American Express today made a major push into the cash back credit card market with the launch of two new cards, SimplyCash and SimplyCash Preferred.

The two new rewards cards offer juicy cash back incentives that Canadians haven’t seen since MBNA slashed the benefits on its popular Smart Cash card several years ago.

New SimplyCash card from American Express

SimplyCash is a no-fee cash back card that pays 1.25% on ALL purchases with no limits or category tiers.  You’ll also get 5% back at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants for the first six months – up to $250 cash back, or $5,000 spending during that period.

That automatically puts the new SimplyCash card from American Express into the top of the no-fee cash back credit card conversation.  You’ll earn $150 per year on $12,000 annual spend.  But in the first year you can earn up to $337.50 by maxing out the bonus period.  Here’s the breakdown:

  • Bonus six months x $833.33 @ 5% = $250 cash back
  • Bonus six months x $133.67 @ 1.25% = $12.50 cash back
  • Remaining six months x $1,000 @ 1.25% = $75 cash back
  • Total cash back in first year = $337.50

New SimplyCash Preferred card from American Express

SimplyCash Preferred card comes with a $79 annual fee and it pays 1.5% back on ALL purchases up to $100,000 annually (dropping to 1.25% afterwards).  The difference in the bonus period is that you’ll also get 5% cash back on ALL purchases (not just grocery, gas, and restaurant) for six months, up to a maximum of $400 cash back, or $8,000 spending during the period.

To qualify, you’ll need just $15,000 in annual income, and SimplyCash Preferred cardholders can also get free supplementary cards.

Someone who spends $24,000 per year would get $360 cash back (I’m assuming that higher spenders would pay for the annual fee card).  But in the first year you could earn up to $640 by maxing out the bonus period.  Here’s how that looks:

  • Bonus six months x $1333.33 @ 5% = $400 cash back
  • Bonus six months x $666.67 @ 1.5% = $60 cash back
  • Remaining six months x $2,000 @ 1.5% = $180 cash back
  • Total cash back in first year = $640

Like the Scotia Momentum Visa, cash back earned with either of the two new SimplyCash cards will be applied annually to your account as a statement credit.

Final thoughts

This is a bold move into the cash back market for American Express.  It comes at a welcome time for fans of cash back rewards who’ve seen some of their favourite cards become watered-down or even discontinued altogether.

No doubt the cash back crowd will be excited with the 5% cash back bonus period – especially that it applies to any purchase (in the case of the Preferred card), and not just gas and groceries.

Related: TrueEarnings Card discontinued as Costco, Amex end partnership

Whether you prefer a no-fee rewards card or want to enhance your cash back with an annual fee card, the SimplyCash cards from American Express are definitely worth a closer look.

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