Every business owner can benefit from having the right tools to help run an effective organization. One of those tools could arguably be the right business card. A business credit card can help you organize expenses, monitor your business’ growth, and assist with potential cash flow challenges.
The National Small Business Association, in fact, reports that about 67% of businesses have a business credit card and that a third of businesses utilize their cards specifically for meeting their capital needs. With the challenge to business owners based on recent events, those numbers may have actually increased.
American Express, with its broad collection of business card products, knows the needs of business owners and designs its cards to match business spending profiles, redemption priorities, and offer benefits and protections that provide value.
We’ve selected 2 very different Amex business cards today in an effort to illustrate the variety of choices a business owner has when deciding on the right Amex business card.
Let’s get started and quickly dive into all the key features and benefits of the American Express® Business Gold Card and The Plum Card® from American Express.
The Value of a Welcome Bonus
Welcome bonuses change over time but here is a snapshot of the current offerings and associated rates and fees for our 2 featured cards.
Amex Business Gold Card
Hot Tip: Check to see if you’re eligible for a huge welcome offer of up to 110,000 points with the Amex Business Gold! (The current public offer is 70,000.)
Amex Plum Card
The Amex Business Gold card offers a generous welcome bonus that could be worth as much as $770 depending on how your rewards are redeemed. The Amex Plum card does not offer a welcome bonus at this time.
You’ll find that welcome bonuses can fluctuate, so be sure to check current offerings, as well as rates and fees, before applying for any card.
Bottom Line: The Amex Business Gold card offers a welcome bonus worth several hundreds of dollars, while the Amex Plum card does not offer a welcome bonus.
Comparing Earning Potential
One of the most critical aspects of maximizing earnings on any rewards-earning business card is to ensure the card’s earning structure aligns with your business’ spending mix.
Let’s look at the types of purchases that earn rewards on our featured cards.
|Amex Business Gold Card||Amex Plum Card|
- 4x points per dollar spent on your 2 highest purchase categories each statement period, maximum $150,000 each calendar year in purchases; categories include:
- Airfare purchased directly from the airline
- Online advertising via select U.S. media
- Computer software/hardware, and cloud solutions via U.S. merchants
- U.S. restaurants
- U.S. gas stations
- U.S. shipping
- 2x points per dollar on qualifying travel purchases via Amex Travel
- 1x point per dollar on all other purchases
|1.5% unlimited cash-back on all purchases when utilizing the Early Pay Discount|
Bottom Line: If your business spending aligns with the common business bonus categories of the Amex Business Gold card and your business involves travel, you’ll receive value with the card. If your business has large expenses, such as major equipment purchases, office furniture, or another heavy non-bonus category outlay, and you can make use of a flexible payment option, the Amex Plum card may be a possible solution.
Comparing Redemption Options
Our featured cards have very different redemption options.
Membership Rewards are earned on the Amex Business Gold card and can be redeemed in several ways. The Amex Plum card does not have a redemption program due to offering direct cash-back rewards.
Here’s how the cards differ at redemption time.
|Redemption Option||Amex Business Gold Card||Amex Plum Card|
|Travel via Amex Travel|
- Redeem points for 1 cent each via Amex Travel
- Redeem points for first and business class flights and for flights on your preselected airline to receive 25% of your points back as a rebate
|Transfer to travel partners|
- Transfer to 20+ transfer partners, most at the rate of 1:1; a small fee applies
- Redeem Membership Rewards points for statement credits at the rate of 0.06 cents per point
- The amount of the cash-back bonus earned is applied automatically as a statement credit
|Additional redemption options|
- Upgrade flights, merchandise, gift cards, shopping at retail partners
Bottom Line: While the Amex Business Gold card earns Membership Rewards points that have several flexible redemption options and offers 25% back on travel redemptions using points, the Amex Plum card offers the simplicity of a cash-back bonus applied at full value directly to subsequent monthly statements.
Travel Benefits and Protections
If your business involves travel, having access to any travel protections and benefits is a plus.
Here’s how our 2 featured cards compare when we look at offered benefits in this category.
|Benefit/Protection||Amex Business Gold Card||Amex Plum Card|
|Car rental insurance||Secondary coverage with the option to purchase Amex Premium Protection for 1 low fee that covers the entire rental period; prices range from $12.95 to $24.95|
|Trip delay coverage|
- Receive up to $300 in reimbursement for eligible expenses if your trip is delayed more than 12 hours, up to a maximum of 2 claims per 12-month period
- Receive up to $1,250 for lost, stolen, or damaged carry-on luggage and up to $500 for checked luggage, per person/per trip
|Global Assist Hotline||Enjoy access to 24/7 travel and emergency assistance prior to and during your travels more than 100 miles from home|
|Travel accident insurance||Up to $100,000 for death or dismemberment — terms apply|
|The Hotel Collection|
- For stays of 2 nights or longer, receive $100 credit to use on-property, upgraded room when available, and 2x earnings on prepaid bookings via Amex Travel
Bottom Line: Neither of our featured cards offers an extensive list of travel benefits, but the Amex Business Gold card is supreme over the Amex Plum card with its trip delay coverage, baggage insurance, and benefits from The Hotel Collection.
