Comparing American Express Cash Back Cards

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Looking for a cash back card to add to your arsenal of rewards cards? Cashback cards play an essential role in any rewards strategy, putting money back in your wallet with every purchase charged to the card, while at the same time keeping things simple and straightforward.

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American Express currently offers several variations of cash back credit card, each featuring a different combination of welcome bonus, earning structure, annual fee, perks, and in some cases a cap on the cash back you can make in bonus categories. In this post, we compare the features of each Amex cash back card and highlight the ones we think offer top value for points and miles fans chasing cash back on everyday spending.

American Express Cash Back Credit Cards

Of the cards reviewed, two provide a flat percentage return across all purchases; the rest offer increased returns on select bonus categories. Unlike other Amex cards that earn flexible Membership Rewards points, or points and miles within a specific loyalty program, these cards are all straight cash back rewards cards providing a cash equivalent rebate on every dollar spent.

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

  • Welcome bonus: Earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months. (Terms Apply)
  • Earning structure: NEW 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions. NEW 3% Cash Back on transit including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more. 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%). 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations. 1% Cash Back on other purchases.
  • Annual fee: $95 (Rates & Fees)

Our take: A return of 6% is one of the highest you're likely to see on a cash back card, and on a necessity like groceries it’s an easy category to maximize. Our only wish is that the spending cap was a little higher to accommodate the average family’s annual grocery spend. We wouldn't recommend using the card internationally, however, as you’ll pay foreign transaction fees of 2.7% of each transaction after conversion to US dollars (Rates & Fees).

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

  • Welcome bonus: Earn a $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months. (Terms Apply)
  • Earning structure: 3% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%). 2% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores, 1% back on other purchases.
  • Annual fee: $0 (Rates & Fees)

Our take: For folks looking to earn cash back without the out-of-pocket expense of paying an annual fee, the Blue Cash Everyday receives a lower return on the same bonus categories as it’s more expensive stablemate, in addition to a slightly smaller welcome offer.

American Express Cash Magnet® Card

  • Welcome bonus: Earn a $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 or more in purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months. (Terms Apply)
  • Earning structure: Unlimited 1.5% Cash Back on your purchases.
  • Annual fee: $0 (Rates & Fees)

Our take: The latest card to join Amex’s stable of cash back rewards cards, and the first to feature a fixed-rate return, cardholders receive 1.5% back on all purchases with no limit to the cash back you can earn. While the welcome offer is one of the highest you’ll find on a consumer cash back card, to receive the full bonus requires a higher than average minimum spend than other cards in the same category. Where this card would provide a top return for cash back fans is making a big-ticket purchase to meet the full minimum spend requirement, earning the entire welcome bonus in one swoop and picking up the additional 1.5% cash back as icing on the cake.

SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express

  • Welcome bonus: Special offer: save on interest with a 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months; after that your APR will be a variable rate, currently 14.49% - 21.49% (Terms Apply – Rates & Fees)
  • Earning structure: 5% cash back on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. office supply stores. 3% on the category of your choice from a list of eight and 1% cash back on other purchases.
  • Annual fee: No annual fee (Rates & Fees)

Our take: The Amex SimplyCash Plus differs from many of the rewards' cards on Amex’s roster, in that it currently offers an introductory APR rate in place of cash or Membership Rewards points. Cardholders earn between 3-5% on up to $50K per year on an array of bonus categories that includes travel providers and a host of business categories (see our card review for a full list). Plus, the ability to choose the category returning 3% makes this a flexible rewards card suited to a wide range of business owners. If you’re chasing cash back as opposed to flexible rewards for your business, this card offers a viable alternative to flexible points-earning cards.

