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While it’s wise to avoid racking up credit card debt, paying with only cash or debit could be a costly mistake. If you’re making purchases without a rewards credit card, you’re basically throwing money away.
If you’re looking for a simple cash back card, the American Express Cash Magnet® Card may be for you. Offering a flat rate of 1.5% cash back on every purchase you make, you can quickly earn rewards on your regular purchases.
There’s no annual fee. While some other cards without annual fees skimp on introductory bonuses, the Cash Magnet Card allows you to earn an introductory bonus of $150 cash back if you spend $1,000 within the first 3 months of opening an account. You can earn another bonus $100 if you spend an additional $6,500 within the first year.
By becoming a cardholder, you’ll also get access to some nice benefits. Overall, it’s a good choice for someone who doesn’t want to keep track of different spending categories. Or, you can use it along with other rewards cards that offer more cash back on select spending categories to earn higher rewards.
Our Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
We give the American Express Cash Magnet Card 4 out of 5 Stars because it offers solid rewards to cardholders who want a simple cash back card.
Why We Like It
- No annual fee
- 1.5% cash back on all purchases
- $150 introductory bonus if you spend $1,000 within the first 3 months
- Long 15-month 0% introductory APR for new purchases and balance transfers, with a 15.24% - 26.24% Variable APR after that
Why It Could Be Better
- Charges foreign transaction fees
- American Express isn’t widely accepted outside of the United States
While the Cash Magnet Card offers valuable rewards and some nice benefits with no annual fee, other similar credit cards may offer more features or different benefits that are a better fit for you.
Insider Advice: How to Get the Most Out of Your Card
- Use it for routine expenses: Because this is a flat-rate cash back card, it makes sense to use it for everyday expenses like buying groceries, putting gas in your car, or paying your cell phone bill — whenever you won’t earn more with a different reward card.
- Take advantage of the introductory bonus: Spend $1,000 within the first 3 months to take advantage of the $150 introductory bonus. That’s well within the normal range of spending, so that should be easy to achieve. And don’t forget about the second bonus of $100 for spending an additional $6,500 in the first year.
- Redeem your rewards for statement credits: Redeem your cash back rewards for statement credits for an easy way to get the full value.
- Check Amex Offers: Take advantage of the Amex Offers program, which provides extra cash back at select retailers.
- Use another card for international travel: Because this card has foreign transaction fees and isn’t accepted widely outside of the United States, it’s a good idea to use another credit card when traveling outside the country.
With this card, you’ll earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase you make.
|Introductory Bonus Offers|
Unlike other rewards cards, like the Discover it® Cash Back Credit Card (Review), there are no spending categories to keep track of with the Cash Magnet Card. Instead, you earn one flat cash back rate.
You can earn rewards quickly by using the card for routine expenses, such as gas, groceries, or your cell phone bill. However, only use this card for purchases when you won’t earn more rewards in a particular spending category with a different card.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average two-person family spends $609 a month on groceries under a moderate-cost lifestyle. If you used your Cash Magnet Card to pay for those groceries, you could earn over $100 a year in cash back rewards. Since groceries are a purchase you’d make anyway, that’s free money back in your pocket.
However, you should know that you can’t earn rewards for balance transfers, cash advances, or purchases of other cash equivalents. This is also true for most gift cards, although in some cases you may find that store gift cards count as regular purchases and will earn rewards.
There is a welcome bonus as well. If you spend $1,000 within the first 3 months, you’ll get $150 cash back. That’s a pretty achievable spending minimum, and you’ll get a 15% return on spend. Spend an additional $6,500 during your first year as a cardmember, and you’ll get another $100 cash back.
Statement credits are the primary redemption method, but you can also redeem your rewards for merchandise or gift cards.
We recommend sticking with statement credits as your redemption method to get the full value of your rewards ($1 in value per $1 of cash back rewards). You can redeem for statement credits whenever your rewards balance reaches $25 or more.
Gift cards will also provide you with the full value and they can be a good redemption method too, but they’ll take some time to arrive and then you’ll be limited to using them at the specified merchant. There may be occasional sales that provide even better deals, like a $50 Nike gift card for only $45 in rewards.
