Revamped AmEx Green Card: Better Rewards, New Credits, Higher Fee

The updated American Express Green Card comes with a larger welcome offer and higher ongoing rewards, but the annual fee is going up.
Sara RathnerOct 24, 2019

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The is getting all spruced up.

The card has unveiled a head-to-toe makeover, changing everything from its rewards structure to its physical structure in an attempt to woo millennial travelers who may not be ready to pony up for a . It even has a new nickname: "Green from Amex."

The revamped version offers much improved ongoing earning potential, along with some useful travel credits. But there's also a higher annual fee.

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Many existing cardholders will start seeing these new features and benefits as of Oct. 24, 2019:

The card's previous annual fee was an introductory $0 for the first year, then $95. (For existing cardholders, the new annual fee will kick in at their next renewal date after Jan. 1, 2020.)

Eligible travel and transit purchases include airfare, hotels, car rentals, cruises, campgrounds, tours, trains, rideshares, buses, taxis, subways, ferries, tolls and parking. Purchases on third-party travel websites and on amextravel.com also are eligible

Previously, the card earned 2 points per $1 when booking at AmexTravel.com and 1 point per $1 on other purchases.

That's more points but a higher spending threshold compared with what the card offered before, which was phrased this way: "Earn 25,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months."

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The old version of the card charged a foreign transaction fee of 2.7%.

In addition to these changes, American Express has partnered with to redesign the so it’s mostly made from reclaimed plastic. It also has committed to working with Parley to remove a million pounds of plastic from oceans.

To answer that question, it helps to take a closer look at what's changing. The answer, in short, is that it's a mixed bag.

Before, the offered pretty limited earning potential. Its new rewards structure more closely matches other cards that reward you for common (and often pricey) purchases. In that respect, these changes are a clear improvement.

On the downside, not only is the annual fee no longer waived in the first year, but it's going up by nearly 58%. Consider that offer decent rewards for no annual fee at all.

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The new bonus offer can net you 5,000 additional Membership Rewards points, which are highly versatile but can vary in value. Good redemption options will net you at least a penny per point, so the new bonus could be worth an extra $50 or more. But compared with the old offer, you'll have to spend twice as much to get it. Terms apply.

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$100 statement credit per year toward the cost of Clear: Unlike , which are "trusted traveler" screening programs administered by the federal government, Clear is administered by a private company. In addition to serving select airports in more than two dozen metro areas across the U.S., Clear is also available at eligible sports stadiums and other venues within those cities. It allows you to skip the airport ID line — though you don't get to skip the X-ray line. Still, the credit could be useful if you live in or visit cities where Clear is offered.

But an annual membership costs $179, meaning the credit gets you only a discount. (You can add up to three adult family members for $50 each per year.) The application fees for TSA Precheck and Global Entry are much cheaper ($85 and $100, respectively); your status lasts for five years; both are in much wider use across the country; and many travel credit cards with cheaper annual fees will reimburse you for the full application cost of one of those programs.

$100 LoungeBuddy statement credit per year:  offers airport lounge access at hundreds of locations. You can buy a single-use lounge pass as early as two months before you travel, or you can buy them the same day of your travel. Lounge passes start at $25, so your annual credit could get you up to four lounge visits. That's a pretty nice perk, although many travel credit cards with less expensive annual fees offer some version of .

Terms apply.

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The foreign transaction fee is dropping from 2.7% to 0%, making the a more compelling option for international travel, perhaps tucked inside that swanky new Away backpack. But carry a backup Visa or Mastercard in case you travel to a country without wide American Express acceptance.

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All information about the has been collected independently by NerdWallet. The is no longer available through NerdWallet.

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