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Amex Cash Back vs. Chase Cash Back: Which is best?

Sept. 23, 2020
15 min read
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With the pandemic effectively putting a stop to travel, more people are turning to cash-back cards for simple rewards that can maximize -- and sometimes even offset -- their everyday spending. Amex and Chase both offer an impressive line-up of cash-back credit cards that come loaded with perks. However, they’re very different and provide unique benefits that make choosing “the best” one challenging.

Related: Why there’s no such thing as the ‘best’ credit card

Today we’ll take a deep dive into Amex and Chase cash cards and see how they stack up against each other.

American Express Cards

  • American Express Cash Magnet® Card: Best for Amex beginners
  • Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express: Best for maximizing cash back
  • Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express: Best for cash back beginners
  • American Express Blue Business CashCard: Best for flat-rate rewards

The information for the Amex Cash Magnet Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Chase Cards

  • Chase Freedom Unlimited: Best for intro APR
  • Chase Freedom Flex: Best for comprehensive category bonuses
  • Ink Business Cash Credit Card: Best for small business spending
  • Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card: Best for flat-rate rewards for those spending over $50,000

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Comparing Amex vs.Chase cash-back personal cards

American Express Cash Magnet® CardBlue Cash Preferred® Card from American ExpressBlue Cash Everyday® Card from American ExpressChase Freedom UnlimitedChase Freedom Flex
Welcome offer$150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in the first three months. Earn a $350 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card within the first six months.Earn a $200 statement credit after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card within the first six months of card membership.Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!$200 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
Category bonusesN/A6% cash back on purchases at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 of spending each calendar year, then 1%) and on select U.S. streaming subscriptions

3% on transit and at U.S. gas station.

Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed for statement credits.

Terms Apply

3% cash back on U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per calendar year; then 1%)

2% on U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores

5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards

3% on dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services

3% on drugstore purchases

5% on up to $1,500 on combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate.

5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

3% on dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services.

3% on drugstore purchases.

All other eligible purchases1.5% cash back

Terms apply

1% cash back 

Terms apply

1% cash back 

Terms apply

1.5% cash back1% cash back 
Annual fee$0 (see rates & fees)$95  (see rates & fees)$0 (see rates & fees)$0 $0

Comparing Amex and Chase cash-back business cards 

American Express Blue Business Cash™ CardInk Business Cash Credit CardInk Business Unlimited Credit Card
Welcome offerEarn up to $100 in the form of statement credits at the each of the following merchants (for a total of up to $300): Dell Technologies, DocuSign or FedEx after you make eligible purchases with your new Card within the first three months of Card Membership$750 cash back after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.$750 cash back after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
Category bonuses2% cash back on all eligible purchases on up to $50,000 per calendar year, then 1%5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores, on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services each account anniversary year

2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year

None
All other eligible purchasesN/A1% 1.5% 
Annual fee$0 (see rates & fees)$0$0

Best welcome offer for personal cards

The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express welcome offer is a $350 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card within the first six months. The downside? The card has a $95 annual fee, while the other cash cards have none.

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Chase offers better options through the Chase Freedom Unlimited and Chase Freedom Flex if you’re looking for a no-annual-fee cash-back card. Both cards offer higher welcome bonuses than the other Amex cash-back cards, along with lower spending requirements.

If you want the highest bonus possible for a personal card, go with Amex. If you want a no-annual-fee card with a lower spending requirement, Chase cash back cards might be a better fit.

Best welcome offer for business cards

Comparing the cash-back business card line-up, Chase offers two cards with higher welcome bonuses than American Express. The Ink Business Cash Credit Card and Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card stand out, with a $750 cash back after you spend $7,500 within the first three months of account opening.

The welcome offer from the American Express Blue Business Cash Card is lower and much more limiting. You’ll get an up to $100 statement credit when you spend $100 at select merchants (for up to $300 total). You can do better than that by either opting for the Ink Business Cash or even one of Amex’s personal cash-back cards.

Most rewarding personal cash-back card for spending

Once you’ve earned the welcome bonus, there is only one thing keeping the card in your wallet: Recurring earning potential. Both Amex and Chase cash back cards offer generous category bonuses. Choosing the “most rewarding card” is highly subjective, depending solely on your spending habits and preferences.

When it comes to personal spending, groceries, gas stations, restaurants and drugstores are the biggest spending categories for most people. The Chase Freedom Unlimited offers the most comprehensive suite of category bonuses, with 5% back on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% cash back on dining (including eligible delivery services) and 3% at drugstores.

While the card doesn’t offer bonus cash back at gas stations and limits the grocery bonus, the 1.5% regular earning rate makes up for it. Plus, these points can be converted to Ultimate Rewards if you have another credit card that earns these points.

And while the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express earns 6% cash back on the first $6,000 spent at U.S. supermarkets per calendar year (1x after that) and select U.S. streaming subscriptions, it carries a $95 annual fee (see rates and fees).

You could make the case that the Chase Freedom Flex offers superior rewards with 5% cash back on up to $1,500 of quarterly rotating categories. Plus, you’ll earn 5% cash back through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% on dining, restaurants and drugstore purchases. Again, the best option comes down to your spending habits, but Chase cash back cards take the lead when it comes to category bonuses.

