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American Express Green Card vs. American Express Gold Card

Which American Express rewards 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 three 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 with its $150 annual fee. 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.

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

CardsAmerican Green CardAmerican Express Green CardAmerican Express® Gold Card

American Express® Gold Card

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

 

  • 60,000 points if you spend $4,000 in first 6 months 
Annual fee$150$250

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 versus annual fee is clear once you factor in how you travel and dine most often.

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 U.S. restaurant purchases. While the Gold Card awards points only 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, rideshares and more. Besides travel, 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 rewards rate of 4 points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year, then 1 point per dollar) and restaurants and 3 points per dollar on flights.

If you don’t mind dropping by 1 point per dollar, the Amex Green offers more flexible rewards since its 3 point-category casts a wide travel net (versus only airfare), 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.

Welcome bonus

For $100 less per year, the American Express Green Card seems like a 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 (with an expected annual spend of $15,900) of the Amex Green comes out to 1.52 with a $290 average yearly reward value. The Amex Gold card’s average rewards rate is 2.19 with a much greater average yearly reward value at $418.

However, in order the get the best picture of these cards’ annual fees are worth it, we must also factor in their annual credits. We added the value of your average annual reward income, annual credits and the complimentary ShopRunner membership (worth $79 per year), then subtracted the annual fee. The result: the American Express Gold Card’s annual fee is a gateway to greater rewards worth more than the $200 difference if you can maximize the card’s benefits.

American Express Green CardAmerican Express Gold Card
($290 + $200 + $79) – $150 = $419($418 + $440 + $79) – $250 = $687

Annual credits and bonus perks

If you’re a frequent traveler, you’ll find the travel credits on the Gold Card offer a much better value. The Amex Green card offers up to $100 annual credit for Clear, a private security program that allows you to skip the line if you verify your identity using biometrics and pay the membership fee. It also provides up to $100 annually in LoungeBuddy credit, which lets you buy day passes to participating airport lounges around the world.

In exchange for its hefty annual fee, the Amex Gold card provides a good number of annual credits. Each year you stand to earn up to $120 in dining credit with participating dining partners (including Grubhub and Seamless), up to $120 in Uber Cash, up to $100 in hotel credit for qualifying activities with The Hotel Collection and up to $100 activity credit on vacations costing more than $3,000 with participating travel suppliers made through Amex Travel.

Outside its annual credits, the Amex Green also offers baggage insurance, auto rental insurance, extended warranty, purchase protection and more to give you peace of mind during your travels. The Amex Gold card provides similar travel perks like travel and emergency assistance, car rental insurance, purchase protection, personalized travel service and more.

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

American Express Green Card: Best starter travel card

With its lower annual fee, the Amex Green is 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. Its somewhat generous rewards will rack up a substantial number of points on travel and restaurant purchases that can enable you to easily recoup that entry cost. Plus, once you add in the 30,000 points from the welcome bonus, you should have enough points to fund a free trip in the first year.

Other than travel, the Amex Green is great cardholders who spend a lot of time on-the-go: commuting to and from work, taking the subway to meet up with friends or riding ferries to a nearby island often. Coupled with its decent rewards at U.S. restaurants, this card will earn plenty of rewards for those who travel around often, internationally and locally.

American Express Gold Card: Best for restaurants and groceries

The main selling point of the Gold Card is its 4X points at U.S. restaurants and supermarkets on up to $25,000 in purchases per year (1X point thereafter). This is one of the best rates you’ll find on food purchases all around, which is why it’s regarded as one of the best cards for grocery shopping. Plus, the dining bonus category covers eligible food delivery services, including Uber Eats.

Additionally, the Gold Card’s potential $120 in Uber Cash per year ($10 per month) makes it one of the best credit cards for Uber. If you’re the consumer that mainly spends on eating out or cooking up a storm at home, this card is a no brainer to add to your wallet.

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.

Bottom line

The American Express Gold Card has a clear edge over the American Express Green Card, thanks to its high-earning rewards and longer list of travel credits. These cards, however, fundamentally target different kinds of cardholders.

The American Express Green Card is rewarding for someone who spends heavily on travel and transit, whereas the Gold Card suits someone who spends heavily in the restaurant and supermarket categories. Though the American Express Green Card is a good starting point for travel rewards, you may find other travel cards with lower annual fees, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, may offer you 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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