American Express Gold Card vs. American Express Green card

Which card shines brighter on the rewards color spectrum?

Amex Gold card vs. Amex Green card

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Besides color, what’s different between the American Express® Gold Card and the American Express Green card? Rewards? Drawbacks? Both cards are certainly similar in that they’re two of Amex’s more traditional as well as expensive offerings. Let’s zoom in and see how they compare with one another.

Amex Gold card vs. Amex Green card

  Amex Gold card
American Express Gold Card
Amex Green card
American Express Green card
Rewards rate
  • 4X at U.S. restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X)
  • 3X on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com
  • 1X other purchases
  • 2X on travel booked through amextravel.com
  • 1X on other purchases
Sign-up bonus
  • 25,000 points after spending $2,000 spent on eligible purchases in the first 3 months
  • 20% back as a statement credit at U.S. restaurants within the first 3 months of card membership, up to $100 back. Offer available to new card members who apply by 1/9/2019.
25,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
Annual fee
$250, $0 first year $95, $0 first year
Estimated yearly rewards value (for someone who spend the quarterly bonus limit and no more) $380 $137
Pros
  • The card offers one of the highest rewards rates on food purchases
  • Points are very flexible – you can redeem them for a variety of rewards, including travel, with no blackout dates
  • You can transfer your points to a variety of travel partners, including Delta Airlines, British Airways and Hilton
  • Points are very flexible – you can redeem them for a variety of rewards, including travel, with no blackout dates
  • You can transfer your points to a variety of travel partners, including Delta Airlines, British Airways and Hilton
Cons
  • Cash redemption is only worth 0.006 cents per point
  • You must go through American Express to book rewards travel
  • The annual fee is very high for a card in its class
  • Cash redemption is only worth 0.006 cents per point
  • You must go through American Express to book rewards travel
  • Charges a 2.7% fee for foreign transactions
  • The card’s rewards are meager compared to many cards with a $95 annual fee
Who should get this card?
  • Cardholders who can earn enough rewards on food and travel to outmatch the card’s $250 fee
  • Amex cardholders looking to earn Membership Rewards points on additional spending categories
  • Entry-level cardholders looking to get premium Amex travel benefits at the lowest possible price
  • Cardholders looking to earn a large number of Membership Rewards points through an introductory bonus

3 ways they’re similar

  1. Charge cards. Neither the Amex Gold card nor the Amex Green card have an APR. They’re both charge cards, which means you’re responsible for paying the bill in full each month. Carrying a balance from month to month on either card results in penalties such as late fees, interest hikes and prolonged debt. While you can earn rewards with these cards just like a credit card, the wide range of spending capabilities aren’t available through charge cards. Think of them more as spending assistants rather than credit-building tools.  
  2. Annual fees. Annual fees can be decision makers, and both of these cards have considerable ones. The Amex Green card has a $95 annual fee, and the Amex Gold card carries a $250 annual fee. One benefit is that neither fee kicks in until after the first year of account activation. So, you should have enough time to plan ahead. Just don’t let them sneak up on you.
  3.  Rewards redemption capabilities. Both cards are most effectively used as travel rewards cards. And as far as points go, they share some similarities: Points don’t expire, there are no limits on how many you can earn, and you can redeem points for any type of travel purchase booked via American Express.

3 ways they’re different

  1. Intro bonus. Amex Gold offers 25,000 bonus membership points after spending $2,000 in qualifying purchases within the first three months of account activation, plus a new limited time statement credit offer of 20 percent back at U.S. restaurants in the first three months. Amex Green also offers 25,000 points, but after spending half the amount – $1,000 in qualifying purchases within the first three months of your account being activated.
  2. Rewards rate flexibility. The Amex Gold card carries a rewards rate of 4:1 at U.S. restaurants and U.S. supermarkets; 3:1 on flights booked directly with the airline or amextravel.com; and 1:1 on all other purchases. It’s a step ahead of the Amex Green card, which carries a rate of 2:1 on travel and 1:1 on all other purchases. You can’t earn extra points for food with Amex Green.
  3. Foreign transaction fees. Both cards allow you to spend and earn points overseas, but they handle foreign transaction fees differently. The Amex Green card carries a foreign transaction fee of 2.7 percent on all charges outside the US. The Amex Gold has no foreign transaction fee at all.

Best for high travel rewards rates, flexible redemption, and no foreign transaction fee: American Express Gold Card

The Amex Gold card is one of the higher-end membership travel cards. There’s a lot here for the seasoned traveler, including 3X points for directly booked flights, a 25,000-point introductory offer and plenty of roadside assistance benefits. The large $250 annual fee – even though it doesn’t apply the first year – might turn some away, but there are arguably other benefits that make it worth it.

With this card, you have access to the Hotel Collection program, which includes a $75 hotel credit to spend on qualifying dining, spa and resort activities when spending two consecutive nights at a participating hotel. You also have access to a personalized travel service that helps you secure premium seats for cultural and sporting events, based on availability.          

Best for entry-level rewards cardholders: American Express Green

The Amex Green card is historically one of the more recognizable options and popular on-boarding cards for beginners. There’s some nostalgia involved, but there are also no frills. Earning 2X points on travel is contingent upon booking through amextravel.com. (You only get 1:1 on all other purchases.) So, earning points isn’t going to come as quickly as it would with other cards. You also need to earn a minimum of 5,000 points before you can start redeeming them. 

There are a few travel benefits available, such as baggage insurance, accident insurance, car rental loss and damage policy, a roadside assistance hotline and a global assist hotline. The $95 annual fee is much less than the fee for the Amex Gold card, but it’s tough to feel like it’s completely worth it in comparison to other cards – like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, which offers a 50,000-point bonus and the same rewards rate for the same annual fee.

Bottom line

Whether you want to spend big with the Amex Gold card or go more traditional with the Amex Green card, both will provide you with some good rewards redemption options. Keep an eye on some of their subtle differences, and choose your card by identifying which spending areas best suit your lifestyle.

See related: Is the American Express Gold Card worth it?, Luxury hotel collections guide


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Updated: 11-15-2018