American Express Green Card Review
published january 26, 2018 – The American Express Green Card is sort of the granddaddy of credit cards, with a history as one of the first mass-marketed credit cards. But that was then, this is now, and the Green Card’s age is showing. Is the Amex Green Card still worth having? After a review of its features, we say “no.”
Charge Card vs. Credit Card
The American Express Green Card is actually a “charge card,” meaning you charge your purchases to the card but are then obligated to pay off your complete balance when the bill comes. You don’t pay interest because you’re always paying off your balance in full. This contrasts with credit cards, which allow you to pay less than the full amount you owe, but charge you interest when you don’t pay in full. If you want to have the option to pay less than your full balance, you don’t want the Amex Green Card or any other charge card. There are way more credit cards on the market than charge cards; view our list of the best credit cards if you’d rather go that route.
Note that the American Express Green Card has an annual fee of $95 (though the first year is free). While you won’t ever pay interest due to the requirement to pay in full each month, you’ll still pay to have the annual card fee.
Rewards & Perks
The Amex Green Card offers limited rewards, including:
- Points in the American Express Membership Rewards program. You get 1 point per dollar charged to the card, except when you use the card at amextravel.com, in which case you get 2 points per dollar. Membership Rewards points can be used toward travel rewards and a host of other rewards; go here to see some of the Amex Green Card options.
- 25,000 bonus Membership Rewards points if you spend at least $1000 with the card in the first three months of having it.
American Express also has a long list of perks that are “nice to haves” but either won’t be used by the majority of cardholders or are matched by pretty much every other major credit card. These include things like car rental insurance, baggage insurance, extended warranty protections, etc.
The only two perks exclusive to American Express (though not exclusive to the Green Card, any Amex will do) that we feel are noteworthy:
- Free ShopRunner membership, which gives you free shipping from over 100 online stores
- Entertainment access, which gives you first dibs on certain tickets or gives you access to events exclusively for Amex customers. This perk is better for those who live in larger cities where more of the cardholder-only events happen (especially New York). Amex is not the only card issuer to offer this type of entertainment access, but if that interests you, it might be good to have an Amex in your wallet (but maybe not this one).
Comparison to other Amex Charge Cards
There are two other American Express charge cards that have higher annual fees than the Green Card but actually have more of a reason for being:
- The Amex Platinum Card has an annual fee of $550 but offers a host of travel rewards, rebates, and perks that the Green Card does not have. This card is not for everyone, but many frequent travelers love it because it gives them a real VIP experience, making life on the road a little less exhausting.
- The Amex Premier Rewards Gold Card has an annual fee of $195 (but first year free). For that extra $100 annual fee in comparison to the Green Card, you get greater reward points, a greater bonus opportunity, and a $100 airline fee credit each year. In terms of rewards, you get 3 points per dollar on airline flights (booked direct from the airline), 2 points at US restaurants, gas stations, and supermarkets, and 1 point on everything else. You’ll get 50,000 bonus points if you use the card for at least $2000 in purchases in the first three months. If you are considering an American Express charge card but can’t or won’t spring for the Platinum, we consider this a big upgrade in comparison to the Green Card.
Who is the Amex Green Card for?
For a card that charges $95 per year and has paltry rewards and perks, it’s hard to make a case for the Amex Green Card over many other cards on the market. There used to be a certain status associated with holding an American Express Green Card, but that is long gone. The other major credit card issuers have caught up on rewards and perks, and even American Express rarely features the Green Card in its marketing.
So why does it exist? Well, some people still like the idea of a charge card that must be paid back every month. They may not care much about card rewards or about the credit card market in general. The Amex Green Card is a known commodity — even though it objectively stacks up poorly to much of the card market, it’s got a long-standing reputation for reliability, which is enough for some people.
If you care enough to have read to this point in the review, the Amex Green Card is probably not for you. You are probably interested in the greater rewards and perks you can get from American Express’ other charge cards, or you’d be just as satisfied with a no annual fee credit card that has greater rewards. The Amex Green Card is a bit of a dinosaur — it has its fans, but they are seriously dwindling in number.