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American Express Green Card vs. American Express Gold Card

Which card is best for you?

Summary

The Amex Gold card carries a larger fee than the American Express Green Card, but its rewards can really add up if you spend a serious amount on food each year. See how the two cards compare.

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Adorned with a much better 3 points-per-dollar rate on travel, transit and restaurant purchases, plus a 30,000-point bonus (after you spend $2,000 on purchases in your first 3 months), the American Express® Green Card* seems better positioned to go head to head with other travel cards. But how does the Amex Green stack up against its bigger sibling, the American Express® Gold Card?

Between these cards, the American Express Green Card is more affordable than the Amex Gold Card, costing merely $150 per year to own. On the other hand, the Amex Gold Card charges $250 per year, but its benefits, including 4 points per dollar on restaurants and U.S. supermarket purchases (on up to $25,000 per year in supermarket purchases, then 1 point per dollar) and a bevy of travel credits, easily justify the higher fee.

Read on to learn who is the best fit for each card and how to decide between the two.

Amex Green Card vs. Amex Gold Card: At a glance

CardsAmerican Green Card
American Express® Green Card
American Express® Gold Card

American Express® Gold Card

Rewards rate
  • 3 points per dollar on travel, transit and restaurants (including eligible delivery services like Uber Eats) worldwide
  • 1 point per dollar on other purchases
  • 4 points per dollar at restaurants (including eligible delivery services like Uber Eats) and U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1 point per dollar) 
  • 3 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com
  • 2 points per dollar on other travel purchases through amextravel.com
  • 1 point per dollar other purchases 
Introductory bonus
  • 30,000 points if you spend $2,000 in first three months

 

  • 60,000 points if you spend $4,000 in first six months 
Annual fee$150$250
Benefits
  • Up to $100 CLEAR credit
  • Up to $100 LoungeBuddy credit
  • Complimentary 12-month Uber Eats Pass membership* (must enroll by Dec. 31, 2021; see terms)
  • Complimentary ShopRunner membership
  • Trip delay insurance
  • Baggage insurance
  • Purchase protection and extended warranty coverage
  • Car rental loss and damage insurance
  • Up to $120 dining credit each year (via $10 monthly statement credits for participating merchants)
  • Up to $100 hotel credit for qualifying purchases at over 600 properties for stays of 2+ consecutive nights through Amex Travel
  • Up to $100 activity credit on vacations over $3,000 via Gold Card Destinations
  • Up to $120 in Uber Cash each year (automatic $10 per month)
  • Complimentary 12-month Uber Eats Pass membership* (must enroll by Dec. 31, 2021; see terms)
  • Complimentary ShopRunner membership
  • Trip delay insurance
  • Baggage insurance
  • Purchase protection and extended warranty coverage
  • Car rental loss and damage insurance
  • Alternate Rose Gold card art
Who should get this card?
  • Someone looking for a good starter travel card 
  • Someone who wants to earn points on a wide array of travel purchases 
  • Frequent commuters that want to earn points on transit, ride-shares and more
  • Someone who spends a lot on groceries and restaurants 
  • Someone who spends a lot on airfare 
  • Frequent Uber Eats customers and hotel guests

*Uber Eats Pass will auto-bill starting 12 months from initial enrollment in this offer, at the then-current monthly rate. 

Earning and redeeming points

As American Express cards, both the Amex Green and Gold earn Membership Rewards points, which carry the most value when redeemed for travel. However, the best choice for potential rewards vs. annual fee is clear once you factor in how you travel and dine most often.

See related: Guide to the Amex Green Card

If you’re always on the go (and not too big on cooking at home), you’ll find a lot of value in the American Express Green Card’s 3 points per dollar on transit, travel and restaurant purchases. While the Gold Card only awards points on airfare purchased directly from the airline or via the Amex Travel portal, the American Express Green Card offers bonus points on a wide array of travel and transit purchases, including airfare, hotels, ride-shares and more. Besides the points you earn on traveling, your daily commute – by train, bus, Uber or toll road – could score you a lot more points than the Amex Gold if you don’t routinely fly or cook at home.

The higher-tier American Express Gold has the natural upper hand with its 4 points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year, then 1 point per dollar) and dining at restaurants reward rates, but both cards earn the same 3 points per dollar on flights. If you don’t mind dropping by 1 point per dollar, the Amex Green offers more flexible travel rewards since its 3 point-category covers a wider variety of travel methods, which could make it the wiser choice for everyday cardholders considering the Gold Card’s higher price tag. If you’re a bigger grocery shopper and foodie, though, the Amex Gold could be better.

Winner for travel rewards: The American Express Green Card

Winner for best reward rates: The American Express Gold Card

Annual fee

For $100 less per year, the American Express Green Card could appear to be the better deal upfront since the reward rates aren’t much lower than the Gold Card’s rates. This isn’t necessarily the case once you factor in the value you’d recover from the credits and perks by the end of the year. Based on the average person’s spending habits, the average rewards rate of the Amex Green comes out to 1.12 cents per point with a $264.24 average yearly reward value. The Amex Gold card’s average rewards rate is nearly double at 2.18 cents per point with a significantly higher $706.53 average yearly reward value.

After adding together the value from your average annual reward income, annual travel credits, complimentary 12-month Uber Eats Pass membership (worth $119  per year, normally $9.99 per month; see terms) and the complimentary ShopRunner membership (worth $79 per year), the results show that the American Express Gold Card’s annual fee is a gateway to greater rewards worth more than the $100 difference if you can maximize the card’s benefits.

