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The Plenti® Credit Card from Amex (a Money Crashers partner) is a no-annual-fee credit card that leverages a slightly unorthodox rewards program known as Plenti, which is also overseen by American Express. Through this program cardholders earn 3 Plenti points at the supermarket, 2 Plenti points at restaurants, and 1 Plenti point everywhere else. Once you’ve accumulated enough, you can redeem your Plenti points for discounts at a number of popular U.S. merchants.
To receive the Plenti Card, you need to complete a card application as well as a separate application for the Plenti program. It’s important to note that you can join the Plenti program for free and accumulate Plenti rewards without applying for the Plenti Card. However, non-cardholders only earn Plenti points at select retailers and merchants, including Rite Aid drugstores, Macy’s department stores, Exxon and Mobil gas stations, the Hulu video streaming service, and Nationwide Insurance. The Plenti Card from American Express dramatically accelerates participants’ points-earning power and shortens their average time to redemption.
The Plenti Card directly competes with other rewards credit cards, including AmEx EveryDay and AmEx EveryDay Preferred. It’s also comparable to more traditional cash back rewards credit cards, such as Chase Freedom and Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card, and to popular gas credit cards, such as PenFed Platinum CashRewards Visa. Compared to many other rewards cards, particularly those with more generous and comprehensive rewards programs, Plenti has relatively loose qualification requirements. You don’t have to have stellar credit to get this card.
If you spend at least $250 within 3 months of opening your account, you get 5,000 bonus Plenti points. That’s worth up to $50 when redeemed for discounts at participating merchants.
The Plenti Card earns 3 Plenti points per $1 spent at supermarkets, up to an annual spending cap of $6,000. Once you pass the cap, additional supermarket purchases earn 1 point per $1. Restaurant purchases earn 2 points per $1, with no caps or restrictions. All other purchases earn 1 point per $1, also with no restrictions.
If you use your Plenti Card with merchants that already participate in the Plenti program, such as Rite Aid and Macy’s, you earn 1 base point per $1 and any additional points as per the terms of Plenti’s agreement with that merchant – for instance, 2 additional points at AT&T stores.
Once you earn at least 200 points, you can redeem for discounts at (and only at) AT&T company stores, Rite Aid, Macy’s, and Exxon and Mobil gas stations. Points are usually worth $0.01 at redemption, though occasional special offers can push their value higher at specific partners.
Keep in mind that not every Plenti earning partner is a redemption partner – for instance, Hulu and Nationwide don’t let you redeem points for discounts.
Transferring Membership Rewards Points to Plenti Account
The Plenti program allows you to transfer unused American Express Membership Rewards points, which you can earn with American Express cards such as AmEx EveryDay and EveryDay Preferred, to your Plenti account.
When transferred, 1 Membership Rewards point is equal to 0.8 Plenti point. The transfer minimum is 500 Membership Rewards points, equivalent to 400 Plenti points. Note that this is a one-way deal – you can’t transfer Plenti points to your Membership Rewards account, if you have one.
The Plenti Card comes with a 12-month 0% purchase APR. Note that this promotional rate doesn’t include balance transfers, which accrue regular interest charges from day one.
There is no annual fee for this card. Foreign transactions cost 2.7% of the total transaction amount, balance transfers and cash advances both cost the greater of $5 or 3%, and late and returned payments both cost up to $38.
This card requires excellent credit.
- No Annual Fee. The Plenti Card from American Express doesn’t carry an annual fee. That’s a big plus relative to its popular stablemate, American Express Blue Cash Preferred, which carries a $95 annual fee, and American Express EveryDay Preferred, which has a $95 annual fee.
- Attainable Welcome Offer. Plenti’s welcome offer is worth $50 on the high end, which isn’t particularly generous. However, with just $250 in required spending over 3 months, it’s one of the most attainable welcome offers in the rewards credit card game. You need to spend $1,000 within 3 months to earn American Express Blue Cash Everyday‘s $250 offer.
