American Express Green Card Review

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The American Express® Green Card isn’t as flashy and doesn’t offer as many rewards and perks as the more premium-level Amex travel rewards cards. But the annual fee is a fraction of what those other cards charge and the Green Card does offer bonus points on certain travel purchases. That makes it a better choice for occasional travelers who want to fund their wanderlust with points.

American Express® Green Card

overall rating
3.5
American Express® Green Card
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) N/A variable
Annual Fee $0 for the first year, then $95
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 2 points per $1 spent at amextravel.com, and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 2.7%
Ratings Breakdown
for Interest
1.1
for Fees
3.3
for Rewards
3.9
for Credit
4.0

Who is This Credit Card Best For?

  • Avatar for Jet Setter Persona
    Flies regularly and likes finding ways to score even more travel—for free
    Jet Setter
  • Avatar for Road Warrior Persona
    Hits the road often, whether for work or play
    Road Warrior
  • Avatar for Adventure Seeker Persona
    Loves to explore places and experience new things
    Adventure Seeker
  • Avatar for Deal Seeker Persona
    Diligently searches for the best products and delights in a good bargain
    Deal Seeker

This card is best for infrequent travelers who can pay off their credit card balance in full each month. That’s because you will be required to do so since this is a charge card and not a true credit card. American Express does offer a Pay Over Time feature that may allow you to pay off certain charges across several billing cycles, but we wouldn’t bank on using this card to finance purchases on a regular basis. 

At the same time, you won’t be able to earn as many travel rewards points with this card as with some other American Express cards. But if you travel only every once-in-a-while, that tradeoff might be worth it, as the annual fee for the Green Card is a lot less than the annual fee for American Express’ premium-level cards.

Pros

  • Flexible rewards program

  • A few valuable travel perks

Cons

  • Annual fee starting in the second year

  • Limited ability to earn points quickly

  • No welcome offer

Pros Explained

  • Flexible rewards program: You can use your points to pay for a wide range of stuff and to book travel through American Express Travel. 
  • A few valuable perks: Like many credit cards, the American Express Green card offers some standard travel perks like travel accident insurance, baggage insurance, and rental car accident insurance.

Cons Explained

  • Annual fee starting in the second year: You won’t pay anything for the Amex Green Card the first year. And while the annual fee isn’t as high as some other rewards cards, it is still quite high for a card that doesn’t net you many rewards. 
  • Limited ability to earn points quickly: The only way to earn more than 1 point per $1 is by making travel purchases through American Express Travel, for which you’ll earn a paltry 2 points per $1. 
  • No welcome offer: For a card with an annual fee, the lack of a welcome offer is a stark drawback.

Earning Points & Rewards

Every time you use your card to buy something, American Express will credit your account with at least 1 point per $1 spent. The only exception is that you can get 2 points per $1 spent on certain purchases made through American Express Travel, including airfare, prepaid hotels, vacation packages (flight + hotel), and cruises.

Points you earn from spending with this card will be stored in a Membership Rewards account (along with any other points you earn from any other open American Express cards you may have). 

Redeeming Rewards

You might not be earning a ton of points with the American Express Green Card, but you’ll probably find a redemption option that works for you. The value of your points will vary depending on the redemption option. 

  • Book travel: 0.5 cents to 1 cent, depending on type of travel and destination
  • Redeem for gift cards: Up to 1 cent 
  • Pay with points at checkout: 0.5 cents to 1 cent, depending on retailer
  • Cover your card charges with a statement credit: 0.6 cents 
  • Shop the Amex shopping portal: 0.5 cents

You may find the best value for your points in transferring them to one of the 22 airline or hotel rewards travel partners, and then using those points to book an expensive flight or room relative to the points cost. You’ll pay an “excise tax offset fee” of 0.06 cents per point, up to a maximum of $99 per transfer (that’s the first 165,000 points you transfer). 

How to Get the Most Out Of This Card

To earn the most rewards points with this card, you should book travel through the American Express Travel portal. To redeem your points, one of your best options is using your points to book airfare through the same portal. You may find even better value by transferring your points to an airline (or hotel) partner, and then using those frequent flyer points to book a flight that’s expensive relative to the number of points needed.

A good rule of thumb is that if your points are worth more than 1 cent per mile each for a reward flight or purchase, it’s a pretty good deal. The Balance’s analysis of American Express Green Card’s points found that the best value was in points transfer to JetBlue’s TrueBlue program: 1.32 cents per mile.

American Express Green Card’s Excellent Perks

  • Coverage for lost luggage: If your luggage is lost. stolen, or damaged and you paid for the trip with your American Express Green Card, the company will reimburse you for up to $1,250 per covered person.
  • Travel accident insurance: American Express will pay up to $100,000 if you, your spouse, or your children are permanently disabled or accidentally die while on a trip that you paid for with your card.

American Express Green Card’s Other Features

  • Auto rental collision damage waiver
  • Extended warranties
  • Return protection
  • Lowest hotel rate guarantee

Customer Experience

American Express ranked second (behind Discover) among eleven credit card issuers ranked in a 2019 J.D. Power study. Amex’s overall score of 838 (out of 1,000) is well above the industry average of 806.

Still, American Express offers a lot of ways to get in touch if you need help. There’s a live chat feature on its website, and you can reach customer service by phone 24/7. You can also download the American Express app and manage your account from your phone, including finding local rewards. 

Security Features

Security-wise, the American Express doesn’t offer quite as many tools as some other cards. Of course, if something odd happens with your account, customer service will alert you. Amex also offers a free credit monitoring service called MyCredit Guide, which is available to anyone, even non-cardholders. It provides a VantageScore 3.0 credit score and other credit watching tools.

American Express Green Card’s Fees to Watch Out For

The American Express Green Card’s fees are similar to other cards in this arena. Although this card offers bonus rewards points for travel purchases, you won’t actually want to take it with you when traveling overseas due to its 2.7% foreign transaction fee.

For American Express® Green Card

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CURRENT CARD
American Express® Green Card
overall rating
3.5
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) N/A variable
Annual Fee $0 for the first year, then $95
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 2 points per $1 spent at amextravel.com, and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases.

Our Methodology

  • At The Balance, we are dedicated to giving you unbiased, comprehensive credit card reviews. To do this, we collect data on hundreds of cards and score more than 55 features that affect your finances.
  • Our Reviews Are Always Impartial: No one can influence which cards we review, the way we present them to you, or the ratings they receive. The scores and reviews come directly from the data we collect and our editorial expertise, and we focus on three areas:
  • How Much Does It Cost? With credit card debt at an all-time high, we believe you should know the cost of carrying a balance. Because of that, we give regular purchase APRs significant weight in overall scores, and cards receive low marks if they have an array of pricey fees.
  • What Are the Rewards Worth? Cards accumulate rewards in different currencies—points, miles, cash back—and their values vary widely. To simplify the problem, we built a system that fairly compares rewards and gives them a dollar value. We do this by looking at the ways you can earn and use rewards, which includes evaluating Americans’ typical spending habits and analyzing common travel patterns.
  • Does It Make Your Life Easier? Our scoring system favors cards that accept a wide range of credit profiles and offer simple solutions for things like checking your credit score or contacting customer service. Finally, we give preference to credit cards that have several tools for dealing with fraudulent charges.
  • For every review on The Balance, we hold the credit cards to these standards, and we set the bar high. While we recognize the appeal of splashy features like six-digit sign-up bonuses, our approach ensures that credit cards with the best combination of value, affordability, and accessibility receive the highest scores. See our full methodology for more details.