Review: American Express Green Card: Is It Worth the $150 Annual Fee?
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The American Express® Green Card was recently refreshed, and it got a pretty sweet upgrade: new 3X point categories for travel and restaurants worldwide, along with new annual statement credits for a CLEAR membership and LoungeBuddy purchases.
The annual fee has been upgraded too (to $150) but the new yearly credits can completely offset that, and you could actually come out ahead.
Book travel and pay for meals: Use this card to pay for travel (including transit) and for all your restaurant stops along the way.
Get the introductory bonus: New cardholders can get 30,000 bonus points for spending $2,000 in the first 3 months. Membership Rewards points for making $2,000 in purchases in the first three months, a pretty solid return on your spending.
Redeem with point transfers: You can find the best value for your points if you transfer them to a partner airline or hotel’s frequent traveler program, which could yield upwards of 2 cents per point.
Get a CLEAR membership: You’ll get up to $100 in statement credits each year for a CLEAR membership, which provides expedited security screening at certain airports, stadiums, and other venues. A CLEAR membership costs $15 per month ($179 per year).
Visit LoungeBuddy airport lounges: Take a load off before your flights in LoungeBuddy lounges, because you’ll get up to $100 per year in credits for eligible purchases with this lounge access program.
Some American Express cards don’t have typical preset credit limits. Instead, the American Express Green Card’s limit fluctuates based on your use of the card, plus other factors including your payment history and creditworthiness.
The Green Card can provide the equivalent of 1%–6% cash back, or perhaps even more, depending on what you buy and how you redeem your points.
3X Membership Rewards points per dollar for:
1X Membership Rewards point per dollar for all other purchases
Introductory Bonus Offer
30,000 bonus points for spending $2,000 in the first 3 months
The updated rewards program is pretty straightforward, and a great improvement over the old model.
The travel category is fairly broad, and includes transit along with common travel purchases like airfare and hotel stays. It also includes the American Express Travel portal, which may be worth exploring when planning your next getaway. (The previous version of this card offered 2X points at Amex Travel — and that was it.)
The restaurant category covers restaurants worldwide — a nice feature because, when it came to Amex cards, this category used to only cover dining establishments in the U.S.
The American Express Green Card has an annual fee of $150.
The Membership Rewards points you earn can be redeemed in a variety of ways, and the value of those points will depend on how you redeem them.
We recommend redeeming by transferring your points to an airline or hotel partner, where they could provide the most value. You could convert your points to Delta SkyMiles or Marriott Bonvoy hotel points, for example, and then redeem them for flights or hotel stays.
Take note that transfers to U.S. airlines will cost $0.0006 per point; other transfers are free.
The other redemption methods can’t provide as much value, only up to 1 cent per point. So try to resist cashing in your points until you can transfer them to a partner loyalty program for a good deal.
Each year you’ll get $100 in statement credits to pay for a CLEAR membership (when you pay with your Amex Green card). CLEAR provides expedited security screening at certain airports, stadiums, and other venues, using biometrics like eyes and fingerprints to verify your identity.
A CLEAR membership costs $15 per month, or $179 per year — so this credit will pay for most of the annual membership, but not all.
$100 Annual LoungeBuddy Credit
LoungeBuddy is an international airport lounge access program owned by American Express, and each year you’ll get up to $100 in statement credits for purchases through it.
LoungeBuddy allows access to a variety of lounge brands, including the popular Priority Pass, Dragon Pass, Delta Sky Club, and Plaza Premium lounges.
American Express Travel Services
Amex provides a variety of benefits for booking travel through its in-house service, American Express Travel. Many of these benefits come and go, and are only available for a limited time before being replaced by something else.
These benefits include discounts at hotels, reduced airfare, and special offers and upgrades from individual merchants, like complimentary extra nights at resorts.
Remember to check for savings opportunities here whenever you travel, and you can subscribe to the email newsletter to get even more offers.
The American Express Green Card has an annual fee of $150.
You’ll have access to discounts and extra points at a wide variety of merchants, giving you a way to earn rewards beyond the bonus categories.
You just need to head to the Amex Offers program and click “Add to Card” for the deals you want. Then, just use your card as you normally would to make purchases with those merchants. Your savings will appear as a statement credit later on, reducing your account balance.
