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The Plum Card from American Express is designed for small business owners who aren’t quite sure when they’ll be able to pay the bill.
It gives you up to 60 days to pay your monthly bill, rather than the 30 days or so that most credit cards give. And there are some other terms that make it easier to manage your monthly payments. This gives you more flexibility than most cards, just in case those funds don’t come in when you were expecting.
If you’re able to pay early, within 10 days of getting your bill, you’ll get a 1.5% discount on what you pay. But you won’t earn any other rewards with this card.
This is a charge card, meaning you usually need to pay your bill in full each month. However, there are features that can give you some extra time to pay. The Plum is also a business card, so there are a few important differences between it and regular consumer cards.
This card has an annual fee of $250, waived the first year (Rates & Fees). It’s not the most rewarding offer for that fee, but if you need a card that gives you more time and options for paying down your balance this one might work for you.
Card Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
We give this card 3 out of 5 Stars because it’s expensive and not very rewarding. But it does give you about twice as long to pay your bill as other cards, which could be quite useful for some small businesses.
Why we like this card
- A 1.5% early pay discount when you pay your bill within 10 days
- An option to take up to 60 days to pay your bill, if necessary
- You can defer paying part of your balance to the next billing cycle, with some limitations
- Your spending limit will adjust over time, based on your card activity and credit
- You can choose when you want to get your bill
- You’ll be able to get plenty of employee cards
- There are no foreign transaction fees (Rates & Fees)
- Your positive card activity will be reported to a business credit bureau
Why this card could be better
- You don’t seem to get much for the $250 fee, compared to other credit cards (Rates & Fees)
That 1.5% discount isn’t very much, and you won’t even get that unless you pay your bill early
- There aren’t very many interesting or valuable benefits
The Plum card is designed around its flexible payment structure. If you’re looking for some more rewarding cards, see some alternative business credit cards below.
Insider Advice: Using This Card as Part of Your Card Strategy
- You may want to choose this card if your business has a long accounts receivable timeframe, since you’ll have 60 days to pay your bill after a statement period closes.
- Aim to pay off as much of your balance as possible within the first 10 days to get the 1.5% discount, but if you do that regularly another card could earn you more in rewards.
- If you can’t pay your whole bill, you can defer part of it to the next billing cycle. You’ll need to pay 10% of what you owe, plus any amount that was previously deferred.
- You can get up to 4 months to finish paying off expenses in some cases, when you count the 60-day limit to pay your bill, along with the ability to defer part of your balance.
- Pick when you want to pay your bill: the beginning, middle, or end of the month.
- Be sure to check Amex Offers regularly to see whether any of the substantial discounts could fit your business spending.
- If you use QuickBooks, transfer your spending data from American Express to make tax time easier.
- If you want to build credit for your business, separate from your personal credit history, this card may be a good choice. Although some other cards report to more business credit bureaus.
This might not seem like a very good deal, considering the $250 annual fee of this card (Rates & Fees). Check out some alternatives to the Plum card below, which are more rewarding and in some cases have lower fees.
How to Offset the Annual Fee
Although you won’t really be earning rewards with this card, the 1.5% discount could serve to offset the annual fee (Rates & Fees). So how much would you need to spend every year to do that?
With the 1.5% discount, you’ll need to pay back $16,667 worth of expenses. That will provide the equivalent of $250, assuming you’re paying it back within 10 days of the statement closing date.
But if you’re spending that much and paying it back so quickly, you could earn more rewards with a different card. The Spark Cash, for example, offers 2% back for every purchase. With the amount of spending mentioned above it would provide $334. And that 2% would apply to all of your spending, not just what you pay back early, so you could potentially earn more. The Spark Cash comes with an annual fee of just $95, waived the first year, so more of that cash back would be profit too.
Or say you spent about that much with the Amex Business Gold, which has bonus reward categories. If you spend $8,300 at a rate of 3X points per dollar, you could earn the equivalent of $249 cash back. And if you spent another $8,300 at a 2X rate you could get the equivalent of $166 cash back. That’s a total of $415. And that’s pretty good for a card with a lower annual fee, at $175, waived the first year (Rates & Fees).
1.5% Discount by Paying Early
You’ll get a 1.5% discount on any portion of your statement balance that you pay within 10 days of the statement closing date. You must pay the minimum payment required by the due date to get this discount. The discount will appear as a statement credit on the next billing statement.
So, for example, say you end a statement period with a balance of $10,000. You pay $3,000 two days after the statement closing date, which will get the 1.5% discount. Then you pay the remaining $7,000 right before the payment due date, so that doesn’t get the discount.
