Q: I'm financing a car right now, and I've been paying on time. I just got offered a Green Card by American Express. What do you think about this card? Is there a good starter card that you recommend?
There's nothing wrong with the American Express® Green Card, except that its annual fee runs a little high compared to other companies' entry level credit cards. In addition, the way that American Express reports your Green Card history to credit bureaus could weirdly affect your credit score if you don't have other credit cards. I would ask an American Express customer service agent if you qualify for this alternative:
- Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express. Unlike the Green Card, you can carry a balance when you need to with AmEx's cash back credit card. On eligible purchases you can earn some generous cash back rewards. Terms and limitations apply.
Even if you're only eligible right now for a Green Card, I think it's still worth your while to check out the terms of your offer. They are offering many new cardmembers an introductory annual fee of $0 for the first year, after that the $95 annual fee kicks in, and it's likely that you may graduate to an American Express® Gold Card or to an account with more perks by the time your Green Card comes up for renewal. Keep in mind the Green Card is a charge card and you will need to pay your balance in full each month.
In addition, I've found that many Green Card members under utilize some of the bonus features of their accounts, especially:
- Extended Warranty. Add up to an extra year to the warranty coverage on eligible purchases. This may save you hundreds of dollars if you need to replace or repair a smartphone or a computer.
- Roadside Assistance. Instead of paying a wrecker or an auto club, you can get emergency service up to four times a year, up to $50 in towing costs per call, at no extra charge.
- Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance. Don't pay $40 a day for the rental agency's CDW plan, when AmEx offers it as part of your card membership.
Over the past few years, American Express has retained true elite status among credit card issuers. A relationship you start with them now will come in handy later.
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