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American Express has relaunched the American Express® Green Card with an overhauled earning structure and unique new benefits. Updates include earning 3X points on travel and restaurants and annual statement credits for LoungeBuddy purchases and CLEAR memberships. The annual fee has bee updated from $95 to $150 per year. (Terms Apply - Rates & Fees)
For folks locked out of Chase cards courtesy of the 5/24 policy, the refreshed Green from Amex is an opportunity to earn the same 3x points on travel and dining purchases as the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, without having to navigate Chase's draconian application rules.
- Receive up to $100 in statement credits towards any eligible purchase made directly with Away in your first 3 months. Offer ends 1/15/2020.
- Plus, 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.
- Receive up to $100 in statement credits per year on your LoungeBuddy purchases. 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.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $150 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- Rates & Fees
American Express® Green Card Signup Bonus – 30,000 Points
The welcome bonus on the Green from Amex is a two-part offer consisting of traditional points bonus, plus a statement credit for Away, a boutique travel brand producing luggage and travel accessories.
New cardmembers earn 30,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $2,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Receive up to $100 in statement credits towards any eligible purchase made directly with Away in your first 3 months. Offer ends 1/15/2020.
Membership Rewards are one of our favorite flexible rewards currencies. You can transfer points to an extensive list of American Express travel partners, including Delta, British Airways, Singapore Airlines, and ANA, plus take advantage of multiple transfer bonuses on offer from Amex each year.
Note: Several readers have reported that there may be a higher welcome bonus if you are referred by a friend. There are also some reports that folks are seeing a higher targeted offer by applying directly through the Amex website in incognito (private browser) mode. We haven't been able to personally verify the higher offers, but it's worth taking a look before you apply.
Earning Potential and Bonus Categories
One of the most significant changes to the Green from Amex is the new bonus categories, which we see as a clear shot across the bow of the Sapphire Reserve. The Green from Amex now earns 3X Membership Rewards® points on all eligible travel, plus 3X Membership Rewards® points at restaurants worldwide.
Unlike many Amex cards, which only earn bonus points on airfare purchased directly with the airline or amextravel.com. The travel category on the Green from Amex covers airfare, hotels, cruises, car rentals, campgrounds, trains, taxicabs, rideshare services, tours, ferries, tolls, parking, buses, subways, third party travel websites, and amextravel.com purchases.
Likewise, the restaurant category is not restricted to U.S. purchases. Instead, it covers dining worldwide, although you won’t receive bonus points on purchases from bars, nightclubs, cafeterias, and convenience stores.
American Express® Green Card Feature Benefits
The Green from Amex provides two standout feature benefits, both providing tangible value for cardholders.
$100 Annual CLEAR Credit
A unique benefit for an entry-level card, Green from Amex cardholders receive an annual $100 statement credit towards the cost of a CLEAR membership. Unlike Global Entry or TSA PreCheck memberships, which renew every five years, CLEAR memberships renew every year, so this credit has the potential to return the full face value of $100 every year.
If you’re not familiar with CLEAR, it’s a biometric ID program that replaces traditional ID documentation and provides an expedited path through security screening lines at 60+ airports, stadiums, and other venues nationwide. A CLEAR membership will typically set you back $179 per year, but thanks to recent partnerships with Delta SkyMiles & United MileagePlus, it's possible to reduce the cost by at least $60.
- Delta & United frequent flyers without elite status: $119
- Delta & United mid-tier status holders: $109
- Delta Diamond, United 1K, and United Global Services: Free
- Family Plan: add up to 3 family members for $50 each
If you are a member of United MileagePlus or Delta SkyMiles (both free to join), you can get CLEAR for $119 per year, leaving you with a cost of only $19 out-of-pocket after the Green from Amex statement credit. (Lower-tier elites get a further $10 discount for a total cost of $9 per year after the Amex credit) If you get a complimentary CLEAR membership courtesy of having top-tier status with Delta or United, you can use the credit to cover up to two family members which cost an additional $50 each when added to an existing membership.
