American Express® Green Card review: New rewards, travel perks and more
American Express® Green Card
CardRatings Editor's Analysis: Pros & Cons
- A grab bag of excellent travel-related credits make this card seem more premium than its reasonable annual fee suggests it is.
- Earn a nice three Membership Rewards® points per $1 spent on dining worldwide as well as on eligible travel and transit purchases.
- Earn 30,000 bonus points after you spend just $2,000 in the first three months of card membership.
- Don't overlook the annual fee. While lower than that of premium travel cards, it's still something you need to consider when deciding if this is the right travel card for you.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- WHAT'S NEW WITH THE AMERICAN EXPRESS® GREEN CARD?
- THE AMERICAN EXPRESS® GREEN CARD WELCOME BONUS
- AMERICAN EXPRESS® GREEN CARD BENEFITS
- POTENTIAL DOWNSIDES OF THE AMERICAN EXPRESS® GREEN CARD
- HOW THE AMERICAN EXPRESS® GREEN CARD COMPARES TO OTHER CARDS
- IS THE AMERICAN EXPRESS® GREEN CARD WORTH THE ANNUAL FEE?
Does traveling to New Zealand to see some of the world’s most breathtaking scenery excite you? Or how about trying the brand new prix fixe tapas restaurant in the city? For those who prefer experiences over everything else and are willing to spend strategically to score that perfect Instagram shot, the revamped American Express® Green Card may be just the card for you. With a generous new welcome bonus to get you started earning Membership Rewards® points, tiered rewards earning and excellent travel perks, including travel-friendly credits and no foreign transaction fees, Green from Amex has redefined itself as a legitimate travel rewards card with serious benefits. What's more, it's offering all this for a reasonable $150 annual fee that will appeal to those who want make sure all their extra dollars go toward those experiences and unforgettable moments rather than fees (American Express is a CardRatings advertiser; See Rates and Fees).
- Earn 100,000 bonus miles when you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening, or still earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
- Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day
- Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
- Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔®
- Redeem on travel-from vacation rentals to car rentals and more. Plus transfer your miles to over 10+ travel loyalty programs
- No foreign transaction fees
The American Express® Green Card benefit that jumps immediately off the page is the new card member bonus opportunity. For new applicants, Green from Amex is currently offering the opportunity to earn 30,000 Membership Rewards® points when you spend $2,000 in the first three months. With numerous redemption options including transferring points to Membership Rewards® travel partners and using points on Amazon.com with their Shop with Points feature, the welcome bonus alone offers a tremendous amount of value. And don't forget, you'll earn points on your purchases as you spend toward earning the bonus.
Cardholders of the American Express® Green Card earn three points for every $1 spent on dining out worldwide and for eligible travel and transit purchases including car rentals, airfare booked directly through airlines, hotel stays booked directly with the hotels, rideshares, tolls, subways and more. You'll also earn one point for every $1 spent in other categories. If you choose to spend toward the welcome offer with dining out or eligible travel purchases, you could earn as many as 6,000 additional points to go with your bonus points.
Membership Rewards® points are highly valued in the travel rewards community since they're transferable to a number of popular airline and hotel loyalty programs, among other reasons. For a full explanation, check out the CardRatings "Guide to the American Express® Membership Rewards® program."
Beyond the rewards, let's talk about those travel-focused credits we mentioned above.
Lounge access has long been a mark of ultra premium travel rewards credit cards that come with the ultra high annual fees to match. With the new perk from the American Express® Green Card and LoungeBuddy, you won’t have to pay a premium annual fee to have lounge access. When you use Green from Amex to purchase lounge access through the LoungeBuddy website or LoungeBuddy app you can receive up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year. Whether your goal is to relax, be productive, or just get away from it all, lounge access can help you do it.
Continuing the pattern of making your travel easier and more comfortable, for an expedited security experience at the airport, there are a few options available to you. One of them, CLEAR, uses biometrics (your eyes and fingertips) to confirm your identity and help make getting through security at select airports and stadiums across the U.S. a breeze. With the American Express® Green Card you can get up to $100 per calendar year in statement credits when you use the the Card to pay for your CLEAR membership. With this benefit, you’ll be through security and hanging out in the LoungeBuddy lounge before you know it.
The $150 annual fee of the American Express® Green Card isn’t for everyone. If you are someone who doesn't frequently travel or eat out often, it may be a lot harder to justify the cost of having this card in your wallet. It truly is geared toward cardholders who find themselves out and about more than in.