In this case you’ll get a discount of $45, because that’s 1.5% of $3,000. If you failed to pay back the remaining balance by the due date, you wouldn’t have received any discount. Instead you’d get charged a late fee.
The Plum card gives you 60 days to pay off your balance after your statement closes. Most credit cards only give around 30 days at the most. So if you’re not sure when exactly your customers will pay you during the month, this card gives you some extra time to figure it out.
Extra Days to Pay
You can defer paying part of your balance to the next billing cycle. To do so, you must pay at least the minimum payment due, by the due date. That minimum payment is composed of:
- 10% of the balance from your current billing cycle
- Any amount that was previously deferred from the last billing cycle
If you make this minimum payment, the remaining balance will be deferred to the next billing cycle. You will not be charged interest on any balance that is deferred.
Pick Your Due Date
Although some consumer credit cards allow you to pick your due date, this feature is less common among business credit cards. The Plum card lets you choose from the beginning, middle, or end of the month.
Reports to Business Credit Bureaus
All American Express business credit cards will report your card activity to the credit bureaus in the same way. They let you improve your business credit, although there are also consequences for irresponsible behavior.
As long as your account is in positive standing, the activity will be reported to Small Business Finance Exchange. This is a large and commonly-used business credit reporting bureau.
But if your account enters a negative status, such as having unpaid collections or unpaid charge-offs, the activity will be reported to other bureaus. An account with a negative status will be reported to:
- Dun & Bradstreet
So your positive activity will be reported to one business credit bureau. But your negative activity will be reported to a different business credit bureau, plus the typical consumer credit reporting agencies.
This means you can use the Plum card to improve your business credit, but not your personal credit. However, you can still hurt your personal credit with it. For a different card that reports positive activity to more business credit bureaus, see the Capital One Spark Cash for Business.
No Preset Spending Limit
This card has no preset spending limit, which does not mean you can spend an unlimited amount.
Instead, this means that your purchasing power will adjust over time. It will change based on your card activity, payment history, credit record, and other financial resources.
You can get up to 99 employee cards, and they will all be free. Individual spending limits can be set for the cards. Take note that there are certain purchases where the spending limit won’t apply, like restaurant tips and extended hotel stays.
The primary cardholder is responsible for all charges made to the account. The card activity will not affect the credit of employees using copies of the card.
Designate a trusted Account Manager to manage your account. Must be at least 18 years old.
A tool to help manage your spending throughout the year. Allows you to add receipts and notes to transactions, making tax time easier.
Connect to QuickBooks®
Provides an easy way to label and transfer your transaction data into a QuickBooks account.
You’ll have access to discounts at a wide variety of merchants — currently there are about 80 different offers available, and the selection changes now and then.
You just need to head to the Amex Offers program and click ‘Add to Card’ for the deals you want. Then, just use your card as you normally would to make a purchase with that merchant. Your savings will appear as a statement credit later on, reducing your account balance. You may or may not earn additional rewards at the regular rate — this will depend on the particular offer.
Many of the deals can be quite valuable, saving you from $5 up through more than $100 for some of them. For most of them, you’ll need to spend a certain amount to get a certain discount. Some of the current offers include:
|Merchant||Need to Spend||Cash Back||Maximum Savings|
There are many fantastic deals waiting to be had here, though many other credit card issuers will offer a similar service. For example, Chase provides the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, Bank of America has its BankAmeriDeals offers, and Citi has the EasyDeals service. You’ll find a range of discounts in all of them.
Save 10% on Some Utilities
Occasionally you’ll be given the opportunity to save 10% on your cable, satellite TV, and/or cell phone bills. Just find the offer and click ‘Add to Card,’ and then use your card to pay for the utility as normal.
Tier One Program
Some businesses will be eligible for the Tier One Program from American Express. This comes with benefits that are “designed to streamline and enhance the business’s experience with American Express.”
At the beginning of every year, American Express will select businesses out of the pool of eligible candidates at its own discretion. Meeting the following criteria does not mean you’ll be selected.
To be eligible for the Tier One Program, a business needs to:
- Be named on one or more U.S.-issued business charge cards or corporate cards from Amex
- Have made eligible purchases totaling $5 million or more during the previous year on those cards
- Have its billing address in the United States
- Not have been enrolled in any Amex hardship program or have any transitional recovery products from Amex during the previous year
- Not have any business or corporate card that has been 30 days or more past due in the previous year
Additional guidelines and limitations apply. Check your card’s Guide to Benefits for more details.
This benefit, also called Membership Experiences, provides pre-sale tickets to a variety of sports, music, and cultural events, as well as access to certain exclusive experiences. You’ll be able to search by interest, artist, event, or venue.