Shopping Benefits and Protections
Accidents happen. That phone you just purchased slips out of your hand… your office chair breaks a wheel… the possibilities are endless. While shopping benefits and protections are down on the priority list when it comes to selecting a business card, it’s worth noting the coverages that do come with each card.
Here’s how our 2 cards compare in those categories as well as additional savings opportunities.
|Benefit/Protection||Amex Business Gold Card||Amex Plum Card|
|Extended warranty||For manufacturer’s warranties of 5 years or less, 1 additional year is added for eligible items, up to a maximum of $10,000 per covered item and $50,000 per covered card per year|
|Purchase protection||If an eligible item is accidentally damaged or stolen within the first 90 days after the purchase date, you may receive up to $10,000 per item, up to a maximum of $50,000 per calendar year|
|Return protection||N/A||If a merchant won’t accept the return of an eligible item within 90 days of the purchase date, you could receive up to $300 per item, up to $1,000 per account per calendar year|
|Amex Offers||Log in to your online card account and select available Amex Offers to save money or receive bonus earnings on eligible purchases|
Bottom Line: Both of our cards come with extended warranty, purchase protection, and Amex Offers. The Amex Plum card offers additional return protection coverage.
Business Management Tools
The right business card will make tracking and managing your expenses easier. Here are some of the tools you’ll find on both of our featured cards.
- Authorized Users — Both cards allow you to add authorized users at no additional charge. The Amex Business Gold card (rates and fees) allows up 99 additional users, and the Amex Plum card has no stated limit (rates and fees).
- Mobile Account Management — Use the Amex app to keep track of the activity in your account, make a payment, or manage spending limits.
- Custom Account Alerts — Add account alerts that can limit employee purchases, notify you when large transactions are made, or remind you that a payment is due.
- ReceiptMatch with QuickBooks — Take pictures of paper receipts and add them to QuickBooks using the app or download expenses directly from your QuickBooks bank feed.
- Year-End Statements — Access periodic and annual statements that organize your expenses by category, vendor, and more.
Amex Business Gold Card vs. Amex Plum Card — Summary
We covered a lot of information on our featured cards, so it’s time to summarize our findings.
Best for Earning Rewards — There’s no doubt that the Amex Business Gold card wins in the earning category if your business expenses fall into the bonus earning categories.
Best for Redeeming Rewards — Once again, the Amex Business Gold card offers greater flexibility and value for your rewards with the option of redeeming for travel and transferring points to travel partners for even greater potential value. In addition, when redeeming points for eligible flights, you’ll receive a 25% flight bonus rebate.
Best for Travel Benefits and Protections — The Amex Business Gold card with its trip delay coverage, baggage insurance, and Hotel Collection benefits, does have better travel benefits and protections. However, these benefits only add value if your business will use such benefits.
Best for Shopping Benefits and Protections — Both cards offer similar shopping benefits and protections with the Amex Plum card edging out the Amex Business Gold card by offering return protection.
Best for Business Management Tools — Both cards offer the same helpful business management tools. The 1 business management tool that is offered only by the Amex Plum card, however, is the flexibility of making payments 60 days after the statement date without interest (terms apply). If this is feature is more important to your business than earning rewards, you should investigate the card further.
Bottom Line: While the Amex Business Gold card is the overall best card of our 2 featured cards, if your business values the flexible payment options offered by the Amex Plum card, and you don’t mind paying the annual fee for that privilege, you may want to look further into the benefit of having that card.
Alternative Amex Business Cards
We mentioned earlier that American Express offers a business card for nearly every type of business.
Here are 2 additional cards worth considering: The Business Platinum Card® from American Express and American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card
Amex Business Platinum Card
Hot Tip: Check to see if you’re eligible for a huge welcome offer of up to 150,000 points with the Amex Business Platinum! (The current public offer is 120,000.)
Well-known as a premium business rewards card, the Amex Business Platinum card offers travelers worldwide lounge access, elevated earnings, and a long list of travel and shopping benefits/protections.
Amex Blue Business Cash Card
If you’re running a small business, keeping track of bonus earning categories or multiple redemption options may not be a priority. Perhaps you just want to keep things simple — the Amex Blue Business Cash card can help you do that.
The card also offers an introductory 0% APR period on purchases that can help you repay a large purchase over time without interest rate charges — a sure money saver if your business has large upcoming purchases. As always, once the 0% intro APR period has ended, the regular APR, as listed above, will apply.
Bottom Line: Regardless of the size or structure of your business, chances are there’s an Amex business card that will serve as the perfect match for your operation.
Business owners with unpredictable and/or seasonable cash flow who have a need for flexibility when it comes to paying expenses may find the Amex Plum card attractive. Also, if your business spends big and you’re able to make sufficient payments each month in time to receive the Early Pay Discount, there may be some value to be had. The card’s flexibility and unlimited earnings do come at a price, however, with a higher than average annual fee after the first year.
Additionally, the card has no welcome bonus, and cash-back rewards are earned only when you pay your card off early.
The Amex Business Gold card, conversely, offers an excellent welcome bonus and has robust bonus earning categories plus travel/shopping benefits your business can use… and it does it all for a marginal increase in annual fee compared to the Amex Plum Card.
For rates and fees of the American Express® Business Gold Card, click here.
For rates and fees of The Plum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of the American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card, click here.