Best credit cards with no preset spending limits

Jan 19, 2021

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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information.

When comparing different travel rewards cards, most are nearly identical when it comes to the mechanics of making purchases and paying off your balance. The most notable exception would be cards with no preset spending limits, a category that has been popularized by American Express.

These cards differ from credit cards in that they don’t come with preset spending limits. Unlike a traditional card with a set limit, the amount you can spend adapts based on factors such as your purchase, payment, and credit history. And, you can generally either pay your balance in full every month (which shouldn’t be a problem if you’re responsible with your credit) or use pay-over-time features. Today I’ll walk through everything you need to know about no preset spending limit cards and name my top picks for 2021.

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In This Post

Best no preset spending limit cards for 2021

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

American Express also issues two other valuable cards, the Amex Centurion card and the Business Centurion card. These exclusive products are available on an invite-only basis to top spending Amex customers. Given their hefty fees (a $10,000 initiation fee plus an ongoing $5,000 annual fee), I’ve chosen to leave them off this list.

Before we dive in, here’s a comparison of the best no preset spending limit card offers and bonuses available right now.

Comparing the best no preset spending limit cards

Card Best for Travel rewards rate Bonus value* Annual fee
The Platinum Card from American Express Lounge access 5x points on airfare booked directly with the airline or through Amex Travel (on up to $500,000 in purchases per calendar year)

5x on prepaid hotels booked through Amex Travel

Terms apply

$2,000 $695
(see rates & fees)
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express Large purchases 5x on airfare and prepaid hotels booked through Amex Travel

50% bonus on purchases over $5,000, up to one million extra points per calendar year

Terms apply

$2,000 $595 (see rates & fees)
American Express® Gold Card Dining at restaurants 4x at restaurants

4x at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per calendar year, then 1x)

3x on airfare booked directly with airlines or through Amex Travel

Terms apply

$1,200 $250
(see rates & fees)
American Express® Business Gold Card High spending businesses Earn 4x points on your top two spending categories each month from the following list, up to $150,000 total per calendar year (then 1x):
  • Airfare purchased directly from airlines
  • U.S. purchases for advertising in select media
  • U.S. purchases for shipping
  • U.S. purchases at gas stations
  • U.S. purchases at restaurants
  • U.S. purchases made from select technology providers of computer hardware, software, and cloud solutions
$1,400 $295 (see rates & fees)
American Express® Green Card Broadly defined bonus categories 3x points on dining, travel and transit $900 $150 (see rates & fees)
Business Green Rewards Card from American Express Low annual fee 2x points on eligible purchases at amextravel.com $300 $95, waived the first year
The Plum Card® from American Express Paying your bills early Unlimited 1.5% cash back when you pay within 10 days of your statement closing date N/A $250 (see rates and fees)

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer.

More details on the best no preset spending limit cards

Now let’s look at the details of each of these cards, including their welcome offers, bonus categories and some of the ways I’ve been able to put their benefits to use. American Express has also added several limited-time perks to help customers deal with the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

American Express added a new program for several of its cards with no preset spending limits called Amex Pay Over Time. It allows cardmembers to carry a balance from one month to the next, with variable interest rates applied.

These perks won’t move the needle on whether or not you should add a new credit card to your wallet, but they’re a great way for existing cardholders to save money during these difficult times, so make sure to take note.

The Platinum Card® from American Express: Best for lounge access, airfare and hotel elite status

(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)

Why it’s the best card for lounge access, airfare and hotel elite status: The Amex Platinum comes with access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection, which includes Centurion Lounges, Priority Pass, Airspace and Escape lounges and Delta Sky Clubs (on same-day Delta flights). No other card (other than the business version) offers this kind of access. The card also offers an industry-leading five points per dollar on airfare booked directly with the airline or Amex Travel and automatic Gold elite status with both Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors.

Current welcome offer: Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership (valued by TPG at $2,000). Plus, earn 10x points on eligible purchases on the Card at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership.

