American Express offers two different types of accounts, credit cards and charge cards. The differences between the two are important to understand for several reasons. Unlike credit cards, which we all know about, charge cards have to be paid in full every month. That is, unless they don’t.
Over the years, AMEX has added cardholders’ ability to carry a balance on their charge card through the “Pay Over Time” feature. Once you sign up, any charge over $100 can be paid off over a series of months. Of course, you’re still able to pay the entire bill if you want. AMEX has offered Membership Rewards bonuses for activating Pay Over Time, so you might have this feature on your charge card without remembering turning it on.
American Express more recently added another feature called “Plan It,” which allows you to take a single purchase and pay it off in a series of installments. This is more like taking out a loan than paying off a credit card.
Why is it suddenly important to talk about these programs? Because using one of them may keep you from being approved for a new AMEX card. According to a post on Miles To Memories, a new card application was denied for having too many open accounts. Remember, AMEX has a limit of 4 credit cards per person, which is why we had to cancel a card before applying for a new one. The interesting thing was the person involved only had 3 AMEX credit cards.
When calling the reconsideration line, he was told that the Pay Over Time feature was active on one of his charge cards and counted as an open line of credit, putting him over the limit.
This is news to everyone and it remains to be seen if this is a glitch or another instance of the AMEX RAT going crazy. I can say that Sharon had three credit cards and 1 charge card with Pay Over Time activated and she was approved for a new credit card just a few months ago.
Whether this is a new rule or not, it still may make sense for you to deactivate the Pay Over Time feature on your charge cards if you’re not using it.
It’s not easy to find this setting on the website, so I typed Pay Over Time into the search box.
Here’s a link to the Pay Over Time page of the AMEX website. Once there, you can see if you’re currently enrolled.
If so, click on Inactive to turn off the Pay Over Time feature.
Once again, American Express is leaving us scratching our heads. Is this a new rule or not? What makes it worse is that AMEX doesn’t post their rules so we’re forced to use reports from cardholders to figure it out ourselves. Until then, it might make sense to plan for the worst and turn off Pay Over Time on your AMEX charge cards.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary