American Express Business Green Rewards Card vs Business Gold Rewards Card

Brendan Harkness

Brendan Harkness | Versus

Jun 16, 2016 | Updated Jun 27, 2016

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Securing a credit card in the name of your small business can prove invaluable to your future growth potential, as many banks will require that your business has an established credit history before they’ll consider lending larger forms of financing.

Here’s a look at two popular American Express cards for business owners, the Business Green Rewards and the Business Gold Rewards, and how they compare in terms of costs and potential benefits.

These are both charge cards, which means that you can’t carry a balance from month to month. Instead, you’ll need to pay off the entire balance every billing period.

Should you be funding your business with one of these cards? Keep reading our review to find out!

Business Green Rewards Card from American Express® OPEN

For People with
Excellent Credit

  • Annual Fee: $95 (waived for the first year)
  • Interest Rate: Not Applicable - Paid in Full Monthly
Quick Card Facts
  • Get 5,000 Membership Rewards® points after your first purchase on the Card
  • Earn double Membership Rewards® points for each dollar of eligible purchases made when you book on the American Express Travel website
  • Earn one Membership Rewards® point for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases
  • Use points toward gift cards, merchandise, entertainment, and more with over 500 merchants
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95
  • Terms & Limitations Apply

The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express

For People with
Excellent Credit

  • Annual Fee: $175 (waived for the first year)
  • Interest Rate: Not Applicable - Paid in Full Monthly
Quick Card Facts
  • Get 25,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $5,000 in purchases on the Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership
  • Get 3x points - Choose 1 out of 5 categories
  • Plus, 2X points on the 4 remaining categories and 1X points on other purchases
  • Redeem points for everyday business expenses, to help with travel costs or to reward employees and entertain clients
  • Track, organize, and stay on top of your business expenses with powerful expense-tracking tools
  • New: No foreign transaction fees
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $175
  • Terms and limitations apply

The Rewards

Business Green Rewards

  • 2X miles per dollar on eligible purchases from American Express Travel
  • 1x mile per dollar on every other purchase
  • 5,000 point signup bonus after your first purchase

Business Gold Rewards

  • 3X points per dollar in the category of your choice:
    • Airfare purchased directly from airlines
    • U.S. purchases for advertising in select media
    • U.S. purchases at gas stations
    • U.S. purchases for shipping
    • U.S. computer hardware, software, and cloud computing purchases made directly from select providers
  • 2X points per dollar on the 4 remaining categories
  • 1X point per dollar on all other purchases
  • 25,000 bonus points for spending $5,000 in qualifying purchases in 3 months

As you can see, this card is pretty versatile. You’ll be able to choose the category that you’ll spend the most in to get 3X points, and still get 2X points in the others.

The 3X and 2X points apply to the first $100,000 spent in each category per year. After that, you’ll earn 1X point in that category.

After you pick your 3X category, you’ll be able to switch it once per year.

The Verdict

These cards are pretty different.

The Green card is simple and designed mainly for travel spending, with just the single category to earn 2X points in. The Gold card lets you pick the right category for you, the one that you’ll spend the most in. You’ll have more opportunities to earn points, and the signup bonus is bigger too.

If your primary objective in securing a business card is to build a credit history for your business, and you don’t expect to make significant business-related purchases for equipment, travel, or marketing, the Green Rewards card is probably the most cost effective option.

However, if your business is more established, you have a consistent budget for operational expenses (and revenue to cover those costs each month), and your team travels and/or entertains clients frequently, the Gold Rewards may be a simple way to earn rewards for business expenses you’ll incur regardless.

The Benefits

These cards come with the same set of benefits from American Express, which is pretty comprehensive when it comes to the business-oriented features, as well as the shopping and travel protections.

Perks

  • Entertainment Access®

    Exclusive access to ticket pre-sales and card member-only events in your city.

OPEN Business Services

  • OPEN Forum®

    Online community for small business owners to connect with each other.

  • OPEN Savings®

    Extra savings on eligible purchases from participating merchants.

  • ReceiptMatch with QuickBooks®

    Track expenses with ReceiptMatch with QuickBooks®.

  • Account Alerts

    Get alerts about account information on your phone.