Rewards rate: Earn 5x points on airfare purchased directly with the airlines or through Amex Travel (on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year) and 5x points on prepaid hotels booked through Amex.

Perks and benefits: The Amex Platinum stands alone when it comes to luxury travel benefits. Cardholders get up to $200 in annual airline fee credits, up to $200 in Uber credits, up to $100 in credit at Saks Fifth Avenue and up to $100 credit for your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee once every four to 4.5 years. Plus, you’ll get unparalleled lounge access, automatic Gold status with Hilton and automatic Gold Elite status with Marriott. Enrollment required for select benefits. 

Annual fee: $695 (see rates and fees)

Why it’s worth it: The massive bonus alone would be enough to land this card near the top of our list, but it doesn’t stop there. Platinum cardholders receive more than $1,300 in annual statement credits to offset the card’s annual fee, as well as enjoying a luxurious travel experience with comprehensive airport lounge access and elite status with two of the largest hotel chains.

Among the Membership Rewards program’s travel partners is Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, which is the only way to book the ultra-premium Singapore Suites using miles. Other card highlights include an amazing 5x points per dollar spent on airfare purchased directly with the airline or through Amex Travel (equal to a 10% return on these purchases) and the ability to add three authorized users for a total of $175 (see rates and fees).

Further reading: American Express Platinum review

Apply here: Platinum Card from American Express

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express: Best for large purchases

Why it’s the best card for large purchases: While the Business Platinum doesn’t have quite as many bonus categories as the personal version, it does offer 1.5 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on purchases more than $5,000, up to one million bonus points per year.

Current welcome offer: Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

Rewards rate: Earn 5x points on airfare and prepaid hotels booked through Amex Travel and 1.5x points on purchases over $5,000.

Perks and benefits: The Amex Business Platinum carries one of the highest annual fees of any publicly available card. It also comes with a long list of benefits to match. You’ll enjoy many of the same benefits as the personal Platinum card, including the up to $200 annual airline incidental fee credit, comprehensive airport lounge access (including a Priority Pass membership and Centurion lounge access) and Gold elite status with both Hilton and Marriott. Enrollment required for select benefits.

The Business Platinum Card also offers several unique perks to stand out. Instead of Uber and Saks Fifth Avenue credits like the personal Platinum, cardholders get up to $200 in annual statement credits for Dell technology U.S. purchases (split into $100 each for the first and last six months of the year). The Business Platinum also offers a 35% rebate on eligible flights when you pay with points to book airfare through the Amex Travel portal (up to 500,000 points back per calendar year).

Annual fee: $595 (see rates and fees)

Why it’s worth it: The 100,000-point bonus on the Business Platinum is the largest publicly available Amex welcome bonus, making this card a great choice to pad your Membership Rewards balance. While Amex already has one of the best collection of airline transfer partners, the 35% rebate when using your points to pay for first or business class flights or economy flights with your selected airline adds another valuable layer of flexibility to your redemption strategy.

Further reading: American Express Business Platinum review

Apply here: The Business Platinum Card from American Express

American Express® Gold Card: Best for dining at restaurants

Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy
(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)

Why it’s the best card for dining at restaurants: When Amex rebranded the Gold card a few years back, it did so with a heavy focus on eating in and dining out. You see this reflected in the card’s bonus categories, which include 4x points at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per calendar year; then 1x) and the card’s up to $10 monthly statement credit at eligible dining partners (up to $120 annual credit).

Current welcome offer: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first six months.

Rewards rate: Earn 4x points per dollar on dining at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets (U.S. supermarkets capped at $25,000 per calendar year, then 1x), 3x on flights booked directly from the airline or Amex Travel and 1x everywhere else

Perks and benefits: If you can max out both of the Amex Gold card’s annual statement credits, you can lower your effective out-of-pocket cost to just $130 a year. The card offers an up to $10 monthly dining credit valid at the following merchants: Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, some Shake Shack locations and Boxed. Enrollment required for select benefits. 

Cardholders also receive baggage insurance, trip delay reimbursement and benefits, including double points and an up to $100 property credit on eligible hotel stays booked through The Hotel Collection.

