American Express® Green Card: Improved Value for Frequent Travelers

Lyle is a writer specializing in credit cards, travel rewards programs, and banking. His work has also appeared on MSN Money, USA Today, and Yahoo! Finance.

The American Express® Green Card is the perfect example of how credit cards can benefit from a makeover. It used to be one of many overlooked travel cards on the market due to a pedestrian rewards rate and few useful benefits. Since then, American Express has revamped it with more bonus categories, a higher rewards rate, and several money-saving travel perks.

The card has gotten significantly better thanks to those updates, but is it worth your time? To help you find out, we're going to cover all the good and the not-so-good points of the American Express® Green Card.

Ratings Methodology
American Express® Green Card

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On American Express' Secure Website.

American Express® Green Card

American Express® Green Card

Apply Now

On American Express' Secure Website.

Apply Now

On American Express' Secure Website.

Rewards

3x points for travel and restaurants, 1x points on all else

Annual Fee

$150

Foreign Transaction Fee

None

Intro APR

Purchases: N/A
Balance Transfers: N/A

Ongoing APR

See Rates & Fees

Bonuses & Perks

30,000 points after spending $2,000 within three months, receive up to $100 per year in statement credits to pay for your CLEAR® membership

Highlights
  • Earn 30,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $2,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on all eligible travel, from subway swipes and window seats to hotel stays and city tours.
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points at restaurants worldwide.
  • Receive up to $100 per year in statement credits when you use the American Express® Green Card to pay for your CLEAR® membership at select airports and stadiums across the U.S. and Permissible Biometric Scanning Technology terms: eye scanning, irises scanning and fingerprints scanning.
  • Use the American Express® Green Card to purchase lounge access through LoungeBuddy to any of the lounges in the LoungeBuddy network — no memberships, elite statuses, or first class tickets required. Earn up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year on your LoungeBuddy purchases.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $150 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.

Top perks of the American Express® Green Card

45,000-point sign-up bonus -- This bonus requires $2,000 of spending within the first three months that you have the card. It's not the very best offer, as there are cards with lower annual fees that offer larger sign-up bonuses, but it's still a solid bonus overall.

3 points per $1 on travel and restaurants -- The rewards rate on the American Express® Green Card is competitive even with cards that charge much more in annual fees. It earns 3 points per $1 on travel, and this broad spending category includes transit expenses such as rideshares, taxis, and toll roads. It also earns 3 points per $1 at restaurants and 1 point per $1 on all your other spending.

$100 annual LoungeBuddy credit -- You're automatically reimbursed for your first $100 in LoungeBuddy purchases per year. LoungeBuddy is a service that lets you pay for single-use passes to airport lounges within its network. The price varies depending on the lounge. One pass typically ranges from $25 to $50, but some lounges charge greater or smaller amounts. Lounge availability varies by airport, and on a negative note, there are several major airports where LoungeBuddy doesn't have coverage yet.

This benefit could be useful if you travel through an airport in LoungeBuddy's network. It will cover only a few visits, though, and it pales in comparison to what other credit cards with airport lounge access offer.

$100 credit with Away -- You'll receive a $100 statement credit for purchases you make with Away, a luggage designer and manufacturer, by Jan. 15, 2020. If you need to purchase anything luggage-related, this credit can help you save some money.

American Express® Membership Rewards transfer partners -- The American Express® Membership Rewards program is known for having an impressive roster of transfer partners. This makes the points your card earns more valuable, because you have so many options for how you use them. Here are the current airlines and hotels where you can transfer your points with this card:

  • Airlines: Aer Lingus, AeroMexico, Air Canada, Air France/KLM, Alitalia, All Nippon Airways, Avianca, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Delta Air Lines, El Al Israel Airlines (20:1 transfer ratio), Emirates, Etihad Airways, Hawaiian Airlines, Iberia Plus, JetBlue (1.25:1 transfer ratio), Qantas, Singapore Airlines, Virgin Atlantic
  • Hotels: Choice Hotels, Hilton (1:2 transfer ratio), Marriott

What could be improved

Fixed-rate travel redemption -- Although the American Express® Membership Rewards program offers quite a few transfer partners, one area where it falls short is in letting you redeem your points at a fixed rate for travel purchases. If you do this through the American Express travel center, here's what your points will be worth:

  • $0.01 per point on air travel
  • $0.007 per point on hotels and cruises

Although the air travel rate isn't bad, there are other travel cards that offer more value for your points in one or all of the above categories.