The one exception to that are general American Express gift cards, which provide less value for your rewards. These will always cost $4 more in rewards than they are worth; so a $25 Amex gift card will cost $29 in rewards; a $50 gift card will cost $54 in rewards, etc.
Redeeming your rewards for merchandise is always a bad idea. The items are vastly overpriced compared to ordinary retailers, and you’ll get a very bad value for your rewards.
For a no annual fee card, the Cash Magnet offers a few valuable benefits and perks.
To see more details from Amex, check out the benefit terms of the Cash Magnet Card.
Through the Amex Offers program, you’ll get access to extra reward opportunities from select retailers.
Just visit Amex Offers and click ‘Add to Card’ for the deals you want. Use your Cash Magnet Card as you normally would to complete the purchase. Your savings will appear as a statement credit later on, reducing how much you owe.
The deals are typically quite valuable; in some cases you can save up to $100 on select purchases.
Some of the current offers include:
|Merchant||Need to Spend||Cash Back||Maximum Savings|
|The Washington Post||$99||$50||50.5%|
American Express Presale
As an American Express cardmember, you’ll get exclusive access to ticket presales and cardholder-only events. If you’re dying to see Elton John’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour or if you’re feeling more adventurous and want to see Monday Night Raw in person, the American Express Presale benefit can help you get there. Find eligible events near you on the American Express Experiences website.
American Express Seating
American Express reserves a select number of seats at major events for cardholders. Use your card when you purchase tickets to get access to those reserved seats. Find out more on the American Express Seating site.
Entertainment Access allows you to get pre-sale tickets to sports, music, and cultural events, as well as some exclusive cardmember experiences. If you love the theater or live music and performances, this benefit can be very valuable to you.
Complimentary ShopRunner Membership
When you enroll in ShopRunner, you’ll get free two-day shipping and returns with select retailers. It’s like Amazon Prime, but for more merchants and you don’t have to pay an annual fee since American Express is covering your membership cost.
Check out this article for more information on how the ShopRunner membership works.
Instant Card Number
If Amex can verify your identity, you may be given access to an instant card number you can use immediately after being approved.
This Instant Card Number can be used with any online retailer that accepts American Express. You may not have access to the full credit line until your physical card is verified.
The Instant Card Number will stop working as soon as you receive and verify your physical card.
If you’re traveling with relatives, the Destination Family benefits can be very helpful. Book a qualifying stay with your American Express card and you’ll get connecting or adjoining rooms at select resorts, free meals and stays for children, and special discounts and upgrades. There is a three-night minimum to qualify for Destination Family benefits.
Lowest Hotel Rates Guarantee
If you find your hotel room being advertised for less than what you paid prior to check-in, you can be reimbursed for the difference. All stays must be booked through American Express Travel to qualify.
- Return Protection: If you try to return an eligible item within 90 days from the date of purchase and the retailer refuses to accept it, American Express may refund the full purchase price, up to $300 per item and $1,000 per calendar year.
- Purchase Protection: Eligible items purchased with your card are protected against accidental damage and theft for 120 days.
- Extended Warranty: Eligible manufacturer’s warranties of 5 years or less can be doubled, up to 2 additional years.
- Global Assist Hotline: If you lose your passport, need help with customs, or need a medical referral away from home, you can get help 24/7.
- Roadside Assistance Hotline: If you have a flat tire or need a jump for your battery, you can call the hotline at any time to get help. Fees apply for any third-party services.
- Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance: Decline the rental company’s insurance when renting an eligible vehicle, and you’ll get coverage against theft and damage.
- Travel Accident Insurance: You’ll get insurance covering death or dismemberment when traveling by common carrier.
The Terms & Fees
|Intro APR for Purchases & Balance Transfers||Purchase APR||Balance Transfer APR||Cash Advance APR|
|0% on purchases for 15 months||15.24% - 26.24% Variable||15.24% - 26.24% Variable||27.49% Variable|
|Annual Fee||Foreign Transaction Fee||Balance Transfer Fee||Cash Advance Fee|
|$0||2.7% of each transaction after conversion to US dollars.||Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.||Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater.|
|Penalty APR||Late Fee||Returned Payment Fee|
|29.99% Variable||Up to $39||Up to $38|
There is no annual fee with the Cash Magnet Card.