Many of the deals can be quite valuable, saving you from $5 up through more than $100. For most of them, you’ll need to spend a certain amount to get a certain discount. There are many participating companies; at the time of publication, they include:
Complimentary ShopRunner Membership
Cardholders will have access to free two-day shipping and returns through the ShopRunner service. This benefit includes over 140 merchants and brands, which you can easily browse.
You must manually enroll in this benefit to make use of it.
Lowest Hotel Rates Guaranteed
If you book an eligible prepaid hotel room through Amex Travel and then find the same room being advertised online for a lower price, you can be refunded for the difference. You must submit your claim before the check-in date, and be sure to check your card details because some restrictions apply.
American Express Personal Loans
Green card members have the opportunity to apply for a loan through American Express (but only if they have been pre-approved). Loans are offered from $3,500 to $25,000, with fixed interest rates from as low as 6.98% (at the time of publication).
You’ll usually need to pay off your entire statement balance in full every month, unless you’re making use of Amex’s Pay Over Time feature. In that case you’d be revolving a balance from month to month and accruing interest — but we don’t recommend doing so because you’ll be charged interest (obviously!).
Eligible charges can be included in a Pay Over Time balance, up to the Pay Over Time Limit. Eligible charges include purchases, foreign transaction fees, and annual membership fees. The following are ineligible for Pay Over Time: cash advances, including cash and other cash equivalents, certain insurance premiums, and any other fees owed to American Express. Pay Over Time Limit applies to the total of the Pay Over Time, cash advance, and Plan balances.
All charges not added to a Pay Over Time balance, a monthly payment plan, or a cash advance balance must be paid in full each month by the payment due date.
Do you love to taste the local flavors on your trips, leading you to spend quite a bit at restaurants? This card can help you recoup some of that.
Is a CLEAR membership appealing? (Research where CLEAR is being used.) Have you ever peeked enviously into airport lounges, wanting to relax but not willing to spring for it?
Examine your spending and travel habits — how would this card fit in? If you’re willing to explore your redemption options, and bide your time to wait for a good deal, the Green card could take the help take the edge off your next vacation in a big way (monetarily speaking).
There are a lot of options when it comes to travel rewards credit cards, and you may find something better for you than the Green card. Take a look at the alternatives below for some other good card picks.
How to Apply for the American Express Green Card
Applying for the Green Card is simple — just click “Apply Now” below. American Express will check your credit to determine if it will approve you or not. Amex usually pulls your Experian credit report, though occasionally it may pull other reports as well.
What Credit Scores Do I Need to Be Approved for the American Express Green Card?
This card is designed primarily for people with good to excellent credit, but take note that approval depends on more than just credit scores. Your income plays a role as well, along with other factors that American Express may use to evaluate applicants.
So, you may not be approved just because you have good credit; and if your scores are a bit low, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be denied.
Qualifications and Requirements
Must be 18 to apply
Personal information: Including SSN, email address, and phone number
Financial information: Total annual income, and source of income, monthly mortgage/rent payment
You’ll find a mix of popular credit cards below, all designed for travel but focused on different aspects. Whether you’re looking for an inexpensive option or you don’t mind laying down a sizable annual fee, there’s a travel card out there for you.
This card might be better suited for anyone who’s more focused on food than travel, but still plans to fly every year. You’ll earn bonus points at U.S. supermarkets along with at restaurants, and there are some valuable food-related credits to sweeten the deal.
4X Membership Rewards points per dollar at:
U.S. Supermarkets (up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X)
1X Membership Rewards point per dollar for every other purchase
60,000 bonus points for spending $4,000 in the first 6 months
You’ll have the same redemption options here as with the Green card. So, once again, your best bet is to look for valuable point transfers to airline and hotel loyalty programs.
$120 annual dining credit: Earn up to $10 in statement credits per month for purchases at eligible restaurants and food delivery services.
Point transfer: To airline and hotel loyalty programs, like JetBlue, Southwest, Marriott, and Hyatt
Up to $120 in Uber Cash: Add the Gold Card to the Uber App to get up to $10 in Uber Cash per month; U.S. Eats orders and rides only.