Most rewarding business cash-back card for spending

The American Express Blue Business Cash Card offers the simplest reward structure, while the Ink Business Cash Credit Card offers higher earnings in select categories. Blue Business cardholders earn a flat 2% cash back on the first $50,000 spent on eligible purchases each calendar year (then 1%). It’s ideal for those who don’t want multiple cards in their wallets and remembering category bonuses for each one. If you wish to earn flat-rate rewards with a higher spending threshold, the Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card is a better option, with unlimited 1.5% cash back.

For those looking to maximize common business spending categories, the Ink Business Cash is a better card overall. It earns 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent at office supply stores and on cell phone, landline, internet and cable TV services (1% after that). You’ll also earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants, which is a nice bonus.

Amex and Chase cater to different customers with their respective cash-back cards. So take a look at your spending habits and determine which option is best for you.

Best recurring card perks

Cash-back cards aren’t renowned for their travel perks -- you’ll have to pay up to a $595 annual fee for the best ones -- but both Amex and Chase offer unique recurring benefits.

Statement credits

For starters, Amex cash-back cards get you access to Amex Offers, a changing list of deals from popular merchants that offer statement credits and bonus points. For example, this year alone, I’ve managed to save more than $380 on purchases thanks to Amex Offers.

Many other banks now offer sync deals, but they don’t quite measure up to Amex Offers. For example, Chase offers discounts through Chase Offers and Get More Now, but the best deal I’ve seen was 10% cash back on Starbuck and that was limited to $3. Amex cash-back cards become more valuable when you factor in this money-saving tool.

Shopping

Amex and Chase both offer select cash back cardholders a free ShopRunner membership valued at $79 per year. (Enrollment required for select benefits.)This membership gets you free two-day shipping at popular merchants like Kiehl’s, American Eagle, Saks Fifth Avenue and more. (enrollment required for select benefits.) The following cards qualify for this benefit:

  • Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
  • Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
  • Chase Freedom Flex

Chase makes up for limiting this benefit by offering a slew of other perks. Specifically, Chase Freedom Unlimited and Freedom Flex cardholders get three months of complimentary DoorDash DashPass membership and 5% cash back on Lyft rides through March 2022. Additionally, Freedom Flex cardholders get the following benefits via Mastercard World Elite:

  • $10 Lyft credits once per month for every five rides
  • 5% cash back at Boxed.com
  • $5 off movie tickets or at-home purchases for every two movie tickets purchased via Fandango

These substantial perks that Chase offers cash-back cardholders far outweigh the shopping benefits from Amex.

Refer-a-friend bonuses

Amex cash-back cards also have an advantage when it comes to refer-a-friend bonuses. Both banks allow cash-back cardholders to earn bonus points for successful referrals. Amex cash-back cards not only offer higher bonuses per successful referral but more earning potential on an annual basis:

American Express Cash Magnet® CardBlue Cash Preferred® Card from American ExpressBlue Cash Everyday® Card from American ExpressChase Freedom UnlimitedChase Freedom Flex
125 Reward Dollars per approval, up to 550 per calendar year125 Reward Dollars per approval, up to 550 per calendar year125 Reward Dollars per approval, up to 550 per calendar year$100 cash back per approval, up to $500 per year$100 cash back per approval, up to $500 per year

When it comes to business cards, TPG contributor Juan Ruiz has had his Ink Business Cash card for six years and has yet to receive a refer-a-friend offer. Meanwhile, there have been reports of the American Express Blue Business Cash Card offering $100 per successful referral, up to $550 per year.

Flexible use

One significant advantage that Chase cash-back cards have over Amex is flexibility in redeeming rewards. Cash back doesn’t have to be just cash back if you have another Chase card that earns Ultimate Rewards points. If you also have a card such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, you can convert your cash back to Ultimate Rewards points. So those 5% rotating category bonuses from the Chase Freedom Flex can be equivalent to earning 5x Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent.

Why is that significant? Because TPG values Ultimate Rewards points at 2 cents each when redeemed for premium awards. So you’re essentially doubling the value of your points by taking advantage of this option.

Unfortunately, you can’t convert Amex cash-back rewards to Membership Rewards points. It’s a shame, because I would argue that Membership Rewards are more valuable than Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Bottom line

When comparing Amex versus Chase cash-back cards, it’s important to weigh all the different features based on what’s important to you. If you’re after a big sign-up bonus, Chase’s business cash-back cards offer the biggest ones. Not only are these sign-up bonuses at least double what you’ll earn with an Amex cash-back card, but you can convert your cash back to points for higher-value redemptions.

Chase cash-back cards, such as the Chase Freedom Unlimited, offer the most well-rounded suite of category bonuses, ensuring that you continue earning cash back beyond the sign-up bonus. However, Amex cash back cards shine when it comes to recurring perks like higher refer-a-friend bonuses and Amex Offers. Both of these benefits can make keeping your cash-back Amex card a no-brainer, allowing you to earn the equivalent of a welcome bonus every year and allowing you to profit from keeping the card in your wallet.

For rates and fees of the Amex Magnet card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Everyday card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Blue Cash card, click here.

Featured image by (Photo by fizkes/Shutterstock)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
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