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How to get the most out of Amex BCE?

Regular Contributor

Re: How to get the most out of Amex BCE?

I first thought that the BCP was going to be a great card for me because I have a family, but it's severely restricted on the actual stores that you get the return at. I didn't know of or read the list before applying and as it turns out, the only place that actually codes as grocery that is convenient for me locally is a Safeway that I don't use very often-usually when I'm just looking to grab a few items for dinner. Combined with the fact that I have a USAA Cash Rewards (5% cb in fuel) and USAA Limitless (2.5% everywhere), the card is pretty useless to me for most everything outside of the $15k limit padding my overall utilization. I will probably downgade to the BCE and SD it at the year mark.

Message 21 of 58
Valued Contributor

Re: How to get the most out of Amex BCE?

I've purchased gift cards occasionally with Amex and they code as groceries along with everything else I'm buying that day.

Those terms are there so that if you go hog wild and buy $800 in gift cards, they can claw back those benefits and point to the specific place in the contract where it says they can.  They definitely can see if you doing MS to max out rewards, and they REALLY don't like it when people do that.

My BCE was my first foray back with Amex after a bad end to our relationship a decade ago.  I got a great bonus from it, and my first 3x CLI.  Since then I have gotten approved for several more Amex cards with no HPs.  Getting that BCE was one of the best things I did for my credit.

That said, I probably won't keep it.  The rewards scheme on the Amex blue cash cards is truly medieval.  I can get 3% on groceries with my Synovus card and don't have to wait two statements to see it, and can redeem as much as I want.  If I was to put my grocery spend on the BCE, I'd have to spend over $833 before I could see any rewards, and I can't even redeem all of it because of the mandatory $25 increments.  For me, this is not a keeper card.

Message 22 of 58
Established Contributor

Re: How to get the most out of Amex BCE?

I occasionally buys a few GCs for my nieces and nephews on their birthday. I doubt Amex would care even if I told them. I imagine the reason that's included in the terms, is so they can go after anyone suspected of MS. Making a single $500 purchase every that might get their attention. Short of using a different purchase method there's really no way to not have my GCs code as grocery.
Message 23 of 58
Super Contributor

Re: How to get the most out of Amex BCE?

It sounds like the overall tone from this thread more or less aligns with my original feeling that the BCE really isn't all that great of a card outside of the grocery category.  As others have stated, rotating cards sometimes offer 5% on groceries.  Discover has this going on from April-June, basically making my BCE irrelevant for those 3 cycles.  I guess I could look further into Amex offers and see if anything is appealing there. 

Message 24 of 58
Established Contributor

Re: How to get the most out of Amex BCE?

I closed my BCE last year.  The BCE had been earning about $90 per year in cash back from my grocery store purchaes.  That's only $30 more than the $60 I could earn by charging my groceries to a 2% on everything card.  The extra $30 wasn't worth the Amex hassles of (a) delayed posting of rewards and (b) $25 minimum redemptions.  Also, I didn't find the Amex offers to be good enough to tip the scales in the BCE's favor.  I've been without the BCE for 8 months now, and I don't miss it at all.

In my wallet: Chase Sapphire Reserve • PenFed Power Cash Rewards
Also have: Chase United MileagePlus Explorer • UNFCU Azure • NFCU cashRewards • NFCU Go Rewards • PenFed Promise
Message 25 of 58
Super Contributor

Re: How to get the most out of Amex BCE?

Sometimes a card just isn't beneficial for your spend. That's don't have to force yourself to justify it. As you note, the only real advantage over a 2% card is an extra 1% on grocery spend, and you can only cash out $25 at a time of that, so the actual reward is IMO not much more if anything.


Beyond that, I find I can save more money shopping at Walmart or Target, even if they don't "count" as grocery stores. So chasing that 3% is worthless if you will save more in the long run at another store and "only" get 2% on your 2% card.


