American Express is a credit card company that is largely known for their terrific rewards cards like the Gold Rewards and the recently introduced Cobalt Card.

You may be glad to hear Amex also has a lineup of cash back credit cards, with both an annual fee and no fee version – the SimplyCash Preferred Card and SimplyCash Card.

Let’s dive into both cards and see what they have to offer…

How does Amex cashback lineup compare to the competition?

American Express SimplyCash Preferred Card

Amex has made the rewards for their cards simple – a flat rate on all of your spend.

The SimplyCash Preferred card will get you 2% cash back on all of your spending with no limits on how much you can earn. No categories, no caps or tiers to worry about.

The annual fee is $99 per year – with supplementary cards at no charge.

The following insurance & shopping coverages come with the card:

  • Rental Car Theft and Damage
  • Travel Accident ($100,000)
  • Emergency Medical (up to $5,000,000)
  • Lost or Stolen Baggage (up to $500)
  • Flight and Baggage Delay (up to $500)
  • Hotel/Motel Burglary (up to $500)
  • Extended Warranty (1 year)
  • Purchase Protection (90 days) – Insures your purchases against accidental damage and theft (here’s a list of all 16 types credit card insurance with explanations).

Now, keeping in mind that cash back credit cards typically don’t have the greatest insurance packages when compared to travel cards

This is a fairly extensive list of coverages, and one of the best for a cash back card.

You will also be joined in the American Express invites, which includes special offers and advance access to events.


While having a different way of offering cash back, the Scotiabank Momentum Visa Infinite Card is our top ranked cash back card.

So what are the differences between these two? And is there a time when the Amex card can be a better option than the Scotiabank?

Let’s review seven factors to see how they stack up.

1. Rewards Earned

To calculate total rewards earned, we will use our base $2,000 monthly spend for comparison.

American Express Scotiabank Momentum Visa Infinite
Spend Category Monthly Spend Amount Earn Rate Annual Rewards Earn Rate Annual Rewards
Grocery 350 2% $84 4% $168
Gas 200 2% $48 2% $48
Bills 300 2% $72 4% $144
Others 1,150 2% $276 1% $138
Total 2,000 $480 $498
Annual Fee $99 $120
Total Return $381 $378

At our base spend these cards are evenly matched. Spend more on gas and groceries than we have here and the Scotiabank card will be better. But spend more on general purchases and the Amex card is better.

2. Annual Fee

The Scotiabank card has an annual fee of $99, same as the Amex card.

3. Redeeming Cash Back

The Amex card will give your cash back every September as a statement credit.

The Scotiabank card also only gives you your cash back once a year, in November.

4. Insurance Coverage

Here are the two cards coverage side by side:

Amex SimplyCash Preferred Scotiabank Momentum Visa Infinite
Rental Car Theft and Damage
Travel Accident ($100,000)
Emergency Medical ($5,000,000)
Lost or Stolen Baggage ($500)
Flight and Baggage Delay ($500)
Hotel/Motel Burglary ($500)
Extended Warranty (1 year)
Purchase Protection (90 days)
Rental Car Theft and Damage
Travel Accident ($500,000)
Trip Interruption ($2,000)
Trip Cancellation ($1,500)
Extended Warranty (1 year)
Purchase Protection (90 days)
Flight and baggage delay ($500 each)
Lost or stolen baggage ($500)
Emergency Medical (1,000,000)
Mobile Device ($1,000)

While both cards have good insurance coverage, I would give the Scotia a slight edge based on having a few more included coverages.

5. Acceptance

While much is made about acceptance of Amex cards, as an Amex cardholder myself I don’t find it is much of an issue.

Yes, there are the odd small businesses that don’t accept it, but almost all of the large chains take it with two exceptions:

  • Costco (which only accepts Mastercard), and
  • Loblaws group of stores (including, but not limited to Loblaws, Real Canadian Superstore, Atlantic Superstore, Independents and No Frills to name a few, but not including Shoppers Drug Mart).

Shop regularly at these two stores and the Amex card won’t be of much use to you without a backup. While you won’t be able to use the Scotiabank card at Costco, it’s 4% earnings really boost your rewards at Loblaws stores.

Related: 3 PC Financial Mastercards Reviewed and Compared

6. Welcome Bonus

While I would never base a card I apply for based on a welcome bonus, it can be an edge when deciding between two evenly matched cards.

In this case, the Amex has a welcome bonus worth up to $300, while the Scotiabank card has no welcome bonus, but is offering the first year free.