Annual fee: $250 (see rates and fees)

Why it’s worth it: While many cards are offering limited time grocery bonuses during the coronavirus pandemic, the Amex Gold has long been the reigning card for foodies and chefs. The 4x points per dollar at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per calendar year; then 1x) make this one of the most consistently rewarding card for people who like to eat, and the two annual statement credits can drop your out-of-pocket cost to a very manageable $30 a year.

Further reading: American Express Gold Card review

Apply here: American Express Gold Card

American Express® Business Gold Card: Best for high-spending businesses

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)

Why it’s the best card for high spending businesses: The Amex Business Gold is one of the most unique cards when it comes to earning rates. Instead of offering fixed bonus categories, Amex will award you 4x points per dollar in your top two spending categories each month from a set list so that your bonus categories can change month to month to reflect your businesses changing needs.

Current welcome offer: Earn 70,000 bonus points after you spend $10,000 on eligible purchases in the first three months of account opening.

Rewards rate: Earn 4x points per dollar on your top two spending categories each month from the following list, up to $150,000 per calendar year (then 1x):

  • Airfare purchased directly from airlines
  • U.S. purchases for advertising in select media
  • U.S. purchases for shipping
  • U.S. purchases at gas stations
  • U.S. purchases at restaurants
  • U.S. purchases made from select technology providers of computer hardware, software, and cloud solutions

Perks and benefits: The Business Gold card is relatively light on perks, with its primary benefits being expense management tools, access to book hotels through the Hotel Collection and a 25% bonus on select flights booked through Amex Travel using Membership Rewards Pay with Points.

Annual fee: $295 (see rates and fees)

Why it’s worth it: The lack of any statement credits make the Business Gold card’s annual fee a bit harder to swallow. Still, the flexible 4x bonus categories are very tempting for any large business. Amex takes the effort out of earning rewards, allowing you to swipe a single card and trust that the bonus points will follow so you can focus more on growing your business and less on which credit card to use for which purchase.

Apply here: American Express Business Gold Card

American Express® Green Card: Best for broadly defined bonus categories

(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

Why it’s the best card for broadly defined bonus categories: One frequent complaint from Amex cardholders is that the bonus categories on the Platinum and Gold (as well as other cobranded products) have too many restrictions, causing customers to miss out on bonus points they thought they should have earned. The Amex Green is a perfect answer to this complaint, offering 3x points per dollar on broadly defined travel, dining and transit categories.

Current welcome offer: Earn 45,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $2,000 in the first six months.

Rewards rate: Earn 3x points per dollar on dining, travel and transit and 1x everywhere else. It’s important to note that these categories are much more broadly defined than on other Amex cards.

Perks and benefits: The Amex Green card is clearly trying to find its own niche in an otherwise crowded field, offering an up to $100 annual statement credit for Clear expedited security in place of the now-ubiquitous TSA PreCheck/Global Entry application fee credit. This credit drops the out-of-pocket cost for a Clear membership to $79 a year, but TPG readers can use the promo code TPG149 to get a discounted membership of $149 for the first year or the promo code TPG2M to get a two-month free trial membership.

The Amex Green also offers an up to $100 annual LoungeBuddy statement credit, allowing you to buy access to up to three lounges a year. This can be a great option if you’re traveling through an airport with limited Priority Pass options or if you don’t already have a credit card that offers a complimentary Priority Pass membership. Enrollment required for select benefits.

Annual fee: $150 (see rates and fees)

Why it’s worth it: The Amex Green card gives the premium Chase Sapphire Reserve a run for its money on earning rates, offering the same 3x on travel and dining but pulling ahead with 3x on transit as well. It does all of this while charging an annual fee that’s $400 less than the Sapphire Reserve’s, before you even account for the $200 in annual statement credits. For many people, the Amex Green is a great way to unlock powerful earning rates without paying a premium annual fee.

