American Express has finally re-released the Green Card! Today marks the first major changes to American Express’ original card since Membership Rewards (MR) Points were first conceived in 1992. The Green Card is now a nice competitor in the mid-tier card market.
Many of the details that were leaked on Monday by a Reddit user and reported by Doctor of Credit (H/T) are true about the Green Card. But the points and miles world also had some questions about those details. Those questions have now been answered with today’s reveal.
The new 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 new bonus explains why Amex quietly doubled the minimum spend on the Amex Gold Card to $4,000. Furthermore, if you apply before January 15, 2020, you will receive a $100 Away Luggage Credit with the bonus. There is no minimum spend requirement for the luggage credit. This is a decent bonus, but I wish the minimum spend requirement was lower than $2,000. There is also a higher targeted offer worth 45,000 MR points. Take it if it works for you.
Moreover, the Green Card is a nice earner. You can earn 3x MR points on Restaurants worldwide as well as 3x points on Travel and Transit. American Express includes flights, hotels, tolls, subways, ride-sharing services, taxis, and local commuter transit within the “Travel and Transit” category. I like that Amex extended the Restaurants category to worldwide restaurants like they did with the Gold Card. Plus, I like that the “Travel and Transit” 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
- Avianca Lifemiles
- British Airways
- Delta Airlines
- El Al Israel Airlines (50 MR = 1 Matmid Point)
- 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.
The Green Card now has an annual fee of $150 (NOT waived the first year). However, American Express is also offering some perks with this card.
On a side note, I am disappointed that Amex did not incorporate the rumored Amazon Prime Membership credit into this card’s benefit list. It would have increased the Green Card’s value quite a bit. And more millennials (their target market for the Green Card) would want to keep it for the long term too.
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.
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, so 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.
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
No Foreign Transaction Fees
You will save 2.7% on purchases made outside of the United States. This revamp also marks the first time that the Green Card will have foreign transaction fees.
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 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.
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 Green Card’s bonus is easier to hit and it’s worth only 5,000 fewer points for just half the minimum spend.
The Gold Card also has a $250 annual fee (NOT waived the first year). But that’s countered by $100 in airline incidental credits and $120 in select dining credits. 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 Reserve
The Chase Sapphire Reserve is Chase’s premium card. It has a $450 annual fee and similar bonus categories to the Green Card. The Sapphire Reserve earns 3x Ultimate Rewards (UR) points on Dining and Travel. And Chase’s Travel category is even more inclusive than Amex’s.
Plus, the Sapphire Reserve has the better sign-up bonus of the two cards. It’s worth 50,000 UR points and it can be earned after spending $4,000 within the first three months. This is one of Chase’s larger sign-up bonuses.
Furthermore, the Sapphire Reserve 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 Reserve will come standard with premium Amex cards, but not the mid-tier Green Card.
Also, the Green Card comes with less valuable credits than the Sapphire Reserve. The latter card is known for its $300 General Travel credit, which is very easy to use. But the Green Card’s annual fee is the same as the Sapphire Reserve’s “net annual fee” after the credit is used. The Sapphire Reserve also comes with a Global Entry / Pre-TSA fee waiver credit that can be worth $25 per year for either four or five years. It also comes with complimentary Priority Pass airport lounge access.
The Sapphire Reserve 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 comes with more travel credits than insurances.
I am pleased to say that the American Express Green Card is a great card for the right traveler. It can be a solid alternative to the American Express Gold Card. Plus, it has the potential to make an impact on the mid-tier card market.
Apply Today: American Express Green Card