Is the Amex Green Card worth the annual fee?

Oct 5, 2020

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While some issuers choose to launch new credit card products to keep up to date with the ever changing market, American Express has been on a spree the last few years of updating its charge cards, starting with the personal and business versions of the Platinum and Gold cards. The American Express® Green Card received a long-overdue refresh in 2019 and today, we’re going to take a look at whether this card is worth its $150 annual fee (see rates and fees).

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.

Related: Bonus earning on dining, commuting and travel: American Express Green Card review

Is the Amex Green Card worth the annual fee?

As part of the refresh process, Amex raised the annual fee on the Amex Green Card to $150 (see rates and fees), and the fee is not waived for the first year. This puts the American Express Green Card slightly above most entry level rewards cards, but clearly a few rungs below premium cards like The Platinum Card® from American Express.

Figuring out whether a card is worth its annual fee is really a two part question: Is the card worth it in the first year (factoring in the welcome offer), and is it worth it long term?

New applicants to the Amex Green Card can earn a welcome offer of 30,000 Membership Rewards® points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first three months. TPG values Membership Rewards points at 2 cents each, making the offer worth $600.

Around $600 is about the bare minimum amount of value I look for in a new welcome offer, but the Amex Green Card might look more attractive to you if you’ve already earned a bunch of other Amex welcome offers and are running out of ways to boost your Membership Rewards point balance. Not only does Amex only let you earn the bonus on each of its cards once per lifetime, but you’re limited to holding four credit cards at a time. If you’ve already filled up most of your credit card slots with cobranded cards from Delta, Hilton or Marriott, adding a card such as the Amex Green might make sense.

 

In addition to the raised fee and new welcome offer, Amex also expanded the bonus categories on the Amex Green Card and added a few valuable perks. You’ll now earn 3x Membership Rewards points worldwide (a 6% return based on TPG’s valuations) on travel, restaurants and transit, including flights, hotels, home shares, campsites, tours, car rentals, ride shares, buses, subways, third-party travel websites and amextravel.com.

It’s interesting to see the American Express Green Card use such a broad definition of travel, while other Amex cards are very restrictive with their travel bonus categories. This broadly defined bonus category makes the Amex Green Card more closely rival the 3x earning on the Chase Sapphire Reserve, albeit with a much lower annual fee.

The other perks that will really move the needle for most customers are the up to $100 annual statement credit for a Clear® membership (which lowers your out of pocket cost for this expedited security program to $79 a year for a base membership) and up to $100 annual credit for LoungeBuddy access. If you’re able to max out both of these credits a year, this card more than pays for itself as you’ll save $200 and only pay $150 for your annual fee.

As TSA PreCheck lines grow longer, Clear is becoming the fastest option for expedited security at many airports around the country. Meanwhile the LoungeBuddy credit can be great if you don’t already hold a card that comes with a Priority Pass membership. The $100 credit should be good for about two passes a year, which is great for less frequent travelers.

Bottom line

The medium-sized bonus on the Amex Green card isn’t enough to vault this to the top of most lists, but if you’ve already applied for most other Amex cards, this can be a great way to quickly boost your Membership Rewards points balance. Longer term, this card more than pays for its elevated annual fee of $150 if you’re able to max out both the Clear and LoungeBuddy statement credits.

Add in the new broadly defined 3x bonus categories, and the refreshed Amex Green Card becomes a compelling choice for people looking for elevated travel benefits without the price tag of most premium credit cards.

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

Additional reporting by Benét J. Wilson

Featured photo by Josh Gribben for The Points Guy

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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