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 often let you carry a balance, so whatever purchases you charge will need to be paid in full when your credit card bill arrives.
American Express has often been a go-to issuer for the best charge cards. However, Amex’s decision to expand its Pay Over Time and Pay It Plan It alternative payment programs in 2020 means that premium choices like The Platinum Card® from American Express are no longer considered true “charge cards.” Although you can now carry a balance for certain charges, these Amex cards still offer the same purchasing power with no preset spending limit (more on this later).
If you’re someone who loves credit card benefits—like the convenience factor and the potential to earn rewards on all of your spending—upgrading to a card with a flexible spending limit could make sense for you. Just remember that you’ll have a lot less flexibility in terms of repayment.
Best Amex cards with no preset spending limit for personal use
American Express has some of the best card options for flexible spending among all issuers, and each of these cards lets you earn rewards and enjoy cardholder perks. The following cards are available for individuals:
American Express Gold Card
- Welcome bonus: 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases within the first six months
- Rewards rate: 4X Membership Rewards points at restaurants (including takeout and delivery); 4X points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X) and on Uber Eats purchases; 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines or on AmexTravel.com; 2X points on rental cars booked through AmexTravel.com; 1X points on all other purchases
- Annual fee: $250
The American Express® Gold Card comes with a number of notable perks, including up to $120 each year ($10 per month, expires at the end of each month) in Uber Cash for Uber rides or Uber Eats orders and up to $120 in dining credits each year ($10 per month) on eligible Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed and Shake Shack purchases.
The Platinum Card from American Express
- Welcome bonus: 100,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $6,000 on your card within six months
- Rewards rate: 5X points on up to $500,000 spent on directly-booked airfare, flights and prepaid hotels booked through (per calendar year); 2X points on prepaid car rentals through American Express Travel; 1X points on all other purchases
- Annual fee: $695
The Platinum Card from American Express comes with an incredible amount of credits, some of which include: up to $200 in airline fee credits each year; up to $200 each year ($15 per month) in Uber Cash for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders; up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck; up to $240 each year (up to $20 per month) in digital entertainment credits toward eligible subscriptions (enrollment required); premium airport lounge access; and complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status and Hilton Honors Gold Status.
American Express Green Card
- Welcome bonus: 30,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $2,000 on your card within three months
- Rewards rate: 3X points in an expanded travel category (flights, hotels, transit, taxis, rideshare services and tours); 3X points at restaurants worldwide; 2X points on rental cars booked through American Express Travel; 1X points on all other purchases
- Annual fee: $150
With the American Express® Green Card, you’ll get worthwhile perks like up to $100 in LoungeBuddy credits and up to a $100 credit toward a CLEAR® airport security membership.
Best Amex cards with no preset spending limit for business use
The following American Express business cards are available to qualifying small business owners:
The Business Platinum Card from American Express
- Welcome bonus: Earn 120,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases within the first three months
- Rewards rate: 5X points on airfare and prepaid hotels booked through AmexTravel.com; 2X points on prepaid rental cars booked through AmexTravel.com; 1.5X points per dollar spent (on up to $2 million per calendar year) on both purchases of $5,000 or more and on select category purchases (electronics goods, retailers, software, and cloud service providers; construction materials and hardware supplies; shipping providers); 1X points on all other purchases
- Annual fee: $695
Like its personal card counterpart, The Business Platinum Card® from American Express has an impressive selection of credits, such as: up to a $200 annual airline fee credit; up to $189 in annual credits toward a CLEAR® membership; up to $400 in credits on Dell purchases (up to $200 semi-annually); airport lounge access; 35 percent airline bonus via Pay with Points (up to 500,000 bonus points per year); and complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status and Hilton Honors Gold Status.
American Express Business Gold Card
- Welcome bonus: 70,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $10,000 on eligible purchases within the first three months
- Rewards rate: 4X points on up to $150,000 in combined spending each year in two categories your business spends the most in; 2X points on rental cars booked through AmexTravel.com; 1X points on other purchases
- Annual fee: $295
Another option to consider for business use is the American Express® Business Gold Card, which includes notable benefits such as up to $250 in credits for Hotel Collection properties and a 25 percent airline bonus (up to 250,000 bonus points per year) on eligible flights.
