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American Express Green Card: The Least Valuable Charge Card
The American Express Green Card provides consumers with some of the worst rewards and features we’ve seen. For reasons which will be made clear in the analysis to follow, we believe the Green Card is not a good fit for most consumers. A high annual fee, compounded with very few benefits and hassles make this card more trouble than it’s worth. Individuals looking for a good American Express charge card can get better value out of cards such as the American Express® Gold Card or the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express.
- Cheapest of all American Express charge cards
- Part of Membership Rewards family of cards
- Very few benefits and features when compared to other American Express Charge Cards
- Poor Rewards Rate
- Must pay balance at the end of the month
Review: Should You Get The American Express Green Card?
There are too few benefits that come with the Green Card to justify the its hefty annual fee of $95. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the Barclaycard Arrival Plus have similar price tags ($95 and $89 respectively) but come with better overall rewards. The Arrival Plus gives 2x miles for every category of spending with the miles earned on the card having better redemption flexibility. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers double points on travel and dining as well, with the availability to use points for cash back at 1 cent per point. Given similar fees, these cards are both superior from a rewards standpoint to the Green Card.
As far as other American Express cards go, paying more per year can get you a much better card. The Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express offers a slew of benefits such as free roadside assistance, signing bonuses and fantastic travel rewards rates. If you are willing to pay for a charge card, there is no good reason to prefer the Green Card to any of the higher tiered cards. The price difference is made up for by the travel rewards you will receive with the Premium Rewards credit card. On the other hand, if price is a major factor then, as discussed above, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a superior deal at the same price point.
There is no getting around the fact that the absence of benefits in the face of charge card cons makes the Amex Green Card rather unappealing. Being a charge card, the Amex Green requires excellent credit to attain, meaning that despite its lackluster benefits, it is not any easier to get than cards which offer considerably more benefits and rewards and, this cannot be stressed enough, for the same or lower price!
What are the Benefits and Features of the American Express Green Card?
While the Green Card does not have many features which are valuable, by being an American Express rewards card and a charge card it does have some aspects worth mentioning.
How do Membership Rewards Points work with the Amex Green Card?
The Amex Green Card’s rewards are centered around it being part of the Membership Rewards – one of the most robust rewards programs around. Membership Rewards allows Amex cardholders to redeem the points they earn in many different ways such as statement credit, shopping through American Express’ online store, book flights and more. There is one more use for Membership Rewards points which elevates it to one of the best rewards programs: point transfer. Membership Rewards members have the ability to transfer their earned points to some 20 different airline and hotel loyalty programs. Not only does this offer Amex Green cardholders more flexibility and freedom when using their points, but transferring points gives consumers the highest point value.
The following is a list of point value for each redemption category:
To clarify how these values were obtained, below is our methodology for obtaining the point value when using points for shopping through the American Express online store:
We took a look at several items on the online store. For the purposes of our example we look at the price of a Sheepskin Stoneman Trapper Hat: Estimated Dollar Value: $205 Membership Reward points required: 41,000.
$205 / 41,000 Points = 0.005 $ / Point. We then sampled items across different categories and averaged the point value out.
The American Express Green Card has a fairly simple reward point earning structure. Unfortunately, this is not good news. Green Card users receive 1 point for every $1 in net purchases. The only exceptions are Uber and Amextravel.com spending, for which users receive 2 points for every $1 spent (all Membership Rewards cards share this minimum rate). As discussed above, Amex Green cardholders have a variety of redemption options presented to them through the Membership Rewards program. Generally speaking, the point value on most of these categories is lackluster. Most other Amex reward credit cards make up for this fact by increasing the rate at which you earn points with every purchase, or offering signing bonuses. None of these features are present in the American Express Green Card, which is in part what makes it one of the worst American Express charge cards (and credit cards overall).
While Membership Rewards is a great program, it is not exclusive to the Amex Green Card. As a matter of fact, all rewards credit cards from American Express share in this benefit. Therefore, the American Express Green Card does not have any standout features which can make it preferable to some of Amex’s other offerings.
American Express Green Card users are given added protection when making purchases using their charge card. American Express offers a one-year extended warranty (on warranties not exceeding 5 years). They will also cover accidental damage or theft of items valued up to $1,000 for up to 90 days after purchase. Features like this are aimed at making consumers less hesitant to make big purchases, as they know they will be covered in case something goes wrong.
Additionally, individuals who like to change their mind after a purchase has been made are guaranteed a return of the merchandise for up to 90 days after they made their initial purchase. If a merchant refuses to take an item back, Amex will refund Green Card users. As opposed to the other two protections offered, however, this one is more limited in value. It applies only to items of up to $300, and is capped at $1,000 per calendar year. This should not be a major deterrent, however, as occurrences where one must take advantage of such an offer should be pretty rare.
The Amex Green Card is a charge card, and as such it requires good to excellent credit to obtain. Based on information available online, the Green Card requires a similar credit score to receive as the better American Express® Gold Card. As we will outline below, this card is a much better option over the lackluster American Express Green Card. For this reason, consumers should never feel as though they need to settle for worse benefits due to their credit score.
When we look at more than just charge cards, there are plenty of other options which can be more attainable for users with fair to good credit scores.
How does the American Express Green Card Compare to other Charge/Credit Cards?
To better understand how much more value is available to consumers who opt for different cards, we present you with comparisons of the Amex Green Card against some leading competitors.