Credit Card Credit Card Reviews

American Express Green Card Review

overall rating
3.1

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The American Express Green card, the company's original product, has been refreshed. It has an annual fee of $150, but respectable travel rewards and a potentially lucrative bonus offer could allow you to more than justify that fee.

American Express® Green Card

overall rating
3.7
American Express® Green Card
On American Express' Secured Site.

Current Offer:

Earn 30,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $2,000 on purchases on your new card in your first 3 months.

Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) N/A - See Rates & Fees
Annual Fee $150
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 3 points per $1 spent on eligible travel and at restaurants. Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases.
Balance Transfer Fee This card does not offer balance transfers.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
how this card stacks up
When compared among all rewards cards in our database:
Rewards
Benefits
Low Fees
Security/Customer Experience
Low Interest
worst best

Full Review of American Express Green Card

Pros
  • Respectable rewards on travel and restaurants

Cons
  • Relatively high annual fee

  • Limited travel benefits

Pros Explained

  • Respectable Rewards on Travel and Restaurants: You earn 3 points per dollar spent on travel and restaurants. That makes the Amex Green card's rewards in those categories comparable to those of the Chase Sapphire Preferred, which earns 2 points per dollar spent—with each Chase point worth somewhat more than Amex ones, according to a number of valuations. Like Chase, Amex is fairly liberal in its definition of travel. In addition to the typical expenses such as airfare and hotel and car rental fees, it allows claims for public transit, parking, taxis, and ridesharing services.

Cons Explained

  • Relatively High Annual Fee: An annual fee is hardly unusual for a travel card, but this card's fee of $150 is higher than those of many other competing cards. Less-pricey cards include the Chase Sapphire Preferred, which costs $95, and the Wells Fargo Propel American Express card, which has no annual fee. 
  • Limited Travel Benefits: The Amex Green card has fewer perks than most other cards with a substantial fee. You do receive an annual $100 credit to LoungeBuddy, which is typically enough to buy up to four visits to airport lounges throughout the world. Cardholders also get a $100 credit for CLEAR, a service that promises to help you get through airport security more quickly by using your eyes and fingerprints to confirm your identity. However, the credit won’t justify the entire $179 annual cost of the service. (Frequent-flier status with Delta or United, however, can reduce that cost by about $30 to $70.)

This Card is Best For

  • Avatar for Rewards Strategist Persona
    Seeks to maximize points or miles earnings across spending categories
    Rewards Strategist
  • Avatar for Frequent Flyer Persona
    Flies often for business or leisure
    Frequent Flyer
  • Avatar for Frequent Diner Persona
    Dines out regularly while traveling or in home city
    Frequent Diner
  • Avatar for International Traveler Persona
    Travels outside of U.S. on occasion or frequently
    International Traveler

The American Express Green is best suited to those who want a simple card with easy-to-earn rewards for a broad range of travel expenses, from airfare, hotels, and cruises through campgrounds and rideshare services like Uber and Lyft. You'd break even on the $150 annual fee if you spent $5,000 per year on a mix of travel and dining purchases and redeem points for travel through American Express. 

Because it's a charge card—albeit one with an option to carry a balance over time—the American Express Green may also be a worthwhile choice for those who want the enforced discipline to pay off the card balance in full each month. And while this card's Pay-Over-Time program provides some flexibility to carry a balance (for 25 days), you'll be charged a typical—which is to say, hefty—APR in order to do so. 

American Express Green Card Bonus Offer

New cardholders who spend $2,000 or more within the first 3 months of card membership will receive 35,000 membership rewards points. The reward comes in the form of a statement credit eight to 12 weeks after you reach the spending requirement.

The bonus offer is worth varying amounts depending on how you choose to redeem points. Redeeming it for travel through American Express will yield $300—a decent return on spending, if a little less than for the bonus offers of some cards with a similarly high spending requirement. Most other redemption options yield a lower return on every point.  

Rewards Earning Details

This card offers unlimited 3 reward points for every $1 spent on travel and restaurant purchases. All other purchases earn 1 point per $1 spent. 

American Express defines travel expenses generously, allowing cardholders to earn 3 points per $1 on airfare, hotels, cruises, car rentals, campgrounds, trains, taxicabs, rideshare services, tours, ferries, tolls, parking, buses, subways, on third party travel websites, and on amextravel.com.

However, the restaurant category is a little stricter. You'll only earn 1 point per dollar on purchases at a restaurant located within another establishment if the restaurant does not have its own merchant code.

Rewards points don't expire. 

