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 $200 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
- No annual fee
- Earn 1.25% cash back on all purchases once welcome rate ends
- Presale ticket access to live events with American Express Front of the Line
- Up to $100,000 in travel accident insurance
- Income required: None specified
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If you’re a first-time American Express cardholder, you’ll earn an accelerated 4% cash back on all your everyday purchases for your first three months or on your initial $5,000 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 $200. For comparison’s sake, the BMO CashBack Mastercard currently provides new cardholders with a seemingly more impressive 5% cash back for three months, plus a $50 cash back bonus (when you spend $6,000) in your first year. That's a cash back value of up to $175, but you could still walk away with $25 more in bonus rewards with the AMEX SimplyCash.
Everyday cash back rewards
The best feature of the SimplyCash from American Express is its straightforward 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 purchased 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 21.99%.
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 Tangerine Money-Back Mastercard is a no fee credit card that earns 2% in up to 3 spending categories, but offers just 0.5% 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 Tangerine Mastercard’s bonus categories and pocket more rewards with those two cards combined. The other advantage of this two-card strategy is you’ll have a back-up Mastercard you can use just in case you’re at a store that doesn’t accept American Express.
|Spending Category||Tangerine Money-Back||Amex SimplyCash|
If we assume an average monthly spending scenario of $1,550 (with $250 spent on restaurants, $240 on groceries, and $200 on recurring bills) here’s how the rewards would break down over the course of one year.
- Just Amex SimplyCash: $232
- Just Tangerine Money-Back Mastercard: $217
- Strategically using both cards: $295
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 over 90,000 locations across Canada – including groceries like Metro and Sobey; department stores from Walmart to Canadian Tire; almost all major fashion retail chains; 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.
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AMEX SimplyCash – Quick review
- You won’t owe an annual fee
- Get 1.25% cash back on everything (an impressive rewards rate that beats out the 0.5% – 1% earned on most purchases by no fee cash back cards from the big banks)
- The card’s welcome offer will earn you 4% for the first three months (up to $200)
- You won’t need to meet a specific minimum income to qualify for the card
- The AMEX SimplyCash comes with purchase and extended warranty protection, as well as up to $100,000 in travel accident coverage (a rare find for a no fee credit card)
- You’ll gain access to American Express Front of the Line, which lets you purchase pre-sale tickets to concerts, theatre shows, and other events before they’re widely available to the general public
- The card’s 1.25% flat earn rate makes it a great option to use in combination with another as part of a two-card strategy
- As an American Express Card, the SimplyCash Card isn’t as widely accepted at budget grocery stores and mom-and-pop shops compared to Visa or Mastercard (you’ll also want to carry a backup credit card from another credit card company just in case)
- Cash back is redeemed only once every calendar year