Executive Summary -
This is probably the best card on the market today for spending on groceries and department stores. In fact, this card pays the highest cash back for spending at US stand-alone supermarkets (up to $6,000 a year) and the only one we know of (aside from the "Everyday version") at select US Department stores. This is the card that you should carry everyday in your wallet.
When Amex launched the new Blue Cash Series with their "Everyday" and "Preferred" version, they followed the strategy that they adopted for the Blue Sky series. That strategy was to have two cards, one with no annual fee and one that comes with it. The main difference is the the one with the annual fee will have better perks.
This "Preferred" version is the annual fee version and it has slightly better perks than the "Everyday version". So what are they?
Well, firstly, you can earn 6% cash back at US standalone supermarkets for up to $6,000 in annual spending. In contrast, the "Everyday" version allows you to earn only 3% (but for unlimited grocery spending). Whereas the "Everyday" allows you to earn 2% cash back at US standalone gasoline stations, this version allows you to earn 3% (which is at the higher end of the range in terms of gasoline cash back earnings). While the Everyday version allows you to earn 2% cash back at "select department stores", this version allows you to earn 3%.
Everything Else Is The Same - Aside from the cashback formula, everything other feature is identical. That means that you will also get access to the Blue Savings program where you get discounts from their merchant partners.
The number of ways you can redeem the rewards (or rather cash) you have earned is also the same as the "Everyday" version. You can redeem them for (well) cash once you've accumulated 25 reward dollars. You can also redeem them for gift cards and merchandises (hint: Amex appears to be turning this to more than just a simple rebate card).
The purchase protection, extended warranty, travel accident insurance, car rental insurance rewards are the same as well.
Question: Should I Get This Version or the "Everyday" one? - If you are reading a review of this card, then surely you will be wondering if it makes sense to get it or the no annual fee version. But before we get to that, let us do a quick recap on it's competition and the other choices that you have.
Regular readers of this site will know that there are two types of cash rewards card, namely the straight cash back types and the rotating categories type. The first type has a typical base rate of 1%, but pays out more than 1% on select expense types. For example, you might find a card that pays you 2% on gasoline expenses and dining expenses. And you do earn these extra cash back the whole year round. The latter type (rotating categories) also have a base rate of 1%. But rather than paying extra for certain expenses the whole year round, they typically pay 5% (the going market rate) on certain categories for three months in a row. After that it changes to other types of expenses where you can earn 5% cash back.
The advantage of a card like this is that it has a straight simple formula. In this case, you know you can get extra cash back on groceries, gasoline spending and "shopping at department stores" pretty much the whole year round. If you decide that this is your cup of tea, then you have to bear in mind that this is perhaps the rare cash back card with annual fee! But in it's defense, it is the only one that pays 6% on "US stand-alone supermarkets". No other card that we know has supermarkets in their category for the whole year round (and even if there is, I doubt that they will pay 6%).
Whether or not you choose this over the Everyday depends on how much you spend on groceries and on the card and whether you will earn more cash back (net of the annual fee). You have to work out your monthly spending in these categories and math behind it. But many households, I suspect that this card will end up saving you a lot of money from the cash back that you earn. It is indeed one of the best there is out there.