The Plum Card from American Express Review: Is It a Good Option for Your Company?
The Plum Card from American Express is a cash rewards business charge card that gives you cash back based on the number of early payments you make on your balance.
The card is one of 12 different business cards that AmEx offers and the only one among the 12 that calculates rewards based on how much you pay in lieu of how much you spend.
Is the Plum card the best choice for your company? How does it compare to other business credit cards? Those are the two questions that come to the forefront of any discussion about business credit cards.
In this review, we’ll provide the answers to those questions through analysis of what the card offers, comparison to other cards and through the first-hand experiences of business owners like you.
The Plum Card from American Express’ Rewards
You have two ways to earn rewards with this card, both of which are very simple.
First, you can earn up to $600 in cash if you can spend at least $30,000 in the first three months of owning the card. If you pass $10,000 in spending but not $30,000, then you’ll get a $200 cash reward.
If you hit the $30,000 threshold, the card’s fine print says AmEx will give you that money in three separate $200 installments.
Now, keep in mind that any balance transfers or fees related to the card you pay won’t count toward the spending thresholds.
The second way you can earn rewards is by paying off your balance early. If you make a payment prior to the card’s due date, then AmEx will send a credit to your account equal to 1.5% of what you paid. So, if your bill is due on the 15th of the month and you make a $1,000 payment on the 10th, you’ll earn a $15 reward.
There are a few rules about this rewards perk, though:
- Payment must be made within 10 days of the due date
- The credit appears the following statement
- Cash-based purchases don’t get rewards
That last point is an important one, as it excludes transactions like cash advances, traveler’s checks, deposits to gambling accounts and similar transactions.
If you spend $10,000 a month, then the first year you own this card you can earn as much as $2,400 in rewards.
A Quick Word About the Plum Being a Charge Card
This particular credit card is a charge card, which means that the full balance is due each month and there is no set credit limit.
According to an American Express representative with whom we spoke over the phone, the Plum card is different in that you have 60 days to pay off your balance instead of 30.
In the event that you can’t pay off your balance after 60, American Express could bar you from making any new purchases until you can pay the balance down to $0.
This is different than most credit cards you encounter, which will allow you to carry a balance from month to month and have a set credit limit and APR.
The Plum Card from American Express’ Benefits
The Plum gives you two sets of benefits, one of which applies to everyday life and the other which applies to your business spending.
The first set of rewards includes up to four complimentary roadside assistance calls, through which you get basic services for free, up to two gallons of gas and free towing up to 10 miles.
In addition to this, you get return protection on items you buy with the card. This benefit allows you, in some cases, to receive a reimbursement for items that you unsuccessfully try to return to the store or website from which you bought it.
The fine print says the return protection is good for up to 90 days after your purchase and up to $300 per claim, with a $1,000 maximum per year.
The card also provides business tools that focus on tracking your spending as well as letting you transfer your AmEx spending data to QuickBooks.
Pro tip: AmEx will give you up to 99 employee cards for free.
The Plum Card from American Express’ Fees
This card has an annual fee and a late fee contingent on the past-due balance you have.
The annual fee is $250, but AmEx waives it the first year you own the card.
The late fee is $38 or 1.5% of the late balance, whichever is greater. If you go two months without paying off the balance, the fee is $38 or 2.99%, whichever is greater.
For example, if you carry a $5,000 balance for a month, your fee will be $75. If that balance goes beyond two months, the fee is $149.50.
How the Plum Card from American Express Compares to Other Business Credit Cards
The following chart compares the Plum against other business credit cards according to some of the features, rates and rewards that are most important to business owners like you:
|Plum Card from AmEx||Discover it Business||Chase Ink Business Unlimited||Wells Fargo Business Platinum||American Express SimplyCash Plus|
|0% intro APR||None||12 months||12 months||9 months||9 months|
|APR||None||14.74% - 24.74%||14.99% - 20.99%||12.99% - 22.99%||13.99% - 20.99%|
|5 stars||5 stars||3 stars||3 stars||5 stars|
The yearly rewards category in this table assumes that you spend $30,000 a year on your card. At that rate, the rewards you earn with the Plum by paying your bill early is equal to the rewards from the Discover, Chase and Wells Fargo cards because they have 1.5% rewards rates.
The sign-up bonus isn’t as lucrative as those cards if you can’t hit the $30,000 spending requirement. If you can hit that requirement, then the Plum is the better card.
According to research firm J.D. Power, American Express’ customer service is among the best, earning the top rating along with Discover.
The card has no introductory 0% APR offer nor does it have an actual APR. This category is a tricky one because of this. You can avoid all interest charges if you pay off your entire balance every month. If you can’t do that, then the other cards may be the better choice because, while they will charge you interest on balances you carry, they won’t bar you from making purchases as American Express may do.
The main drawback of the card as it relates to competing cards is that it has a steep $250 annual fee.
Based on these comparisons, we believe that the Plum card is a good choice if you have it for one year. After that, the high annual fee cuts into the card’s rewards value and makes it less valuable than the other cards in the chart.
Testimonials from Business Owners Who Use the Plum Card from American Express
We wanted to know how business owners view the card, so we talked with two of them:
Wood said that he enjoys the 60-day cushion he has to pay his balance as well as the card’s cash rewards.
“The delayed payment gives me flexibility in my cashflow, but if I pay early, I can get the cash rewards,” he said.
He told us that the annual fee is what he likes least about the card but that the 60-day repayment period is what motivates him to keep this card instead of switching.
Sweeney said that her favorite part of the card is the cash back she earns. She also praised the fact that American Express is quick to take action on fraud.
As far as the card’s customer service goes, Sweeney is happy.
“I have always had good experience with American Express’ customer service. They are quick to answer questions and if the person with whom I’m speaking doesn’t have an answer, they find someone who does,” she said.
The Final Word: Is The Plum Card from American Express Worth the $250 Annual Fee
All the information we examined about the Plum card tells us that it’s a hard sell because the card’s annual fee is a big drawback considering other cards provide the same level or rewards without the annual fee.
We do see this card making sense for someone who only uses American Express cards and wants a charge card that offers a little leeway in repayment. However, even then, we believe the SimplyCash Plus may be a better choice because it’s not a charge card and the rewards you earn, while lower than the Plum, end up benefitting you more because the card has no annual fee.
If you want to explore more options, check out our rankings of the best business rewards credit cards of 2018. In it, we do an in-depth analysis of the industry’s leading cards.