Apply here: American Express Green Card

Business Green Rewards Card from American Express: Best for low annual fee

(Photo by The Points Guy)

Why it’s the best card for a low annual fee: The Amex Business Green card is one of the only Amex cards with no preset spending limits to waive its annual fee for the first year, and in subsequent years customers will enjoy that the annual fee is a very reasonable $95 a year.

Current welcome offer: Earn 15,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $3,000 in eligible purchases on the card within your first three months of card membership.

Rewards rate: Earn 2x points per dollar for purchases made through Amex Travel and 1x everywhere else.

Perks & benefits: N/A

Annual fee: $95, waived the first year

Why it’s worth it: With a low earning rate and no meaningful perks to speak of, the Amex Business Green card is a tough sell. Still, it’s the cheapest way to get your hands on a card with no present spending limit and the inherent expense management benefits it offers. If you’re looking to increase your business’s spending power without committing to a more expensive premium card, this might be a good option for you.

The Plum Card® from American Express: Best for paying your bills early

(Photo by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy)
(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)

Why it’s the best card for paying your bills early: While many people use cards with no preset spending limits to increase their spending power, the Amex Plum Card will reward you with 1.5% cash back when you pay your bill within 10 days of the statement closing date.

Current welcome offer: N/A

Rewards rate: No rewards on purchases. Earn 1.5% cash back when you pay your bill within 10 days of the statement closing date.

Perks and benefits: N/A

Annual fee: $250 (see rates and fees)

Why it’s worth it: The $250 annual fee on the Amex Plum Card makes this quite an expensive card, considering that it doesn’t offer rewards on normal purchases. At best, you’ll be looking at a 1.5% earning rate on all purchases if you pay your bill within 10 days of your statement closing, but there are plenty of no-annual-fee, cash-back cards that offer better earning rates without any hoops to jump through.

Further reading: The Plum Card from American Express review

Apply here: The Plum Card from American Express

Frequently asked questions

Some people actively seek out cards with no preset spending limit to manage their credit and expenses. In contrast, others pick them for the benefits and earning structure, without knowing (or caring) about what makes them different. I’m going to address a few of the most common questions about these cards.

What’s the difference between a no preset spending limit card and a credit card?

No preset spending limit cards function almost exactly like credit cards do, but with one key difference: credit cards come with a preset spending limit. Purchases are approved on a case-by-case basis, meaning a business with a good track record can spend more than usual one month without getting in trouble.

How can you pick the best no preset spending limit card?

There are many good cards on the market, and which one is best for you will depend on your travel goals and financial needs. If you’re looking for a luxury travel lifestyle, you’ll want the Amex Platinum. But if you’re looking to earn solid rewards on everyday purchases, the Amex Gold or Amex Green may be a better choice.

How do no preset spending limit cards affect your credit score?

One of the benefits of using these cards is how they’re reported to credit bureaus. Normally your utilization ratio accounts for roughly 30% of your credit score. Because the cards described in this guide don’t have a preset spending limit, it’s impossible to calculate a utilization ratio (since there’s no denominator in the equation). This means that while the balances on your no preset spending limit cards are reported to the credit bureaus, they don’t actually impact your score, which is ideal for high spending businesses and individuals.

What are the pros and cons of using a no preset spending limit card?

The cards on this list offer some of the best welcome offers, bonus categories and benefits of any cards on the market. Using them can help you earn points at a faster rate or enjoy new luxurious travel experiences, all while marginally improving your credit score.

Who should use a no preset spending limit card?

If you’re in the market for a new Amex welcome offer, these cards offer some of the best ones out there. If you frequently have large expenses that you pay off every month (either for personal or business reasons), using a no preset spending limit card can help avoid the temporary impact to your credit score.

Bottom line

When we talk about the top travel rewards cards, we often lump no preset spending limit cards and credit cards together because their similarities outweigh their differences. Once you understand the few small things that set them apart, you’re ready to start using the former cards to improve your credit score and increase your points earning abilities.

For rates and fees of Amex Platinum card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Business Platinum card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Gold Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Business Gold, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Green Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of The Plum Card from American Express, click here.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.