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American Express offers its cardmembers two programs that provide different ways to pay your Amex bill: Pay Over Time and Pay It Plan It.
The Pay Over Time option is available for select Amex charge cards, while Pay It Plan It is for eligible Amex credit cards. Amex may or may not offer you these programs; whether it does may depend on your card activity and creditworthiness.
First, let’s break down the difference in the cards Amex offers so you know which ones may be eligible for each program. The main difference between charge cards and credit cards is how much you have to pay off each billing cycle compared to how much you owe:
- Charge cards generally require that you pay off the full amount you spend on the card each month.
- Credit cards only require that you pay off some minimum amount of your balance each month. You can carry the rest over on to next month’s bill, although we recommend you always pay off your full statement balance every month to avoid paying expensive credit card interest.
American Express Pay Over Time
This feature basically turns your charge card into a typical credit card, letting you carry a balance from month to month while accruing interest. Some key things to note about the Pay Over Time program for eligible Amex charge card members include:
- Fees: No fee to enroll.
- Added flexibility: You have the option to pay eligible charges over time with interest.
- Payment options: You can pay your Pay Over Time balance in full, the minimum amount due, or anything in between.
- More information and eligibility: Check your Pay Over Time eligibility here if you’d like to use the program.
Bonus Points for Enrolling
Amex may offer bonus rewards points for enrolling in the Pay Over Time option (usually 10,000). If you’re an American Express charge cardholder, be on the lookout in your email for targeted offers and consider waiting until you get one to enroll.
You only have to enroll in the Pay Over Time program to get the bonus points, you don’t have to use it. Paying your balance in full each month is still the best bet, just as with any credit card.
What Purchases Are Eligible?
Most purchases are eligible. However, the American Express terms and conditions call out a few stipulations, including:
- A charge must be equal to or more than $100 and approved by Amex.
- The following types of charges are ineligible for Pay Over Time: cash advances and express cash, American Express Travelers Cheques and other cash equivalents, casino and other gambling transactions, any fees owed to American Express except foreign transaction fees.
- You can’t add a charge to a Pay Over Time balance if it causes your Pay Over Time balance to go over your Pay Over Time Limit (the limit is shown in your account dashboard).
Pay Over Time Options
There are three different Pay Over Time programs:
- Pay Over Time Direct: All eligible purchases of $100 or more can be paid over time. Charges are automatically moved into your Pay Over Time balance and you choose how much to pay.
- Pay Over Time Select: Charges of $100 or more are eligible to be paid over time. You manually select each charge to request to add it to your Pay Over Time balance.
- Pay Over Time Travel: A charge is eligible to be paid over time if it is designated by American Express as being travel related. This includes airline tickets, hotel stays, car rentals, cruises, and charges made in foreign countries.
Which Amex Cards Can Use It?
If you have one of these Amex charge cards, you may be able to use this program:
Other charge cards may be ineligible. You can log in to the Amex site or mobile app to see if your charge cards are eligible and what your limits and balances are:
This benefit isn’t automatic for every cardholder of an eligible card, as Amex still determines eligibility. If you have any questions about the program or enrolling, just call the number on the back of your card and an Amex representative can help you.
Do I Still Earn Rewards?
Yes, as long as you are enrolled in the American Express Membership Rewards program (which is typically automatic), you earn points on eligible charges including those that you pay over time.
Should I Use Pay Over Time?
We encourage anyone using credit cards to pay off his or her balance every month to avoid paying more, so unless you’re just enrolling to get bonus points you probably shouldn’t worry about Pay Over Time.
However, if you are stretched financially one month because of an emergency, it may be worth it to avoid going into credit card debt since this may cost you less.
American Express Pay It Plan It
Pay It Plan It allows you to pay off large purchases over time at no interest, with a fixed monthly payment. Here are some key things to note about the program for eligible Amex credit card members:
- Fees: There is a monthly fee for Plan It, which will be shown to you up front.
- Added flexibility: Plan It provides an option to pay for large purchases over a fixed period of time instead of paying interest.