The Amex bonus isn’t worth the full $300 though because you’d be getting your normal 2% cash on those purchases anyway, so you have to subtract that from the total bonus value. With the 5% promo now going on, the true bonus maxes out at $180.

7. Eligibility

This is Amex’s biggest advantage.

While the Scotiabank card will require you to have either an annual personal income of $60,000 or household of $100,000 (your typical Visa Infinite requirements), the Amex card has no income restrictions for any of its cards.


While a close call (especially if you tend to use your rewards for travel), I would give the overall edge to the Scotiabank Momentum Visa Infinite, due to the higher earn rates and higher acceptance.

Rate Your Wallet and find your perfect match.

American Express SimplyCash Card

Don’t like paying an annual fee?

Don’t have a high monthly spend?

Looking for a 2nd card to compliment a category based card?

American Express has you covered as well. The SimplyCash card will get you a return of 1.25% on all your spend, with no limits on the amount of cash back you can earn – and no annual fee.

And because this card has no annual fee, the insurance coverage is not as robust. It does come with the following:

  • Car Rental Theft and Damage
  • Travel Accident ($100,000)
  • Extended Warranty (1 year)
  • Purchase Protection (90 days)

For a no fee cash back card, that’s still pretty decent coverage.

The welcome bonus is also pared back when compared to the preferred card. You will get 2.5% cash back on all purchases for the first 6 months, up to a maximum of $150. That’s $75 more than you’d get on that amount of spending normally.

And like the Preferred card, you will also be have access to American Express invites.


We’ll compare this card to two other cash back cards that have a flat rate of return – the BMO CashBack Mastercard and the .

Let’s review three factors to see how they stack up.

1. Return on spend

The BMO card gives 1% return on spending, the Amex will give back 1.25%, and the MBNA gives 2% on gas and groceries (up to a $500 combined monthly spend) and 1% on everything else.

This is what a typical monthly spend and rewards earned will look like for each card:

Amex SimplyCash:

Monthly Spend Amount Monthly Rewards (1.25%)
$1,000 $12.50

BMO CashBack:

Monthly Spend Amount Monthly Rewards (1%)
$1,000 $10

MBNA Smart Cash World:

Monthly Spend Amount Monthly Rewards
Gas and Groceries (2%): $275 $5.50
All other spending (1%): $725 $7.25
Total: $1,000 Total: $12.75

All in all, the MBNA rewards could earn you up to 2% more monthly when compared to the Amex SimplyCash, and 27.5% more when comparing to the BMO.

2. Welcome Bonus

The BMO, Amex and MBNA all earn their welcome bonus by upping the percentage of rewards on all or certain categories. They all have a maximum that can be earned:

  • Amex has a total bonus of $150 – your cash back rewards are increased to 2.5% for 3 months, capped at 150$.
  • BMO CashBack offers 5% back on all purchases for the first 3 months, up to a total of $100 in rewards.
  • MBNA Smart Cash has a welcome bonus of 5% cashback on gas and groceries, up to $500 monthly combined. This could add up to a maximum of $150 after 6 months (the duration of the bonus).

Doing a little math, with Amex you’re getting a $75 increase in overall cash because of the bonus. With BMO, it’s $80. And for the MBNA, it’s $72.

3. Insurance

The Amex SimplyCash has travel accident insurance, purchase protection, and extended warranty.

The BMO CashBack card offers purchase protection (90 days) and extended warranty (1 year).

The MBNA Smart Cash Mastercard has a total of 9 different types of insurance:

  • Extended Warranty,
  • Purchase Protection,
  • Price Protection,
  • Travel Accident,
  • Trip Interruption,
  • Rental Car Theft and Damage,
  • Rental Car Accident, and
  • Rental Car Personal Effects.

Final verdict

At a monthly spend of $1,000 per month, we have…

On a strict spending return, the MBNA and Amex cards are pretty comparable. The SimplyCash Preferred card is a terrific all around high-end cash back card. And the SimplyCash card is great on its own – but also pairs well with a category card (as they typically give 1% on non-category purchases) giving you a little increase in your annual rewards.

However, if you combine all 3 factors together, we have to give the crown and flowers to the MBNA Smart Cash World Card.

It offers great rewards, better acceptance, and an awesome amount of insurance for a low-fee card. The sign up bonus is great, too.

However, if you want a big bank behind your card along with great acceptance, then the BMO CashBack is still a contender.