Who Is This Credit Card Best For?
Is turning their passion into a money-making venture See more cards
Diligently searches for the best products and delights in a good bargain See more cards
Prioritizes sticking to their budget while buying what they want and need See more cards
Hits the road often, whether for work or play See more cards
If your small business spends a lot on travel but not enough to justify a card with a premium annual fee, the Amex Business Green Rewards Card might have caught your eye. It does pay 2 points per $1 on eligible travel expenses and the annual fee is a modest $95 (and waived in the first year).
However, with competing cards like the Chase Ink Business Preferred or the Spark Cash from Capital One, you’ll earn bonus rewards on a much wider variety of purchases (and in some cases at a higher rate per dollar). And even the Blue Business Plus, another option from American Express, offers more encompassing rewards and charges no annual fee. Plus, you’ll likely need excellent credit to get the Business Green Rewards Card, whereas the recommended credit for competitors is just good.
About the only reason we can think of to choose the Amex Business Green Rewards Card is if you want a charge card instead of a credit card. American Express is one of the only major U.S. issuers of charge cards, and the Green Rewards Card has the lowest annual fee of the business charge cards available from Amex.
Charge cards can be handy for two reasons: Unlike a credit card, they don’t have a set credit limit and they typically require you to pay your balance in full each month, helping you to steer clear of finance charges. (Although you may be given the option to enroll in the Pay Over Time feature with this card, it’s not always available and it’s only for select purchases. )
Charge card discipline and buying power
Disappointing rewards and benefits
Poor welcome offer
Not good to international business travel
- Charge card discipline and buying power: If your business has struggled with credit card debt in the past, a charge card may be a good option to avoid that trap in the future. Or, if your company is in growth mode, you may want to avoid a predetermined credit limit. Amex will adjust your buying power based on how you use your card, your payment history, and other factors.
- Disappointing rewards and benefits: You won’t earn as many points and you won’t get as many benefits as with other similarly-priced business credit cards. Other cards offer two points per $1 spent on all purchases or triple points on categories like shipping, Internet, or advertising. Plus, this card doesn’t offer trip cancellation insurance or cell phone protection as some other cards do.
- Annual fee: For a card that doesn’t offer much, $95 is a lot. You can earn more points with a card like the Blue Business Plus from American Express and avoid an annual fee altogether.
- Poor welcome offer: The bonus for new cardholders is pretty unimpressive and does little to make up for other shortcomings. Perhaps the one silver lining is you don’t have to spend a ton to earn it. (More on this below.)
- Not good for international business travel: We’d suggest you choose another card if you’ll be traveling abroad. This card not only charges a 2.7% fee on foreign transactions, but American Express cards aren’t as widely accepted abroad as they are in the U.S.
If you’re not wedded to a charge card, there are plenty of alternatives to consider. For tips on weighing your options, see “How to Choose the Right Business Credit Card.”
Bonus for New Cardholders
One of the few perks of the Amex Business Green Rewards Card is a welcome offer of 15,000 Membership Rewards points if you spend at least $3,000 within the first three months you have the card. The value of Membership Rewards points varies, but if you were to use them to book flights through the Amex travel portal, that’s $150 worth of points.
This is a really meager offer compared to this card’s competitors. With other cards, you could earn a $500 cash bonus or points worth $1,250 toward travel, if you spend enough. The one plus of this card is that the spending requirement is smaller, so you’re less likely to miss out if you don’t have a big overhead budget; you’ll earn the bonus if you spend an average of $1,000 a month for the first three months.
Earning Points & Rewards
You’ll only earn extra points—2 points per $1 spent—on eligible travel purchases, and they must be made through Amextravel.com. Everything else you charge to your card earns 1 point per $1.
Eligible travel includes airfare, prepaid hotels, flight and hotel packages and cruise reservations made through Amextravel.com. But, if you use this website to pay for “ticketing services,” non-prepaid hotels, and—importantly—rental cars, you’ll only earn 1 point per $1.
Although there aren’t many opportunities to earn points with this card, you can at least take comfort in the many options for redeeming your points. The Membership Rewards program is one of the more versatile points programs out there. You can use your points to pay for travel or buy gift cards, you can use them right at the checkout of retailers such as Best Buy or Amazon, or you can redeem them for a credit on your card statement. You can even transfer your points to various airline and hotel frequent traveler programs, usually at a 1-for-1 ratio.
The catch, however, is that not all redemption options are created equal. Outside of transferring opportunities, you’ll get the most consistent value—1 cent per point—by redeeming points for flights booked on Amextravel.com.
Some gift card brands also offer that value, but others are worth less. You’ll get 0.7 cent per point when booking hotels or cruises or shopping at eligible retailers and 0.6 cent per point if you redeem points to cover your statement charges. At worst, you’ll get a 0.5 cent value when using points for things like Ticketmaster purchases.
One of the standout features of the Membership Rewards program is the option to transfer your points to other rewards programs one for one, in most cases. You can transfer your points to almost all American Express airline and hotel partners, including Delta SkyMiles, British Airways and Marriott Bonvoy, and get at least as many points with the partner. By doing that, you can avail yourself of higher point values, in many cases. In fact, our research values Membership Rewards points at 1.20 cents each, on average, when factoring in the value of rewards offered by domestic travel partners.
How to Get the Most Out of This Card
Aside from making sure you spend at least $3,000 within the first three months to earn the welcome offer, there’s not a lot you can do to earn more points. Any additional cards you get for employees can be added at no charge, so make sure they use their cards for all their business travel, too.
Once you do have a pile of points accumulated, you can stretch them as far as possible by being judicious about how you redeem them. Your points are worth the most when you redeem them for flights or flight upgrades on Amextravel.com, or to buy certain gift cards.
Business Green Rewards Card’s Excellent Perks
The Balance has examined the most commonly offered credit card perks and narrowed down the ones with the most value. Only one on our list is offered with this card:
- Insurance coverage for lost, stolen, or damaged baggage: If you used your card to pay for a ticket on a plane, train or other common carrier, you could be reimbursed up to $1,250 (for carry-on baggage) or $500 (for checked baggage).
Business Green Rewards Card’s Other Features
- Rental car collision insurance (secondary to your own policy)
- Insurance for stolen or damaged purchases
- Extended warranties
- Travel and emergency hotline
American Express earns consistently high marks with customers. In a J.D. Power 2019 survey of credit card satisfaction, the company came in second place, ranking well on all fronts, including the ease of reaching customer service. If you’re logged into your online account, you can chat with the company live, or you can call in 24/7. Like many credit card companies, American Express also offers its own credit score monitoring service that provides you with a fresh VantageScore update every week.
In addition, American Express has a number of convenient online features for business owners. The American Express Business app gives you a centralized place for you and your employees to upload and categorize receipts, and you can even set reminders to upload receipts for purchases that exceed certain amounts. Plus, you can designate a business partner as an account manager, get year-end transaction summaries, and set account alerts to monitor employee spending.
American Express uses standard security features for your safety.
Business Green Rewards Card’s Fees
The annual fee is relatively high, given what you get from the card, and there is a 2.7% foreign transaction fee. Since it’s a charge card, you won’t owe any interest unless American Express offers you the Pay Over Time feature. If it does, the interest rate may be slightly higher than what some comparable cards offer.