The Plum Card® from American Express OPEN is technically a charge card, and not a credit card. This means that all charges made on the card are due when you receive your statement. However, as you’ll see below, the Plum card has certain features which make it far more forgiving and flexible than the typical charge card.
How The Plum Card Works
The Plum card attempts to combine the best of both rewards: a low APR card and a rewards card through two features: Early Pay Discount and Extra Days to Pay. Here’s an explanation of how each works:
Early Pay Discount
Any amount you pay within 10 days of the statement closing date will receive a bonus of 1.5% (added to your next statement’s balance). So for those who can pay promptly, Plum looks and feels a lot like a 1.5% cash back card. Note that it’s vital that you pay within the 10 day window and not before (or after), as you won’t get the rebate otherwise. That’s a bit of a negative, as it’s another date to track.
Extra Days To Pay
As we mentioned above, if you don’t pay your balance at all, the Plum Card will severely penalize you (to the tune of 36%+ APRs). But then again, if you don’t pay your balances, you really shouldn’t be making use of plastic at all.
However, if you pay at least 10% of your new balance, plus the full amount of any deferred payments from the prior period, you are allowed to defer payment of the remaining unpaid amount until the following billing cycle, with no interest assessed. Here’s an example to make it more concrete.
Let’s say you have $10K in deferred balances from the prior month, and you spent another $15K on the card this month. For whatever reason you don’t have the cash on hand to pay down the balance fully. What you can instead do is pay off the $10K deferred balance, plus 10% of the $15K (i.e. $1,500), and defer the remaining $13,500 until the next billing statement, without paying any interest penalty.
Is the Plum Card Better Than A Low APR Card
While Plum’s “Early Days To Pay” feature may make it seem like a better solution than a low APR card, we have a couple of thoughts on that:
- Firstly, if you are finding yourself frequently in the position of not being able to pay off a card in full, red warning signs should be flashing. If that’s the case, sooner or later you’ll find yourself in the position of not being able to pay off the deferred balance, and Plum will hit you with some high penalties.
- Secondly, a low APR card lets you carry over balances month to month, paying just the minimum amount—which makes it much easier to avoid penalty APRs. Plum requires a full pay-down of any deferred balances, which is a higher bar.
Plum’s High Annual Fee Versus Card Benefits
On the one hand, the Plum card’s annual fee of $250 (waived for the first year) is quite painful. On the other hand, Plum does come with a number of benefits, including:
- Global Assist Hotline
- Open Savings Benefit: Partner discounts ranging from 3-10%.
- 90 day Return Protection
- Roadside assistance
- Baggage Insurance
- Car Rental Insurance
GetDebit’s Closing Thoughts On Plum From American Express
I think the Plum Card is moderately successful in trying to combine both a rewards card and a flexible payment plan into one card. I say “moderately”, because in order to get the rewards, you need to pay within 10 days of the close of billing. And to avoid interest payments, you need to pay down any deferred charges in full (plus 10% of new charges). Furthermore, the annual fee is worrisome, though you do get many of American Express’ legendary benefits.
If you are not sure if Plum is right for you, I’d recommend using our GetDebit Ranking Engine (found right from our home page), to help you hone in on the perfect card for your needs.
Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by American Express. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of American Express, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express. This site may be compensated through American Express Affiliate Program.