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Making the Most of the American Express Plum Card

April 26, 2018
Business Credit Cards, Credit Cards
Making the Most of the American Express Plum Card
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We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity. Some of the products we feature are from our partners. Here’s how we make money.

The plainer the plastic, the harder it is to maximize. This is particularly true of The Plum Card® from American Express OPEN. If you’re looking for a business charge card with a long 60-day grace period, this is your best — and, well, only — option. But it immediately presents three major obstacles to those trying to squeeze more value out of it:

  1. It has a big annual fee — $0 for the first year, then $250 after that.
  2. There isn’t a welcome offer.
  3. It doesn’t offer rewards, though it does have an early-pay discount.

The Plum Card® from American Express OPEN doesn’t make it easy to come out ahead in savings every year, but you can still make it work for you. Here’s how.

Pay early

“Early is on time, on time is late, and late is unacceptable,” goes a famous saying that could apply to accounts payable. If you have The Plum Card® from American Express OPEN, living by these words could save you hundreds of dollars a year. That’s because the card gives you a 1.5% discount on whatever portion of your balance you pay down within 10 days of your statement closing date — that is, right after you get the bill. You won’t receive a discount on the portion paid after that time.

You can maximize your savings by making early payments your new normal. Unlike other cards, this one gives you up to 60 days to pay without interest, but take advantage of that feature only if you really need it. 

Use your card for big orders

During a busy season, a low credit limit is the bane of a business owner’s existence. Filling large purchase orders might mean bumping up against that maximum, and depending on the card, it could hurt your business credit and personal credit.

With The Plum Card® from American Express OPEN, you don’t have to worry about this, since it’s a charge card. Unlike credit cards, charge cards require debts to be paid in full each billing cycle and generally don’t come with credit limits. As a result, FICO scores won’t use your balance on The Plum Card® from American Express OPEN to calculate your credit utilization ratio, or the percentage of available credit you’re using. As long as you stay current with your payments and manage your other cards carefully, your credit won’t take a hit when you spend heavily on this card.

Travel abroad with your card

If you’re going on an international business trip, The Plum Card® from American Express OPEN is a good card to keep in your wallet. Like all the best travel cards, it doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee. Its flat-rate discount can also help you save more overseas than you might with a tiered rewards card.

Just remember that not every merchant overseas accepts American Express. The Plum Card® from American Express OPEN can still be your No. 1 card abroad, but make sure you have a backup method of payment. 

Enroll for OPEN Savings

Like all American Express business credit cards, The Plum Card® from American Express OPEN offers access to AmEx OPEN Savings. This gets you deals with certain merchants, such as FedEx or Hertz, the car rental company.

When you make purchases through OPEN Savings, you have two options: You can get 2 points per dollar spent (worth 1 cent each when redeemed for travel or gift cards), or receive a 5% discount on each purchase when you use your card. We recommend going for the 5% discount, since it’s more valuable. You can enroll here.

How the early-pay discount works

The early-pay discounts on The Plum Card® from American Express OPEN are automatically added to your statement in the following billing cycle. To earn them, all you have to do is pay within 10 days of your statement closing date. You’ll get a 1.5% discount on the portion you paid before that time. To see how much of a discount you earned from the previous billing cycle, read your statement or log on to your account.

Claire Tsosie is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: claire@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @ideclaire7.