The SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express (a Money Crashers partner) is a popular business credit card with no annual fee and a solid cash back rewards program. Those rewards favor the sorts of business purchases that most entrepreneurs need to make on a regular basis: office supplies, communications, advertising, shipping, and travel. SimplyCash Plus also comes with broad baseline cash back earnings, making it a strong candidate for everyday, general spending.
The SimplyCash Plus Business Card competes with a number of business-oriented rewards cards, including American Express Blue for Business, Chase Ink Cash Business, Capital One Spark Cash, and U.S. Bank Business Edge Platinum.
- Sign-up Bonus: Up to $500, as statement credits, for a limited time: When you spend $5,000 or more within your first 6 months of card membership, you get a $250 statement credit. You get an additional $250 bonus if you spend $10,000 on top of that within your first year of cardmembership. This offer expires on January 25, 2017.
- Cash Back Rewards and Redemption: SimplyCash Plus earns 5% cash back on purchases made at all U.S. office supply stores (such as Staples) and with wireless telephone services (such as Verizon and AT&T), up to a $50,000 annual spending limit. Above the limit, purchases in these categories earn an unlimited 1% cash back. Note that office supply or communications purchases not made directly with specialized office supply or telecom merchants (for instance, printer paper or prepaid cell phones purchased at Walmart) don’t qualify for the 5% category. However, you still earn 5% cash back on non-office supply and non-communications items purchased at office supply or communications stores (for instance, candy at Staples or a phone case at the AT&T Store). SimplyCash Plus also earns 3% cash back in the spending category of your choice: airfare (purchased direct from airlines), hotel stays (purchased direct from hotels), car rentals, gas station purchases, advertising, shipping, restaurant meals, or computer hardware and software at select providers. A separate $50,000 annual spending cap applies to the 3% category, above which purchases earn an unlimited 1%. All other purchases also earn an unlimited 1% cash back. Accrued cash back is automatically applied to your account as a statement credit at the end of each billing period.
- Introductory APR: SimplyCash Plus comes with a 0% purchase APR for 9 months from account opening. Note that this card doesn’t allow balance transfers – therefore, there’s no balance transfer APR.
- Regular APR: After the introductory period ends, the regular purchase APR ranges from 12.74% to 19.74%, depending on your personal creditworthiness and prevailing interest rates. The penalty APR is 29.74%.
- Important Fees: There is no annual membership fee. Foreign transactions cost 2.7% of the total transaction amount, regardless of denomination. Late and returned payments both cost $38.
- OPEN Savings Benefit: The OPEN Savings program allows SimplyCash Plus cardholders to earn additional 5% discounts with certain partner merchants, including FedEx, Hertz, and 1800Flowers.com. The discount is credited to your billing statement for the month in which the purchase occurred. You can see a full list of participating merchants at opensavings.com.
- Additional OPEN Business Benefits: SimplyCash Plus comes with a slew of value-added benefits that aren’t available to non-business cardholders. These include ReceiptMatch, which allows you to add receipt images and text tags to specific transactions in your American Express online account and phone app; the ability to assign an authorized Account Manager (such as a trusted employee) to handle things like dispute resolution, additional card ordering, and payments; and access to American Express’s OPEN Forum, which features content, advice, and scheduled events from business experts.
- Shopping Benefits: This card’s shopping benefits include purchase protection against theft and damage for 90 days after each covered item’s purchase, and 12-month extended warranties on items whose original warranties last five years or less.
- Travel Benefits: The SimplyCash card’s travel benefits include 24/7 roadside assistance anywhere, anytime; 24/7 global assistance for travelers more than 100 miles from home; and baggage insurance (up to $1,250 per bag) for checked luggage.
- Credit Required: This card requires excellent credit. Any notable credit blemishes are likely to be disqualifying.
- No Annual Fee. This card doesn’t come with an annual fee, a noteworthy benefit for budget-conscious business owners. Rival cards such as Chase Ink Plus ($95) and the Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express ($175) do have annual fees.
- Nice Intro APR. The intro purchase APR lasts 9 months from account opening. That’s longer than some rival cards, including Capital One Spark Classic (no intro period) and Capital One Spark Cash (0% intro APR through September 2016).
- Solid Sign-up Bonus. You get a $250 statement credit when you spend at least $5,000 within 6 months of opening your account, and then another $250 if you spend another $10,000 within your first year. That’s a better deal than some other business credit cards, including American Express Blue for Business ($200) and Chase Ink Cash ($200).
- Earn Up to 5% Cash Back. SimplyCash Plus earns 5% cash back on office supplies and direct communication purchases, up to $50,000 total per year. That works out to potential cash back earnings of $2,500 annually, which can make a huge difference for business owners who watch every dollar. American Express’s Blue for Business Card only offers the equivalent of 2% back on travel (though it uses a points system), while Capital One Spark Classic offers a flat 1% cash back on all purchases.
- Choose Your 3% Cash Back Category. SimplyCash gives you the flexibility to choose your own 3% cash back category. If there’s a particular category that you plan to spend frequently in, this is a huge potential value boost. U.S. Bank Business Edge World Elite MasterCard, which also offers a 3% cash back category, doesn’t let you choose its application.
- OPEN Savings Benefit Helps You Save with Popular Merchants. SimplyCash Plus Business’s OPEN Savings Benefit entitles you to a 5% discount on purchases made with OPEN Savings partners such as FedEx and Hertz. It’s likely that you use these merchants, or their competitors, already – so this is a potentially valuable deal.
- Cash Back Automatically Accrues to Your Account. With SimplyCash, you never have to worry about redeeming your cash back. That’s automatically done for you at the end of each billing period. Most other cash back business cards require you to manually redeem your rewards, a potentially inconvenient extra step that’s easy to get lost in the shuffle of everyday business obligations.
- Has a Foreign Transaction Fee. This card’s 2.7% foreign transaction fee is a big bummer for business owners who routinely travel beyond the United States’ borders. The Capital One business credit card family (Spark) doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees.
- Spending Cap for 5% and 3% Categories. The 5% and 3% cash back categories are both capped at $50,000 spending per year, which may be a limitation for larger businesses with higher spending requirements. If you expect to exceed this limit in the normal course of events, consider alternatives such as the American Express OPEN Green, Gold, and Platinum charge cards (no limits).
If you haven’t considered applying for the SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express or another business credit card because you don’t think you qualify as a business owner, it’s time to take another look. Even if you’re a sole proprietor without formal incorporation, you may still be eligible for this credit card if you certify that you intend to use it only for business expenditures. In many cases, filing a Schedule C with your income taxes, signifying that you’re self-employed, is enough to demonstrate that you’re a business owner – whether you oversee a one-person operation or a multi-employee company.
It’s important to remember that while the SimplyCash Plus Business Card’s terms resemble those of many consumer credit cards, business cards are exempt from some of the key provisions of the CARD Act, such as the requirement that cardholders regularly be notified of changes in terms and conditions.