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|Good sign-up bonus||Annual fee is on the high side|
|Great dining and travel rewards rate||New credits may not be very useful for all travelers|
|Points have high estimated point value, according to Credit Karma’s valuation||Limited payment flexibility|
Key features of the American Express® Green Card
American Express recently revamped its American Express® Green Card. The refreshed version of the card offers more points in more bonus categories, plus new credits.
So do the new benefits make the American Express® Green Card a must-have travel card for your wallet? Let’s take a look.
Attractive welcome bonus and ongoing earning potential
The American Express® Green Card gives new cardholders 30,000 Membership Rewards® points if they spend $2,000 on purchases within their first 3 months of opening the account.
Credit Karma’s points valuations estimate Membership Rewards points to be worth 1.32 cents per point. That means you could get $594 worth of value out of your welcome bonus. That’s more than triple the card’s $150 annual fee.
Cardholders also earn three points per $1 spent on all eligible travel purchases, including rideshare services, hotels, flights and city tours. They also earn three points per $1 spent on eligible dining purchases. All other purchases earn one point per $1.
Clear and LoungeBuddy credits
The American Express® Green Card has two credits toward services that could improve your airport experience.
First, if you use your American Express® Green Card to purchase a Clear membership, you’ll receive statement credits of up to $100 per calendar year. Clear uses biometrics (like your fingerprint or iris) to validate your identity and help you get to the airport security line faster. Keep in mind, though, that this isn’t the same as TSA PreCheck. With Clear, you’ll still have to take off your shoes and take your laptop out of your bag if you don’t already have a TSA PreCheck or Global Entry membership.
Second, if you use your American Express® Green Card to buy airport lounge access through LoungeBuddy, you can receive a statement credit for the purchase. In total, you can receive up to $100 in LoungeBuddy statement credits per calendar year. Lounge access starts at $25 per visit.
Extra travel perks
Between the bonus categories and fee credits that it offers, the American Express® Green Card is clearly geared toward travelers. Here are a few other travel benefits the card offers.
- Car rental loss and damage insurance: The card provides secondary coverage and doesn’t include liability coverage.
- Baggage insurance: You can get coverage for up to $1,250 for carry-ons and $500 for checked bags for each covered person.
- Global assist hotline: Receive 24/7 emergency assistance when you travel 100 miles or more away from home.
Payment flexibility is … complicated
The American Express® Green Card is a charge card, not a credit card. While credit cards will allow you to carry over a balance from month to month, charge cards typically require that you pay your statement balance in full each month.
But the American Express® Green Card has a program called Pay Over Time that makes it possible to delay payment on some purchases beyond the due date. Depending on how your account is set up, eligible purchases will either automatically be placed into your Pay Over Time balance (this is the default setting), or you can select which charges are added to the balance. Eligible purchases for Pay Over Time include purchases of $100 or more and eligible travel charges. Each cardholder is given a Pay Over Time spending limit.
Keep in mind that any purchases in your Pay Over Time balance will begin to accrue interest immediately, but you won’t have to pay any interest if you pay off your balance in full each month. Interest on Pay Over Time balances is currently 16.74% to 23.74%.
What else you need to know about the American Express® Green Card
We’ve covered the most popular perks that are offered by the American Express® Green Card. But here are a few other benefits worth mentioning.
- There are no foreign transaction fees
- There’s no preset spending limit
- Cardholders have access to exclusive ticket offers
Understanding your points and redemption options
The American Express® Green Card gives you the chance to earn Membership Rewards points, which offer a lot of redemption flexibility in addition to having a high estimated value, according to Credit Karma’s valuation.
Here are a few of the ways you can redeem your Membership Rewards points.
- Pay with points at checkout (with select merchants)
- Buy gift cards
- Book travel
- Upgrade airline tickets
- Redeem for statement credits
And don’t forget that you can transfer your points to participating travel partners and loyalty programs as well. But note that you can’t redeem Membership Rewards points for cash as other reward programs allow.
While you can redeem Membership Rewards points for statement credits, it’s unlikely that you’ll want to — statement credits redeem at only 0.6 cents per point.
Who is this card good for?
The American Express® Green Card could be a good choice for some frequent flyers who value lounge access or memberships that speed up the security process. If that’s you, you may be able to take full advantage of up to $100 in credits for both Clear and LoungeBuddy.
But if you travel fairly often, you may really care about lounge access and want a card that lets you access more lounges without paying an entry fee. And hardcore travelers would probably be better off with a TSA PreCheck or Global Entry credit, both of which could get you access to a speedier line and let you keep your shoes on and your liquids in your carry-on. If that’s the case, those statement credits can be worthless.
And that makes it harder to justify American Express® Green Card’s annual fee. After all, with the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card, you earn three points per $1 spent on more categories — while not having to pay an annual fee. And the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card charges a smaller annual fee — $95 — while offering a higher sign-up bonus and two points per $1 on travel and dining.
But Membership Rewards has 22 travel partners (which is nine more than Chase Ultimate Rewards). So if one of the Membership Rewards loyalty program partners happens to be one of your favorite airlines or hotels, that could tip the scales in favor of the American Express® Green Card.
Not sure this is the card for you? Consider these alternatives.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve®: If you’re looking for a premium travel card with a ton of perks, this card could be a great fit.
- Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card: You might consider this card if you’re looking for a way to earn travel rewards without an annual fee.
- Citi Premier℠ Card: If you do most of your travel by car, this card could be a good choice.