I’ve Stopped Giving Sharon Grief About Keeping Her AMEX Green Card

by joeheg

One of the things I’ve given Sharon a hard time about since I started collecting points and miles was her insistence on keeping her American Express Green Card. No matter what, it always had a place in her wallet. Her argument about knowing her number by heart wasn’t enough of a reason for me to keep a card with an annual fee that gave us no benefits. The only reason I didn’t push the issue was that it’s her card with the longest credit history. Not that she couldn’t take the hit to her credit score, This is the woman who, for two months, maxed out her FICO score.

Since American Express refreshed the Green Card, I’m happy we kept it and immediately took advantage of the new benefits.

American Express Green Card

Annual Fee – $150 per year

Sign Up Benefits – With our referral link, AMEX is offering a sign-up bonus of 40,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $2,000 in purchases for the first six months. If you use our referral link, We do get a referral bonus of Membership Rewards points.

Spending Bonus Categories – The Green Card earns three Membership Rewards points per dollar on eligible travel and transit purchases including airfare, hotels, cruises, tours, car rentals, campgrounds, third-party travel websites, and travel purchases on amextravel.com.

The card also earns three Membership Rewards points for each dollar charged at restaurants worldwide. Per AMEX’s terms,

You may not earn additional points for purchases at a restaurant located within another establishment (e.g. a restaurant inside a hotel, casino, or event venue) or for purchases made through third-party food delivery services outside of the U.S. For example, purchases made at a restaurant located within a hotel may be recognized as a purchase at a hotel, not a restaurant. You also will NOT earn additional points for purchases at bars, nightclubs, cafeterias, and convenience stores.

No Foreign Transaction Fees – As you hope for a card with bonus points for restaurant and travel expenses worldwide, the Green Card does not charge any foreign transaction fees.

Credits – To offset the annual fee, American Express offers several ways to get back money through statement credits. They really offer some unique credits that differentiate the card from their other cards and cards from other banks.

  • You receive up to $189 per calendar year in statement credits when you pay for your CLEAR membership with the American Express Green Card. This pays the CLEAR fee each year since anyone can get a membership for $119 or less. You can also add three additional adults to your account for an extra $50.
  • You can earn up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year when you use the American Express Green Card to purchase lounge access directly from LoungeBuddy through the LoungeBuddy website or LoungeBuddy app. This is directly related to American Express’ purchase of LoungeBuddy in 2019.

Membership Rewards – With the American Express Green Card, you’ll earn points in AMEX’s transferrable points program, Membership Rewards.

While there are many uses for Membership Rewards, the best one is transferring points to one of AMEX’s travel partners.

Airline Programs

  • Are Lingus Aerclub
  • Aeromexico Club Premier
  • Air Canada Aeroplan
  • Air France / KLM Flying Blue
  • ANA Mileage Club
  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
  • Avianca LifeMiles
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Delta SkyMiles
  • Emirates Skywards
  • Etihad Guest Miles
  • Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles
  • Iberia Plus Miles
  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer
  • Singapore KrisFlyer Miles
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Hotel Programs

  • Choice Privileges Rewards
  • Hilton Honors
  • Marriot Bonvoy

I used Membership Rewards to help us book our $25,000 trip to Australia and Japan and the best award trip I ever booked (for someone else).

Final Thoughts

The American Express Green Card had been overlooked for over a decade but now it’s a significant player. The bonus categories for travel and restaurant spending rival that of the Chase Sapphire Reserve. That card still has benefits the Green Card lacks like primary car rental coverage and a $450 annual fee.

I’m not saying that this card will replace that one in my wallet. However, it shakes the marketplace when an entry-level card earns as many points as a premium card for the same purchases. I’d even say that I find Membership Rewards more valuable for the average traveler than the popular Ultimate Rewards.

Most of our tolls and transit spending goes on this card. I keep airfare and car rental charges on the Sapphire Reserve because of the better insurance coverage that the card provides.

(Note from Sharon: And I get to keep my green card without grief anymore!)

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