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The Plum Card from Amex: For small businesses with short-term cash flow

The Plum Card from Amex may be the right credit card for your business needs. CNBC Select breaks down the rewards, benefits and fees of this no interest card for short-term cash flow.

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If you operate a small business of any size — whether it's dog walking on your own, managing a small cafe employing 10 people or supervising a manufacturing facility employing nearly 100 people — cash flow is likely a concern.

With The Plum Card® from American Express, you can defer paying a portion of your business' monthly bills with no interest charged. If your month-to-month cash flow fluctuates, this may be the perfect credit card for your business needs.

Most small business credit cards don't require you to run a formal business to qualify, so anyone from an entrepreneur to a side hustler can apply, leaving out the need to rely solely on your personal credit card. With The Plum Card, that can mean extending the time you have to pay bills while you focus on more urgent expenses.

Below, CNBC Select breaks down the rewards, benefits and fees associated with The Plum Card from American Express to help you decide if it's the right card for your business needs.

The Plum Card from American Express review

  • Rewards
  • Additional benefits
  • Fees
  • Bottom line

The Plum Card® from American Express

The Plum Card® from American Express
On American Express's Secure Site
  • Rewards

    Earn an unlimited 1.5% cash back on the portion of your balance that you pay within 10 days of your statement closing date

  • Welcome bonus

    No current offer

  • Annual fee

    $250, waived the first year

  • Intro APR

    Not applicable

  • Regular APR

    Not applicable

  • Balance transfer fee

    Not applicable

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent

See rates and fees and our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • Free employee cards
  • Early Pay Discount of 1.5% cash back
  • Annual fee waived the first year
  • No fee on purchases made outside the U.S.

Cons

  • $250 annual fee (waived the first year)
  • No special financing offers

The Plum Card from American Express rewards

If your business relies on an inconsistent or infrequent cash flow, you can use The Plum Card to help plan out your quarterly spending. While most business credit cards charge interest for outstanding balances past your grace period, you can prolong this period of time to pay your business charges with The Plum Card from American Express.

It works like this: Cardmembers can take up to 60 days to pay without interest when they pay the minimum due by the payment due date. While paying your balance in full every month is ideal, some businesses operate on a different calendar. The Plum Card's Pay It Later deferral program gives these business owners some welcome leeway as long as they pay the previous month's deferral amount and least 10% of the card's new charges in the current month.

The remaining new charges from the current month are then shifted to be paid off during the next billing cycle at 0% interest.

This is a standout perk for businesses that often carry credit card balances because of unsteady cash flows. You can keep a balance on your credit card without having to pay interest in the near term, which comes in handy during periods of heavy upfront costs, like hiring new talent, increasing inventory or marketing in order to gain new freelance contracts.

And when business is thriving again, there are incentives for paying your balance early. With the Early Pay Discount, cardholders earn an unlimited 1.5% cash back on the portion of their balance that they pay within 10 days of their statement closing date. The cash back is applied as a statement credit toward your next monthly bill.

It's a bit unique from a cash back card in that you must pay your balances before the billing cycle is complete, but automating your payments has never been more worth it.

Even though The Plum Card doesn't have spending rewards, like the Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business that offers unlimited 1% cash back on every purchase, paying early can mean saving your business big bucks over the long-term.

This card also has a special offer for new cardmembers that lets them earn up to $600 back by receiving a $200 statement credit after each $10,000 spent in purchases on the card, up to $30,000, within the first three months.

Additional benefits

With The Plum Card from American Express, business owners have extra benefits that can allow them peace-of-mind. They range from management tools that help with tracking business and employee spending, to exclusive low-rate guarantees while booking hotels for business trips. 

Here are some helpful perks and protections, which may apply to both primary and additional cardholders:

  • Expense management tools: Keep track and organize your expenses with features like the American Express® Business App, Vendor Pay by Bill.com and account alerts to monitor employees' spending.
  • No preset spending limit: This doesn't mean unlimited spending (users' payment history and credit record are also taken into account), but cardholders have more power over how much they can charge onto their card.
  • Global Assist® Hotline: Receive 24/7 emergency assistance for things like lost luggage, visa/passport help, cash wires access and medical and legal referrals.
  • Car rental loss and collision damage insurance: Consider yourself covered if your rental vehicle is damaged or stolen while on a work trip.
  • Lowest hotel rates guarantee: For those work travelers who book hotel stays on amextravel.com and afterward find the same booking at a lower price online, American Express refunds the difference.
  • Return Protection: Return eligible items to American Express up to 90 days from the date of purchase, if you made the purchase with your Amex card.
  • By Invitation Only® events: Enjoy exclusive events from sporting and fashion to fine dining, art and performances.
  • Amex Offers: Receive exclusive shopping discounts at select retailers through Amex Offers. These offers typically give you a set dollar amount of cash back, credited to your account within 90 days after you meet the requirements.

Terms apply for all benefits.

Fees

The Plum Card waives your annual fee the first year, but it goes up to $250 starting your second year. This is higher than some other small business credit cards, such as the Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business, which has no annual fee and offers 1.5% cash back on every purchase. There is no fee for additional Employee Plum Cards issued on the account.

With no foreign transaction fees, you can make international purchases for your business without worrying about an additional cost.

Bottom line

When it comes to choosing the right credit card for your business, there are many benefits to consider, whether it means finding increased savings for your company or an easier way to manage everyday expenses.

Though the 1.5% Early Pay Discount is a central perk of The Plum Card® from American Express, this credit card really stands out because of the flexibility it gives business owners with extra days to cover their costs through the Pay It Later deferral program.

If your business has a more predictable cash flow, consider other small business credit cards that offer better rewards at lower annual costs. The Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business offers a straightforward unlimited 2% cash back at no annual fee for the first year, $95 after that.

Information about the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business, Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business, and Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the CNBC Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.