Fidelity Investment Rewards American Express Card Review – 2% Flat Cash Back

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fidoamexIf you’re looking for a solid cash back card and are willing to open a Fidelity account (or are an existing customer), then you should really consider the credit card offerings from Fidelity, especially the Fidelity Investment Rewards American Express Card.

This card earns a flat 2% cash back on purchases, as long as you deposit the money into an eligible account at Fidelity:

  • Fidelity Cash Management Account
  • Fidelity Brokerage account
  • Fidelity-managed 529 account
  • Fidelity Retirement account (IRA, Roth IRA, SEP-IRA, Rollover IRA)

Once your 2% rewards balance goes over $50, it will automatically deposit into your linked Fidelity account. I used to have my money go into a Fidelity 529; I think their investment options are okay but not the best, but this way you won’t spend your rewards on something frivolous. However, these days I just have it deposit into my brokerage account so I can invest it. An IRA would be too confusing for me due to the stringent IRS contribution limit rules. (If you’ve maxed out the limit, they say that they will automatically defer the rebate until the next year. But what if you have a partially phased-out limit due to income, and your limit is reduced to $2,350? How would they know that?)

In terms of catches, it’s mostly that you have to open an extra Fidelity account if you don’t have one already. It appears that the Fidelity Cash Management account has no opening minimum, but if you want to make some trades the Fidelity brokerage account you will need $2,500 to open that (no ongoing minimum balance requirement). I would open your Fidelity account first to make sure you have no issues.

Note also that the rewards only come in $50 increments:

Customers earn 2 points for each $1 in net retail purchases. Once you reach 5,000 points, they can be redeemed automatically or on demand for cash at a 1% exchange rate into an eligible Fidelity account (i.e. 5,000 points = $50 deposit).

So a $49 rewards balance = $0 in your pocket. It will roll over each month until the balance goes above $50, when the entire thing (i.e. $62.54) will arrive in your Fidelity account. Then the $50 hurdle kicks back in. So it is a little harder to time a cash out of your remaining balance if you wanted to close the account (but why would you?).

Finally, it is an AmEx and not a Visa/Mastercard, but I’ve found the number of merchants accepting American Express much improved since 10 years ago although there are still gaps in areas like utilities, insurance, and small mom & pop restaurants and stores.

But really, with no annual fee, this card and the Citi Double Cash card have raised the bar for a “basic” rewards card to 2% cash back at the very minimum.

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  1. Have this card and love it. Have it linked to mySmart Cash account – which is really a checking account with free usage of any ATMs.

    Also got the Fidelity Visa version of this card that earns 1.5% back for places that don’t take Amex.

    Highly recommend.

    • Joe Langley says

      You don’t know what you are talking about.
      Fidelity Amex is a pain in the butt. Every time you leave your home state and try to use it the disable the bloody card. Then you have to argue with some $5/h clerk to convince you are you. I had this happening me now at least 3 times every year. I had a REAL Amex for 40 years, 20 of those it was a Platinum card. I traveled to all over Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe etc. My monthly bill was never below $10,000. Not a one time during those 40 working years Amex was harassing and insulting me like these FIA morons.

      I will soon tell them to stick their bloody card to where sun doesn’t shine.

  2. I do the same as TJ and these are my “go to” cards, but my 1.5% card is a Fidelity MC, not Visa (I’ve had it for several years). I do the auto redemptions into my brokerage account. The only times I stray from these cards are when my “Discover More Cash Back” offers a 5% rebate on categories I use…like this month Discover is offering 5% cash back on restaurants, clothing and hardware stores.

  3. All of my purchases go through this card as well. I’ve run into maybe 1 or 2 restaurants in my city that don’t take AmEx. I have the rewards going into my IRA. The concern about the contribution cap is valid and I actually had an overage of a few dollars this past year because they did not cap it properly. I had to fill out an adjustment form a couple days before April 15th when I realized what had happened. Not a big deal, but a little bit of needless stress. So yes, you do have to pay attention once you’re getting up near the contribution limit.

