Who is This Credit Card Best For?
Flies regularly and likes finding ways to score even more travel—for free
Diligently searches for the best products and delights in a good bargain
Hits the road often, whether for work or play
Loves to explore places and experience new things
If you have good credit, eat out and travel a fair amount—even if you just spend a lot on public transportation for your commute—you can get a lot out of this card. It offers some of the most flexible travel rewards available on a credit card, and at a very competitive rate of 3 points per $1. Even dinners out and Uber rides qualify for the bonus rewards, so you don’t need to rely solely on flights or hotel stays to build up your rewards stash.
If you do fly frequently, all the better. This card’s travel perks, including rebates on airport lounge access and expedited security clearance costs, will make being in airports a little less frenetic and the sizeable annual fee a little easier to swallow.
Easy-to-earn travel rewards
Potentially valuable welcome offer
Travel reimbursement credits
No foreign transaction fee
High annual fee
Restrictions on award travel booking
- Easy-to-earn travel rewards: A lot of your day-to-day expenses will earn extra points, thanks to how broadly American Express defines travel purchases. Even if you don’t consider yourself a frequent flyer, putting commuting costs like taxi fare, parking, or tolls on this card will earn you 3 points per $1. (More about this below.)
- Potentially valuable welcome offer: Based on The Balance’s point valuations, the welcome offer may be worth as much as $885. That’s a great deal. However, if you redeem your welcome offer points in some other ways, the value of the points can plummet below the offerings of cards with much lower annual fees.
- Travel reimbursement credits: You'll get a $100 credit for airport lounge passes bought through LoungeBuddy, and a $100 credit for a CLEAR Plus expedited airport security clearance fee.
- No foreign transaction fee: This is a universal perk among the best travel cards, but it’s new for the Amex Green Card. Now you can travel internationally with this card and not worry about paying extra for each purchase.
- High annual fee: At $150, this card’s fee is steep for a standard travel rewards card (and higher than it used to be), and there’s no waiving it the first year, either. If you fly a lot, the discounts on airport lounge access and security clearances may make it worthwhile, but otherwise, this kind of cost is reason to pause.
- Restrictions on award travel booking: You can earn travel points in plenty of ways, but you’ll either have to transfer your points to a partner travel loyalty program or use your points to book through amextravel.com. Unlike some other cards, this one doesn’t allow you to book through other websites and get reimbursed for your travel expenses.
This card was known as a charge card for years, but its Pay Over Time feature has been expanded so you can essentially use it like a regular credit card. Unless you opt out, all eligible purchases (not fees, cash advances, or other cash-equivalent transactions) are automatically included in Pay Over Time, where balances can be carried month-to-month. We don’t recommend carrying a balance, though, because the interest you’ll pay will quickly eclipse the value of any earned rewards.
American Express Green Card Welcome Offer
If you charge $2,000 within three months of opening your account, you’ll earn 30,000 Membership Rewards points worth up to $900 if you transfer them to Air Canada’s frequent flyer program, which is part of the Star Alliance. You may be able to get a good deal on transfers to other loyalty programs, too. But if you redeem for flights directly with American Express, the welcome offer is only a $300 value, which is paltry for a card with this high of an annual fee.
If you’ve had the American Express Green Card before, you’re not eligible for this welcome offer. Amex will also consider how many other cards you have opened and closed with the bank to determine eligibility, so card churners beware.
As an added bonus, until Jan. 15, 2020, if you use your card to buy something from the luggage company Away within that same three-month period, you’ll get up to $100 back in statement credits.
Earning Points & Rewards
You’ll earn 3 Membership Rewards points for each $1 spent on the following travel expenses: flights, hotels, cruises, rental cars, campgrounds, trains, taxis, rideshare services (like Uber and Lyft), tours, ferries, tolls, parking, buses, and subways. You also get 3 points per $1 spent at restaurants worldwide. All other purchases earn 1 point per $1 spent.
These earnings rates are as good as or better than some of the best travel cards on the market right now. We love that average consumers who aren’t frequent flyers will have plenty of ways to earn extra points.
Better yet, there’s no limit on how many points you can earn, and the points don’t expire. They’ll be stored in an account along with any other Membership Rewards points you’ve accumulated with other American Express cards in your wallet.
