthly x 12 = $1440
    6% of $1860 = $111.60 per year

Besides clearly not spending enough on groceries and eating out in New York City way too often, it appears I would earn about $100 in cash back each year. Personally, I would rather put that supermarket spend on the Chase Freedom’s grocery spend bonus of 5x Ultimate Rewards points (rotating) or the American Express Gold’s 4x Membership Rewards points. However, since this is for people interested in a cash back card, a 6% return on groceries is pretty darn great.

As mentioned, you can also take into consideration other high earn cards for every dollar spent on groceries.

3% Cash Back Categories

  1. Transit and Rideshare: My spend of $140 monthly x 12 = $1,680
  2. Gas Stations: My spend of $0 x 12 = $0
    3% of $1,680 = $50.40 per year

Transit is a category that is also covered by the Chase Sapphire Reserve (coded as “travel”) that earns 3x Ultimate Rewards points. But again, for a cash back card where things are kept simple, 3% back is a solid offering.

In total, my approximate spend would’ve allowed me to earn $162 in cash back in just the bonus categories alone, easily surpassing the $95 annual fee.

The Upshot 

According to a survey by Amex, the places where older millennials (ages 31-38) are spending the most day-to-day now, compared to five years ago, are groceries (67%), streaming (36%) and commuting (34%). This is exactly the target audience for the Blue Cash Preferred and why these changes were made.

The important takeaway here is that this card only makes sense if you have significant spend in the category bonuses. That means if you’re interested in a cash back card, put in the minor work and actually forecast how much cash back you would receive in a given year. Then, compare that to other cards like the American Express Blue Cash Everyday (no annual fee) or a restaurant and travel-focused card like the American Express Gold.

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

6 comments
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6 comments

Matt May 9, 2019 - 3:31 pm

Any way to transfer these cashback points to MR points that can be transferred for Travel? Similar to the Chase Freedom if you have another UR card.

Reply
Chris Dong May 9, 2019 - 3:32 pm

Hey Matt. Unfortunately not, these are cash back cards only.

Reply
expat jon May 9, 2019 - 4:52 pm

This looks like a card I’ll recommend for my son (who is a millenial 😉 ).

Reply
Matty Tailwinds May 10, 2019 - 8:18 am

Chris,
Please take this as constructive criticism, no more no less:
For one who is a “NYC-based marketer,” do you think the banality of using the term “millennial” attracts eyeballs/readers? Before you say “well, it attracted yours” please know that it was an inadvertent click (benefit to you regardless). I didn’t get to the part of your blog post where I believe you were extolling the benefits of the credit card you’re hawking because your second paragraph was particularly painful to read, specifically “…urban / suburban dwelling and cashback-loving millennials.” Why write “urban / suburban dwelling” if you’re covering both sides of a coin? Would it not be simpler to just say “Oxygen-breathing millennials?” Put another way, it’s like a clairvoyant saying to a gullible customer “I’m sensing that you live in the city or not in the city.” Genius! I’m also miffed on the “cashback-loving” part as well. Statistically speaking, does a certain age cohort gravitate towards cashback credit cards vice other means of payment?

I mean the above in all sincerity. As a future, potential reader of yours I would like to know your thoughts on ad copy. I’ve got a long layover with some time to kill.

Reply
Chris Dong May 10, 2019 - 8:32 am

What I meant by “urban” is attracting city-dwellers that commute via public transportation with the transit bonus and “suburban” is attracting those that live near cities but will be commuting via car (gas bonus).

There’s people that prefer cash back cards for its simplicity, I’m not saying it’s only millennials. But the cash back bonus categories are clearly targeted towards the 20 something and 30 something crowd. If you continue reading, those are stats that Amex themselves provide.

Reply
Matty Tailwinds May 10, 2019 - 8:41 am

Thank you for the timely reply Chris. You absolutely did provide the rationale further into your article. I wish you continued happiness in all your endeavors and I hope your reader base swells to magnificent proportions.

Reply

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