When this review was written, one available offer was preferred seating at a musical rendition of Mean Girls in New York City. Many theater and live performance offers like this are included.
Another offer, designed for hockey fans, is a package to see the LA Kings play against the Calgary Flames. For $175, the package includes a lower-level ticket to the game, a pre-game dinner in the San Manuel Club, a pass to skate on the STAPLES Center Ice, a gift, and a commemorative photo. You’ll have to bring your own ice skates.
Lowest Hotel Rates Guaranteed
If you book an eligible prepaid hotel room through Amex Travel and then find the same room being advertised online for a lower price, you can be refunded for the difference. You must submit your claim before the check-in date, and be sure to check your card details because some restrictions apply.
American Express Personal Loans
Cardholders have the opportunity to apply for a loan through American Express (but only if they have been pre-approved). Loans are offered from $3,500 to $25,000, with fixed interest rates from as low as 6.90% up to 19.97%.
Other Benefits and Perks
There are several other basic shopping and travel protections, which are standard for most credit cards. We’ve only described some of the most interesting benefits here, but this card comes with some others as well. For the most part, they are protections like:
- Travel Accident Insurance
- Baggage Insurance Plan
- Purchase Protection
- Extended Warranty
- Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance
- Fraud Protection
The Costs & Fees
|Regular Purchase and Balance Transfer APR||Cash Advance APR|
|N/A (Rates & Fees)||None|
|Annual Fee||Foreign Transaction Fee|
|$0 introductory annual fee your first year, then $250||None|
|Late Fee||Returned Payment Fee|
|1.5% then 2.99% of the past due amount (minimum: $39).||Up to $39|
This is a charge card, so you can’t revolve a balance from month to month at an interest rate. But it has some extra options and features that charge cards don’t usually have.
You’ll usually need to pay your bill in full by the due date. With the Plum card, that due date will be 60 days after the statement closing date. This is a nice feature because it’s about twice as long as other cards.
There’s also a way to defer part of your balance to the next billing cycle. To defer part of your balance, you have to pay:
- 10% of the balance from your current billing cycle
- Any amount that was previously deferred from the last billing cycle
The remaining balance will be carried over to the next billing cycle, but you won’t need to pay interest on it. It just gives you some extra time to pay.
With the 60-day due date and the ability to defer some of your balance, that means in some cases you can take up to 4 months to pay off some expenses. If you make a purchase at the beginning of a statement period, your bill won’t come for about 90 days (the length of the statement period, which is about a month, plus 60 days).
You could defer part of that balance to the next billing cycle, and you’ll get the bill for that about 30 days later. Then you’ll need to pay off that deferred balance in full, at around 120 days after making the purchase. This is how you can get about 4 months to finish paying off a purchase, give or take a few days.
You’ll also be able to pick your due date with this card to suit your business’s needs. You can pick from the beginning, middle, or end of the month.
Remember, any amount you pay within 10 days of the statement closing date will get a 1.5% discount.
The Plum card is more flexible than most charge cards, and doesn’t require you to always pay it off in full by the due date. But you can’t defer forever, and you’ll need to pay that balance eventually.
|Plum Card Application Line||1-888-781-6736|
|Amex Business Customer Support||1-800-492-3344|
|Pay Bill by Phone||1-800-472-9297|
|Check Application Status||1-800-567-1085|
|Credit Bureau Unit||1-800-874-2717|
Compared to other credit card issuers, American Express is known to have pretty good customer support.
You’ll find them at the very top of J.D. Power’s annual Credit Card Satisfaction Survey for 2017. And they’ve been coming in either first or second since J.D. Power began the survey in 2007.
We’ve called Amex a few times to find out some details about their cards. Usually we reach a friendly and helpful rep who tells us what we need to know pretty quickly. They’re usually well-informed, or can transfer us to someone who knows more.
Sometimes we’ve spoken with reps who left us a bit more confused than we began. If this happens to you, try calling back to speak with someone else. With a bit of persistence you should be able to find the information you’re looking for.
American Express has a pretty informative and detailed website, compared to many credit card companies. There isn’t a whole lot to the Plum card, so you’ll be able to get a good understanding of it from their card page.
They also make it fairly easy to find and navigate to their other card offers, both business and personal.
The Bottom Line
The Plum Card from American Express is a different kind of card, giving small business owners a lot of flexibility when it comes to paying it off. If you’re not sure when you’ll have the money to pay your bill, this card provides some wiggle room.
