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Your ultimate guide to Amex Pay Over Time

May 12, 2021
6 min read
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Card issuers are in the business of loaning money, and American Express has creatively expanded the financing options it offers to customers. Today, we're going to take a look at everything you need to know about Amex's Pay Over Time feature, including how you can earn bonus points by signing up.

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Pay Over Time

Pay Over Time is Amex's most popular extended-financing option, allowing eligible cardholders to pay eligible charges of $100 or more over time with interest. The Platinum Card® from American Express, American Express® Gold Card and the American Express® Green Card come auto-enrolled with Pay Over Time, so cardholders can choose to pay their statement balances in full or carry a balance with interest on eligible charges, up to their Pay Over Time limit.

Select Amex business cards are automatically enrolled in Pay Over Time. Those cards include:

  • The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
  • American Express® Business Gold Card
  • Business Green Rewards Card from American Express

The information for the Business Green Card and Amex Green Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Pay Over Time has been an opt-in option feature for a long time across Amex’s business cards, but the feature will now be automatically embedded into these cards. This takes some of the guesswork out for business cardholders and eliminates a few steps that were previously required to take advantage of the feature.

Pay Over Time offers

Amex also frequently offers targeted bonuses to entice customers to enroll in Pay Over Time. We've seen offers such as 20,000 Membership Rewards points for enrolling (worth $400 based on TPG's valuations), and the offers tend to be targeted not just to individuals but to specific card accounts as well. In the past, I've had times when my Amex Gold card was targeted but not my Platinum Card® from American Express, or the other way around. You can only earn the bonus once per card, but I've been able to earn 20,000 bonus points each on all my Amex cards over the years.

(Screenshot courtesy of American Express)

Most importantly, you don't actually need to use Pay Over Time to earn the bonus — you simply have to enroll in this feature.

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Is it worth enrolling?

Although flexible financing is a nice option to have in the case of an emergency, this is not something you should actively plan on using in most cases.

TPG's first commandment of travel rewards is to never carry a balance. Doing so won't have a significant impact on your credit score, as long as you continue to make your minimum payments on time, but the rapidly accruing interest quickly overshadows the value of any free travel you might be earning. Unfortunately, the same is true for Pay Over Time.

For example, my Amex Gold card carries an 18.24% APR for Pay-Over-Time purchases, which is lower than many premium travel rewards cards -- but still much higher than you should ever be paying. The variable APR on the Amex Gold can range from 15.99% to 22.99% (see rates and fees) with the Pay-Over-Time feature. The human brain is not wired to understand exponential growth well, so it helps to use the "rule of 72."

When dealing with interest rates, divide 72 by the rate you're paying and that's how long it will take your balance to double. Put another way, at 18% interest, your balance will double in four years if you don't make any payments. Most individuals and businesses should be able to secure emergency financing at lower rates, so you should really only consider this as a last resort.

(Screenshot courtesy of American Express)

Pay It® Plan It®

You can still take advantage of flexible options on any eligible American Express card with the "Pay It Plan It" program.

Pay It® is a simple option that lets you pay off individual purchases before your statement closes to help keep your balance down. You can do this yourself by navigating to the payment menu at any time, but Amex is making it easier to pay off specific charges under $100 by tapping on them directly when you see the "Pay It" logo. Note that you can only use Pay It from the Amex app, not from a desktop.

Related: Amex adds new payment options to Green, Gold and Platinum cards

(Screenshot courtesy of American Express)

Plan It® is a simple financing option that allows you to pay for eligible purchases over $100 in monthly installments. You won't pay any interest, but there is a fixed monthly fee, so you'll know exactly how much you owe each month. You can combine up to 10 eligible purchases into a plan, and you can have up to 10 plans running at a given time. Pay It Plan It is only available on personal Amex cards, not business cards.

You can choose to "Plan" or "Pay" for eligible purchases over $100. (Screenshot courtesy of American Express)

When I tried to make a Plan It plan, I was given options for a three-month, six-month or 12-month installments and a promo offer of a waived monthly fee. You can see the original pricing though, which goes up as you select a longer plan. The fees ranged from about 1.8% over a three-month period to just over 9% for a one-year plan. Note that if you opt to use Plan It, you can't pay your balance off early, and you'll be forced to make monthly payments and continue paying the agreed-upon fee.

(Screenshot courtesy of American Express)

Bottom line

Amex has been actively expanding its extended-financing options. However, the fees and interest rates mean that you should really only consider these programs as last-ditch options if you suddenly find yourself unable to pay your bill.

Even if you have no intention of ever using Pay Over Time, I've earned about 40,000 Membership Rewards points over the years by enrolling my various cards in targeted offers, so keep your eyes peeled for any future deals.

Additional reporting by Chris Dong and Stella Shon.

For rates and fees of the Amex Gold Card, click here.

Featured image by (Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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