Credit Card Review: SimplyCash Plus Business Credit Card from American Express
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Launched in 2016, the SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express stands out from other Amex business cards for two of its primary differences: It pays cash-back rewards instead of Membership Rewards points and it charges no annual fee (See Rates & Fees).
The rewards structure may come as a disappointment to fans of credit cards that earn points and miles, but SimplyCash Plus fills a need for small business owners who prefer to cash in on office supply spending by earning actual cash. Let’s look at the highs and lows of this card.
Who Is This Card For?
On its face, this looks like a card tailored to small businesses that don’t travel much, as its highest bonus category is for office supplies and wireless telephone services. But users actually can earn a decent return on travel expenditures, like airfare, hotel rooms and car rentals. So let’s say this card is tailored to the modest business traveler who has a bunch of office supply needs.
It also works as a secondary card for a business owner who already has a travel rewards credit card or who has major advertising expenses. Small business cards that offer ad spending as a bonus category all have a cap on how much advertising you can buy with the card and still earn the bonus rate, SimplyCash Plus included. You could earn 3% back on US purchases for advertising on select media, up to $50,000 in purchases per calendar year. If you have a large ad budget, you can spread out the cost over multiple credit cards — like the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card — and bring in significant rewards.
Finally, this card also is a good choice for business owners who might need a bit of spending flexibility. Although you will have a credit limit, Amex will allow you to spend beyond your credit limit to help pay for larger purchases. This additional spending must be paid in full by your due date, while the amount up to your credit limit can be carried from month to month. This does not mean, however, American Express will grant you unlimited spending power. Your ability to make purchases above your credit limit is based on a variety of factors, including your use of the card, payment history and credit history.
Although Amex occasionally offers a welcome bonus with this card, the issuer currently is offering an extended introductory APR offer in lieu of a few hundred dollars in cash back after meeting spending requirements within the first few months of card ownership. SimplyCash Plus offers a 0% introductory APR on purchases for 15 months, after which it’s a variable rate of 14.49% to 21.49%, (See Rates & Fees) based on your creditworthiness.
SimplyCash Plus offers two tiers of bonus rewards, and you’ll get some flexibility to pick the type of purchases you’d like to see rewarded most.
Earn 5% cash back at US office supply stores and on wireless telephone services purchased directly from US service providers on up to $50,000 in purchases during a calendar year, then 1% thereafter. You won’t earn the bonus on purchases of wireless hardware and equipment or office supplies purchased at other retail stores.
You’ll earn 3% cash back on up to $50,000 in annual spending (then 1%) from one of eight categories you pick from:
- Airfare purchased directly from airlines
- Hotel rooms purchased directly from hotels
- Car rentals purchased from select car rental companies (Purchases may be made only from Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, E-Z, Fox, Hertz, National, Payless, Sixt or Thrifty.)
- US gas stations
- US restaurants
- US purchases for advertising in select media (Examples include Google, Facebook, Yahoo, NBC National Broadcasting and CBS Radio.)
- US purchases for shipping (Examples include FedEx, UPS and the United States Postal Service.)
- US computer hardware, software, and cloud computing purchases made directly from select providers. (Purchases may be made only from Apple, CDW, Dell, HP, IBM, Intuit, Lenovo, Microsoft, Newegg, Oracle, Rackspace, Sage Software, Salesforce.com, Symantec or Tiger Direct.)
All other eligible spending will earn 1% cash back.
You are allowed to change your 3% category during an “annual selection period.” If you do not change it, your category will remain the same as the previous year.
Unlike with other credit cards, there’s nothing you have to do in order to redeem your rewards, which are paid to you as a statement credit. The cash back will be automatically credited to your account and will appear on the second billing statement you receive after the billing statement with the eligible purchases.
Amex will not pay out your rewards if you do not pay the minimum payment due by the closing date of the billing period in which it is due or if you or Amex cancel your account before the credit is issued.
SimplyCash Plus isn’t primarily a travel rewards card (and it also charges no annual fee), so you wouldn’t expect it to come with premium travel perks like lounge access or TSA PreCheck reimbursement. That being said, this card does off a number of travel-related insurance benefits, including:
- Baggage insurance — Covers lost, damaged or stolen baggage used during travel on planes, trains, ships or busses when you’ve charged the fare to your card. The coverage is secondary, meaning Amex will cover losses in excess of what the carrier might reimburse you for. Coverage is limited to $1,250 for carry-on baggage and up to $500 for checked baggage.
- Travel accident insurance — Provides up to $100,000 in accidental death and dismemberment coverage while traveling on a common carrier when the entire fare has been charged to the card.
You’ll also receive:
- Extended warranty protection, which extends the manufacturer’s warranty by an additional two years on eligible warrantees of up to five years.
- Purchase protection, which will replace damaged or stolen goods purchased with that card within the first 120 after the purchase. Coverage is good for up to $1,000 per incident and up to $50,000 in a calendar year. Amex recently beefed up both its extended warranty and purchase protection benefits.
- Free employee cards
Which Cards Compete With SimplyCash Plus?
Since SimplyCash Plus is a cash-back business credit card, let’s compare it to other business cards with a similar rewards structure:
Ink Business Cash Credit Card — Earn 5% cash back at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services (on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases each account anniversary year), plus 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants (on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases each account anniversary year) and 1% cash back on all other purchases. There is no annual fee. Rewards from this card can become extremely valuable if you pair it with a card in Chase’s lineup that’s part of the Ultimate Rewards program, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or the Ink Business Preferred. UR points are worth 2.1 cents apiece, according to TPG’s latest valuations.
Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card — Earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases. There is no annual fee. If you pair this card with an Ultimate Rewards card, its rewards redemption value can be higher than SimplyCash Plus in some category spending, but you’ll need to pay an annual fee for one of those additional transfer-enabled cards.
Capital One Spark Cash for Business — Earn 2% cash back per dollar spent on all purchases. There’s a $95 annual fee, waived the first year.
If you’re looking for a credit card that offers transferrable points, steer clear of SimplyCash Plus. If you’re looking for a credit card that rewards mightily for travel spending, look elsewhere. But if your business spends heavily on office supplies and you either don’t mind (or crave) cash back and would prefer not having to think about when or how to redeem, SimplyCash can be a rewarding card for you, especially if you also have heavy spend in one of those eight secondary categories that earn 3%.
For rates and fees of the SimplyCash Plus Business Card, please click here.