Uber Eats Pass: Get unlimited $0 delivery fees and 5% off orders at eligible restaurants for 12 months; must enroll by 12/31/21. Taxes and service fees may apply and do not count toward the order minimum. Eats Pass will start auto-billing 12 months from enrollment, at then-current monthly rate. Learn more.
The Hotel Collection: Provides up to $100 in credits for every eligible hotel stay of two nights or more, along with other perks.
Amex Offers: Find discounts and extra point opportunities at a changing selection of merchants (offers are limited; enrollment required).
ShopRunner membership: ShopRunner provides free two-day shipping and returns at participating online retailers.
No foreign transaction fee
Annual fee: $250
Enrollment required for select benefits; terms and limitations apply.
Rose Gold is back. You can now choose between Gold or Rose Gold.
Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months.
Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, including takeout and delivery, and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
$120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
$120 Dining Credit: Earn up to a total of $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations. This can be an annual savings of up to $120. Enrollment required.
Get up to 12 complimentary months of an Uber Eats Pass subscription when you enroll with your Gold Card by 12/31/21.
No Foreign Transaction Fees.
Annual Fee is $250.
American Express is a Credit Card Insider advertiser.
This is one of the more popular travel cards, offering decent rewards along with the ability to transfer points to a variety of airlines and hotels (similar to the Green card).
5X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on Lyft rides (through March 2022)
2X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar for:
1X Ultimate Rewards point per dollar on all other purchases
100,000 bonus points for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months from account opening
Points are typically worth 1 cent each, and Chase provides a 25% bonus when redeeming for travel through the Ultimate Rewards program. But, like all the best travel cards, you can get a better point value by transferring to an airline or hotel partner.
That could give you 2 cents per point, or more — and that would mean you’d be getting a 4% cash back equivalent (or higher) when spending in the 2X categories, not too shabby.
25% point bonus: When redeeming for travel expenses through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Point transfer: Transfer points at a 1:1 rate to leading airline and hotel frequent travel programs, like Marriott Bonvoy, IHG, or United MileagePlus.
Luxury Hotel Collection: Book eligible rooms to get perks like daily breakfast for two, complimentary WiFi, room upgrades, early check-in or late check-out, and unique gifts.
Visa Signature Concierge: Call to speak with your Visa Signature Concierge, any time, day or night.
Premium Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver: Get primary coverage on eligible rental vehicles so you don’t have to pay for rental insurance and your premiums won’t go up after an accident.
No foreign transaction fee
Annual fee: $95
Our best offer ever! Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $1,250 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 100,000 points are worth $1,250 toward travel.
With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash’s subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.
The big difference here is that the Discover it® Miles (Review) has no annual fee, making it completely free to use — as long as you avoid interest and other fees, because this is a regular credit card that can revolve a balance. No annual fee is a great thing to have, because it means you’ll never feel pressured to use the card just to make it pay for itself. If you decide not to use it much, you can keep it in reserve and fall back on it whenever necessary.
A big downside here is that you can’t transfer your miles to airline and hotel loyalty programs, but that’s not too surprising for a card with no annual fee.
1.5X miles per dollar on all purchases
Introductory Bonus Offer
Miles Match: New cardmembers get double miles in the first year (awarded after the first year)
Since each mile is worth 1 cent, you’ll be earning a cash back equivalent of 3% on every purchase in your first year, which is quite good. After that you’ll get a 1.5% cash back equivalent for every purchase, which is not too bad when it comes to non-category expenses.
Free Credit Score: Track your FICO Score 8 over time, based on your TransUnion credit report.
Social Security Number Alerts: Get notified if your SSN is found on any thousands of risky websites.
New Account Alerts: Get notified of any new accounts that show up on your Experian credit report.
Purchase APR: See Terms for See Terms, then See Terms
Balance Transfer APR: See Terms for See Terms, then See Terms
For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, please click here.
At a glance
The newly revamped American Express Green Card is a big improvement over the old version, now offering 3X points for travel and dining plus annual statement credits for certain travel services. The new annual fee is higher, but the enhanced rewards and benefits could easily make up for it.
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