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I’ll be honest, when I first looked at the SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express, my first reaction could roughly be summed up as “meh.” This isn’t the SimplyCash Plus Business Cards’ fault, though! I just happen to focus on earning miles and points for travel rather than cash back — my business spend also isn’t high enough to earn obscene amounts of points AND cash back.
Now that you know where I’m coming from on this, let’s talk about what the SimplyCash Plus can offer those who do want cash back.
5% and 3% Bonus Categories
The bonus category earn rates are without a doubt the most compelling aspects of the SimplyCash Plus Business Card. You can earn a great return of 5% cash back on purchases at U.S. office supply stores and wireless phone providers — AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, etc. — on the first $50,000 spent at these merchants each calendar year.
The 3% bonus category isn’t quite as straightforward, but it can still provide a nice boost to your cash back earnings. Rather than locking you into one particular bonus category — or, depending on how you look at it, allowing you to earn 3% on multiple categories, you can choose one of 8 options:
- Airfare purchased directly from an airline
- Hotels rooms purchased directly from a hotel
- Car rentals purchased from select rental car companies (noticing a pattern?)
- U.S. gas stations
- U.S. restaurants
- U.S. advertising on select media
- U.S. shipping
- U.S. computer hardware, software and cloud computing from select providers
American Express really wants you to shop in the U.S. and purchase directly from airlines, hotels and rental car companies.
If you already have a card that earns 3X on travel and dining, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, or one earning 5X on airfare, like The Platinum Card® from American Express, those categories won’t be of much use to you with this card. In this case, you’d want to take a look at making media, shipping, or computer purchases your 3% bonus category.
Do More Business
On June 1, 2018, American Express ditched the OPEN Savings program. This program had allowed business cardholders to earn 2X Membership Rewards bonus points or save 5% per dollar spent at retailers such as FedEx, Hertz, HP and 1800Flowers.com.
This new program really amounts to an extension of the Amex Offers program, with discounts of 5-10% at various merchants.
Some examples of these offers include:
- Dell: 10% back up to $1,500 until November 30, 2018
- FedEx Shipping: 15% back up to $1,000 until November 30, 2018
- FedEx Freight: 10% back up to $1,000 until November 30, 2018
For some businesses, these could offer an easy way to save some cash on everyday expenses.
Spend beyond your credit limit
If you have a particularly large purchase coming up, you can actually spend beyond the credit limit on your SimplyCash Plus Business Card. Any amount that you spend byeond your limit will be due as part of the minimum payment — this makes it similar to a charge card.
Let’s be clear, though. You should be paying your balance off in full every month, so this shouldn’t be unusual for you.
No annual fee
If you feel like your credit card portfolio has you paying enough annual fees for your liking, this card is an easy one to add as it doesn’t have an annual fee.
If you can take advantage of the 5% and 3% bonus categories as well as some of the “Do More Business” offers, this no annual fee card packs a decent punch.
Who should consider the SimplyCash Plus Business Card?
If it sounds like I’m not bursting with excitement, you’re hearing me correctly. However, that’s not because it’s a terrible card — rather, it just doesn’t fit my needs. With banks offering all kinds of cards, sometimes a specific card doesn’t quite fit for a particular person or business, and that’s just fine.
On the other hand, a business that could really take advantage of the bonus categories, especially the 5% category, might find this to be a nice fit. With no annual fee, earning $2,500 cash back on $50,000 in annual spend at office supply stores and on wireless phone charges could be huge.
Whether you use this cash back as a travel fund or just to cut some operational costs, I don’t think anyone would be unhappy with getting 5% back on purchases. On top of that, the 3% bonus category provides another easy avenue for more cash back if your business utilizes one of the eight options mentioned above.
In other cases, your business might earn more than enough miles and points for you to travel every year with plenty of spend still to go. If you’ve earned what you need, it might make sense to jump over to a cash back card.
Besides, the lack of an annual fee means you don’t have to make a calculation as to whether it’s worth keeping.
Alternatives if you prefer miles and points
If your credit card focus is geared toward miles and points, another card might be a better choice based on your goals. For the purposes of this comparison, I’m going to stick with no annual fee options.
Let’s start with The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express. Rather than earning cash back, this no annual fee card earns valuable Membership Rewards points. In fact, you can earn 2X points per dollar on all spend up to $50,000 per calendar year.
Essentially, this card turns all spend into bonus category spend. Hard not to like that. Considering the other cards in the Membership Rewards lineup that many of us have, this is a great card to boost your points-earning potential.
Moving over to Chase, we have two no annual fee options for earning Ultimate Rewards points, the Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card, and the Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card. If you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, or the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card in addition to one of these, then the points you earn can be transferred to airline and hotel partners.
Basically, if you have a card that earns Ultimate Rewards that has an annual fee, these two cards are great companions. Now, let’s take a look at the earning structure for each.
With the Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card, you have two sets of bonus categories. One that earns 5X and another that earns 2X Ultimate Rewards points. The 5X categories include spend in the following categories up to $25,000 per cardmember year (notice that’s different than calendar year):
- Office supply stores
- Internet, cable and phone services
The 2X bonus categories have the same $25,000 limit per cardmember year and include:
- Gas stations
Finally, we have the Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card — the business version of the Chase Freedom Unlimited. Like the Blue Business Plus, this card is quite simple in that it earns a flat number of points per dollar on all purchases — in this case 1.5X. Unlike the Blue Business Plus, it does not have a limit to the number of points you can earn at that bonused rate.
If you’re still eligible under the Chase 5/24 rule, you might want to consider these cards as a way to ramp up your ability to earn Ultimate Rewards in tandem with the Sapphire Reserve, Sapphire Preferred or Ink Preferred.
Just remember that if you don’t have one of these three premium Ultimate Rewards cards, the Ink Cash and Ink Unlimited only earn cash back on their own.
As with any credit card decision, you’ll want to make sure your next card fits your needs, and there are lots of options to consider in the small business space at present.
With the SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express, you get a no annual fee card with some solid bonus categories at 5% and 3% that can provide a nice rebate on up to $50,000 in the respective categories.
You won’t be able to transfer the points to travel partners but it’s a pretty simple way to get some cash back and perhaps fund your travel budget for the year.
Does anyone use the SimplyCash Plus? What has your experience been?