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Updated July 11, 2016

American Express Plum Card Review: Is $250 Worth It?

Read more about The Plum Card® from American Express OPEN, a CreditDonkey advertiser
Editorial Note: This content is not provided by the card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer.
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Is the Plum Card® from American Express OPEN worth the $250 annual fee? Read on to see how this card can help business owners manage cash flow.

American Express Plum Card
Apply Now

Overall Score

4.8

Rewards

5.0

Interest Rates

5.0

Fees

4.0

Benefits

5.0
5-point scale (the higher, the better)

Pros and Cons

  • 1.5% discount for paying early
  • No pre-set spending limit
  • $250 annual fee

Bottom Line

Flexible business charge card to help manage cash flow

You know how important cash flow is. A business cannot survive without healthy cash flow.

Yet many business credit cards and charge cards only tout their rewards rate and ignore the harsh realities many small business owners face: that you don't get paid every 2 weeks.

Running a business is unpredictable. One month you may be flush with cash and another month you may worry how you'll pay your bills. With the Plum Card, you can take up to 60 days to pay without incurring interest charges, as long as you pay at least your minimum due.

And if you hit a good spell? You can get rewarded for paying your bill early.

Smoothing out cash flow is a big issue for many business owners, and that is where the Plum card can help with the ebbs and flows.

INFORMATION: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

The Plum Card from American Express OPEN puts a spin on the traditional business charge card. Instead of earning points for your purchases, you can pick up a discount just for paying your bill early each month.

  • Paying early pays off: Get a 1.5% discount when you pay early, with no cap on what you can earn back.
  • Take up to 60 days to pay with no interest, if you pay your minimum due.
  • Use the power of the Plum Card to buy big for your business.
  • Unlock new opportunities with a spending limit that can grow with your business.
  • Additional Employee Cards at no annual fee - and an early pay discount on employee spending.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Introductory annual fee of $0 for the first year, then $250
  • Terms & Restrictions Apply. See Rates & Fees

But it's not for every business owner. One potential downside is the $250 annual fee (introductory annual fee of $0 for the first year), so we're taking an in-depth look at the card's pros and cons to help you decide if it's worth the expense. We also explore similar cards that could be a good fit.

How the AMEX Plum card works and who it's good for

© CreditDonkey

The Plum card is not a typical rewards card. You won't get extra cash back for spending in certain categories or earn airline miles for travel. Instead, where the Plum card shines is in its flexibility in payment options for small businesses.

There are two main features of this card:

  • Deferred payment:
    This card understands that sometimes businesses may not have consistent cash flow from month to month, and so does not penalize you if you need extra time to pay. You can take up to 60 days to get your payment in without accruing interest charges. To qualify, you'd need to pay at least 10% of the balance initially and then pay the remainder by the payment due date on your next statement.

    On the other hand, if you are able to pay your bill in full early, you get a nice little reward:

  • 1.5% discount for paying early:
    If you get your payment in ahead of schedule (within 10 days of your statement closing date), you'll earn 1.5% back on your purchases, with no cap on how much you can earn. This 1.5% discount will show up as a statement credit on the next bill. This can translate into significant savings.

    For example: if you currently average $5,000 in monthly expenses, you could save $75 a month with the Plum Card simply by paying early. This adds up to $900 a year, far more than the $250 annual fee.

So is the Plum card a good choice for businesses?

To break even on the annual fee, your business would have to spend roughly $1,400 a month on the card (or $17,000 a year), AND pay off each monthly bill early in order to receive the 1.5% discount. If you're just looking for cash back or travel rewards, there are business cards out there with a higher reward rate in specific categories.

However, don't forget about the Plum card's generous deferred payment plan. We think this is where the real value lies. The ability to take up to 60 days to pay without interest (as long as you pay your minimum due) is invaluable for businesses whose cash flow varies from month-to-month and may not be able to pay in full each month.

10 MORE REASONS TO CHOOSE THIS CARD

© Mark Hunter (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

With flexible payment options and a unique discount for prompt payment, the Plum card already makes a tempting offer. But the benefits don't stop there. Here are 10 more things to like about the card.

  1. No foreign transaction fee: Unlike some business rewards cards on the market, the Plum card doesn't come with any foreign transaction fees. This also makes the Plum card a great one for businesses that send their employees overseas.

  2. Employee cards: Adding on employees to your charge account can get expensive if you're paying multiple annual fees. Fortunately, employee Plum cards are available at no additional annual fee.

  3. Flexible spending: The Plum card doesn't have a pre-set spending limit, which means your credit line can grow along with your business. That's an advantage if you're planning a major purchase down the line.

