WHY IT WINS
If you do most of your charging on basic purchases— food, gas, clothing at the mall—the American Express Blue Cash Preferred card delivers the best rewards. You get 6% cash back on the first $6,000 you spend each year at a grocery store—delivering $360 annually, if you hit the max. You’ll also earn 3% at U.S. gas stations and some department stores, such as Macy’s and Nordstrom. The sign-up bonus is generous and relatively easy to collect.
Unlike most cash-back cards, this has an annual fee, now $95. So if you spend less than $1,600 a year at grocery stores, for example, you could actually lose money. You won’t get the grocery bonus at wholesale clubs like Sam’s Club. For non-bonus categories, switch to a 2% flat-rate card like the Double Cash.
Rewards: 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets, up to $6,000 per year; 3% at U.S. gas stations and at some U.S. department stores; 1% on all other purchases.
Sign-up bonus: $150 after spending $1,000 in 90 days.
Annual fee: $95
APR: 0% on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months, 13.2% to 23.2% after that.