Blue from American Express® Review: A Basic Rewards Credit Card With No Annual Fee

Elizabeth is a writer specializing in credit cards, student loans, debt repayment, and small business. Her work has also appeared on MSN Money, Yahoo! Finance, and Business Insider.

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The Blue from American Express® is one of American Express’s most stripped down rewards cards, offering a lower rewards rate and fewer perks than others. However, folks who have had trouble getting approved for premium rewards credit cards might have better luck with this one. Given its simple terms, flexible redemption, and no annual fee, the Blue from American Express® is also a good choice for anyone looking to try out a rewards credit card for the first time.

Blue from American Express®
Our Bottom Line

One of the few American Express cards available for people with low credit. The 1x earn rate for purchases is a welcome addition in a category where rewards are rare.

What we Like:
  • Earns rewards
  • Credit score range for approval
  • No annual fee
Key Scores:
3.5 5 Perks
3.5 5 Fees
3.5 5 APR
Perks 3.5/5
Fees 3.5/5
APR 3.5/5
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Regular APR: 25.74% variable APR on purchases.
  • Intro APR: Purchases: N/A Balance Transfers: N/A
Highlights
  • Earn 1X Membership Rewards® point for every eligible dollar you spend.
  • No annual fee.
  • Free ShopRunner Membership.
  • Online Year-End Summary of Purchases.

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Rates & Fees

The information for this card has been collected independently by The Ascent and not provided by the issuer. Therefore, some terms may be out of date. Visit the issuer's website for more information.

What I like

No annual fee -- If you’re unfamiliar with credit card rewards, starting out with a rewards credit card with no annual fee is a smart choice.

Unlimited 1 point per $1 spent -- You’ll get 1 Membership Rewards® point for every $1 you spend with your Blue from American Express®, and there’s no limit to how many points you can earn.

Earn double points on American Express Travel reservations -- If you book travel purchases such as prepaid hotel stays, vacation packages, and cruises through the American Express Travel portal, you’ll earn 2 points for every $1 you spend.

Flexible redemption options -- Membership Rewards® points can be redeemed for a huge range of products and services, including travel purchases, gift cards, concert tickets, Uber rides, Amazon cash back, and even statement credits. As you’ll read further down, though, many of these redemption options offer a low value.

ShopRunner membership -- American Express cardholders receive a free ShopRunner membership, which gives you unlimited free shipping and returns with a number of online retailers. This membership is worth $79 per year.

Why you can trust me

I’ve been a credit card rewards junkie for over five years now. Throughout my time collecting points and miles, I’ve accumulated over a million across various programs and saved thousands on yearly international vacations. In addition to spending my spare time reviewing credit card offers for personal use, I’m also a personal finance writer with a focus on credit cards.

What could be improved

Bonus categories -- While other American Express cards come with bonus categories that will net you 2 or 3 points per $1 spent, the vast majority of your purchases with this card will only get you 1 point per $1.

Foreign transaction fee -- You’ll be charged a 2.7% foreign transaction fee on all purchases made abroad, so this isn’t a great card to travel with.

Suggested credit score

This is one of the easiest Membership Rewards® cards to get. People with a good credit score, which is a FICO® Score of 670 or above, should have no problem receiving approval. Even people with an average or poor credit score have a decent chance of being approved.

What Membership Rewards® points are worth

Most Membership Rewards® redemption options offer a flat-rate value of $0.005 to $0.01 per point. However, transferring Membership Rewards® to a variety of airline and hotel chains can yield up to $0.02 per point if done wisely. When all redemption options are averaged, I estimate Membership Rewards® points to be worth $0.012 each.

How to maximize redeeming Membership Rewards® points

One big plus of the Membership Rewards® program is how easy it is to redeem your points. However, with such a wide range of redemption options, many of them yield a pretty low value. Here are some tips for making the most out of your Membership Rewards® points.

Transfer to airline partners

You can transfer your Membership Rewards® points to a long list of hotel and airline transfer partners, although airlines tend to yield a higher value.

