I have been in the market for a new credit for quite a while now. The last card I opened was the Citi Double Cash Card (a NextAdvisor advertiser) in November of 2014 and, as someone who writes about credit cards, I’m aware of the number of new credit card offers that come out every week, month or quarter and their perks. Although I’m mostly satisfied with my Citi Double Cash Card, I knew I could be earning better rewards with a new card — that’s where the hunt began.
What do I think of my Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express?
Before I dig into why I got the Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express (a NextAdvisor advertiser) and what aspects of the card really impress me, I wanted to detail what I think about the card. I’ve been a cardholder for a number of months now and I have to say that I absolutely love my Blue Cash Everyday Card. American Express makes everything so easy — from earning and redeeming cash back to contacting customer service — that this card has become my primary form of payment for groceries (I frequent Trader Joe’s) and gas (even though I don’t go to the gas station often, as explained below). I even find myself reaching for my Blue Cash Everyday Card to make purchases that will only earn me 1% cash back, like at a local restaurant, just because I know the card is so straightforward. All in all, I found the Blue Cash Everyday Card to be a well-rounded cash back credit card that I would definitely recommend — I’ve told nearly everyone in my personal life about it — to anyone looking for a top-notch cash back credit card.
Why did I choose the Blue Cash Everyday Card?
I knew I wanted a cash back rewards credit card that offers strong ongoing rewards at places I usually shop at. I was considering a number of cards with rotating categories like Discover it – Cashback Match and Chase Freedom – $150 Bonus, but I didn’t feel they were a good match for me. Although these are great cards, I’m not a fan of not knowing where I’ll earn cash back, so I started looking at cards that have fixed cash back rates, and finally narrowed it down to the Blue Cash Preferred Card, a card that earns 6% back at supermarkets (up to $6,000/year in purchases, then it’s 1%), 3% at gas stations and select department stores and 1% on all other purchases, and the Blue Cash Everyday Card, which earns 3% at supermarkets (up to $6,000/year in purchases, then it’s 1%), 2% at gas stations and select department stores and 1% on all other purchases. And both cards have a limited-time offer that earns cardholders 10% back at U.S. restaurants for the first 6 months of card membership (up to $200 back, then it’s 1%). Note that you must apply by May 3, 2017 to get this limited-time offer. While the obvious choice seems to be the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express, it does have a $95 annual fee, which I wasn’t too excited about. So here’s how I decided.
Breaking down the Blue Cash cards’ special offers
I first looked at the special offers for both cards. After all, I didn’t want to miss out on a stellar special offer just because I overlooked them. Luckily, both cards offer generous intro bonuses. The fee-less Blue Cash Everyday Card offers a $100 intro bonus when you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months, while Blue Cash Preferred Card offers a $150 bonus when you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months, giving it the edge over the fee-less card.
Deciding if the $95 annual fee was worth it
Even though the $150 intro bonus was appealing, it didn’t cancel out the fact that the Blue Cash Preferred Card has a $95 annual fee, so to determine if it was worth it, I did some math. Since I will mostly be using the card for groceries, I had to figure out if what I spend on groceries every month will cover the annual fee and earn me more rewards than I’d get with the fee-less card. I am a budgeter, so I know that my husband and I spend exactly $400/month on groceries. This means I’d earn $288/year back on groceries with the Blue Cash Preferred Card. Once I deducted the $95 annual fee, it left me with $193 back. On the flip side, the fee-less card would give me $144/year back on groceries. While the math proved the Blue Cash Preferred Card to be a better option since I’d earn $49 more with it (even after the annual fee is covered), I just couldn’t stomach the nearly $100 fee and determined that I’d be better off with the fee-less card. As such, I applied for the Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express in October. I was not only approved, but I also qualified for a special bonus offer that earned me $250 back when I spend $1,000 in the first 3 months (that’s $150 more than the standard intro bonus) — score! Read this blog post to learn more.
5 things I learned from getting the Blue Cash Everyday Card
After I received my Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express, I used it for every purchase I made — I know it only earns me 1% on some purchases, but I wanted to make sure I get an accurate feel for what it’s like to be an American Express cardholder (and make sure I spend enough to earn my intro bonus). Here’s what I learned from my membership so far:
American Express is widely accepted
I have always heard that American Express is never accepted and that it would be a nightmare to try to use an American Express card. Much to my surprise, that wasn’t the case at all. In fact, out of the 100+ times I’ve used the card in the past two months, I was told “we don’t accept American Express” at only two locations: a local winery and a small, local retail store. To be fair, a number of the purchases I charged to the card were online, including to Amazon.com, but I still happy to see that my regular purchases at my preferred grocery store (Trader Joe’s), gas stations, restaurants (mostly local small businesses) and more could be charged to my American Express. It should be noted that I live in the San Francisco Peninsula, an area that’s really developed with both big-name and small businesses. As such, someone who lives in a rural or less-developed area with not as many big-name stores may not have the same experience that I had.
