Amex EveryDay and Blue Cash Card Differences

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There’s been a ton of buzz this week about American Express’ new credit cards they’ll be introducing on April 2, 2014 — the EveryDay Card and the EveryDay Preferred Card. This news is exciting because both cards accrue Membership Rewards points, which I find to be among the most valuable points currencies out there. And since it has been a point of confusion, it’s worth clarifying that the cards earn “real” Membership Rewards points, not just the type of points that can only be converted into Membership Rewards points in conjunction with another card.

That being said, the marketing of these cards is a bit of a mystery to me, although I will admit the Tina Fey commercials are hilarious.

Not only is it odd to launch such a broad marketing campaign this far in advance of the application being available, but the naming conventions are very similar to other products offered by American Express. On one hand that’s nice from a branding perspective, as they’re promoting a “family” of products, but on the other hand the variety of options can be a bit overwhelming for the average consumer.

Yesterday I compared the new EveryDay Preferred Card to the Premier Rewards Gold Card. I figure I can’t be the only one having to refresh myself on the benefits of the different cards on offer at this point, so I thought it would make sense to compare the new EveryDay Cards to American Express’ existing Blue Cash Cards.

Amex EveryDay Credit CardAmex EveryDay Preferred Credit CardBlue Cash Everyday® Card from American ExpressBlue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Annual fees$0$95$0$95
Sign-up bonusesEarn 10,000 Membership Rewards® points after you make $1,000 in purchases with your new Card in the first three months.Earn 15,000 Membership Rewards® points after you make $1,000 in purchases with your new Card in the first three months.Earn $100 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months. You will receive cash back in the form of statement credits.Earn $150 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months. You will receive cash back in the form of statement credits.
Earnings rates2x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent at U.S. supermarkets, for up to $6,000 per year of spend

1x Membership Rewards point per dollar spent on everything else

Terms and limitations apply
3x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent at U.S. supermarkets, for up to $6,000 per year of spend

2x Membership Rewards points per dollar at U.S. standalone gas stations

1x Membership Rewards point per dollar spent on everything else

Terms and limitations apply
3% at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases

2% at U.S. gas stations & select U.S. dept stores

1% on other purchases

Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.

Terms apply
6% at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases

3% at U.S. gas stations & select U.S. dept stores

1% on other purchases

Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.

Terms apply

Fundamentally, the biggest difference between the EveryDay Cards and the Blue Cash Cards is that the EveryDay Cards earn Membership Rewards points, while the Blue Cash Cards earn Reward Dollars, which are effectively a statement credit.

Comparing earnings rates at grocery stores

For purposes of comparison, lets assume that you complete the 20 and 30 transactions per billing cycle on the EveryDay and EveryDay Preferred Cards, which would earn you a 20% or 30% bonus on all points earned, respectively.

All four cards offer bonus points at US supermarkets, up to $6,000 per year in purchases.  If you were to max out that spend category (which at $500 per month seems reasonable), the points would break down as follows:

I value Membership Rewards points at 1.8 cents each, so I’d almost always prefer to accrue those over cash, but others might value them differently, and the 6% cash back with the Blue Cash Preferred is tough to beat.

Comparing the American Express EveryDay Card to the Blue Cash Everyday Card, you basically have the choice between 14,400 Membership Rewards and a $180 statement credit, so if you value Membership Rewards points at more than 1.25 cents each you’re better off with the American Express EveryDay Card.

Comparing the American Express EveryDay Preferred Card to the Blue Cash Preferred Card, you basically have the choice between 27,000 Membership Rewards points and a $360 statement credit, so if you value Membership Rewards points at more than 1.33 cents each you’re better off with the American Express EveryDay Preferred Card.

Comparing earnings rates at gas stations

Unlike the bonus categories at grocery stores, there’s no limit to the bonuses at gas stations.

This is one area where the Blue Cash Everyday Card potentially comes out ahead. It offers 2% cashback at gas stations, while the American Express EveryDay Card doesn’t offer bonuses for gas station spend, meaning you earn 1.2 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent (1.0 point plus a 20% bonus if you make 20 transactions in a billing cycle). So if you value Membership Rewards points at more than 1.67 cents each, you’re better off with the EveryDay Card, but otherwise you’re better off with the Blue Cash Everyday Card.

Comparing the American Express EveryDay Preferred Card to the Blue Cash Preferred Card, you basically have the choice between 3.0 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent (2.0 points plus a 50% bonus if you make 30 transactions in a billing cycle) and 3% cashback. So if you value Membership Rewards points at over a cent each, you’re better off with the EveryDay Preferred Card for spend at gas stations.

Bottom line:

All four of these cards are really compelling for everyday spend and bonus categories. Both the cashback and Membership Rewards accruing versions of the products have a no annual fee version that’s incredibly rewarding, and even the versions with the annual fee have a heck of a value proposition.

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Comments

  1. I did the math earlier today. Maxing out the $6k and spending $40 a week on gas for two quarters when Freedom doesn’t offer 5x nets me 30,120 points on the Everyday Preferred and 15,648 on the Everyday. I’ll take the extra 14,472 points for $95, thank you, fee waived or not.

  2. I would be interested in seeing how these interact with the signup bonuses, i.e. you might not get, say, a PRG signup bonus if you’ve had the PRG card in the past X months or currently have any other charge card.

  3. “Only the “premium” versions of both of the cards offer bonus points at gas stations.”

    Erm, that’s not quite right? The Blue Cash Everyday has 2x cash back on gas without an annual fee (which the new Everyday card does not)

  4. @ Gail lynch — I still think both cards are really valuable for different reasons. I don’t put spend on the Platinum Card, but keep it for the other benefits that come with it, like lounge access, Global Entry fee waivers, access to Fine Hotels & Resorts, a Priority Pass membership, etc.

  5. I’ve noticed that credit cards are usually swiped wrong in commercials so that the card logo will be right side up. This bothers me.

  6. I’m confused… how do you value your points at/over $0.01?? When you attempt to redeem your points for a product it’s either overprices or you redeem it for a gift card worth $100 – 10,000 points, $0.01 per point. So in that situation I don’t understand how there is ever a time when my points are valued at a higher rate making this new card worth more than the BlueCash Preferred??

    Please explain

  7. @ Joe — You can transfer the points to one of the dozen or so Membership Rewards airline partners, where you can get a lot more than one cent per point of value. For example, you can transfer 90,000 Membership Rewards points to the Aeroplan program, and that’s enough miles for a roundtrip business class ticket to Europe, which I think almost anyone would value at over $900.

  8. How does the calculus change for the old Amex Blue Cash card (5% on gas/grocery/drug stores after $6500/yr spent), 1% before that in those categories and 0.5% for others prior the threshold?

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