While there are more than a dozen rewards cards that offer a statement credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓, Green from Amex is the first card that helps cover the cost of CLEAR, which is a nice point of differentiation. For folks who already have Global Entry or TSA Pre✓, the value of adding clear will depend on your home airport. In some locations, PreCheck lines can be as long as the regular security line, so having CLEAR as an option can still save significant time.
It's also worth noting that CLEAR membership fees are charged each year while TSA Pre✓ only needs to be renewed once every five years. If you're comparing the Green from Amex CLEAR benefit with cards offering a Global Entry/TSA credit, you'll be getting $500 in credit towards CLEAR over a five year period compared with a $100 credit for TSA Pre✓ from most rewards cards offering that benefit.
$100 Annual LoungeBuddy Credit
Initially, this perk didn't jump out at us as holding a lot of value if you already receive lounge access thanks to other cards. But, on further thought, the LoungeBuddy credit could be a genuine get-out-of-jail-free card for a lot of folks, particularly when flying domestically.
If you currently hold a Priority Pass membership from a premium travel card, you can access hundreds of lounges all over the world. However, there are some significant gaps in Priority Pass coverage domestically, and some lounges are time and/or capacity restricted, leaving you out in the terminal to fend for yourself. The LoungeBuddy app provides access to many of these lounges for ~$40, plus you can also gain access to plenty of airline lounges like United Club, Delta Sky Club, and Lufthansa Business Lounge for ~$60.
If you’re caught at an airport without a convenient Priority Pass option, you'll have 2-3 lounge entry credits available to access other lounges, without the out-of-pocket expense.
If you can maximize both the CLEAR and LoungeBuddy credits, or even come close to getting face value, you offset the annual cost of holding the card over the long term.
Additional Card Benefits
Outside of the feature benefits listed above, the Green from Amex doesn’t come with the long list of benefits offered by other travel cards in the same class. Rather than the long list of travel protection benefits offered on cards like the Sapphire Reserve, the Green from Amex only provides car rental loss and damage insurance (secondary), and baggage protection.
Application Restrictions and Strategy
For folks that have held this card in the past, whether you received a welcome bonus or not, you won’t be eligible for the introductory offer on the revamped Green from Amex.
Welcome offer not available to applicants who have or have had this Card or previous versions of the American Express® Green Card. We may also consider the number of American Express Cards you have opened and closed as well as other factors in making a decision on your welcome offer eligibility.
In addition to the standard American Express application rules, you also need to be aware of other rules for Amex cards.
- You can hold a maximum 5 American Express credit cards (doesn’t include charge cards)
- You will be approved for a maximum of 2 Amex credit cards in 90 days
We see massive value in pairing the Green from Amex with other Amex cards like the The Platinum Card® from American Express, matching the premium benefits and lounge access with the complimentary bonus categories and perks of the Green from Amex.
Interestingly, the new Green from Amex is no longer an outright charge card. Instead, bridging the gap between charge and credit card as a new kind of hybrid credit card, without a preset spending limit. When queried about the new setup, Amex responded:
“Green from Amex is a credit card on which Card Members have no preset spending limit and can pay in full or carry a balance with interest on eligible charges, up to the Pay Over Time limit. The amount the Card Member spends above their Pay Over Time limit is included in full in their minimum due each month.”
Although there are limited data points available now, it's probably safe to assume Green from Amex will be treated as a credit card—meaning that folks with five or more Amex credit cards will need to close one of their other accounts in order to be approved for a new account.
Amex has done a great job with the refreshed American Express® Green Card, designing an entry-level card that competes with premium cards like the Sapphire Reserve, provides unique travel credits not found on other cards, and isn’t subject to the oppressive application rules in place with other card issuers. If you are locked out of applying for Chase cards due to 5/24, the Green from Amex is now a viable alternative to earn 3x points on travel and dining expenses.
For rates and fees of the cards mentioned in this post, please visit the following links: American Express® Green Card (Rates & Fees)
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