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Looking for a cash back card to add to your arsenal of rewards cards? Cash back 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.
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.
- Welcome bonus: Earn a $200 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months. (Terms Apply)
- Earning structure: 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%) - that means spending $60 a week at U.S. supermarkets could earn over $180 back per year. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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)
- 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.
- 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.
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)
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