Is the Green Card from America Express worth it? | finder.com

American Express® Green Card review – October 2018

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An entry-level Amex charge card that earns Membership Rewards points.

30-second take

  • Get this card if you’re looking to build your credit score with this iconic charge card.
  • Pick something else if you want cash back or don’t want to pay an annual fee.
  • Apply with a good to excellent credit score of 680 or higher.
Product NameAmerican Express® Green Card
Card TypeAmerican Express
Annual Fee$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
APR (Annual Percentage Rate) for PurchasesNone (Charge Card)
Foreign Transaction Fee2.7% of the transaction value
Cash Advance FeeNone
Interest Free PeriodUp to 25 days
Late Payment FeeUp to $38
Returned Payment FeeUp to $38
Additional Cardholder Fee$30
Rates & FeesRates & Fees
Minimum Age18 years of age
Reward Value per Dollar1 points
Rewards Points ExpiryNever

The basics

The American Express® Green Card is an entry-level charge card that offers simple rewards: 2x Membership Rewards points through American Express Travel and 1x points on all other purchases. For the first year you get a $0 annual fee, reverting to $95 in your second year.

Redeem your Membership Rewards points for dining, shopping or travel rewards, typically for up to 1% back in value.

The perks

  • Membership Rewards points.

    Earn 2x Membership Rewards points when you book through American Express Travel and 1x points on all other purchases. Redeem your points for dining, shopping and travel rewards. The points you earn with this card can appear weak compared to the American Express® Gold Card, which earns you 3x points on eligible flights, 4x points at US restaurants, 4x points at US supermarkets on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases (then 1x points) and 1x points on everything else. But keep in mind that the American Express® Gold Card costs $250 a year, versus the American Express® Green Card‘s $95.

How much are American Express Membership Rewards worth?

The value of membership points varies depending on what you redeem them for.

For a general idea, 20,000 points are worth:

  • $140 to $200 in gift cards.
  • $100 to $140 at such Membership Rewards partner retailers as Amazon, Newegg, Best Buy and Staples.
  • $100 to $200 for flight tickets, hotels, cruises and purchases through Expedia.
  • $140 to $200 for point-of-sale transactions with New York taxis and at Rite Aid.
  • $100 for entertainment purchases through Ticketmaster and AXS.
  • $100 to $200 as a charitable donation.
How to get the most out of Membership Rewards points

You can earn and redeem your Membership Rewards points in multiple ways. But consider booking as many flights and hotels as you can through American Express Travel to make the most of your Membership Rewards. You can then redeem these points for a high-value rewards potential — usually 1%.

For example, if you spend $5,000 on flights and hotels through American Express Travel, you earn 10,000 points. You can then redeem those points for a $100 reward — the highest value you can get out of this card.

For all other purchases, you get 1x Membership Rewards points. This results in 5,000 points if you spend $5,000. Redeem your 5,000 points for rewards valued from $25 to $50, resulting in a return of 0.5% to 1% of what you spent.

You’ll also like …

  • Purchase protection.

    You’re covered for accidental damage or theft of eligible items for up to 120 days from purchase, up to $1,000 each occurrence and up to $50,000 a year.

  • Travel protection.

    Get peace of mind on vacation knowing you’re covered for lost, damaged or stolen baggage throughout reservations paid for with your card. Any rental cars are insured against theft and damage when you pay using your card.

  • Roadside and global assistance.

    Call a 24/7 hotline for help with towing, changing a tire or charging a battery on the road. When traveling more than 100 miles from home, you get 24/7 access to medical, financial, legal or other emergency services. You’ll have to pay for any third-party services.

  • Purchase benefits.

    Get free two-day shipping and free returns through ShopRunner. And if you’re looking to return an eligible item within 90 days of purchase and the merchant won’t accept it, Amex’s Return Protection may refund you up to $1,000 a year. You can get these benefits with similar Amex cards like Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express and Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card.

