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 their “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 should you care if the Pay Over Time feature is turned on for your AMEX card? Because it may keep you from being approved for a new AMEX card. Remember, AMEX has a limit of 5 credit cards per person, which is why we had to cancel a card before applying for a new one. There were reports a while ago on Miles To Memories where a new card application was denied for having too many open accounts. The interesting thing was the person involved didn’t have too many 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.
Was this just another case of the AMEX RAT going crazy? Since the original report from the end of 2020, I haven’t been able to find any more recent data reports on if AMEX is counting cards with Pay Over Time activated like credit cards when applying for a new card.
Whether this is still a rule or not, it makes 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.
If you pay off your AMEX charge cards every month, it doesn’t make any difference if you have Pay Over Time activated. However, by deactivating it you may get an offer to reactivate it at a later date. That alone would be a reason to turn it off if you’re not using it.
I hoped we’d get clarity from AMEX if having it turned on impacts approvals for a new account. Without knowing, either way, I’d turn it off unless you have a really good reason not to.
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