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Credit card installment plans allow you to pay for eligible purchases over time with fixed monthly payments and a predetermined repayment period. Installment plans can be easier to manage than paying down a revolving balance. However, they're only available from certain credit card issuers, and the programs have different requirements and features.
How Do Credit Card Installment Plans Work?
Credit card installment plans generally let you convert purchases of at least $100 into an installment plan. When you request an installment plan, you may be able to choose from several repayment periods. The plan will have a fixed monthly payment over the repayment period, and you'll pay an additional interest charge or monthly fee in addition to the principal balance.
The balances from credit card installment plans are still part of your card's total balance, meaning they can impact your available credit and credit utilization ratio, which is an important factor in your credit score. However, the monthly payment amount may be separate from the monthly payment for the rest of your card's balance.
Credit Card Issuers That Offer Installment Plans
Installment plans aren't available with every credit card, but several major card issuers offer installment plan programs.
American Express Plan It
The American Express Plan It feature is automatically included with eligible American Express personal charges and credit cards. Using American Express Plan It, you can expect the following:
- Create a payment plan for a qualifying purchase of $100 or more, or select up to 10 purchases to create a new payment plan. (When creating a plan using the Amex mobile app, you can only choose one purchase for each plan.)
- Choose from up to three payment periods, ranging from three to 24 months, depending on the balance.
- Interest doesn't accrue on the plan, but there is a monthly fee that can depend on the purchase amount, payment period and your account's annual percentage rate (APR).
- Once enrolled, the monthly fee for your payment plan(s) will be added to your monthly minimum payment for the card. You may be able to keep your grace period and avoid interest charges on purchases by paying your monthly bill in full.
- You can have up to 10 active Plan It plans at a time.
American Express has a Plan It calculator that you can use to estimate the monthly payment and total cost of a purchase or plan. Once you've created a plan you can't cancel it, but you can avoid future plan fees by paying off your card's balance in full.
Citi Flex Pay
The Citi Flex Pay plan from our partner also lets you split up eligible purchases into fixed monthly payments. The resulting Flex Plan will accrue interest and the plan's APR may be the same as your purchase APR, but you'll have fixed monthly payments for a predetermined term.
- You can enroll your eligible purchases (which must be at least $75) and choose from different payment plans.
- You may be able to use Flex Pay at Amazon.com to automatically create a monthly Flex Plan for your purchase of $50 or more. The plans can range from three to 48 months depending on the purchase amount, and you may receive a promotional APR.
- The Flex Plan monthly payment will be added to your minimum monthly payment.
- If you pay your monthly Flex Plan amount and entire card balance (excluding the remaining Flex Plan balance), you won't be charged interest on new credit card purchases.
- You may be limited to a certain number of Flex Plans at a time.
My Chase Plan
My Chase Plan is available on many Chase credit cards and lets you break up eligible purchases into monthly payments with a fixed monthly fee rather than interest charges.
- You can enroll purchases of $100 or more into a My Chase Plan with equal monthly payments. The purchases must be from the past 90 days and can't have a promotional APR.
- You may be able to choose from up to three monthly plan options, with repayment periods ranging from three to 18 months.
- The plan will have a fixed monthly fee, which is added to your credit card's monthly minimum payment.
- Your statement will have an "interest saving balance" amount, which you can pay to avoid paying interest on your purchases while paying off your My Chase Plan.
- You can have up to 10 plans at a time.
There's no penalty for paying off a My Chase Plan early, but you can't cancel or change the plan once it's created. To pay it off early and avoid additional monthly fees, you'll need to pay off your card's entire balance.
U.S. Bank ExtendPay Plan
The U.S. Bank ExtendPay Plan also lets you enroll eligible purchases into an installment payment plan with fixed monthly payments.
- Purchases must be $100 or more to qualify.
- Repayment plans can range from three to 24 months, depending on the transaction amount.
- Your ExtendPay Plan will have a fixed monthly payment, which includes a fixed fee, for the repayment period.
- You can avoid paying interest on purchases by paying your Plan Adjusted Balance each month.
- There's no fixed limit to how many purchases you can enroll in an ExtendPay Plan, but your plans' combined balances can't go over 50% of your account's credit limit.
As with some of the other installment plan options, the only way to end an ExtendPay Plan early is to pay off your credit card balance in full.
|Comparing Credit Card Installment Plans|
|American Express Plan It||Citi Flex Pay||My Chase Plan||U.S. Bank ExtendPay Plan|
|Minimum qualifying purchase||$100||$75 ($50 on Amazon.com)||$100||$100|
|Repayment terms||3 to 24 months||3 to 48 months||3 to 18 months||3 to 24 months|
|Cost||Monthly fee||Accrued interest||Monthly fee||Monthly fee|
|Maximum active plans at once||10||7||10||Not fixed—up to 50% of your credit limit|
Although they're not credit card issuers, Visa and Mastercard are also developing and offering installment programs that may be available on credit cards in their respective networks. But the specifics can vary depending on the specific card.
Should You Use a Credit Card Installment Plan?
Credit card installment plans won't always be the right fit if you need to pay off a purchase over time, but they can offer a variety of benefits and drawbacks that differentiate these plans from other types of loans.
- It doesn't require you to apply for a new loan, and there won't be a credit check.
- You can compare repayment plans and costs before enrolling.
- It might cost less than taking out a new loan or revolving the balance.
- Fixed repayment terms can be easier to manage and pay off than a revolving balance.
- You often still earn rewards on the purchase.
- Some transactions might not qualify, such as purchases that are below the minimum dollar amount, cash advances, cash-like transactions and annual fees.
- Moving purchases to a payment plan won't lower your card's balance or increase your available balance.
- It might cost more than a new credit card with an intro 0% APR offer.
- You generally can't change or cancel a plan after creating one.
Monitor Your Credit Accounts
Whether you're using a credit card installment plan or sticking with the traditional payment method, monitoring your account and balances is important. You can use Experian's free credit report monitoring to check your overall and individual credit card utilization ratios, and get insights on how you may be able to improve your credit scores. After logging in to your account, you can also get personalized credit card offers using Experian CreditMatch™.