  4. Multiple travel protections: Aside from paying no foreign transaction fees, travelers also enjoy complimentary car rental insurance, baggage insurance, travel accident insurance, and travel assistance. Terms and limitations apply.

  5. Extended warranty coverage: For businesses with a hefty amount of regular equipment purchases, the extended warranty program offered with the Plum card can come in handy if you run into a problem after the manufacturer's warranty expires. Exclusions apply.

  6. Purchase and return protection: Eligible purchases are covered against theft and accidental damage, up to $1,000 per occurrence in the first 90 days after purchase. If you need to return something but the merchant won't take it back, you also have a 90-day period to receive refunds for eligible purchases, up to $1,000. Exclusions apply; see terms and conditions for details.

  7. Smart chip: The Plum card is equipped with an EMV smart chip, which is designed to make your transactions safer from would-be identity thieves.

  8. OPEN Savings access: Members are eligible to save even more on their purchases through the OPEN Savings program. When you make purchases at selected partners (such as FedEx or Hertz) with your Plum card, you'll score a 5% discount on the things you buy.

  9. Expense tracking tools: OPEN members are also eligible to download the ReceiptMatch app and the Sync with QuickBooks feature, which make tracking business expenses and organizing receipts a breeze.

  10. Entertainment access: If part of your business routine involves entertaining clients, make sure you purchase event tickets with your Plum card. Members can take advantage of exclusive presales for sought-after events.

3 REASONS TO LOOK FOR A DIFFERENT CARD

While the Plum card has lots of positives, it's not going to be perfect for every business owner. In fact, there are a few good reasons why you might want to check out another card instead.

  • You want rewards: Earning 1.5% back just for paying your bill early is appealing, but you could be potentially earning even more by choosing a different card with a different rewards rate for specific categories. If your focus is on saving your business money, choosing a card with a more-inclusive rewards structure could be the right move.

  • Your business is relatively new: The Plum card is marketed towards established businesses that already have a solid credit profile.

  • You carry a balance longer than 60 days from time to time: If you need to be able to stretch out your payments for purchases occasionally, the Plum card isn't for you. While you do have that 60-day window to pay without interest (assuming you pay at least the minimum payment due, which is 10%), sometimes your business needs more time. If so, take a look at how these business credit cards compare.

HOW AMEX PLUM COMPARES

One thing you don't want to do when choosing a business rewards card is overlook the competition. To make things easier, we've compared the Plum card to two other American Express business card offerings.

Plum Card vs Gold Rewards

If you're a focused spender:
Business Gold Rewards Card Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN: The Plum card is good if you use credit to cover all of your business expenses. If your spending is concentrated in certain areas and you want to earn rewards, we suggest you consider the Business Gold Rewards card.

Members earn 3 points per $1 in 1 category of their choice: airfare, advertising, gas, shipping, or technology purchases (see our in-depth Business Gold Rewards card review for category definitions). You also earn double points on the other 4 categories in purchases annually. The triple points and double points apply to the first $100,000 in purchases in each of the 5 categories per year. The card pays 1 point per $1 on purchases over the annual limit or outside the five bonus categories. Finally, there's a 50,000-point bonus available if you spend $5,000 on the card within the first three months of card membership.

In terms of the annual fee, you'll pay $175 versus Plum's $250, and it's waived for the first year.

 

American Express Plum Card

Business Gold Rewards Card

Annual Fee$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $250$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $175
See Rates & FeesSee Rates & Fees
Points Deal Introductory Bonus Reward Points: Welcome Offer: Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $5,000 in purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership
Points Point Rewards: Get 3x points - Choose 1 out of 5 categories. 2X points on the 4 remaining categories and 1X points on other purchases. 3X and 2X apply to the first $100,000 in purchases in each of the 5 categories per year, 1X point per dollar thereafter
DiscountDiscount: Get a 1.5% discount when you pay early or take up to 60 days to pay without interest (if you pay your minimum due).

The OPEN Savings benefit is built into Business Cards from American Express OPEN and provides either a 5% discount or 2 additional Membership Rewards® points (if your card is enrolled in the Membership Rewards program) for each eligible dollar spent at OPEN Savings merchants. Terms and limitations apply.
Discount: The OPEN Savings benefit is built into Business Cards from American Express OPEN and provides either a 5% discount or 2 additional Membership Rewards® points for each eligible dollar spent at OPEN Savings merchants. Terms and limitations apply.
Airline Transfer Partners Airline Transfer Partners: Airline transfer partners include Delta, Hawaiian Airlines, Aeromexico, Air Canada, Air France, Emirates, Cathay Pacific (Asia Miles), Virgin Atlantic, Singapore Airlines, Etihad, Alitalia, All Nippon Airways and more.