This flexibility is the main benefit you’ll get. You’ll have 60 days to pay, and the option to defer part of your balance to the next billing cycle. This is pretty lenient compared to other business charge cards, which require you to pay the balance in full about 30 days after the statement closes.
If you can pay any portion of your statement balance early you’ll get a 1.5% discount on that amount. This card isn’t really designed around earning rewards, and this will probably be more of a nice bonus for most businesses.
The Plum card doesn’t have much in the way of valuable perks, especially given the $250 annual fee (Rates & Fees).
This card won’t provide a lot of cash back or points, but if you want a card to help manage your cash flow this could be it. The extended due date and deferred balance option could help out if revenue comes in late, potentially giving you up to 4 months to finish paying off expenses.
Some other business cards offer points or cash back, along with valuable benefits, but they won’t have the same flexible payment options. Check out some of those alternatives below.
How to Apply for the Amex Plum Card
You can apply for the American Express Plum Card securely on the American Express website. You’ll have to be an authorized officer for your business, responsible for managing finances.
You’ll need your personal and business information. For corporations and partnerships, you’ll also need to provide your Federal Tax ID (the same as your Employer Identification Number, or EIN).
American Express will check your credit reports with the three major credit bureaus when you apply.
Alternatives to the Amex Plum Card
- American Express® Business Gold Card (Review): $295 annual (Rates & Fees), 4X points in the two categories you spend the most in
- The Business Platinum® Card from American Express (Review): $595 annual fee (Rates & Fees), 5X points per dollar at Amex Travel, great travel benefits
- Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card (Review): $95 annual fee, 3X points on certain business expenses, 80,000-point introductory bonus for spending $5,000 in the first 3 months
- Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business (Review): $95 annual fee waived the first year, 2% cash back, $500 introductory bonus for spending $4,500 in the first 3 months
It’s also a charge card, and it has a different flexible payment option than the Plum. With the Gold card you may become eligible for an extended payment time on certain purchases, on which will be charged interest. But this will not usually be the case, and normally you’ll need to pay your bill in full every time. The due date will be around 30 days after the statement closing date.
Rather than managing your cash flow, the Business Gold card is more focused on earning points:
|Introductory Bonus Offer|
So you’ll have opportunities to earn points in many different bonus reward categories. Each month you’ll get 4X points in the two categories that your business spends the most in, making this a flexible rewards program that adapts as your spending habits change.
You’ll be earning Membership Rewards points, which can be redeemed in many different ways. The normal redemption methods can provide up to 1 cent per point, meaning you’d be getting the equivalent of 4% cash back in the 4X categories.
You can also transfer those points to a travel partner, turning them into frequent flier miles or hotel points. You can find deals that provide upwards of 2 cents per point, which would give you a cash back equivalent of 8% for the 4X categories.
The Business Gold’s welcome bonus gives you up to $500 back in the form of statement credits by purchasing qualifying services with FedEx using your card within the first 3 months of membership.
These cards are pretty similar in the extra benefits they offer.
If you’re deciding between these two cards, you’ll have to consider whether you want this rewards program or the more flexible payment options you’ll get with the Plum card. The Business Gold can provide quite a lot of points if you use it often. But if you have uncertain finances you may need to go with the Plum to be sure you can pay it off in time.
Read more in our Review of the American Express Business Gold Card
The Business Platinum® Card from American Express (Review) seems expensive at $595 per year. But the rewards and benefits you’ll get potentially make this a great card for any small business owner who travels frequently. Those include a $200 yearly airline travel credit, which, if you use it completely, will offset the annual fee to $395 (Rates & Fees).
This is a charge card, like the Business Gold card above. That means you’ll usually need to pay off your balance in full by the due date, around 30 days after the statement closing date. And you may become eligible to pay off certain purchases over time at a given interest rate.
The Business Platinum provides a great way for travelers to earn Membership Rewards points:
- 5X Membership Rewards points per dollar on flights and prepaid hotels on the American Express Travel website
- 2X Membership Rewards points per dollar on other purchases from the American Express Travel website
- 1.5X Membership Rewards points per dollar on eligible purchases of $5,000 or more
- 1X Membership Rewards point per dollar on all other purchases
- Introductory bonus: 50,000 bonus points for spending $10,000 in the first 3 months (expires 12/4/19)
- Introductory bonus: 50,000 extra bonus points for spending an additional $15,000 in the first 3 months (expires 12/4/19)
5X points per dollar is quite a lot, though that rate will only apply to flights and prepaid hotels. Other purchases from Amex Travel will only get 2X points.
This card also provides a 35% point bonus when you redeem points for eligible flights. That means you can get the equivalent of up to 6.75% cash back, depending on how you earn and redeem your points. You can also transfer those points to a frequent traveler program, where they might be even more valuable.