  4. Did I miss something? Why is Schwab out of the mix? Mine is still paying 2%…

  5. @Dan – Schwab is not longer accepting new applications for that card. Congrats on being grandfathered in. 🙂

  6. You scared me for a second thinking I was losing my 2% CB on Schwab. Good to know it’s still there!

  7. The only thing is with the Fido, you have to spend $2500 before you get $50 cashback. I believe the Schwab was instant?

    It would be a long while before I put $2500 on the Fido so I think after I hti that first redemption I might switch to Penfed and take the instant 1%….but I love the Fido for it’s billapy whcih lets me pay virtually everything but my mortgage (no points, but extra month, and all conveniently in one login…)

  8. One thing to note – for whatever it’s worth to you – is that this isn’t really an American Express card. AmEx has licensed their brand out to FIA Card Services, which is the card servicing company owned by Bank of America. Thus, if you already have a Bank of America credit card, and you apply for (and are accepted by) this one, it will likely reduce your credit availability on your other Bank of America credit card. Take it from me – it happened. Also, your online credit card payments must be done through the FIA Card Services web site, not the American Express credit card web site. So… take it with a grain of salt. I do not expect to receive the same level of customer service that I would with my “real” American Express cards, as compared to this one, because I will never actually receive customer service from an American Express employee. Rather, the card is serviced entirely by FIA Card Services, a Bank of America company.

  9. @Doug A:

    I applied and was accepted for the Schwab VISA right before they closed the application. My limit on my existing Fidelity VISA did not change.

    While I agree American Express rocks the customer service, I’ve also received excellent customer service from FIA Card Services every time I’ve called about my Fidelity Rewards VISA. It is, however, annoying that the only way to set up automatic payment of the balance every month is to call and request a paper form to fill out and mail back. AMEX was late to the game here, too, but they’ve had an online form for this for 1.5 years.

  10. I’ll chime in for Fido AmEx card as well. I have received pretty good service from FIA folks, my only two gripes are the website availability (has been down way too many times late at night when I tried to log in) and confusing payment interface on the website (twice in the last six months I apparently set it up to pay minimum amount instead of full when I was under impression that I paid it in full).

    I just returned from Puerto Rico and was surprised at the number of places that did take AmEx there – there were signs pretty much everywhere saying “AmEx cards welcomed here”. I would say I had about 80% success using the card in the continental US.

    One more thing to consider – Fido Visa (1.5% rebate) allows you to use ShopSafe to generate a one-time use (sort of) number to shop online, etc. You cannot do it with Fido AmEx.

  11. …and now I have to correct myself. FIA Card Services now has an automatic payment option for the full balance due available from the website. I’m not sure when the option was added, but it referred to as a “new service”.

  12. I applied for this card on your recommendation and was turned down. I have never been refused credit before in my life. I have been a Fidelity customer for over 20 years and my credit score is over 750.

  13. I have had this card for awhile and i love it! I put everyone on it. I managed to save 50,000 points and got a nice check for 500 bucks. I was pretty pumped. This card is great. The fiacardservices website is very easy for making payments and if you treat this card like a debit card and pay it off before any fees accrue. Its like getting 2% off everything.

  14. everything* not everyone lol

  15. I’ve been using the Fid Amex and depositing rewards into my Roth for about 18 months now. This is my main card and I love it. The FIA websit is great, much better than B of A website, imo. I like the fact that it’s very uncluttered on the transaction summary page and the fact that transactions post as pending with merchant name as soon as card is swiped. This is the only card site I’m aware of that does this.

    My only fear is that the reward will be cut or the card discontinued. The closing to new apps for the Schwab is not a good sign. Has anyone heard anything?

  16. Just got this card in the mail yesterday to replace a Bank of America AMEX that pays 1.25% cash back. Does anyone know how much the foreign transaction fee is?