- Payment options: You can pay your Plan It balance in full, the minimum amount due, or anything in between.
- Length of time to pay purchases off: There are various durations offered ranging from 3 to 24 months.
- Pay It: The Pay It option allows you to immediately pay off small purchases without waiting until your statement arrives.
- More information and eligibility: Check your Pay It Plan It eligibility here if you’d to use the program.
Amex offers you one, two, or three plan duration options for each qualifying purchase. The payment plan duration options vary based on factors such as the purchase amount, your account history, and your creditworthiness. The Plan It program is similar to an installment plan because you pay a set amount every month over a fixed amount of time.
Here’s how you can set up Pay It Plan It (also known as the Plan It feature):
Amex also has a Plan It calculator on its website which allows you to plan your Plan It purchase(s), showing how much you’d pay in different situations.
Here’s an example of the calculator, and the cost of using this program for paying off a purchase.
Here’s how the plan plays out with three different options for a $500 purchase:
|6-Month Plan||12-Month Plan||18-Month Plan|
|Monthly plan fee||$4.15||$4.18||$4.16|
|Total plan fee||$24.90||$50.16||$74.88|
|Total amount paid||$524.90||$550.16||$574.88|
Essentially, the longer the period of time you select to pay off the purchase, the more it will cost you in fees.
What Purchases Are Eligible?
Most big purchases are eligible for the Plan It feature, as long as they cost $100 or more. You can have up to 10 active plans at once, and each plan can consist of up to 10 purchases.
You can’t use Plan It for cash advances, cash equivalents, purchases subject to foreign transaction fees, or any fee including annual membership fees.
Pay It allows you to pay off items under $100 immediately via the American Express mobile app (you must use the app, it’s not available through the Amex website).
Which Amex Cards Can Use It?
Most American Express consumer credit cards (including co-branded credit cards) are eligible for Pay It Plan It. Here are some of our favorite Amex credit cards:
Prepaid cards and products, American Express corporate cards, American Express small business cards, and American Express-branded cards or account numbers issued by other financial institutions are not eligible for Pay It Plan It. Also, additional cardholders are not eligible for Pay It Plan It.
Do I Still Earn Rewards?
Yes, you’ll earn American Express Membership Rewards points or cash back on these purchases as well.
Should I Use Pay It Plan It?
If you find yourself in a bind, with some larger purchases all happening at once that you can’t pay for immediately, this could be a helpful way to finance them because the Pay It Plan It program will likely cost you less than the typical interest charges would.
Though there’s no interest, be aware of the monthly plan fee and total plan fee. Compare this to what you’d pay if you carried the balance, and go for the cheaper option.
However, it’s always best to pay off your credit card every month to avoid paying for anything more than the purchases themselves (i.e., interest).
Pay It offers an easy way to help your creditworthiness, because you’ll report a lower statement balance by immediately paying off small charges. Since one major factor impacting your credit scores is your credit usage, or credit utilization, a lower balance is pretty much always a good thing.
Make sure you pay attention to when your monthly plan payments are due so you don’t risk missing them. Set up automatic payments to ensure you’re always on time.
Other Credit Card Issuers With Similar Payment Options
Some other card issuers have similar programs, including:
- Chase: Chase announced two new features earlier this year — My Chase Plan and My Chase Loan, which are both slated to roll out in August 2019. My Chase Plan is similar to Amex’s Pay It Plan It and My Chase Loan is a way to use an existing credit line to borrow money for larger purchases.
- Citi: Citi offers the Citi Flex Plan, a similar program to Amex’s Pay It Plan It where you can make fixed monthly payments to pay off purchases or a loan against your card’s credit line. Also, Citi Flex Loan lets cardholders utilize their Citi credit card limits as loans, where a fixed amount is paid over a fixed term up to 60 months, depending on eligibility. Learn more on Citi’s website.
Check out each credit card company’s website for more information on their programs. Or, if you have a card from one of these issuers, you can log in to your online account or call the number on the back of your card to find out more.
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