Credit card showdown: Amex Gold vs. Amex Green

Aug 28, 2020

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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with the latest credit card information.

The American Express® Gold Card and the American Express® Green Card are about the most iconic credit cards offered — the Amex Green is more than 50 years old.

Both cards have 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 seems better suited for everyday spending on items such as groceries. The Amex Gold Card has a higher $250 annual fee (see rates and fees), but 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 right for you.

In This Post

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 3 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 6 months.
Earning categories 3x points on travel including transit

3x points at restaurants

1x on all other purchases

Terms apply

4x points at U.S. supermarkets on up to $25k spent per calendar year (then 1x)

4x points at restaurants worldwide

1x on all other purchases

Terms apply

Travel benefits Up to $100 annual credit for Clear

Up to $100 annual LoungeBuddy credit

Car rental loss and damage

Up to $100 annual airline fee credit

Car rental loss and damage

The Hotel Collection

Baggage insurance plan

Additional benefits ShopRunner free 2-day shipping on eligible items

Entertainment access

Up to $120 annual dining credit at select restaurants (up to $10 per month) per calendar year

ShopRunner free 2-day shipping on eligible items

Entertainment access

Welcome offer

Both cards have 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 6 months. Because TPG currently values Membership Rewards points at 2 cents each, these bonuses are worth $600 and $1,200, respectively.

In the past, 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 three months of card membership when using the tool to apply; targeted offers subject to change at any time.

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.

Related: Ultimate guide to credit card application restrictions

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.

Related: American Express Gold card review

Earning categories and bonuses

(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

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 elsewhere. The Amex Gold Card offers you 4x points at worldwide restaurants and on purchases of up to $25,000 spent each calendar year at U.S. supermarkets (1x after). You’ll also earn 3x points on airfare purchased directly with the airline or through Amex Travel.

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. My family is thrilled to earn 4x on everything we buy at our local supermarkets — from prescriptions to cleaning supplies to flowers and gifts.

The Amex Green Card has a distinct advantage when it comes to travel and transit, where it earns 3x points. On the Amex Gold, you’ll only earn 3x points on airfare purchased directly with the airline or via Amex Travel, while all other travel purchases will earn no bonus at all (1x). 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.

Something to consider when using either card is that both have a Pay Over Time feature, which works slightly differently than your standard credit card when it comes to interest charges and paying your balance. Only certain eligible purchases can carry a balance and incur interest up to a cardholder’s Pay over Time limit.

Related reading: For the modern traveler: American Express Green Card review

Travel benefits

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.

Related reading: Maximizing LoungeBuddy passes with the Amex Green

The Amex Gold, on the other hand, offers you an up to $100 annual credit for air travel fees that works just like the up to up to $200 annual credit offered by the Amex Platinum and other high-end Amex cards. This credit can be valued at its full amount by frequent travelers who are sure to pay more than $100 in annual airline fees. This only applies to incidental purchases like baggage fees, change fees, seat selection fees, and charges for inflight food and beverages. In addition, like the benefit on the Amex Platinum, you must preselect an airline for which this credit will apply.

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)

Both cards offer car rental loss and damage 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.

I value the up to $100 Clear credit offered by the Amex Green Card equally to the up to $100 annual airline fee credit offered by the Amex Gold, and because I have other cards that offer Priority Pass Select memberships, the LoungeBuddy credit would have very little value to me.

Shopping benefits

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.

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. Overall, I’d have to say that the Amex Gold comes out at least $100 ahead in this category.

Bottom line

I was excited to see Amex redesign the benefits of its legendary American Express Green Card, but it still seems like its more upscale sibling — the American Express Gold Card — would be a better fit for many travelers. 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) 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 and the up to $120 in annual dining credits.

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.

For rates and fees of the Amex Gold, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Green, please click here.

Additional reporting by Benét J. Wilson

Featured photo by The Points Guy

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CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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