The card does offer a long introductory APR for both new purchases and balance transfers, giving you time to pay off large expenses without worrying about interest charges. You’ll get 0% on purchases for 15 months after account opening. Once the introductory offer ends, your APR will increase to 15.24% - 26.24% Variable.
Late payments will face a fee of up to $38, and may also cause the penalty APR to be applied. That would cancel out any intro period as well, so be sure to make timely payments.
There is also a foreign transaction fee of 2.7% of each transaction after conversion to US dollars.. Because of the fee and the fact that American Express isn’t accepted widely internationally, anyone traveling outside the country should look for a Visa or Mastercard with no foreign transaction fees.
What Is the Credit Limit?
Your credit limit is based upon your creditworthiness. American Express will review factors like your income and credit score when determining your limit.
Remember, you can request a credit limit increase. We recommend cardholders request an increase every 6 to 12 months if they want higher limits.
|American Express Customer Support|
American Express is well known for its excellent customer service. According to the most recent J.D. Power U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study, American Express is 2nd out of 11 issuers in 2018.
In the past, we’ve contacted American Express by phone and social media and have had positive experiences. Users can feel confident that they’ll get the help they need when they need it.
Every now and again, you may come across a representative who isn’t knowledgable about your issue. If that’s the case, don’t hesitate to ask for someone else or call again to speak to a different agent.
|American Express Twitter Support|
We’ve tweeted questions to @AskAmex previously and have been impressed with the speed and thoroughness of their replies. Just make sure you don’t share personal or account information on any social media channel.
The Bottom Line
The Cash Magnet Card from American Express is about as straightforward a rewards card as they come. With the ability to earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases and a decent introductory bonus, it’s a good option for users who want a simple cash back card.
Cardholders get a nice suite of perks, including travel and shopping protections and the Amex Offers benefit. For a card without an annual fee, that’s a fairly robust offering.
However, there are a number of other rewards cards that offer higher rewards or different benefits. If you have good to excellent credit, it could be worth shopping around to find a card better suited to your needs.
How to Apply for the Cash Magnet Card
You can apply for the Cash Magnet Card securely on the American Express website. Most people can expect to receive an answer within seconds, but in some cases it could take longer.
If approved, you’ll get a notification and you may be given an instant card number to use. If you’re not approved, you’ll get a letter in the mail detailing why you were denied.
Qualifications and Requirements
- Must be 18 to apply
- Personal identifying information, including birth date, Social Security number, and phone number
- Total household income and source of income
- Monthly mortgage/rent payment
Alternatives to the Cash Magnet Card
There are lots of cash back credit cards that offer a flat rate on all purchases. Like the Cash Magnet, most of them offer 1.5% cash back, but some have different features and benefits that may make them a better fit for you.
- Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer (Review): No annual fee; up to 2% cash back on all purchases
- Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card (Review): No annual fee; 1.5% cash back on all purchases; $150 introductory bonus for spending $500 in the first 3 months
- Chase Freedom Unlimited® (Review): No annual fee; 3% cash back on all purchases in the first year, up to $20,000 spent; 1.5% cash back on all purchases after that
- Discover it® Miles (Review): No annual fee; 1.5 miles per $1 spent on all purchases; miles earned your first year are doubled
Like the Cash Magnet Card, the Double Cash offers a flat cash back rate. It’s a little higher than the Cash Magnet; you can earn 2% cash back with the Double Cash instead of 1.5%. You get 1% when you make a purchase, and another 1% when you actually pay for it.
However, the tradeoff for the higher cash back value is that there is no introductory bonus with the Double Cash Card.
The Double Cash offers some nice benefits that are similar to that of the Cash Magnet, but you’ll get a few more protections from the Double Cash.
- Citi Price Rewind: While some other cards will refund the difference if you find an item selling for less elsewhere, the Price Rewind program is unique. After registering a purchase, it actively monitors the internet for you to find lower prices for up to 60 days. You can get up to $200 back for each item, up to $1,000 a year.
