American Express® Green Card review

Published: November 13, 2019

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Published: November 13, 2019

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Ratings Policy
Rewards Rating:
3 rating
3 rating
3 / 5
Rewards Value: 2.0
Annual Percentage Rate: 0.0
Rewards Flexibility: 4.4
Features: 2.0
Customer Experience 4.6

In a Nutshell:

While it can’t compete with the luxury travel perks of other American Express cards, the American Express® Green Card is a solid choice for travel-minded cardholders who want to earn points while sticking to a budget.

Learn more about this card

Rewards Rate

  • 3 points per dollar on travel, transit and dining worldwide
  • 1 point per dollar on other purchases
  • Terms apply

Introductory Bonus

  • 30,000 points if you spend $2,000 in first 3 months
  • Up to $100 in credit on Away purchases made in first 3 months (offer expires 1/15/2020)

Annual Bonus

  • Up to $100 credit toward cost of CLEAR
  • Up to $100 LoungeBuddy credit

Annual Fee
$150 (see rates and fees)

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$230

APR
See rates and fees

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • You can book travel and hotels outside of American Express.
  • Expanded travel category includes more than just airfare and hotels.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Valuable credits of up to $100 annually for CLEAR and LoungeBuddy
  • Up to $100 credit toward Away purchases in first 3 months (expires 1/15/2020)
  • Points don’t expire
  • No limit on the number of points you can earn
  • You can pay your balance with points or redeem your points for gift cards, merchandise or travel
  • You can transfer your points to a variety of travel partners, including Delta Airlines, British Airways and Hilton

Cons

  • You must go through American Express to book rewards travel
  • Annual fee is high given the card’s short list of travel perks.
  • Travel perks fall short of other luxury travel cards.

Customer Experience

Other Notable Features: Baggage insurance, auto rental insurance, travel assistance, ticket presale for entertainment events, extended warranty, purchase protection, dispute resolution, travel discounts, car purchase discount, Shoprunner membership, instant card number, mobile assistant, split the bill with Venmo or PayPal users and still earn rewards

View the best travel credit cards

Until recently, the American Express® Green Card was fast headed for irrelevance. Best known for its iconic look, the card offered a low return on its high annual fee, making it hard to recommend to any but the most nostalgic cardholders.

With its recent refresh, however, the American Express Green Card has risen from the ashes as a solid entry-level travel card, offering a revamped rewards scheme, generous welcome bonus and decent travel perks.

Revamped rewards

The refreshed American Express Green Card comes with some major changes to its rewards earning scheme, offering 3 points per dollar on travel and transit, 3 points per dollar on dining and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.

Notably, the card’s travel bonus category has expanded to include not only airfare booked directly through an airline and rooms booked directly through a hotel, but also tour operators, travel agencies, campsites and more. Additionally, the transit bonus category offers extra rewards on ride-share services like Uber and Lyft, taxis, buses, Metros, subways and even tolls.

If you travel or eat out regularly, you should earn points quickly thanks to the card’s triple-point bonus categories. Keep in mind, though, that the card’s annual fee has increased to $150, so if you don’t spend much on travel, transit or dining, it may be difficult to make up.

If you spend $2,000 a year on air travel and transit and $3,000 a year on dining, you’ll earn 15,000 Membership Rewards points, worth about $150 in airfare booked through American Express or $90 as a statement credit. The Bureau of Transportation Statistics lists the average domestic airline itinerary fare as $364.41, so $2,000 would come to about six round-trip flights.

You can also redeem points for gift cards, pay with points at checkout or transfer your points to a number of airline and hotel loyalty programs, including those from Delta, British Airways, JetBlue, Hilton and Marriott.

Solid welcome bonus

The American Express Green Card, which has traditionally included welcome bonuses only rarely, is starting its refresh off on the right foot by offering new cardholders 30,000 points when they spend $2,000 in the first three months. Given the incentive of a triple-point bonus on travel, dining and transit, it shouldn’t be too hard to reach this threshold if you travel and eat out regularly.

The card’s 30,000-point bonus is worth about $300 in travel booked through American Express or $180 as a statement credit to cover your charges.

What are American Express Green Card points worth?

Depending on how you redeem them, the Membership Rewards points you earn with your American Express Green Card can be pretty valuable. While many redemptions are worth less than 1 cent per point, American Express boasts a wide variety of transfer options that boost the average point value. In fact, we value Membership Rewards at 1.19 cents per point on average. While this is not the highest point value you can find on a rewards card, when you combine it with a great rewards rate, it makes the American Express Green Card a lucrative option.

