SimplyCashTM Card from American Express Review
If you love the no-hassle nature of cash back and you’re allergic to annual fees, the SimplyCashTM Card from American Express should definitely be on your credit card shortlist. Its 1.25% earn-on-everything cash back rate is nothing to scoff at, particularly for a no annual fee card with no minimum income requirement. The welcome bonus is competitive to boot, and its drawbacks are relatively minor all things considered (spoiler alert: it’s an Amex, and it won’t be accepted everywhere).
In This Article:
Pros & Cons
- No annual fee for primary or additional cardholders
- Big welcome bonus
- Solid regular cash back rate on all eligible purchases
- No limit to the amount of cash back you can earn
- No special spending category for earning extra cash back
- Cash back is only applied as a statement credit once a year
- Amex cards aren’t accepted at every merchant
Check where Amex cards are accepted in Canada.
New cardholders get a special welcome rate of 4% cash back on all spending for the first six months. This rate applies to the first $5,000 spent, i.e., up to $200 in cash back. That’s exceptional for a card with no annual fee, not only because the amount you can earn is a sizable chunk of change, but because you’re given half a year to reach the ceiling for spending/earning at that welcome rate. The welcome period for most cards is a mere three months.
Earning Cash Back
After the welcome period ends the SimplyCashTM Card from American Express has a very decent 1.25% cash back rate on everything you buy—the only stuff that won’t get cash back are non-purchases, like cash advances, balance transfers, etc.
1.25% is very respectable for a flat earn rate on everything. But keep in mind that unlike most cash back cards there’s no enhanced cash back rate for a high-volume spending category, like groceries or gas. The good news is that there’s no limit to the amount of cash back you can accrue, so you can put all (or, more likely for an Amex, the majority) of your spending on the card and earn at the same high rate throughout the year, no matter how many purchases you make.
Redeeming Cash Back
The cash back you accumulate is applied as a credit against your card’s statement once a year, each September. This is less ideal than the cash back redemption policies used by some competing cash back cards, like the once-a-month credit with the Tangerine Money-Back Card, or the uber flexible ‘redeem whenever you want’ policy for the BMO CashBack® Mastercard®*.
Related: Best Cash Back Cards in Canada
Insurance perks for the SimplyCashTM Card from American Express are limited, which is unsurprising for a card with no annual fee.
Manufacturers’ warranties on items purchased with the card are extended by up to one additional year, and items are insured with up to $1,000 in Purchase Protection if they’re damaged or stolen within 90 days of purchase. The card also comes with $100,000 in travel accident insurance, but offers no other travel insurance of any kind.
Other Notable Perks
Amex cards are unusual in that a number of them come with a referral incentive. The SimplyCashTM Card from American Express pays $50 for each friend or family member you successfully refer to the card, i.e. you’ll get the payout if you recommend the card to someone you know and their application is approved by Amex. This is valid for up to $750 in cumulative annual referral bonuses (15 referrals each year).
Another upside to being an Amex cardholder is that you’ll have special access to concerts, plays, restaurants, advance movie screenings, workshops, and other events via American Express Experiences.
Interest Rates and Fees
- Purchase Interest Rate: 19.99%
- Cash Advance: $2.75 charge per advance + 21.99% interest rate
- Balance Transfer: 3% charge per transfer + 21.99% interest rate
- Foreign Transactions: 2.5% charge per foreign transaction
- Missed Payment/Late Payment: Purchase interest rate increases to 23.99% if you have two late payments in a 12-month period; or to 26.99% if you have three late payments in a 12-month period
The SimplyCashTM Card from American Express is technically very accessible: you need to be the age of majority in your province or territory of residence, as well as a Canadian resident with some form of credit history. There are no publicly disclosed credit score or minimum income requirements, but we assume Amex will want to see at least an average credit score to approve you for the card.
How Does It Compare to the Competition?
|SimplyCashTM Card from American Express||BMO CashBack® Mastercard®||Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card|
|Welcome Offer||4% cash back for six months (up to $200 cash back), terms and conditions apply||5% back for three months (up to $125 cash back)*||Apply by July 31, 2022 and earn 10% back (up to $100) when you spend up to $1,000 in everyday purchases within your first 2 months.*|
|Cash Back Rate(s)||1.25%||3% on groceries; 1% on recurring bills; 0.5% on everything else*||2% in 2–3 spending categories of your choice; 0.5% on everything else|
|Cash Back Redemption Policy||Once annually each September||Once monthly||Anytime|
*Terms and Conditions apply
Concerned that your Amex won’t be accepted everywhere you shop? Before you apply for the SimplyCashTM Card from American Express check out some of the other no annual fee cash back options in Canada.
If groceries are your biggest monthly expense you should probably go with the BMO CashBack® Mastercard®, which earns 3% back on up to $500 spent on groceries per month*, i.e., up to $15 in monthly cash back. Or if your biggest expenses are in other categories, like gas or restaurants, you could pick the Tangerine Money-Back Card, which allows you to earn 2% back in two spending categories of your choice, or three categories if you deposit the cash back you earn into a Tangerine savings account.
Both alternatives are Mastercards, so they’ll be accepted at the vast majority of retailers. And some Canadian retailers, like Costco and No-Frills, *only* accept Mastercards, to the exclusion of Visa or Amex.
*Terms and conditions apply
Should You Apply for the SimplyCashTM Card?
The SimplyCashTM Card from American Express is an easy way to earn back on most of your spending, and its flat earn rate is among the highest for Canadian cash back cards. As with all Amex cards, its primary caveat is that it won’t be accepted in all stores, with particularly low acceptance rates in rural areas and at smaller mom-and-pop shops. That’s why it’s a wise idea to always have either a Mastercard or Visa handy as well, preferably one that complements your SimplyCash card’s base cash back rate with an especially high rate in a major spending category, like groceries. Read our guide to learn more about using credit card combinations to max out your rewards and cash back.
If you prefer to keep life simple and use only one credit card rather than a combo, the SimplyCashTM Card from American Express is a good pick. But keep in mind that it might be worthwhile to upgrade to the SimplyCashTM Preferred Card from American Express, which has a higher cash back rate of 2% on everything. The Preferred Card’s $99 annual fee is offset by cash back earnings if you spend $5,000 or more with the card each year. That extra 0.75% can add up to a decent chunk of change over time!
American Express is not responsible for maintaining or monitoring the accuracy of information on this website. For full details and current product information click the Apply now link. Conditions apply.