American Express Green Card Review

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The American Express Green Card is now a worthy contender among travel cards, thanks to a rewards program refresh. It doesn’t have the bells and whistles of a premium card, but a generous welcome offer and valuable travel perks may outweigh the burden of the annual fee.

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 - See Rates & Fees
Annual Fee $150
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 3 points per $1 spent on eligible travel and at restaurants. Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
Ratings Breakdown
for Interest
1.1
for Fees
2.7
for Rewards
4.4
for Credit
4.0

Earn 30,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $2,000 on purchases on your new card in your first 3 months. Plus, recieve up to $100 in statement credits towards any eligible purchase made directly with Away in your first 3 months. Offer ends 1/15/2020.

Top Rated For

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 Deal Seeker Persona
    Diligently searches for the best products and delights in a good bargain
    Deal Seeker
  • 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

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.

Pros

  • Easy-to-earn travel rewards

  • Potentially valuable welcome offer

  • Travel reimbursement credits

  • No foreign transaction fee

Cons

  • High annual fee

  • Restrictions on award travel booking

Pros Explained

  • 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.

Cons Explained

  • 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. 

Redeeming Rewards

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.

Customer Experience

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.

Security Features

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.

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 - See Rates & Fees
Annual Fee $150
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 3 points per $1 spent on eligible travel and at restaurants. Earn 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.