Credit and charge cards come in a variety of categories to fit almost all purchasing needs. There are consumer cards, business cards and corporate travel cards. Each type of card offers a different combination of financial controls, features, options and perks. What they have in common is convenience and flexibility to buy now and pay later, either in full each month or over several months. Though there are different kinds of cards available, each comes with a cardholder's agreement and corresponding responsibility to pay back what you spend. Examine your spending habits, credit score, desired benefits and the structures of the various types of cards to determine which might be right for you.
Charge cards are a type of credit card that require you to pay the full amount you've charged each month. There are no periodic finance charges, and charge cards often come with the ability to earn rewards based on spending behaviors.
Credit cards offer a revolving line of credit, meaning consumers may carry a balance from month to month rather than having to pay the balance in full every month. Each time you use a credit card, you are essentially taking out a loan, and card issuers require a payment of at least the minimum amount due be paid by the due date every month. Interest charges typically accrue on amounts charged.
Learn more about American Express fees and interest charges.
Rewards cards come in the form of credit and charge cards and offer consumers extra value for purchases. Rewards include cash rebates, merchandise, airline tickets, hotel stays, and gasoline and gift cards. There are several different types of rewards cards, and they are defined by how the rewards are earned and redeemed:
Refer to your cardholder agreements for information on rewards programs for the types of credit cards you carry.
A prepaid card is exactly what it sounds like; a payment card that is pre-loaded with value that can be used at a later time. There are two different kinds of prepaid credit cards available – reloadable, multi-use cards and single-use gift cards. These types of cards can generally be used where American Express cards are accepted depending on the features and functionalities associated with the particular prepaid card. A general purpose reloadable prepaid card is usually personalized with the user’s name, and the name of the cardholder (who may differ from the user). This is great for parents of college students who can obtain a prepared card for their child and control the amount of funds on the card and when it is reloaded.
Prepaid cards can be reloaded via a bank account, cash, direct deposit, online and more depending on the provider’s options. Some general-purpose, reloadable prepaid cards can be used abroad, to access cash via an ATM, and to make purchases online. (Single-load gift cards cannot be reloaded, used internationally or used to get cash from an ATM.)
No credit check or history is needed to obtain a single-use gift card or a general purpose reloadable prepaid card. However, like most financial products, you will still be required to provide details verifying your identity and address in order to obtain a prepaid card.
Companies have the opportunity to enjoy the same credit and charge card benefits available to consumers in addition to features and advantages specific to business needs. Business owners can use their cards for office supply expenses, services (temporary labor, consultants) and corporate travel. This type of card also offers a convenient alternative to the invoice-and-paper-check payment method and can help track expenses, simplify bill payment and reduce reliance on petty cash.
Choose from the same types of cards above: credit or charge, rewards or not, basic or premium, and then review benefits unique to the needs of business owners. Business card users can determine billing arrangements (individual or central billing, for example) and can set spending controls, which limit card use to designated types of merchants or types of charges (such as airfare only).
In addition to the cards that large corporations have used for many years, there are also different kinds of credit cards with more targeted uses, including purchasing cards, corporate meeting cards and cards for small businesses.
Many business cards also offer a variety of benefits, such as discounts on certain products and services, or with certain vendors; enhanced insurance, emergency travel and medical assistance lines and travel agent services.
Compare the different types of cards at American Express to find what’s right for you.