The Plum Card® from American Express®
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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.
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 late payment penalty of $38 or 1.5% of the past due amount, whichever is greater. Plus if you miss paying for two billing periods in a row, the fee is the greater of $38 or 2.99% of the past due amount. 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.
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
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 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.
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.
We love that this card pays the same flat rewards rate on cards issued to employees as those issued to the business owner.