With the refresh of the popular Blue Cash Preferred credit card, American Express is looking to get into millennials’ wallets.
Starting May 9, American Express AXP, -0.18% is adding two new categories to the card’s cashback rewards program.
Card holders will receive 6% back on more than 20 U.S. streaming subscriptions. They include video-streaming services like Amazon Prime AMZN, -0.78% YouTube GOOG, -1.72% and Netflix NFLX, +2.23% HBO T, -0.55% and music-streaming services, including Apple Music, Pandora, Amazon Kindle Unlimited and Audible.
Card holders will receive 6% back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions and 3% back on transit purchases including parking, tolls, train fares and rideshares.
Additionally, American Express will no longer provide 3% back on department store purchases. Instead, those purchases will earn just 1% back in rewards dollars that can be redeemed for a statement credit starting July 31.
The Blue Cash Preferred card comes with an annual fee of $95. For the first 12 months, the card carries an annual percentage rate of 0% — after that, the interest rate resets to between 15.24% and 26.24% based in part on the card holder’s credit history. The card comes with other fees, including foreign transaction fees, balance transfer fees and late payment fees.
The changes only apply to the Blue Cash Preferred card — the other cards in the Blue Cash line including the Blue Cash Everyday card will remain the same.
Here is how the rest of the cashback program breaks down:
• 6% back at U.S. supermarkets up to $6,000 in purchases (after that the category earns 1% back)
• 3% back at U.S. gas stations
• 1% back on all other purchases
The changes will affect both new and existing card holders. New members who apply for the card will receive a welcome bonus of $250 if they spend $1,000 with the card in the first three months after opening. That’s an increase from the previous welcome bonus, which was $200.
American Express is aiming to cater to a younger demographic
Despite being a beloved card by many, change was all but inevitable.
“We launched the card in 2011 around this idea of everyday categories,” said Liz Bergman, vice president, U.S Lending Products, American Express. “What every day meant in 2011 is different from what every day means today.”
In 2019, everyday spending looks a lot like the habits of a millennial who lives in a big city, loves taking Lyft LYFT, -1.76% and Uber UBER, +0.00% rides everywhere while listening to Spotify SPOT, +0.54% and watches Netflix NFLX, +2.23% at night.
How the Blue Cash Preferred card will stack up
For starters, the card’s sign-up bonus is particularly lucrative compared with other cards. “The spending threshold to get the bonus is remarkably low,” said Ted Rossman, industry analyst with CreditCards.com. “It’s not the biggest sign-up bonus that’s out there, but it’s a solid return for a relatively low amount of spending.”
Comparatively, the Capital One Savor card COF, -0.27% requires $3,000 in spending in the first three months to earn the one-time $500 — or three times the amount in purchases for only double the reward.
Moreover, some of the cashback categories on the Blue Cash Preferred card are very competitive. For instance, someone who spends $6,000 on groceries each year would earn $360 back. And depending on how much someone commutes by public transit or ridesharing services, that reward could also be fairly lucrative.
While offering cashback for streaming services may make sense in the age of cord-cutting, it’s not necessarily the best use of a cashback category.
While offering cashback for streaming services may make sense as a marketing ploy in the age of cord-cutting, it’s not necessarily the best use of a cashback category. A recent study from personal-finance website CompareCards found that people spend $38 on average each month on streaming services. That’s $456, which equates to an annual reward of just over $27.
“With any credit card, it’s about finding what fits your lifestyle best,” said Matt Schulz, industry analyst at CompareCards. “If you spend a lot of money each month on streaming services and rideshares, this card can serve you well. Otherwise, you might be better off with a card that simply gives you 2% cash back on everything you buy everywhere.”