$100 annual CLEAR credit -- You'll receive a $100 statement credit every year after using this card to pay your membership fee in the CLEAR program. As a member of CLEAR, you can scan your eyes and fingerprints at airports where the service is available, and a CLEAR employee will then take you directly to the physical screening process.

It may seem strange to criticize a $100 credit, but there are a few reasons to be lukewarm about this benefit:

  • A CLEAR membership costs $179, so you still need to pay that $79 difference every year.
  • CLEAR is available in only a few dozen airports, which means it isn't nearly as widespread as the TSA PreCheck and Global Entry programs.
  • Although CLEAR will get you to the front of the line, you'll still go through the standard security screening if you don't have TSA PreCheck. And it doesn't speed up reentry into the United States after international travel like Global Entry does.

If you want to get through airport security faster, TSA PreCheck and Global Entry are better, cheaper options (and you're enrolled in both programs if you get a Global Entry membership). Many other travel rewards cards include a credit for your TSA PreCheck or Global Entry fee, and that's a more useful benefit than this CLEAR credit.

Is the $150 annual fee worth it?

Considering its high rewards rate and the spending credits it offers, the American Express® Green Card more than justifies its $150 annual fee.

If you know that you'll use the $100 credits for LoungeBuddy and CLEAR, then you're already getting $200 in value from this card, meaning you'll be up $50 per year after accounting for the fee. Even if you don't use all of the spending credits this card offers, you can still get plenty of value from it with the 3 points per $1 it earns on travel and dining.

Suggested credit score

The American Express® Green Card is best for people with good to excellent credit, or a FICO score of at least 670. Of course, other factors are considered and approval isn't guaranteed with a higher or impossible with a lower score.

Alternatives to consider

If you're looking for an affordable travel card that offers multiple spending credits, a valuable sign-up bonus, and extra points on travel and dining purchases, another option to consider is the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card. Here's how these two cards compare:

As of Mar. 18, 2020
American Express® Green Card

Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card

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4.0 stars
ToolTip Icon for Star Rating. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor.
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Rates & Fees

Credit Rating Requirement: Good/Excellent Clickable tooltip icon for credit rating info.

Credit Rating Requirement: Good/Excellent Clickable tooltip icon for credit rating info.

Bonus: 30,000 points after spending $2,000 within three months Bonus: 50,000 bonus points - a $500 value – after $3,000 in purchases within 90 days
Rewards Program: 3x points for travel and restaurants, 1x points on all else Rewards Program: 2x points on travel & dining purchases, unlimited 1.5x points on all else, 25%-75% more points for Bank of America Preferred Rewards members
Intro APR: Purchases: N/A Balance Transfers: N/A Intro APR: Purchases: N/A Balance Transfers: N/A
Regular APR: See Rates & Fees Regular APR: 17.49% - 24.49% Variable
Annual Fee: $150 Annual Fee: $95
Foreign Transaction Fee: None Foreign Transaction Fee: None

Highlights:

  • Earn 30,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $2,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on all eligible travel, from subway swipes and window seats to hotel stays and city tours.
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points at restaurants worldwide.
  • Receive up to $100 per year in statement credits when you use the American Express® Green Card to pay for your CLEAR® membership at select airports and stadiums across the U.S. and Permissible Biometric Scanning Technology terms: eye scanning, irises scanning and fingerprints scanning.
  • Use the American Express® Green Card to purchase lounge access through LoungeBuddy to any of the lounges in the LoungeBuddy network — no memberships, elite statuses, or first class tickets required. Earn up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year on your LoungeBuddy purchases.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $150 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.

Highlights:

  • Receive 50,000 bonus points - a $500 value - after you make at least $3,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
  • Earn unlimited 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases and unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • If you're a Bank of America Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25%-75% more points on every purchase
  • No limit to the points you can earn and your points don't expire
  • Redeem for cash back as a statement credit, deposit into eligible Bank of America® accounts, credit to eligible Merrill accounts, or gift cards or purchases at the Bank of America Travel Center
  • Get up to $200 in combined airline incidental and airport expedited screening statement credits + valuable travel insurance protections
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Low $95 annual fee

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This card is right for you if:

The American Express® Green Card is an excellent choice if:

  • You spend a lot of money on travel and dining.
  • You want versatile travel rewards that you can transfer to a variety of airlines and hotels.
  • You visit airport lounges at least a few times per year.

Consumers who like the American Express® Membership Rewards program but want a card with more benefits and rewards may also be interested in the American Express® Gold Card or the American Express® Platinum Card. These higher-end cards charge more expensive annual fees, but they also have more perks.

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