Executive Summary -
The original charge card from American Express that was introduced in 1958. This is the most basic version of their family of charge cards based on their Membership Rewards program. Great starter card for those who are new to Amex.
Introduction - The American Express Green Card was the original Amex charge card that was introduced way back in 1958. Since then, new versions like the Gold and Platinum versions have been introduced. This card is synonymous with their ad slogan "don't leave home without it"!
A Word On The Card Design - It is hard to believe that Amex has stuck with this basic design for ages. But in my opinion, this is one of their best credit card designs and it is really timeless. It does not have the flashiness of a typical "gold colored" card or the "shiny silvery" color of many "platinum cards". I just love the look of this card.
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Annual Fee and APR - Being a charge card, this card has an annual fee of $95, which is waived for the first year. You can get up to five additional cards for $35 a year. You also have to pay your bills in full every month. That means that there is no APR for this card (many folks are always asking: what is the APR of the American Express Green Card?).
How Do You Earn Points? - This card allows you to earn one reward point for every dollar that you spend on the card. If you book your travels with American Express online travel portal, you will earn double points. Amex also has an online shopping portal call bonus shopping mall where you can earn up to ten points per dollar if you buy products from their. You can also earn unlimited points (which do not expire). When this card first came out (and in fact for many years), the fact that Membership Rewards had no expiration date was a big deal because most other credit card reward programs had expiration dates. More importantly, Membership Rewards has a couple of advantages over other programs.
Membership Rewards - For a long time, the American Express Membership Rewards program was the gold standard in credit card reward programs. Though others are catching up, it is still one of the best out there. The reason is that it is one of three programs (the other two being the Chase Ultimate Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest) that allows you to transfer points to their airline partners (mostly for a one for one ratio). You can also transfer points to hotel partners. All these three programs have different airline partners and so if you are a frequent flyer, ti pays to check out the partners for the three different programs.
Green or Gold Charge Card? - If you are considering this card, one of the questions you might be asking yourself is if you should get the Gold version instead. In terms of rewards program, the Green and the Gold card are essentially identical. With the Gold version, you also get to earn one point per dollar and get the same reward program. But the extra feature that the Gold card has is the "Gold Card Events". Gold Card Events are events that American Express sponsors (concerts etc). And Amex reserves some very good seats for its Gold Card (or Platinum Card) members which will be released to members before the public. If you are a regular concert goer, the Gold version might suit you better.
Amex also has the Premier Rewards Gold Card, which gives you three points for every dollar that you spend on travel and double points for groceries and gasoline. If you are a true frequent traveler, this may be the better choice. If earning points is important to you, then this would be the version I would consider.
Green or Zync? - While some of you might be considering this card because of its' travel rewards, this card is also known to be one of the "easier Amex cards to get". You read a lot about this in credit forums. Folks who have had to rebuild their credit and want to get an American Express card would consider the Green card to start. Another Amex card that folks like that tend to consider is the Amex Zync, which is targeted at young people who do not have a long credit history. It is also a charge card, but with a lower annual fee ($25). You can also earn more than one point per dollar on expense items you select. The reward program is based on the Membership Rewards Express program, which is the lowest tier in the MR program. That means you cannot transfer points to their frequent flyer programs. If travel is not your thing and if you just want to get an Amex starter card, perhaps the Zync might be a better alternative.
Is the American Express Green Card Good? - Well, whether you think this is a good card for you or not will depend on what are your needs. If all you are looking for is a starter Amex card, then this would not be a bad choice at all. If you are a frequent traveler, then perhaps you should also consider other versions of this card like the Premier Rewards Gold card, where you could earn more points for travel.
This would also be a good choice if you are working for a company that already issues you an American Express Corporate Card that allows you to accumulate Membership Reward points. You could then get this card, link the your MR accounts together and really boost the points you can earn.
And if you do get this card, Amex would say: "Don't leave home without it!"