When comparing the American Express® Business Gold Card to the SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express, it really comes down to what matters most to you — points or cash back.
Both cards come with a variety of bonus categories that are useful to many small business owners as well as some overlapping benefits to keep in mind. While I’m focused on earning points and inclined to pick the Business Gold Card, I’m trying to keep an open mind about cash back, and there are certainly some businesses that could benefit more immediately from cash back than points.
As you’ll often find with business cards from American Express, there is a certain amount of overlap on the benefits side of the cards.
Amex Offers and Do More Business
One of the most useful benefits of both cards is access to Amex Offers and the Do More Business program.
Pretty much everyone is familiar with Amex Offers these days, so I won’t get into the weeds here. However, I do want to mention that there are often some great offers that can reduce the cost of hotel stays and flights — or earn you a ton of extra points.
If you’re new or just want a refresher on the latest rules for taking advantage of them, I suggest giving our complete guide to Amex Offers a read.
With Do More Business, you basically get expanded Amex Offers that offer 5-10% discounts on select merchants. Some that I’ve seen include Dell, FedEx Shipping and FedEx Freight.
If you want to designate a person (or a few people) to help with the management of the account, you can designate authorized users as account managers. They’ll be able to do things just as initiate payments and dispute charges.
You’ll be able to tailor the access these account managers have based on your preferences.
Neither card comes with trip delay or cancellation coverage — seriously, Amex? It’s 2018 — but you will have baggage insurance. With both cards, you can be reimbursed for up to $500 for delayed or lost checked bags and $1,250 for carry-ons.
Business Gold benefits
Now that you have an idea of some of the overlapping perks with these cards, let’s talk a bit about what makes them different. We’ll start with the Business Gold Card.
Membership Rewards program
Let’s get right to it. The fact that the Business Gold Card earns Membership Rewards points is a huge selling point for me since I love flexible points that can help me book awards.
As part of the Membership Rewards program, this card provides access to 16 airline programs and 3 hotel programs. Of course, I wouldn’t use all of them — looking at you El Al Matmid, but many have some great sweet spots.
4X bonus categories
The recently revamped Business Gold Card now earns 4X on your two most used categories each statement period. The bonus categories include:
- Airfare purchased directly from airlines
- U.S. purchases for advertising in select media
- U.S. purchases at gas stations
- U.S. purchases at restaurants
- U.S. purchases for shipping
- U.S. computer hardware, software, and cloud computing purchases made directly from select providers
The 4X earning is capped at $150,000 in spend per calendar year but that’s still good enough to earn you 600,000 Membership Rewards points.
The Hotel Collection
When booking through Amex Travel, you’ll have access to The Hotel Collection. When you book a stay at these properties you’ll earn 2X and receive a $75 credit that can be used during your stay. Additionally, you’ll be eligible for an upgrade.
Keep in mind that booking through Amex Travel is a third-party booking so your elite status won’t be recognized and you won’t earn points or qualifying nights. For many this won’t matter but, if you’re a road warrior, it might factor into your decision.
Charge card means no credit limit
As the Business Gold Card is a charge card rather than a credit card, you’ll be able to make large purchases without worry since the card doesn’t come with a pre-set limit. Amex also has a great tool called Check Spending Power which can help you ensure your large purchases are approved.
However, you’ll need to make sure you pay your balance by the payment due date.
SimplyCash Plus benefits
Now, if you’re a fan of cash back, there are a few reasons to consider the SimplyCash Plus for your small business.
5% and 3% categories
Anytime a card offers 5X or 5% bonus categories, it’s bound to get my attention. With the SimplyCash Plus, you’ll earn 5% cash back at U.S. office supply stores and with wireless phone providers such as AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon.
Now, there is a $50,000 cap on these 5% categories per calendar year. When you think about it, it’s kind of like the Ink Cash Business Card from Chase which has 5% categories capped at $25,000 — of course, there are ways to turn the Ink Cash’s cash back into transferable Ultimate Rewards points.
On top of the 5% categories, the SimplyCash Plus will also let you choose a 3% category from one of eight options:
- Airfare purchased directly from an airline
- Hotels rooms purchased directly from a hotel
- Car rentals purchased from select rental car companies
- 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
Just remember that, like many Amex bonus categories, many of these bonus categories only apply to purchases within the U.S.
Spend beyond your credit limit
While not a traditional charge card like the Business Gold Card, you can actually spend beyond your stated credit limit with the SimplyCash Plus. While you don’t have to pay back the amount up to your credit limit by the payment due date — seriously, just pay on time, you are required to pay any amount above your limit by the due date.
No annual fee
It might not be a flashy plus side to the card, but having a no annual fee (Rates & Fees) makes it a lot easier to add the SimplyCash Plus to your wallet. Rather than worrying about the annual fee, you can use the card as you would normally and see if it earns a regular slot in your card rotation.
Which card should you get?
As I said up top, this really comes down to whether you want to earn Membership Rewards points or cash back.
If you’re interested in international business and first class awards, it’s safe to say that the Business Gold Card is going to be the right choice for you. If you just want to offset the cost of some domestic flights or cheap international economy fares, the SimplyCash Plus might be a bit more help.
Now, if your business requires a ton of spend and you can use a credit card to make payments, you might find that both cards are useful for your business. Others, who already earn tons of points via business spend might not even have a use for more points — I envy you — and cash back just makes more sense.
While I’m going to stick to earning flexible points for the foreseeable future, you might be all set on the points front and ready to shift to get some cash back.
Whatever your personal situation, if you can take advantage of the bonus categories that these cards offer, I think you’ll enjoy earning bonus points on regular business purchases.
The following links will direct you to the rates and fees for mentioned American Express Cards. These include: SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express (Rates & Fees).