The SimplyCash from American Express owes much of its appeal to the fact it’s a no-fee cash back card. Rewards are straightforward, redemptions are hassle-free, and you won’t have to think about spending enough to “break even” on the card.
But there’s more to the AMEX SimplyCash and why it manages to consistently make it onto our list of the best no fee cards in Canada. Namely, its strong flat earn rate (which beats out most no fee rewards cards from the big banks), up to $150 welcome bonus, and stellar side perks.
For everything you need to know about the AMEX SimplyCash, check out our full review below.
AMEX SimplyCash – At a glance
If you’re a first-time American Express cardholder, you’ll earn an accelerated 2.5% cash back on all your everyday purchases for your first three months or on your initial $6,000 in card purchases (whichever comes first).
What separates the AMEX SimplyCash’s offer from sign-up bonuses on other no fee cash back cards is that it maxes out at an impressive $150. For comparison’s sake, the CIBC Dividend Visa currently provides new cardholders with a seemingly more impressive 5% cash back for four months, but it caps out at just $100 – meaning you could walk away with $50 more in bonus rewards with the AMEX SimplyCash.
Everyday cash back rewards
The best feature of the SimplyCash from American Express is its straight-forward rewards: You’ll earn 1.25% cash back per dollar spent on everything once the three-month welcome offer ends. There’s no having to think about bonus categories or point redemption rules.
1.25% is a strong earn rate, especially when considering many other entry-level no fee cards in Canada offer between just 0.5% and 1% in rewards on most types of purchases.
The one drawback is that you can’t redeem your cash back at any time and have to wait once a year to get your rewards. Rewards are credited towards your balance on the first statement period after August 1st each year.
AMEX SimplyCash insurance benefits
The AMEX SimplyCash offers great insurance benefits on your day-to-day purchases.
First, the card’s Buyer’s Assurance Protection Plan will automatically double the manufacturer’s warranty on your purchases up to one year – so you won’t have to shell out extra to extend the warranty on big-ticket items (like, say, a flat-screen television or laptop).
You can also take advantage of Purchase Protection, which entitles you to a refund or replacement for an item you purchase on the card that’s accidentally damaged or stolen within the first 90 days from when you bought it. The Purchase Protection benefits are accompanied by terms and conditions that you’ll want to read up on (i.e. it caps at $1,000 and doesn’t cover wear and tear), but there’s no doubt it can come in handy.
Whereas most no fee cash back credit cards don’t offer anything in the way of travel insurance, the SimplyCash from American Express does at least come with travel accident coverage.
You’ll get up to $100,000 in coverage that’ll kick in the event a serious bodily injury occurs while you’re travelling on a common carrier – provided you pay for the entire cost of your ticket on the card. The AMEX SimplyCash offers little else in terms of travel coverage though, which all things considered, is to be expected for a card that’s free to carry and isn’t geared towards regular flyers (if you’re interested, consider checking our list of the best credit cards for travel insurance).
If you’re a big concert or theatre goer, you’ll enjoy having access to American Express Front of the Line. This program lets you access presale tickets to major live events (think concerts, musicals, theatre shows, and more) – often letting you buy tickets before they’re available to the general public and pick from seats exclusively reserved for American Express cardholders.
When watching live shows at specific venues, like Roy Thomson Hall or the Budweiser Stage in Toronto, you can also relax at American Express Lounges. These lounges typically include separate bathrooms, additional seating, and dedicated bar areas. Keep in mind, you’ll need to have your AMEX SimplyCash Card on hand to gain access to these exclusive areas.
There’s also AMEX Offers, which lets cardholders earn special discounts from a rotating list of retailers. Simply register for the offer straight from the card’s App and you’ll receive a discount as a statement credit when making an eligible purchase. Personally, I’ve used AMEX Offers to save 15% off my contact lenses from Clearly – twice.
Fees, income requirements and interest rates
Along with charging no annual fees, the AMEX SimplyCash is super accessible due to the fact you won’t need to earn a specific annual income in order to qualify for the card.
As a rewards credit card, there are little surprises when it comes to its interest rates. It has a 19.99% purchase APR on any unpaid balance, while cash advances and balance transfers have an interest rate of 22.99%.
The card does feature an optional balance transfer offer for all new cardmembers. If you request for a balance transfer while applying online, you’ll receive an introductory interest rate of 1.99% on transferred balances for the first six months. This offer is helpful if you’re looking to consolidate your card debt, save on interest, or completely transition from an old credit card to the AMEX SimplyCash. There are a few things to consider though, like how you won’t earn any cash back on the balance transfer and that the interest rate on any remaining transferred balance after six months will increase to 22.99%.
Tip to maximize rewards
The fact the AMEX SimplyCash has no annual fee and offers a strong 1.25% cash back on everything means it’s a great option to use as part of a two-card strategy. Not sure what we mean? Let’s explain using an example: The TD CashBack Visa Infinite offers 3% on groceries, gas, and recurring bills, but it’ll earn you just 1% on everything else. If you also carried the AMEX SimplyCash, you could use it to earn 1.25% on all your purchases that don’t fall under one of the TD Card’s bonus categories and pocket more rewards. With those two cards combined, you’ll earn more cash back without owing any additional annual fees.
The biggest consideration about the SimplyCash is it’s issued by American Express, so it’s not as widely accepted at all merchants when compared to Visa or Mastercard credit cards. For instance, No Frills, Loblaws banner stores, and a number of smaller “mom-and-pop” stores and restaurants don’t accept AMEX.
That said, American Express is accepted at thousands of locations across Canada – from groceries like Metro and Sobeys; department stores including Walmart, Canadian Tire, and Lowe’s; almost all major fashion retailers; and more restaurants, cafes, and bars than you can count.
- Also read: Where is American Express accepted in Canada
One other thing to keep in mind about the AMEX SimplyCash is that it offers a flat 1.25% on everything. While that means you’ll earn solid and consistent rewards on all your purchases, if you do spend a disproportionately large amount on certain categories (like gas, groceries, or restaurants), you might want to consider a card with bonus categories. The Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card, for instance, offers 2% in three bonus categories of your choice and 0.5% on everything else. Deciding between a flat rate versus bonus category card all really depends on your purchasing habits.