What to watch out for

  • $95 annual fee.

    American Express waives the annual fee for your first year of card membership. But you’re on the hook for a $95 annual fee starting with your second year.

  • Not a credit card.

    The American Express® Green Card is a charge card, which means you must pay your balance in full each month. If you often carry a monthly balance on your credit cards, the American Express® Green Card may not be the choice for you.

  • Not widely accepted overseas.

    Because the American Express® Green Card is an American Express card, you might not have as many opportunities to use it overseas as you would with a Visa or Mastercard. It also comes with a 2.7% foreign transaction fee, which can add up over vacation.

  • Late payment fees.

    Making late or returned payments could saddle you with fees as high as $38.

Consider other cards if …

  • You want cashback rewards.

    Consider cards like the Citi® Double Cash Card, which allows you to earn cash back twice — 1% unlimited on purchases and an additional 1% when you pay for those purchases. In the American Express suite of cards, check out the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express and the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express for cash back on gas, groceries and other everyday purchases at US retailers.

  • You want travel rewards.

    You may be better off with the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card, which earns you an unlimited 2x points on travel and dining and 1.5x points on all other purchases.

  • You don’t want to pay an annual fee.

    A card with no annual fee, the Amex EveryDay® Credit Card lets you earn 2x membership points at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 in purchases each year, reverting to 1x points after that. You’ll also earn 2x points on purchases at American Express Travel and 1x points on all other eligible purchases.

  • You want an intro APR on purchases and balance transfers. The Citi Simplicity® Card offers a great intro APR on balance transfers, along with an intro APR on purchases.

Compare charge cards

Updated October 19th, 2018
Name Product Annual Fee Credit Score Min. Intro Balance Transfer APR Reward Value per Dollar Secured or Unsecured Introductory Balance Transfer APR APR (Annual Percentage Rate) for Purchases Annual Fee Minimum Credit Score
95
680
0%
1
Unsecured
0% for the first 12 months (then 14.99% to 25.99% variable)
14.99% to 25.99% variable
$95
Fair (660-699)
Earn $200 bonus cash back after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Rates & Fees
680
0%
1
Unsecured
0% for the first 15 months (then 14.99% to 25.99% variable)
14.99% to 25.99% variable
$0
Fair (660-699)
Earn a $150 bonus statement credit after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Rates & Fees
680
0%
1.5
Unsecured
0% for the first 15 months (then 14.99% to 25.99% variable)
14.99% to 25.99% variable
$0
Fair (660-699)
Earn up to $250 back. Earn $150 back after you spend $1,000 or more in purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Plus, earn an additional $100 back after you spend an additional $6,500 in purchases within your first 12 months. You will receive the cash back in the form of a statement credit. Rates & Fees
550
680
1
Unsecured
None (Charge Card)
$550
Fair (660-699)
Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and 5X points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com. Rates & Fees
250
680
1
Unsecured
See Rates & Fees
$250
Fair (660-699)
25,000 bonus Membership Rewards® Points when you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months Rates & Fees
95
680
2
Unsecured
17.74% to 26.74% variable
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Fair (660-699)
Enjoy a $0 annual fee on the first year and earn up to 2 Starpoints® for every dollar of eligible purchases. Rates & Fees
680
1
Unsecured
17.74% to 26.74% variable
$0
Fair (660-699)
Earn 10,000 Bonus Miles after spending $500 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Rates & Fees
95
680
1
Unsecured
17.74% to 26.74% variable
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Fair (660-699)
30,000 bonus miles after you use your new card to make $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months. Rates & Fees
95
680
3
Unsecured
17.74% to 26.74% variable
$95
Fair (660-699)
Earn 125,000 Hilton Honors™ Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 or more in purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Rates & Fees
680
3
Unsecured
17.74% to 26.74% variable
$0
Fair (660-699)
Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors™ Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership. Rates & Fees
680
0%
1
Unsecured
0% for the first 15 months (then 14.99% to 25.99% variable)
14.99% to 25.99% variable
$0
Fair (660-699)
Earn 10,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
95
680
0%
1
Unsecured
0% for the first 12 months (then 14.99% to 24.99% variable)
14.99% to 24.99% variable
$95
Fair (660-699)
15,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account

Compare up to 4 providers

Who is the American Express® Green Card for?

