American Express Green Card Review [New for 2021]: Perfect for Travelers and Foodies

The American Express® Green Card provides some unique perks for travelers that more than justify the card's $150 annual fee.
Last updated Sep 27, 2021 | By Christy Rakoczy

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If you're interested in a rewards card designed for travelers but don't want to pay a huge annual fee, the American Express® Green Card may just provide the combination of features and affordability you're looking for.

This Amex Green Card comes with a generous rewards program as well as the chance to earn statement credits for purchases that make your trips more pleasant. Its features don't provide travelers with all the luxury amenities more expensive American Express cards offer, but it's still well worth a look.

If you’re curious if this card is for you, then keep reading this American Express Green Card Review.

Powerful Benefits with a Low Annual Fee

American Express® Green Card

American Express® Green Card

American Express® Green Card

Intro Offer

45,000 Membership Rewards points

Annual Fee

$150

Rewards Rate

Up to 3X points per dollar

Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits

  • Earn 45,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $2,000 in the first 6 months
  • 3X points on eligible travel and transit purchases, and at restaurants worldwide
  • Up to $100 credit for CLEAR
  • Up to $100 LoungeBuddy credit
  • $150 annual fee. Terms apply.

Drawbacks

  • Limited lounge access
  • No balance transfers
Card Details
  • Earn 45,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $2,000 in the first 6 months
  • 3X points on eligible travel and transit purchases, and at restaurants worldwide; and 1X points on all other purchases
  • Terms apply

In this American Express Green Card review

Who should get the American Express Green Card?

The American Express Green Card is the ideal choice for those who do the bulk of their spending on travel of all types, as well as at restaurants across the globe. Unlike airline- or hotel-branded travel credit cards, the Amex Green Card provides triple points on all kinds of vacation-related purchases from rideshares and taxis to flights and accommodations. The full earning rate is 3X points on eligible travel and transit purchases, and at restaurants worldwide; and 1X points on all other purchases.

That said, the American Express Green Card isn't a super-premium travel card. While those come with lots of benefits, they can also come with annual fees topping $400. That just means the Amex Green Card is a better choice for more budget-conscious travelers who don't necessarily fly often enough to justify paying a high fee to get luxury lounge access and statement credits that costlier cards tend to provide.

The American Express Green Card could also be worth it for you if you're hoping to bypass long lines at security with CLEAR membership or if you want to gain occasional lounge access through LoungeBuddy, as statement credits for purchasing both of these services would more than cover the Amex Green Card's $0 (See rates and fees) annual fee.

Card basics

Card type Travel
Card issuer American Express
Annual fee $150 (See rates and fees) (Terms apply)
Welcome bonus Earn 45,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $2,000 in the first 6 months
Reward rate 3X points on eligible travel and transit purchases, and at restaurants worldwide; and 1X points on all other purchases
Recommended credit score Excellent, Good
Foreign transaction fee None (See rates and fees)

American Express Green Card benefits and perks

  • Generous welcome offer: Earn 45,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $2,000 in the first 6 months. 
  • A rewards program that provides bonuses for travel: Earn 3X rewards eligible travel and transit purchases, and at restaurants worldwide, including ridesharing services. Rewards can also be redeemed for trips using the Amex travel portal or you can transfer your rewards to Amex transfer partners to book trips directly with participating airlines or hotels.
  • A $100 statement credit for CLEAR: CLEAR membership enables you to move more quickly through airport security as well as through security lines at stadiums throughout the U.S. When you use your American Express Green Card to pay for CLEAR membership, you'll get up to $100 per calendar year in statement credits.
  • A $100 LoungeBuddy credit: LoungeBuddy allows you to buy airport lounge access across the globe. When you use your Amex Green Card to buy access to a lounge through LoungeBuddy, you'll get up to $100 in annual statement credits.
  • ShopRunner access: Free ShopRunner membership enables you to get two-day shipping and no-cost returns from more than 100 different participating partner stores. Enrollment is required.

  • Travel insurance benefits: The Amex GreenCard comes with car rental damage and loss insurance as well as baggage insurance. You can decline coverage when you rent a vehicle and will be protected from loss if your carry-on or checked bags are damaged. Plus, starting Jan. 1, 2020, if your flight is delayed more than 12 hours, you can also be reimbursed for up to $300 in unexpected expenses per trip.

