Alternative options for holiday purchase financing: My Chase Plan vs Amex Pay It Plan It

Nov 17, 2020

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Editor’s note: This story has been updated with new information.

Now more than ever, flexible financing options are important. The coronavirus pandemic threw the U.S. economy into a tailspin, and many people have lost their jobs or had to move their spending to take care of medical bills, groceries and other expenses. Even those who were lucky enough not to experience financial struggles during 2020 may have taken this time at home to plan out renovations and other expensive home projects.

And now that we’re headed toward the holiday season, many cardholders might be wondering how they can finance holiday-related expenses. According to a survey from Chase, 61% of consumers feel as though they do not have enough money (or have just enough money with none to spare) to pay for all their holiday gifts.

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Credit card issuers have taken steps to make financing purchases a simpler process — and one without the worry of interest payments. Amex rolled out its Pay It® Plan It® financing option across a number of cards, and Chase has introduced a similar financing option called My Chase Plan.

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)
(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Both options allow cardholders who make eligible purchases of more than $100 to spread out the cost over the course of months. Rather than getting charged interest on those purchases as part of your balance, you’re charged a fixed monthly fee. Of course, you’ll still earn rewards on those purchases, too.

Amex Pay It Plan It overview

Amex’s Pay It Plan It gives cardholders two additional ways to pay off purchases. Pay It® gives you the option to pay off smaller purchase amounts throughout the month rather than waiting until your billing cycle is over to pay for all of your monthly purchases at once. Plan It® provides a financing option that lets you split qualifying purchases of more than $100 into monthly payments with a fixed fee rather than a variable APR.

With Amex Plan It, you can have up to 10 active plans at a time. Based on the size of the eligible purchase you’re creating a payment plan for, you’ll have up to three different options to choose from that range, from three months to 24. The longer the payment term, the higher the fixed fee.

Here is an example of a Plan It option on one of my recent eligible purchases on my American Express® Gold Card:

(Screenshot courtesy of Amex.com)
(Screenshot courtesy of Amex’s website.)

Keep in mind that the fixed fee is larger each month when you choose a longer payment plan.

You can set up a plan through the app or on desktop by clicking into a specific transaction that is eligible for Plan It and then selecting the Plan It option.

My Chase Plan overview

The My Chase Plan operates similarly to Amex’s Plan It feature. On eligible purchases of more than $100, you can opt to plan out the payment over the course of months with a fixed fee rather than interest. Just like with Amex, you can have up to 10 active plans at once. But Chase offers plans anywhere from three to 18 months, which is a shorter timeframe than Amex.

Both in the app and on desktop, the “My Chase Plan” option will pop up on your account activity page next to eligible purchases. Here is an example of a My Chase Plan option on one of my recent eligible purchases for my Chase Sapphire Preferred Card:

(Screenshot courtesy of Chase’s website.)

Notice that like Amex, the fixed fee is larger each month when you choose a longer payment plan.

According to Chase, the most popular plans since the launch of the program have been the six-month options for an average purchase size of $750. Popular categories for the plan have been home improvement, home decor, retail shopping and larger everyday purchases.

Comparing both options

The two financing options are incredibly similar in terms of how they work and ease of use. They also both offer a calculator tool that helps you determine potential payment plan options for different purchases. I went through each and looked at what plans could be available at four different price points to see which offered better fees and plan lengths.

Amex Plan It

Here’s a quick snapshot of how much using the Plan It feature would theoretically cost you in total fixed fees at each payment plan level based on Amex’s calculator:

Initial purchase:  3 months:  6 months:  12 months:  24 months: 
$100 $1.83 $4.44 $9.36 N/A
$500 $11.25 $22.32 $46.92 N/A
$1,000 $22.53 $46.68 93.72 N/A
$5,000 N/A N/A N/A $935.04

**This chart depicts the amount in fixed fees you would theoretically pay over the course of the payment plans, not what your monthly payment would be. 

For example, a $500 purchase that you decide to pay out over the course of six months would be broken down into monthly payments of $87.06, with a monthly fee of $3.72 cents. So over the course of the six-month payment plan, you’ll end up paying a total of $522.32 for the total purchase. 

Keep in mind that these numbers are just an estimate that Amex provides to help you plan out larger purchases. The actual plans offered once you make a purchase might be a little different based on a number of factors. However, this gives you an idea of how much using this plan would cost you in fees, and the calculator gives you a better look at how much you’d have to pay each month. 

Related reading: How to choose the best Amex card for you

My Chase Plan 

By comparison, here are the fees that Chase’s calculator estimates you’d pay across payment plans for those same purchases (keep in mind that this is based on my Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card account, so your estimates might be different if you use the calculator on your own): 

 

Initial purchase:  3 months:  6 months:  9 months:  12 months:  18 months:
$100 $1.65 $3.48 $5.49 N/A N/A
$500 $8.25 $17.34 $27.27 N/A N/A
$1,000 $16.47 $34.68 N/A $77.16 N/A
$5,000 N/A $173.04 N/A $385.68 $638.10

**This chart depicts the amount in fixed fees you would theoretically pay over the course of the payment plans, not what your monthly payment would be. 

With Chase, a $500 purchase that you decide to pay out over the course of six months would cost $86.23 per month, which includes a $2.89 monthly fee. You’d end up paying a total of $517.23 total by the end of the plan. 

Chase seems to be charging lower fees across plan options, but keep in mind that Chase offers shorter maximum payment plan options. For example, you’ll only have 18 months at max to pay off a $5,000 purchase, but you would have 24 months with Amex. 

Related reading: Maximizing the Chase trifecta 

Are these financing options worth it? 

It depends on the situation. Obviously, if you can pay off a purchase all at once and avoid both interest payments and fees, that option makes the most sense. However, for large purchases where you know you won’t be able to pay off the balance in full, these financing plans will save you money versus paying interest on keeping a balance. 

Related reading: Expenses you shouldn’t put on your credit card 

Keeping with the $500 purchase example from above, it would cost you $19 in interest at Chase’s highest possible APR for the Chase Sapphire Preferred (15.99% to 22.99%, based on your creditworthiness) to pay off that purchase over the course of three months. If you took six months, the interest cost would go up to $34. If you took nine, the cost would go up to $49. Compared to the $8.25, $17.34 or $27.27 in fees you would pay respectively if you chose the My Chase Plan option, you’d be saving money by using this financing option. 

Granted, there is a third option to choose from when planning out larger purchases — a 0% APR credit card. Many of the top cash-back credit cards offer an intro period from 12 to 18 months where you can pay off new purchases with a 0% APR (though a variable APR will apply to your balance once that intro period is over). For those really large purchases — new kitchen appliances, for example — a 0% APR card might be the better way to go if you’re looking to use credit cards to finance.  

Bottom line 

Whether you’re planning for upcoming holiday spending, making renovations to your house or needing a way to pay off everyday expenses such as your grocery bill over time, Chase and Amex’s new financing options can help you plan out payments. These features shouldn’t be used when you can help it, but they do offer a compelling alternative to high interest rates. 

In general, Chase is currently offering better fee rates on their My Chase Plan financing options, but Amex gives you longer to pay off purchases for those who need 12 and 24-month plans for some expenses.

Featured image by Poike / Getty Images. 

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