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

Oct. 24, 2019
Credit Cards, Promos, Rewards Credit Cards, Travel, Travel Credit Cards
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The American Express® Green Card 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 premium rewards card. It even has a new nickname: “Green from Amex.”

The revamped version offers much improved ongoing earning potential, along with some useful travel credits, including a limited-time discount on Instagrammable luggage. But there’s also a higher annual fee.

» MORE: Who does the American Express® Green Card make sense for?

Details of the new American Express® Green Card

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

Annual fee: $150

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.)

Rewards

  • Earn 3 Membership Rewards points per $1 spent on eligible travel, including transit, and at restaurants worldwide.
  • Earn 1 point per $1 on other purchases.
  • Terms apply.

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.

Welcome offer

Earn 30,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $2,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Terms Apply.

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.”

Travel credits

  • $100 Clear credit per year. Clear is a prescreening program, available in certain airports and venues, that uses biometrics such as fingerprint and eye scans to verify your identity.
  • $100 LoungeBuddy credit per year. LoungeBuddy is an aggregator of available airport lounges that allows you to buy single-use day passes.
  • Limited time offer: $100 Away credit (apply by Jan. 15, 2020). Away sells popular high-end luggage.
  • Terms apply.

» MORE: Is AmEx getting ready to break up with Priority Pass?

Foreign transaction fee: 0%

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

In addition to these changes, American Express has partnered with Parley for the Oceans to redesign the American Express® Green Card 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.

New American Express® Green Card vs. the previous version

American Express® Green CardOld versionNew version
Annual feeAn introductory $0 for the first year, then $95$150
Ongoing rewards• Earn 2 Membership Rewards points per $1 when booking at AmexTravel.com.

• Earn 1 Membership Rewards point per $1 on other purchases.
• Earn 3 Membership Rewards points per $1 spent on travel, transit and restaurants worldwide.

• Earn 1 Membership Rewards point per $1 on other purchases.

• Terms apply.
Travel creditsN/A• $100 Clear credit per year.

• $100 LoungeBuddy credit per year.

• Limited time offer: $100 Away Credit (apply by Jan. 15, 2020).

• Terms apply.
Welcome offerEarn 25,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months. Earn 30,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $2,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Terms Apply.
Foreign transaction fee2.7% foreign transaction fee0% foreign transaction fee

Is it a good deal?

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.

Expanded and more lucrative rewards categories

Before, the American Express® Green Card 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.

Higher annual fee

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 many cards offer similar rewards — or better — for no annual fee at all. For instance, the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card also earns triple points on eligible dining, travel and transit expenses, as well as at gas stations and on many popular streaming services. Its annual fee is $0. Terms apply.

» MORE: NerdWallet’s best no annual fee credit cards

Slightly higher welcome bonus

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.

» MORE: NerdWallet’s best credit card bonus offers

Statement credits toward select travel expenses

$100 statement credit per year toward the cost of Clear: Unlike TSA Precheck or Global Entry, 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: LoungeBuddy 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 airport lounge access.

$100 statement credit toward Away purchases: With carry-on suitcases starting at $225, Away’s luggage is certainly a luxury. If you apply for the American Express® Green Card by Jan. 15, 2020, you’ll get up to $100 in statement credits for Away purchases made in the first three months of card membership, which can offset the cost of that coveted suitcase.

Terms apply.

» MORE: NerdWallet’s best travel credit cards

No foreign transaction fee

The foreign transaction fee is dropping from 2.7% to 0%, making the American Express® Green Card 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.

» MORE: NerdWallet’s best no foreign transaction fee credit cards

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