James Bronzz, WalletHub Analyst
Amex Pay Over Time is a feature on several American Express cards that allows you to pay for certain eligible charges over the course of multiple billing periods. The Pay Over Time feature is available on cards that normally require you to pay your statement balance in full each billing period.
With Pay Over Time, you can 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 balance carried from month to month, that can get expensive.
How Amex Pay Over Time Works
- Amex automatically enrolls your card.
You don’t have to activate the feature or opt in. Eligible accounts will automatically be set to "Active" status at account opening. You can view or change your setting online or by calling customer service at the number you see on the back of your card.
- Your card has two balances at the same time.
When you have a card with the Amex Pay Over Time feature, you essentially have two balances. One is your normal balance, which you are required to pay in full each month. The other is your Pay Over Time balance, where Amex moves eligible charges.
- There is a Pay Over Time limit.
You can view the limit on the Balance Details page of your online account. All charges not included in the Pay Over Time balance will need to be paid in full every month.
- Eligible purchases are automatically added to Pay Over Time.
Eligible purchases are automatically added to your Pay Over Time balance each month. You can choose to pay your Pay Over Time balance in full at the end of the billing period. This way, the card continues to function as it always has, with no interest applied.
- Interest charges accrue if you don’t pay off your balance.
If you decide to carry some or all of your Pay Over Time balance between months, you will owe interest on this balance. Your Amex Pay Over Time interest rate depends on your overall creditworthiness.
- You earn rewards normally.
Whether you use the Pay Over Time feature or not, you will earn rewards on all purchases.
Another useful thing to keep in mind is that not all types of transactions are eligible for the Amex Pay Over Time feature. Also, this feature is not available on all Amex credit cards. Only credit cards with no preset spending limits qualify for "Pay Over Time."
Popular Amex Cards That Offer Pay Over Time
There are also several other Amex business cards offering the Pay Over Time feature.
Purchases That Don’t Qualify for the Amex Pay Over Time Feature
Most purchases and annual membership fees qualify for the Amex Pay Over Time feature. However, there are several transactions that don’t, including:
- Cash advances and cash equivalents
- Gift cards
- Insurance premiums
- Casinos and gambling transactions
Amex Pay Over Time Pros & Cons
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Alternatives to Pay Over Time: Pay It® Plan It®
Although the Amex Pay Over Time feature can be convenient, you should consider the interest rates that come with it. Some alternatives are the Pay It and Plan It features. You can use the Pay feature to make payments for small purchase amount(s) on the go. Pay It is only available through the Amex mobile app. Simply select a posted transaction with the "Pay It" label, and follow the prompts to complete a payment for that amount.
The Plan It feature allows you to pay off qualifying purchases of $100 or more over time with a plan that charges a fixed monthly fee. There is no sign-up needed, as this feature is automatically embedded into your card. You can use "Plan It" on your online account or in the Amex mobile app. Qualifying purchases will have a "Plan It" icon. Keep in mind, though, that "Pay It Plan It" are only available on American Express consumer credit card accounts, not business credit cards.
Having said that, if you want to finance large purchases, you would probably be much better off using a 0% APR credit card. The best among these cards are interest-free for 15-21 months and do not charge annual fees, helping cardholders avoid interest while paying down big purchases over time. Some 0% APR credit cards even offer rewards on purchases and 0% APRs on balance transfers, too.
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