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Charge cards may look like regular, everyday credit cards, but the way they work puts them in an entirely different category. Unlike credit cards that set limits on your spending, charge cards typically let you spend as much as you want at a time.

The catch? Charge cards don’t let you carry a balance in many cases, so whatever balances you charge will need to be repaid when your credit card bill comes due. Note, however, that some charge cards, like the American Express® Gold Card, let you carry a balance over certain limits (with interest charged) in some cases.

If you’re someone who loves the benefits of credit cards, including the convenience factor and the potential to earn rewards on all your spending, a charge card can truly make sense. Just remember that charge cards come with a lot less flexibility in terms of repayment.

Best American Express charge cards for personal use

American Express has the best charge card options among all card issuers, and each of these let you earn rewards and enjoy cardholder perks. The following charge cards are available for individuals:

American Express® Gold Card

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  • Welcome bonus: 35,000 points when you spend $4,000 within the first three months
  • Earning rate: 4x Membership Rewards points at restaurants worldwide
    4x points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1x)
    3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com
    1x points on all other purchases
  • Other perks: Up to $100 airline fee credit each year
    Up to $120 in dining credits each year
  • Annual fee: $250

 

The Platinum Card® from American Express

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  • Welcome bonus: 60,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $5,000 on your card within three months
  • Earning rate: 5x Membership Rewards points for flights booked with airlines or through amextravel.com
  • Other perks: Up to $200 in airline fee credits each year
    Credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck
    Airport lounge access
  • Annual fee: $550

 

American Express® Green Card

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  • Welcome bonus: 30,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $2,000 on your card within three months
  • Earning rate: 3x points on travel including transit
    3x points on dining worldwide
    1x points on other purchases
  • Other perks: Up to $100 in LoungeBuddy credits
    Up to $100 credit toward CLEAR membership
  • Annual fee: $150

 

Best American Express charge cards for business

The following American Express charge cards are available to qualifying small business owners:

The Business Platinum® Card from American Express

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  • Welcome bonus: 50,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $10,000 on your card within three months
    25,000 additional points after you spend an additional $10,000 on your card within three months of account opening
  • Earning rate: 5x points on airfare and prepaid hotels booked through amextravel.com
    1x points on all other purchases
    50% more points on regular purchases of $5,000 or more (up to 1 million additional points per year)
  • Other perks: Up to $200 annual airline fee credit
    Up to $200 annual Dell statement credit
    Airport lounge access
    35% airline bonus
  • Annual fee: $595

 

American Express® Business Gold Card

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  • Welcome bonus: 35,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $5,000 on your card within three months
  • Earning rate: 4x points on up to $150,000 in combined spending each year in two categories your business spends the most in
    1x points on other purchases
  • Other perks: 25% airline bonu
  • Annual fee: $295

 

The Plum Card® from American Express

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  • Welcome bonus: n/a
  • Earning rate: Earn an unlimited 1.5% discount when you pay within 10 days
  • Other perks: Take up to 60 days to pay
  • Annual fee: $0 the first year, then $250

 

Business Green Rewards Card from American Express

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  • Welcome bonus: 15,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $3,000 within three months
  • Earning rate: 2x points on travel booked through amextravel.com
    1x points on other purchases
  • Other perks: Free employee cards
  • Annual fee: $0 the first year; then $95

 

How to choose an American Express charge card

Any of the charge cards listed above could work well for your personal or business finances, but there are plenty of factors to think about before you make a selection. Here are some of the most important factors to mull over before you pull the trigger on a new American Express charge card:

  • Type of rewards earned: While almost every card on this list earns rewards in the flexible American Express Membership Rewards program, one only offers cash back. If you want to be able to use rewards for travel or transfer points to airline and hotel programs, you’ll definitely want a charge card that earns American Express Membership Rewards.
  • Cardholder perks: Do you want airport lounge access from a credit card? How about an annual credit for incidentals like checked bags and in-flight meals with your favorite airline? While American Express charge cards that offer the most perks tend to charge higher annual fees, these fees can be worth it if you use the cardholder benefits regularly.
  • Annual fees: Speaking of annual fees, you’ll want to choose a card from this list that has a fee you can live with. Make sure to compare charge card fees in terms of the benefits each card offers and whether or not you’ll take advantage of those perks.
  • Personal or business: American Express charge cards for business are only good for small business owners or individuals who earn money outside of regular employment. If you don’t have a traditional business set-up, you may qualify for an American Express charge card as a sole proprietor.

Why choose a charge card over a credit card?

If you’re curious about the benefits of a charge card over a traditional credit card, some of them really depend on how you use credit cards. If you’re someone who always pays your balance in full each month and never carries a balance, you may not even notice a difference between the two since you pay your balance regardless. If you typically fall behind on regular bills and need to carry a balance from time to time, on the other hand, a traditional credit card will come with more flexibility, albeit along with a pricey APR.

Also note that charge cards don’t have a preset spending limit. This can make them highly advantageous if you have large random expenses and like to pay with plastic for rewards or convenience. A traditional credit card, on the other hand, comes with a spending limit that can be inconvenient or even unworkable during months where your spending is higher than normal.

At the end of the day, charge cards and credit cards can help you reach your goals and earn rewards. But they both have pros and cons, so make sure to compare all your options before you decide which new card will work best.