Drawbacks to this card

  • Annual fee: If you're looking for card with no annual fee, then this one won't be a good fit for you. Instead, check out our list of the best travel credit cards with no annual fee.
  • Limited travel benefits: While the Amex Green Card comes with some really nice travel benefits, it doesn't have as robust of a line-up as some other more premium travel cards. For example, for the best in lounge access as well as a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit, you might want to check out the The Platinum Card® from American Express.

Earning & redeeming Membership Rewards points

Potential earnings in years one and two

Here's a look how your points can add up with the Amex Green Card. To calculate these values, we used a point valuation of 1 cent per Membership Rewards point.

Remember, this is an estimation. The actual value will be determined by how much you spend and in which categories you spend.

Year one earnings: $807

Year two earnings: $357

These values are based on the FinanceBuzz Credit Card Rewards Valuation Model which takes a look at points earned via spending, the welcome bonus, and the annual fee. This does not include the value of the CLEAR credit and LoungeBuddy access, so this card could potentially be worth a lot more to the right cardholder.

Best ways to earn

Spending on bonus categories is the best way to maximize the rewards points you can earn with your American Express Green Card. You'll earn 3X points on eligible travel and transit purchases, and at restaurants worldwide; and 1X points on all other purchases.

To make the most of your spending, make sure you use your card for transportation purchases, such as bus or train tickets and Uber or Lyft rides, so you can get the bonus rewards on this expense too.

Categories Rewards rate
Travel 3X
Restaurants worldwide 3X
All other purchases 1X

Maximizing your redemptions

American Express Membership Rewards points can be redeemed for travel, gift cards, and statement credits. If you want to book travel, it's easy to use the Amex travel portal and use the “Pay with Points” option to cover trip costs instead of paying out-of-pocket.

Because American Express points can be transferred to other loyalty programs, including hotel and airline programs, you should also compare which redemption option will get you the most bang for your buck.

Often, transferred points are worth more than if you redeem through Amex directly. While booking through the American Express travel portal, for example, points are generally found to be worth about a cent each. But if you use points with a transfer partner like the Delta SkyMiles program, they could be worth more.

Amex Green transfer partners

Most Membership Rewards points transfer at a 1:1 ratio with these travel partners, with some exceptions. With the following airlines, you could use your Amex rewards to book nearly free airfare.

Amex airline transfer partner Airline alliance Transfer ratio
AeroMexico SkyTeam 1:1.6
Air Canada Star Alliance 1:1
Alitalia SkyTeam 1:1
Aer Lingus N/A 1:1
Air France SkyTeam 1:1
All Nippon Airways Star Alliance 1:1
Avianca LifeMiles Star Alliance 1:1
British Airways Oneworld Alliance 1:1
Delta Air Lines SkyTeam 1:1
Emirates N/A 1:1
Etihad Airways N/A 1:1
Hawaiian Airlines N/A 1:1
Iberia Plus Oneworld Alliance 1:1
JetBlue Airways N/A 5:4
Singapore Airlines Star Alliance 1:1
Qantas Airlines Oneworld Alliance 1:1
Virgin Atlantic Airways N/A 1:1

If you want to use your Amex Membership Rewards for your lodging, you can transfer to these hotel loyalty programs.

Amex hotel transfer partner Minimum transfer transfer ratio
Choice Hotels 1,000 1:1
Hilton Honors 1,000 1:2
Marriott Bonvoy 1,000 1:1

Amex Green Card FAQs

Is the Amex Green Card a charge card or a credit card?

The American Express Green Card is a credit card, though unlike typical credit cards, the Amex Green Card allows you to carry a balance for certain charges but not all. While charge cards require you to pay your balance in full each month, the Amex Green Card allows you the flexibility to carry a balance on certain purchases and pay it off over time with interest.

What is the maximum credit limit for the American Express Green Card?

Unlike typical credit cards that have a credit limit, the Amex Green Card has no preset spending limit. No preset spending limit means the spending limit is flexible. The amount you can spend adapts based on factors such as your purchase, payment, and credit history. 

What is the difference between American Express Green Card and American Express® Gold Card?