- Personal Concierge Service: Get help with restaurant reservations or travel arrangements by calling 1-800-508-8930 for personalized assistance.
- Citi Private Pass: Similar to the Cash Magnet card’s presale benefit, you can get preferred access and presale tickets to certain events and experiences nationwide.
- Free FICO Credit Score: You’ll have free monitoring of your FICO Score 8, based on your Equifax credit report.
- Quick Customer Service: Speak to a real person more quickly and easily than is typical by saying “representative” after calling customer support.
- Shopping and travel protections: You’ll also get other travel and shopping benefits, such as Purchase Protection, Extended Warranties, Identity Theft Support, Fraud Protection, Worldwide Travel Accident Insurance, and Trip Cancellation and Interruption Protection.
Terms & Fees
Although the Cash Magnet Card offers a long introductory APR, the Citi Double Cash Card has an even longer offer: you’ll get 0% for 18 months. Once the term ends, your APR will increase to 15.74% - 25.74%* Variable.
The Double Cash’s introductory rate only applies to balance transfers. That’s different than the Cash Magnet card, which has an introductory offer for both new purchases and balance transfers.
Although there is no annual fee for the Citi Double Cash card, there is a foreign transaction fee of 3%. If you plan on traveling internationally, it’s probably a good idea to use other cards, like the one coming up next.
Read more in our Review of the Citi Double Cash Card
For a no annual fee card, the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card (Review) has a generous introductory bonus: spend $500 within the first 3 months and get $150 cash back. Plus, the card has some benefits that help enhance your cardmember experience.
|Introductory Bonus Offer|
Just like the Cash Magnet card, you’ll earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases, and there’s no cap on how much you can earn.
The introductory bonus is easy to earn. Use the card for normal purchases like gas or groceries, and you’ll quickly reach the $500 threshold to receive the $150 bonus. That’s a 30% return on spend, better than the Cash Magnet Card’s introductory offer.
The Quicksilver Card has benefits that can come in handy when you’re shopping or traveling.
The benefits you receive are dependent on your credit limit. If you’re approved for a limit of $5,000 or more, you’ll qualify for the Visa Signature level. Visa Signature cardholders get access to some additional, more valuable benefits compared to Platinum. Here are the Visa Signature benefits you can expect to get.
- Luxury Hotel Collection: You’ll get special perks at select hotels around the world, including automatic room upgrades, free WiFi, and complimentary breakfast for two.
- Shopping Discounts: You can get discounts at select retailers, including Overstock and GNC.
- Visa Signature Concierge: You can call your Visa Signature concierge service any time at 1-800-953-7392 for help with tasks like travel arrangements or dinner reservations.
- Capital One CreditWise: The CreditWise service provides free access to one of your VantageScore 3.0 credit scores, based on your TransUnion credit report.
- Shopping Protections: You’ll get shopping protections like Purchase Security, Fraud Coverage, and Zero Liability Protection.
- Travel Protections: When traveling you’ll get Travel Accident Insurance, Lost Luggage Reimbursement, and a Roadside Dispatch service.
Applicants who receive a credit limit of less than $5,000 will get Visa Platinum cards, which come with a reduced set of benefits.
Terms & Fees
There is no annual fee with the Quicksilver card. It offers the same long intro APR as the Cash Magnet, which applies to new purchases and balance transfers: 0% intro on purchases for for 15 months. After that, the Quicksilver card has a regular rate of 16.24% - 26.24%.
There is no foreign transaction fee and it’s also a Visa, making it an excellent choice for international travel.
Read more in our Review of the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card
Like the Cash Magnet card, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® (Review) has no annual fee, but in this case you’ll get more cash back in your first year. After that you’ll get slightly less, at 1.5% cash back.
You have more options for redeeming your cash back with the Freedom Unlimited card than you do with the Cash Magnet card. You can redeem it for statement credits, gift cards, travel expenses through the Ultimate Rewards portal, or at checkout with participating merchants. But, like the Cash Magnet, the best method is usually for statement credits (unless you can transfer the rewards to other Chase cards, where they might be more valuable).
