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The First National Bank American Express® Card isn’t the best-known rewards credit card out there. Not by a long shot. But that doesn’t mean this no-frills product isn’t a contender for inclusion on our list of the best cash back credit cards. With no annual fee, a solid sign-up bonus, a predictable rate of return on every dollar spent, and a nice lineup of perks and benefits (including exclusive discounts) from American Express, what’s not to like?
If you’re in the market for a low-drama cash back credit card that rewards you for your everyday spending, you need to look at the First National Bank American Express Card. Here’s what you need to know about its features, advantages, drawbacks, and overall suitability.
When you spend at least $500 within 3 months of opening your account, you automatically get a $100 statement credit.
Earning and Redeeming Cash Back
The First National Bank American Express Card earns unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases, with no caps or restrictions on how much you can earn. Once earned, cash back does not expire, as long as your account remains open and in good standing. Cash back accrues in points, with 1 point equal to $0.01.
Once your cash back balance reaches 2,500 points (equal to $25), FNB automatically redeems it as a statement credit to your credit card balance. No action is required on your part to redeem. You don’t have the option to redeem via direct deposit or mailed check, nor for non-cash items, such as travel purchases and gift cards. Because redemptions occur automatically, you don’t have the option to build up points over time.
First National Bank American Express Card has some useful travel benefits, including:
- Complimentary Rental Car Coverage: When you pay for your rental car in full with your First National Bank credit card, you enjoy complimentary loss and damage coverage for the entire duration of your rental term.
- Travel Accident Insurance: When you pay your common carrier fare in full with your FNB credit card, you enjoy complimentary death and dismemberment coverage for the duration of your journey. This isn’t a comprehensive travel insurance policy, but it’s useful for the worst eventualities.
This card’s shopping benefits include:
- American Express Connect: As a FNB American Express cardholder, you enjoy exclusive access to hundreds of discounts, deals, and opportunities from participating vendors – including “shopping, dining, presale ticket access to popular entertainment, sporting events and more” – through the American Express Connect portal.
- Extended Warranties: You receive a complimentary 1-year extended warranty whenever you purchase an item with an existing warranty.
- Purchase Protection: Items lost, damaged, or reported stolen within 90 days of purchase are eligible for Purchase Protection, which repairs or replaces the covered item. This benefit is subject to a $1,000 limit per occurrence.
Free Monthly FICO Score
You receive a complimentary FICO score in your online account dashboard each month. This is a great way to track changes to your score over time and take steps to mitigate the drawbacks of a bad credit score.
The First National Bank American Express Card has no annual fee or fee for additional authorized user cards. The foreign transaction fee is 3%. Balance transfers and cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 5%. Late payments cost up to $37, while returned payments cost up to $35.
The First National Bank American Express Card requires good credit.
- No Annual Fee. The First National Bank American Express Card has no annual fee. That’s great news for frugal cardholders who wish to maximize their cash back earnings.
- 1.5% Cash Back on All Purchases. This card earns unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases. That’s a solid baseline return on spending that matches some of the best cards in the no-annual-fee cash back category, including Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card and Chase Freedom Unlimited Card.
- Solid Sign-Up Bonus. This card has a solid, easy-to-attain sign-up bonus worth $100 on $500 in spending within three months of account opening. That works out to a 21.5% return on spending during the introductory period – 1.5% on regular spending and 20% on spending that counts toward the sign-up bonus.
- Cash Back Redeemed Automatically. Cash back earned on your First National Bank American Express Card is automatically redeemed when you hit the $25 (2,500 point) mark. No action is required on your part. That’s great for busy cardholders who don’t want to worry about logging into their accounts and zeroing out their rewards balances.
- No Caps or Rotating Categories. This card has no spending or earning caps to worry about, nor does it require cardholders to keep track of quarterly rotating rewards categories. With a flat, universal cash back rate, you always know exactly how much you’ll earn on your spending.
- No Penalty APR. The First National Bank American Express Card doesn’t charge penalty interest on past-due balances. If you occasionally miss your statement due dates because you’re low on cash or facing down unexpected expenses, this could reduce your credit costs by hundreds of dollars per year.
- Can’t Earn Better Than 1.5% Cash Back. Though the unlimited 1.5% baseline cash back rate is better than many competing cards, it’s unfortunate that it’s also this card’s hard ceiling on cash back earnings. If you’d like to earn better than 1.5% on spending, consider Citi Double Cash Card (unlimited 2% cash back) or Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express (up to 3% back in select categories).
- Limited Cash Back Redemption Options. The First National Bank American Express Card has limited cash back redemption options. In fact, since redemptions occur automatically, your only option is to redeem for a $25 statement credit to your account. This is a poor contrast with more versatile cash back cards – for instance, Chase Freedom Credit Card lets you exchange your points for gift cards, general merchandise, travel, and more in Chase’s Ultimate Rewards portal.
- No Introductory 0% APR Promotion. This card has no 0% APR introductory promotion on balance transfers or purchases. That’s bad news for new cardholders looking to pay down high-interest balances from other credit cards or finance large up-front purchases without accruing lots of interest in the meantime. If you’re looking for a nice break on interest during your first months as a cardholder, check out Chase Slate, which has a 0% APR period that lasts longer than a year.
- $25 Redemption Minimum. The First National Bank American Express Card has a $25 redemption minimum. Each automatic statement credit redemption occurs at the 2,500-point threshold. If you accumulate points slowly, this could delay your payoff by months. Some alternatives, including Discover it Chrome Credit Card and Chase Freedom Unlimited, have no redemption minimums.
- Has a 3% Foreign Transaction Fee. This card has a 3% foreign transaction fee. If you regularly travel outside the United States, this charge will completely negate your cash back earnings. Consider a foreign-transaction-fee-free alternative, such as Discover it Card.
The First National Bank American Express® Card is a low-key cash back credit card with some immediately obvious benefits: a solid sign-up bonus worth $100, unlimited 1.5% cash back on all spending, no annual fee, and automatic cash back redemptions once your rewards balance clears the $25 threshold.
It won’t win any awards for its generosity, but that’s okay – for what it is, it’s hard to beat. And if you get bored with it, you can always graduate to a more exciting product that requires slightly better credit – say, the First National Bank TravElite American Express Card, a superficially similar credit card with a more generous and flexible rewards program.