Rewards Redemption Details

The Membership Rewards program from American Express offers a variety of ways to redeem points. You can use points to book travel through American Express, buy gift cards, purchase items on Amazon.com, get a credit to your account, or shop through the Amex portal.

Points can also be redeemed by transferring them to a frequent flyer program in the OneWorld Alliance or StarAlliance networks, which is where you may get the best value. For example, each point is worth as much as 2.16 cents when transferred to OneWorld Alliance, according to our valuations. You'll pay a fee to transfer to some programs (0.06 cents per point, up to $99), but despite that fee, it may still be a worthwhile move.

That's because points may not be  as valuable when redeemed in other ways. For example, points have a value of just 1 cent apiece when redeemed for travel through the American Express travel portal. Points are worth less than 1 cent when redeemed for Amazon purchases, statement credits, and hotels.

Transferring Points

The American Express Membership rewards program allows you to transfer to frequent flyer programs within its travel partners and airline members of the OneWorld Alliance and StarAlliance.

Amex charges a fee, however, per point transferred (0.06 cents per point, up to a maximum of $99). Points otherwise transfer at a 1-to-1 ratio. 

How to Maximize Your Rewards

To get the most out of this card, use it for all of your travel and dining expenses. Since American Express defines "travel" broadly, it's possible to earn 3 points per dollar on expenditures other than flights and hotels. You can also charge taxis, Uber or Lyft, parking, and public-transit expenses to this card. 

If you frequently fly, take full advantage of the annual credit for LoungeBuddy, which should cover a few visits a year to airport lounges. The $100 credit to CLEAR might be valuable to you if you're prepared to pay more in addition to the credit to be able to skip ID checks at the airport. 

It also boosts your return, of course, to ensure you spend the $2,000 required within the first three months of card membership to earn the 30,000-point one-time offer. 

Finally, be strategic about how you redeem your points. Skip low-return options such as redeeming for cash or gift cards and use them to book travel through American Express or, for potentially greater value, transfer them to a partner frequent-flyer program.  

Average Case

Let's say you spend $300 a month at restaurants and $200 on travel (transit, airfare, and hotels). Those add up to annual spending of $3,600 at restaurants and $2,400 at restaurants. Those charges would yield 18,000 points with the card, without considering purchases outside of those categories that would earn 1 point per dollar. That’s a value of $180 when used to book travel through American Express, although you could earn up to double that much by transferring the points to a frequent flyer program in the OneWorld Alliance (although you’d have to pay about $11 in charges to make such a transfer).

If you value visiting airport lounges, the $100 LoungeBuddy credit plus the $100 CLEAR credit drives the total value to $200, provided you’re willing to pay up to $79 more to cover the annual cost of the biometrics ID program.   

Aspirational Case

Since there's no charge for additional cards, families can maximize rewards earnings by adding each person in the family as an additional card member and then charging all travel and restaurant expenses to their personal cards. (The CLEAR and LoungeBuddy credits, though, are each capped at $100 per account.) 

For example, let's say you're a family of four and spend a combined $4,000 per year at restaurants and $3,000 on transit (rideshare services, trains, buses, subways, and parking). If you also take one family vacation per year that costs $3,000, you'd earn 30,000 points annually with this card, without considering miscellaneous purchases that earn 1 point. 

Overall, that's a value of $300, when redeemed for travel through American Express. You might increase that figure to as much as $500 or so by transferring points to an airline program via the OneWorld Alliance network. The LoungeBuddy and CLEAR credits, assuming they have appeal for you, increase the value by another $200.

American Express Green Card's Outstanding Benefits

  •  $100 annual Clear credit
  • $100 annual LoungeBuddy credit
  • Baggage insurance for lost luggage 

Standard Benefits

  • Global assistance hotline
  • Purchase and return protection
  •  Rental car loss and damage insurance (secondary to your own policy)
  • Access to exclusive events
  • ShopRunner—free two-day shipping on eligible items

Cardholder Experience

American Express earned a score of 838 in J.D. Power's 2019 customer satisfaction survey, just below top-rated Discover, which received a score of 842.

Cardholders can reach customer service 24/7 by phone at 800-528-4800. Alternatively, you can chat live with a representative. Questions and comments can also be tweeted to @AskAmex.

Security Features

Credit cards from American Express come with industry standard security precautions, including fraud and online account protection. It will replace your card for free through the American Express Go portal if it's lost or stolen.

Our Verdict

The American Express Green card offers a decent one-time offer and respectable ongoing rewards. And since it can be used as a charge card, it can also be a solid option for those interested in a card to help them to control spending or build good credit habits.

