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Business Green Rewards Card from American Express review: Wide-scale purchasing power with a small-scale annual fee

 /  11 min
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Snapshot

3.7

Bankrate rating
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Rating: 3.7 stars out of 5

Bottom line

American Express is one of the few issuers that still provides cards with a flexible spending limit, and the Business Green Rewards Card is the most accessible option in their portfolio. Its purchasing power is impressive, but barebones rewards and features make it a less attractive option for the annual fee it demands.

Rewards rate

1X - 2X
Info

Annual fee

$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95

Intro offer

15,000 points
Info

Regular APR

17.99% - 25.99% variable

Recommended Credit Score

Excellent (740 – 850)
Info

This is an offer from our partner American Express.

The Business Green Rewards Card from American Express Overview

The Business Green Rewards Card from American Express positions cardholders at a strange crossroads — the rewards and benefits are too skimpy for its $95 annual fee, but it’s also the most cost-effective American Express card for small businesses if you need the purchasing power of a flexible credit limit.

With this in mind, you’ll probably experience greater value with another American Express business card, even counting no-annual-fee options. But if your travel expenses are big enough to exceed typical credit limits, the Green Rewards might be a good call. Still, all-around better features could make ponying up for the next-level American Express® Business Gold Card a better investment.

What are the pros and cons?

Pros

  • Checkmark

    Unlike typical business cards’ preset spending limits, this card’s flexible spending limit gives businesses plenty of purchasing power while also providing the option to carry a balance with the Pay Over Time feature.

  • Checkmark

    You can rest a bit easier knowing your purchases and travel are secure with decent protection perks, including baggage insurance, purchase protection, extended warranty coverage and car rental insurance.

  • Checkmark

    This card waives the annual fee for your first 12 months. That way, the usual $95 fee won’t eat into your rewards while you decide if this card is the right fit for your business.

Cons

  • The Business Green Rewards Card from American Express is a charge card and not a traditional credit card, so you’ll have to pay your balance in full each month.

  • You’ll only earn “bonus rewards” on travel purchases made through AmexTravel.com, which may not benefit you if you don’t use this portal.

  • You won’t qualify for many cardholder benefits since this charge card is fairly “bare bones.” The main benefits you will receive include free employee cards, a baggage insurance plan and car rental loss insurance.

A deeper look at the current card offer

Quick highlights

  • Rewards rate: 2X points on American Express Travel purchases; 1X points on all other purchases
  • Welcome offer: 15,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first three months
  • Annual fee: $0 for the first year, then $95
  • Purchase intro APR: N/A
  • Balance transfer intro APR: N/A
  • Regular APR: 17.99 percent to 25.99 percent (variable Pay Over Time APR)

Current welcome offer

You can earn 15,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $3,000 within your first three months as a new cardholder.

American Express’ points range in value according to what you redeem for. Your intro offer’s best value through Amex would be $150 toward airfare, but the point value dwindles for most other options. However, your Amex points’ value may increase up to 2 cents if you transfer them to a travel partner’s program. This route could double your welcome offer’s value to $300, but that’s still a bit underwhelming compared to offers other business travel cards provide.

This bonus is a decent offer for business travelers, but the spending requirement is a bit steep for the payout even compared to other Amex cards. For instance, the Business Gold card poses a 70,000-point welcome offer if you spend $10,000 on purchases within the first three months of Card Membership, and the no-annual-fee American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card offers $250 cash back for the same spending requirement as the Business Green card.

Rewards rate

The American Express Business Green Card earns Membership Rewards points, which can be redeemed for a wide range of rewards including airfare bookings. Amex points don’t expire for the life of your account, so there’s no pressure if your business has reduced travel.

Earning rewards

The Business Green card earns 2x points on travel via the American Express Travel portal and 1X points on all other purchases.

This is a pretty stripped-down rewards structure for a business rewards credit card, especially since it only rewards travel booked through the American Express travel portal. By comparison, other American Express credit cards might provide better reward opportunities depending on your business’ spending.

Redeeming rewards

American Express provides a wide range of redemption options, but only a select few provide a wise return on your rewards. Booking travel through Amex or transferring them to a travel partner are generally the favored redemption choices value-wise, but you have plenty of choices if the timing for air travel isn’t right, including:

  • Travel bookings and upgrades (including flights, hotels and vacations)
  • American Express travel transfer partners
  • “Pay with points” at select online retailer checkouts (including Amazon.com, PayPal and Staples) and on rental car bookings through Amex Travel
  • Gift cards
  • Merchandise purchases
  • Charitable donations

How much are the rewards worth?

Thanks to their variety of redemption options and the issuer’s stellar transfer partners, Amex Membership Rewards points are some of the most valuable on the market. Your points are worth the most by far when you shift them to American Express transfer partners. Our latest valuations value the average Membership Rewards point at an estimated 2.1 cents per point with the right transfer partner, but the most value you can get through Amex’s redemption portal is 1 cent per point toward airfare or a travel itinerary upgrade.