Both the American Express Green and Gold Cards are travel rewards cards that allow you to carry a balance on your card, rather than paying it off in full. And both charge no foreign transaction fees if the card is used abroad. The American Express Gold Card does have a higher annual fee at $250 (See rates and fees) compared to the Amex Green Card’s annual fee of $150.

That said, there are several ways this higher fee could be offset. Cardholders of the American Express Gold Card will get more welcome bonus points — 60,000 instead of 45,000 — after getting a new card and meeting spending requirements. However, Amex Gold Card members will also have a higher spending requirement of $4,000 to earn the welcome bonus instead of $2,000.

The Gold Card also provides 4X Membership Rewards points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year, after that 1X) and at restaurants, 3X on flights booked directly with airlines or on Amextravel.com, and 1X on all other eligible purchases. The Green Card offers 3X points on eligible travel and transit purchases, and at restaurants worldwide; and 1X points on all other purchases. 

While both cards provide points for travel purchases, the Amex Gold Card restricts the bonus points to flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com while the Amex Green Card offers the bonus eligible travel and transit purchases, and at restaurants worldwide.

Finally, both cards provide statement credits, but for different things. With the American Express Green Card, your credits come from spending on CLEAR or with LoungeBuddy while the American Express Gold Card provides credit for spending at certain restaurants.

Does the American Express Green Card help your credit score?

Any credit card can help your credit score if you are a responsible borrower. American Express will report your payment history and credit utilization to the credit reporting agencies. If you pay on time and keep your credit utilization low, this can help you to raise your credit score.

Does American Express automatically increase your credit limit?

American Express may invite you to request a credit line increase if your financial situation improves and/or if you demonstrate you are a responsible card user.

Other cards to consider

If you'll use the CLEAR and LoungeBuddy statement credits, getting the Amex Green Card is a no-brainer as it will more than pay for itself. If you are a frequent traveler, though, you may want to look into higher-end cards from other credit card issuers that could offer added perks and make one of these the best card for your travel lifestyle.

As explained above, the American Express® Gold Card charges a higher $250 annual fee that's higher than the Amex Green Card's $150 fee. But it also provides you with 4X Membership Rewards points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year, after that 1X) and at restaurants, 3X on flights booked directly with airlines or on Amextravel.com, and 1X on all other eligible purchases. The Amex Gold Card defines travel more narrowly than the Green Card in terms of what you can get bonus rewards for, and it provides statement credits for different things than the Green Card does.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred, on the other hand, has a lower annual fee than the Amex Green Card at just $95. Cardmembers earn 5X points on Lyft rides (through March 2022) and travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards; 3X points on eligible dining, select streaming services, and online grocery purchases; 2X points on travel; and 1X points per $1 on all other eligible purchases. 

You also a 25% bonus for redeeming points earned with the Sapphire Preferred Card for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, which can make your points more valuable. Additionally, the Sapphire Preferred offers new cardholders a more robust welcome of 60,000 bonus points for $4,000 in spending in your first 3 months. You can compare the Amex Green Card vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred cards directly to determine which better suits your needs.

Powerful Benefits with a Low Annual Fee

American Express® Green Card

American Express® Green Card

American Express® Green Card

Special Offer

Earn 45,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $2,000 in the first 6 months

See how these cards compare:

American Express® Gold Card
American Express® Gold Card
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $4,000 in the first 6 months
  • Rose gold is back! Choose your color.
  • $120 in dining credits
  • $120 in Uber Cash
  • Select benefits require enrollment.
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • $250 annual fee. Terms apply.
  • See rates and fees
Chase Sapphire Preferred
Chase Sapphire Preferred
  • 60,000 point sign-up bonus
  • 5X points on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 25% more value when redeeming rewards for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 10% anniversary point bonus each year
  • $50 annual credit on hotel stays booked through Ultimate Rewards
  • Premium travel protection benefits

Author Details

Christy Rakoczy Christy Rakoczy has a Juris Doctorate from UCLA Law School with a focus in Business Law, and a Certificate in Business Marketing with an English Degree from The University of Rochester. As a full-time personal finance writer, she writes about all things money-related but her special areas of focus are credit cards, personal loans, student loans, mortgages, smart debt payoff strategies, and retirement and Social Security. Her work has been featured by USA Today, MSN Money, CNN Money and more, and you can learn more at her LinkedIn profile.