Normally, the best practice for utilizing any rewards-earning credit card is to pay off your entire balance each statement period. Not carrying over a monthly balance is the primary way to avoid interest charges that can negate the value of any rewards you’ve earned.
However, in the real world, things happen. A large appliance breaks down, tuition is due, the car needs unexpected repairs, or other emergencies can arise causing a need to pay back a large expense over time.
If you currently have an American Express card, chances are you’re familiar with the requirement of having to pay off your balance each statement period on many of the offered card products. Other cards allow you to carry over a balance and be charged interest.
Fortunately, there are convenient additional options featured on most American Express cards that allow you to select a payment plan for specific purchases and pay back those charges during a time frame that fits your situation.
Today we’re going to talk about Pay Over Time and Pay It Plan It, American Express payment plan options that allow you to control how you make payments on your Amex card account.
Let’s get started with our discussion on how these options work, the differences, and if these payment choices make sense economically.
Options for Repaying a Purchase
Instead of paying off your statement in its entirety at the end of any given billing period, American Express offers 2 options for paying back purchases over time and 1 convenient option to make smaller payments throughout any given statement period.
Before we dive deeper into how all of these options work, here’s a quick overview to lay the groundwork.
- Pay Over Time — Decide whether you want to pay eligible purchases in full each month—or pay over time with interest
- Pay It Plan It — Pay It Plan It is really 2 payment options. Pay It allows you to use the Amex Mobile app to make payments for selected purchases under $100 up to several times during a billing cycle. Plan It applies to purchases $100 or greater and allows you to select a payment plan that includes a set plan fee.
Now let’s look at how each of these options functions, how to activate these payment plans, and the economics of each.
Bottom Line: American Express has 2 options for repaying your purchases over time. Pay Over Time allows you to decide whether you want to pay eligible purchases in full each month—or pay over time with interest. Pay It Plan It offers the option to make several smaller payments each month via the Amex Mobile app or select payment plans for purchases $100 or more to be repaid over time with a set fee.
Pay Over Time — How It Works
With Pay Over Time (the new name for the former Pay Over Time Direct), you have options. You get to decide whether you want to pay eligible purchases in full each month—or pay over time with interest
- Enrolling — There’s no need to register as eligible cards are automatically enrolled. You do have to activate the feature, but once activated, qualifying purchases are automatically added to your Pay Over Time balance.
- Fees — Interest will be added to each payment.
- Plan Limits — Your Pay Over Time limit will be stated on your account. Any purchases above that amount will be due in full each statement period.
- Authorized User Purchases — Authorized user purchases also qualify for Pay Over Time.
Hot Tip: Watch your emails for Pay Over Time incentives. You may be eligible to receive 10,000 Membership Rewards points for enrolling in Pay Over Time.
Pay It Plan It — How It Works
Pay It Plan It is really 2 features having different applications.
Pay It allows you to make several small payments each month to your account without incurring any fees. The Pay It feature is available on the American Express Mobile app. To use Pay It, simply login to the app, select a qualifying purchase you want to pay (designated with the Pay It icon), then submit the payment.
You can make up to 5 Pay It transactions per day.
Pay It payments do not pay off the selected purchase but reduce your balance by the amount of that purchase.
For purchases of $100 or more, you have the option to select a Plan It repayment plan for that purchase. You can have up to 10 active Plan It plans active at any 1 time.
It’s easy to calculate and build a Plan It payment plan that fits your budget. Fees are clearly disclosed upfront allowing you to make an educated decision on which plan makes sense for you.
Bottom Line: Pay It Plan It is really 2 payment options — 1 for purchases under $100, and the other for purchases of $100 or more. Select Pay It to pay off small purchase amounts several times each statement period. Use Plan It for creating a custom payback plan for purchases $100 or more.
How to Find Out if Your Cards are Eligible
Not every Amex card has the Pay Over Time or Pay It Plan It features. Some cards have 1 feature and not the other. Additionally, not all customers will qualify for these features even if the payment plans are available on that particular card type.
Here are a few of the cards you can expect to have these payment features:
Pay Over Time
You’ll find the Pay Over Time feature on several American Express personal and business cards:
Pay It Plan It
You’ll find the Pay It Plan It option on several personal Amex cards including these 2 popular cards:
Hot Tip: Check to see if you’re eligible for a welcome offer of up to 150,000 points with the Amex Platinum card! (The current public offer is 80,000.)
