The American Express Green Card is an excellent mid-tier travel charge card. It’s known for being the original charge card and its broad bonus categories in dining and travel. But the Green Card has its flaws like every other credit (or charge) card. In other words, the Green Card is not for everyone. This post shows why you should not get the American Express Green Card.
You Have a Premium Credit Card
The most obvious reason not to get the American Express Green Card is having another premium credit card. Cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve and even Amex’s own Platinum Card offer more benefits than the Green Card. Premium credit cards come with more travel credits that are worth more money than the two credits that the Green Card offers.
Furthermore, the Amex Green Card offers two credits to counter its $150 annual fee. These credits are for Lounge Buddy and CLEAR and they are each worth $100. At face value, using both credits will net you $200 in value annually, which is a $50 net profit. But not everyone can or will use these credits. This is especially true if you have a premium credit card that comes with complimentary access to Priority Pass airport lounges, Global Entry, and/or TSA Pre-Check.
You Don’t Spend Much on Dining or Travel
Moreover, the American Express Green Card has a nice earning structure. It earns 3x Membership Rewards (MR) points on General Travel and Dining. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has limited how much Americans are spending on both categories, especially travel. Traditional means of travel, such as flying, staying at hotels, and public ground transport have been risky since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Therefore, consumers have less incentive to use those methods and, in turn, use the Green Card to pay for them.
Some consumers prefer to cook at home or simply do not spend enough dining out or ordering take-out food. These consumers should turn their attention away from the Green Card and towards another card.
You Don’t Want to Earn Membership Rewards Points
American Express’ Membership Rewards (MR) points are some of the most lucrative in the points and miles world. They can provide cardholders lots of value towards discounted (or free) flights. However, there are many people who are not flying because of the COVID-19 pandemic. And there are other people who would prefer to redeem points at hotels. MR points are a poor choice for both cohorts.
Furthermore, Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR) points are better for hotel redemptions, particularly if you like Hyatt. This is because Chase has three hotel partners (Hyatt, IHG, and Marriott) while Amex has two (Hilton and Marriott). Plus, transferring MR points to Marriott or Hilton is not wise because you are not likely to realize more than 1 cent per point (CPP) in value. Earning and using cash back is a better option than transferring points to IHG, Marriott, or Hilton.
There Are Less Expensive Alternatives
The American Express Green Card is one of the most expensive mid-tier credit cards. It has an annual fee of $150, which can be difficult for some people to justify. Conversely, most competing mid-tier credit cards have annual fees of $95, which is roughly 1/3 less.
Alternatively, the Citi Premier is currently the strongest competitor for the Green Card. For just $95 per year, the Premier earns 3x Citi Thank You (TY) points in five bonus categories as opposed to the Green Card’s two categories. The Premier earns in Airfare, Hotels, Gas, Groceries, and Dining. The only common category for both cards is dining, even though the Green Card’s travel category covers airfare and hotels. Either way, the Premier has the stronger earning structure for roughly 2/3 of the Green Card’s annual fee.
Another less expensive alternative to the Green Card is the Chase Sapphire Preferred. For $95 per year, the Sapphire Preferred has almost the same earning structure as the Green Card. But it earns 2x UR points per dollar in the same categories as the Green Card. The Sapphire Preferred also has better travel insurances than the Green Card, particularly primary car rental insurance.
The American Express Green Card is a fantastic mid-tier charge card. But it is not perfect and is not for every cardholder. And the presented reasons are why you should not get the Gold Card. Many people love the Green Card because of its earning structure. But a credit card’s earning structure is only one part of the larger picture.