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AmEx Cash Magnet Review: Does No-Fuss 1.5% Back Attract You?

The card offers a decent, straightforward return on all eligible spending — but optimizers can do better.
Oct. 3, 2018
Cash Back Credit Cards, Credit Cards, Rewards Credit Cards
american-express-cash-magnet-card-review
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The American Express Cash Magnet™ Card is the newest member in the issuer’s family of cash-back products. But unlike its siblings, it’s a flat-rate cash-back card that earns you an unlimited 1.5% back on all eligible purchases.

On the upside, that guarantees you a simple, decent rewards return on virtually everything you buy. On the downside, you can find plenty of cards — even within the AmEx family — that earn significantly higher rates, if you’re willing to keep track of tiered rewards or bonus categories.

The American Express Cash Magnet™ Card does offer a rich welcome bonus among other benefits, and it’s ideal for someone seeking simplicity in a rewards credit card.

American Express Cash Magnet™ Card

American Express Cash Magnet™ Card

Apply Now on American Express's secure site
  • Recommended Credit Score
  • 690
    850
    Good - Excellent
  • Card Details
  • Pros

    • No annual fee
    • Bonus offer for new cardholders
    • Intro APR period on Purchases and Balance Transfers

    Cons

    • Has foreign transaction fee
    • American Express isn’t accepted at as many merchants as Visa or Mastercard

    Annual Fees

    $0

    APR

    • APR: 14.99% - 25.99% Variable APR
    • Penalty APR: 29.99%, Variable
    • Cash Advance APR: 27.24%, Variable

    Bonus Offers

    Earn up to $250 back. Earn a $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 or more in purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Plus, earn an additional $100 statement credit after you spend an additional $6,500 in purchases within your first 12 months. Terms Apply.

    Intro APR

    • 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months
  • Additional Information
    • Earn up to $250 back. Here’s how: Earn a $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 or more in purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
    • Plus, earn an additional $100 statement credit after you spend an additional $6,500 in purchases within your first 12 months.
    • Unlimited 1.5% Cash Back on your purchases.
    • Cash Back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be easily redeemed for statement credits, gift cards, and merchandise.
    • Low intro APR: 0% for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable rate, currently 14.99% to 25.99%.
    • With Plan ItSM, you can set up a monthly payment plan for large purchases with a fixed monthly fee and no interest charges, all with the same rewards and protections you expect from American Express.
    • Over 1.5 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in 2017.
    • No Annual Fee.
    • Terms Apply.

American Express Cash Magnet™ Card: Key features

Annual fee: $0

Welcome bonus: Earn up to $250 back. Earn a $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 or more in purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Plus, earn an additional $100 statement credit after you spend an additional $6,500 in purchases within your first 12 months. Terms Apply.

Rewards: Unlimited 1.5% back on purchases. As with the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express and the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, the cash back you earn with the American Express Cash Magnet™ Card takes the form of Reward Dollars and can be redeemed as statement credit once you’ve earned $25 or more.

Intro APR: 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 14.99% - 25.99% Variable APR

Foreign transaction fee: 2.7%

Balance transfer fee: Either $5 or 3% of the balance total, whichever is greater

» MORE: Pay It Plan It: What to know about AmEx’s new feature

Travel perks: Cardholders get access to American Express’ roadside assistance hotline, car rental loss and damage insurance, travel accident insurance and global assist hotline.

Consumer benefits: Purchase protection, extended warranty, return protection

Highlights of the American Express Cash Magnet™ Card

Solid, straightforward rewards rate: 1.5% back on all purchases has become the gold standard for cash-back credit cards, and it’s the same rate as you’ll get with popular cards like the Chase Freedom Unlimited® or the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card. As with those cards, the American Express Cash Magnet™ Card will also cost you nothing to carry each year, assuming you don’t rack up interest charges.

Generous welcome offer: The American Express Cash Magnet™ Card’s welcome bonus is higher than you’ll find on most other cash-back credit cards, assuming you can spend enough to earn the full amount. The initial spending threshold is reasonable and comparable with other cards, and you’ll have 12 months to reach the second spending threshold.

» MORE: NerdWallet’s best cash back credit cards

Good option for financing a large purchase: The card offers 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 14.99% - 25.99% Variable APR. That’s a decent window of time to finance a big-ticket purchase without interest charges. You could also take advantage of the introductory balance transfer APR; just be aware that you’ll be charged a balance transfer fee.

Potential drawbacks

Limited earning potential: While a 1.5% flat rate is a decent return on purchases, you can do better with cards that earn elevated rewards rates in popular spending categories. For example, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express and the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express also earn Reward Dollars, but they offer higher rewards rates on specific shopping categories. You can also find cash-back cards that offer bonus rewards on categories that rotate each quarter of the year.

Limited redemption options: Reward Dollars can’t be redeemed as cash back to your bank account; they can be redeemed only as statement credit, gift cards or merchandise. Also, cardholders have to earn at least $25 in Reward Dollars to be able to redeem, which is more than some other cards require. Reward Dollars can’t be used to pay the “minimum due” total.

Potentially limited acceptance internationally. American Express is not as widely accepted outside of the United States as Visa or Mastercard. Even if your American Express Cash Magnet™ Card is accepted at your international destination, you’ll be charged a 2.7% foreign transaction fee for each purchase — and that could add up over the course of an overseas vacation. It’s difficult, although not impossible, to find a cash-back card that charges no foreign transaction fees. But if you’re looking for a credit card to use internationally, better options exist.

Alternatives to consider

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer is a flat-rate cash-back credit card that also offers simplicity, except that its rewards structure is potentially more lucrative. It offers 2% cash back on everything — 1% back when you make a purchase, and another 1% back as you pay for it. Like the American Express Cash Magnet™ Card, it has an annual fee of $0.

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

If you’ve got your mind set on an American Express cash-back credit card, you could also consider the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express. It, too, offers a welcome bonus, an intro 0% APR period, and an annual fee of $0. But unlike the American Express Cash Magnet™ Card, it has a tiered rewards system. You’ll earn 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1% back); 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores; and 1% back on other purchases.

» MORE: American Express credit cards mobile app review

Discover it® Cash Back

The Discover it® Cash Back offers yet another kind of rewards system. You’ll earn 5% cash back in rotating quarterly categories on up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter, and 1% back on all other purchases. You’ll have to keep track of the categories and activate them each quarter to earn the bonus. The Discover it® Cash Back has an annual fee of $0, and it offers a unique sign-up bonus: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.

Visit our top credit card options page to find out more about possible cash-back alternatives.

Is the American Express Cash Magnet™ Card right for you?

If you’re not interested in keeping track of multiple rewards tiers or bonus categories and just want an uncomplicated cash-back system, the American Express Cash Magnet™ Card fits the bill. Just keep in mind that there’s no shortage of flat-rate cash-back cards on the market — many offering at least 1.5% back on all purchases — so evaluate your options to find the one that works best for you.

And if you think the extra optimization work is worth it in exchange for supercharging your cash-back earnings, you’ll likely be better off with a different card.

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