The SimplyCash® Business Card from American Express does exactly what you would imagine it would do: It rewards cardholders with cash back on all purchases in the form of a statement credit. The card also rewards generously for office supply purchases and gas up to an annual cap. Whether this card makes sense for you and your business depends on where you make purchases, how much you spend, and how you feel about American Express.
- Sign-up Bonus. You get a $250 statement credit after spending at least $3,000 on qualifying purchases within the first 3 months of card membership. In order to qualify for this offer, however, you must be approved for the card by April 28, 2014.
- Fees. There is no annual membership fee for the American Express SimplyCash Business credit card; however, there is a foreign transaction fee of 2.7%.
- APR. The card currently offers a 0% introductory APR on purchases for 9 months. After the introductory period, the APR reverts to 12.24%, 17.24%, or 19.24%, depending on credit worthiness. There’s a penalty APR of 27.24%, which may be applied if you make two or more late payments within a 12-month period, if you do not pay the minimum amount due, or if you make a payment that is returned.
- Cash Back Rewards. As a cardholder, you earn 5% cash back on purchases made at U.S. office supply stores and for monthly wireless telephone services purchased from telephone service providers (excluding equipment). You also receive 3% cash back on one category of your choice including: airlines, hotels, car rentals, gas stations, restaurants, advertising in select media, and shipping. The 5% and 3% cash back applies to the first $25,000 spent in a “rebate year.” After the $25,000 cap is reached for each category, all purchases earn 1% cash back. Office supplies purchased at other retail stores, or gasoline purchased at warehouse clubs, supermarkets, or superstores are ineligible for the extra cash back rewards and earn 1%. A rebate year begins on the anniversary of your card account and lasts 12 billing cycles.
- Redeeming Cash Back. You receive your cash back as a rebate credited to your account on the second billing statement after the eligible purchases appear. If your card is in default or is canceled, you will not receive the rebate.
- OPEN Savings. OPEN Savings is included with American Express business cards and allows you to choose up to a 10% discount or up to four additional Membership Rewards points for each dollar spent at OPEN Savings merchants. Examples of OPEN Savings merchants include FedEx, AirTran Airways, Hertz, Hyatt, Marriott, OfficeMax, and HPDirect.com.
- Membership Rewards Points. The American Express rewards program allows you to earn points on purchases made at select businesses and retailers. You can redeem as few as 1,000 points for merchandise, dining, travel, and gift cards.
- ReceiptMatch. The American Express SimplyCash card also includes ReceiptMatch, which allows you to electronically match your receipts to your statement. By snapping a photo of your receipt on your smartphone, forwarding a receipt by email, or uploading one from your computer. ReceiptMatch matches the electronic receipt to the transaction made with the credit card for no-hassle record-keeping.
- No Annual Fee. There’s no annual fee for the SimplyCash card, so you don’t need to worry about earning enough cash back or rewards to compensate for the expense of carrying the card. If you pay your balance in full each month and don’t use the card on purchases outside of the U.S., you can essentially try out the card for free to determine whether it suits your business’s needs.
- Cash Back on Business-Related Expenses. The opportunities to earn cash back on business-related expenses – such as wireless service, office supplies, and gasoline purchases – are among the highest available for business cards with no annual fee. The Capital One Spark Cash Select for Business credit card offers a flat 1% cash back on all purchases with a 50% bonus on earned cash back each year, while the Chase Ink Cash Card for businesses offers 5% cash back on purchases made at office supply stores and phone services, but only 2% back at gas stations.
- ReceiptMatch. This benefit may be handy for organizing and managing expenses, especially if you have multiple cardholders using a single account. After you’ve uploaded or sent the image of your receipt to ReceiptMatch, it’s then matched to the transaction made according to purchase date and expense, and stored along with the transaction details of your online statement.
- OPEN Savings Benefit. The OPEN Savings benefits could take up to 12 weeks to appear on your statement, making them difficult to keep track of, especially if you have multiple cardholders on your account.
- Cash Back as a Statement Credit. The rewards earned as cash back are redeemed in the form of a statement credit applied to your bill. You don’t have the option to redeem the reward for actual cash that can be used elsewhere. Additionally, the cash back is applied on the second billing statement after the purchases are made, making it more difficult to track and check for accuracy.
- Cap of $25,000 Annually for Extra Cash Back. The SimplyCash Business card offers a high percentage cash back for wireless (5%), office supply (5%), and other business (3%) purchases, but the high percentage is capped at $25,000 annually before reverting to a lower, 1% cash back rate. If your business spends more than $25,000 per year in a category such as office supplies, the SimplyCash card may not offer the best reward for your purchases. For instance, even though the Bank of America Cash Rewards for Business card awards only 3% for office supply purchases, the cap is $250,000 annually. If you were to spend $60,000 on office supply purchases with the SimplyCash card, you would earn only $1,600 cash back, while you’d earn $1,800 cash back with the Bank of America Cash Rewards card because of the higher office supply purchases cap.
- Foreign Transaction Fee. Foreign transaction fees are common with American Express cards. If you travel frequently outside the United States, you’ll be charged a fee of 2.7% on purchases made with this card. The Capital One Spark Cash Select and the Bank of America Rewards for Business MasterCard are both basic business cards with no annual fee that also have no foreign transaction fees.
The American Express SimplyCash Business credit card is a great card for small businesses that could benefit from cash back rewards on office-related purchases and other business expenses. However, the cap of $25,000 on higher cash back categories may limit your potential if you spend significantly more than the cap in a category. Businesses that spend more on wireless, office supplies, or gasoline (or frequently travel internationally) should consider a cash back card with higher caps and no foreign transaction fee. There are also business cards that allow redemption of cash back in direct deposit or check, rather than a statement credit.
Although the SimplyCash® Business Card from American Express offers one of the highest earning opportunities on office supplies, wireless services, and another category of your choice, its rewards are best-suited to small businesses that don’t spend more than the annual cap in the various categories.
4.0 out of 5.0 stars: The low category caps make this an ineffective rewards card for medium- or large-sized businesses. However, the high rewards on wireless, office supplies, and other business expenses could be ideal for small businesses that don’t want the hassle of paying attention to or signing up for rotating rewards categories.
Editorial Disclosure: This content is not provided or commissioned by any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, or airline. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.