The Plum Card® from American Express – Review

The Plum Card® from American Express is a small business charge card with a $250 annual fee (waived the first year). Unlike most American Express charge cards, it does not have a welcome offer, nor does it share in the company’s Membership Rewards point program. However, it does offer a 1.5% discount on all balances paid early – defined as within 10 days of your statement closing date, as long as you make your minimum payment (10% of new activity during the statement period, plus any balance from previous statement periods).

You also have the flexibility to carry balances above the minimum payment amount for 60 days beyond each statement due date with no interest, late charges, or risk of account closure. However, failure to pay your balance in full beyond the 60-day limit could result in reduced spending limits or account closure.

The Plum Card is comparable to a number of other business credit cards and charge cards, including Amex’s other color-coded charge cards: Business Platinum, Business Green, and Business Gold.

Keep in mind that the Plum Card is meant for business owners with a good or excellent credit score and ample cash flow. If you’re just starting out and can’t demonstrate adequate revenues, or if you have any significant credit blemishes, you likely won’t qualify for this card.

As long as you make the minimum payment (10% of new activity during the statement period, plus any carried balances from previous periods) within 10 days of your statement closing date, you receive an unlimited 1.5% discount on the amount paid by that time (above and beyond any previous balance due).

Here’s an example: If you rack up $3,000 in new charges during the statement period, and make a $1,500 payment within 10 days of the closing date, you get a $22.50 discount – 1.5% of $1,500. This effectively functions as an unlimited 1.5% cash back statement credit.

After the statement closing date, you have 60 days (until the next statement’s due date) to pay the remaining balance without interest or fees. Beyond the 60-day mark, unpaid balances are subject to charges and your account is at risk of closure.

The $250 annual fee is waived for the first year, and there is no foreign transaction fee. Late payments, which American Express defines as balances left unpaid for more than 2 consecutive statement cycles (60 days), cost $38 or 2.99% of the late balance – whichever is greater. Returned payments cost $38. Terms and conditions apply – see rates and fees.

Because the Plum Card is a charge card, American Express normally requires cardholders to repay all balances in full by each statement due date. Those who fail to do so for 2 consecutive periods risk account closure.

The Pay Over Time feature offers a way around this, at least for longtime cardmembers in good standing. With Pay Over Time, cardholders are allowed to carry balances indefinitely, with interest, from month to month. Pay Over Time balances accrue variable interest charges, depending on prevailing rates, much like regular credit cards.

The Plum Card features many business-friendly benefits, including adjustable spending limits on employee cards, expense tagging and tracking, and digital receipt storage.

The Plum Card also features some useful benefits that aren’t directly related to business:

This card requires good to excellent credit.

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The Plum Card® from American Express is somewhat unusual. It’s not quite fair to say that it’s a hybrid credit-charge card, but it definitely shares some attributes of both. In essence, it combines a charge card’s lack of regular interest charges with the more flexible repayment schedule of a credit card, though not without limits. And it incorporates an incentive – the 1.5% early repayment discount – for an action that most charge cards expect of their customers as a matter of course.

The Plum Card’s strengths appeal to businesses with unpredictable cash flows, especially those affected by seasonality, such as retailers in vacation towns. At the same time, it’s not for everyone. Before you apply for this card, make sure you understand its limitations.

The Plum Card® from American Express is a great charge card for business owners, particularly those with unpredictable revenues and expenses, who need the option to pay over a short period of time without worrying about losing cardmember status or incurring interest charges and fees. On the other hand, it’s also useful for business owners who want a cash back reward – the 1.5% early payment discount – for paying in full each month. Plum isn’t great for business owners who dislike high annual fees, nor those who need a reliably high spending limit.

The early repayment discount, flexible repayment options, and lack of foreign transaction fees are nice benefits. The high annual fee, lack of a welcome offer and Membership Rewards, and potential for a low spending limit are drawbacks. Overall, Plum offers unusual flexibility and a solid cash back rate, but some business owners may conclude that more compelling options exist.

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Categories: American Express Business, Credit and Debt, Credit Cards, Reviews, Small Business

Brian Martucci writes about frugal living, entrepreneurship, and innovative ideas. When he’s not interviewing small business owners or investigating time- and money-saving strategies for Money Crashers readers, he’s probably out exploring a new trail or sampling a novel cuisine. Find him on Twitter @Brian_Martucci.

Comments Disclosure: The below responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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