American Express Launches New Pay Over Time Option

The new features allows cardholders to carry a balance or pay in full for purchases of $100 or more.

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Need to Know 

  • American Express is launching a new payment option, Pay Over Time, that offers small business owners more flexibility.
  • New and current cardholders can opt-in to the feature, allowing them to carry a balance or pay in full for purchases of $100 or more.
  • The new payment option comes amid a boom of new flexible payment features around the world.

Analysis 

American Express has introduced a new payment option that allows small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) more flexibility. The new feature, called Pay Over Time, gives business owners the option “to either carry a balance with interest on eligible purchases of $100 or more or to pay the balance in full, providing more flexibility to pay based on what’s best for their business.”

The Pay Over Time feature will be embedded on American Express’ current Green, Gold, and Platinum Business Cards and will be offered to both new and existing customers. The cards have no pre-set spending limit and the Pay Over Time feature can be turned on or off at the customer’s discretion. 

The new payments option is designed to help small business owners to “meet their cash flow management needs” during uncertain times following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“While American Express is known for our no pre-set spending limit, pay-in-full charge card model with our iconic Green, Gold and Platinum Cards, we’ve long heard from our Card Members who are small business owners that increased payment flexibility is important to them. This is especially critical during these times of uncertainty,” said Brett Sussman, VP of global card lending at American Express. “Pay Over Time is another step in our broader strategy to provide business owners the flexible solutions they need to easily and efficiently manage payments and cash flow, through varying operating environments.”

The launch comes during a boom of new flexible payment options. 

In recent years, major competing brands Visa and Mastercard have partnered with Splitit to  provide their customers with more “buy now, pay later” (BNPL) options. 

Splitit allows online shoppers to choose to pay in monthly, interest-free installments for a term of up to 24 months. 

The Visa partnership will help Visa merchants offer more flexibility for their customers. Mastercard’s partnership with Splitit will look similar, while also providing installment options for in-store purchases. 

Another top payments platform, PayPal, will launch its own BNPL solution this year, called Pay in 4. The feature allows merchants and partners to get paid upfront, while customers can choose to pay for purchases over a six-week period.

Since the onset of the pandemic, American Express’s earnings of 29 cents per share plunged 86% year over year due to a decrease in spending volumes. 

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