  17. I just started using my FIA Card and have a question:

    Can anyone explain in plain detail how depositing the rewards into a Roth IRA vs. a Regular IRA will affect my taxes? (I am not rich enough to have a reduced contribution limit, and can’t manage to contribute the full $5000 ($10000 if you include my wife) to either in a year) Also, please refer to where you get your information.

    My confusion is: if I put it in a Roth, do I have to pay income tax now on the rewards?

    Or maybe I have it wrong, and there would be no tax penalty for putting it in the Roth, but if I put it in the regular IRA, I could deduct that amount from my income?

    If the 2nd case is correct, then I think getting this card is a no brainer (as long as you pay the balance in full every month). If the 1st case is correct, then it still is a good deal, but it might make more sense for me to put it into a regular IRA, so I can keep my taxes straight.

  18. Hello again. I reapplied for this card and was approved the second time. I finally figured out the real reason I was declined the first time. I had a block on my credit report that I had forgotten about, and FIA didn’t bother to tell me this, they just quietly declined my application.

  19. (David – the same thing happened to me re: credit freeze. At least you know that your credit freeze works!)

    Doug A: Yes, when we had AmEx-branded cards (Costco + Delta Skypoints), we got good customer service from AmEx — that is, until we didn’t. When we REALLY needed AmEx dispute resolution to protect us from an ethically-challenged merchant, they didn’t. Even tho’ we appealed, AmEx said, “As this is a contract between you and the merchant, AmEx can neither nullify nor negotiate the contract on your behalf.” My magical thinking that the AmEx brand will protect me is GONE. We have swtiched to the Fidelity AmEx through FIA. The rebate is easy to dump into our Fidelity account.

  20. Is the cash back in lieu of membership rewards?

  21. @bill – yes.

  22. Hi – I just got this card but I’m curious, how do I link mysmartcash account to the fidelity amex so that once I have 5,000 points I can turn it into $50 in my smart cash checking? Any help here would be great. I’ve searched online but found just general answers – no specific detail on how to link the accounts. Thanks!

  23. Can anybody help???

  24. This card is a piece of crap. Every time I travel to a different state, they block purchases. In other words, they put the burden of security on you by embarassing you in front of merchants and friends, yet charge the merchants the same fee as other cards. I would avoid this if you travel.

  25. I love this card. I use it for everything, including my tuition for my schooling which helps me get my rewards that much faster. I pay this card off in full every month except this month because my interest free period expires in a few months so I am not worrying about it. I have it linked to a mySmart Cash Management account but I am considering switching it to am IRA, Roth, or a 529 since I have a long ways to go for school. I love the FIA Card Services website. Simplicity but concise platform. Any suggestions on which is best would be greatly appreciated.

    Adam, I believe I did it through the fidelity page first, not on the FIA Card Services website. I could be mistaken since it was a while ago, but if it is not available as an option on the FIA Card Services website, try checking your mySmart Cash Management account’s portfolio summary. At the very bottom of mine is a Credit Cards tab which you can usually use to set up those auto transfers. If not, here is the customer service number for FIA Card Services I have used with much luck in the past.

    FIA Card Services Customer Support

  26. I must reinforce what earlier comments have said re: the poor customer support and terrible website for this card. American Express is typically known for good customer service, especially while traveling, but this card is for some reason different from other American Express cards. I regret bringing it as a card when I travel because the card was blocked and then I could not get through on their customer service line to get it fixed.

    I have also had trouble with their online payments, for which the interface is clunky and not user-friendly at all.

    This may be an ok day to day card, but don’t rely on it at all if you travel!

