Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information and offers.
We’ve been recommending the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card for a while now to anyone who wants to dive into travel rewards cards. The card makes it easy to earn and redeem points with one of the most valuable rewards programs out there. However, the American Express® Green Card can be another great option for points and miles beginners.
The Amex Green Card comes with generous bonus categories and travel benefits. You’ll earn 3 Amex Membership Rewards points per dollar on eligible travel (including transit) and at restaurants worldwide. The card also has two annual travel credits: up to a $189 statement credit toward a Clear Plus membership and up to a $100 statement credit for LoungeBuddy purchases.
New cardholders can now get a welcome bonus of 60,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases on your new card in the first six months of card membership. Plus, you’ll earn 20% back on eligible travel and transit purchases in your first six months of card membership (up to $200 back).
Here’s what makes this card particularly great for points and miles beginners.
High-value bonus categories
The bonus categories of the Amex Green Card are common expenses for almost anyone, not just frequent flyers. The Amex Green Card defines the travel bonus category broadly to include transit, home rental sites like Airbnb, campsites, taxis, ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft, and more. This allows beginners to earn rewards on more than just airfare and hotels, the two travel expenses other Amex cards typically focus on.
The card also provides bonuses for dining out worldwide — including food delivery services.
The Amex Green Card’s bonus categories are comparable to the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s, a premium credit card that also earns 3 points per dollar on travel and dining. However, the Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with a $550 annual fee, while the Amex Green Card only charges a $150 annual fee (see rates and fees). It’s more than the mid-tier Chase Sapphire Preferred charges ($95), but the Sapphire Preferred only earns 2 points per dollar on travel. If you spend enough on travel, you can easily earn enough to offset the Amex Green’s higher fee.
Perks built for beginner travelers
The benefits offered by the Amex Green still don’t compare to The Platinum Card® from American Express or the Chase Sapphire Reserve, but that’s to be expected from a mid-tier card. The two annual travel credits you’ll get with the Amex Green aren’t meant to compete against premium cards that target luxury travelers and frequent flyers. These are benefits that are built for beginners.
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LoungeBuddy is an airport lounge booking and reviews platform that was acquired by Amex in 2019. The $100 credit will most likely get you two passes per year into choice lounges (although you could stretch it out to three or four passes if you only book budget lounges). This isn’t as valuable as a Priority Pass Select membership or the Amex Platinum’s unmatched lounge access, but many beginners don’t travel enough yet to need more comprehensive access. Two passes a year are a great bonus for less-frequent flyers.
The Clear Plus statement credit is something all travelers can appreciate. A Clear Plus membership helps expedite the ID authentication process at participating airports plus select live event venues, and it can be a great companion benefit to TSA PreCheck. There are plenty of cards out there that will cover your TSA PreCheck application fee, but it’s rarer to find a card that covers your Clear Plus membership fee.
Even if you don’t have TSA PreCheck, a Clear Plus membership can still help you shave time off of your wait at airport security.
Membership Rewards is a great program to get started with
At TPG, we are constantly advising readers to keep a diversified portfolio of points, and you have to start somewhere. Amex Membership Rewards is one of the top rewards programs available, offering flexible redemption options, valuable transfer partners and plenty of opportunities to maximize earnings with Amex Offers. TPG values each point at 2 cents, which is only matched by one other major card issuer — Chase.
While this is a great program for beginners, Amex Membership Rewards will become even more valuable as you travel more and maximize transfer partners and bonuses. There are also multiple cards in Amex’s lineup geared to travelers, so you can sign up for complementary cards that also earn Membership Rewards.
The Amex Green Card can be a compelling choice for your first foray into the world of credit card points and miles. With 3 points per dollar on assorted travel purchases and at restaurants worldwide as well as great travel credits and a lucrative new welcome offer, the Amex Green Card may be a great addition to your wallet.
Official application link: Amex Green Card with a welcome bonus of 60,000 bonus points and 20% back on eligible travel and transit purchases made during your first six months of card membership (up to $200 back) after spending $3,000 in the first six months of card membership.
For rates and fees of the Amex Green card, click here.
Additional reporting by Emily Thompson.