Its customer service is the best
As someone who worked in retail stores in high school and as a teller at a major bank in college, I think it’s safe to say that I have a solid grasp of what good customer service looks like. While I’ve been mostly pleased with the customer service I’ve received with my Citi Double Cash Card and my other credit cards, it turns out the customer service with American Express is so much stronger than my other card issuers, which I should have expected since J.D. Power rated American Express one of the top card issuers for customer satisfaction. The aspect of customer service that I was really impressed with was how easy it is to contact the representatives. My other credit cards only allow me to contact customer service through the phone, but American Express allows me to communicate with customer service via phone and online chat. When I first saw that option, I was skeptical of what they can actually help me with, but it turns out they can help you with just about everything because they use an account confirmation tool that allows you to confirm your identity without giving the representative all of the information, which was nice to see.
The intro bonus credits automatically
American Express makes it easy to earn the intro bonus. That’s because my $250 intro bonus was automatically credited to my account, which was a nice surprise to see on my statement. Although some people would likely prefer to accumulate these special offer rewards in an account to redeem how they choose, I appreciated the convenience these automatic credits offered. It should be noted that ongoing cash back rewards earned at the grocery store, gas station, department store or anywhere else you use the card will accumulate in a rewards dollars account, then when you have a minimum of $25 rewards dollars, you can choose if you want to redeem them for cash back in the form of statement credit, gift cards or merchandise.
Email alerts provide a peace of mind
I’m an online shopper, as I mentioned earlier. If I can get it online for the same price (or cheaper) that I’d pay in-store and pay $0 for shipping, I’m a happy camper. Although I love the convenience of online shopping, the obvious downside is fraud, as I have to type my credit card number into a website to make my purchase. My other credit cards offer some sort of email alerts about when my statement is ready or after my payment is processed, but I was really impressed with American Express’ alerts. Every time I use my card online, I get an email alert to let me know about the transaction. I did have to activate this alert — and I wasn’t sure I’d like it — but it’s proving to be a great feature because I can confirm that I made the purchase, delete the alert and continue on with my day. If I were to receive an alert about a transaction that I did not recognize, it would make me feel better knowing that American Express emailed me as soon as it hit my account, as opposed to a month later when it showed up on my statement.
It should be noted that those looking for an added layer of online security should opt for virtual credit card features that grant you a one-time number that you can use online. My Citi credit cards offer this feature, but I honestly forget to request a virtual account number 90% of the time, which is why I appreciate American Express’ email alerts. In the end, the virtual credit card is more secure because if the virtual card number is stolen, you can rest easy knowing that it will no longer work. On the other hand, if my actual card number was stolen, I would have to cancel the card out and request a new card number.
American Express offers a lot of added benefits
Credit cards usually have added perks. For example, a number of credit cards, including the Blue Cash Everyday Card, offer credit scores with a card membership. Other cards, like Citi and Discover cards, offer a way to temporarily freeze your account. While these perks are impressive, they are rather basic, which is why I was pleasantly surprised to see the extensiveness of American Express’ perks.
To start, Blue Cash Everyday Card members get a number of travel perks, including car rental loss and damage insurance if they pay for the rental with their card, global assist hotline that offers 24/7 access to medical, legal, financial or other select emergency coordination and assistance services when they travel more than 100 miles from home, access to a roadside assistance hotline that allows cardholders to get emergency services like towing, changing a flat tire or jumping a battery as well as travel accident insurance.
Next, cardholders get access to a handful of shopping and entertainment benefits, including an extended warranty of up to 1 year if they use their American Express card for the purchase, return protection that allows cardholders to return an eligible item purchased with their card within 90 days of the purchase date, phone protection that covers theft and accidental damage if they used the card for eligible purchases, access to ShopRunner, which will get the cardholder free 2-day shipping on qualifying purchases at 140+ online stores with 1,000+ brands, as well as exclusive access to ticket presales for local events, like Broadway shows, sporting events and concerts.
Finally, American Express offers cardholders smaller-scale, limited-time offers. For example, one of the many offers I received was if I spend $25 at a local burger spot, I’ll get a $5 statement credit. While these offers aren’t as impressive as the limited-time offers I was presented at signup, they still are worth checking out, as you may be able to get some sort of limited-time offer by spending money at your favorite store or restaurant.
Want to learn more about the Blue Cash Everyday Card? Read our Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express review to see if it’s also a fit for you, or visit our credit card reviews to learn more about the other generous credit card offers available right now.
Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This content was accurate at the time of this post, but card terms and conditions may change at any time. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.