Over the past several months we’ve seen American Express refresh much of their card portfolio, especially for cards earning Amex Membership Rewards points. A few weeks ago the relaunched American Express® Green Card was introduced, and it’s spectacular. So in this post, I wanted to take a closer look at the card.
American Express Green Card Basics for January 2020
The new Amex Green Card has a reasonable annual fee, offers statements credits that can potentially more than offset the annual fee, and offers 3x points in categories that many will spend a lot in.
Combine that with the value of Membership Rewards points, and the other great cards out there you can complement that with, and this is a card that should interest many. So let’s take a closer look at the details.
Amex Green Card $150 Annual Fee
Let’s start off with what most people would consider to be the negative of the card. The Amex Green Card has a $150 annual fee (Rates & Fees). That might sound a bit on the steep side, but I think the benefits more than outweigh it.
Amex Green Card Welcome Bonus
The Amex Green Card’s public welcome bonus consists of two rewards:
- 30,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $2,000 within three months
Generally speaking, Amex doesn’t have huge welcome bonuses for their cards earning Membership Rewards points, so this is quite a solid bonus.
Note that some people have been receiving better targeted welcome bonuses, so also be on the lookout for that.
Is The Amex Green Card A Charge Card?
There’s some confusion about whether or not the refreshed Amex Green Card is a credit card or charge card. For those of you who don’t know about the distinction:
- With a credit card you can finance your charges over time (but ideally shouldn’t, since credit card interest rates are high)
- With a charge card you have to pay off your balance in full with each billing cycle
The Amex Green Card has historically been a charge card. I have been told that the Amex Green Card will be a credit card going forward, though it actually seems to be a hybrid of sorts.
That’s to say that with the new Amex Green Card you still don’t have a pre-set spending limit, but you do have the option not to pay of your balance in full every billing cycle.
There is one significant point here — Amex limits you to having five credit cards, and that doesn’t include charge cards. All the reports I’m seeing suggest that the Amex Green is a charge card for those purposes, as people with five Amex credit cards are being approved.
Earning Points With The Amex Green Card
This is where the card gets really awesome. The Amex Green Card offers 3x Membership Rewards points in some really lucrative categories. I value Membership Rewards points at 1.7 cents each, so to me 3x points categories equate to a 5.1% return on spending, which is excellent.
Earn 3x Points On Dining
The Amex Green Card offers 3x points at restaurants globally with no limits. Generally speaking, the restaurants category doesn’t just include sit-down dining establishments, but you’ll often find that fast food establishments, cafes, etc., code as restaurants as well.
It all comes down to how the merchant categorizes themselves. For example, a restaurant located inside another establishment (like inside a hotel) often won’t code as dining, so that’s something to be aware of.
Furthermore, expect that bars, nightclubs, cafeterias, and convenience stores, won’t code as restaurants.
Earn 3x points on dining purchases globally
Earn 3x Points On Travel (Including Transit)
This is an exciting new bonus category, since historically not many Amex cards have offered bonus points on travel purchases. The Amex Green Card offers 3x points on travel purchases (including transit) globally with no limits.
You can expect this to include all kinds of travel purchases, including airfare, hotels, cruises, car rentals, campgrounds, trains, taxicabs, rideshare services, tours, ferries, tolls, parking, buses, subways, and third party travel sites.
As you can see, this includes many purchases you might make in your day-to-day life without actually “traveling,” like ridesharing, as well as bus, train, and subway tickets.
Earn 3x points on travel purchases globally
No Foreign Transaction Fees
The Amex Green Card has no foreign transaction fees (Rates & Fees), so this is a great card to use for purchases abroad. That’s especially true when you consider how many foreign purchases are often in the travel and dining category. I’d say that’s a majority of what I spend money on when traveling.
Earn 3x points on dining and hotels with the Amex Green Card
Redeeming Points With The Amex Green Card
The best way to redeem your Amex Green Card points is to transfer them to one of the Membership Rewards airline or hotel partners. Points can be transferred to the following 22 partners, including 19 airline partners and three hotel partners:
|Aer Lingus Aer Club||Choice Privileges|
|Aeroméxico Club Premier||Hilton Honors|
|Air Canada Aeroplan||Marriott Bonvoy|
|Air France/KLM Flying Blue|
|ANA Mileage Club|
|British Airways Executive Club|
|Cathay Pacific Asia Miles|
|El Al Matmid|
|Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles|
|Qantas Frequent Flyer|
|Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer|
|Virgin Atlantic Flying Club|
The reason this represents such a good deal is because you can get outsized value towards international first and business class travel. These tickets are often super expensive if paying cash, while they can be a good deal on points.
On top of that Amex often has transfer bonuses, which can stretch your points even further.
