The Simply Cash Card From American Express Is Very Underrated!

American Express SimplyCash cash back credit card review

Canadians love their cash back credit cards, be it the Smart Cash, the Momentum, the Aspire, or one of the other cash back offerings from The Big Five Banks. However, there is one card that often gets overlooked when it comes to cash back credit cards, and it is the Simply Cash Card from American Express.

It might be flying under the radar because Amex isn’t known for cash back - most of their cards offer travel rewards. Or, it could be that the market leading 1.25% cash back on ALL purchases is just too simple for most people... it isn’t a round number after all, and that could also be a put off. More realistically, it could be because one particular store they shop at doesn’t accept Amex cards, but my experience has been that most stores will gladly take it. Even Tim Hortons, the last big cash-only hold out in Canada, now takes American Express.

Ultimately, I don’t know why more people aren’t choosing this card, but I hope to help change that with this review because it is definitely a card worth considering. It is especially good if you make a lot of everyday purchases that don’t fall into the bonus spending categories of other cards (which are often very limited anyway, as is the case with the Smart Cash).

Heck, since the card has no annual fee, I’m not sure why more people don’t just apply for it to get the massive 5% cash back on gas and grocery purchases for 6 months. If you spend $800 per month on those, that’s a cool $240 you just earned!

Quick Facts

Annual fee $0
Interest rate 19.99%
Min. income $15,000
Reward type Cash Back
Reward 1.25% on ALL purchases with no limits
HTS reward return 1.25% of spending for a typical person after annual fee deducted
Sign-up bonus 5% cash back on gas & groceries for 6 months - $250 maximum.
Apply Click here


  • 1.25% cash back on ALL regular purchases which is the highest of any no-fee cash back credit card.
  • No annual fee for both primary and secondary cards.
  • Huge 5% bonus on gas & groceries for 6 months ($250 limit on this bonus). Most no-fee cash back cards don’t come with an initial bonus.
  • No limit to the amount of cash back you can earn.
  • Free access to Front Of The Line for advanced concert and event ticket sales as well as reserved tickets exclusively for Amex cardholders.
  • 1.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months (limited time).


  • Not the best travel insurance package when compared to some of the other top no-fee cash back cards.

Insurance Package:

  • Extended warranty - up to one year.
  • Purchase protection - 90 days.
  • Travel accident insurance - up to $100,000.
  • Car rental coverage - collision / loss damage waiver (LDW).

Cash Back Analysis

Figuring out your cash back with this card is super simple because there is only one possible rate to be concerned with, and that is 1.25% with NO LIMIT. Just to give you an idea of how much cash you will earn though, including the 5% bonus on gas and groceries, I’ve done the calculations for the total cash you will rake in over the first 5 years:

Light spend’ – $200 per month on groceries, $100 per month on fuel, $500 per month on everything else.

Medium spend’ – $400 per month on groceries, $200 per month on fuel, $1,000 per month on everything else.

Heavy spend’ – $600 per month on groceries, $400 per month on fuel, $2,000 per month on everything else.


Year 1

Year 3

Year 5

Light spend




Medium spend




Heavy spend




How To Maximize Cash Back

This biggest trick for maximizing cash back with this card is to make sure you get the full $250 bonus on gas and groceries during the first 6 months you have the card. You can easily do this by purchasing a gift card near the end of your 6 months to make up for whatever money you weren’t able to spend.

Just purchase the gift card from the gift card mall at either your favourite grocery store or gas bar so you will get the 5% bonus when purchasing it. The gift card can be for more gas and groceries that you can buy over the coming months, or it can be for a completely different store, like Home Depot, so you can do renovations to your house.

Other than that, just shop as you please - your 1.25% will always be there.


Those who have been ignoring this card have really been missing out! The 5% bonus on gas and groceries makes it worth it just to give it a try and see what you think. You can always change your mind later after you’ve collected your $250, but something tells me you won’t :)

There are a few tweaks though that I would like to see them make which would solidify this as the best no fee cash back card in Canada:

  • Make it so the cash back can be redeemed anytime you want instead of just the once a year standard.
  • Provide a bit more when it comes to insurance and perks. Price protection and some extra travel insurance would go a long way.

Overall, I’d say it’s a card that everyone should consider having in their wallet, even if it is just for the no-fee Front Of The Line access, which can certainly come in handy from time to time.

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adora's picture

You've forgot to mentioned that few retailers accept American Express.

Most national brand gas stations do, but cheaper groceries stores such as No Frills, Food Basics or Fresh Co. don't. So it is unlikely an average family can spend more than $300 on groceries using this card without overspending at higher price stores in the first place. One can not simply translate current spending directly into the formula. For myself, I have only been able to spend between $120 to $280 per month with Amex.

Knowing that, it is still a great card to have because it has no annual fee.

October 15, 2015 @ 1:11 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Yes, that is a very good point that I did mention in the second paragraph but it is worth reiterating. It is true that American Express is accepted at a few less stores than Visa and MasterCard, but it isn't a huge gap. Most places do take it. I think this is a great card for people to get an test out to see if the stores they shop at take Amex because it is no fee like you said.

Thanks for the comment!

October 15, 2015 @ 2:07 pm
Stephane's picture

I agree re. the limitation on using this card on groceries. I don't think any Loblaws branded store take AMEX. And if you don't drive like I do, then this card is a waste of time.

October 15, 2015 @ 6:19 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Here where I live, one of the biggest grocery chains (Sobeys) take Amex - so I guess it comes down to what is close to you.

