American Express re-released the Green Card in the fall of 2019 after months of waiting. This re-release marked the first major changes to the Green Card since Membership Rewards (MR) Points were first conceived in 1992. Fortunately, the Green Card is now a viable competitor in the mid-tier card market.
Furthermore, the Green Card has an annual fee of $150 (NOT waived the first year). This fee makes it more expensive than most mid-tier competitors including the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Citi Premier. However, all three of the Amex charge cards have higher annual fees than their competitors in each tier.
Many of the card’s details were leaked by a Reddit user and reported Doctor of Credit (H/T) three days before the card was re-released in 2019. American Express confirmed that most of the leaked details were correct upon re-releasing the card.
The American Express Green Card comes with a sign-up bonus worth 30,000 MR points, which can be earned after spending $2,000 within the first three months. This is a decent bonus, but I wish the minimum spend requirement was lower than $2,000. I also wish that they would make the former 45,000-point bonus public.
Moreover, the Green Card is an excellent earner for travelers. It earns 3x MR points on Restaurants worldwide as well as 3x points on General Travel. American Express includes flights, hotels, tolls, subways, ride-sharing services, taxis, and local commuter transit within the “General Travel” category.
I like that Amex extended the Restaurants category to worldwide restaurants like they did with the Gold Card. Plus, I like that the “General Travel” category is not only limited to amextravel.com purchases. This category looks like a fresh start for American Express as they can extend it onto their other charge cards. The Platinum Card, for example, is in need of a category like this one.
Earning points is fantastic, but points earned are useless if you cannot redeem them for anything of value. Amex has multiple options for redemption:
Transfer partners are by far the most valuable redemption option for cards that earn MR points. They are the reason why points and miles enthusiasts love MR points so much. Amex transfers points at a 1 MR to 1 partner currency ratio unless otherwise noted.
- Choice Privileges
- Hilton (1 MR = 2 Hilton Honors Points)
- Aer Lingus
- Aeromexico (5 MR = 8 Premier Points)
- Air Canada
- Air Italia Millemiglia
- Asia Miles / Cathay Pacific
- Avianca Lifemiles
- British Airways
- Delta Airlines
- Etihad Guest
- Hawaiian Airlines
- JetBlue (5 MR = 4 TrueBlue Points)
- KLM Flying Blue / Air France
- Nippon Airways
- Singapore Airlines
- Virgin Atlantic
One of the downfalls of MR point-earning cards is the lack of valuable alternative redemption options. Most of Amex’s other options will provide between 0.5 and 1 cent per point (CPP) in value. This is one of the reasons why Amex frustrated me. Some of the other options offered include paid travel, gift cards, merchandise, and statement credits. If any of these options are what you want, the American Express Green Card is probably not for you.
CLEAR is an alternative to Pre-TSA and Global Entry, which are popular ways to avoid airport security for a fee and a background check. You will receive a $100 credit for CLEAR membership every year. The credit will be applied as a statement credit upon use.
Membership normally costs $179 per year. Thus, having this credit will reduce that cost to just $79 per year. However, the cost can go down even more if you are a member of either Delta Sky Miles or United Mileage Plus.
Lounge Buddy Credit
You will receive a $100 credit to Lounge Buddy with the Green Card each year. This credit is NOT divided into parts and it can be used throughout the calendar year to get into Lounge Buddy airport lounges. The credit will be applied as a statement credit upon use.
This credit is redundant for those who hold about any premium card. That’s because most premium cards come with Priority Pass lounge access. Plus, the American Express Platinum Card comes with access to a plethora of lounges.
No Foreign Transaction Fees
You will save 2.7% on purchases made outside of the United States because Amex waives foreign exchange fees for Green cardholders.
Trip Delay Insurance
You can receive up to $300 after being delayed for at least 12 hours with the Green Card’s Trip Delay Insurance. This version of the Trip Delay Insurance is exclusive to a few mid-tier Amex Cards
Rules & Regulations
The new American Express Green Card is subject to Amex’s brutal Once Per Lifetime Rule. That means you cannot receive the card’s sign-up bonus if you have had the Green Card before.
Furthermore, the Green Card is a charge card. That means you must pay in full each month and you cannot leave a balance. It also means that the Green Card does not count towards Amex’s five-credit card limit. This rule states that you cannot have more than five American Express credit cards at a time. But you can have as many charge cards as you want.
The American Express Green Card is a nice one, but it might not be for you. Check out these alternatives if the Green Card does not seem interesting:
American Express Gold Card
The American Express Gold Card is a “big sibling” of the Green Card. And it could be a great alternative for travelers who do a lot of dining out and shopping. That’s because it earns 4x MR points on Restaurants worldwide and Grocery Stores stateside. The Gold Card also earns 3x MR points on travel booked on amextravel.com and just one point per dollar on non-bonus spend.
Furthermore, the Gold Card comes with a sign-up bonus worth 35,000 MR points. It can be earned by spending $4,000 within the first three months. The Gold Card’s sign-up bonus is terrible compared to the Green Card. That is because the Green Card’s bonus is easier to hit and it’s worth only 5,000 fewer points for just half the minimum spend.
Plus the Gold Card has a $250 annual fee (NOT waived the first year). But that’s countered by $100 in airline incidental credits and $120 in dining credits if you can use them. The latter credits are divided up into 12 $10 credits, making them hard to use for some.
The Green Card be viewed as a budget version of the Gold Card. It has more inclusive bonus categories and credits that are not divided up. Plus, its annual fee is $100 less than that of the Gold Card. However, the Gold Card is better for foodies who love to travel.
Chase Sapphire Preferred
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is Chase’s mid-tier card. It has a lower $95 annual fee and similar bonus categories to the Green Card. The Sapphire Preferred earns 2x Ultimate Rewards (UR) points on Dining and General Travel. And Chase’s General Travel category is as inclusive as the one from the Green Card.
Plus, the Sapphire Preferred has the better sign-up bonus of the two cards. It’s worth 60,000 UR points and it can be earned after spending $4,000 within the first three months.
Furthermore, the Sapphire Preferred comes with better travel insurances than the Green Card does. Chase’s card comes with Primary Car Rental Insurance, (better) Trip Delay Insurance, Baggage Delay Insurance, and Trip Cancellation Insurances. Some of the insurances that come standard with the Sapphire Preferred will come standard with premium Amex cards, but not the mid-tier Green Card. However, the Sapphire Preferred does not come with any travel credits.
The Sapphire Preferred is the better card for the sign-up bonus and insurances. It’s also better for those who want to earn UR points and have access to Chase’s transfer partners. However, the Green Card is better for earning and travel credits.
The American Express Green Card is a great charge card for the right traveler. It is also a solid alternative in the mid-tier market niche, especially compared to the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Citi Premier, and Amex’s own Gold Card.
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