The American Express® Green Card is an entry level American Express® charge card that offers many of the same perks you would find in a more expensive American Express® card. Don’t confuse this as a credit card, because your full balance is due each and every month. I’ll explain some of the intricate similarities and differences between the Green card and the Gold card, which is a slightly more expensive American Express® card.
Overview of the American Express® Green Card
|Rewards Program||Membership Rewards Program|
|Credit Level Required||Good Credit|
|Base Rewards||1 per dollar spent|
|Bonus Spend Categories||2 points per dollar spent on American Express Travel|
|Spend Target Bonus||None|
|Points Expiration and Caps||None|
|Annual Fee||$0 first year, $95 per year afterwards|
|Foreign Transaction Fee||2.7% of each purchase transaction in USD|
|Balance Transfer Fee||Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater|
Charge card vs Credit Card
A charge card looks exactly like a credit card and swipes the same way, but the difference is that the entire balance is due at the end of every month. Charge cards also don’t have a strict credit limit. So while theoretically you can charge as much as you want, American Express® has a “shadow limit” that is based on your FICO® score. An important factor to your FICO® score is utilization. Because charge cards have no specific limit, most credit and insurance credit models will use your “high balance” as a substitute. The impact of the lack of a real credit limit and the model’s reliance on your high balance can negatively affect your credit score especially if you have a young credit report with only a few accounts.
On the upside, its much more difficult to get into serious debt with a charge card because you are severely punished for carrying a balance from one month to the next. In fact, if you carry a balance for more than two billing periods in a row, you will be charged a $35 late fee or 2.99% of the past due amount, whichever is greater. Converting that to an annual interest rate, you’re looking at roughly 36% APR per year or more! We never recommend carrying a balance from one month to the next because the costs quickly outweigh any rewards or benefits a card can provide, especially with the American Express charge cards.
Value of the American Express® Perks and Benefits
This card offers some great benefits as well as access to the American Express® Membership Rewards program. First, let’s start with a breakdown of the benefits.
Extended Warranty Benefit: This benefit comes in handy whenever you buy a product and consider the extended warranty package. Any eligible purchase made with the AmEx Green Card that has an original U.S. manufacturer’s warranty will be doubled by up to one extra year (during that second year, AmEx will cover your losses directly). So say you buy a keyboard with a one year warranty, but it broke after a year and a half. Since American Express® extended the warranty by an additional year, you call up American Express® and they will take care of it for free.
Purchase Protection Benefit: This benefit protects all eligible purchases made with the American Express® Green card for the first ninety days. During that time, if these items are stolen or accidentally damaged, American Express® will repair or reimburse them for you, up to a thousand dollars per claim.
Travel Benefits: There are a few travel benefits that come with this card. They have an emergency assistance hotline that can arrange for legal, medical, or financial help when you’re away from home, wherever you are in the world. The second benefit is travel accident insurance, which covers you if accidental death or dismemberment happens when you travel on a plane, ship, train, or bus and you purchased the full fare with the American Express® card.
Value of American Express® Membership Rewards Points
Membership rewards points can be redeemed for cash, airfare, gift cards and more. The biggest benefit are the extensive 22 airline and hotel transfer partners that utilize American Express® points. To get a better idea of redemption options and associated value, I suggest you check out our post discussing the value of AmEx Membership Rewards Points.
Subtle difference between the Green and the Gold
The Gold card is one tier above the Green and offers very similar benefits for a slightly higher fee per year. On paper, the Green card seems to be the same card minus exclusive access to Gold card events. However, the fine print tells a different story. One of the biggest differences is in the roadside assistance. The Green card requires you to be at least 50 miles away from home to receive roadside assistance while the Gold card has no mileage restrictions. If your current car insurance offers roadside assistance and you don’t care much about exclusive access to concerts, shows, and major sporting events, then the Green card is just a cheaper version of the Gold card that we reviewed earlier last year .
GetDebit’s Final Word on the American Express® Gold Card
The Green card is a staple in American Express® offerings that’s been around since the company began in the 1950’s. When it first came out, it was offering perks and benefits that were unheard of in the industry. Now, many of the other credit card companies as well as American Express® offerings are beating out the value provided by the Green card. While it’s still a solid card, it isn’t spectacular by any means. You should utilize our Card Rank system (on our homepage) to see if this card is the right fit for your lifestyle.
Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by American Express. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of American Express, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express. This site may be compensated through American Express Affiliate Program.