  27. Stephanie says

    I just applied for this card and have not yet gotten it but had a comment about traveling with the card. I had my BofA card declined on a business trip a couple months ago as well. I tried to call customer service and their system was down. When I got thru the next day, I was told it was because I didn’t report that I was traveling out of state, and unless you do, your card could be blocked and they would not be liable for fruadulent charges. I have had the card for 12 years, traveled quite a bit with it and had never called to tell them I was traveling and to where. I was told it had always been their policy. If it is happening with the Fidelity card, my guess is that it is do the the comment posted earlier about FIA being owned by BofA. Which brings up another question. My other accounts are with BofA. Can I make payment transfers from my BofA accounts to this card like I can with my BofA Visa since they are owned by BofA?

  28. Has anyone tried to use the international collect number on the back of the card when traveling? It has never worked for me.

  29. A few questions on the Fidelity American Express card…based on comments above, this card will not show up in my American Express Account (with my AXP Delta Skymiles card) because it is owned by Bank of America. Will it show up with my other Bank of America cards when I login? I’m trying to avoid having too many logins from multiple credit card companies and I”m wondering if this is just one more login account I’ll need to keep track of.

    Secondly, does this card have the typical American Express offers I normally see like Small Business Saturday (day after Thanksgiving) and various credits for shopping at certain merchants (get $5 credit for spending $25 at BP Gas station, etc)?

    Third, do I need the Fidelity account before applying for this card or can I get the card first and then open the account?

    • You don’t have to have a Fidelity account before applying for the card. I got my card and racked up points for about 4 months before I opened a Fidelity account.

      After I opened the account, I logged onto the FIA site and linked the accounts for automatic rewards transfer.

    • I’ve successfully received several credits for shopping at certain merchants (get $5 credit for spending $25 at BP Gas station, etc) by registering my Fidelity AMEX for the credits through @AmericanExpress on Twitter.

  30. @Tommy Z

    you’ll need to login at FIA CARD SERVICES to pay bill, etc

    yes for small business saturday – but not the credits for shopping that automatically show up in amex site (unless you use amex sync)

    not sure on the fidelity account questions

  31. Regarding the rewards, anything over $50 will transfer into your account. I’ve had many automatic transfers from my rewards balance into my trading account that are not in exact increments of $50.

  32. We have this card; however, we limit our use of it to major purchases.

    1) Amex has great customer service and a good website. I am not wiling to deal with FIA card services’ customer service for everyday purchases.

    2) With my “real” Amex card (blue cash), my daily purchases download directly to Quicken through Quicken. As a result, I am able to track my spending and catch any errors easily.

    With the FIA card, you have to go to their website to see any purchases. Furthermore, you cannot download transactions until a “statement” is issued. The hassle wasn’t worth the benefit.

    • I agree that I wish we got the “real” AmEx customer service with this card. Although actually one of the best things about a real AmEx is their free extended warranty, which would suggest not putting many large purchases of things like HDTVs, laptops, appliances, Roombas, etc on this card.

      • How often are you guys really dealing with credit card customer service? Most of the time, my only interaction (other than online) is when I’m activating a new card and they’re trying to get me to add unnecessary services.

        Yeah, the FIA site isn’t great. Is it that big of a hassle though? And do you really need to download transactions daily? I do all of my Quicken transactions manually, and it’s really not a big deal.

        2% is 2% and it’s one of the best overall cards out there. A lot of people are seriously overthinking this.

        • The direct download to Quicken is critical to how we manage our finances. We charge everything to credit cards and there are a lot of small <$50 transactions to keep up with. Without automatic entries, I would not know my current spending v budget without wasting time I don't have.

          Because a large portion of our spending is for gas/groceries, we average around 1.8% rebates on our Amex Blue card.

          I could make more money back by using the Blue for gas/groceries and the Fidelity card for everything else. But, simplicity won out.

  33. Got this card before the bonus, wish I had waited. Actually got it after Capital One bought HSBC and they bumped there 2% card back to 1.5% which still isn’t too bad. The only gripe I have about this card is that for some reason it won’t work at Walmart. Not sure why, but think it has something to do with Walmart and AE fighting over fees.
    My latest find is the new Better balance card from B of A where you use it one time a month and at the end of the quarter they give you $25 or $30 if it is going into a B of A account.

