American Express often sends out special offers to its customers allowing them to enroll in a special program called Pay Over Time that allows you to spread your charge card payments out over several months.
But what exactly is this program and is it worth it to enroll?
This article will tell you everything you need to know about Amex Pay Over Time, including eligibility, payment options, how to enroll, and whether or not it’s worth it. I’ll also talk about some special offers that come with the program that you should be aware of.
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What is Amex Pay Over Time?
Amex Pay Over Time is a program that allows Amex customers who hold charge cards to opt to pay for certain charges over time, much like they would with a normal credit card. It essentially allows your charge card to operate as a credit card where you can carry a balance over to the next month.
But Pay Over Time is usually meant to cover short-term time frames where you can’t fully pay off your bill. Think of it as a way to extend your payments out by a few months rather than a few years. That’s not to say you can’t take years to pay off your balance, it’s just not necessarily designed for that type of long-term borrowing.
What are Amex charge cards?
In case you’re not aware, Amex offers charge cards which function like credit cards but they require you to pay off your balance in full each month or else you’ll incur some fees. With a normal credit card, you can choose to pay a minimum amount of your balance each month but with charge cards you are expected to pay off all of your balance each month.
Some of the Amex charge cards are the:
- Platinum Card from American Express
- Gold Card
- Green Card
- Business Platinum Card from American Express
- Business Gold Rewards Card
These are some of the most valuable travel rewards credit cards, especially the Gold Card which earns 4X on dining and US supermarket purchases up to $25,000 per year.
How does Amex Pay Over Time work?
Pay Over Time allows you to select purchases of $100 or more and make monthly payments on them each month rather than paying off the entire balance. You can pay the balance in full, pay the minimum, or just pay somewhere in-between.
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How to sign-up for Pay Over Time
In order to use Amex Pay Over Time, you’ll first have to get invited and/or approved for the program.
Often Amex will like to see that you’ve used their charge card for a period of several months (around 6 months) and then they will extend an invitation to you or simply approve you when you apply.
However, sometimes you might be able to enroll in Amex Pay Over Time much sooner than 6 months and even when you’ve put very little spend on your Amex card, so this is an area where YMMV.
You can go to the Amex website to see if you’re eligible.
In the past, Amex has enrolled some into the program automatically so be on the lookout.
Different types of Pay Over Time
You should note that there are two types of Amex Pay Over Time programs.
Pay Over Time Direct
Pay Over Time Direct automatically moves charges of $100 or more into your Pay Over Time balance and you just have to pay the minimum amount due. But note “some accounts may require eligible charges to be equal to or greater than $200, $500, or $1000 to be automatically moved.”
Pay Over Time Select
Pay Over Time Select allows you to select individual charges of $100 or more into your Pay Over Time balance and you just have to pay the minimum amount due. This is the type that I would choose since you can use this for emergencies and your purchases will not automatically get moved into your Pay Over Time balance.
Why you shouldn’t sign-up for Pay Over Time
I recommend that most people do not sign-up for Pay Over Time or at least wait to do so.
10,000 point promotional offers
The biggest reason is that Amex will often send out special offers for signing up for Pay Over Time. Sometimes these offers will provide you with 10,000 Membership Rewards just for signing up for the program.
That’s an incredible offer and if you’re really lucky you might get invitations for several of your cards. But if you’ve already signed up for Pay Over Time on your own, you won’t be eligible for these offers even if you end up receiving one in the mail.
So my advice is to put off signing up for the program so you can maximize your odds of receiving a special promotional offer. It might take up to one year to receive the offer but if you don’t need to carry a balance, then there’s no need to be in a rush.
I would caution against enrolling in multiple special offers because there might be a link to accounts getting flagged or even shut down for doing this since it could be considered rewards abuse. So if you get multiple special offers for signing up, I would probably stick to only using one.
The APRs offered for Pay Over Time can be on the high side. If you really need to carry a balance on a card then I’d look into 0% APR credit card options which will save you much more money.
Remember, rewards cards often come with some very high APRs so they are not ideal at all for carrying balances each month. If your Pay Over Time APR is up around 20%, I’d take a hard pass on using that feature and look elsewhere for cheaper options.
But note: Sometimes Amex will offer special promotional APR rates.
Credit score needed
It’s not clear to me what credit score is needed to be invited to Pay Over Time. Personally, I think your spending habits and age of your account with Amex are the primary factors to consider. As long as your credit score hasn’t taken a major dip for some reason, you probably don’t need to worry about your credit score so much.
What are the Pay Over Time credit limits?
Amex can be very generous when it comes to the Pay Over Time credit limits. Often you’ll see people with limits up to $35,000+. These limits are not spending limits but just a cap on the total balance you can use in Pay Over Time.
Amex may bump up your Pay Over Time limits as they get accustomed to your spending habits and you build up trust with them over time. So don’t be too bummed if you get started with a small limit.
You should be aware that if you surpass your Pay Over Time limit, that transaction will be due in full on your next statement. For example, if you had a $10,000 Pay Over Time limit and you put a $15,000 transaction on your card, that transaction will not be added to your Pay Over Time balance.
Also, note that these limits may be all charge cards and are not limited to individual cards. So if you enrolled with three cards with a $35,000 limit, you would likely not be able to max each card out at $35,000 — instead it would be a cumulative credit limit total.
How does Pay Over Time report to your credit report
You might be wondering how to Pay Over Time balances report to your credit report?
It’s odd because while Amex will give you a credit limit for Pay Over Time, that limit should not affect your utilization on your personal credit report, according to some reports. Your Pay Over Time balance will still likely show on your credit report, though.
Note that some credit score models might factor in Pay Over Time balances differently.
Does Amex Pay Over Time result in a hard pull?
Amex Pay Over Time will not result in a hard pull on your credit report. This is great news because hard pulls can drop your credit score by a few points but you don’t have to worry about that with Amex Pay Over Time. To find out more about how hard pulls affect your credit score you can click here.
Pay Over Time is a nice feature for earning Membership Rewards when you receive a special offer. However, given the potentially high APR, I would be hesitant to actually use the program, especially when there are so many other options out there with 0% APRs.
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Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time credit card rewards/travel expert and has earned and redeemed millions of miles to travel the globe. Since 2014, his content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.