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What is a Charge Card?

You may be asking, “What is a charge card and how does it differ from credit card?” Find out the key differences between charge cards and credit cards, and learn about the benefits that charge cards offer and how they can benefit you. Explore BestCards.com’s detailed reviews and find your ideal card today.

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Showing 5 Cards

Date Reviewed: September 05, 2018

American Express® Business Gold Card

American Express® Business Gold Card
  • Regular Purchase APR 14.24% to 22.24% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Annual Fee $295
  • Credit Needed Excellent , Good
  • Processing Network American Express
Best Benefits
  • Pick 2 categories for the 4X bonus
  • 4X points made directly from select technology providers of computer hardware, software, and cloud solutions
  • 4X points at gas stations
  • 4X points at restaurants
  • 4X points for shipping
  • 4X points on advertising (online, TV, radio)
  • Earn 1X points on all other purchases
  • Pay Over Time Option: A flexible payment option to help manage cash flow on purchases of $100 or more
Rates & Fees
  • Regular Purchase APR: 14.24% to 22.24% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Penalty APR: 29.24% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Annual Fee: $295
  • Late Payment Penalty Fee: $39 or 2.99% of any past due Pay in Full amount, whichever is greater
  • Return Payment Penalty Fee: $39
Credit Card Deals
  • Spend $1,000 or more, get $200 back - Offer Expires on November 30, 2020 - See Details
  • Spend $50 or more, get $10 back - Offer Expires on December 31, 2020 - See Details
  • Spend $9.99 or more, get $9.99 back - Offer Expires on December 31, 2020 - See Details
  • View All Deals -

Date Reviewed: August 31, 2018

American Express® Green Card

American Express® Green Card
  • Regular Purchase APR See Pay Over Time APR
  • Cash Advance APR 25.24% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Annual Fee $150
  • Credit Needed Excellent
  • Processing Network American Express
Best Benefits
  • Earn 3X points on all eligible travel (flights, hotels, transit, taxis, tours, ridesharing)
  • Earn 3X points at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery
  • Earn 1X points on all other purchases
  • Receive up to $100 per year in statement credits to pay for your CLEAR® membership
  • Earn up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year on your LoungeBuddy purchases
  • Baggage insurance plan up to $1,250
Rates & Fees
  • Regular Purchase APR: See Pay Over Time APR
  • Cash Advance APR: 25.24% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance Transaction Fee: Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater
  • Penalty APR: 29.24% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Annual Fee: $150
  • Late Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $40
  • Return Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $40
Credit Card Deals
  • Spend $1,000 or more, get $200 back - Offer Expires on November 30, 2020 - See Details
  • Spend $50 or more, get $10 back - Offer Expires on December 31, 2020 - See Details
  • Spend $9.99 or more, get $9.99 back - Offer Expires on December 31, 2020 - See Details
  • View All Deals -

Date Reviewed: August 28, 2018

The Plum Card® from American Express

The Plum Card® from American Express
  • Annual Fee $0 for the first year. After that, $250
  • Credit Needed Excellent
  • Processing Network American Express
Best Benefits
  • Receive 1.5% discount when you pay your bill within 10 days of your statement closing date
  • Up to 60 days to pay with no interest
  • Choose whether to receive your bill at the beginning, middle, or end of the month
  • Annual fee waived the first year
  • No preset spending limit
  • Employee Plum Cards for no additional fee
Rates & Fees
  • Annual Fee: $0 for the first year. After that, $250
  • Late Payment Penalty Fee: $39 or 1.5% of the past due amount, whichever is greater
  • Return Payment Penalty Fee: $39
Credit Card Deals
  • Spend $1,000 or more, get $200 back - Offer Expires on November 30, 2020 - See Details
  • Spend $50 or more, get $10 back - Offer Expires on December 31, 2020 - See Details
  • Spend $9.99 or more, get $9.99 back - Offer Expires on December 31, 2020 - See Details
  • View All Deals -

Date Reviewed: August 15, 2018

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express
  • Regular Purchase APR See Pay Over Time APR
  • Cash Advance APR 25.24% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Annual Fee $550
  • Credit Needed Excellent
  • Processing Network American Express
Best Benefits
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. Starting January 1, 2021, earn 5X points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year
  • 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more when you select one qualifying airline
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. That's up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. Enrollment required
  • Access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection
  • VIP status and $200 Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually
  • Complimentary Gold status in Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors programs
  • Complimentary membership in premium car rental programs
Rates & Fees
  • Regular Purchase APR: See Pay Over Time APR
  • Cash Advance APR: 25.24% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance Transaction Fee: Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater
  • Penalty APR: See Rates & Fees
  • Annual Fee: $550
  • Late Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $40
  • Return Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $40
Credit Card Deals
  • Spend $1,000 or more, get $200 back - Offer Expires on November 30, 2020 - See Details
  • Spend $50 or more, get $10 back - Offer Expires on December 31, 2020 - See Details
  • Spend $9.99 or more, get $9.99 back - Offer Expires on December 31, 2020 - See Details
  • View All Deals -

