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Guide to the refreshed Amex Green Card: A new competitor among starter travel cards

New rewards, perks on the American Express Green Card give popular alternatives a run for their money

Summary

The refreshed American Express Green Card is loaded with an all new rewards rate, travel perks and benefits for travelers. Learn how to make the most of the updated card and how it stacks up against the competition.

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The classic American Express® Green Card recently got a whole new look – and a refreshed rewards rate to boot. A limited earning rate that was struggling to keep up with today’s top travel credit cards has been replaced with competitive rewards, travel credits and benefits designed to reward the adventure-minded.

The new Green Card comes with a $150 annual fee and a rewards rate focused on dining, travel and transit. Now, those in the market for their first travel card can look beyond other front-runners – like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card.

As a card with no preset spending limit that earns flexible Membership Rewards points, the Green card represents an all new player in the competitive travel card space. Read on to learn what it offers – and if it might be a good choice for you.

American Express Green Card rewards

Before the reboot, the American Express Green Card offered a measly 2 points per dollar on travel booked through amextravel.com and 1 point per dollar on everything else. Now, cardholders can enjoy the following rewards rate:

  • 3 points per dollar on travel and transit purchases
  • 3 points per dollar on restaurant purchases worldwide
  • 1 point per dollar on other purchases

These new categories make the Green card more competitive with similar starter travel cards. The high rate on dining extends to restaurant purchases all around the world – ensuring you earn everywhere you travel.

The travel and transit categories offer similar flexibility, covering a wide range of purchases. Travel can include the following, among other purchases:

  • Airfare
  • Hotel stays
  • Car rentals
  • Tour operators
  • Travel agencies
  • Campsites

The transit category expands earning potential even further, covering purchases from ride-shares or taxis to tolls, subways and other public transportation.

American Express Green card travel credits

Beyond the rewards you can earn, the American Express Green Card is also equipped with a few different travel credits. Used strategically, these perks can more than offset the cost of the $150 annual fee.

CLEAR membership credit

The other credits on the refreshed Green card are a bit nontraditional, but still offer unique value. For example, rather than cover the cost of a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application every few years (like the Venture card), the Green card offers an annual credit of up to $100 to use toward a CLEAR membership.

CLEAR, like PreCheck, can help you get through the airport security line faster – but the cost of membership is high. A typical annual fee clocks in at $179, but some frequent flyer programs offer a discounted membership. Both United MileagePlus and Delta SkyMiles members can get a CLEAR membership for as little as $109 – depending on your status. That means the Green card’s credit can come close to covering the cost, but you’ll still have to cover the difference.

See related: The ultimate guide to airport security options

LoungeBuddy credit

The Green card also offers an up to $100 credit every year to use with LoungeBuddy. Airport lounge access is a benefit typically reserved for luxury credit cards, so this sets the Green card away from the pack. With LoungeBuddy, you can reserve access at hundreds of airport lounges around the globe. American Express estimates the $100 credit can cover around three of these visits per year.

As you can see, these benefits combined come out to much more than the $150 fee associated with the Green card. If you are the kind of traveler who would invest in lounge access or expedited airport security anyway, the card can actually save you money.

Comparing the Amex Green card to other starter travel cards

Probably the most obvious difference between the American Express Green Card and other starter travel cards is that the Amex Green is a card with no preset credit limit. Cardholders will be able to carry a balance month-to-month on eligible Pay Over Time charges.

But for cardholders who already pay off their balance every month to avoid interest, there are a lot of other factors to consider before choosing one of these popular options.

American Express Green Card

American Express® Green Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Capital One Venture

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Rewards rate
  • 3 points per dollar on travel and transit purchases
  • 3 points per dollar on restaurant purchases worldwide
  • 1 point per dollar on other purchases
  • 2 points per dollar on travel and dining purchases
  • 1 point per dollar on other purchases
  • 2 miles per dollar on all 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 3 months100,000 bonus miles when you spend $20,000 in the first 12 months from account opening, or still earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 in first 3 months
Annual fee$150$95$95
Other things to know
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Up to $100 annual credit for CLEAR membership
  • Up to $100 annual LoungeBuddy credit
  • Terms apply
  • 25% higher point value when you redeem for travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Primary car rental insurance
  • Up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application every 4 years
  • No foreign transaction fees

As you can see, the Green Card offers more travel credits than the Venture or the Sapphire Preferred, but its introductory bonus falls short. If you’re looking for a big influx of points or miles in the first year, the Green card probably isn’t your best bet.

Additionally, the Green card charges a slightly higher annual fee. Those trying to save on the annual cost are probably best off with the Capital One Venture card or Sapphire Preferred.

But when it comes down to rewards potential, the Green card might take the lead. With a higher earning rate on travel and dining purchases than the Sapphire Preferred, the Green card can be very lucrative for those who spend heavily in these categories. You should do the math on your own budget to estimate how much you can earn from each of these cards in a year.

Who should get the Amex Green card?

The American Express Green card has plenty of perks, but it is best suited for a few kinds of cardholder.

  • Young travelers looking for a starter travel rewards card
  • Travelers who prefer luxury perks like lounge access and expedited airport security
  • Cardholders who spend a significant amount on travel, transit and dining purchases
  • Cardholders who don’t carry a balance month-to-month

If you aren’t the kind of traveler who will take advantage of the card’s travel credits or you are seeking product that lets you carry a balance, then the Amex Green might not be for you.

Tips for maximizing the Amex Green card

If you sign up for the refreshed Amex Green card, follow these tips to ensure you get the most possible value.

  • Spend at least $2,000 in the first three months to earn the introductory bonus.
  • Put all travel, transit and dining purchases on your card.
  • Make a plan to pay off your balance in full every month.
  • Consider joining United MileagePlus or Delta SkyMiles to get a discounted CLEAR membership, so the Amex Green credit covers more of the cost.
  • Scout out LoungeBuddy locations in your favorite airports to decide how to best spend your credit.
  • Research Membership Rewards redemption options, including transfer partners, to get the most out of your points.

Final thoughts

It is clear that the makeover on the American Express Green Card has turned it into a competitor. The credits that accompany the card, while nontraditional, can more than offset the card’s annual fee. Plus, the refreshed rewards rate offers a much wider earning potential.

However, since the Green card is a card with no preset spending limit and the fee is a bit higher than most starter travel cards – you should think carefully about if you can get significant value out of it. Ensure you can pay off your balance every month and that you spend enough in the card’s bonus categories to bring in plenty of rewards.

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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