  • Account Manager

    Ability to give other people permission to manage your account.

Security

  • Dispute Resolution

    Help dealing with fraudulent and incorrect transactions.

Shopping

  • Extended Warranty

    For warranties of 5 years or less, get up to 1 extra year added to the original manufacturer’s warranty.

  • Purchase Protection

    Items purchased with your card are protected against accidental damage and theft within 90 days of the purchase.

  • Return Protection

    If a merchant won’t take back an item within 90 days, American Express may refund the purchase price (restrictions apply).

Travel

  • Global Assist® Hotline

    When you travel 100 miles or more from home, provides help with travel accidents like lost passports, the need for a lawyer, sudden illness, and more. You pay for all third-party service costs.

  • Baggage Insurance Plan

    Eligible lost, damaged, or stolen bags are covered up to $1,250 for carry-on baggage & checked bags together and up to $500 for checked baggage only.

  • Travel Accident Insurance

    Up to $100,000 in financial security if accident or death is caused when traveling by Common Carrier plane, train, ship, or bus.

  • Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance

    Stolen or damaged vehicles are covered if you use your card to pay and reserve the rental, and you decline the collision damage waiver.

  • Premium Roadside Assistance

    Assistance with services such as towing, changing a flat, or boosting a battery in case of emergency (no cost for the first 4 times per year).

The Costs & Fees

Card Annual Fee Purchase APR Balance Transfer APR Cash Advance APR Foreign Transaction Fee
Business Green Rewards $95 (waived for the first year) N/A; paid in full monthly N/A N/A 2.7%
Business Gold Rewards $175 (waived for the first year) N/A; paid in full monthly N/A N/A 0%
Card Late Fee Returned Payment Fee
Business Green Rewards Up to $38 or 2.99%, whichever is greater $38
Business Gold Rewards Up to $38 or 2.99%, whichever is greater $38

The Verdict

These are both charge cards, so they don’t have interest rates. This means you’ll be saving money compared to someone carrying a balance from month to month, but you’ll need to pay off the entire card in full every month.

As you can see above, the main difference here is the annual fee. You’ll pay almost twice as much for the Gold card, so be sure you’ll earn enough points each year to make the fee worthwhile.

These cards both have no pre-set spending limit, but this doesn’t mean you can spend as much as you want. You’ll be given a spending limit when you’re approved, and this limit will be adjusted over time depending on your usage and credit history (either increasing or decreasing).

You can get additional cards to distribute to your employees, but the fees will be quite different for each card. The Green Rewards offers free employee cards, but the Gold Rewards requires a $50 annual fee per employee card, though this is waived for the first year.

Insider Tip: You may be able to get the annual fee on this card waived. Just call customer service and ask nicely to have it waived, explaining that you’ve been a good, responsible customer for some time. Or, if you’re thinking of canceling the card, you can let them know that you’d consider staying with them if they waive the fee. In some cases they may offer a different incentive, like bonus points.

And if you’re in the military on active duty, you can submit an online request for SCRA benefits, which will probably include having the annual fee waived.

The Bottom Line

The American Express Business Green Rewards card and the Business Gold Rewards card are both good options, but they provide rewards in very different ways. The two aspects to compare are the rewards and the fees, because the benefits for these cards are the same, including the business-oriented features from Amex OPEN.

If you’re looking for a card primarily to improve your credit history, the Green Rewards is obviously the cheaper card to get the job done. If not, you’ll need to base your decision on the rewards they offer. Do you only need the card for travel spending? If so, the Green Rewards will be the less expensive choice, especially when you consider the employee cards.

If you need a card for a variety of different purchases, and you’ll end up spending in at least a few of the categories, the Gold Rewards card will serve you better. The ability to choose the category you want to earn 3X points in is pretty unique, and that still leaves quite a few categories to earn 2X points in. Just make sure that you’ll use it enough and earn enough points to make the annual fee worth it, along with the fees for any employee cards.

If you own one of these credit cards, how do you like it? Leave your own review of the American Express Business Green Rewards Card or the Business Gold Rewards Card, we’d love to hear from you!

Or learn more about Business Credit Cards and see our picks for the top cards!
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