The Plum Card from American Express

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This card is good for a business that doesn't have consistent cash flow.

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If you have the type of small business where your cash flow each month can vary wildly, The Plum Card from American Express offers some incentives to help keep your bills under control.

Review

Let’s say you own a snow-removal business. In a good year, you’ll be piling up the earnings all winter. But if it rarely snows? Well…

That’s the type of on-off earner The Plum Card from American Express might be good for. Instead of traditional rewards, you can earn a 1.5% discount on the portion of your eligible balance that you pay within 10 days of your statement closing date. You’ll have to pay at least the minimum payment due, but think of it as a bonus for good payment behavior.

On the other hand, if you’re waiting for that next snowfall and don’t have the funds to pay in full, this card offers a unique feature that allows you to pay 10% of the balance from new activity. You can then take up to 60 days to pay the remainder of the new balance with no interest.

Is it worth it to pay the annual fee of $250 (waived the first year) for this billing safety cushion? It depends on if you’ll save that much on interest charges over the course of the year. And, if you’ll get the maximum value of the other perks, including free additional employee cards and purchases made through the OPEN savings plan.

There’s a a late payment penalty of 1.5% plus 2.99% of any past due amount (minimum of $38) so unless you’re confident you can pay the bills on time and ideally earn the early-pay bonus, you may be better off with another card.

If your cash flow is erratic, or you’re a Type A who pays bills they moment they arrive, this card might work for you. For everyone else, we’d suggest a card that pays higher rewards back in the categories you spend the most.

Who should own this card

This card could be a good choice for someone who can pay their bill within 10 days of receiving it to get a discount, or anyone who needs a little flexibility in their payments without penalty.

Advantages
  • The Plum card is a charge card, so there's no pre-set limit. (That doesn't mean unlimited spending, however.)
  • Enjoy an early-pay discount of 1.5% on the portion of eligible charges that you pay within 10 days of the statement closing date, as long as you pay at least the minimum due.
  • You have up to 60 days to pay your bill before it accrues interest as long as you pay the minimum due on time.
  • Additional employee cards are free and they’re also eligible for the early pay discount.
  • As an OPEN card, it comes with purchasing discounts at select merchants.
  • Terms apply.
Disadvantages
  • Although its waived the first year, the $250 annual fee is steep.
  • There's a late payment charge of 1.5% then 2.99% of the past due amount (minimum: $38).
  • Other cards will pay rewards without you having to pay the bill so soon after the statement closing date.

Fees and APR

  • Annual fee is $250, waived the first year.
  • As this is a charge card, the bill has to paid in full every month.
  • Late payments will be assessed a charge of 1.5% then 2.99% of the past due amount (minimum: $38).
  • There are no foreign transaction fees on purchases made outside the U.S.
  • See Rates & Fees.

Extras and perks and using rewards

Receive a 5% discount through the OPEN savings program at the following vendors: FedEx, Hertz, 1-800-Flowers and HP.

The Plum Card also comes with some helpful features that may simplify your bookkeeping. The ReceiptMatch tool lets you add receipts, tags and notes to your transaction history from your desktop or phone. You can also download your statements directly to QuickBooks, which can make it easier to figure out quarterly taxes and overall expenditures.

This card also comes with premium roadside assistance, a global assistance hotline and some return protections on qualifying items purchased with the card.

If you earn the 1.5% discount, it will appear as a credit on the following bill statement.

How this card compares

The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN
Card Details
  • Welcome Offer: Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $5,000 in purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership
  • Get 3x points - Choose 1 out of 5 categories
  • Plus, 2X points on the 4 remaining categories and 1X points on other purchases
  • 3X and 2X apply to the first $100,000 in purchases in each of the 5 categories per year, 1X point per dollar thereafter
  • Track, organize, and stay on top of your business expenses with powerful expense-tracking tools
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $175
  • Terms and limitations apply
  • See Rates & Fees
Credit Needed Excellent
Regular APR N/A
Annual Fee $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $175
Purchase Intro APR N/A
Balance Transfers Intro APR N/A

The unique choose-your-own-bonus structure of the Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN is extremely appealing. In short, it allows you to earn the most rewards in the category where you spend the most.

It’s likely to give you better rewards than the Plum card, but if you need to carry a balance, the APR is high, and there’s a penalty APR if you have a late or missed payment, making the Plum Card a better choice.

SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express
Card Details
  • Special Offer: Earn up to $400 cash back
  • Earn a $200 statement credit after you spend $5,000 in qualifying purchases on your Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Plus, earn an additional $200 statement credit after you spend an additional $10,000 or more in qualifying purchases on your Card within the first year of Card Membership.
  • No Annual Fee. Plus, more buying power and more cash back. Get cash back on business purchases, even those above your credit limit.
  • 5% cash back on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. office supply stores.
  • 3% on the category of your choice from a list of eight and 1% cash back on other purchases.
  • 5% and 3% apply to the first $50,000 in purchases per calendar year, then 1% applies thereafter. Cash back received is automatically credited to your statement.
  • Terms and limitations apply
Credit Needed Excellent
Regular APR 13.24% - 20.24% Variable
Annual Fee $0
Purchase Intro APR 0% on Purchases for 9 months
Balance Transfers Intro APR N/A

In just about every respect — from rewards to the annual fee — the SimplyCash Plus Business Credit Card from American Express stands tall among the elite business cards on the market.

The only reasons to shy away from this card would be if your work requires significant overseas travel or if your biggest expenses don’t match up with the bigger cash-back savings categories.

Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business
Card Details
  • Earning unlimited 2% cash back could mean thousands of dollars each year going back into your business
  • Plus, a one-time $500 cash bonus once you spend $4,500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • Use Spark Cash across all your business spend, with no categories to limit your purchasing
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that
  • Rewards won't expire for the life of the account, and you can redeem your cash back for any amount
  • Get employee cards at no additional cost, and earn rewards from their business spend
Credit Needed Excellent
Regular APR 17.99% (Variable)
Annual Fee $0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Purchase Intro APR N/A
Balance Transfers Intro APR N/A

Capital One Spark Cash for Business ranks among the best business rewards credit cards on the market, edging out other business cards – including those offered by Capital One — because of its rewards flexibility.

We love that this card pays the same flat rewards rate on cards issued to employees as those issued to the business owner.

Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card

This card offer is currently unavailable on Bankrate. To see more cards in this category, please visit our business category page.

Card Details
  • Earn 3X on travel, shipping purchases, advertising purchases made with search engines and social media sites, and Internet/cable/phone services, on up to $150,000 per year.
  • Earn 1X on all other purchases.
Credit Needed Excellent
Regular APR 16.99% to 21.99%, based on your creditworthiness. These APRs will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate.
Annual Fee $95.
Balance Transfers Intro APR

For companies that spend a lot on staying connected, it’s hard to beat the rewards rate of the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card from Chase. This card also offers an outstanding sign-up bonus worth far more than the cost of card ownership.

EDITORIAL NOTE

Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.