The Amex Green has reinvented itself for its 50th anniversary
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In the past, travel credit cards that boasted flashy perks and rewards systems really had no reason to envy the basic American Express Green Card. Now, that's changed. Riding the reboot craze and recently revamped for its 50th anniversary, the new Green Card added ways to earn rewards, save time when you travel, and—finally—revolve a balance over time.
With the overhaul comes a higher annual fee, but the new American Express Green Card is worth considering, as long as you can take advantage of its new offerings. Cardholders now earn triple points on a broad range of travel, transportation and dining purchases, and get several statement credits to use every year. Here's what to know.
While the Green Card marketing seems to be geared toward travel- and nightlife-loving cardholders, it could be a good fit for any globetrotter. If a big chunk of your budget goes toward travel, local transportation, and dining out, this card can help you rack up triple rewards on those purchases. However, to justify paying the annual fee, you should also make sure you plan to use the card's CLEAR and LoungeBuddy statement credits every year.
There's a lot to like about the new rewards structure. You earn 3 points per dollar spent on every restaurant and travel purchase worldwide—and "travel" has a broad definition here. This category now encompasses transportation options, such as ride-hailing services and bus and subway tickets, along with the standard travel fare, such as flights and hotel stays. Plus, you earn 1 point per dollar spent everywhere else.
If you can spend at least $2,000 within three months of account opening, you'll earn a 30,000-point welcome bonus. If you have any large expenses coming up, try to plan them around this welcome bonus so you're not spending more than you typically would just to earn more rewards.
There are lots of ways you can redeem those points, too. Some of your options: Request a statement credit, pay with points at various online checkouts, purchase airfare and hotel stays, and purchase gift cards and merchandise.
The new Green Card is loaded with new travel perks, starting with the up to $100 annual statement credit for CLEAR. This expedited security program, which is available at more than 60 airports, arenas, and stadiums nationwide, can make airport security a breeze. Many other credit cards offer a TSA Precheck or Global Entry voucher every four years, so netting a CLEAR credit every year is a refreshing change of pace. You also get up to $100 annually in LoungeBuddy statement credits when you buy lounge access and charge it to your card. Travel protection comes standard, too: You get baggage insurance, a global assistance hotline, and primary insurance on car rentals.
And for a limited time, those who apply for the card by Jan. 15, 2020, and make a purchase at luggage retailer Away will get a statement credit of up to $100. (We reviewed Away's Bigger Carry-On earlier this year and recommend it. This deal would knock about 40% off the normal $245 price.)
Because this was previously a charge card, the balance was generally due in full every month. The relaunched version functions like a regular credit card, where any unpaid balance left on your card at the end of the month incurs interest. The APR on the card is 16.99% to 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness. AmEx calls this the "Pay Over Time" balance and will assign a limit to the amount you can revolve. Be sure you understand this feature before using the card. If you make one or more late payments, you could end up paying a penalty APR of 29.99% plus a fee of up to $39.
The new features come with a price tag to match, as the annual fee was raised to $150. This cuts into any rewards you earn, so you'll have to consider whether you'll use the card enough to justify the fee. Using this as your go-to card and taking advantage of the CLEAR and Lounge Buddy credits every year, for example, can offset the annual fee.
You should also take a look at the value of the points you're earning. While the Green Card offers a solid rewards rate on travel and dining purchases, at 3 points per dollar spent, the value of those points can be mediocre. They're worth 1 cent each when redeemed for flights and some gift cards. But when redeemed for most other rewards, such as hotel stays, Amazon checkout, and statement credits, points are worth less than 1 cent. You may get a better point value with other credit cards, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, although the perks and benefits will differ on these cards.
We see the American Express Green Card as a solid choice for people who prioritize travel and dining out. Check out our list of best travel credit cards of 2019 to compare the Green Card with others in this space.
APR rates and credit limits vary based on your individual credit. Credit limits and interest rates for each card are determined based on each cardholder's personal situation, so we did not take that information into account when evaluating these cards. One thing to remember is that if you pay your card off in full every month, you will not be charged interest.
Banks have final say on who they accept for a credit card. Card issuers decide who they will approve using criteria including, but not always limited to, an individual's credit score when evaluating each applicant.
If you want to earn triple rewards on your travel and dining purchases and you feel you can take advantage of the perks, then this card is a win for your wallet—and for the environment. The card itself is made mostly from reclaimed plastic, which is part of AmEx's broader sustainability initiative and a nice draw for environmental advocates. The solid rewards rate, sign-up bonus, and statement credits make this a great all-around credit card.
When you sign up for one of these cards, Reviewed may receive an affiliate commission from The Points Guy Affiliate Network.
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