Bottom line I don't think the BCE is anything special at all, other than occasional Amex offers, etc. It sounds like the card just isn't a great fit for you. As much as people talk about Amex Offers, for me they were usually for products/services I don't really use, not really for common merchants (BOA's Amerideals, IMO, tend to be for more commonplace merchants but YMMV).

Message 26 of 58
Community Leader
Valued Contributor

Re: How to get the most out of Amex BCE?

What justifies my BCE is the fact that it has my highest limit. Because of that, it gets some 1% purchases during months that I spend a lot.


I've done very well with the supermarket rewards. Every place I shop has qualified outside of the store that doesn't accept credit cards at all.


Because I haven't found a 2% general spending card that fits my needs, any card I currently have with a 2% category is attractive. My AMEX card gets most of my gas purchases, with the rest going on my Chase Amazon Visa.


Most of the AMEX offers don't appeal to me, but I think that's the nature of the beast. I've been able to take advantage of a few of them, though.


The department store category is strange. I take advantage of it reasonably regularly, but I think it's weird that certain stores are excluded. They reward Bon-Ton, but they don't reward Bon-Ton's sister brands (Bergner's, Boston Store, Carson's, Elder-Beerman, Herberger's, and Younkers), even though for all practical purposes, they're exactly the same store. I've been able to take advantage of the rewards at Nordstrom, Macy's, Penney's, Lord and Taylor, and Kohl's, though.


I figure that the rewards redemption is what it is. To make it work, I let the dollars run up and take them as a "windfall." What I find to be much more annoying is waiting two statements to find out if a particular merchant qualifies for a category reward.

Message 27 of 58
Established Contributor

Re: How to get the most out of Amex BCE?

If you spend more than $3200/yr on groceries, you are better off with the BCP instead of BCE. If you spend more than $6K, you should have both. I can get gas at my Meijer, and it codes as groceries. Most of my groceries come from Kroger, which is a 6% place, except the gas station. Basically, I get either 6% or 3% on at least $1500/mo spend, which makes them a good fit for me. YMMV.

Message 28 of 58
New Contributor

Re: How to get the most out of Amex BCE?

Meijer is one of the stores that is on the grocery store list, but they are a superstore that sells general merchandise too.  You could get a TV, school supplies, sump pump, car battery, and clothes and they'll all count for 3% back.  If you live in the midwest, that one store makes the AMEX blue cash cards more valuable, IMO.


I got the BCP because I shop at Meijer all the time and there's also a Ruler foods (Kroger subsidiary) nearby where I buy some groceries too and they also get 6%.  Once I verified that those two stores would work for 6%, the BCP was a no brainer.  I may have to try it at the pump to see if I get 6% at Meijer gas too once the Discover quarter for gas is over (the 2x first year is getting me 10% on gas at the moment).  I have a 5% gas card so I haven't tried using the AMEX for gas.


I also just used an AMEX offer for Shipt, which delivers groceries to your house.  The prices are marked up from what you would normally pay at the store if you went yourself, but it was $50 off $100 of groceries (and it appears to have coded as a grocery store as well, so 6% on top of that) so I came out ahead. 


Normally the AMEX offers aren't for stores that I go to so I forget to look at them, but I've seen a couple that are appealing when I've browsed them all.


And lastly, as some have mentioned, AMEX is pretty easy to get a 3x credit limit increase so even if you don't use it much, you could just keep increasing the limit with soft pull CLIs and help your overall utilization.

Message 29 of 58
Mega Contributor

Re: How to get the most out of Amex BCE?


Amex can't see my receipt, how would they know if it's a gift card or bread I purchased?

Exactly, perhaps we should get a group of people whom would like to test this out during a statement....🤔🤔

I think you will find that LOTS of people have been doing it here for quite a while!


Re concerns: the BCP is capped low, so it is very unlikely that Amex will put effort into researching use of gift cards on this credit card.   Eventually they got concerned with the uncapped OBC, but there have been NO reports of any issues now that that card is capped at $50K a year.

Message 30 of 58