  34. Washerdreyer says

    So, thinking out loud about this card as compared to Barclaycard World Arrival MasterCard, my current daily spender. On the plus side, the Barclaycard pays an effective 2.22% cash on all purchases and has a substantial sign up bonus. On the downside, it charges an $89 annual fee starting in the second year, as compared to $0 for the FIA. For a .22% difference to break even on the annual fee, one would have to spend $40,454.55 per year on the card. Some people might do this, but it seems unlikely for a large number of families (mine included). So that sounds like I should cancel/downgrade my Barclaycard before the fee hits. But there are a couple of points in the Barclaycard’s favor: 0% foreign transaction fee versus 1% on the FIA, and cash back coming in increments of $25 and not being tied to a Fidelity account. On the negatives for Barclays, the cash back is only redeemable against “travel” expenses, but travel is broadly defined. When I said thinking out loud at the start, I was serious, which is why this comment is so long. But it looks to me like if you spend $3,000 annually on foreign transaction fee eligible purchases (not that hard with hotels and airfare) out of a total $26,818.18 on the credit card, the Barclays is equal to the FIA. I guess I’m going to use these numbers and look over my first year of Barclayscard activity to see where my numbers are, and then go from there, but I’d appreciate anyone else’s thoughts.

    I guess one final question is how rare this $75 bonus on the FIA is, because perhaps it’s worth jumping on now just in case I decide the Barclays isn’t worth the annual fee for. Anyone know?

    • I think people are really overthinking the Fidelity account requirement for this card. I have had this card for years and you cannot beat 2% with no annual fee. It is the no annual fee which is why I would choose this over the Barclays World Arrival MC.

      I think what people do not realize is that the Fidelity account can act like a bank account. I direct deposit my paychecks in. I use it to pay all my bills. While I could if I want to, I do not use it to make trades. My 2% rewards deposit right into my account and goes out to pay bills. If I am short funds, I can easily ACH money from another bank account. Plus Fidelity’s customer service is top notch.

      Hope this helps with your decision making process…

  35. I just reviewed the terms on the original documentation I got with the card. $0 liability guarantee and all the American Express benefits like retail extended warranty and car insurance. I don’t get what the hub-bub is about it being a FIA card.

  36. I have been considering getting the Fidelity card because it seems like an easy way to double the cash back on Costco purchases. The $75 is a good incentive to do it.

  37. @Jonathan: “I agree that I wish we got the “real” AmEx customer service with this card. Although actually one of the best things about a real AmEx is their free extended warranty, which would suggest not putting many large purchases of things like HDTVs, laptops, appliances, Roombas, etc on this card.”

    What’s the extended warranty that genuine AMEX cards offer? Does this co-branded FIA AMEX offer the same?

  38. The more liquid the rewards, the lower the amount of the overall reward. 2% is very good for a cash rewards card, even though you are restricted to brokerage/529/IRA. I’ll keep using my SPG Amex that routinely yields 3%-4% when using the points to pay for hotel rooms!

  39. Just opened one of these bad boys up. It’ll be a nice complement to the Discover it I have.

  40. Is that $75 sign up bonus still available? The link didn’t seem to be working.

  41. You really have to spend a lot for 2% to work for you.

    E.g., 30,000/year is only $600 cash into your Fidelity brokerage account. While that is invested (and free) in your account , I don’t see much value.. unless im missing something?

  42. Kauko Laurinolli says

    I had a real Amex Platinum 30+ years, monthly spending $10,000 every month worldwide and paid my bills every month fully. No problems.
    Then when retired got this stinking Fidelity Amex/ FIA fake not real Amex
    card and have been harassed and INSULTED by the FIA idiots multiple
    times. Every time if I buy item worth say $500+ or $1,000+ they deny the
    charge and I have to call them to be interrogated for 20-30 minutes if
    this is the valid card user. They have no brains to understand that
    store clerk can check my ID very easily.
    I do hate to explain on the store floor for every charge I made during past week and I hate to talk with people with IQ lower than the room temperature.
    So their “service” really STINKS.

