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Amex Retools Green Card with CLEAR & Away Bag Credits, More Benefits

Amex Green Card

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American Express relaunched its longstanding Green Card with a handful of new perks including a limited-time welcome offer bonus of 30,000 points and a $100 credit to use on purchases at Away Luggage, both of which are available only through Jan. 15, 2020.

This new set of perks doesn’t come as a huge surprise, as rumors of the card refresh have been swirling for almost a year. And while it also comes with an increased annual fee, there are plenty of other perks to consider.

Keep reading for our breakdown of the new American Express Green Card.

 

Amex Green Card

 

Click Here to learn more about the American Express Green Card. 

 

New Welcome Offer Bonus

As a part of the card refresh, American Express is now offering a welcome offer bonus of 30,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $2,000 in the first three months of card membership. On top of that, you will also get a $100 credit to use on luggage purchases at Away.com, one of our personal favorite luggage brands.

 

 

But as mentioned above, both offers will end on Jan. 15, 2020, and it isn’t yet clear how the welcome offer will be updated at that time.

 

$100 Credit Towards a CLEAR Membership

Perhaps the most intriguing new benefit of the American Express Green Card is it will now provide cardmembers with an annual $100 credit for CLEAR airport security to help offset the cost of program membership.

 

CLEAR airport locations

Image courtesy of CLEAR

 

It won’t quite cover the full cost of membership, but it’s the first travel rewards credit card to offer any sort of cost savings for CLEAR. Program membership doesn’t come cheap at $179 per year, but there are easy ways to drastically cut that cost.

All Delta SkyMiles members can enroll in CLEAR for just $119. So even if you’re not flying Delta, you can quickly sign up for a SkyMiles account to capitalize on this lower cost. But if you’ve got status with Delta or hold one of the co-branded Delta SkyMiles American Express credit cards, that price drops to $109 each year.

United recently partnered up with CLEAR to offer similar pricing to its own members.

 

 

And American Express has confirmed that you will be able to combine the American Express Green Card credit with the discounted rates for both United and Delta frequent flyer program members. That means, it is possible to get a CLEAR membership for only $9 a year after applying your credit. 

Thrifty Tip #1: See our guide on which airports currently offer CLEAR service.

Thrifty Tip #2: CLEAR is great if you travel enough to justify the cost. See our guide to help you make that decision.

 

$100 Credit to Lounge Buddy (Airport Lounge Access)

The Amex Green card will also start offering an annual $100 credit to use on Lounge Buddy, a Priority Pass competitor. Lounge Buddy offers single-use airport lounge access passes starting at just $25 each. That means, the credit can get you into lounges up to four times each year at no additional cost. That makes it a decent option if you don’t have any airport lounge access from another card, like the Platinum Card from American Express.

 

 

This benefit doesn’t come as a huge surprise as American Express acquired Lounge Buddy earlier this year. It is likely we will see more Lounge Buddy integration with American Express cards in the near future.

 

Earn 3x Points on Travel and Dining

Another big improvement coming to the Amex Green Card is it will now earn 3x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on all travel and dining purchases. Previously, the card didn’t offer any category spending bonuses.

This fills a bit of a void for Amex as they don’t currently have a Membership Rewards-earning card that offers a category bonus on non-airfare travel. So while the Platinum Card from American Express earns 5x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on flights booked directly with the airline, and the American Express Gold Card earns 3x Membership Rewards points on the same categories, neither of them offers bonus points for other travel categories like hotels or Uber, for example.

 

Amex Green Card

Photo courtesy of American Express

 

And according to American Express, plenty of purchases will qualify for 3x points per dollar on the Green Card: flights, rideshare services, hotels, cruises, car rentals, trains, taxi cabs, parking, buses, subways, ferries, and tolls. Gas will not be included in this bonus category. 

And while you would be better off using the American Express Gold Card for dining purchases as it earns 4x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent, 3x per dollar on the Green Card is a fantastic improvement and makes it a legitimate contender for the best cards to use when dining out. You’ll earn 3x points per dollar both in the U.S. and abroad.

 

The Amex Green Card is Now Made from 70% Reclaimed Plastic

The New Green Cards are garbage. No joke.

As part of a new partnership with Parley for the Oceans, Amex will be making the Green Cards from plastic reclaimed from beaches, islands, and coastal communities. American Express will also be launching a credit card recycling program to help its customers dispose of older cards responsibly. This is set to launch sometime early next year.

And while it is nice to see Amex doing something to eliminate plastic waste, the organization could likely have a much larger impact eliminating the mass amounts of snail mail sent through the U.S. Postal Service each and every year that mostly finds its way into a landfill.

 

New Annual Fee of $150 

The Annual Fee on the Green Card will increase from its current $95 to $150 per year. This puts it below both the Platinum ($550) and Gold ($250) cards in terms of out of pocket costs each year.

Based on the new benefits being provided,  that seems fair. It puts this card in a good position to compete with both the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve travel cards.

 

Amex Green Card Application Restrictions 

American Express allows you to earn the welcome bonus on each of their cards once per lifetime. So as long as you haven’t had the Amex Green Card in the past, you should be eligible to apply.

On top of that, Amex allows you to have around five or six credit cards and a similar amount of charge cards. The Amex Green Card is considered a charge card (Along with the non-Delta Platinum and Gold cards) which means the balance on the card must be paid in full each month. You will not have the option of carrying a balance, which we don’t recommend anyway.

This means that even if you already have a handful of American Express cards, you should still be able to get approved for the Green Card and earn the welcome bonus offer as long as you haven’t had the card before.

Thrifty Tip #3: Not sure if you are eligible? Check out our post on the Amex Welcome Offer Eligibility Tool.

 

Our Analysis

This is a solid improvement to the American Express Green Card, which previously gave consumers few reasons to hang on to it.

The card becomes the first to offer any sort of reimbursement credit for CLEAR membership and fills a void for Amex in terms of giving travelers a way to earn more points on non-flight travel purchases like hotels, rideshare, cruises, etc.

I would love to know more information from Amex in terms of who their target customer is for the new Green Card. Based on their current offerings with the Gold Card and the Platinum Card, this card would appear to lean towards the more leisure traveler side of the equation.

The $150 annual fee puts Amex in a much better position to compete with Chase’s Sapphire Preferred Card, though I think they fall far short on the welcome bonus compared to the 60,000 Ultimate Rewards Points the Preferred Card offers.

At the end of the day, American Express Membership Rewards is one of our favorite points programs and the new Green Card provides another opportunity to earn them.

 

Full Benefits of the American Express Green Card

  • Receive 30,000 Membership Rewards Points after spending $2,000 within the first three months of card membership. Limited-time offer expires Jan. 15, 2020. 
  • A $100 credit to use for purchases at Away.com. Limited-time offer expires Jan. 15, 2020. 
  • 3x points per dollar spent on all travel and dining expenses.
  • $100 credit towards CLEAR membership each year. 
  • $100 credit for Lounge Buddy each year. Purchase airport lounge access starting at just $25
  • $150 annual fee

 

 

Click Here to learn more about the American Express Green Card.

 

Bottom Line

Kudos to Amex for drastically improving the Amex Green Card. It’s a much more competitive option than it was before.

And when banks compete for a share of our wallets by offering more points and benefits, consumers win. The new welcome offer bonus on this card will expire on Jan. 15, 2020, so don’t wait long to take advantage.

 

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Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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