Credit card showdown: Amex Gold vs. Amex Green
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with the latest credit card information.
But classic doesn’t mean outdated, as these cards have both received dramatic makeovers in recent years, which has resulted in two competitive products aimed at different segments of the market. The Amex Green is more focused on travel, while the Amex Gold now seems better suited for everyday spending on items such as groceries and eating out.
While the Amex Gold Card has a higher annual fee of $250 (see rates and fees) vs. the $100 annual fee on the Amex Green Card (see rates and fees), it’s still less than half of The Platinum Card® from American Express.
The information for the Amex Green Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
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Today, we’ll take a deep dive into the features and benefits of these two products, and see which one might be the better fit for you.
Comparison of benefits
Let’s start with a quick, side-by-side comparison of the key benefits of the two cards.
|Benefit detail||American Express Green Card||American Express Gold Card|
|Annual fee||$150 (see rates & fees)||$250 (see rates & fees)|
|Welcome bonus||30,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $2,000 on purchases on your new card in your first three months of card membership||Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new card within the first six months.|
Both cards have an attractive welcome offer. The Amex Green offers 30,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $2,000 on purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership, while the Amex Gold is more generous at 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new card within the first six months.
Because TPG currently values Membership Rewards points at 2 cents each, these bonuses are worth $600 and $1,200, respectively.
There have been times when both cards have offered higher targeted welcome offers through the CardMatch Tool (offer subject to change at any time), so be sure to check this tool before applying for either card. Right now, with the Amex Gold, you can earn 75,000 points after spending $4,000 on your new card in the first six months of card membership when using the tool to apply; targeted offers subject to change at any time. We have also seen recent offers for a total of 45,000 points on the Amex Green after hitting the spending requirement.
If you have held either of these cards before, you’re almost certainly ineligible for a welcome offer.
Even with the revamps both cards have received in the last couple of years, they’re still considered the same products. In addition, American Express also considers other factors to determine welcome-bonus eligibility, though it should notify you of your status before you submit your application and face a hard inquiry.
Given the additional points on the welcome offer, the Amex Gold is slightly better — unless you feel that the $4,000 minimum spending requirement to earn the full bonus is too much of a stretch for your situation.
Related: American Express Gold card review
Earning categories and bonuses
The Amex Green offers 3x points on travel — including transit purchases such as taxis and ride-hailing services. You also earn 3x points at restaurants around the world and 1x on all other eligible purchases.
The Amex Gold Card offers 4x points at worldwide restaurants and on purchases of up to $25,000 spent each calendar year at U.S. supermarkets (then 1x after). You’ll also earn 3x points on airfare purchased directly with the airline or through Amex Travel. For all other purchases, you’ll earn 1x point.
When you compare these rates, the Amex Gold offers you 33% more points at restaurants than the Amex Green, and it also offers 4x points you when you buy groceries (or anything else) from a supermarket in the U.S (up to $25k in purchases each calendar year; then 1x). My family is thrilled to earn 4x points on everything we buy at our local supermarkets — from prescriptions to cleaning supplies to flowers and gifts.
And although they both offer 3x on select travel purchases, the Amex Green Card opens up the bonus points to all travel-related purchases. This means anything that is coded as “travel” on your monthly statement will receive the bonus points.
For the Amex Gold Card, you’ll only earn the 3x points on a limited number of airline-specific purchases, which includes purchasing airfare from the airline directly (not a online travel agency) or through Amex Travel. This means you’ll only earn 1x point for hotels, cruises, transit or many other travel-related purchases.
If you’re a commuter and/or a frequent traveler (and don’t spend much at U.S. supermarkets), and you don’t have another card that offers you bonuses for travel spending, then the Amex Green has a strong advantage. Otherwise, the Amex Gold Card will likely offer more points for most people’s spending.
The unique thing about the Amex Green is its up to $100 annual credit toward a Clear membership. Although the current price is $179, discounted memberships are available to all members of Delta SkyMiles and United MileagePlus — including free access for top-tier Diamond Medallion and United Premier 1K travelers.
However, even with those discounts, it still costs more than $100 a year for most. I’m a big fan of Clear, and I’m hoping that this benefit eventually becomes as common as credits for Global Entry and TSA PreCheck. If you already pay more than $100 a year for Clear membership, then you can value this benefit at the full $100. However, if Clear and its rapidly expanding number of locations still doesn’t appeal to you, then you’d have to value it at somewhat less than the $100.
The Amex Green Card also offers an annual up to $100 LoungeBuddy credit, which can be applied to the admission fee for hundreds of lounges worldwide. This could be somewhat valuable to those who don’t already have a Priority Pass Select benefit from a different credit card.
Both cards also offer car rental loss and damage coverage (secondary coverage), baggage insurance and trip delay protection. However, the Amex Gold also provides access to benefits and discounts when booking accommodations through The Hotel Collection.
The trip delay protection is typically the most valuable to many cardholders, since you’ll be reimbursed up to $300 per eligible trip, if your trip is delayed more than 12 hours. This will cover you for unexpected out of pocket expenses, such as meals, lodging and personal use-items.
New in 2021, the Amex Gold Card also offers up to $120 in Uber Cash. With this benefit, you’ll receive up to $10 monthly in Uber Cash credit, which can be used on Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S. Even if you aren’t traveling these days, the fact that you can still use the credits on takeout means all cardmembers should have no problem using the cash — which puts a full $120 value on the perk.
The Amex Gold Card has an up to $120 annual restaurant credit at select establishments, including The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed and participating Shake Shack locations. If none of those appeal to you, you can apply that credit to delivery or takeout orders from Grubhub and Seamless. Because it’s so easy to use, I would value this benefit at close to the full $120 for many cardholders.
Otherwise, both cards come with free ShopRunner two-day delivery from select online merchants and the American Express Entertainment Access program that gives you preferred access to shows and sporting events.
You’ll also notice that both cards offers purchase protection and extended warranty benefits — an important card feature to have for many purchases (especially those that can break easily). The Amex Gold Card comes out slightly ahead in this department, since the purchase protection perk covers your purchase up to 90 days from the day of purchase, up to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per year.
While the Amex Green Card also includes the same 90 day benefit, you’re capped at $1,000 per claim and $50,000 per year. For an incredibly expensive purchase, the Amex Gold Card is preferable, but most cardmembers will find the maximum to be more than sufficient with the Amex Green Card.
Although the redesign of the American Express Green Card in 2019 was a welcomed addition to the Amex suite of cards, its more upscale sibling — the American Express Gold Card — is still a better fit for most.
The opportunity to use the Amex Gold Card to earn 4x at both restaurants worldwide and U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per calendar year; 1x after) and then 3x points on most airfare purchases (booked direct with the airline or via Amextravel) is likely more attractive to most people than earning 3x on travel, transit and restaurants. In addition, the higher annual fee of the Amex Gold is offset by its superior welcome bonus, the annual dining credits, Uber Cash credits and the airline incidental fee credit for just 2021. And the fact that you can now get the Amex Gold Card in Rose Gold metal if you want (same benefits, just a different card color), makes it even more aesthetically attractive as well.
The only case I can make for applying for the Amex Green Card over the Amex Gold is to appeal to someone who already earns outstanding rewards at U.S. supermarkets — like cardholders of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express or The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express — yet needs a card that offers strong bonuses for a variety of travel purchases and dining.
Otherwise, I think the Amex Gold is certainly worth the $100 additional annual fee for the chance to enjoy its fabulous 4x rewards whenever you eat in or dine out.
The information for the Amex EveryDay Preferred Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Additional reporting by Benét J. Wilson and Jason Steele
Featured photo by The Points Guy
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