Hot Tip: Check to see if you’re eligible for a welcome bonus of up to 90,000 points with the Amex Gold card! (The current public offer is 60,000 points.)
American Express Corporate cards, American Express cards that are issued by financial institutions other than American Express, and prepaid product cards are not eligible for Pay It Plan It.
To find out if your cards are eligible, log in to your American Express card accounts online. The Plan It icon will be clearly visible on your home page.
Bottom Line: Pay Over Time and Pay It Plan It are not available on all Amex cards and also not available to every cardholder. To find out if you have these payment options, log in to your online Amex card account and you’ll see the affiliated options on the home page for each card.
Everything Else You Need to Know
Not all payment options are available on all cards and not all cardholders qualify for these payment plans.
- You’ll earn all applicable rewards for purchases made. Selecting a payment plan does not affect rewards-earning.
- Once you’ve set up a plan, you cannot cancel it. You must pay off the entire balance to terminate the plan.
- Pay It payments always apply to the minimum amount due first.
- Some accounts may require a purchase to be over $200, $500, or $1,000 in order to qualify for Pay Over Time.
- There is no fee to enroll in either plan.
Amex Payment Plans Summary
Let’s look now at how these payment options compare, the requirements, and the unique features of each payment plan.
|Feature||Pay Over Time||Pay It ||Plan It|
|Enrollment||Activate the payment plan for eligible purchases to then be moved automatically to your Pay Over Time balance||No enrollment required; qualifying purchases are automatically eligible|
|Payment Options||Pay the balance in full, the minimum payment due, or anything in-between||Select a purchase under $100 and pay for it.||Pay the balance in full, the minimum payment due, or anything in-between|
|Payback Period||Not specified||N/A||Up to 24 months|
|Fees and Interest||Interest applied to each payment||No fees or interest||Fixed monthly fee, disclosed in advance|
|Card Eligibility||Some consumer cards and select Amex business cards||Most consumer cards are eligible|
All eligible purchases
|Purchases under $100||Purchases $100 or more|
|Maximum Limit||Either your credit limit or a limit set by Amex based on your history||Limit of 5 payments per day||95% of your previous balance on the last billing statement or 95% of your current credit limit, up to 10 plans active at 1 time|
|Who is Eligible||Cardholder and authorized users||Cardholder|
Alternatives to Amex Payment Plans
The Introductory 0% APR for Purchases Option
If you’re planning a large purchase that will need to be paid back over time, considering a card with an introductory 0% APR may be a desirable alternative to using a payment plan that charges fees or interest.
A card that offers 0% APR for purchases allows you to repay the purchase back over time without incurring any interest charges. The length of the 0% APR repayment period varies by card.
Once the 0% APR period expires, you will be charged the current interest rate on balances that remain outstanding. Terms apply, so you’ll want to check the pricing for each card prior to applying for any card.
To learn more about additional rewards-earning cards that offer an introductory 0% APR, check out our article with several recommendations.
An Option for Chase Cardholders
If you’re a Chase cardholder, you’ll also want to check out My Chase Plan for repayment of eligible purchases over time.
You’ll find the following features of the My Chase Plan benefit:
- Payment plans can be 3 to 18 months depending on the size of the eligible purchase, account history, and creditworthiness.
- Purchases of $100 and over are eligible.
- There is a fixed monthly fee applied to each plan payment.
- You can estimate how much each payment will be using the online tool prior to making a purchase.
If you want to learn more about the best Chase credit cards for earning rewards, our article lists some of the most popular options.
Bottom Line: Prior to utilizing a payment plan that charges fees and interest, consider a card that offers an introductory 0% APR on purchases. For Chase cardholders, compare payment options and costs to determine which fits your repayment needs — Amex or Chase.
The best practice is to pay off your card balances each statement period to avoid fees and interest charges. However, this may not always be possible. If you need to use a payment plan to repay your balance, or a specific purchase, over time, pay close attention to how much the plan you select will cost you.
Pay Over Time offers flexibility for your major purchase or that of an authorized user to be paid back over time.
Pay It can help you whittle away at your balance with small frequent payments when you have a few extra dollars and avoid having a large balance to pay at the end of a statement period.
Plan It can be useful and more cost-effective for paying back a large purchase over time versus carrying a balance on your card and incurring interest charges.
As an alternative to Amex payment plans that charge fees/interest, if you can qualify for a card that features an introductory 0% APR period for purchases, this may be a cost-effective option for a large purchase or purchases.
The information regarding the American Express Cash Magnet® Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.