With the lowest annual fee of American Express's Membership Rewards-earning credit cards, the American Express® Green Card doesn't offer the kind of lucrative benefits and bonus categories that you'd get from a Platinum Card® by American Express or an American Express® Gold Card, but it features some unique perks of its own that you won't find on any other card.
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With a $150 annual fee, the Amex Green isn't a low-end credit card, but it's still cheaper than the $250/year Gold and $550/year Platinum. New cardholders can get a 30,000 point welcome bonus after spending just $2,000 on purchases in the first three months, easily the lowest minimum spending requirement of the Amex trifecta.
When you pay with the Amex Green card, you'll earn 3 points per dollar on eligible travel purchases (including mass transit) and dining worldwide. That's a match for the $450/year Chase Sapphire Reserve's bonus earning categories, but with only 1/3 of the annual fee.
We covered Membership Rewards points in more detail on our Amex Platinum review, but to get the most value out of them, you'll want to transfer them strategically to participating airline and hotel loyalty programs like Delta and Marriott. With a little research and some clever use of airline alliance partnerships, you can get returns of over $.02 per point on your bookings, and sometimes quite a bit more.
In addition to fairly standard insurance offerings like lost baggage coverage and rental car coverage, the Amex Green boasts two big perks that we haven't seen on any other card, from American Express or otherwise.
Up To $100 LoungeBuddy Credit
Every calendar year, the first $100 you spend on LoungeBuddy purchases will be credited back to your account. LoungeBuddy is an app that lets you purchase day passes for thousands of airport lounges around the world, and generally speaking, you can expect to pay about $40-$50 per pass.
It's not quite as exciting as a Priority Pass or Centurion Lounge membership with unlimited access, but it can make one or two trips per year a lot more relaxing.
Up To $100 CLEAR Credit
When you use the Amex Green to pay for your CLEAR membership, you'll get $100 credited back to your account every year.
You've probably seen the CLEAR line at airports before, and the company is rapidly expanding into sporting venues as well. By using biometrics to verify your identity rather than an ID card, you can get through security faster. Memberships cost $119 per year for Delta SkyMiles and United MileagePlus members (or less if you have status with either airline), so you'll still have to pay a little bit out of pocket for your membership, but not much.
The Amex Green is the cheapest and easiest way to get into the Membership Rewards ecosystem, which lets you transfer points to a wide variety of airlines and hotel chains worldwide. While its bonus categories aren't as lucrative as the more expensive American Express cards, its CLEAR and LoungeBuddy perks are unique inclusions that make the card a compelling option for travelers.
Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.