You check your credit card bill on a regular basis, and keep track of your purchases. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to pay some purchases in advance, and to avoid interest on larger purchases that will carry over from month-to-month? American Express has offered a new Pay It Plan ItTM program that allows you to do both.
Pay It Plan It is a mobile app that comes with many American Express cards issued before June 1, 2017. Cards issued after June 1, 2017 will have the feature added in early 2018. See the AmEx press release for a list of the eligible cards.
Pay It and Plan It are complementary programs that apply on either side of the $100 purchase level. You can use Pay It to select any individual charges below $100 and pay them off immediately with the app. By paying off some debts early, you can reduce your balance and keep your credit utilization low – or keep from bumping up against your credit limit. The remainder of your bills will stay on your monthly statement, to be paid as they normally would be.
The Plan It program, available for most purchases above $100, allows you to apply a separate payment plan to that purchase and avoid the typically high interest rate associated with credit cards. Payment plan terms range from three to 24 months. Select a purchase using the "Create a Plan" button and you will be given the option of up to three installment plans for that purchase alone. Each plan will list the number of payments and the size of each payment. You can have up to ten active plans per eligible account depending on your credit standing. You can check your credit score and read your credit report for free within minutes using Credit Manager by MoneyTips.
What's the catch? While there is no interest, there is a monthly fee associated with the payment plan. The plan offers clearly state the fees and totals involved, allowing you to decide whether or not the fee is worth the interest charges that you would save over carrying the charges over multiple payment periods.
If you choose one of the plans, that charge will be apportioned to your monthly bill according to the plan you have chosen, along with the corresponding monthly fee for that purchase.
Payments may not be directed toward any one of your specific Plan It payment plans, because the plan amounts are automatically included in your minimum payment amount. That's how American Express can afford to lower the amount of interest income they could make – by reducing the risk of failure to pay.
Keep in mind that this automatically raises your minimum payment amount, and failure to make your minimum payment can place your account in default. Consider that when arranging multiple payment plans, and make sure not to overextend yourself. For more details on the Plan It Pay It program, consult the American Express website.
Plan It Pay It is not for everybody – for example, if you rarely or never charge more than you can afford to pay off at the end of the month, there's little benefit to either part of the program. If you are currently under a 0% APR program for purchases, there's little reason to incur the fees associated with Plan It. Higher minimum monthly payments with Plan It could cause problems with those who have trouble meeting their existing minimum payments.
However, if you tend to carry over larger purchases on your credit card, Plan It can save you significant money on interest – and it also provides a level of total payment transparency that you normally do not see with credit card purchases.
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