angle-up angle-down
American Express Green card review

American Express Green card review

Published: November 15, 2017
Ratings Policy
Rewards Rating:
2.1 rating
2.1 rating
2.1 / 5
Rewards Value: 0.2
Annual Percentage Rate: 0.1
Rewards Flexibility: 4.4
Features: 3.0

In a nutshell:

One of the original travel rewards credit cards, the American Express Green card currently isn’t up to par on its rewards and benefits.

Rewards Rate

  • 2:1 on travel booked through Amextravel.com
  • 1:1 other purchases
  • Terms apply

Sign-up Bonus
None (Terms apply)

Annual Fee
$95, first year $0 (See rates and fees)

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$137

APR
Not applicable (charge card) (See rates and fees)

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • 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
  • You can redeem your points on Amazon.com or Live Nation

Cons

  • You must go through American Express to book rewards travel
  • You need to earn a minimum of 5,000 points to redeem them

Other Notable Features: Baggage insurance, roadside assistance, auto rental insurance, travel assistance, travel accident insurance, ticket presale for entertainment events, extended warranty, purchase protection, return protection, dispute resolution, travel discounts, car purchase discount, Shoprunner membership

Travel Rating:
2.4 rating
2.4 rating
2.4 / 5
Rewards Value: 0.3
Annual Percentage Rate: 0.1
Rewards Flexibility: 4.4
Features: 5.0

In a nutshell:

An American Express original, the Green card might inspire some nostalgia; but its puny rewards and modest travel benefits aren’t worth the annual fee.

Rewards Rate

  • 2:1 on travel booked through Amextravel.com
  • 1:1 other purchases
  • Terms apply

Sign-up Bonus
None (Terms apply)

Annual Fee
$95, first year $0 (See rates and fees)

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$137

APR
Not applicable (charge card) (See rates and fees)

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • Points don’t expireNo 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
  • You can redeem your points on Amazon.com or Live Nation

Cons

  • You must go through American Express to book rewards travel
  • You need to earn a minimum of 5,000 points to redeem them

Other Notable Features: Baggage insurance, roadside assistance, auto rental insurance, travel assistance, travel accident insurance, ticket presale for entertainment events, extended warranty, purchase protection, return protection, dispute resolution, travel discounts, car purchase discount, Shoprunner membership

If you’re a longtime card user, or still remember your parents pulling out a mint green American Express card with a Gladiator on the cover, you may feel a twinge of nostalgia for this charge card classic. The American Express Green card has been around for decades and has helped millions of American Express cardholders fund their purchases without sinking into debt.

Unlike a typical credit card, charge cards such as the Green card require cardholders to pay their balances in full each month – unless they’re invited to enroll in a flexible payment program, such as American Express’ Extended Payment, Select and Pay Later or Sign and Travel options.

The latest incarnation of the Green card also gives cardholders a modest number of membership rewards points and offers additional travel benefits in exchange for a $95 annual fee. But if you can afford to fork over nearly $100 a year for a rewards card, you can almost certainly get more value from a different card. The Green card’s benefits barely compete with the perks offered by cards with no annual fee. Most premium cards, by contrast, offer substantially more value in exchange for a comparable fee.

Outdated rewards

Several years ago, the American Express Green card might have seemed like a relatively good deal. The card awards two membership rewards points for every dollar spent on travel booked through amextravel.com and one point for every dollar spent on general purchases.

But in today’s era of supersized benefits and generous spending bonuses, the Green card’s modest rewards seem uncommonly stingy – especially since this card also charges a $95 annual fee. Many of today’s best credit cards, for example, offer two to six rewards points on a wide range of purchases – not just travel booked through the card’s issuer. Most cards that charge a sizable annual fee also help make up for the expense with valuable perks and an impressive sign-up bonus in the first year.

Above average point value

For cardholders who apply online, the Green card doesn’t offer a sign-up bonus, nor does it offer any additional bonuses beyond its limited travel bonus. However, it does offer a slightly higher points value than the average rewards card, which somewhat makes up for its meager rewards program.