  • Airline partners: AeroMexico, Air Canada, Alitalia, Aer Lingus, ANA, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Delta Airlines, EL AL, Emirates, Etihad Airways, FlyingBlue AirFrance/KLM, Hawaiian, Iberia, JetBlue, Singapore Airlines, Virgin Atlantic
  • Hotel partners: Choice Privileges, Hilton Honors, Starwood Preferred Guest
Don’t redeem for shopping or gift cards

Redeeming your points with shopping partners like Amazon, Best Buy, and Staples is one of the lower value redemption options, giving you just $0.007 per point.

Avoid redeeming points through travel portals

The American Express Travel portal also offers just $0.007 per point, so it’s better to transfer your points to an airline or hotel if you want to use them for travel.

Skip the statement credit option

The option to redeem points for statement credits, similar to a cash-back credit card, is easy and convenient. However, it only gets you $0.006 per point.

Other starter credit cards to consider

Blue from American Express® has its standout features that are worth comparing to other leading starter credit cards on the market, including Discover it® Student Cash Back and Capital One® Platinum Credit Card.

Discover it® Student Cash Back has a best-in-class rewards program for student credit cards, which are the type of credit card many first-timers use before graduating to general consumer credit cards.

Capital One® Platinum Credit Card doesn't earn rewards but applicants can qualify with a thin credit history or with a low credit score and work their way toward a higher credit line after five months of on-time payments.

Both have their pros and cons. The main them they share in common is approval can be secured with no credit and/or a low credit score, and used wisely with on-time payments and smart use of debt, can help to improve your credit score.

As of Nov. 18, 2019
Discover it® Student Cash Back Capital One® Platinum Credit Card
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5 stars
ToolTip Icon for Star Rating. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor.
Rating image, 4.0 out of 5 stars.
4.0 stars
ToolTip Icon for Star Rating. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor.
Apply Now
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On Discover's Secure Website.

Read Full Review Rates & Fees
Apply Now
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On Capital One's Secure Website.

Read Full Review

Credit Rating Requirement: New/Rebuilding: Clickable tooltip icon for credit rating info.

Credit Rating Requirement: Fair Clickable tooltip icon for credit rating info.

Bonus: Cash back matched after the first year Bonus: N/A
Rewards Program: Earn 5% cash back in rotating quarterly categories you activate ($1,500 quarterly spending cap), 1% back on all else Rewards Program: N/A
Intro APR: Purchases: 0%, 6 months Balance Transfers: 10.99%, 6 months Intro APR: Purchases: N/A Balance Transfers: N/A
Regular APR: 14.49% - 23.49% Variable Regular APR: 26.99% Variable
Annual Fee: $0 Annual Fee: $0

Highlights:

  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 14.49% - 23.49%.

Highlights:

  • Pay no annual fee
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
  • Fraud coverage if your card is lost or stolen
  • Use online banking to access your account, even from your smartphone, with our mobile app
  • Pay by check, online or at a local branch, all with no fee - and pick the monthly due date that works best for you
  • Get access to your account 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • Help strengthen your credit for the future with responsible card use

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Apply Now
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On Discover's Secure Website.

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Apply Now
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On Capital One's Secure Website.

This card is right for you if…

  • You’re building credit. Because the Blue from American Express® is arguably the easiest Membership Rewards® credit card to receive approval for, it’s a good card to get if you’re working on improving your credit score before going for a card with a higher rewards rate.
  • You’re new to rewards credit cards. If you’ve never navigated credit card rewards systems before, finding a beginner credit card is a good way to get your feet wet without losing any money on fees. Once you get a feel for the Membership Rewards® program, you can always switch to another American Express card with a higher rewards rate.

How to apply

Applying for the Blue from American Express® is a simple and fast process. In order to complete the application online, you’ll want to have the following information ready:

  • Your name, address, phone number, and email address
  • Your social security number and date of birth
  • Your income and income source

You can receive a decision in as little as 30 seconds. In some cases, your application may take longer to process, and you’ll hear back via email or phone within 30 days.

Final take

The Blue from American Express® is a simple, stripped-down rewards credit card. It offers far less value than other American Express rewards credit cards. At the same time, it’s easier to receive approval and comes with no annual fee, making it a great starter card for someone interested in collecting Membership Rewards® points.

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