The Membership Rewards program boasts all sorts of options for redeeming points. The per-point value will vary depending on your choice, but using them to fly is consistently the best way to get the most bang for your buck.
Here’s how the redemption values break down per point:
- Book flights or seat upgrades through American Express: 1 cent
- Reserve prepaid hotels or book cruises or vacation packages: 0.7 cents
- Buy gift cards: 0.5 cents to 1 cent, depending on retailer
- Checkout at Amazon or other online retailers: 0.5 cents to 1 cent, depending on retailer
- Get a credit on your card statement: 0.6 cents
- Shop the Amex shopping portal: 0.5 cents each
Very importantly, you can also transfer your points to one of 22 airline and hotel partners and boost your balance with that loyalty program. Points to most travel partners transfer at a 1-to-1 ratio or better. You’ll pay a fee for each point transferred to a domestic airline (0.06 cents per point, up to $99 per transfer), but it’s still a worthwhile option, especially if you shift your points to members of the Star Alliance or OneWorld Alliance.
According to research by The Balance, flights on Star Alliance member Air Canada (a transfer partner) can be worth an average of nearly 3 cents each. OneWorld alliance points can be worth an average of 2.2 cents each if you use them to book through United Airlines (not a direct partner of Membership Rewards).
How to Get the Most Out of This Card
Make sure to snatch up the welcome offer by spending $2,000 on this card in your first three months. And use the card as your go-to when dining out and paying for any transportation expenses, no matter how small. (Subway fare adds up!) If you are an air traveler, take advantage of the card’s airport perks, like partial reimbursement for a CLEAR Plus security clearance membership and LoungeBuddy lounge passes. (See below for more details.)
We also recommend using your Membership Rewards exclusively for travel, since that redemption option offers the best value. Transferring them to a frequent flyer program in the OneWorld or Star Alliance partnerships is the best choice, but if those aren't your preferred airlines, booking or upgrading flights directly through American Express is your next best option.
A good rule of thumb is that if your points are worth at least 1 cent per mile each for a reward flight or purchase, it’s a decent deal. The Balance estimates that Membership Rewards points are worth 1.2 cents each, on average, and more when transferred to some loyalty programs.
Avoid using points for statement credits or shopping through the Amex portal, since these are among the lowest-value options.
American Express Green Card’s Excellent Perks
- CLEAR Plus application fee reimbursement: Pay for a $179 CLEAR Plus membership with this card each year and get $100 as a statement credit. CLEAR Plus helps you get through airport security lines even faster than TSA Precheck.
- Airport lounge access reimbursement: Purchase airport lounge passes through LoungeBuddy with this card, and you’ll get up to $100 back in statement credits each year. LoungeBuddy has partnered with airport lounges around the world, so you’ll have a variety of options while traveling. Pass prices start at $25.
- Coverage for lost luggage: If your luggage is lost, stolen, or damaged and you paid for the trip with this card, American Express may reimburse each covered traveler up to $1,250 for carry-on bags, and up to $500 for checked bags.
American Express Green Card’s Other Features
- Auto rental collision damage waiver (secondary to your own policy)
- Lowest hotel rate guarantee for hotels booked through amextravel.com
- Travel and emergency hotline
- Free shipping through ShopRunner membership
- Sports, music, and event ticket presales, plus exclusive access to some events
This card will soon be made with recycled plastic as part of the American Express #BackOurOceans campaign with Parley for the Oceans to reduce single-use plastic waste and clean up our oceans.
American Express is ranked second (behind Discover) for customer satisfaction out of eleven credit card issuers in the 2019 J.D. Power Credit Card Satisfaction Study. Amex scored 838 overall (out of 1,000), which is well above the industry average of 806.
If you need help with your American Express Green Card account, there’s a live chat feature online that you can access after logging into your account, or you can reach out to customer service by phone 24/7. You can also download the American Express app to manage your account from your smartphone.
Amex also offers a free service called MyCredit Guide, which is available to anyone, even non-cardholders. Enroll to see your VantageScore 3.0 credit score and TransUnion credit report.
Most American Express credit card security tools are in line with industry standards. But MyCreditGuide does provide notifications whenever your credit report changes, which could help alert you to fraud.
American Express Green Card’s Fees
The American Express Green Card’s fees are pretty standard, just be mindful of the annual fee. Bring this card when traveling abroad, too, as it no longer charges a pesky foreign transaction fee.