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2020 Review: American Express Green Card: Is It Worth the $150 Annual Fee?

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Brendan Harkness By Brendan Harkness Oct 24, 2019 | Updated Aug 06, 2020

(Rates & Fees)

Our rating
Min. credit level: Excellent
Annual Fee: $150
Regular APR: See Pay Over Time APR

American Express® Green Card

Our rating
Excellent Min. credit level
Apply Now Jump to Alternatives

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.

American Express® Green Card

Our rating
Min. credit levelExcellent
Details
(Rates & Fees)
Annual Fee$150
Regular APRSee Pay Over Time APR
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Earn 30,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $2,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® Points on Restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery.
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on all eligible travel, from subway swipes and window seats to hotel stays and city tours.
  • Earn up to $100 in annual statement credits to help you get through security faster with CLEAR®.
  • Earn up to $100 in annual statement credits to access 750+ airport lounges globally through LoungeBuddy.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $150 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees

American Express is a Credit Card Insider advertiser.

Our Rating: 5 Out of 5 Stars

The newly revamped Green card gets 5 out of 5 Stars for being a rewarding travel card that can potentially deliver more value per year than the annual fee will cost.

Why We Like It

  • 3X Membership Rewards points on travel and dining is competitive with other travel rewards cards
  • Annual statement credits totaling $200 for CLEAR and LoungeBuddy
  • A solid welcome bonus
  • Points can be transferred to various airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Amex Offers and a complimentary ShopRunner membership give you more bang for your buck
  • No foreign transaction fee

Why It Could Be Better

  • Point redemptions can take a bit of work to find a good value (because statement credit redemptions are a poor choice)
  • The annual fee of $150 would be a bit steep if you can’t make good use of the annual statement credit benefits
  • American Express cards aren’t accepted as widely around the world as Visa or Mastercard (not the fault of this card, however)

Insider Advice: Getting the Most Out of Your Card

  • 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.
Insider tip

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 Rewards

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.

Earning

Spending Rewards
  • 3X Membership Rewards points per dollar for:
    • Travel
    • Restaurants
  • 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.

Insider tip

Looking for different bonus categories? Consider the American Express® Gold Card, which offers 4X points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 spent annually) and restaurants, along with 3X points for flights booked directly with airlines or via Amex Travel.

The American Express Green Card has an annual fee of $150.

Redeeming

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.

Your redemption options are:

Redemption Method Point Value (In Cents)
Point transfers 0.1–2+
Air travel or hotels 0.5–1
Gift cards 0.7–1
Donations 0.7
Statement credits 0.6
Shop through retailers 0.5–1
Insider tip

Explore the full range of Amex Membership Rewards redemption options to learn more.

The Benefits

$100 Annual CLEAR Credit

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.

Wireless Telephone Credit

Get up to $80 in statement credits when you use your card to purchase wireless telephone services from a U.S. provider (up to $10 per month, until 12/31/20).

$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.

Amex Offers

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:

  • Macy’s
  • Sam’s Club
  • Starbucks
  • Pandora Media
  • ESPN+
  • HubSpot

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).

The Terms & Fees

Annual Fee Purchase and Balance Transfer APR Foreign Transaction Fee
$150 See Pay Over Time APR  None
Penalty APR Late Fee Returned Payment Fee
See Rates & Fees Up to $40 Up to $40

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.

The Bottom Line

The newly upgraded American Express® Green Card has a lot to offer travelers of a certain persuasion.

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?

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

American Express® Green Card

Our rating
Min. credit levelExcellent
Details
(Rates & Fees)
Annual Fee$150
Regular APRSee Pay Over Time APR
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Earn 30,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $2,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® Points on Restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery.
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on all eligible travel, from subway swipes and window seats to hotel stays and city tours.
  • Earn up to $100 in annual statement credits to help you get through security faster with CLEAR®.
  • Earn up to $100 in annual statement credits to access 750+ airport lounges globally through LoungeBuddy.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $150 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees

American Express is a Credit Card Insider advertiser.

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Alternatives to the American Express Green Card

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.

American Express® Gold Card

Our rating
Min. credit level Good
Details
(Rates & Fees)
Annual Fee $250
Regular APR See Pay Over Time APR
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

The American Express® Gold Card (Review) is more expensive than the Green card (Rates & Fees), with a different set of rewards and benefits.

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 worldwide, and there are some valuable food-related credits to sweeten the deal.

Spending Rewards
  • 4X Membership Rewards points per dollar at:
    • Restaurants
    • U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 spent annually)
  • 3X Membership Rewards points per dollar on:
    • Flights booked directly through airlines or American Express Travel
  • 1X Membership Rewards point per dollar on all other purchases
Introductory Bonus Offer
  • 35,000 bonus points for spending $4,000 in the first 3 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.

  • $100 annual airline fee credit: Use this to pay for incidental airline fees, like baggage and in-flight food and drinks. Does not apply to flight tickets.
  • $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 Airlines, Marriott Bonvoy, and Hyatt.
  • The Hotel Collection: Provides up to $100 in credits for every eligible hotel stay of two nights or more.
  • Amex Offers: Find significant discounts at a changing selection of merchants and websites.
  • Complimentary ShopRunner membership: ShopRunner provides free two-day shipping and returns at participating online retailers, like American Eagle, Peet’s Coffee, Staples, and more.
  • Shopping and Travel protections: Including Purchase Protection, Return Protection, Premium Roadside Assistance, and Travel Accident Insurance
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Annual fee: $250
  • Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points on Restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery.
  • 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 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.
  • $100 Airline Fee Credit: up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year for incidental fees at one selected qualifying airline.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.

American Express is a Credit Card Insider advertiser.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Our rating
Min. credit level Good
Details
Annual Fee $95
Regular APR 15.99% - 22.99% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (Review) is a regular credit card and not a charge card, meaning you can revolve a balance from month to month, gaining interest as you go. However, we recommend that you always pay your balance in full and avoid interest to help your wallet and your credit scores (unless you have a 0% rate).

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).

Spending Rewards
  • 2X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar for:
    • Travel
    • Dining
  • 1X Ultimate Rewards point per dollar for every other purchase
Introductory Bonus Offer
  • 80,000 bonus points for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months

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.
  • Shop through Chase/Chase Offers: Earn more points by shopping at participating retailers with Shop through Chase and Chase Offers.
  • 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
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards(R).
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 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, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash’s subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.

Discover it® Miles

Our rating
Min. credit level Good
Details
Annual Fee $0
Regular APR See Terms

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.

Spending Rewards
  • 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)

Like all Discover cards, the Discover it Miles will double your rewards in the first year, a pretty impressive offer that scales up to match your spending, unlike most introductory bonus offers.

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
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Annual fee: $0

The information related to Discover it® Miles has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.

American Express® Green Card

Our rating
Min. credit levelExcellent
Details
(Rates & Fees)
Annual Fee$150
Regular APRSee Pay Over Time APR
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Earn 30,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $2,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® Points on Restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery.
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on all eligible travel, from subway swipes and window seats to hotel stays and city tours.
  • Earn up to $100 in annual statement credits to help you get through security faster with CLEAR®.
  • Earn up to $100 in annual statement credits to access 750+ airport lounges globally through LoungeBuddy.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $150 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees

American Express is a Credit Card Insider advertiser.

Do you use the American Express Green Card? How do you like it? Leave your own review below to let us know!

Looking for other travel credit cards? Check out our picks for the Best Travel Credit Cards.

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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The information related to Discover it® Miles has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.

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