What Is a Charge Card?

A charge card is a type of electronic payment card that charges no interest but requires the user to pay their balance in full upon receipt of the statement, usually on a monthly basis. Charge cards are offered by a limited number of issuers. They can include an uncapped spending limit with generous reward benefits for the cardholder. However, these cards typically include a high annual fee that can range from $150 to $550.

Understanding Charge Cards

A charge card is a branded card that is available for use anywhere the brand is accepted for electronic payment. These cards have a similar structure and similar features to a standard credit card; however, they also have some distinct differences.

Charge Card Approval and Use

Charge cards require a credit application for approval. They are generally only approved for high-quality borrowers with excellent or good credit. These cards may allow unlimited spending however they must be paid in full each month which limits their use. Missed payments are reported to credit bureaus and can substantially affect a borrower’s credit score.

Charge cards are popular because of the rewards and benefits they offer with each purchase. Cardholders can obtain purchase points and even statement credits with their purchases, often with double and triple points on dining and travel expenses. Thus they can potentially be a good option for business travel. Card issuers offer cardholders exposure to a wide variety of standard items, luxury brands, and travel deals that can be purchased with points accumulated from a charge card.

However, if you're concerned by potentially high fees but still want to earn rewards, it's worth keeping in mind that some of the best rewards credit cards require no annual fees.

American Express

American Express is a primary issuer of charge cards in the electronic payment industry. They offer five cards including the: Gold Card, Platinum Card, Plum Card, Business Gold Card, and the Business Platinum Card. Each card has its own terms and reward benefits.

The Gold Card requires an annual fee of $250. Points are earned with each purchase. Cardholders can use points for a wide variety of purchases or transfer points to the Frequent Flyer program. Some of its special benefit points include 75,000 membership reward points after $4,000 in purchases within the first six months, 3x points for airline flight purchases, 4x points at restaurants worldwide, and 4x points at U.S. supermarkets up to $25,000 per year. The Card also offers credits which include a $120 dining credit with participating restaurants and food delivery companies, a $100 airline fee credit, and no foreign transaction fees.