The Freedom Unlimited card has a generous introductory bonus, making it probably the best flat-rate cash back card for that first year. But you’ll have to decide which bonus offer would be more valuable for your particular spending habits — this, or the Cash Magnet’s $150 bonus for spending $1,000 in the first 6 months and $100 for spending $6,500 in the first 12 months.
Unlike the Cash Magnet, there is no minimum for redeeming your rewards.
Like the Quicksilver card above, there are two levels to the Chase Freedom Unlimited: Visa Platinum and Visa Signature. If your credit limit is $5,000 or more, you’ll get a Visa Signature card which has some extra benefits. Otherwise you’ll get a Visa Platinum, with more basic benefits.
- Referral Cash Back: If you refer friends and they apply for the card and are approved, you’ll get $100 cash back per person, up to $500 a year.
- Shop Through Chase: Use the Shop Through Chase shopping portal to earn extra cash back at select retailers.
- Chase Credit Journey: To help you monitor your credit, Chase offers the Credit Journey tool. This provides your VantageScore 3.0, based on your TransUnion credit report, along with some data from that report.
- Shopping Protections: You’ll get Purchase Protection, Return Protection, and Extended Warranties on eligible purchases.
- Travel Protections: If you’re traveling, you’ll get Lost Luggage Protection, Roadside Dispatch, Travel and Emergency Assistance Services, and an Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver. Visa Signature cardholders will also get Travel Accident Insurance and Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance.
Terms & Fees
The terms are pretty similar to the Cash Magnet card. There is no annual fee. And, the Chase Freedom Unlimited offers an intro rate of 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months for both purchases and balance transfers. After the promotional period is over, your APR will increase to 17.24% - 25.99% Variable
There is a 3% foreign transaction fee, so it’s a good idea to only use this card for domestic purchases.
Read more in our Review of the Chase Freedom Unlimited Card
|Introductory Bonus Offer|
You’ll earn 1.5X miles per $1 spent on all purchases, which is typically the equivalent of 1.5% cash back. That’s the same cash back value that the Cash Magnet offers, even though you’re earning miles with this card.
You’ll get the full value of $1 per mile when redeeming for statement credits. And you can actually get more than $1 per mile when redeeming for gift cards, so they’re worth looking into.
Discover offers a valuable introductory offer as well. The company will double the total number of miles you earn in the first year, so you’ll basically earn 3X miles per dollar. That’s a unique offer that can help you rack up miles quickly. That comes to a cash back equivalent of 3% when redeeming for statement credits, and it could be more when redeeming for gift cards. But after that first year the rewards drop to a more typical level.
The Discover it Miles card doesn’t offer many benefits, but it can provide a bit of value if you plan to purchase in-flight WiFi.
- In-flight WiFi Statement Credit: When you use your Discover it Miles card to purchase in-flight WiFi, Discover will issue you a statement credit for the cost, up to $30 per year.
- Free FICO Credit Score: You can check your FICO Score 8 for free, based on your TransUnion credit report.
- Freeze It: You can freeze your account online at any time. No one will be able to use your card to make new purchases, cash advances, or balance transfers until you unfreeze your account.
- Free Overnight Card Replacement: If your card is lost or stolen, you can get a new card sent overnight for free.
Terms & Fees
Like the Cash Magnet, there is no annual fee with the Discover it Miles Card. The Miles card offers a slightly shorter introductory APR offer for new purchases than the Cash Magnet; 0% for 14 months. After that, the rate is 14.24%–25.24% Variable.
While there is a balance transfer offer with the Discover card, it’s not a 0% APR offer, so it’s not very useful compared to the Cash Magnet’s promotion for balance transfers.
There is no foreign transaction fee, making it a decent option for travel compared to the Cash Magnet. However, keep in mind that Discover isn’t widely accepted outside the U.S. so it’s wise to carry a Visa or Mastercard with no foreign transaction fees.
Read more in our Review of the Discover it Miles Card
Do you use the Cash Magnet Card from American Express? Let us know how you like it by leaving your own review!
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