Unfortunately, your mileage can drastically vary by redemption option, according to Amex’s rewards calculator. Booking travel other than airfare — including hotel stays, vacations, cruises and rental cars — and paying with points through eligible online retailers waters down your points to 0.5 cents to 0.7 cents apiece.

Your points are whittled down for cash back as well. You’ll only receive 0.6 cents per point for statement credits, so redeeming for a gift card may be wiser based on the merchant since gift cards can retain a full 1 cent point value.

Other cardholder perks

For a $95 annual fee (waived the first year), the Business Green card doesn’t carry much in the way of premium benefits, although the features provided are helpful. In fact, it offers mostly the same benefits as American Express’ no-annual-fee business cards — except for its additional baggage insurance perk.

Travel and purchase protections

Most of these benefits are standard American Express card shopping protections and travel insurance, but they might be able to save your business money if you’re dealing with troublesome merchants and travel hiccups.

  • Purchase protection: Each eligible instance is covered up to $1,000 (up to $50,000 per year total) if you need to be reimbursed or your purchased item needs repairs or a replacement.
  • Extended warranty: Qualifying items you purchased with your card get an extra year of coverage if it already had a warranty of five years or less (up to $10,000 per eligible item, $50,000 per card).
  • Car rental loss and damage insurance: You’ll get secondary insurance in the event your rental vehicle is damaged or stolen in eligible locations by paying with your card and declining the rental agency protection.
  • Baggage insurance: When you put the fare for a “common carrier vehicle” (plane, bus, train, etc.) ticket on your card, your baggage is covered up to $1,250 for carry-on luggage and up to $500 for checked luggage. Be sure you’re aware of the exclusions and restrictions ahead of time.

Pay Over Time

American Express shifted away from traditional charge cards by adding the popular Pay Over Time and Pay It Plan It features to its cards without preset spending limits, extending more payback options to cardholders that would normally have to pay in full each month.

Although business cards don’t have Pay It Plan It, Pay Over Time will allow you to add eligible purchases to a separate balance that you can revolve with interest. By toggling the Pay Over Time settings to “on” or “off” in your account (your account initially has Pay Over Time set to “on”), all purchases will either go to your Pay Over Time balance or will need to be paid in full by the end of the month.

Pay Over Time is especially helpful for business owners that might need a little breathing room to settle sudden expenses. However, keep in mind that there is a preset limit to the balance you can Pay Over Time. Any charge that exceeds your Pay Over Time balance limit will need to be paid in full by the end of the month.

Amex Offers

Amex Offers is available on every American Express card, but it can be especially helpful for expanding the Business Green card’s reward opportunities. This special deal program offers limited-time promotions that you can activate in order to earn bonus Membership Rewards points or cash back on participating retailer purchases.

Amex Offers aren’t cash cows, but these extra helpings can add up if you maximize the reward limits.

Rates and fees

The Amex Business Green Rewards card usually has a $95 annual fee, but it’s currently waived for your first year. This kind of offer is increasingly rare, and it gives you plenty of time to decide whether you need to upgrade or downgrade in case you aren’t making the most of your card for the price tag.

Your balance usually must be paid off every month, so there isn’t a traditional interest rate to worry about. However, you’ll be charged a 17.99 percent to 25.99 percent variable APR if you use the Pay Over Time feature to carry a balance. Be careful not to miss a payment on your normal balance that must be paid in full, though, or you’ll face a late payment fee of $39 or 2.99 percent of that balance (whichever is greater).

It’s also worth noting that although the Business Green card is a travel rewards card, there is oddly a 2.7 percent foreign transaction fee.

How the American Express Business Green Card compares to other business cards

The Amex Business Green Rewards card’s straightforward structure is a bit lean considering the equivalent (or better) benefits and rewards the issuer’s no-annual-fee business credit cards carry.

Depending on how your business expenses and annual fee budget lean, these other credit cards might be worthwhile alternatives to the Business Green card:

Annual fee

$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95

Intro offer

15,000 points
Info

Rewards rate

1X - 2X
Info

Recommended Credit Score

Excellent (740 – 850)
Info
Bankrate Score
See Rates & Fees , Terms Apply
Apply now Lock
On American Express's secure site

Annual fee

$295

Intro offer

70,000 points
Info

Rewards rate

1X - 25%
Info

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info
Bankrate Score
See Rates & Fees , Terms Apply
Apply now Lock
On American Express's secure site

Annual fee

No annual fee

Intro offer

15,000 points
Info

Rewards rate

1X - 2X
Info

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info

Business Green Rewards Card from vs. The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express

Rather than restricting your boosted rewards rate to travel, The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card also provides 2X points, but on all purchases (up to $50,000 per year, then 1X points), for no annual fee. In fact, this broader rewards scope may be more lucrative if you don’t plan to spend well beyond this annual limit or utilize Amex’s travel transfer partners. However, this is a traditional credit card with a defined credit limit.

