Full Review of Business Green Rewards Card from American Express
Decent rewards, albeit with limitations
Flexible spending limit
Uncompetitive bonus offer
No reliable option to carry a balance
- Flexible Spending Limit: Because the Business Green Rewards is a charge card, with the balance due in full each month, there's no hard limit on what you can spend, as there is with a credit card. That flexibility is useful if your business expenses vary from month-to-month or an occasional unexpected purchase might force you over spending limit for a credit card. However, that doesn't mean you’re entitled to unlimited spending. Rather, Amex adjusts your purchasing power according to your use of the card, payment history, credit record, and known financial resources.
- Uncompetitive Bonus Offer: The value of the bonus you receive for acquiring this card falls short of most cards with a similar annual fee and qualifying spending requirement. It offers 15,000 Membership Rewards points if you spend $3,000 within your first 3 months after opening a card account. At the better rates of redemption, which are generally found when buying travel through Amex, that offer is worth about $231. By comparison, two other business credit cards with the same initial bonus spending requirement of $3,000 in the first 90 days, the Chase Ink Business Cash card offers a $500 bonus and Bank of America Platinum Plus offers $300.
- Mediocre Rewards: The only way to earn this card's best rewards rate of two points per dollar is by booking travel through amextravel.com. Even then, the type of travel purchases eligible for that rate are limited to airfare, vacation packages, prepaid hotels, and cruise vacations. Any other purchase made with the card earns just one point per dollar. In turn, receiving the best return on those points generally demands that you also redeem them for travel purchased through Amex. With Investopedia valuing such redemptions at 1.54 cents per point, Amex travel purchases would yield rewards worth over 3 cents per dollar spent. You can do better—to earn comparable rewards with fewer restrictions—with some other business cards with a comparable fee.
This Card is Best For
Seeks to maximize points or miles earnings across spending categories
Earning a primary or side income from a small business
The Business Green Rewards card from American Express could fit business owners who are comfortable trading away (at least with any certainty) the convenience to occasionally carry over a balance at month's end for the flexibility of a spending limit that may adjust month-to-month according to your needs. It’s also best for those willing to forgo some rewards compared with the best business credit cards in order to enjoy that flexible credit limit.
Business Green Rewards Card from American Express Bonus Offer
New cardholders who spend $3,000 or more within the first three months of card membership will receive 15,000 membership rewards points. You'll get the reward in the form of a statement credit eight to 12 weeks after you reach the spending requirement.
Depending on how you choose to redeem points, the one-time offer is worth varying amounts. It yields an estimated value of $231. That's a fairly low return compared to other bonus offers on the market with similarly high spending requirements. As mentioned above, by comparison, two other business cards with the same $3,000-in-90-days spending requirement, the Chase Ink Business Cash card ($95 annual fee) and Bank of America Platinum Plus (no annual fee) offer $500 and $300 respectively as their welcome bonuses.
Rewards Earning Details
This card offers unlimited 2 membership rewards points for every $1 spent on eligible charges made on your card at amextravel.com, which includes airfare, prepaid hotels, vacation packages, and cruise reservations. All other purchases earn 1 membership reward point per $1 spent.
By our calculations, you could justify the $95 annual fee if you spend around $4,000 annually through the American Express travel portal and then also redeemed points through that same service. That’s more than the required spending with some comparable cards, which provide more lucrative and sometimes broader rewards.
As an example, the Chase Ink Business Preferred, which also has a $95 annual fee, rewards you with 3 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar you spend on travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable and phone services, and on advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines. Investopedia values those Chase points at 1.6 cents when used for travel, significantly more than the valuation for Amex points.
The upshot: To justify the $95 annual fee, you need to spend only $2,000 with the Chase Ink Business Preferred, which is half what’s required with the Business Green Rewards by American Express.
One caveat for small businesses that are more sizable. The Business Green Rewards by American Express has no limit on the value of purchases that earn its best rewards rate, where the Chase Ink Business Preferred, like some other cards, caps the spending that earns premium rewards at $150,000 a year.
Spending outside of eligible travel earns 1-point-per-dollar-spent with the Business Green Rewards by American Express. Membership rewards points never expire.
Rewards Redemption Details
The American Express Membership Rewards program is fairly flexible, offering a range of ways to redeem points. You can use membership rewards to book travel through American Express, purchase items on Amazon.com, buy gift cards, get an account credit, or purchase items through the Amex shopping portal. It's also possible to transfer points to a frequent flyer program.
When redeeming, though, keep in mind that you'll get the best value by using points to obtain flights through American Express travel, or by transferring them to a frequent-flyer program.
Membership Rewards points can be transferred to the frequent-flyer programs of Amex’s partner airlines, with values that vary by the airline. The partners include major airlines like Delta, Virgin Atlantic, and Air Canada.
