American Express® Green Card revamped with travel rewards

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American Express unveiled its refresh of the American Express® Green Card this week, with expanded rewards on travel and dining.

Like many American Express offerings, the Green from Amex is a charge card, which means you’ll have no preset spending limit and you’re expected to pay off your balance each month rather than carrying it over time.

Here’s a rundown of which Green from Amex benefits have changed and additions to help you decide if it’s right for you:

The details

The refreshed rewards are built to compete with similarly designed intro travel rewards cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card. It carries a $150 annual fee.

To offset the fee, you’ll earn a welcome bonus of 30,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $2,000 within the first three months of account opening and up to $100 in statement credit toward purchases made with Loungebuddy and CLEAR®

Long-term, the Green from Amex’s rewards are focused on travel and dining:

  • 3X points on travel and transit (including flights, hotels, taxis and ridesharing services)
  • 3X points on restaurants worldwide
  • 1X points on all other purchases

Additional benefits

In addition to points rewards, the American Express Green Card offers annual statement credits for frequent travelers that can boost the card’s earning potential and help make up for its relatively high annual fee.

Cardholders can earn up to $100 in statement credits toward CLEAR® membership annually. CLEAR is a service that uses biometric coding to help you move through airport security faster. It’s similar to TSA PreCheck, which other travel cards on the market offer statement credits for, but still limited only to select airports, stadiums and other venues. An annual CLEAR membership typically costs $179, so you’re still responsible for the difference in price, but if you’re already a fan of CLEAR or frequent airports in which it’s available, this could be a valuable perk.

The card also comes with up to $100 in credits for cardholders to use toward airport lounge access through LoungeBuddy each year. You can purchase access through the LoungeBuddy website or app at hundreds of airport lounges across the globe, and the up to $100 credit will cover at least a couple of visits. If you don’t have another premium card that grants airport lounge access, this could be a game-changing addition to your travels.

American Express also offers benefits like exclusive presales for card members, Amex Offers, complimentary ShopRunner membership and Pay Over Time purchase flexibility, which aren’t exclusive to this card but can add more value for you.

Maximize your travel

Before the relaunch, Green from Amex cardholders could earn 2X Membership Rewards points on travel booked through amextravel.com and 1X points on all other purchases for a $95 annual fee (waived the first year). This revamp, with expanded travel rewards and the addition of dining rewards and statement credit benefits, aligns the card with other competitive starter travel cards on the market.

Another travel rewards card like the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, which earns rewards on all purchases that you can redeem for travel, may be a more simple card for beginners. The Venture card earns 10X miles on hotels booked and paid for through hotels.com/venture through January 2020 and 2X miles on all other purchases for $95 annually (waived the first year). More seasoned travel rewards earners may find more use out of the American Express® Gold Card or The Platinum Card® from American Express, which both offer more premium perks (for subsequently higher annual fees). Still, the American Express Green Card may beat out other cards on the market for frequent travelers looking for nontraditional benefits and a lower annual fee who take the time to maximize Membership Rewards.

To fully maximize the card, be smart about how you redeem your Membership Rewards points. According to The Points Guy, current Membership Rewards valuations are 2 cents per point. You can get the best value out of your Green from Amex by transferring points to participating Amex airline and hotel partners.

Bottom line

If you travel frequently, want to start earning rewards on your travel and upgrade your experiences with faster security and lounge access, but don’t want to take on a more expensive, premium credit card, the American Express Green Card could be a great option. Frequent restaurant-goers will also benefit from the dining rewards category.

Make sure you’re prepared to pay your balance in full each month with this card, though, since it’s a charge card rather than a credit card, and take full advantage of additional benefits to maximize its value.