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There will be a new AMEX card for small business owners this spring!
AMEX announced details of the upcoming AMEX SimplyCash Plus small business credit card. It has higher caps on its cash back bonus categories.
And a new option for spending beyond your credit limit, which can be helpful if you need to make a large purchase for your business.
I’ll explain the details. And recommend who might consider it when the card is available.
What’s Different About This New Card?
The regular version of AMEX SimplyCash is useful for small business owners who don’t want to pay an annual fee and earn cash back.
The new AMEX SimplyCash Plus card has most of the same benefits of the regular AMEX SimplyCash small business card, including 5% cash back at office supply stores in the US and on your US wireless phone bill.
And you’ll earn 3% cash back on eligible purchases in 1 of the following categories of your choice:
- Airfare purchased directly from airlines
- Hotel stays purchased directly from the hotel
- Purchases made directly from the car rental companies listed here. (Includes Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, National, Payless, Thrifty, etc.)
- Purchases at US gas stations
- Purchases at US restaurants
- US purchases for shipping
- US purchases for advertising in select media. (This includes placing ads on Google & Facebook)
Both cards have NO annual fee. And they both have a ~3% foreign transaction fee, so they’re not good cards to use overseas.
Some small business owners have already have the new AMEX SimplyCash Plus card, perhaps as part of early testing. But AMEX says the new card will be available for applications in Spring 2016.
Now let’s look at what’s different about the cards.
1. Cash Back Limits
If you spend a lot of money in the 5% or 3% cash back categories, the new AMEX SimplyCash Plus card will be a huge improvement.
That’s because you can earn 5% or 3% cash back on up to $50,000 in purchases per rebate year in EACH category.
Folks with the regular AMEX SimplyCash small business card are limited to $25,000 in purchases in each cash back category.
So the cash back cap in bonus categories with the AMEX SimplyCash Plus card is $4,000 per rebate year (5% of $50,000 + 3% of $50,000). That’s great for a card with no annual fee! But you’d have to spend a LOT of money to earn it.
2. An Extra 3% Cash Back Category Choice
The AMEX SimplyCash Plus card will have a new option for your 3% cash back category. You’ll get an extra 8th choice. You can select computer hardware and software, and cloud computing services from certain providers in the US.
This category is unique to the AMEX SimplyCash Plus card. So this is an excellent card if you need to purchase new computers or software programs. Or if you spend a lot of money on cloud-based services.
I don’t know yet which providers will be on the list of merchants. But I hope online storage services like Dropbox, Box, and Rackspace will be eligible to earn 3% cash back in this category.
3. The Ability to Spend Beyond Your Credit Limit
Another benefit of the new AMEX SimplyCash Plus card is an added cushion to spend beyond your assigned credit limit. And, there are no over-the-limit fees when you do this.
The card acts as a credit card up to your credit limit. And if you spend over your credit limit, it’s like a charge card. That means you’ll have to pay the charge card balance in full at the end of the billing cycle. But you can carry a balance from month to month up to your credit limit.
This could be useful for small business owners who need to make a large purchase, like equipment, machinery, or computers, to improve their business.
However, I do NOT recommend carrying a balance unless you are VERY careful. And pay lots of attention to your accounts.
AMEX makes it easy to check if a large purchase will be approved. After you log-in, look for “Check Spending Ability” along the right-hand side of the screen.
On the next page, enter how much you need to spend to see if your purchase will clear. If you need more help, call the number on the back of your card to be sure you can make your purchase before you shop.
Remember when you carry a balance, the interest you’ll pay on your purchases will be much more than any cash back you’ll earn. One of the few situations this might make sense is if you are improving your business so you can make more money than before. Or if there is an offer with 0% APR for a set amount of time.
Always run the numbers before you carry a balance!
Should You Sign-Up?
If you’re looking for a no annual fee card for your small business, the AMEX SimplyCash Plus is a great option.
However, it’s not very different from the regular AMEX SimplyCash card unless you:
- Spend a LOT in the cash back categories
- Need to purchase computer hardware, software, or cloud services for your business
- Need to spend over your limit for a large purchase
The Chase Ink Cash card earns 5 Chase Ultimate Rewards points (or 5% cash back) on up to $25,000 in combined spending at office supply stores, wireless phone service, landline phone service, internet, and cable TV. So for folks looking to reduce the cost of cable TV and internet, the Chase Ink Cash is a better card.
And, you’ll earn 2 Chase Ultimate Rewards points (2% cash back) at gas stations and restaurants. There are no 3% cash back categories.
And if you also have a Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Plus, or (no longer offered) Chase Ink Bold card, you can transfer the points to partner airlines and hotels like United Airlines, Southwest, and Hyatt.
Depending on which cash back categories interest you the most, either (or both!) of these small business cards are worth getting if you don’t want to pay an annual fee.
If you think you might have a small business, find out how you might qualify. Generally, as long as you make a profit from your work, you can get approved for a small business credit card.
Here are my picks for small business cards if you do digital work, like graphic design, editing, or anything else with a computer.
What I Wish AMEX Would Add to the Card
The new AMEX SimplyCash Plus card would be much more interesting if it had the ability to earn AMEX Membership Rewards points. Or gave you the option to transfer your rewards to travel partners if you had another card, like the AMEX EveryDay Preferred or The Enhanced Business Platinum Card from American Express OPEN.
As it stands now, it’s only a good choice for a certain set of folks.
Another thing I’d like to see on this card is a big sign-up bonus! If there isn’t 1, then the regular AMEX SimplyCash card will be the best option for most folks.
Time will tell!
This spring, AMEX will launch the new AMEX SimplyCash Plus card.
It’s very comparable to the regular AMEX SimplyCash card. The main differences are:
- Increased 5% and 3% cash back limits from $25,000 to $50,000 per rebate each in BOTH categories
- A new 3% cash back option for computer hardware and software, and cloud computing purchases
- The ability to spend over your credit limit if you pay it back at the end of the billing cycle
The AMEX SimplyCash Plus card will appeal to folks who spend a lot in the cash back bonus categories. Or who want to make big purchases to grow their small business.
I wish AMEX would’ve given the rewards the flexibility to transfer to travel partners. That’s a big reason why I like the Chase Ink Cash card, which is another small business credit card with no annual fee.
That said, it’s always good to have more options to earn cash back!