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American Express SimplyCash Plus Review: Customizable Cash Back for Business

Updated April 26, 2018
Business Credit Cards, Credit Cards
American Express SimplyCash Plus: Customize It
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Small-business owners want to be smart with their money, so a cash-back credit card can make as much sense for them as it does for consumers. The problem with many cash-back cards for businesses, however, is that their bonus categories often don’t line up with a company’s spending. Bonus rewards for travel, for example, don’t do you much good if your small business never takes you out of your home office.

The SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express allows you to customize some of your bonus rewards, earning extra cash back in the categories where you spend significant amounts of money. That flexibility makes it an option worth considering for small businesses.

SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express

SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express

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

    • No annual fee
    • High rewards rates in certain categories
    • 0% APR period on purchases

    Cons

    • Complicated rewards program
    • Bonus categories can be changed only once a year
    • Requires good/ excellent credit

    Annual Fees

    $0

    APR

    • APR: 13.74% - 20.74% Variable APR
    • Penalty APR: 29.99%, Variable

    Bonus Offers

    N/A

    Intro APR

    • 0% on Purchases for 15 months
  • Additional Information
    • Special offer: save on interest with a 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months; after that your APR will be a variable rate, currently 13.74% - 20.74%
    • No annual fee
    • Reinvest in your business with automatic cash back in the form of a monthly statement credit. Plus take control by choosing the 3% category that best fits your business
    • Earn 5% cash back on the first $50,000 spent at wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. office supply stores.
    • Earn 3% cash back on the first $50,000 spent in the category of your choice from a list of eight and 1% cash back on other purchases
    • With Expanded Buying Power you can spend beyond your credit limit* to make bigger purchases for your business plus earn cash back on those purchases too
    • *The amount you can spend above your credit limit is not unlimited. It adjusts with your use of the Card, your payment history, credit record, financial resources known to us, and other factors
    • Terms apply

SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express: Basics and benefits

For starters, the annual fee on the SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express is $0, so it doesn’t cost you anything to keep it in your wallet. But it doesn’t come with a new-cardholder bonus.

Unlike American Express’ more familiar charge cards, for which you have to pay the balance in full each month, the SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express lets you carry a balance. (To avoid interest, though, we recommend always paying in full.) If you have a big purchase coming up, the card does offer an introductory interest-free period: 0% on Purchases for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 13.74% - 20.74% Variable APR.

Rewards

Now let’s look at the ongoing cash-back possibilities. The card has three tiers for rewards:

  • 5% cash back on U.S. wireless phone service and U.S. office-supply store spending.
  • 3% cash back in a category you choose, from a list of eight options.
  • 1% cash back on all other spending.

You choose one 3% category each year. Here are the options:

  • Airfare purchases directly from airlines.
  • Hotel purchases booked directly with hotels.
  • Car rentals from specific rental companies.
  • U.S. gas stations.
  • U.S. restaurants.
  • U.S. spending for advertising in certain media.
  • U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • U.S. computer hardware, software and cloud computing purchases made directly from certain providers.

The higher cash-back rates are good only on the first $50,000 in combined purchases each year; after that, you’ll earn 1% in those categories.

Cell phone services and office supplies like paper, printer ink and other items take a bite out of many businesses’ budgets, so earning 5% cash back on those expenses would be welcome.

Choosing bonus categories can be a hassle, but it’s only once a year, and the rewards can be significant. If you know you’re going to be purchasing new computers or upgrading your software, for instance, you can plan ahead and choose that as your 3% category for the year. Spend, say, $5,000, and you get $150 back.

You can earn more rewards by making purchases with your card through the OPEN Savings network. You choose whether you want 5% cash back or 2 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent with an OPEN Savings partner. Partners include FedEx, Hertz, HP, Barnes & Noble and 1-800-Flowers.

Business perks

Typical for American Express cards, the cardholder perks, protections for purchases and travel benefits are excellent. If your business requires a lot of auto travel, for example, you’ll get car rental loss and collision damage waiver coverage and access to a roadside assistance hotline. If you choose gas stations as your 3% cash-back bonus category, you’ve got a rewards credit card tailored to your needs.

If you want to give trusted employees credit cards to use on behalf of the company, the SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express offers you free employee cards and lets you set spending limits for each card. With multiple cards to track, though, you might need some help. To manage your business expenses and reports, your card account can connect with QuickBooks and ReceiptMatch. You and your employees can take photos of receipts, and they will sync with QuickBooks. Nobody likes to spend their work time filing expense reports; these tools ease the burden.

American Express has some less mundane benefits, too. The issuer gives exclusive access to hard-to-get tickets through its Entertainment Access and Membership Experiences programs in cities across the country — so you could potentially wow a new client with tickets to “Hamilton” or a Golden State Warriors home game.

SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express: Pitfalls and other possibilities

The SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express isn’t so good if you do a lot of international travel, as it charges a 2.7% foreign transaction fee.

If that’s a concern for your business, consider the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business, which doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees — although it does have an annual fee: $0 for the first year, then $95. It offers simple 2% cash back on all spending, so you don’t have to choose categories. And you can earn a sign-up bonus: A one-time $500 cash bonus once you spend $4,500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening.

The Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card is a no-annual-fee card with a bonus rewards structure similar to the SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express. It, too, has three cash-back tiers:

  • 5% cash back on up to $25,000 in combined spending for wireless and landline, cable TV and internet, and office-supply stores.
  • 2% cash back on up to $25,000 in combined spending at gas stations and restaurants.
  • 1% cash back on all other spending.

The 5% category on this card encompasses a broader swath of spending than the SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express. The mid-tier rate is lower and not customizable, but it includes two categories rather than just one. Run your own numbers to see which card will earn you the most cash back through bonus categories.

Is SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express right for your business?

For a card without an annual fee, SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express offers some of the highest rewards rates for common business spending, and a higher rate in categories that you can choose to suit your needs. The $50,000 limit in annual combined spending is generous, too. As long as you don’t do a lot of international business, this is a great card for a small business.

Ellen Cannon is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: ecannon@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @ellencannon.