But those rewards, considering the $150 annual fee, make the Amex Green card a riskier proposition to justify compared to competing cards that offer as much or more for less. For a lower-cost card that offers some nice perks, consider the Capital One Venture rewards. It has a lower annual fee of $95 (waived the first year), pays 2 points per dollar on every purchase, and offers perks like a $100 application fee credit every five years to Global Entry or TSAPrecheck, which are more useful programs for most fliers than the CLEAR one.

Alternatively, if you're willing to pay more to potentially get more, consider the American Express Gold card. While it has a higher annual fee of $250, it offers superior annual credits compared with its Green sibling and earns 4 points per dollar spent in restaurants and on up to $25,000 in annual spending at  U.S. supermarkets and 3 points per dollar spent on flights.

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For American Express® Green Card
on American Express' Secured Site.
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CURRENT CARD
American Express® Green Card
overall rating
3.1
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) N/A - See Rates & Fees
Annual Fee $150
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 3 points per $1 spent on eligible travel and at restaurants. Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases.
Investopedia Credit Card Rating Methodology
Investopedia is committed to delivering the best credit card recommendations in the industry. We’ll tell you when a card is good, we’ll tell you when a card is bad, and we’ll only call a card the best if we would recommend it to our friends or family members.
Overall Star Rating Explained
To rate credit cards we objectively assess, score and weight nearly 100 individual card features which roll up into five major feature sets: fees, interest, rewards, benefits and security/customer service. Here’s how we weighted those feature sets for the overall star rating of a card:
We have applied our proprietary rating methodology to every generally-accepted credit card in the U.S. domestic market to allow consumers to make fully informed choices. It’s important to note that for our overall score that we make a number of assumptions about how you would be using your credit card:
  1. While we make no assumption as to whether balances are carried on a given card we do assign varying weights to all credit cards’ introductory APR (if present) in addition to the regular, long term purchase and balance transfer interest rates.
  2. We utilize BLS (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) income and average category spending data to calculate annual earnings rates for rewards cards that offer cash back, points or miles rewards at a set rate on all spending or in consideration of bonus rewards for certain spending categories, like gasoline, groceries, restaurants or travel.
  3. We determine the maximum points value of rewards cards by dividing the points, cash back or miles required to exchange for the retail price of the most valuable redemption option (for example, in the case of a card that offers a domestic roundtrip airline ticket as a redemption option vs. another redemption option of lesser value that requires the same amount of points or miles to acquire, we would base the rewards value on the airline ticket).
  • Cards that are selected best overall in their respective categories generally feature most if not all of the following attributes:
  • Low or Reasonable Fees Credit card fees come in many forms but the primary ones involve those for annual card membership and balance transfer. There are a myriad of reward and non-reward card options that charge no annual fee but for the many that do assess an annual fee the cost is often justified by their lucrative ongoing rewards and initial signup bonuses. Balance transfer fees are occasionally waived during introductory periods with certain cards, a factor which is heavily and positively weighted in our scoring model for cards offering this benefit. When charged, balance transfer fees range between 3% - 5%, which we grade accordingly. Other standard fees can generally be avoided, such as those for paying late or taking cash advances but we rate those relative to other cards in the market for reference, though with less weight assigned
  • Competitive Interest Many cards offer 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for varying lengths and then revert to a permanent or regular APR (based on a variable rate tied to the prime rate) that applies to any balances not paid in full. We rate both introductory APR percentage and length (in months) along with the midpoint of the variable regular APR interest rate range.
  • Valuable Rewards Credit card reward programs can be based on cash back, points or travel rewards (which can be generic or travel partner-specific, as with airline and hotel co-brand card programs). For cards that offer rewards we determine the value per dollar spent along with average redemption values and assign more favorable ratings to cards that offer superior consumer value. We also assign value to sign-up bonus offers and their initial spending requirements, when present.
  • Excellent Benefits Credit card benefits cover a range of offerings like concierge service, TSA Pre-check, auto rental coverage, travel accident insurance, lost luggage assistance and free credit scores. We rate cards on the number and level of over a dozen standard and upscale benefits and provide extra weighting emphasis for those travel-related perks that apply to premium travel cards when present.
  • Solid Security/Customer Service Security and customer service features like lost or stolen card replacement, being able to lock one’s card from an issuer app and 24 hour customer support are becoming more standard across the card market and we provide a significant amount of weighting to features in this area.
  • You can also read the full version of our methodology for a more in-depth look at how we assess cards and award them the best in various categories.