But on the bright side, you can request expanded buying power to cover any big expenses around the corner. The Business Green card still has an edge over this feature, though, since the issuer still has to approve each request and your extra wiggle room isn’t unlimited. How much your credit line can be temporarily increased depends on your credit record with Amex — based on factors like payment history, typical credit utilization, etc. — and you’ll have to fully pay off those over-limit purchases as part of your minimum payment that month.

If you don’t mind considering cash back over travel cards, the Capital One Spark Cash Plus is a true charge card and one of the few business cards outside Amex with a flexible spending limit. It rakes in unlimited 2 percent cash back on all purchases and surpasses Amex’s travel portal rewards rate with 5 percent cash back on hotels and rental cars through Capital One Travel. However, its $150 annual fee is a little higher and you can’t carry a balance like the Business Green may allow.

Business Green Rewards Card from American Express vs. American Express® Business Gold Card

If the Blue Business Plus card’s capped rewards and credit line hobble your rewards spending, paying up for the American Express Business Gold card’s heftier $295 annual fee could be worth the upgraded rewards and purchasing power.

The Business Gold card’s benefits largely lie in its stronger rewards rates since it strangely doesn’t carry any other perks like annual credits to help justify the higher annual fee. However, its 4X points on two of six select business expense categories (up to $150,000 in combined purchases, then 1X points) can be much more lucrative than the Business Green card’s rates, especially since the Busines Gold’s potential categories include airfare, U.S. restaurants and more. What’s more, the Business Gold card also boosts your rewards’ value by 25 percent if you use your points to pay for your flight.

Despite a much higher annual fee, it’s not much harder to offset the annual fee with the Business Gold card’s rewards. It would take spending at least $396 each month on American Express Travel purchases with the Business Green to offset its $95 annual fee after the first year. However, putting your points toward Amex airfare means you’ll only need to spend around $100 more each month — at least $492 in your 4X-point categories — with the Business Gold to recoup its annual fee.

That means businesses with smaller overhead costs that lean toward travel may find the Business Green more cost-effective. However, many businesses will have a much easier time earning rewards with everyday expense-oriented categories, so the Amex Business Gold could be worth it for the majority of businesses.

Best cards to pair with the American Express Business Green Card

Splurging for an additional, pricey American Express card would likely defeat the Business Green card’s cost-effectiveness, so we recommend pairing it with one of the traditional Amex business credit cards. With another $95 or no-annual-fee card, you can shore up the Business Green card’s scope of bonus categories.

However, the Business Green’s low rewards rate makes it difficult to find a card that complements it without stepping on its toes or making it obsolete. The aforementioned Blue Business Plus card’s 2X points on all purchases can cover anything outside your Business Green travel category — even your business’ bills. The Business Green can then cover your travel purchases, making it easier to stay below the Business Plus card’s $50,000 annual spending cap (beyond which you’ll only earn 1X points).

But if you’re serious enough about your rewards strategy to craft a card combination with the Business Green, it may be worthwhile to consider upgrading to a higher-tier Amex card first.

Bankrate’s Take: Is the American Express Business Green Card worth it?

Ultimately, the American Express Business Green Rewards Card is a bit pricey for the meager rewards and benefits you’ll scrape in compared to other cards’ that charge a $95 annual fee. In fact, other premium American Express cards easily outclass it if you’re willing to fork over the steeper annual fee.

However, if you’re set on American Express and your small business relies on frequent travel and buying power, then the Business Green card is a fine choice. But ultimately, other Amex cards and business cards in its class can be much more rewarding for the price tag.

Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by Amex Assurance Company.

All information about the Business Green Rewards Card from American Express has been collected independently by Bankrate and has not been reviewed or approved by the issuer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Written by
Garrett Yarbrough
Credit Card Reviews Writer

Bankrate expert Garrett Yarbrough strives to make navigating credit cards and credit building smooth sailing for his readers. After regularly featuring his credit card, credit monitoring and identity theft analysis on NextAdvisor.com, he joined the CreditCards.com and Bankrate.com teams as a staff writer to develop product reviews and comprehensive credit card guides focused on cash back, credit scores and card offers.

Edited by Former Senior Director of Content

* See the online application for details about terms and conditions for these offers. Every reasonable effort has been made to maintain accurate information. However all credit card information is presented without warranty. After you click on the offer you desire you will be directed to the credit card issuer's web site where you can review the terms and conditions for your selected offer.

Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, is accurate as of the publish date. All products or services are presented without warranty. Check the bank’s website for the most current information.