The Plum Card® from American Express

  • Welcome bonus: N/A
  • Earning structure: N/A
  • Annual fee: $0 introductory annual fee your first year, then $250. Rates & Fees

Our take: Essentially a business cash back charge card with a twist, the Amex Plum provides a 1.5% discount when you pay early (within ten days of the billing cycle closing), with no cap on the cash back you can earn (Terms Apply). The other main feature of the card is the ability to defer paying off large charges for up to 60 days without paying interest provided you’ve met the minimum payment by the due date, on a card you would typically need to pay off in full each month. The main downside to this card is the hefty annual fee, even waived for the first year, which is much higher than other business cash back cards offering similar rewards and benefits.

Final Thoughts

Each card provides a slightly different take on the cash back theme, with options ranging from the basic fixed-value Cash Magnet through to the Blue Cash Preferred which offers higher tiered cash back rewards but also charges an annual fee. Don’t forget to run the numbers against the best cards for everyday spending to ensure sure you get the highest return on every dollar you spend on your card. If you've got a particular category in mind, check out our resource on the best cards for each spending category.

Got a favorite Amex cash back card? Let us know in the comments below.

For rates and fees of the cards mentioned in this post, please visit the following links: Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express (Rates & Fees), Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express (Rates & Fees), American Express Cash Magnet® Card (Rates & Fees), SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express (Rates & Fees), and The Plum Card® from American Express (Rates & Fees)

Comparing American Express Cash Back Cards
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Comments

  • love my amex blue cards. simple easy cash back. great to see a comparison though

  • Amex gold for the win! Applied via a referral for 50k.

  • Simply Cash has been a winner for my husband’s business!

  • I much prefer the flat percentage return for simplicity. I can’t be filling up my few remaining brain cells trying to remember if it’s 3% back on gas, 6% on groceries or 3.7% on Furbies. So looks like it’s the Cash Magnet card for me! (No annual fee is also nice.)

  • This blog is quite timely for me. I have sufficient frequent flyer miles and bank points that will last me for quite a while. I think I will latch onto a cash back card for a year or two until I burn through my FFm’d and bank points.

  • Blue cash was my first card

  • Plum intrigues me.

    I didn’t know about it until now

  • Does anybody have a good way of tracking purchases based on card to maximize the cash back? I wonder if there is an app or something that tells you which card to use for which purchase. It would be even better if it could all be programmed into the app and automatic.

  • Tara: 50K “what”? I don’t get what you are saying.

  • I like simplycash out of the cards mentioned the most! The cashback is the most no-frills one mentioned.
    thanks!

  • Those of us who travel a lot can get much greater value from cards that earn points. If I were to stop traveling, then cash back will be more worthwhile. I really haven’t paid attention to these cards but it is good to know they are there if my circumstances ever change.

  • Thanks for the handy comparison. It really breaks it down nicely in one spot.

  • Much simpler to use the Citi DoubleCash and get the easy 2% on EVERY purchase with no limits and no annual fee

  • I have the no-fee cash back. It’s great for groceries! Watch for special offers too! 10% back on cell phone through December!!

  • Well, this certainly made me go look at the Amex cards. I have been looking at the citi double cash card. Now though the Blue Cash Everyday and the cash magnet card look better.
    I understand the whole cash back lure. If someone was looking between travel cards and cash back cards, would the travel cards still a better bet with some having the ability to transfer to an airline? Or would it be better just to charge all your travel to a cash back card and then just redeem your points to the charges?

  • I’ve never done cash back; I always want miles. But I have enough miles – I might look into one of these cards.

  • Nice summary. The 6k cap on supermarket purchases is too low tho…

  • Infesting read, I wish we could get some of these options in Canada but oh well, perhaps one day. cheers

  • I still have the old Amex blue cash card but the 5% cash back only good for 50K/yr, I missed the time when there is no limit on the cashback amount.

  • I’ve had a Blue Cash everyday card for a few years. I did start with the Preferred card for a year, but Amex increased the annual fee and I’m not a fan of paying for a credit card. The 6% cashback on the preferred card (and now 3% on the everyday card) is a nice perk since we all need groceries. But you have to be careful where you buy groceries. Stores like Wal Mart, Target don’t get the extra bonus for groceries.

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