What counts as travel on the new Amex Green card?

Dec 27, 2019

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Editor’s note: This post was originally published on Nov. 4, 2019.

The American Express® Green Card has been refreshed with a slew of new benefits that have moved it up onto the list of TPG’s best Amex credit cards. I was attracted to this card by the limited-time offer (ends Jan. 15, 2020) of up to $100 in credits for eligible purchases with Away made in the first three months of account opening and an intro welcome bonus of 30,000 Amex Membership Rewards points after spending $2,000 in the same timeframe. To learn about the card’s new benefits, read our American Express Green card review.

The card has also added new bonus spending categories of 3x Amex points on travel, transit and dining. For all other purchases you’ll earn one point. The dining category is an improvement over how Amex classified it in the past because it applies to restaurants worldwide, not just in the U.S. How about the travel category? Which purchases will earn the 3x bonus?

What counts as travel on the Amex Green card?

(Photo by @brittneyborowski via Twenty20)
Rental cars will earn 3x points with the Amex Green card. (Photo by @brittneyborowski via Twenty20.)

Here’s are the travel purchases that will earn bonus points, according the Amex Green Card’s terms:

  • Airfare
  • Hotels
  • Cruises
  • Car rentals
  • Campgrounds
  • Trains
  • Taxis
  • Ride-share services
  • Tours
  • Ferries
  • Tolls
  • Parking
  • Buses
  • Subways
  • Third-party travel websites (i.e., Orbtiz, Expedia, Priceline)
  • Travel booked through amextravel.com

Timeshare purchases will not count as travel and Amex specifies that:

Merchants are assigned codes based on what they primarily sell. A purchase will not qualify for additional points if the merchant’s code is not eligible.

This won’t be an issue for most purchases, but it could be, depending on where you make the transaction. For instance, on a recent trip I purchased a bus ticket from a convenience store. I didn’t use an Amex card, but if I had, I wouldn’t have expected it to code as travel.

Another common area of confusion when it comes to determining travel purchases is home-sharing sites like Airbnb, Homeaway and VRBO. Amex confirmed to us that Airbnb purchases made with your Amex Green Card will count as travel but it’s a little less clear with other home rental sites. TPG Family Editor Summer Hull had a VRBO rental code as travel on her Chase Sapphire Reserve, but readers have had mixed experiences. It seems that vacation rentals that are listed by the owner are more likely to code as travel than those listed by a property management company.

And just because Chase coded VRBO as travel, Amex may not. So I wouldn’t expect most vacation rental purchases to earn bonus points. If you have an experience one way or the other, please let us know.

Bottom line

The Amex Green Card has been revamped with a new intro offer and the ability to earn 3x points on travel, transit and dining purchases. Amex lists the specific purchases that count as travel in the card’s terms, but some transactions might code differently than you’d expect. Airbnb will count as travel but another home-rental site may not.  Often they code as “real estate” or “property management.”

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Featured photo by Josh Gribben for The Points Guy.

American Express® Green Card

WELCOME OFFER: 30,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $600

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: up to $100 annual CLEAR statement credit, up to $100 annual LoungeBuddy statement credit, 3x points on travel and transit, 3x points on restaurants worldwide

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

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 30,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $2,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on all eligible travel, from subway swipes and window seats to hotel stays and city tours.
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points at restaurants worldwide.
  • Receive up to $100 per year in statement credits when you use the American Express® Green Card to pay for your CLEAR® membership at select airports and stadiums across the U.S. and Permissible Biometric Scanning Technology terms: eye scanning, irises scanning and fingerprints scanning.
  • Use the American Express® Green Card to purchase lounge access through LoungeBuddy to any of the lounges in the LoungeBuddy network – no memberships, elite statuses, or first class tickets required. Earn up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year on your LoungeBuddy purchases.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $150 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
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Intro APR on Purchases
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Regular APR
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Annual Fee
$150
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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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