  43. @mymoneyblog
    just called FIA. they said i dont have to deposit the points/cash back into an FIA account.. can simply use for statement credit.
    ever try this?

    • It is my understanding that statement credit is an option, BUT the conversion rate is only 1% cash back. To get 2% back, you need to redeem into a Fidelity account. From their website:

      “The 2% rewards value applies only to points redeemed for a deposit into an eligible Fidelity account. The redemption value is different if you choose to redeem your points for other rewards.”

  44. Does this card come with any of the benefits that normally come with a regular “real” Amex card?

    • I don’t believe so. I checked it for one perk of free “shoprunner” shipping service that regular AMX cardholders get and when I put in my # it said my card did not quailfy.

  45. I’ve had the Fidelity AMEX and Fidelity Visa cards for over two years now. Although I love the rebates that these cards offer, today I canceled both cards because their “fraud detection department” has turned off my fidelity AMEX card at least seven times in the past year. Often, this has been well I was standing in line at the checkout. It is beyond irritating. Today their customer service representative suggested I call them every time I travel away from home. That’s sort of flies in the face of their “don’t leave home without it” commercial.

    In my case, if I were to call them every time I left home it would be 2 to 3 times a month. Who has time for that nonsense?

    So, if you never travel outside your home ZIP Code, the Fidelity cards are for you. Everyone else should look elsewhere.

    • I had this happen with my Bank of America Visa, though I have not yet had it happen with my AMX. I think with the increase on CC security, this is happening more on all cards.

    • Joe Langley says

      Fidelity Amex is a pain in the butt. Every time you leave your home state and try to use it the disable the bloody card. Then you have to argue with some $5/h clerk to convince you are you. I had this happening me now at least 3 times every year. I had a REAL Amex for 40 years, 20 of those it was a Platinum card. I traveled to all over Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe etc. My monthly bill was never below $10,000. Not a one time during those 40 working years Amex was harassing and insulting me like these FIA aholes.

      I will soon tell them to stick their bloody card to where sun doesn’t shine.

  46. has anyone actually redeemed the points? how did it go?

    • Hi Gene. I have mine set up to automatically redeem, split between my two kids 529 accounts and it works effortlessly. I also have it set up to automatically pay the complete balance every month from my checking, making this a very hassle free card. Depending on my spending, my kids get a deposit every month during high spending times, or when I have less spending it is every two months. For me, this is a no brainer card to have. I only keep one other card for the few places that do not take AMX. Other than that, I use it for all my purchases.

  47. Christian Hughes says

    This is absolutely the worst service card I’ve ever owned in 50 years of using credit cards for purchases. The 2% cash back is very attractive but after that it’s nothing but hassle. I’ve used it for the better part of two years, so I believe I’ve given it a fair chance. After spending many thousands of dollars a month and always paying 100% of my monthly balance, they still insist on denying credit at various retail transaction sites. That’s just the half of it. Every 6 months they state my card has been compromised and insist on cancelling the card and issuing a new one. What a pain in the neck!! Everything has to be reentered into my online automatic payments. I complain vehemently stating the card has never had a fraudulent charge, but their customer service reps don’t get it. Save yourself a lot of hassle and find a better card. There are definitely better choices out there.

    • FYI, original links to apply have not worked since like December 29, 2015 for any of Fidelity’s credit cards with FIA Card Services (Fidelity College Rewards MasterCard, Fidelity Investment Rewards Visa Signature and American Express Card). Details about the “new”(?) Fidelity 2% ca$hback credit card will be at Fidelity’s cash management webpage around January 4, 2016.

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