The rewards are only part of what this card has to offer. There’s an excellent selection of benefits as well, mostly centered around traveling by airline or staying in hotels. Besides the $200 airline credit mentioned above, cardholders get the Amex Global Lounge Collection, which is one of the best airport lounge benefits you’ll find on a credit card. This is because it includes such a wide variety of lounges, like Amex Centurion Lounges, Priority Pass Select, Airspace Lounges, and more.
There’s also a fee credit for either Global Entry or TSA Pre✓, for expedited passage through airports. Boingo WiFi access is complimentary, and 10 annual passes for Gogo in-flight WiFi are provided too, letting you stay connected no matter where you are.
When it comes to where to stay, the Business Platinum provides Gold Status with both Starwood Preferred Guest and Hilton Honors. That covers a very wide swath of hotels and resorts in countries all over the world, giving cardholders many nice perks and complimentary services.
The Business Platinum obviously outstrips the Plum card when it comes to rewards and benefits. However, if you don’t travel much or you care more about having a card with a very flexible payment structure, the Plum card is the better option. The Business Platinum has great rewards and benefits, but you’ll need to pay it off in full each billing period.
This is a credit card rather than a charge card, meaning you can revolve a balance on it from month to month. The APR is currently 17.99% - 22.99% Variable for purchases. However, we recommend that you do not revolve a balance because it will cost more in interest charges. We advise always paying your balance in full by the due date, as if you had a charge card.
This card offers points for purchases that some businesses will make quite often:
- 3X points per dollar on the first $150,000 spent per year on:
- shipping purchases
- Internet, cable, and phone services
- Advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines
- 1X point per dollar on all other purchases
- Introductory bonus: 80,000 bonus points for spending $5,000 in the first 3 months after account opening
- 25% point bonus when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards
That’s a pretty good credit card offer, covering a nice selection of business expenses. Each point is normally worth 1 cent, unless you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards to get the 25% bonus. If you do, you’ll be getting the equivalent of 3.75% cash back when you spend in the 3X category. You can transfer your points to a partner travel program, where you may be able to find a better value for them still.
The Ink Business Preferred doesn’t have much in the way of perks and benefits. For the most part they’re just shopping and travel protections. But you can use the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal to find discounts on certain travel arrangements and merchandise.
Both of these cards give you some flexibility when paying back your expenses. The Chase card will let you revolve a balance indefinitely, month after month, accruing more and more interest as you go. The Plum card gives you some extra time to pay, and the ability to defer some of the payment, but you’ll need to pay off your past charges within a few months.
So you’ll get more leeway with the Chase card, but you’ll end up paying a lot of interest if you’re carrying over a lot of credit card debt. The Plum card gives you quite a while to pay back your expenses, and it also forces you into something like a payment plan to reduce your debt fairly quickly. If you put aside the rewards and just look at the payment terms, the Plum card may have the advantage.
Read more in our Review of the Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card
This card provides:
- 2% cash back on all purchases
- Introductory bonus: $500 cash back for spending $4,500 on purchases in the first 3 months
So you’ll always get 2% cash back rewards, whether you pay your bill early or just barely on time.
This is a credit card, not a charge card like the Plum. So it has an APR for purchases and balance transfers, currently 19.24% (Variable).
This will let you revolve a balance over time if you need to, but you’ll end up paying a lot in interest if it’s a large amount of debt. Just like the Ink Business Preferred above, we don’t recommend carrying a balance from month to month. It will be better for your wallet and your business’s credit if you pay it off in full every billing period.
Other than that, there are a few nice perks that come with this card, because it’s available at the upgraded Visa Signature level. This includes the Luxury Hotel Collection benefit, which provides some nice services at participating hotels. They include room upgrades when available, a daily complimentary breakfast, and $25 in food and beverage credits.
The Spark Cash will provide more cash back for your spending, and you won’t have to pay early to get it. But it’s also not flexible in the same way that the Plum card is.
If you need to wait a while to pay your bill with the Spark Cash, you’ll end up paying interest too. But the Plum card can give you quite a bit of extra time to pay without incurring any interest at all, as long as you follow the card terms. The right card for you may depend on how steady your business’s cash flow is, and when you expect to pay your bills.
Read more in our Review of the Capital One Spark Cash Back Business Credit Cards
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For rates and fees of the The Plum Card® from American Express, please click here.
For rates and fees of the The Business Platinum® Card from American Express, please click here.
For rates and fees of the American Express® Business Gold Card, please click here.
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