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American Express Green Card: Rewards and Perks for Flights

The best way to use your Membership Rewards points are for flights booked through the American Express Travel portal.

The American Express® Green Card* is designed for people who fly regularly but don't have a preferred airline. Amex's Membership Rewards® points program makes this card most effective for redeeming rewards for flights booked through American Express Travel, which is less restrictive than the offerings of most co-branded airline credit cards. The Green Card also features a middling welcome offer and a handful of travel-related credits and features. 

Still, its $150 annual fee is higher than the $95 you'll pay for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, which remains our favorite travel credit card overall due to its rewards program and redemption flexibility.

While the Green Card's reward rates are competitive on first glance, this card is best used to redeem your rewards as flights due to the nature of Amex's Membership Rewards® points.

You earn Membership Rewards points on each of your purchases with the Amex Green Card. This branded currency steers cardholders toward travel redemptions -- rather than more general statement credits -- by offering the highest redemption value for flights booked through American Express's own travel-booking platform, American Express Travel.

Otherwise, this card features a welcome offer and a handful of travel-related credits and protections in case the unexpected happens on a trip. 

In this article

American Express® Green Card

5.75/10 CNET Rating
Card Highlights
Intro OfferEarn 45,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $2,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months
APR19.74% - 26.74% Variable
Intro Purchase APRN/A
Recommended Credit Excellent/Good
Reward Rates
  • 3X Membership Rewards® Points on Restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery.
  • 3X points on transit including trains, buses, ferries, subway, and more.
  • 3X points on travel including airfare, hotels, cruises, tours, car rentals, and more.
  • 1X points on other purchases
Annual Fee$150
Additional Details
Late Payment Fee Up to $40
Foreign Transaction Fees None
Penalty APR See Rates & Fees
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • 3X Membership Rewards® Points on Restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery.
  • 3X points on transit including trains, buses, ferries, subway, and more.
  • 3X points on travel including airfare, hotels, cruises, tours, car rentals, and more.
  • 1X points on other purchases

Rewards and redemption

The key to this rewards program is in the redemption: you can maximize the impact of your Membership Rewards by booking flights through American Express Travel. Though you can redeem points for statement credits and other types of rewards, you'll get less value.  Check out the chart for a breakdown of how point values stack up. 

Membership Rewards Points values for Amex Green Card

Redemption method Value
Statement credit 1 point = 0.6 cents
Amazon (pay with points at checkout) 1 point = 0.7 cents
Flights (booked through American Express Travel) 1 point = 1 cent
Prepaid rental cars (booked through American Express Travel) 1 point = 0.7 cents
Prepaid hotels (booked through American Express Travel) 1 point = 0.7 cents
Gift cards 1 point = up to 1 cent

So, a 3x rewards rate would net a 3% return if you're using your points for flights booked through American Express Travel (amextravel.com); a 2.1% return on prepaid rental cars and hotels booked through American Express Travel; and 1.8% return as a statement credit.

With the Amex Green Card, you earn 3x Membership Rewards points for restaurants, transit and travel, and 1x points on other purchases. 

Transit includes trains, taxicabs, rideshare services, ferries, tolls, parking, buses, and subways. 

Travel includes airfare, hotels, cruises, tours, car rentals, campgrounds, travel purchases on third party travel websites, and travel purchases on amextravel.com.

Welcome offer

You can earn 45,000 Membership Rewards points if you spend $2,000 in the first six months of having the Amex Green Card. While competitors may offer a higher net bonus, the spending threshold to unlock this welcome offer is relatively low -- and you have a particularly long time to reach it. 

Again, this card incentivizes redeeming rewards for flights. If you redeem your welcome offer for flights booked through American Express Travel, it's worth $450. If you opt for a more general redemption with a statement credit, the welcome offer is worth only $270.

Travel benefits

While many premium travel cards offer credits for either TSA Precheck or Global Entry, the Amex Green Card offers up to a $189 credit for CLEAR® each calendar year, a program that expedites members through security screenings at select airports.

You can also take advantage of up to a $100 credit for airport lounge access each year. You have to book airport lounge access through LoungeBuddy, an airport lounge network, with your Amex Green Card to earn this credit.

Otherwise, this card offers a fairly standard assortment of travel features. It does not charge foreign transactions fees, so you can use it abroad without paying the 3% fee some cards charge for overseas transactions. And it includes trip delay insurance**, car rental loss and damage insurance** and a baggage insurance plan**.

Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

Alternative cards

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

While the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card also encourages cardholders to use its own travel booking platform, Chase Ultimate Rewards, it also gives them alternative paths.

The annual fee is $95. You earn 5x points on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 2x points on all other travel, and 3x points on a handful of other categories. The points are worth 1 cent when redeemed for statement credits -- significantly more than Membership Rewards points. And if you choose to redeem your points for travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards, you'll get a 25% boost, for 1.25 cents per point.

Citi Premier® Card

The Citi Premier® Card is a good alternative if you want your travel credit card to be more well-rounded. This card offers the same flagship rate on some everyday bonus categories -- 3x ThankYou® Points -- including supermarkets, gas stations, restaurants, airfare and hotels. ThankYou® Points are worth 1 cent when you redeem for gift cards or if you redeem them for statement credits specifically through thankyou.com, and you don't have to restrict yourself to booking through an issuer portal.

The welcome bonus is much more competitive, too. In fact, the Citi Premier tops CNET's picks for the best welcome bonus credit cards.

For more information about the welcome bonus and other features, see our full review of the Citi Premier Card.

FAQs

How does the Clear program work?

Clear registers your face or fingerprints as your identification for faster processing through airport security. Select airports offer designated lanes for Clear customers, where they are led to the front of the physical screening line after they are scanned in. For more information, see our analysis on the differences between Clear, TSA Precheck and Global Entry.

How can I tell if the annual fee is worth it?

You'll want to compare your own spending habits to a card's benefits. Superimpose the rewards rates on your own budget and look into the fine print of the card perks you might use before determining if an annual fee is worth it. For some examples, see our breakdown on how to tell if a credit card's annual fee is worth it.

How does booking through Amex Travel work?

Amex Travel works similarly to any other third-party booking platform, such as Priceline or Expedia. You can search destinations and dates for flights, hotels, rental cars and cruises. You can book with your credit card or you can pay directly with your Membership Rewards points through your Amex Green Card.

*All information about the American Express Green Card has been collected independently by CNET and has not been reviewed by the issuer

**Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions, and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by Amex Assurance Company.

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