However, it’s worth nothing that cardholders who are not interested in transferring their points to a travel partner probably won’t get quite as much value out of the American Express Green Card. Read on to see how much you can get out of your rewards with each of the card’s redemption options.

Redeeming points

Redeeming points earned on your American Express Green Card is simple, and you have a wide variety of redemption options. Your points don’t expire, and there is no limit to how much you can earn. However, the value of your points can vary drastically depending on how you use them.

American Express Green Card redemption options

Redemption option Point value (cents)
Airfare through American Express travel 1
Charity donation 1 (up to 500,000 points, 0.5 cent thereafter)
Uber/NYC taxi 1
Airline upgrade 1
Gift cards Up to 1
Other travel purchases on American Express travel 0.7
Expedia travel 0.7
Pay with points via PayPal 0.7
Shopping partner (Amazon, Best Buy, Boxed, Grubhub, Newegg, Rite Aid, Seamless, Staples) 0.7
Statement credit 0.6
Excise tax offset fee (for transfer to travel partner) 0.5

Unlike many travel cards, the American Express Green Card doesn’t offer a good point value on outside travel purchases, so if you must book on a third-party site, consider paying with points online via PayPal or booking travel through Expedia to minimize your point devaluation. To preserve the value of your Membership Rewards, we recommend saving points for airfare purchases.

See Related: Best ways to spend American Express points

Transferring American Express Green Card points

American Express offers an extensive list of travel partners for American Express Green cardholders, with points transferring to many partners at a 1:1 rate. Though you’ll be charged an excise fee of 0.06 cents for each point you transfer (up to $99), transferring can often get you a higher point value.

American Express transfer partners

Partner Transfer ratio Estimated point value (cents, including transfer ratio and excise fee)
Singapore KrisFlyer 1:1 2.16
Iberia Plus 1:1 1.64
Delta SkyMiles 1:1 1.55
Aeromexico 1:1 1.54
Aeroplan 1:1 1.44
All Nippon Airways (ANA) 1:1 1.42
British Airways 1:1 1.4
Emirates Skywards 1:1 1.4
Hawaiian Airlines 1:1 1.27
JetBlue 1.25:1 1.12
Alitalia MilleMiglia 1:1 0.94
Asia Miles 1:1 0.94
Etihad Guest 1:1 0.94
Flying Blue 1:1 0.94
Hilton Honors 1:2 0.94
Choice Privileges 1:1 0.77
Marriott Bonvoy 1:1 0.75
Virgin Atlantic 1:1 0.74
El Al Israel Airlines 20:1 (0.01)

As you can see, transferring your points can significantly boost their value. And with a wide variety of major airline and hotel partners, it should be easy to apply rewards toward travel to any destination.

Decent perks for novice travelers

While its travel perks pale in comparison to those offered by the The Platinum Card® from American Express and the American Express® Gold Card, the American Express Green Card does come with a number of benefits that could be compelling for cardholders who travel only occasionally.

American Express Green Card travel perks include:

  • Up to $100 Away credit – New cardholders will receive a credit of up to $100 on purchases made at Away in their first three months (offer expires Jan. 15, 2020). Away is a popular travel brand that offers a selection of stylish and durable suitcases, bags and organizers. Notably, one of the brand’s carry-on models features a detachable battery pack, which should come in handy for charging your devices in transit. Away luggage is pricey, however, and a $100 credit may only cover half the cost of a carry-on bag.
  • Up to $100 annual CLEAR credit CLEAR is a private security program available at over 60 airports, arenas, stadiums and Hertz rental car locations that uses biometrics to confirm your identity, allowing you to skip the line to show your ID and boarding pass to a TSA agent. CLEAR will certainly help you get through security a bit faster, but because it costs $179 a year, you will likely have to pay some of the cost yourself (some frequent flyer programs, like United MileagePlus offer members a CLEAR membership for as low as $109, depending on their status).
  • Up to $100 annual LoungeBuddy credit LoungeBuddy allows you to purchase day passes to participating lounges at over 80 airports worldwide, even if you’re not a loyalty club member. Passes vary in cost, averaging about $50 each; so while this credit is welcome, it may only cover the cost of a couple of lounge passes a year.
  • No foreign transaction fees – When traveling abroad, you won’t be charged a fee on foreign transactions. Keep in mind, however, that American Express cards are not accepted as widely abroad as they are in the U.S.

These perks are intriguing, but if you opted for the Gold Card (with a $250 annual fee) instead, you’d get many more benefits, like a $120 dining credit, $100 airline fee credit, $100 activity credit on vacations over $3,000, dining and entertainment discounts and more.

