When it comes to earning the biggest return on groceries with American Express, your options come down to two cards: The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express and the American Express® Gold Card.
Both cards offer a fantastic return on grocery, but the true question comes down to which card is better? The answer heavily depends on how you plan on redeeming your rewards and how much spend you plan on running through these cards.
The AMEX Gold Card earns Membership Rewards Points which is a flexible rewards currency that is worth the most when redeemed towards travel.
The Blue Cash Preferred Card earns cash back which can be redeemed towards just about anything you can charge to the card.
Membership Rewards Points
Membership Rewards Points has a large list of redemption options that can give you anywhere from 0.5 cents to 2+ cents per point depending on how you use them.
When redeeming your points directly with AMEX, you can obtain the easist value of 1 cent per point by using them towards airfare on amextravel.com. This is the baseline value of Membership Rewards Points and anything lower than this is considered to be bad redemption value.
The table below shows the average value you'll be able to get out of your points with the AMEX Gold Card.
|Redemption||Average Value Per Point|
|Point Transfers To Partners||1.2 to 2+ Cents|
|Airfare via American Express Travel||1 Cent|
|Other AMEX Travel||0.7 Cents|
|Pay With Points At Checkout||0.7 Cents|
|Gift Cards||0.5 to 1 Cent|
|Statement Credit||0.6 Cents|
The best use of Membership Rewards Points will come from transferring points to AMEX's airline and hotel partners and redeeming them for travel. This gives you the ability to obtain a higher value than 1 cent per point.
Membership Rewards Points can be transferred to 20 partners.
|Aer Lingus AerClub||1,000 Points = 1,000 Avios|
|Aeromexico Club Premier||1,000 Points = 1,600 Premier Points|
|Air Canada Aeroplan||1,000 Points = 1,000 Aeroplan Points|
|Air France-KLM Flying Blue||1,000 Points = 1,000 Flying Blue Miles|
|All Nippon Airways Mileage Club||1,000 Points = 1,000 ANA Mileage Club Miles|
|Avianca LifeMiles||1,000 Points = 1,000 LifeMiles|
|British Airways Avios||1,000 Points = 1,000 Avios|
|Cathay Pacific Asia Miles||1,000 Points = 1,000 Asia Miles|
|Delta Airlines SkyMiles||1,000 Points = 1,000 Delta SkyMiles|
|Emirates Skywards||1,000 Points = 1,000 Skywards Miles|
|Etihad Guest||1,000 Points = 1,000 Etihad Guest Miles|
|Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles||1,000 Points = 1,000 HawaiianMiles|
|Iberia Plus||1,000 Points = 1,000 Avios|
|JetBlue TrueBlue||250 Points = 200 TrueBlue Points|
|Qantas Frequent Flyer||500 Points = 500 Qantas Points|
|Singapore KrisFlyer||1,000 Points = 1,000 KrisFlyer Miles|
|Virgin Atlantic Flying Club||1,000 Points = 1,000 Virgin Points|
|Choice Privileges||1,000 Points = 1,000 Choice Points|
|Hilton Honors||1,000 Points = 2,000 Hilton Honors Points|
|Marriott Bonvoy||1,000 Points = 1,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points|
Airline miles with most frequent flyer programs are worth 1.2 to 1.5 cents each on average for domestic flights and can be worth significantly more for upper class redemptions. So converting your Membership Rewards Points to miles with these programs is going to be the best route to take if you're looking for exceptional value.
Hotel rewards points are generally worth 0.6 to 0.7 cents on average, but there are sweet spots in most popular programs that can give you over 1 cent in value. This will typically be at high-scale properties or during peak times at popular beach/warm properties.
While the best use of points will typically come from first and business class redemptions with airline partners, don't feel pressured to go this route. As long as you're transferring points to partners to obtain more than the baseline 1 cent per point in value, all is good in the world of Membership Rewards Points.
American Express Cash Back
The Blue Cash Preferred Card earns cash back per $1 spent on the card. Unlike Membership Rewards Points, the value of cash back does not change.
The rewards you earn with the Blue Cash Preferred Card will be worth face value meaning that if you earn $5 in Rewards, those rewards will have a redemption value of $5.
When it comes to value, cash back earned with the Blue Cash Preferred will beat out Membership Rewards redemptions that would give you less than 1 cent in value. This includes redemptions such as cash back, statement credits, and gift cards.
Basically, the Blue Cash Preferred will be the better options if you don't plan on redeeming your rewards strickly for travel.
Comparing Earning Rates
Now that you're aware of what you can do with the rewards offered by the AMEX Gold and Blue Cash Preferred, lets take a look at how much you can earn running spend through them. Both cards feature several great everyday purchase categories that can earn you bonus rewards including U.S. supermarkets, gas stations, and restaurants.
|AMEX Gold Card||
|Blue Cash Preferred||
The only overlapping category on these cards is the U.S. supermarket category.
The Blue Cash Preferred Card earns a whopping 6% back on up to $6,000 in U.S. supermarket spend per year while the AMEX Gold Card earns 4X Membership Rewards Points on up to $25,000 per calendar year.
If you're redeeming Membership Rewards Points for 1 cent each, the AMEX Gold Card is going to give you a 4% return which is less than the Blue Cash Preferred's 6% back.
You'll need to redeem Membership Rewards Points for at least 1.5 cents each to match the 6% return, which is not hard to do if you're transferring points to AMEX's travel partners.
The AMEX Gold Card also has a significantly larger cap on it's U.S. supermarket category... over 4 times that of the Blue Cash Preferred. If you spend heavy at supermarkets (or buy gift cards which is why it has a cap in the first place), then the AMEX Gold could easily still be the best option even if you're redeeming points for 1 cent per point.
All-in-all, you can use the calculator at the bottom of this page to see which card earns you the best return across U.S. supermarket and other spend.
The AMEX Gold Card offers a handful of great travel benefits and annual credits. This includes a $120 dining credit, $120 in Uber Cash and access to The Hotel Collection. These benefits help make up for the annual fee if the card if you're able to use them.
The Blue Cash Preferred Card, on the other hand, doesn't offer any kind of unique travel benefits and doesn't offer any credits. The value you get out of this card will strickly depending on how much you spend on it.
Both cards offer the standard suite of American Express card member benefits which includes complimentary ShopRunner membership, access to AMEX Offers, and some travel/purchase coverage.
|AMEX Gold Card||
|Blue Cash Preferred||
Calculate how many Membership Rewards Points you can earn with the AMEX Gold and how much cash back you can earn with the Blue Cash Preferred. Compare the results side by side and see how much your rewards are worth when redeemed.