Redeem your points for Lufthansa first class
American Express Green Card Benefits
The Amex Green Card has some benefits that potentially more than outweigh the annual fee on the card. This includes two $100 annual credits that many should find useful.
Amex Green Card Annual $100 CLEAR Credit
Nowadays so many credit cards offer TSA Pre-Check and Global Entry fee credits, and I’ve long said that I wish a card offered a CLEAR credit instead. Well, it looks like Amex has listened.
The Green from Amex offers up to $100 per calendar year in CLEAR statement credits. What’s also awesome is that this is annual, and not once every four to five years, like the TSA Pre-Check credit would usually be.
Just use your card when you pay for your CLEAR membership, and you’ll automatically receive statement credits within two to four weeks of when your card is charged.
Ordinarily, a CLEAR membership costs $179 per year, but just for being a member (even without status) of Delta SkyMiles or United MileagePlus, that cost is reduced to $109 per year. If you have Delta Medallion or United Premier status it’s even lower than that.
Realistically no one should be paying more than $109 per year for CLEAR, and that $100 credit would bring down your out of pocket to $9 per year, which is awesome.
Save on a CLEAR membership with the Amex Green Card
Amex Green Card Annual $100 LoungeBuddy Credits
Earlier this year Amex acquired LoungeBuddy, and now they’re adding a LoungeBuddy credit to a card for the first time.
The Green from Amex offers up to $100 per calendar year in LoungeBuddy statement credits when you buy lounge access and charge it to your card.
LoungeBuddy lets you instantly buy access to hundreds of lounges around the world. Now, in fairness, there is quite some overlap between their lounges and those belonging to Priority Pass, so this may not be all that useful to everyone.
However, they do also have some unique lounges they partner with that don’t belong to Priority Pass.
Statement credits with this should post within two to four weeks.
Buy access to all kinds of lounges with the LoungeBuddy statement credits
One of the great features of Amex cards is access to Amex Offers, which offers savings or bonus points on purchases with all kinds of retailers. There’s huge value to be had in getting as many Amex cards as possible, so that you can get these offers on multiple cards.
Amex Offers could save you hundreds of dollars per year. You can access these offers by logging into your account and scrolling down to the bottom of your account summary page.
Is The Amex Green Card Worth It?
The Amex Green Card is the product that has been missing from Amex’s portfolio for so long, in my opinion. The card offers 3x points on dining and travel, has a fairly reasonable $150 annual fee to begin with, and that gets even better when you consider the $200 in credits you can take advantage of annually.
If you’re someone who finds Amex points to be valuable and you spend a lot on dining and travel (which includes some really broad categories), then I think this card is a no brainer.
Let’s just look at a few other things to consider when deciding if this card makes sense.
Quick Card Comparison: Amex Green Vs. Amex Gold
Earlier this year Amex refreshed the American Express® Gold Card, so how do the two cards compare? The Gold Card:
- Has a $250 annual fee (Rates & Fees)
- Earns 4x points on dining globally, 4x points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 of spending per calendar year), and 3x points on airfare
- The card offers up to $220 in credits annually, including an up to $100 airline fee credit and up to $120 annual dining credit
Personally I think the Amex Green Card is better for those who don’t shop a lot at supermarkets, while the Amex Gold Card is better for those who spend a lot at supermarkets.
Quick Card Comparison: Amex Green Vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is another incredibly popular card that earns bonus points on dining and travel. So how do the two cards compare? The Sapphire Preferred:
- Has a $95 annual fee
- Has a 60K point welcome bonus (which is superior)
- Earns 2x points on dining and travel (which isn’t as good, since the Amex Green earns 3x points, and on a per point basis I value the currencies equally)
- Offers super travel protection, including car rental coverage (which the Amex Green doesn’t)
- Doesn’t offer any travel credits (while the Amex Green offers a $100 CLEAR credit and $100 LoungeBuddy credit annually)
Personally I think the Amex Green Card might just be superior, especially if you spend a lot on dining and travel, and especially if you can at all take advantage of the CLEAR and/or LoungeBuddy credits.
Complement: Amex Blue Business Plus
If I were to get the Amex Green Card and complement it with one other Amex card, I’d recommend The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express, which offers 2x points on the first $50,000 spent every calendar year.
It’s a pretty unbeatable combination to earn 2x points on everyday business spending and 3x points on personal dining and travel spending.
The Amex Green Card is a lucrative new product. The $150 annual fee card offers 3x points on dining, travel, and transit, and offers up to $200 in annual credits ($100 with CLEAR and $100 with LoungeBuddy).
As someone who pays $100+ per year for a CLEAR membership, that is more or less good as cash to me.
The following links will direct you to the rates and fees for mentioned American Express Cards. These include: American Express® Gold Card (Rates & Fees), and American Express® Green Card (Rates & Fees).