The American Express Green Card and the American Express Gold Card are two excellent mid-tier travel charge cards. They are also two of the oldest continuous credit (charge) card products in the industry. The former was first released in 1958 and the latter was released in 1966 as a more premium product. However, both cards were revamped in 2019 and 2018, respectively.

Both cards are currently great options for domestic and international travelers. This is because they both earn Membership Rewards (MR) points and have access to the same transfer partners. Plus, they are also great for those who want a charge card in lieu of a traditional credit card. Neither card comes with a preset spending or credit limit.

As with everything in point and miles, your mileage may vary. Someone might find the Gold Card better for him while their best friend mind like the Green Card better.

 

Sign-Up Bonus

The Green Card offers a sign-up bonus worth 30,000 MR points. This bonus can be acquired if you spend $2,000 within the first three months. The Green Card’s bonus is low compared to competing cards. But the Gold Card’s bonus is not that much better.

Conversely, the Gold Card offers a bonus worth 35,000 MR points. The Gold Card’s bonus can be earned by spending $4,000 within the first three months. In other words, you must spend twice as much money to earn just 5,000 more points. Compared to the Green Card, the Gold Card’s bonus is not worth much more.

There are targeted bonuses online that are worth more. But not everyone is targeted for increased bonuses. Your mileage may vary.

Overall, the Green Card wins this category because of its lower minimum spend for not that much fewer points.

 

Earning

Both cards earn MR points and are part of the Amex “ecosystem”. Points earned from either card can be transferred to any of Amex’s transfer partners.

The Green Card earns 3x points on Dining worldwide as well as General Travel. Amex added the General Travel category for the Green Card to help them compete with Chase. This category includes hotels, airfare, toll roads, local commuter transit, subways, trains, and ride-sharing.

Conversely, the Gold Card earns 4x points at Grocery Stores stateside and Dining worldwide. There is an annual spend limit of $25,000 total for both categories. In other words, you will earn one point per dollar if you spend more than $25,000 on dining and groceries. Plus, the Gold Card also earns 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or through amextravel.com. But this is very limited compared to that of the Green Card.

Both cards also earn one point per dollar for non-bonus purchases.

The Gold Card is the better earner for those who dine out often because it earns more points at restaurants. It’s also the better option for those with families because of the grocery store category. Conversely, the Green Card is better for travelers because of the broad travel category. Therefore, the winner depends on your spending habits.

 

Perks

Both cards have decent perks, but they both pale in comparison to those of the Amex Platinum Cards. The only common perk between the Gold and Green Cards is Trip Delay Insurance.

The American Express Green Card comes with two $100 annual credits. One of which is for CLEAR and the other is for Lounge Buddy. These credits do not have as many restrictions as the Platinum or Gold Card’s credits. However, they are only useful for travelers who do not have any premium credit cards.

Likewise, the Gold Card’s main perks are its credits. It comes with $100 in airline incidental credits and $120 total in dining credits. The airline incidental credits are designed for checked bags and in-flight purchases. The dining credits are for select restaurants and come as 12 $10 monthly credits. Both credits are extremely limiting and hard to use.

The winner of this category depends on how much and often you can use the credits. The Gold Card offer $20 more in value per year. But its credits are harder to use than those from the Green Card.

 

Annual Fees

The Green Card has an annual fee of $150 while the Gold Card has an annual fee of $250. Neither card’s fee is waived the first year.

However, some people argue that the “net” annual fee for the Gold Card is just $30. This argument assumes that you will use the $100 airline incidental credit in full each year. It also assumes that you will use all 12 of the $10 monthly travel credits.

Under the same argument, the Green Card has a “net” annual fee of -$50. This assumes that you will use both $100 credits in full each year. Therefore, $150 – $200 = -$50, which is a profit of $50.

The Green Card wins this category regardless of whether you will use the credits or not.

 

Final Draw

American Express’ two mid-tier charge cards are great options for those who want to earn MR points and travel. The Green Card is best for those who don’t have or want a premium credit card. It’s also best for those with varied travel expenses. Conversely, the Gold Card is better for those with large food purchases and those who hold a premium credit card.

Furthermore, the American Express Gold Card is a great product that can still be valuable for many travelers. But for a lower annual fee, the Green Card has a better sign-up bonus, earning opportunities (for most travelers), and more valuable perks than its gilded counterpart.

 

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