Unusual among card issuers, though, Amex charges 0.0006 cents per point for some transfers, to a maximum fee of $99. You might be allowed to redeem additional points to cover the transfer fee, though, and despite the charge, there's still a good chance you'll get the most value out of your points by transferring them to another rewards program.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
To get the most out of the rewards on this card, book all your spending on airfare, prepaid hotels, vacation packages, and cruise reservations through the American Express travel portal, to earn 2 Amex points per dollar spent—this card's best rewards rate.
Make sure, too, to spend at least $3,000 on this card within the first three months of membership in order to take full advantage of its one-time offer. While its value is modest—$231 when used for travel, we estimate—it's still well worth meeting this attainable “spend” in order to earn the bonus.
And make sure to redeem your points for travel through American Express or transfer them to a partner frequent flyer program, which is where you'll likely get the most value.
Let's say you use this card for travel and various other monthly business costs, like marketing, subscriptions, and office supplies. Your travel expenses consist of one domestic flight each quarter, which together might cost you about $1,500 per year, based on the average value of such flights. That travel spending, at 2 points per dollar spent, would yield 3,000 points, which are worth a total of about $46.
Let's say you put an additional $1,500 per month on the card, which would yield a further 18,000 points for the year. That extra spending would add about $277 to your rewards which, added to the travel earnings, creates an annual total of about $323.
As with almost all business cards, there's no additional charge for issuing cards to employees, whose spending can exponentially boost the points balance in your account. Let's add their potential travel spending to that detailed above.
Let's say you have three employees who also take quarterly business flights with the same value as yours, and charge them to the card. They would add a combined $4,500 per year on flights, which would yield an additional $139 (4,500 * 2pts * 1.54 cents) in rewards.
In addition, we'll say you utilize this card's flexible spending limit and put one $12,000 purchase on the card annually—which would earn you 12,000 points worth about $185.
In total, adding your $46 in rewards from personal business travel spending to the $139 for your employees' travel, plus the $185 from your extra major expenditure, your rewards from the card would total about $370 for the year.
American Express Green Business Rewards Card Outstanding Benefits
- No pre-set spending limit
- Baggage insurance for lost luggage
- Rental car collision insurance (secondary to your own policy)
- Global assistance hotline
- American Express business app
- Connect your card to QuickBooks
- Free additional employee cards to track and manage spending
- Ability to designate an account manager to manage the card account
American Express earned a score of 838 in J.D. Power's 2019 customer satisfaction survey. Discover was the only airline that beat out Amex, earning a score of 842.
Cardholders can reach a customer service representative 24/7 by phone at 800-528-4800. You can also chat live with a representative, or tweet comments and questions to @AskAmex on Twitter.
You'll find that all cards from American Express are in line with industry standard security precautions. Fraud and online account protection are standard, as are pre-purchase verification and alerts for irregular activity. If your card is lost or stolen, Amex will provide next-day shipping for a new card.
If you’re in the market for a business charge card—as opposed to a credit card on which you can carry a balance—the Business Green Rewards from American Express offers decent-enough unlimited rewards, at least for travel when bought from Amex, along with a flexible spending limit that might help businesses with widely varying month-to-month expenses.
However, many or most businesses might be better off with one of the competing business cards with the same annual fee that offer superior rewards and higher introductory bonuses—along with the option to carry a balance over from month-to-month as needed.
The Chase Ink Business Preferred card, for example, offers three Chase points per dollar spent on the first $150,000 in combined spending on travel, shipping, Internet, cable, phone services, and advertising purchases made with social media sites. Given the higher value of Chase points compared with Amex ones, those rewards are almost twice as lucrative as those for the Business Green Rewards from American Express. The 100,000-point one-time offer for the Chase Ink Business Preferred is worth more than three times that of the one with the Business Green Rewards from American Express—albeit with a 90-day spending requirement of $15,000, versus $3,000 for the Business Green Rewards from American Express.
If you'd rather stay in the American Express card family, and you're willing to pay more for additional benefits and better rewards, consider the Business Gold from American Express, which is in effect a credit card since it allows a pay over time option for all purchases over $100. The annual fee is $295, but the one-time offer of 35,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 in your first 3 months adds enough value compared with the Green Rewards from American Express to justify the difference in annual fee between the cards for a full two years. And it earns 4 points per dollar on the two eligible categories where you spend the most each month, compared with half those points for travel expenses alone with the Green Rewards from American Express.
Finally, the Business Gold from American Express is a better choice for international travelers than the Green Rewards from American Express, since it lacks a foreign transaction fee (where the Green Rewards from American Express charges 2.7% for purchases made from foreign companies).