Plum Card vs Platinum Card

If you travel frequently and want travel perks:
Enhanced Business Platinum The Enhanced Business Platinum Card from American Express: The card offers complimentary access to over 1,000 airport lounges worldwide, up to a $200 annual statement credit for airline fees (at one airline), companion tickets when you book an eligible first or business class ticket aboard international flights, and access to 24/7 concierge service. The card also has no foreign transaction fees.

The card's biggest downside is the annual fee, which comes to $450, but frequent business travelers should see if the various premium benefits could justify the annual fee.

 

American Express Plum Card

Enhanced Business Platinum

Annual Fee$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $250$450 annual fee
See Rates & FeesSee Rates & Fees
Points Deal Introductory Bonus Reward Points: Welcome Offer: Earn up to 75,000 Membership Rewards® points.
Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 25,000 points after you spend an additional $10,000 all on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership.
Travel 
Airline Airline Rewards: Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights on amextravel.com.
Hotel Hotel Rewards: Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on prepaid hotels on amextravel.com.
Points Point Rewards: Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That’s 1.5 points per dollar, on each qualifying purchase of $5,000 or more. You can get up to 1 million additional points per year.
Airline Status Airline Status: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year on a selected airline for incidentals such as baggage fees, lounge day passes, and more.
Access to 5 airport lounge networks including The Centurion® lounge network, The International American Express lounges, Delta Sky Club® lounges, Priority Pass(TM) Select, and Airspace Lounge. Enrollment required for Priority Pass Select.
Hotel Status Hotel Status: Enroll for complimentary SPG Gold Status (Starwood Preferred Guest Gold Preferred Guest).
Enroll for complimentary Hilton Honors Gold Status.

Fine Hotels & Resorts - book your stay through American Express FHR at one of 600 luxury hotels and you may get a room upgrade upon arrival, daily continental breakfast for 2, guaranteed 4pm late checkout and a special amenity unique to each property.
DiscountDiscount: Get a 1.5% discount when you pay early or take up to 60 days to pay without interest (if you pay your minimum due).

The OPEN Savings benefit is built into Business Cards from American Express OPEN and provides either a 5% discount or 2 additional Membership Rewards® points (if your card is enrolled in the Membership Rewards program) for each eligible dollar spent at OPEN Savings merchants. Terms and limitations apply.
Discount: The OPEN Savings benefit is built into Business Cards from American Express OPEN and provides either a 5% discount or 2 additional Membership Rewards® points for each eligible dollar spent at OPEN Savings merchants. Terms and limitations apply.
Airline Transfer Partners Airline Transfer Partners: Airline transfer partners include Delta, Hawaiian Airlines, Aeromexico, Air Canada, Air France, Emirates, Cathay Pacific (Asia Miles), Virgin Atlantic, Singapore Airlines, Etihad, Alitalia, All Nippon Airways and more.

AMEX Plum vs Chase Ink

If you want to earn cash back with no annual fee:
Not all merchants take American Express. Sometimes you need a Visa or MasterCard. The Chase Ink Business Cash offers wide acceptance, cash back rewards, the ability to pay over time (since it's a credit card), and no annual fee. Here is how they compare side-by-side.

 

American Express Plum Card

Ink Business Cash

 

Interest Rates and Fees

Introductory APR for PurchasesN/A0% introductory APR for 12 months
Introductory APR for Balance TransfersN/A0% introductory APR for 12 months
Purchase APRN/A13.99% to 19.99% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factors
Balance Transfers APRN/A13.99% to 19.99% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factors
Annual Fee$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $250$0 annual fee
See Rates & Fees 
 

Benefits and Features

Cash Back Deal Introductory Bonus Cash Back: Earn $300 bonus cash back when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
Cash Back Cash Back Rewards: Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services each account anniversary year.
Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year.
Unlimited 1% cash back on all other card purchases.
Gas Gas Rewards: Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year.
Restaurant Dining Rewards: Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year.
DiscountDiscount: Get a 1.5% discount when you pay early or take up to 60 days to pay without interest (if you pay your minimum due).

The OPEN Savings benefit is built into Business Cards from American Express OPEN and provides either a 5% discount or 2 additional Membership Rewards® points (if your card is enrolled in the Membership Rewards program) for each eligible dollar spent at OPEN Savings merchants. Terms and limitations apply.
 

Ink Business Cash: Pricing information including interest rates, benefits and fees were obtained on April 13, 2017 from published websites and are believed to be accurate, but not guaranteed.

