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American Express is basically synonymous with luxury credit cards. After all, the issuer is responsible for starting the "black card" trend. But these days, it also offers a host of high quality cash-back cards that don't come with crazy annual fees.
The American Express Cash Magnet® Card is one such example. This cash-back card offers a $200 statement credit as a welcome bonus for new cardholders when you spend $2,000 in your first six months. And you can earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on eligible purchases while enjoying some of the best perks that Amex is known for.
Below, CNBC Select breaks down the rewards, benefits and fees associated with the American Express Cash Magnet Card to help you decide if it's the right card for you.
Unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases
Earn a $200 statement credit after spending $2,000 in purchases within your first 6 months of card membership.
0% for the first 15 months on purchases from the date of account opening, N/A for balance transfers
14.74% to 24.74% variable
Balance transfer fee
Foreign transaction fee
The American Express Cash Magnet Card gives cardholders 1.5% unlimited cash back on all eligible purchases. This cash back can be redeemed as reward dollars for statement credits once you earn a balance of $25 or more. Occasionally, Amex may offer you the opportunity to cash these rewards in for gift cards or merchandise from select merchants.
In addition, there's also a welcome bonus: You can get $200 cash back when you spend $2,000 on eligible purchases in your first six months.
CNBC Select calculated how many rewards the average American could earn if they optimize the way they use their Amex Cash Magnet. We worked with the location intelligence firm Esri, who provided us with a sample annual spending budget of $22,126.
The budget includes six main categories: groceries ($5,174), gas ($2,218), dining out ($3,675), travel ($2,244), utilities ($4,862) and general purchases ($3,953).
Here's a breakdown of how much cash back you can earn in each category, annually:
- Groceries: $78
- Gas: $33
- Dining out: $55
- Travel: $34
- Utilities: $73
- General purchases: $59
- Total: $332
Based on the annual spending budget from Esri, the average American can earn an estimated $482 in the first year of card membership, including the welcome bonus offer, and $1,810 over five years. This assumes that cardholders are redeeming cash back for a typical value of 1 cent each. Extreme optimizers might be able to achieve more value, and you may earn a higher or lower return depending on your spending habits.
While Amex is known for offering luxury perks with cards like the American Express® Gold Card, the Cash Magnet is a no- annual fee card (see rates and fees) that comes with some of the same well-loved benefits.
Amex Cash Magnet Travel Benefits
The Cash Magnet card comes with car rental loss and damage insurance when you book the rental vehicle on your Amex card. It also provides a Global Assist® Hotline to connect you to assistance when you or a family member loses a passport, comes down with sudden illness, needs language translation or encounters a customs and border question while on vacation.
(Note: Global Assist® coordination services are offered complimentary, but cardholders must pay for any third-party services once Global Assist® connects them to the appropriate resource.)
Amex cardholders can also take advantage of Destination Family benefits when they use the Amex Cash Magnet card to pay for valid bookings through the American Express Travel portal. Participating providers include:
- Abercrombie & Kent
- Royal Caribbean International
- Regent Seven Seas Cruises
- Travel Impressions
Your Family Destination benefits vary by provider and may not be available to residents outside of the U.S. The primary cardholder must be included in all vacation bookings, meaning you can't book a trip for the family but stay home yourself.
Another great travel benefit of the Amex Cash Magnet card is the Lowest Hotel Rates Guarantee. If you book a qualifying hotel at the prepaid rate on amextravel.com and then find the same exact accommodation for the same dates and number of family members at a lower price online, Amex will refund the difference (taking taxes and fees into account).
To qualify for Lowest Hotel Rates Guarantee, your claim must be submitted at least one day prior to your date of check-in.
For a travel credit card that gives you the opportunity to earn more on your hotel stays, you might consider Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card, which give cardholders 5X miles on hotel and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel℠ and 1.25X miles per dollar on every other purchase.
Amex Cash Magnet Shopping Benefits
If you're a frequent online shopper, you may have heard of Amex's free ShopRunner benefit. When you verify your account's eligibility, ShopRunner offers free 2-day shipping at participating retailers.
The Cash Magnet's Pay It® program lets cardholders split up eligible purchases over a fixed period of time for a set monthly fee with no interest as long as you pay your adjusted balance each month by the payment due date. (Pay It® is only available in the American Express® App; See rates and fees)
Finally, Amex offers complimentary dispute resolution which helps you stay on top of your purchases and easily address charges you suspect to be fraudulent. (Not all of the disputes will be in your favor, but Amex commits to working with cardholders to resolve any issues.)
The American Express Cash Magnet card has no annual fee, but there is a 2.7% foreign transaction fee. There's an introductory 0% APR for 15 months on purchases from the date of account opening, (14.74% to 24.74% variable thereafter). (See rates and fees)
The American Express Cash Magnet® Card is great for families and individuals who like the idea of a simple, no annual fee credit card that lets you earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all eligible spending. The $200 welcome bonus, which is redeemable as a statement credit, can add to your first-year earnings.
But if you have good to excellent credit, you may want to consider the Amex EveryDay® Credit Card, which offers rewards geared toward foodies: 2X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1X), and 1X Membership Rewards® points per dollar spent on all other purchases. Terms apply.
To determine which credit cards offer the best value, CNBC Select analyzed 234 of the most popular credit cards available in the U.S. We compared each card on a range of features, including rewards, welcome bonus, introductory and standard APR, balance transfer fee and foreign transaction fees, as well as factors such as required credit and customer reviews when available. We also considered additional perks, the application process and how easy it is for the consumer to redeem points.
CNBC Select teamed up with location intelligence firm Esri. The company's data development team provided the most up-to-date and comprehensive consumer spending data based on the 2019 Consumer Expenditure Surveys from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You can read more about their methodology here.
Esri's data team created a sample annual budget of approximately $22,126 in retail spending. The budget includes six main categories: groceries ($5,174), gas ($2,218), dining out ($3,675), travel ($2,244), utilities ($4,862) and general purchases ($3,953). General purchases include items such as housekeeping supplies, clothing, personal care products, prescription drugs and vitamins, and other vehicle expenses.
CNBC Select used this budget to estimate how much the average consumer would save over the course of a year, two years and five years, assuming they would attempt to maximize their rewards potential by earning all welcome bonuses offered and using the card for all applicable purchases. All rewards total estimations are net the annual fee.
While the five-year estimates we've included are derived from a budget similar to the average American's spending, you may earn a higher or lower return depending on your shopping habits.
Information about the American Express Cash Magnet® Card, Amex EveryDay® Credit Card and Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.
For rates and fees of the American Express Cash Magnet® Card, click here.
Information about the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by Select and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the cards prior to publication.