September 22, 2014

American Express Blue Cash Preferred

APR: 13% to 22%

Annual Fee: $75

Sign-Up Bonus: $150 after spending $1,000 in the first three months

Rewards: 6% on groceries on up to $6,000 in purchases and 1% thereafter; 3% on gas and certain department stores; 1% on everything else

Why It’s a Winner: You won’t find a payout higher than 6% on any other card­—and groceries are one of Americans’ top expenses. Plus, 3% at the pump is very high. If you spend $500 a month on groceries—the average for an affluent family—and $250 on gas, you’ll get $525 the first year with the bonus and fee and $375 the second.

Caveats: The card doesn’t make sense if you don’t charge groceries. Also, because of its low return on other purchases, your best move is to pair this with a 5% or flat-rate card.

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