Payment flexibility

Not only does the American Express Green Card come with some compelling perks and bonuses on common purchases, it offers more payment flexibility than the average travel card. The American Express Green Card has no preset spending limit and cardholders can choose to pay in full or carry a balance with interest on eligible charges, up to the Pay Over Time limit. Currently, the Pay Over Time APR is 16.74 percent to 23.74 percent variable, which is on par with the APR of other luxury travel cards.

Excellent customer experience

You can expect great service with the American Express Green Card, as American Express has one of the best customer experience reputations among credit card issuers. Offering a highly-rated mobile app and 24/7 customer service, the issuer received a score of 838 on J.D. Power’s 2019 customer satisfaction survey (second out of 11 major issuers).

How to qualify for the American Express Green Card

The American Express Green Card is designed for cardholders with good to excellent credit (above 670), so you’ll want to ensure you meet those qualifications before you apply. If you are worried about your eligibility and want to avoid a hard pull on your credit, American Express allows you to see if you pre-qualify for any card offers.

How does the American Express Green Card compare to other rewards cards?

While the American Express Green Card offers a good earning rate on travel, transit and dining, it carries a high annual fee and doesn’t come with many luxury perks. If you’re eager to earn rewards on travel and dining, there are a few other options that offer better perks or a lower annual fee. Here’s a quick look at a few of our favorites:

American Express Gold Card

American Express® Gold Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

Wells Fargo Propel American Express

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card

Rewards rate

  • 4 points per dollar at restaurants worldwide
  • 4 points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 in purchases per year, then 1 point per dollar)
  • 3 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com
  • 1 point per dollar on other purchases
  • Terms apply
Rewards rate

  • 2:1 travel and restaurants
  • 1:1 general purchases
Rewards rate

  • 3 points per dollar on dining, travel and transit, gas station purchases and select streaming services
  • 1 point per dollar on other purchases
Introductory bonus

  • 35,000 points if you spend $4,000 in first 3 months
Introductory bonus

  • 60,000 points if you spend $4,000 in first 3 months
Introductory bonus

  • 30,000 points if you spend $3,000 in first 3 months
Annual fee

Annual fee

  • $95
Annual fee

Other things to know

  • Includes perks like baggage insurance, $120 dining credit, $100 airline fee credit, Hotel Collection credit, ShopRunner membership and more
Other things to know

Other things to know

  • 1 cent-per-point value whether redeemed for travel, credit, gift cards or cash back

American Express® Gold Card

Though it carries a higher annual fee than the American Express Green Card, the American Express Gold Card offers a bevy of luxury travel and dining perks. Its annual fee is also fairly affordable compared to other luxury cards. Even better, the Gold Card gives cardholders a generous rewards rate not only on travel and dining, but also on U.S. supermarket purchases, making it a good choice for everyday spending.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, like the American Express Green Card, is a good entry-level travel card, offering a great sign-up bonus, solid rewards rate on travel and restaurants and flexible redemption options.

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card

The Wells Fargo Propel card offers a generous bonus on popular categories like dining, gas station purchases, transit and travel with no annual fee. Its redemption options are flexible and easy to understand, and its sign-up bonus is generous, making it one of the best no-annual-fee travel cards available.

Why get the American Express Green card?

  • You travel regularly, but not with enough frequency to justify the cost of a higher-end luxury travel card.
  • You frequently dine out and use ride-shares, taxis, buses or other forms of transit.
  • You’re likely to use the CLEAR and LoungeBuddy credits.
  • You can’t afford a higher fee premium card, such as the American Express Gold or Platinum card.

How to use the American Express Green card:

  • Book airfare and rooms directly from airlines and hotels to get the card’s full 3 point per dollar bonus rate on travel.
  • Use the card for all of your dining purchases to take advantage of the triple-point bonus.
  • Use the card for all of your transit purchases, including ride-shares.
  • Book travel through amextravel.com to get the most value out of your points.
  • Pay your CLEAR membership fee with the card to get $100 back as a credit.
  • Consider combining the American Express Green Card with another cash back card to maximize your rewards on everyday purchases like groceries.
  • If you can’t afford to pay a purchase in full but want to use your American Express Green Card, ask your customer service representative about enrolling in a Pay Over Time program.

Is the American Express Green Card worth it?

While its travel perks leave a bit to be desired, the American Express Green Card is a good choice if you travel regularly, but not enough to justify the cost of a higher-end luxury travel card. If you do a lot of traveling, however, and don’t mind paying more for luxury benefits, a higher-end travel card may be a better fit.

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