Disclaimer: The information for the Ink Business Cash Credit Card has been collected independently by CreditDonkey. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

BOTTOM LINE

To recap, here are the pros and cons when considering the AMEX Plum card:

Pros:

  • 1.5% discount for paying your bill early
  • Deferred payment option up to 60 days if you pay your minimum due
  • No foreign transaction fee

Cons:

  • No bonus rewards categories
  • $250 annual fee (waived for the first year)

Here's our opinion: the Plum card is good for established businesses who may not have consistent cash flow from month to month. The deferred payment option will give you a nice breather to pay later without interest. However, keep in mind that in order to justify the $250 annual fee, you'll have to pay early for at least $17,000 worth of bills per year. This may be problematic for smaller businesses. Analyzing your current spending patterns can tell you whether you stand to gain or lose by opening a Plum account.

However, if your business always pays a bill off in full each month, you would have no need for the deferred payment option. In this case, you would be better rewarded with a different business card with a higher reward rate.

Terms and limitations apply.

Next Step: View the issuer's official application, terms, and details

Meghan C is a contributing writer at CreditDonkey, a credit card comparison and financial education website. Write to Meghan C at meghan@creditdonkey.com. Our data-driven analysis has been recognized by major news outlets across the country and has helped consumers make savvy financial and lifestyle decisions. (read more)

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by American Express. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express. This site may be compensated through the Advertiser's affiliate programs.

Disclaimer: This content was first published on August 17, 2011. This content may have been updated on July 11, 2016. Information including APR, terms and benefits may vary, be out of date, or not applicable to you. Information is provided without warranty. Please check American Express website for updated information.

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. This site may be compensated through the Advertiser's affiliate programs.

Disclaimer: The information for the Ink Business Cash Credit Card has been collected independently by CreditDonkey. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

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AMEX Business Platinum Review


AMEX Business Gold Rewards Review

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More Articles in Reviews

The Plum Card from American Express OPEN
Apply for The Plum Card from American Express OPEN
At American Express' Secure Site
  • Paying early pays off: Get a 1.5% discount when you pay early, with no cap on what you can earn back.
  • Take up to 60 days to pay with no interest, if you pay your minimum due.
  • Use the power of the Plum Card to buy big for your business.
  • Unlock new opportunities with a spending limit that can grow with your business.
  • Additional Employee Cards at no annual fee - and an early pay discount on employee spending.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Introductory annual fee of $0 for the first year, then $250
  • Terms & Restrictions Apply. See Rates & Fees
  • Go to issuer's official application, terms, and details
No Pre-Set Spending LimitDiscountCar Rental InsuranceExtended WarrantyPurchase ProtectionReturn ProtectionBaggage Insurance$0 Fraud LiabilityIdentity Theft Assistance Roadside Assistance
Card TypeAnnual Fee
Business Charge Card
$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $250

Compare American Express Plum Card to:

Compare American Express Plum Card vs Enhanced Business Platinum
Apply for The Enhanced Business Platinum Card from American Express
At American Express' Secure Site
  • Welcome Offer: Earn up to 75,000 Membership Rewards® points.
  • Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 25,000 points after you spend an additional $10,000 all on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • New: Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com.
  • Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That's 1.5 points per dollar, on each qualifying purchase of $5,000 or more. You can get up to 1 million additional points per year.
  • You can enjoy access to The American Express Global Lounge Collection℠ offering access to the most lounges across the globe, when compared with other U.S. credit card offerings. As of 11/2016
  • Terms Apply
  • See Rates & Fees
Introductory Bonus Reward PointsTravel RewardsAirline RewardsHotel RewardsPoint RewardsNo Limits on RewardsNo Pre-Set Spending LimitConciergeDiscount Car Rental InsuranceExtended WarrantyPurchase ProtectionReturn ProtectionBaggage InsuranceTravel Accident Insurance$0 Fraud LiabilityEmergency Card ReplacementIdentity Theft Assistance Roadside Assistance
Card TypeAnnual Fee
Business Charge Card
$450

Compare American Express Plum Card vs Business Gold Rewards Card
Apply for The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN
At American Express' Secure Site
  • Welcome Offer: Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $5,000 in purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership
  • Get 3x points - Choose 1 out of 5 categories
  • Plus, 2X points on the 4 remaining categories and 1X points on other purchases
  • 3X and 2X apply to the first $100,000 in purchases in each of the 5 categories per year, 1X point per dollar thereafter
  • Track, organize, and stay on top of your business expenses with powerful expense-tracking tools
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $175
  • Terms and limitations apply
  • See Rates & Fees
Introductory Bonus Reward PointsPoint RewardsNo Expiration on RewardsNo Pre-Set Spending LimitDiscountEventsCar Rental InsuranceExtended WarrantyPurchase Protection Return ProtectionBaggage Insurance$0 Fraud LiabilityEmergency AssistanceEmergency Card ReplacementIdentity Theft AssistanceRoadside Assistance
Card TypeAnnual Fee
Business Charge Card
$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $175

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