- Redeemable for Discounts on Purchases You’d Make Anyway. Plenti points are redeemable for savings with merchants you’d probably spend money with anyway: drugstores, gas stations, and department stores. Although the limited number of redemption merchants can be seen as a constraint on your ability to redeem points in the manner of your choosing, this discount model can also be a blessing: It removes the temptation to redeem accumulated rewards points – which you’ve spent money to obtain – for merchandise and experiences for which you wouldn’t normally part with cold, hard cash. Plenti steers you away from that fancy blender you’re probably never going to use and toward a $10 discount on your next fill-up. Chase’s Ultimate Rewards and American Express’s Membership Rewards both do the opposite.
- Membership Rewards Points Transfer. You can convert existing Membership Rewards points to Plenti points at a 0.8 conversion rate: Each Membership Rewards point translates to 0.8 Plenti points. This is a nice benefit for Membership Rewards users who don’t plan on redeeming their accumulated points for general merchandise, transportation, or any other non-cash item in the Membership Rewards MarketPlace. That’s because, even though Membership Rewards points lose some value during the conversion to Plenti points, the converted points still have greater value than Membership Rewards points redeemed for statement credits ($0.008 compared with $0.006). In other words, Plenti can help you squeeze more mileage out of Amex’s Membership Rewards program if the MarketPlace items don’t interest you.
- 0% Introductory Purchase APR for 12 Months. The intro purchase APR period is a nice perk for Plenti Card holders. It’s longer than Capital One Quicksilver’s, which only lasts for a limited time.
- Don’t Need Stellar Credit to Qualify. Though the Plenti Card isn’t billed as a card for rebuilding credit, nor for those with nonexistent credit histories, it’s definitely easier to qualify for than many other rewards credit cards. If you’re in the market for your first rewards card, the Plenti Card is worth a hard look. It’s not possible to say that about higher-end rewards cards, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.
- Low Redemption Minimum. You only need 200 Plenti points, equivalent to $2, to redeem for discounts at participating retailers.
- Plenti Points Expire. If you don’t redeem them, Plenti points expire 2 years after they’re earned. That’s a big disadvantage relative to most other rewards cards, which typically don’t take away points as long as cardholders’ accounts remain open or in good standing. For instance, Chase Freedom, American Express Blue Cash Everyday, and American Express EveryDay all have no expiration dates for accumulated points.
- Separate Plenti Sign-up Required. Before you can earn Plenti points with this card, you need to complete a separate sign-up process (in addition to your actual credit card application) for the Plenti program. While approval is basically guaranteed once you finish the application, this is still an annoying, time-consuming step that isn’t necessary for most other credit card cash and merchandise rewards programs.
- Can’t Transfer Plenti Points to Membership Rewards. While it’s a good thing that you can convert Membership Rewards points earned with other American Express credit cards into Plenti points, this benefit isn’t available for people who don’t have existing Membership Rewards accounts. Moreover, it’s a bummer that Plenti Card members can’t convert their Plenti points into Membership Rewards points, which would substantially broaden their redemption options (compared with Plenti’s relatively narrow menu of discount partners).
- Potentially Confusing Rewards Program. The Plenti Card’s point-earning tiers are pretty straightforward. However, with a one-way connection to the Membership Rewards scheme, variable earning rates at each partner merchant, and a system in which some partner merchants don’t allow redemptions for discounts, the Plenti program itself is fairly confusing for people who haven’t previously been exposed to it. If you prefer a straightforward rewards card that sticks to cash rewards or a flat redemption rate, opt for Chase Freedom, Chase Sapphire Preferred, or any number of other choices.
- Charges a Foreign Transaction Fee. The Plenti Card’s 2.7% foreign transaction fee is a drawback for cardholders who routinely travel abroad.
- Has a Penalty APR. The Plenti Card comes with a very high APR – not ideal for people who occasionally miss payments. Many other rewards cards, Capital One Quicksilver and Chase Freedom, don’t have penalty APRs.
The Plenti® Credit Card from Amex is somewhat unique in that it’s tied to a purchase rewards program that doesn’t actually require a credit card. If it pleases you, you can sign up for the Plenti program, earn Plenti points at various merchants and service providers, and redeem your points for discounts at the gas station, drugstore, or department store – all without ever laying your hands on a Plenti-affiliated credit card.
When used responsibly, however, the Plenti Card is a potentially powerful tool that blends the best attributes of a cash back credit card, gas credit card, and general rewards card into one annual-fee-free package. It all comes down to personal preference.