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American Express Green Card Review – Does this old Standby Still Hold Value?

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The American Express Green Card has a long and reputable history. However, though longevity is often a sign of success, the Green Card is now overshadowed by a plethora of other cards, offered by both its own company and other leaders in the industry. This is not to say that this card doesn’t offer some valuable rewards and benefits. Unfortunately, for this old standby, these benefits are now fairly standard in the world of reward cards. With a target base of consumers seeking the option of a charge card over traditional credit card options, and an intro into the American Express Network, it meets its goals in an underwhelming fashion.

A Little History of the American Express Green Card

American Express originated in the 1950’s and the American Express Green Card was one of its original products, introduced in 1958. In its original iteration, it offered unheard of benefits and perks. By the 1980’s, it boasted check cashing at eligible banks and AMEX travel offices, ATM withdrawal features and travel accident insurance worth $100,000. But with the introduction of the company’s many additional premier charge cards with their increasingly impressive rewards, it appears the AMEX Green Card has now found itself at the bottom of the rewards card heap.

Standard Features – Minimum Impact

The American Express Green Card is an entry-level offering by American Express. With respect to the three tier structure of AMEX rewards points system, the Green Card falls in the middle. This allows for a 15,000 point advance, and it allows you to transfer any of your earned points to their hotel and airline loyalty program. The benefits that accompany this card include the following.

Membership Rewards Program – you can transfer points to 17 Frequent Flyer programs and five frequent guest programs. These points are also good for various merchandise and gift cards.

• Pay With Points – earn one point for virtually each dollar you spend with your card.
• Baggage Insurance
• Roadside Assistance
• Car Rental Loss and Damage
• Global Assist Hotline
• Travel Accident insurance
• Entertainment Access
• Extended Warranty
• Purchase Protection
• Return Protection
• Dispute Resolution

The majority of these rewards are fairly standard, with the notable exception of the ability to double your hotel and airline points and to convert them to airline frequent flyer miles.

Budgeting Advantages

The American Express Green Card is a charge card, not a credit card. As most people are aware, this means the card is designed for consumers who do not wish to carry a balance. Therefore, interest rates are typically not a consideration. It’s important to note this, as any cardholder carrying a balance for more than two billing periods will be severely penalized. You will be subjected to a late fee of $35 or 2.99% of your past due amount, whichever is greater. To break it down for you, this converts to an approximate 36% APR, if not more.

A charge card also means you don’t have a preset limit. With no pre-determined spending limit, you are free to use this card as an important budgeting tool for a large majority of your financial outlay. This is a feasible option because approval of your spending is based on things like payment and credit history, spending patterns and financial resources. Therefore, your purchasing is not unchecked.

The benefit of paying with your American Express Green Card, rather than using cash, is the protection and security your charge card offers for your purchases. With features like Return Protection, Dispute Resolution and Extended Warranty, the benefits over cash are fairly obvious. Additionally, the online tools that accompany this card can assist you with your budgeting goals.

Less than Rewarding

Despite the advantages addressed above, there is little else to recommend this offering as a rewards card. This is due to the fact that other American Express cards provide the same budgeting advantages, but with greater rewards. With the American Express Green Card, you receive no cash back. There is no signing promotion, and at the current time, no special offers. Other comparable cards offer all or at least, some of these features. Moreover, the $95 annual fee is a bit high in comparison to the entry-level cards offered by other companies. One bright spot, though, is the current one-year waiver of this annual fee. This allows you to use the card for twelve months to gauge its value without the fee investment.

Travelers Can Do Better

Your card includes access to a Baggage Insurance Plan, which at first blush, sounds pretty tempting, especially with all the additional fees airlines are now charging for luggage. But unfortunately, this plan is more notable for its exceptions, than its inclusions. This insurance addresses both carry-on and checked baggage, with a $500 limit for each covered person, and only $250 for high risk items. Alarmingly, it excludes most of the things thieves would want to steal, like electronics, jewelry, computers, and photographic equipment.

If you prefer to travel by car, you may be tempted by this card’s roadside assistance package and the rental car loss and damage coverage. You’ll probably meet the “50 miles from home” requirement for roadside assistance, but don’t expect to get a lengthy tow. The maximum coverage for this option is $50, and the service is available only one time in a seven day period. You will save on the extra fees car rental companies charge for loss and damage, though.

Final Thoughts

The American Express Green card is not a bad card, but it’s not a great card either. American Express offers many advantages, such as great customer service, rewards points and solid protections for shoppers. But these perks exist with all of their cards, and the comparison to them is not advantageous to the American Express Green Card. If you are looking to get your foot in the door, there are other Membership Rewards charge cards from AMEX that offer more.  But, if after pondering the debatable benefits I have provided, you still believe the American Express Green Card is your best option, and you want a shot at the card’s questionably mediocre offerings, or you have decided to make the leap to one of AMEX’s other card options, visit American Express to compare and apply.

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