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Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express review: no annual fee credit card with strong grocery rewards

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If you find yourself frequently filling your grocery cart while walking the aisles of your local supermarket, it can be a good idea to consider paying with a credit card that offers extra cash back on groceries.

The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express ranks as the top no annual fee card for groceries on our lists for the best grocery rewards credit cards and the best no annual fee cash-back credit cards.

While cards that have an annual fee usually come with a wider range of benefits, consumers using the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express can still enjoy noteworthy perks, such as car rental loss and damage insurance and free two-day shipping with ShopRunner (see rates and fees).

When CNBC Select crunched the numbers and analyzed over 200 credit cards, we found that consumers can earn competitive rewards with the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express over a five year period. (See our methodology for more information on how we choose the best cards.)

Below, we break down the rewards, benefits and fees associated with the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express to help you decide if it's the right card for you.

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express review

  • Rewards
  • Additional benefits
  • Fees
  • Bottom line

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

  • Rewards

    3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%), 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores, 1% cash back on other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn back $150 after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new card in your first 3 months from account opening

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% APR for the first 15 months on purchases and balance transfers (requested in the first 60 days from card opening)

  • Regular APR

    14.49% to 25.49% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater

  • Foreign transaction fee

    2.7%

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

  • See rates and fees and our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • 3% cash back at U.S. supermarket spending (up to $6,000 a year, then 1%)
  • Unlimited 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores
  • Amex Offers, which provide statement credits or opportunity to earn more rewards at select merchants
  • 0% APR during the first 15 months on new purchases and balance transfers

Cons

  • 2.7% fee on purchases made abroad
  • Not great for people who don’t regularly go grocery shopping
  • Estimated rewards earned after 1 year: $515
  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years: $1,973

Rewards totals incorporate the points earned from the welcome bonus

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On American Express's Secure Site

Rewards

This card offers a competitive 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%). You also earn 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores and 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Here's an example of eligible spending in each category:

  • U.S. supermarkets: Whole Foods, Stop and Shop and FreshDirect (excludes superstores, warehouse clubs and specialty stores)
  • U.S. gas stations: Exxon, Shell and Murphy USA (excludes gas stations that are part of supermarkets or warehouse clubs)
  • Department stores: Bloomingdale's, Macy's and Kohl's

New cardholders can also benefit from a $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 on eligible purchases on your new card within the first three months from account opening.

CNBC Select calculated how many rewards the average American can earn if they optimize the way they use their Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express. We worked with the location intelligence firm Esri, who provided us with a sample annual spending budget of $21,852.

The budget includes six main categories: groceries ($5,019), gas ($2,394), dining out ($3,365), travel ($2,154), utilities ($4,959) and general purchases ($3,961).

Here's a breakdown of how much cash back you can earn in each category, annually:

  • Groceries: $151
  • Gas: $48
  • Dining out: $34
  • Travel: $22
  • Utilities: $50
  • General purchases: $60
  • Total: $365

Cash back is received in the form of Blue Cash Reward Dollars, which can be redeemed for a statement credit (when your reward dollar balance is $25 or more), gift cards or merchandise.

Based on the annual spending budget from Esri, the average American can earn an estimated $515 in the first year of card membership (if you earn the welcome bonus) and $1,973 over five years. This assumes that cardholders are redeeming cash back for a typical value of 1 cent each. Extreme optimizers might be able to achieve more value, and you may earn a higher or lower return depending on your spending habits.

Additional benefits

The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express offers a variety of benefits that Amex cards are known for and that can save you money on merchandise, shipping and travel. Here are some ways you can save:

  • Finance new purchases or pay off debt: You can benefit from a 0% APR for the first 15 months on purchases and balance transfers (then 14.49% to 25.49% variable APR). During the intro period, you can pay off new purchases or transfer debt without accruing interest. Just know, there's a 3% balance transfer fee ($5 minimum) (see rates and fees).
  • Amex Offers: Receive discounts at participating merchants, such as restaurants, clothing stores and hotels, when you meet spending requirements and other terms. Offers vary by location and change frequently.
  • ShopRunner: Get free two-day shipping on eligible items at over 100 online stores.
  • Entertainment access: Trying to score tickets to your favorite band or a Broadway show? Amex provides exclusive pre-sale access and preferred seating for concerts, plays, sporting events and more.
  • Travel insurance and protections: When cardholders pay for travel expenses with their card, they can benefit from car rental loss and damage insurance and a global assist hotline.
  • Purchase protection: Merchandise purchased with your card may receive return protection, which helps if you try to return an eligible item within 90 days from the date of purchase and the merchant won't take it back.

Terms apply for all benefits.

Fees

The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express has no annual fee (see rates and fees). That's compared to the similar Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, which has a $95 annual fee (see rates and fees).

If you don't want to pay for a credit card, no annual fee credit cards are a great alternative that can often provide many of the same perks as cards with annual fees. For example, the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express offers many of the same additional benefits as the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, such as ShopRunner and travel insurance.

This card has a typical APR at 14.49% to 25.49% variable on purchases and balance transfers. We recommend always paying on time and in full to avoid interest charges (see rates and fees).

Bottom line

If you often spend on groceries, but aren't willing to fork over money for an annual fee, the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express is a great no annual fee alternative. You can earn an estimated $151 every year at U.S. supermarkets, which may cover the cost of groceries for a week or two.

If you want to earn double the cash back on groceries and don't mind paying a $95 annual fee, consider the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express (see rates and fees).

Our methodology

To determine which credit cards offer the best value, CNBC Select analyzed 234 of the most popular credit cards available in the U.S. We compared each card on a range of features, including rewards, welcome bonus, introductory and standard APR, balance transfer fee and foreign transaction fees, as well as factors such as required credit and customer reviews when available. We also considered additional perks, the application process and how easy it is for the consumer to redeem points.

CNBC Select teamed up with location intelligence firm Esri. The company's data development team provided the most up-to-date and comprehensive consumer spending data based on the 2018 Consumer Expenditure Surveys from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You can read more about their methodology here.

Esri's data team created a sample annual budget of approximately $21,852 in retail spending. This budget is comprised of the most common spending categories, including groceries ($5,019), gas ($2,394), dining out ($3,365), travel ($2,154), utilities ($4,959) and general purchases ($3,961). General purchases include items such as housekeeping supplies, clothing, personal care products, prescription drugs and vitamins, and other vehicle expenses.

CNBC Select used this budget to estimate how much the average consumer would save over the course of a year, two years and five years, assuming they would attempt to maximize their rewards potential by earning all welcome bonuses offered and using the card for all applicable purchases. All rewards total estimations are net the annual fee.

While the five-year estimates we've included are derived from a budget similar to the average American's spending, you may earn a higher or lower return depending on your shopping habits.

For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, click here.

For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, click here.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the CNBC Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.

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