October 15, 2015 @ 9:23 pm
Agathocle De Syracuse
Agathocle De Syracuse's picture

Grocery stores run by Loblaws including Superstore and No Frills are an exception. They only accept Mastercard and Debit. They don't accept Visa or AMEX.

However Food Basics, Metro, Shoppers Drug Mart, and Wal-Mart all accept American Express.

October 27, 2015 @ 3:18 pm
Chuck WMP
Chuck WMP's picture

I have this card as a replacement when Costco stopped accepting AMEX, I have also carried a AMEX for work which has allowed me to travel to 42 countries. AMEX by far is the most difficult to use, and I could never trust it on a trip to anywhere. It was refused in Texas at the Best Western hotel ! How I can I trust it in Singapore ?
Visa is accepted everywhere and they have saved my butt, when the card was damaged in Thailand.
American Express Travel checks although were Guaranteed, took 3 weeks to get my money back when they were lost.
* Thailand charges high fees to cash AMEX Traveler Checks, unless they are $1000 each it is better to fork over the $4.50 ATM fees and use your bank card. Then carry a AMEX Checks. This changed 2 years ago, before the TC's had a small savings when you cashed them to Thai BAHT.

Sorry from extensive overseas experience, AMEX, is never a good choice. Unless it is a AMEX Black Card, and then you and I don't travel in the same circles anyway ;-)

I have kept the card only for use in Canada and to run out the 5% promo.

Chuck WMP

October 15, 2015 @ 4:31 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Good advice here about having a card for travelling. That's a whole different beast though Chuck as I think most people would be using this card for their everyday purchases at home. I recommend having several different credit cards with you whenever you are travelling + cash + your bank card.

P.S. Traveller's cheques of any kind are never worth it in my opinion. I learned that the first time I tried to use them years ago as well. It's like trying to get a store to be your bank, it just doesn't make sense - go to the bank! They add a little bit of safety, but the extra hassle just isn't worth it.

October 15, 2015 @ 9:14 pm
Terry's picture

Hi there - Do you know if Amex has a card like this one, but a prepaid card ? A few years ago, my wife and I were hit by a gang of fraudsters and we still haven't recovered. Our credit ratings are now both about as low as you could go, so all we've been able to get is a prepaid travel card. Now I'm toying with the idea of an online business, so cash back on a card would add up to a lot of cash fast, since I would be buying inventory with it, if I could do that. Do you know if Amex or anyone else offers cash back on a prepaid type of card ? Maybe a topic for another day ?

October 15, 2015 @ 5:38 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

I'm pretty sure they don't Terry. I'm not an expert on Prepaid cards by any means, but I've never heard of such a thing.

Are you talking about the kind of prepaid cards you buy in the store? Or a secured card where you have to give them a deposit? Or the newer type of combo credit/debit cards?

I took a quick look at the Visa and MasterCard offering in terms of prepaid debit cards and the only one I immediately noticed that offered any kind of rewards was the Scotiabank Scene Visa Prepaid Debit Card. In terms of rewards and perks, they seem to be pretty poor. Comparing these types of cards would be a good topic for a future article though, you're right.

October 15, 2015 @ 9:23 pm
Jean Lefebvre
Jean Lefebvre's picture


I'm not sure I get how the SimplyCash dollars are credited off the due amount..
For example: I just got my new SimplyCash card and totalled 92$ on the card, and got 3$ of SimplyCash money.
But the amount du is still 92$
Why isn't it 92$-3$=89$??


December 28, 2015 @ 11:33 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

It's because cash back credit cards typically (but not always) pay your cash back out once per year as a statement credit. Give the number on the back of the card a call and verify with them what month they will be giving you your cash back.

December 30, 2015 @ 9:08 pm
Everett's picture

Hi there. I just wonder, did you actually try maximizing cash back by purchasing gift cards at gas/grocery stores? 'Cause I checked the terms, and noticed that it says something like 'eligible purchases'.

January 27, 2016 @ 9:42 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

I have done this many times on my MBNA Smart Cash MasterCard but haven't done it before on this SimplyCash. I see no reason why it wouldn't work. I don't think they have an easy way of identifying a gift card purchase. Usually it's just lottery purchases and the like that don't count.

January 29, 2016 @ 10:50 am
Dickman's picture

How does this card payout once a year? Is it a cheque or do they simply credit your account?

Cheers from Vietnam, where they also have few shops that take AMEX :(

August 11, 2016 @ 2:41 pm
Dickman's picture

If you could verify that's what statement credit means, that'd be swell. I missed that post.

August 11, 2016 @ 2:46 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Yes, that's what statement credit means. A credit to your account that you can use to pay for new purchases.

August 13, 2016 @ 3:13 pm
Tech Guy in BC
Tech Guy in BC's picture

I have the card and used it for the 5% bonus for the first six months, but rarely use it now for three reasons:

1) My grocery shopping is mostly at Costco and Superstore (Loblaws), and neither takes Amex.
2) Doing the math on the amount I spend, I very easily make up the difference on the annual fee of my card, which earns me a higher percentage
3) It dings me 2.5 cents on the dollar for purchases outside of Canada

I still carry it as back up but have not used it in several months.

Tech Guy in BC

August 23, 2016 @ 11:04 am
Adam Smith
Adam Smith's picture

You can also save money using AMEX travel.

I am travelling to Cincinatti for business and my colleagues spent $620 on their tickets while through AMEX, I spent $555. If saving $65.00 isn't worth it plus the $7 I got in cash back, I don't know what is!!!

January 21, 2017 @ 11:28 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Surprised their travel agency has better prices - but that's good to know.

January 23, 2017 @ 10:19 am

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