Best American Express cards with a flexible spending limit

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 purchases you charge will need to be repaid when your credit card bill comes due.

In recent years, American Express was a go-to issuer for the best charge cards. However, Amex’s decision to expand the Pay Over Time and Pay It Plan It alternative payment programs to these cards in 2020 means 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 the benefits of credit cards, including the convenience factor and the potential to earn rewards on all your spending, upgrading to a card with a flexible spending limit truly makes sense. Just remember that you’ll have a lot less flexibility in terms of repayment.

Best American Express 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 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 with your new card within the first six months
  • Earning rate: 4X Membership Rewards points at restaurants
    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 $120 each year in Uber Cash cash for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders
    Up to $120 in dining credits each year via  for participating restaurant purchases
    Up to 12 months of complimentary Uber Eats Pass, worth up to $119 annually (must enroll by Dec. 31, 2021)
  • Annual fee: $250

The Platinum Card® from American Express

  • Welcome bonus: 100,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $6,000 on your card within six months
    10X points on up to $25,000 of combined eligible restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S. for the first six months
  • Earning rate: 5X Membership Rewards points for flights booked with airlines or through American Express Travel and for prepaid hotels booked through American Express Travel
  • Other perks: Up to $200 in airline fee credits each year
    Up to $200 each year in Uber Cash cash for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders, plus complimentary Uber VIP status
    Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
    Up to $300 in Equinox fitness membership credits (up to $25 per month) toward eligible in-club or digital membership  fees
    Up to $240 each year in digital entertainment credits (up to $20 in total statement credits per month) toward eligible subscriptions (Enrollment required)
    American Express Global Lounge Collection airport lounge access
    Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status and Hilton Honors Gold Status
  • Annual fee: $695 (effective Jan. 1, 2022, for existing cardholders)

American Express® Green Card

  • 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 cards with no preset spending limit for business

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 with your Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Earning rate: 5X points on airfare and prepaid hotels booked through amextravel.com
    2X points on prepaid rental cars booked through AmexTravel.com
    1.5X Membership Rewards® points on eligible purchases in key business categories, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else (Up to $2 million
    of these purchases per calendar year ).
  • Other perks: Up to $200 annual airline fee credit
    -Up to $179 in annual statement credits toward your CLEAR membership for expedited airport security screening (starting July 1, 2021)
    -Up to $400 in credits for Dell (Get up to $200 in statement credits between January and June and up to $200 in statement credits between July and December for U.S. purchases with Dell Technologies on your Business Platinum Card when enrolled).
  • American Express Global Lounge Collection airport lounge access
  • 35 percent airline bonus via pay with points (up to 500,000 bonus points per year)
    Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status and Hilton Honors Gold Status
  • Annual fee: $595 ($695 if application is received on or after 01/13/2022)

American Express® Business Gold Card

  • Welcome bonus: 70,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Gold Card within the first three months of Card Membership
  • Earning 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
  • Other perks: 25 percent airline bonus (up to 250,000 bonus points per year)
  • Annual fee: $295

The Plum Card® from American Express

  • Welcome bonus: n/a
  • Earning rate: Earn an unlimited 1.5 percent discount when you pay within 10 days
  • Other perks: Take up to 60 days to pay
  • Annual fee: $250

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
  • Other perks: Free employee cards
  • Annual fee: $0 the first year; then $95

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.

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 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 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, 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 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 the American Express cards above that offer the most perks tend to pose 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 perks.
  • Personal or business: American Express 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 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, 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.

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 also means that charge cards don’t have an annual percentage rate (APR) and they don’t have a minimum payment amount.

Charge cards 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 also don’t have fixed spending limits and must be paid in full each month, telling them apart from traditional charge cards can be tricky. 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 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 with the American Express mobile app, and Plan It allows you to set aside 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.

Why should you choose a charge card over a credit card?

A charge card can make sense if you like the rewards, perks and purchasing power you receive in exchange for the annual fee you’ll pay. Before you sign up for a charge card, however, you should make sure you plan 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 credit card instead.