The Plum Card from American Express
- Welcome bonus: N/A
- Rewards rate: 1.5 percent discount on the portion of your balance that you pay within 10 days of your account statement closing date
- Annual fee: $250
The Plum Card® from American Express offers 60 days to pay with no interest as long as you pay the minimum amount by the due date. If you’re not interested in earning rewards, the Amex Plum Card could be worth it for its more flexible payment options.
Business Green Rewards Card from American Express
- 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
- Annual fee: $0 the first year; then $95
The main benefit of the Business Green Rewards Card from American Express* is that it’s a part of the American Express Membership Rewards program, which offers flexible points redemptions options, including the ability to transfer points to an Amex hotel or airline transfer partner, which can be a more lucrative points redemption option. It’s also worth mentioning that this card has a lower annual fee of $95 ($0 the first year) and employee cards are free.
How to choose an American Express card with no preset spending limit
Any of the cards listed above could work well for your personal or business needs, 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 one of these premium American Express cards:
- Type of rewards earned. While almost every card on this list earns rewards in the flexible American Express Membership Rewards program, only the Amex Plum card offers cash back. If you want to be able to use rewards for travel or transfers to airline and hotel partners, you’ll definitely want a card that earns American Express Membership Rewards points.
- Cardholder perks. Do you want airport lounge access from a credit card? How about annual credits for incidentals like checked bags and in-flight meals with your favorite airline? While American Express cards with more perks tend to have 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 each card’s fees in terms of its benefits and whether or not you’ll take advantage of those benefits to recoup the annual fee.
- Personal or business? American Express business cards are only good for small business owners or individuals who earn money outside of regular employment. If you don’t have a traditional business setup, you may qualify for an American Express card with no preset spending limit 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 depend on how you use your balance. 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, a traditional credit card will come with more flexibility, albeit 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 when your spending is higher than normal.
Frequently asked questions about charge cards
What is a charge card?
A charge card is a type of card that requires full payment of your balance each month. For that reason, charge cards do not come with preset spending limits. This means that charge cards don’t have an annual percentage rate (APR) and they don’t have a minimum payment amount. Charge cards also typically come with annual fees and are generous in terms of the rewards and cardholder perks they offer.
What’s the difference between a charge card and a credit card?
A charge card requires full payment of your balance each month, thus it doesn’t come with an interest rate or a credit limit. A credit card, on the other hand, comes with a limit on the total balance you can carry. You can also carry debt from one month to the next with a traditional credit card, on which you’re charged interest. Credit cards also come with a minimum payment amount you have to pay each month if you decide not to pay your balance in full.
What’s the difference between Amex cards with no present spending limit and charge cards?
Since cards like The Platinum Card from American Express usually don’t have fixed spending limits and must be paid in full each month, telling them apart from traditional charge cards can be tricky. But the explanation is simpler than you might think: the Pay Over Time and Pay It Plan It features allow you to carry select charges over time instead of paying in full.
Eligible cardmembers can use Pay Over Time to carry a balance and pay interest month to month. Pay It Plan It is another alternative payment program that is available for personal Amex cards (in this case, the Platinum, Gold and Green cards). Pay It allows you to immediately pay off small purchases below $100 and Plan It allows you to break up purchases above $1oo into plans with fixed monthly installment payments. This can be helpful for avoiding interest on large, unexpected purchases, but make sure the plan fees don’t exceed the interest you would’ve normally accrued.
Although American Express cards without defined spending limits operate very similarly to charge cards, the ability to carry over certain charges if need be is a valuable trademark.
The bottom line
At the end of the day, charge cards and credit cards can help you earn rewards and reach your goals. But they both have pros and cons, so make sure to compare all of your options before you decide which new card will work best for you. For example, an Amex charge card can make more sense if you like the rewards, perks and purchasing power you receive in exchange for the annual fee you’ll pay. However, remember to pay your balance in full each month. If you want access to a line of credit you don’t have to repay in full each month, you should opt for a traditional Amex credit card instead.
*The information about the Business Green Rewards Card from American Express has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.