This card is suited for anyone who’s looking for an Amex charge card to build up their credit score. It offers perks, but you might find that other Amex cards match or exceed American Express® Green Card — and with lower annual fees.

Nearly every feature of the American Express® Green Card is matched by the Amex EveryDay® Credit Card. It offers 2x points at US supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per calendar year in purchases; then 1x points) as well as travel protection and purchase benefits — and you won’t pay an annual fee.

Another potential negative: American Express® Green Card is also a charge card, making it a poor choice if you’re used to carrying balances month to month.

What’s a charge card?

A charge card is a credit account that requires payment of your purchases in full each month. Typically, a charge card doesn’t have preset spending limits. Instead, your purchases are approved based on your payment history and overall creditworthiness.

If you’re looking for a charge card with more robust rewards, consider the American Express® Gold Card which is a hybrid between a charge card and a regular credit card or The Platinum Card® from American Express. You’ll pay a higher annual fee for each card, but the rewards you earn will likely cover that cost. The American Express® Gold Card is an especially good choice, offering an excellent mix of rewards for travel and everyday spending.

What should I know before I apply?

To apply for the American Express® Green Card, you must be at least 18 years old and a resident of the US.

American Express will require such information as your:

  • Full name and contact information.
  • Residential status.
  • Annual income, source of income and employment information.
  • Social Security number and date of birth.

What credit score do I need?

Apply with a good to excellent credit score of 680 or higher. Steady, high income on top of an excellent credit score will likely improve your chances of approval.

What do customers say about the American Express® Green Card?

American Express earns a Trustpilot score of 3 out of 10 based on more than 170 customer reviews. Many complaints cite poor customer service. On the positive side, customers love the membership points and rewards offered by this simple charge card.

Redditors debate whether paying the $95 annual fee is worth it, most concluding that you can get more tangible benefits with the American Express® Gold Card or The Platinum Card® from American Express.

How to apply for the card

  1. Go to the American Express website.
  2. Select the American Express® Green Card from the list and click Apply now.
  3. Complete the application form with required information.
  4. Review your application’s details and submit it.

How long will it take to get my American Express® Green Card?

Because American Express automates conditional credit card approval online, you might get a decision on your application within minutes. It could take up to a few weeks if further review is needed, however.

On approval, you’ll receive your card in the mail within 10 business days.

I got the card. Now what?

  • Pay on time. Register an online account or get the Amex Mobile app to pay your balance online. You can also enroll in autopay.
  • Enroll with ShopRunner. Get two-day free shipping through more than 100 retailers. If you don’t like your order, ship it back for free.
  • Avoid fees. Late and returned payments come with hefty fees of up to $38. Using your card overseas also comes with fees.
  • Customer service. If you have questions, call American Express at 1-800-528-4800 at any time.

Bottom line

For an entry-level Amex rewards card, the iconic American Express® Green Card could be a good choice. But it’s a charge card, which requires monthly payments on your purchases in full.

If you’re looking for a stronger charge card, consider the American Express® Gold Card which is a hybrid between a charge card and a regular credit card or The Platinum Card® from American Express. With so much competition for your business, you may want to consider other card providers if American Express doesn’t have what you’d like.

Frequently asked questions

Disclaimer

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

Images: AmericanExpress.com

Kliment Dukovski

Kliment Dukovski is a writer who specializes in global financial markets and personal finance, with a focus on credit cards. His main goal is to deliver honest and accurate information to help you make the right financial decision. When he's not writing about finance-related subjects, he writes sci-fi stories.

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