The Plum Card from American Express is not one of our top-rated business credit cards. You can review our list of the best business credit cards for what we think are better options.
Full Review of the Plum Card from American Express
Carry a balance without interest
Automatic rewards for paying early
No preset spending limit
No bonus offer
Rewards are limited
High annual fee
- Carry a Balance Without Interest: Where most cards that offer 0% APR do so for an introductory period, the Plum card from American Express takes a different approach. For any month’s purchases, you can essentially trigger a 0% APR of up to 60 days with no interest, provided you pay the minimum due in that billing cycle. If you have a cash-flow crunch, want to finance a major purchase, or simply need additional time to pay your bills, this feature can provide a helpful tool to delay paying bills without running up interest charges.
- Automatic Rewards for Paying Early: Business owners who pay early get rewarded for doing so with this card. If you make at least the minimum payment on the month’s bill 10 days or more from the due date, your bill is essentially discounted by 1.5% of the amount you pay early. The credit is automatically applied to your account for the next billing cycle—there's no need to opt in, navigate redemption options, or log into your account. (And, remember, there’s no interest on new purchases for any month, provided you’ve opted in to the free 60-day 0% APR feature.)
- No Preset Spending Limit: Since this is a charge card, there's no hard maximum amount you can spend each month. Instead, your purchasing power adjusts with your use of the card and other factors like your payment history, credit record, financial resources, and more. This flexibility is beneficial for businesses with month-to-month expenses that fluctuate widely or that face occasional purchases that would put them over the credit limit on a credit card.
- No Bonus Offer: It's common for small business cards—especially those with an annual fee—to offer a one-time offer, but this card offers no such windfall. That makes the card's high fee (after the first year) all the more challenging to recoup, because the value of one-time offers can often help justify the annual cost of a card, sometimes for several years. For example, the Business Gold card from American Express charges $295 annually—just slightly higher than this card—and offers a 35,000-point bonus (worth more than $300 when used for travel) for spending $5,000 within the first three months of membership.
- Rewards are Limited: This card isn't truly a rewards card, or at least it isn’t marketed as one. But it resembles a cash-back card, since it’s possible to earn a 1.5% discount by paying its bill early each month. Still, if you can’t swing paying early some months, this card yields no rewards at all.
- High Annual Fee: There’s no fee for this card in its first year, but you’ll pay $250 every year thereafter. And while its primary attraction is its payment flexibility, the Plum card from American Express is still expensive for a card with no bonus offer and limited rewards.
This Card is Best For
Seeks to maximize cash back earnings across spending categories
Earning a primary or side income from a small business
The Plum card from American Express is best suited to businesses that value flexibility in paying their card bills and are prepared to trade conventional rewards in order to get it.
Ideally, the business also has flexibility that allows a shift in the time within the card's cycle in which it pays bills. Because of the early-payment bonus, paying bills in the middle of the billing cycle, say, rather than the end triggers an automatic 1.5% credit for the next month's bill. A business that charges an average of $1,389 per month or more to the card and pays early would make enough in these rewards to justify the annual fee each year.
Finally, it's a card for businesses who expect they will actually need and use the card's key asset, the ability to trigger at will a 60-day 0% APR period.
Rewards Earning Details
The only way to earn rewards with this card is to take advantage of the Early Pay Discount feature. You get rebated to you an unlimited 1.5% of the portion of your balance that you pay at least 10 days before your statement closing date. The discount is automatically applied to your account in the form of a statement credit on the next billing cycle.
Some charges don’t qualify for the discount, including previously deferred amounts, past due amounts, purchases of traveler's checks, purchases or reloading of prepaid cards, or purchases of any cash equivalents.
Rewards Redemption Details
There's no need—or ability—to choose a redemption option for this card's rewards. Any rewards received from the Early Pay Discount automatically appear as a credit on the following billing statement. For instance, if you pay off $1,000 worth of eligible charges and qualify for the 1.5% Early Pay Discount, you'll receive a $15 credit on the next billing cycle.
This type of straightforward redemption process is a boon for business owners who don't have time, or simply don't desire, to navigate complex reward redemption options.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
You can make the most out of this card by using it for all of your business expenses, and then paying off your balance early each month to earn a 1.5% discount that’s applied to the next month’s statement. Naturally, the more you charge and quickly pay off, the more you'll earn in statement credits.
It also makes sense to use this card's 60-day interest-free period to carry a balance whenever you need it. That option is especially valuable if you sometimes carry a balance on cards, since it can save you a lot on interest charges.
If you have employees who make purchases for the business, it's well worth opening additional card accounts for them. There's no charge to obtain cards with the card and their spending will potentially add to the rewards you can earn by paying monthly bills earlier in the cycle.
Let's say you charge $2,000 per month to this card for a variety of business costs. Your expenses each month might include marketing, insurance premiums, office supplies, professional development, and meals.
Let's assume you set up automatic bill payment for the card, and not at the end of its monthly billing cycle, but in the middle of it. You’re still paying the bill every 30 days, but are doing so early enough to earn the 1.5% early-payment reward every month. Such timing would allow you to earn $360 a year in automatic statement credits.
This scenario assumes you add to the spending of the average case above by providing cards for each of your employees, which you can do at no charge.
For example, consider that you have three employees, and together you spend a combined $4,000 per month on the expenses noted in the average scenario above. You also each travel once per quarter, spending an average of $350 per domestic round-trip flight.
In total, you'd earn $804 in statement credits for the year. Again, that’s assuming that you pay off your balance early each month.
The Plum Card from American Express Outstanding Benefits
- Option to trigger 60-day 0% APR on each month's purchases
- Ability to spend past your credit limit
- Choose your billing cycle
- Rental car collision insurance (secondary to your own policy)
- No foreign transaction fees
- Travel and emergency hotline
- Expense management tools
- Account Manager designation
- Additional employee cards at no annual fee
American Express ranked second of nine issuers scored in J.D. Power's 2019 U.S. Small Business Credit Card Satisfaction Study, ranking just below Discover.
The Amex customer service department can be reached 24/7 by phone at 800-528-4800. Customers also have the option to log into their account and live chat with a representative. Amex is also active on social media. Questions and comments can be sent to @AskAmex on Twitter.
American Express offers industry-standard security precautions for its cardholders. To prevent fraud, Amex monitors activity and sends alerts in the case that it detects fraudulent activity. If your card is lost or stolen, it will send you a new one for free with next-day shipping. And you aren't liable for any fraudulent purchases.
The Plum card from American Express stands apart from most business cards. It bucks the norm by emphasizing not rewards or travel benefits but its flexible payment options, including the ability to delay paying bills without incurring interest charges. You can carry a balance for 60 days without interest as long as you pay the minimum due each month. And while you don’t earn rewards when you purchase with the card, you can when you pay your bill, provided you do so early in the billing cycle—and so earn a 1.5% discount on the bill.
If you're primarily seeking high rewards, though, this isn't the card for you. You might instead look to a flat-rate cash business back card with a bonus. The Capital One Spark Cash card, for instance, offers 2% cash-back on every purchase and has an annual fee of $95. It also has a bonus offer of $500 when you spend $5,000 within the first three months.
Alternatively, If you want to stick with American Express, you could opt for the American Express Business Gold Card. It charges the same high fee—$295—as the Plum Card from American Express, but offers four Membership Rewards points per dollar (worth an estimated 1.54 cents each, depending on how they are redeemed)r) on the two categories where you spend the most each month. The 4 points earned applies to the first $150,00 spent each calendar year. You will earn 1 point per dollar after the cap it hit. It also has that one-time offer of 35,000 points for spending $5,000.