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The Plum Card® from American Express – Review


American Express Business Plum Card

Our rating

3.9/5

The Plum Card® from American Express

  • Rewards: 1.5% cash back when on balances paid within 10 days of statement closing date, with no limit
  • Benefits: No interest or fees for 60 days after statement closing date
  • Annual Fee: $250
  • Other Fees: No foreign transaction fee
  • Credit Needed: Good/Excellent
  • Terms and conditions apply – see rates and fees

The Plum Card® from American Express is a small business card with a $250 annual fee. Unlike most American Express cards, it doesn’t have a spend-based welcome offer, nor does it share in the company’s Membership Rewards point program.

However, it does offer unlimited 1.5% cash back on all balances paid early, a potentially huge benefit for higher-spending businesses.

Intrigued? Here’s what you need to know about the Amex Plum Card.

The Plum Card From American Express: Cash Back for Early Payment & Flexibility to Carry Balances

The Plum Card has two unusual features that really help it stand out from other business cards. They’ve been around for many years at this point, suggesting Amex is onto something (and that core Plum users appreciate the card).

1.5% Cash Back for Early Payment

First, the unlimited 1.5% cash-back reward for early payment. Amex defines “early” as within 10 days of your statement closing date. You’ll qualify for the 1.5% reward as long as you make your minimum payment — that’s 10% of new activity during the statement period, plus any balance from previous statement periods.

Amex tracks your cash back and applies it to your next statement balance with no action required on your part. You don’t have to worry about cash-back categories (because there are none) and there’s no cap on how much cash back you can earn.

Flexibility to Carry Balances for 60 Days

You also have the flexibility to carry balances above the minimum payment amount for 60 days beyond each statement due date with no interest, late charges, or risk of account closure. However, failure to pay your balance in full beyond the 60-day limit could result in reduced spending limits or account closure.

Again, you do have to pay the minimum payment to qualify for this benefit. But you don’t have to track anything on your end — just make sure you pay your bill in full before the 60-day period is up.

Key Features of the Plum Card

These are the key features of the American Express Plum Card.

Cash Back for Early Repayment

For what it’s worth, Plum tweaked this benefit a while back. For years, it functioned as a 1.5% discount off your statement balance, rather than “cash back” as such. At some point, it must have become clear that “cash back” sounded better than “discount,” even though it described the same thing, and the language changed.

Here’s an example of how this benefit works in the real world.

Let’s say you rack up $3,000 in new charges during the current statement period. You then make a $1,500 payment within 10 days of the closing date. You get $22.50 cash back (1.5% of $1,500) applied as a statement credit to your next statement balance. You don’t get anything for the unpaid remainder ($1,500) because you didn’t pay that off within 10 days of the closing date.

Not that you can’t extract any value from that balance. As long as you pay it off in full within 60 days of statement closing, you won’t pay interest or fees on it.

Important Fees

A quick rundown of the Plum Card’s key fees:

  • The annual fee is $250.
  • There is no foreign transaction fee.
  • Late payments, which American Express defines as balances left unpaid for more than 2 consecutive statement cycles (60 days), cost $39 or 2.99% of the late balance – whichever is greater.
  • Returned payments cost $39.

For rates and fees of The Plum Card from American Express, please see this rates and fees page.

Additional Business Benefits

The Plum Card features many business-friendly benefits, including adjustable spending limits on employee cards, expense tagging and tracking, and digital receipt storage.

Credit Required

This card requires good to excellent credit. It’s also meant for business owners with ample cash flow, so if you’re just starting out and can’t demonstrate adequate revenues, you likely won’t qualify for this card.

Advantages of the Plum Card

Why consider the Plum Card? These are its biggest advantages.

  • Flexible Repayment Option. The Plum Card’s flexible repayment option sets it apart from most other cards, including its fellow color-coded Amex business cards. It’s great for companies with unpredictable revenues or expenses – such as seasonal businesses, a key marketing target for this card. Unlike most other cards, the Plum Card doesn’t charge interest or fees for 60 days after the statement closing date, as long as you pay at least 10% plus previously carried balances by the due date. That’s a big plus if you need a little extra time to pay your balance in full.
  • Discount for Early Payment. The early payment reward effectively functions as a 1.5% cash back bonus, a solid rate of return for any business rewards card. By contrast, Amex Business Platinum‘s Membership Rewards program has an effective 1% rate of return.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fee. The Plum Card doesn’t have a foreign transaction fee, which is nice for cardmembers whose business takes them outside the United States. Many competing business cards have foreign transaction fees as high as 3%, depending on currency denomination.
  • No Complicated Rewards System. The Plum Card’s early repayment reward is about as simple as card rewards get. If you pay part or all of your balance within 10 days of statement closing, you effectively get 1.5% cash back on that amount. By contrast, many other Amex business cards use the somewhat confusing Membership Rewards program, which features variable point values, variable minimum redemption requirements, and limits to what you can redeem for.

Disadvantages of the Plum Card

These are the biggest downsides of the Plum Card. Review them carefully and decide whether any give you pause.

  • High Annual Fee. The Plum Card comes with a $250 annual fee. That’s higher than many popular business cards, such as Capital One Spark Miles and Chase Ink Business Preferred. It’s not clear that the core benefits (the 1.5% cash back for early payment and 60-day balance-carrying flexibility) really justify this cost for lower-spending businesses.
  • No Welcome Offer. The Plum Card doesn’t have a spend-based welcome offer. That’s unusual for business cards with high annual fees.
  • No Rewards Beyond Early Repayment Benefit. Unlike most other American Express business cards, as well as many business cards issued by other companies, Plum doesn’t earn rewards or cash back points beyond the on-time repayment deal. Other Amex business cards earn 1 to 3 Membership Rewards points per $1 spent on some or all purchases, while some business cash back cards, such as Capital One Spark Cash Plus for Business, earn as much as 2% cash back across the board.
  • Potential for Lower Spending Limit. American Express often sets spending limits – as low as $5,000, in some cases – for Plum customers after relatively short active periods. This is likely due to the fact that Amex markets the Plum Card to seasonal businesses and companies with less predictable revenue streams. However, it can be frustrating for customers who expect to have more freedom to spend. American Express is much less restrictive with its other cards on this front.

How the Plum Card Stacks Up

Before you move ahead and apply for the Plum Card, see how it compares to another popular business credit card that earns rewards: Capital One Spark Cash Plus for Business.

The Plum CardSpark Cash Plus
Rewards1.5% back on balances paid within 10 days of closing2% back on most eligible purchases
Payment FlexibilityCarry a balance for up to 60 days with no interest or feesPay in full, with possible exceptions
Annual Spend BonusNoYes, $200 annual cash-back bonus when you spend over $200k in a year
Annual Fee$250$150

Final Word

The Plum Card® from American Express is somewhat unusual. With no regular interest charges and a more flexible repayment schedule, it’s a great business card for entrepreneurs looking to keep their options opens. And it incorporates an incentive – the 1.5% early repayment reward – for an action that most card issuers expect of their customers as a matter of course.

The Plum Card’s strengths appeal to businesses with unpredictable cash flows, especially those affected by seasonality, such as retailers in vacation towns. At the same time, it’s not for everyone. Before you apply for this card, make sure you understand its limitations.

For rates and fees of The Plum Card from American Express, please see this rates and fees page.

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Brian Martucci writes about credit cards, banking, insurance, travel, and more. When he's not investigating time- and money-saving strategies for Money Crashers readers, you can find him exploring his favorite trails or sampling a new cuisine. Reach him on Twitter @Brian_Martucci.
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