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American Express Clear: Simple, but not Lucrative

April 16, 2011
Credit Cards
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You shouldn’t get the American Express Clear for its rewards rate. Don’t get me wrong, the rewards aren’t bad, they’re just not stellar when compared to other American Express cards. What the American Express Clear does offer is simplicity. It has no late, cash advance, over-the-limit or annual fees. While many credit cards have no annual fee, it’s rare to see one that waives the “shrouded” fees that most consumers don’t even notice until they’re hit with, say, a 5% cash advance charge. Plus, rewards are easy to understand and redeem. You receive 1% back on all purchases, and every time you spend $2,500, you’re mailed an AmEx gift card worth $25. Though the gift cards expire after one year, you don’t have the same accumulation-then-expiration problems that you tend to see on other rewards credit cards.

“Clear and simple”

The American Express Clear is great for simplicity and convenience. Since the $0, it’s a great card to hang on to even when you’re no longer using it. Keeping credit card accounts open helps to boost your credit score (it increases the average length of your accounts, your overall credit limit, and the number of accounts you’re not in default on), so it’s to your advantage to have a no-fee card to stick in a drawer.

On the other hand, its rewards rate is nothing spectacular. It suffers by comparison to AmEx’s lineup of consumer-friendly rewards credit cards, the Blue series. While all of them have late and cash advance fees, only some have annual fees, and all have better rewards programs.