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The American Express® Green Card is a good card for traveling and dining out, but it comes with a $150 annual fee. (See rates and fees.) Card members can make up this cost with up to $200 in statement credit offers every year, but paying $150 during your first statement may not be in your budget.
To decide if the $150 annual fee is worth the expense, you’ll want to review the benefits of the card prior to applying. It’s also important to become well-versed in the Green Card’s many perks, so you can maximize the card’s benefits and rewards in order to satisfactorily offset the annual fee every year.
Below, Select breaks down the benefits and credits of the Amex Green card so you can decide if the $150 annual fee is worthwhile.
Information about the American Express® Green Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.
3X Membership Rewards® points on eligible travel, transit and at restaurants worldwide and 1X Membership Rewards® points on all other purchases
30,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $2,000 on eligible purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
Balance transfer fee
Foreign transaction fee
If you want to recoup the $150 annual fee, you won’t need to do much work since there are two statement credit offers that are worth up to $200 each calendar year. Here are the perks:
- Up to $100 per year in CLEAR® membership credits: CLEAR acts similar to TSA PreCheck by allowing you to get through security faster at select airports. It also works at select stadiums nationwide. The $100 credit offsets CLEAR’s annual $179 membership cost.
- Up to $100 per year in LoungeBuddy credits: LoungeBuddy allows you to access any of the airport lounges in its network without a membership, elite status or first class ticket. Simply select an eligible lounge at the airport you’ll be at, then pay the applicable entry fee which starts at $25.
You can more than offset the annual fee every year through these two benefits that are worth $200.
If you don’t plan to maximize these benefits, you’d need to rely on the rewards program to recoup the annual fee. The quickest way to earn $150 in rewards is to spend $5,000 in the 3X categories: eligible travel, transit and restaurants worldwide. Otherwise, you’d need to spend up to $15,000 every year across the 3X categories and on all other eligible spending.
By using the Amex Green card, the average consumer can earn $690 in rewards the first year (thanks to the welcome bonus) and $390 in subsequent years. This takes into consideration the annual fee and uses a sample annual budget provided by location intelligence firm Esri. Read more about our methodology.
The Amex Green card has the lowest annual fee among the other cards in its suite — the American Express® Gold Card and The Platinum Card® from American Express — making it a good choice for travelers and foodies who don’t want to fork over $250 or $550 a year, respectively. (See rates and fees of the Gold card and Platinum card).
You can easily offset the $150 annual fee through the combined up to $200 value of the CLEAR and LoungeBuddy statement credit offers. And even if you don’t plan to take full advantage of those credits, you can spend $5,000 on eligible travel and dining to offset the annual fee.
If you want more food and travel benefits, consider the Amex Gold or Amex Platinum cards. Both of these cards offer more annual statement credit offers and have enhanced rewards programs.
To determine which credit cards offer the best value, Select analyzed popular credit cards available in the U.S. We compared each card on a range of features, including rewards, welcome bonus, introductory and standard APR, balance transfer fee and foreign transaction fees, as well as factors such as required credit and customer reviews when available. We also considered additional perks, the application process and how easy it is for the consumer to redeem points.
Select teamed up with location intelligence firm Esri. The company’s data development team provided the most up-to-date and comprehensive consumer spending data based on the 2019 Consumer Expenditure Surveys from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You can read more about their methodology here.
Esri’s data team created a sample annual budget of approximately $22,126 in retail spending. The budget includes six main categories: groceries ($5,174), gas ($2,218), dining out ($3,675), travel ($2,244), utilities ($4,862) and general purchases ($3,953). General purchases include items such as housekeeping supplies, clothing, personal care products, prescription drugs and vitamins, and other vehicle expenses.
CNBC Select used this budget to estimate how much the average consumer would save over the course of a year, two years and five years, assuming they would attempt to maximize their rewards potential by earning all welcome bonuses offered and using the card for all applicable purchases. All rewards total estimations are net the annual fee.
While the five-year estimates we’ve included are derived from a budget similar to the average American’s spending, you may earn a higher or lower return depending on your shopping habits.
For rates and fees of the American Express® Green Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.