Date Reviewed: August 15, 2018

The Business Platinum Card®

The Business Platinum Card®
  • Regular Purchase APR 14.24% to 22.24% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Annual Fee $595
  • Credit Needed Excellent
  • Processing Network American Express
Best Benefits
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com
  • Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That's an extra half point per dollar, on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more. You can get up to 1 million additional points per year
  • 35% Airline Bonus: Use Membership Rewards® Pay with Points for all or part of a flight with your selected qualifying airline, and you can get 35% of the points back, up to 500,000 bonus points per calendar year when you book on amextravel.com
  • Enroll to get up to $200 in statement credits annually by getting up to $100 semi-annually for U.S. purchases with Dell
  • Pay Over Time Option: A flexible payment option to help manage cash flow on purchases of $100 or more
Rates & Fees
  • Regular Purchase APR: 14.24% to 22.24% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Penalty APR: 29.24% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Annual Fee: $595
  • Late Payment Penalty Fee: $39 or 2.99% of any past due Pay in Full amount, whichever is greater
  • Return Payment Penalty Fee: $39
Credit Card Deals
  • Spend $1,000 or more, get $200 back - Offer Expires on November 30, 2020 - See Details
  • Spend $50 or more, get $10 back - Offer Expires on December 31, 2020 - See Details
  • Spend $9.99 or more, get $9.99 back - Offer Expires on December 31, 2020 - See Details
  • View All Deals -

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Charge Cards vs Credit Cards

The phrase “charge card” is often used interchangeably with “credit card.” This is understandable, as the term refers to a card that can hold charges, and credit cards certainly fit that description. However, charge cards technically fit into their own category of payment, with their own advantages and disadvantages.

They function similarly to credit cards when it comes to making purchases, but have a few unique differences when it comes to paying the bill. These deviations may make them better or worse options for certain cardholders.

How Does a Credit Card Work?

Most consumers are familiar with how credit cards work – but not charge cards. First, an issuer reviews a credit card application to determine if the applicant qualifies. If approved, the issuer uses the applicant’s credit history (including their FICO scoring model credit score) to determine the size of their credit line and the interest rate.

Then, the applicant can begin to make purchases using the card. At the end of each month, the issuer provides a statement balance and requests payment. The cardholder has the option to make the required minimum payment, cover the entire balance, or pay somewhere in between.

Any funds leftover on the account will begin to accrue interest – unless it’s a 0% intro APR card. Though a charge card can technically be considered a type of credit card, they operate quite differently in these key aspects:

  • Interest and Balances
  • Late fees
  • Annual fees
  • Spending limits

How Does a Charge Card Work?

A charge card is basically a type of credit card with more restrictions, but no interest. Credit cards and charge cards both follow the “pay later” model, allowing you to make purchases and receive a bill at the end of the month. This payment structure means charge cards can affect your credit as well. Some also provide rewards for your spending.

However, charge cards can’t carry a balance from month to month as credit cards can – you’re required to pay the balance in full every month. This means you won’t have to pay interest charges, but it can also cause trouble if you spend more than you can afford. Charge cards are known for their high late fees, which average around 3% of the balance after the due date expires.

You also don’t get a preset spending limit with a charge card. Instead, charge card issuers examine your credit, payment history, and income before it approves a purchase. This can give you more wiggle room if you need to make a large purchase, though issuers closely monitor hefty charge card balances. Finally, whereas some credit cards are free, all charge cards cost an annual fee.

Where to Get a Charge Card

Since charge cards have been largely replaced by credit cards, you won’t find a huge variety. In fact, American Express is the only major card issuer that currently offers these cards, along with a selection of Amex credit cards. An American Express charge card often comes with an abundance of luxurious travel perks – and a high annual fee to match.

Perhaps the most famous of the charge cards is the Platinum Card from American Express. There is also the famed Centurion Card, which is only available to VIPs and by invitation (through a high spending threshold of over $250,000 per year or more. At the entry-level, the American Express Green Card is an excellent option, given it’s quality travel rewards and relatively low $95 annual fee.

Do Other Issuers Offer Charge Cards?

While American Express might be the name most commonly associated with charge cards, there are other options available. Many commercial cards are charge cards. These are;t business credit cards, but are similar in that they are offered to large corporations. Some of these cards are used for purchasing bull items for fleets, such as gas charge cards from Conoco, for example.

In terms of consumer charge cards, there aren’t many non-Amex charge cards on the market today. These products tend to be boutique and custom offers from specialized brands and not something the average consumer would hold or use every day.

Advantages and Disadvantages of a Charge Card

With how charge cards work, there are plenty of pros and cons to weigh before you decide to get one. For one thing, your card can get very expensive if you have trouble paying your balance in full each month. On the other hand, you’ll never have to worry about credit limits or interest rates if payments aren’t a problem for you. Plus, you can still get access to plenty of worthwhile rewards for your purchases, including travel credits.

Because charge cards have no preset credit limit, they are only for people with excellent credit – or at least a very good credit score. Charge cards are not really a tool to build credit. Rather, a charge card is something for someone with excellent credit to take advantage of and use for their everyday needs.

Find the Best Charge Cards

When weighing your options between charge cards vs credit cards, it’s important to find information from an unbiased source. The team at BestCards strives to fill that need with our collection of in-depth reviews and informative articles. With these resources, you’re sure to find the best cards for your wallet in no time!