Amex removes balance transfer offers on several major cards

Posted: 18 June 2020 11:04 am
News

Amex Blue Cash Everyday® Card

Following a trend, these cashback cards now offer less value for those looking to consolidate debt.

American Express has done away with 0% APR introductory balance transfer offers for three of its major cards, the company announced today. The change immediately affects new applicants to the Blue Cash Preferred Card, Blue Cash Everyday Card and Cash Magnet Card. American Express did not indicate whether these offers will return in the future.

What has changed?

This round of Amex card adjustments targets three cashback cards, leaving only the purchase introductory APR on the table.

Card Old intro period New intro period
Cash Magnet 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, and then 12.99% to 23.99% variable 0% APR on purchases for 15 months, and then 13.99% to 23.99% variable
Blue Cash Everyday Card 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, and then 12.99% to 23.99% variable 0% APR on purchases for 15 months, and then 13.99% to 23.99% variable
Blue Cash Preferred Card 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months, and then 12.99% to 23.99% variable 0% APR on purchases for 12 months, and then 13.99% to 23.99% variable

How the change might affect your cashback credit card picks

American Express’s cashback offerings were dependable picks among cashback cards, with Blue Cash Preferred a best-in-class choice for families and everyday spending. The absence of a balance transfer offer leaves Cash Magnet and Blue Cash Everyday less-appealing choices in the face of the competition.

Amex Cash Magnet

Here’s how the Amex Cash Magnet card now stacks up against its flat-rate competitors.

Card Cash back Welcome offer Annual fee Intro APR
Cash Magnet 1.5% on all purchases $150 back after you spend $1,000 in your first 3 months $0 0% APR on purchases for 15 months, and then 13.99% to 23.99% variable
Citi Double Cash 1% back when you make a purchase and another 1% back when you pay your balance None $0 0% APR on balance transfers for 18 months, and then 13.99% to 23.99% variable
Chase Freedom Unlimited 1.5% back on all purchases, 3.5% back on qualifying Lyft rides $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 in your first 3 months $0 0% APR on balance transfers and purchases for 15 months, and then 12.99% to 24.74% variable
Capital One Quicksilver Cash 1.5% back on all purchases $150 bonus after you spend $500 in your first 3 months $0 0% APR on purchases for 15 months, and then 15.49% to 25.49% variable after

Cash Magnet had already struggled against other flat-rate cards on the market. Its intro APR on purchases and balance transfers was one perk that made it a solid alternative to the Capital One Quicksilver Cash and Citi Double Cash.

After this change, Chase Freedom Unlimited and Citi Double Cash are both clearly the better flat-rate picks: Freedom Unlimited for Chase Ultimate Rewards support, and Citi Double Cash for pure cashback value.

Blue Cash Everyday

Blue Cash Everyday was similarly hurt by the balance transfer changes when compared with other bonus category rewards cards.

Card Cash back Welcome offer Annual fee Introductory APR
Blue Cash Everyday 3% back at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 each year, and then 1% back
2% back at US gas stations and select US department stores
1% back on everything else
$150 after you spend $1,000 in your first 3 months $0 0% APR on purchases for 15 months, and then 13.99% to 23.99% variable
Discover It Cash Back 5% back on rotating categories each quarter on up to $1,500 in purchases
1% back after that and on all other purchases
Discover matches cash back you earn in your first year $0 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 14 months, and then 11.99% to 22.99%

3% intro balance transfer fee until September 10, 2020, and then 5%

Bank of America Cash Back Rewards 3% back on a chosen category out of 6 options
2% back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs on the first $2,500 in combined purchases each quarter
1% back after that and on everything else
$200 bonus after you spend $1,000 in your first 3 months $0 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, and then 13.99% to 23.99% variable
Chase Freedom 5% back on rotating categories on up to $1,500 quarterly
1% back after and on everything else
$200 bonus after you spend $500 in your first 3 months $0 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, and then 14.99% to 23.74% variable

Blue Cash Everyday has always occupied a strange niche, competing with rotating category cashback cards as well as the premier offerings of its big brother, the Blue Cash Preferred. The loss of the card’s balance transfer features leaves it the odd man out among rotating category cards, as its main competitors all sport both types of introductory APR periods.

Blue Cash Everyday is also outclassed by the Chase Freedom, Bank of America Cash Back Rewards and Discover It Cash Back if you also spend in other categories, with the Bank of America Cash Back Rewards offering the best balance transfer terms of the three.

And if groceries are among your most common expenses, you’re better off paying the annual fee to upgrade to the superior Blue Cash Preferred.

Blue Cash Preferred

The Blue Cash Preferred is least affected of the other Amex cards by the removal of its balance transfer offer. The card’s merits always rode on the excellent reward rates, generous variety of earning categories, solid welcome offer and low annual fee.

The removal of the balance transfer offer doesn’t change this card’s great value. However, it does mean if you’re looking for a balance transfer card first and a solid rewards card second, you’ll have to settle for a far less powerful rewards card.

In that case, look to the Bank of America Cash Back Rewards as your best option.

Smarter perks in trying times

These Amex changes continue a trend observed by Finder of credit card issuers reducing or removing the terms on balance transfer offers on their cards. They haven’t offered an explanation for these changes, but the current economic uncertainty in the US may lead banks are less willing to take on the financial risk that comes with broad value.

As such, credit card issuers appear to be narrowing perks and rewards to particular needs of target consumers — for instance, balance transfer cards offering 0% APR signup offers, rather than rewards card that happen to come with a balance transfer offer. And now these Amex cashback cards are just that: reward cards for those looking primarily for cash back on purchases.

See Finder’s updated reviews for these Amex credit cards, and stay tuned for continuing updates on your favorite credit cards amid the year’s financial uncertainty.

Photo: Amex

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