Recouping annual fee with average annual reward and benefit value
American Express Green CardAmerican Express Gold Card
($264.24 + $200 + $119+ $79) =$150 = $512.24($706.53 + $440 + $119+ $79) =$250 = $1,094.53

Winner: The American Express Gold Card

Bonus perks and benefits

If you’re a frequent traveler, you’ll find that the travel credits on the Gold Card offer a much better value. While the American Express Green Card includes $200 worth of travel credits, the Gold Card offers up to $440 worth of travel and dining credits every year – covering its higher fee and then some.

American Express Green CardAmerican Express Gold Card
  • $100 CLEAR credit
  • $100 LoungeBuddy credit
  • Up to $120 dining credit
  • Up to $120 in Uber Cash
    each year (automatic $10 per month)
  • Up to $100 hotel credit
  • Up to $100 activity credit
    on vacations over $3,000
Total = $200Total = $440

Winner: The American Express Gold Card

Introductory bonus

Even just at a glance, it’s clear that the Amex Gold offers a better welcome bonus. The Amex Green Card offers 30,000 points after spending $2,000 in purchases within your first three months, which should be easily attainable if you use this card for the majority of your spending. But with a little more patience at that tempo, you can double your intro offer to 60,000 points simply by spending $4,000 in purchases during your first six months with the Amex Gold.

It doesn’t add any value or additional features, but Amex Gold applicants also have the option of requesting the previously limited-time Rose Gold card art. Current eligible cardmembers may also request a new card with the alternate design.

Winner: The American Express Gold Card

Best starter travel card

Since the American Express Green Card costs $100 less per year than the Amex Gold Card, it’s the better option for cardholders who are just getting their feet wet in the travel credit card space and are leery of paying the $250 fee for the Gold Card. For a lower $150 annual fee, you can rack up a substantial number of points on travel and restaurant purchases that can easily recoup that entry cost.

Once you add in the 30,000 points that you can score for spending $2,000 on the card in the first three months, you should have enough points to fund a free trip in the first year. Plus, you can eke some value from the card’s travel credits along the way: You can use the card’s $100 credit for CLEAR to get through the airport security line much faster and then kick back in an airport lounge courtesy of the card’s $100 LoungeBuddy credit.

Winner: The American Express Green Card

Best for restaurants and groceries

The main selling point of the Gold Card is its 4-points-per-dollar bonus on restaurants and U.S. supermarket purchases on up to $25,000 in purchases per year (1 point per dollar thereafter). This is one of the best rates you’ll find on food purchases all around, and it can net you a lot of bonus points – up to 100,000 per year. Plus, the dining bonus category covers eligible food delivery services, including Uber Eats. Both the Amex Green and Gold cards offer 12 months of complimentary Uber Eats Pass (must enroll before Dec. 31, 2021; auto-billing at the then-current rate after offer period, see terms), however, the Gold Card’s potential $120 in Uber Cash per year ($10 per month) makes the Amex Gold one of the best credit cards for Uber.

If you’re struggling to pick a side on the Amex Green vs. Gold debate, you should take a close look at the Gold card’s restaurant and U.S. supermarket bonus and consider how far they can take you in travel rewards each year. Just make sure you also weigh whether the monthly Uber Cash is worth more than the rewards on ride-shares in general with the Green Card.

Winner: The American Express Gold Card

See related: Best credit cards for grocery shopping

Which is right for you?

The choice between the American Express Green Card and the Amex Gold Card mostly comes down to your spending and travel habits. Here are the key questions to ask in deciding between the two cards:

Can you afford the fee?

The first consideration is whether you can afford the $250 fee for the Gold Card – if it’s too rich for your blood, you may want to start with the American Express Green Card. However, you shouldn’t avoid the Gold Card simply because of the price tag. If you do the math, you may discover that it offers the better value, despite the higher fee.

Will you use the travel credits?

The credits on both the American Express Green Card and the Gold Card are valid for very specific uses. For the American Express Green Card, you need to be a fan of CLEAR and airport lounges to use its credits.

On the Gold Card side, the dining credit only applies to Grubhub/Seamless and a handful of chain restaurants. And, you’ll need to have a taste for luxury (and booking through Amex Travel) to use the hotel credit, since the $100 hotel credit is only valid for stays at the Hotel Collection – a portfolio of 600+ luxury properties. However, up to $120 in Uber Cash each year isn’t nearly as context-sensitive since this perk can cover both Uber Rides and Uber Eats orders.

Make sure you fully understand the credits and their restrictions before you apply.

Which categories do you spend the most on?

You should have a calculator and your household budget handy because the greatest deciding factor should be how much you tend to spend in the cards’ bonus categories. As you can see from our sample calculations below, the American Express Green Card is fairly rewarding for someone who spends heavily on travel and transit, while the Gold Card is extremely rewarding in the restaurant and supermarket category.

Estimate your point earnings in each category and add it all together – this should quickly spell out which card is the better choice.

Example point earnings

Yearly spendAmerican Express Green CardAmerican Express Gold Card
$5,000 on travel and transit (excluding airfare)15,0005,000
$4,000 on airfare (directly purchased)12,00012,000
$5,200 on restaurants + $6,000 on groceries21,60044,800
Total points earned48,60061,800

Bottom line

The American Express Gold Card has a clear edge over the American Express Green Card, thanks to its 4X bonus on restaurant and U.S. supermarket purchases, plus its longer list of travel credits. However, you should do the math to see how much each card can net you and make sure you can use the card benefits before you choose one card over another.

Though the American Express Green Card is a good starting point for travel rewards, you can find other entry-level travel cards with lower annual fees, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, that may offer a better value based on your spending.

*All information about the American Express Green Card has been collected independently by CreditCards.com and has not been reviewed by the issuer.

Editorial Disclaimer

The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

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