AmEx Cash Magnet Review: No-Fuss 1.5% Back on Your Purchases

The flat cash-back rate on everything you buy matches the industry standard, but optimizers might be able to find more attractive options.

Chanelle BessetteOctober 15, 2020

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Our Take

4.8

NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line: A solid option for those who prize simplicity in a rewards card. Just keep in mind that the redemption options are a bit limited.

American Express Cash Magnet℠ Card

on American Express's website

Rates & Fees
Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Purchases for 15 months

Recommended Credit Score

Quick FactsView rates and fees

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • No annual fee

  • Bonus offer for new cardholders

  • Intro APR period on Purchases

Cons

  • American Express isn't accepted at as many merchants as Visa or Mastercard

Alternate Pick: 5% cash back

Discover it® Cash Back

Supersized rewards for those who optimize

This card pays 5% cash back in quarterly categories that you activate (on up to $1,500 in spending per quarter) and 1% on everything else. Categories in recent years have included such things as restaurants, gas stations and Amazon.com. The annual fee is $0.

Read our review

Compare to Other Cards

Annual Fee

$0

Annual Fee

$0 intro for the first year, then $95

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR

Rates & Fees

Regular APR

13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR

Rates & Fees

Regular APR

13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Purchases for 15 months

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Purchases for 12 months

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months

Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score

Full Review

The American Express Cash Magnet® Card is a relative newcomer to the issuer's family of cash-back products. But unlike its siblings, it's a simple, flat-rate card: You get 1.5% back on all eligible purchases.

On the upside, that guarantees you'll earn solid, uncomplicated rewards on everything you buy. On the downside, you can find plenty of cards — even within the AmEx family — that earn higher rates, if you're willing to keep track of tiered rewards or bonus categories.

The American Express Cash Magnet® Card does offer a welcome bonus, among other benefits, and it's a good option for someone seeking simplicity in a rewards credit card.

American Express Cash Magnet® Card: Key features

  • Card type: Cash back.

  • Annual fee: $0.

  • Welcome bonus: 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. Terms Apply.

  • Rewards: 1.5% cash 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" that can be redeemed as statement credit once you’ve earned $25 or more.

  • Interest rate: 0% intro APR on Purchases for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR.

  • Foreign transaction fee: 2.7%.

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

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

  • Consumer benefits: Purchase protection, extended warranty, return protection.

Key benefits of the American Express Cash Magnet® Card

  • Straightforward rewards: 1.5% back on all purchases has become the standard for cash-back credit cards, and it's the same rate as that offered by popular cards like the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit 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.

  • Welcome offer: The card's bonus offer for new cardholders is on par with what you'll find with many other cash-back credit cards, although it does come with a higher-than-typical spending threshold. The offer: 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. Terms Apply.

  • Good 0% intro APR period: The card offers 0% intro APR on Purchases for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 13.99% - 23.99% 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 Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer gives you 2% cash back on everything (1% back when you make a purchase and another 1% when you pay it off). You can also find cash-back cards that offer 5% bonus rewards on categories that change quarterly.

  • Limited redemption options: Reward Dollars can’t be redeemed as cash back to your bank account. They can be redeemed only for statement credit, gift cards or merchandise. Also, cardholders have to earn at least $25 in Reward Dollars to be able to redeem; other cards have no minimum redemption amount. And Reward Dollars can’t be used toward your minimum payment due.

  • Potentially limited acceptance internationally. American Express is not as widely accepted outside 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. If you're looking for a credit card to use internationally, better options exist.

Potential alternatives

For higher flat-rate rewards: 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 its rewards rate is higher, offering 2% cash back on everything (1% back when you make purchases and 1% back when you pay them off). Like the American Express Cash Magnet® Card, it has an annual fee of $0. However, this offer includes neither a new-cardholder bonus nor a $0 intro APR period for purchases.

For 5% BACK in rotating categories: 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: INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.

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 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 cards on the market 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 a little extra work is worth it in exchange for supercharging your cash-back earnings, you'll likely be better off with a different card.

To view rates and fees of the American Express Cash Magnet® Card, please visit this page.

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