When it comes to choosing a credit card, my personal preference is for cards with good everyday spending rewards. If you don’t travel a lot or dine out frequently, a card that gives good rewards for gas, groceries, and other basic spending is a great option. That’s where the The Amex Everyday® Credit Card from American Express and The Amex Everyday® Preferred Credit Card from American Express come in.
Both of these cards are great for weighting rewards towards things you’re already spending on. As you might guess, the Preferred card comes with better rewards, but also higher fees and a stricter credit requirement. But both options are worth looking at.
The Amex Everyday® Credit Card from American Express
This points-based credit card offers bonus points for supermarket purchases, and has a great bonus offer right now. Here’s what you need to know:
- 2x points on U.S. supermarket purchases (on up to $6,000 in purchases per year)
- 1x points on all other purchases
- No annual fee
- 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months
- 20% bonus points if you use your card at least 20 times on purchases in a billing period
- 10,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in the first three months of card membership
As you can see, this card is great if you spend a lot on groceries for your family. And since “supermarkets” are now defined pretty widely, you can actually earn 2X points on more than just food. According to the Amex website, a U.S. supermarket is a store that carries “a wide variety of food and household products.”
Some of Amex’s example supermarkets include Foodtown, Meijer, Shoprite, Whole Foods, Winn-Dixie, and Gristedes. It even includes online supermarkets like FreshDirect. Specialty stores like fish markets and wine shops don’t count, nor do warehouse clubs (BJ’s Club or Costco) or superstores (Amazon, Target, or Wal-Mart).
I’ve got to be honest, I’m not sure how Meijer makes the cut and Target and Wal-Mart don’t, but such is the way of things. What if your favorite supermarket isn’t on this list? Well, the list isn’t comprehensive. It’s worth calling Amex before applying for the card to see if your favorite shopping spot will be included.
You can get more details on the card here.
The Amex Everyday® Preferred Credit Card from American Express
With an annual fee, you can expect that this card will also have more valuable points rewards. And it does. Here’s what you can get with the Amex Everyday® Preferred card:
- 3X points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 in purchases per year)
- 2X points at U.S. gas stations
- 1X points on everything else
- $95 annual fee
- 0% introductory fee on balance transfers and purchases for 12 months
- 50% bonus points when you use your card 30 or more times on purchases in a billing period
- 15,000 bonus points when you make $1,000 in purchases in your first three months
Clearly, you need to be sure that you’ll out-earn that $95 annual fee with this card if you decide to go with this option. We’ll discuss below what that might look like. But if you spend enough on groceries and gas, especially, that won’t likely be an issue for you.
Again, be sure to check the list on the Amex website of what counts as a supermarket and what counts as a gas station. If your go-to places aren’t explicitly listed, consider calling Amex to see if they’ll give you bonus points before you apply.
You can get more details on the card here.
Calculating Potential Points
So how many points can you expect to earn? And where’s your break-even point, after which it makes sense to pay the $95 per year for the Amex Everyday® Preferred card? Here’s a bit of math, based on the “average” American budget.
The USDA notes that in December 2015 (the most recent data available), a family of four on a moderate-cost grocery plan will spend about $245 per week on groceries. So that comes to $12,740 per year. And the EIA says that Americans will spend about $1,962 on gas in 2015.
If you only use your Amex card for these two expenses, here’s how your points break down for a year of card membership:
Amex Everyday®: 12,000 points on supermarket purchases + 8,702 points on other purchases = 20,702 points
Amex Everyday® Preferred: 24,000 points on supermarket purchases + 3,924 points on gas purchases = 27,924 points
If you get a per-point value of $.01, you’ll have earned $207.02 with your Amex Everyday® or $279.24 with your Amex Everyday® Preferred. As you can see, you didn’t out-earn your $95 annual fee, unless you get a better per-point value.
This is just one example based on averages. So it’s up to you to do the math based on your own budget. And don’t forget to take into account the 20% or 50% point bonuses if you make lots of separate purchases in a month.
But, as you can see, it’s worth doing the math to determine which card will work best for your particular needs and spending patterns.
Both of these cards gather up Amex Membership Rewards, points that you can redeem in a variety of ways. However, it’s important to understand that, as with most points programs, your points will have a different value, depending on how you use them.
According to this chart, the most valuable option is to transfer your points to a travel rewards program, though some programs give you more bank for your buck than others. Other valuable options include buying gift cards from the Amex store and booking flights with your points.
It’s important to understand what kind of value you’ll get for your points when using them, especially if you’re saving up for a big trip or purchase. With rewards weighted towards travel, you’re better off using your Everyday card rewards to save up for next year’s spring break trip.
Also, it’s important to play around with how your points will redeem. Plenty of websites that focus exclusively on credit card points will tell you about what your points will be worth for various redemptions. But they’re not always completely up-to-date. So check out the actual Amex website when redeeming points. Try different combinations to see which is most valuable to you at the time.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that both of these are great everyday spending credit cards, especially if your goal is to earn points to spend on travel. They’re not great for actual use on international travel, though, as they do have a foreign transaction fee.
Again, though, you’ll only get good bang for your buck from these cards if you first choose the one that best fits your spending patterns, and then learn to redeem your points for maximum value. It takes just a bit of work to figure these things out, but then you could be well on your way towards using grocery spending to earn points for free spring break flights!