Depending on how you redeem them, the Green card’s membership rewards points are worth up to $.012 each. The average card rewards point, by contrast, is valued at just a penny each. The Green card’s slightly higher rewards value gives cardholders somewhat more buying power with their points; however, it’s still not high enough to make up for the card’s substantial annual fee.

High annual fee, with limited benefits

For such an expensive card, one would expect that American Express charge cardholders to be rewarded with a bevy of free perks and valuable services. But in exchange for paying a $95 annual fee, Green card holders are given access to just a smattering of American Express benefits – many of which are offered to American Express cardholders who don’t pay a comparable fee.

For example, Green cardholders can take advantage of premium travel benefits, such as car rental and damage protection, roadside assistance, global assistance and baggage insurance, as well as standard card perks, such as purchase and return protection. But American Express doesn’t offer any other free travel perks or services, which have become ubiquitous on other cards.

Good for budgeting

In addition to being a sentimental favorite for some longtime card users, the most compelling benefit to the American Express Green card is its charge card status. By requiring you to pay off your purchases in full – unless you actively enroll in a flexible payment service – the Green card makes it more than likely you’ll stay within your budget and avoid charging more than you can afford.

That makes the Green card a safer bet for cardholders who want to take advantage of the rewards benefits of a credit card, but need a little more structure than a traditional card that lets you roll over your balances. But with the card’s $95 annual fee, you’ll pay a high price for the protection.

Too little transparency on Flexible Payment charges

This isn’t a risk-free card either. If you become eligible for the card’s Pay Over Time program, which lets you space out your payments on select purchases, you won’t have to pay your entire balance in full anymore. As a result, you can still get into some debt trouble if you overuse the card’s flexible payment options.

American Express doesn’t disclose on its website the APRs that cardholder would be charged if they chose to pay some purchases over time, nor will the card issuer tell you over the phone what your Pay Over Time APR might be before you apply. Instead, you have to apply for the card – and be invited to the Pay Over Time program  to find out how much it would cost you to delay some of your payments. That’s a big red flag for cardholders on a budget.

Risky for Pay Over Time users

The Pay Over Time benefit – which is only available to select charge card users does offer an appealing amount of flexibility for bigger purchases. For example, if you enroll in “Extended Payment”, eligible charges above $100 will be automatically carried over to a separate revolving balance. Similarly, the “Select and Pay Later” feature lets you manually select eligible big-ticket purchases that you want to carry over to the next month, while the Sign and Travel option automatically transfers any eligible travel purchases to your Pay Over Time balance.

But if you don’t know your Pay Over Time APR before you apply for the card and plan to use this card for all your purchases including charges you want to carry over once you become eligible for Pay Over Time you could be taking a big risk by signing up for this card.

Why get the American Express Green card?

  • You want the structure of a charge card so that you’ll pay all your purchases in full, but can’t afford a higher fee premium charge card, such as the American Express Gold or Platinum card.
  • You’re nostalgic about the American Express Green card and don’t mind paying the $95 annual fee.
  • You don’t mind booking your rewards travel through American Express or plan to transfer your points to an airline or hotel partner.

How to use the American Express Green card:

  • To earn the maximum number of points, book your travel through amex.com
  • If you can’t afford to pay a purchase in full but want to use your Green card, ask your customer service representative about enrolling in one of American Express’ invitation-only Pay Over Time programs, such as Extended Payment, Select and Pay Later or Sign and Travel.
  • However, be sure to evaluate your APR for the Pay Over Time option before you enroll. You may be able to get cheaper financing elsewhere.
  • If you’re opting for a charge card in order to force yourself to pay off your balance in full, don’t enroll in the Pay Over Time options.

Our reviews and best card recommendations are based on an objective rating process and are not driven by advertising dollars. However, we do receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners. Learn more about our advertising policy

All reviews are prepared by CreditCards.com staff. Opinions expressed therein are solely those of the reviewer and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, presented in the review is accurate as of the date of the review. Check the data at the top of this page and the bank’s website for the most current information.

Responses to comments in the discussion section below are not provided, reviewed, approved, endorsed or commissioned by our financial partners. It is not our partner’s responsibility to ensure all posts or questions are answered.