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What Is AmEx Pay Over Time and How Does It Work?

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Unlike credit cards, charge cards don’t have preset spending limits, nor do they have ongoing APRs. That’s because, generally, you’re not able to carry a balance on a charge card and must instead pay your bill in full each month.

But Pay Over Time changes the equation, allowing you to finance eligible purchases over a long term with interest. This is a convenient feature if you’re unable to pay off your balance in full, but as with any carried balance, that can get expensive.

Here’s how Pay Over Time works, and how to determine whether it works for you.

How Pay Over Time works

  1. AmEx automatically enrolls your card. You don’t need to activate it or opt in. If you have the American Express® Green Card, the American Express® Gold Card or The Platinum Card® from American Express, you’re automatically enrolled in Pay Over Time. If you don’t wish to be enrolled, however, you will need to opt out. To do so, you can change your setting online or call American Express.

  2. The issuer assigns a Pay Over Time limit. There’s no overall preset spending limit for your charge card, but there is a limit to how much you can finance in purchases with the Pay Over Time feature. Your Pay Over Time limit is based on your creditworthiness (much like a traditional credit limit). All charges that exceed the Pay Over Time limit must be paid in full at the end of the billing period.

  3. You make purchases as normal. Eligible charges are automatically added to your Pay Over Time balance each month. If you still pay off your balance in full at the end of the billing period, the card continues to function as a typical charge card, with no interest applied. You’ll also continue to earn rewards on all purchases, regardless of whether you use Pay Over Time.

  4. Interest charges accrue when you don’t pay the bill off in full. Pay Over Time charges an interest rate that is the same across the Green, Gold and Platinum products. As of August 2020, cardholders who use the feature will pay an APR between 15.99% to 22.99%, depending on creditworthiness.

  5. You have options at bill time. The Pay Over Time feature allows you some choice in how you pay your bill. You’ll receive the amount due, which includes the minimum amount required for any ongoing Pay Over Time balance and the amount in excess of your Pay Over Time limit. But you can always elect to pay off both balances in full to avoid triggering the Pay Over Time option.

Purchases that qualify

Eligibility requirements for purchases vary depending on the charge card. The Platinum Card® from American Express and the American Express® Gold Card only allow eligible purchases of $100 or more to qualify for the Pay Over Time option. The American Express® Green Card allows eligible purchases of any amount. Terms apply.

Transactions that don’t qualify for Pay Over Time include cash advances, traveler’s checks, other cash equivalents, gambling-related purchases (including those made at casinos), fees owed to the issuer (with the exception of foreign transaction fees) and certain insurance premiums.

Potential drawbacks

The Pay Over Time feature adds payment flexibility for those times when paying off a balance in full isn’t possible, but ideally you wouldn’t rely on this feature heavily. The steep annual percentage rate on Pay Over Time balances can get expensive and easily cancel out the value of rewards. Remember that you can opt out of the feature if you prefer.

And if you do need some wiggle room to pay off purchases, you might also consider AmEx’s Pay It Plan It® feature, also available on all three of these cards. The “Plan It®” part of that feature allows you to pay off larger purchases of $100 or more over time with an interest-free installment plan that charges a fixed monthly fee.

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