With that being said, it's an American Express card and, while the network of merchants accepting Amex cards is ever-growing, it's still a smaller network than you'll find with Visa or Mastercard. That's particularly true if you do a lot of traveling abroad. While that point alone shouldn't keep you from applying for a card that could earn you a lot of rewards, doesn't charge foreign transaction fees and is otherwise right for you, it is something to consider. You may want to be sure that you travel abroad with another card, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card discussed below, that uses one of the larger networks in case American Express isn't accepted.
American Express® Green Card vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
If you are looking for an alternative travel rewards card to the Green from Amex and want a slightly lower annual fee, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a great place to look. Comparing the cards side-by-side, you may notice that the new card member bonus for the Sapphire Preferred card is considerably higher at 80,000 Ultimate Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening, plus up to $50 in statement credit toward grocery store purchases during your first year. The points alone are double the number of points currently being offered by Green from Amex. When you take into account that Ultimate Rewards® points redeemed for travel though the Chase travel portal are worth 1.25 cents a piece with Sapphire Preferred, the signup bonus could be worth up to $1,000 (or even more if you strategically transfer your points to one of the travel loyalty partners). Considering that the annual fee for the Sapphire Preferred is $95 compared to the Green from Amex’s $150 annual fee, the Chase card provides a lot of value for a lower annual fee.
Where the American Express® Green Card gets the edge is in everyday points earning. Green from Amex cardholders earn three points per $1 on eligible travel and transit expenses as well as dining purchases, whereas Sapphire Preferred cardholders earn two points per $1 spent on travel and dining purchases as well as two points per $1 on up to $1,000 spent monthly on grocery store purchases through April 30, 2021, and one point per $1 spent on all other purchases. For points earning in tiered categories, the Green from Amex has the advantage. Plus, there are all those bonus credits we discussed in the benefit section above that the Sapphire Preferred card doesn't offer.
American Express® Green Card vs. Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is one of the few travel rewards cards on the market today that offers flat-rate earning on every purchase. The Venture card earns two miles per $1 spent on every purchase. The earnings rate is not solely for travel purchases, you earn two miles regardless of what you are using the card for. The Green from Amex’s tiered rewards earning can help to earn more points for travel and dining purchases, but trails the Venture’s two-mile per $1 earning rate in other purchase categories. As with Green from Amex, the miles you earn with the Venture card are transferable to a number of travel loyalty programs and you won't pay foreign transaction fees when you use this card while traveling abroad.
The annual fee for the Venture card is also worth noting as it is $95. If having a lower annual fee is a priority to you, the Venture gets the edge in this category compared to the Green from Amex.
American Express® Green Card vs. The Platinum Card® from American Express
The Platinum Card® from American Express is the flagship travel rewards card from Amex that comes with luxury travel perks and benefits, as well as a premium $550 annual fee.
The Platinum card earns five points per $1 spent on flights purchased directly with airlines or through the Amex travel portal (starting Jan. 1, 2021, earn 5X points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year) as well as five points per $1 for hotels booked through the portal, and one point per $1 spent on all other purchases. Plus, earn 10x points on eligible purchases on your new card at U.S. gas stations and U.S. supermarkets, on up to $15,000 in combined purchases, during your first six months of card membership. This is a higher earn rate than Green from Amex’s three points for every $1 spent at restaurants and on eligible travel and transit purchases.
The annual fee of the Platinum Card, however, is also eye-opening compared to the much lower fee for the American Express® Green Card, which shouldn't be overlooked. With that higher annual fee, Platinum cardholders get a $200 annual airline fee credit for incidental fees with a pre-selected airline, up to $200 in annual Uber savings, up to $100 in statement credit for your Global Entry or TSA Pre✓™ application fee, as well as access to airport lounges around the world with the Global Lounge Collection for American Express. It's probably not surprising that with luxury travel benefits comes a premium annual fee.
The changes to the American Express® Green Card have made it a valuable rewards card. With a good new card member bonus, higher travel and dining points earning, and travel benefits, the revamped Green from Amex is a welcome addition to the American Express family of rewards cards.
If you are someone who does not frequently travel or eat out often, it may be harder to justify the cost of having this card in your wallet; however, for those that are looking for premium travel experiences and rewards earning without the premium annual fee (and who can take full advantage of the perks offered by the card), it could very well be worth the annual fee charged.
For rates and fees of American Express cards mentioned in this article, please see the following links: American Express® Green Card (See Rates and Fees); The Platinum Card® from American Express (See Rates and Fees)