American Express offers some of the best travel rewards cards available. As times change, so do cards, and American Express makes sure to keep their cards relevant for the end user. In 2018, American Express made some big changes to the American Express Gold Card making it a great card for the everyday user. Last year, Amex shifted focus to the American Express Green Card which revitalized its relevance. We’ve just seen some new changes to the Gold Card, helping it bring more value to the user yet again.

With these changes, both cards went from being second thoughts to more relevant than ever. That can make it a tough choice when deciding which one to get. That’s where we come in.

In this series, we take two cards that offer competing value to the consumer and directly compare them to help you make a decision based on what matters to you the most.

Let’s take a deep dive into the costs and benefits you’ll get from both cards to help you choose the right card for you.

If you’re looking for the biggest rewards, the bonus with the Amex Gold Card will most always be a better choice.

Welcome Bonuses

When choosing a new card, the first thing many of us look at is the welcome bonus.

The Amex Gold Card has a bonus ranging between 35,000 to 65,000 points, although it has been a while since 65,000 points have been offered. Currently, you can get 60,000 points as the updated standard bonus.

The American Express Green Card isn’t quite as generous. The card’s an all-time high welcome bonus is 30,000 points with a minimum spend of $2,000.

These are fairly close, but the edge goes to the Amex Gold Card. The lowest bonus available on it is higher than the best bonus on the Green Card. If you’re purely after the welcome bonus, the Amex Gold Card is the clear winner. Just be sure to hold out for a 50,000+ point welcome bonus.

Annual Fee

Although there isn’t a huge difference between the annual fees, it is worth mentioning that the American Express Gold Card costs $250 per year, which is $100 more than the Amex Green Card which costs $150 per year.

If you’re looking at just the welcome bonus, you’ll easily make up the extra $100. If you’re looking for a card to keep long term, it may be a different story. If you want a card to keep long term, you’ll want to compare the bonus categories and other benefits to decide which card will bring you the most value.

If you’re looking for a solid everyday card, the Amex Gold Card wins out again. Earning 4X at restaurants and supermarkets is a great way to build up your Membership Rewards Balance.

Bonus Categories

For most people, bonus categories don’t matter too much. Both the American Express Gold Card and American Express Green Card offer some great bonus categories. These bonus categories make both cards good options to keep long term.

restaurant purchase

Restaurants

Both cards offer bonus points at restaurants. The Amex Gold Card earns 4X Membership Rewards per dollar at restaurants while the Amex Green Card earns 3X Membership Rewards.

If you’re choosing a card to get you the best return possible at restaurants, then it isn’t quite as simple as picking the one with the higher earnings rate. You’ll need to consider the annual fee and determine if you can make up the difference.

Since you can redeem Membership Rewards as a statement credit at a rate of 1 cent each, let’s use that as a minimum value. To make up the $100 annual fee difference between the Gold Card and the Green Card, you’d need to spend  an additional $10,000 at restaurants every year.

Unless you spend a lot of money at restaurants every year, the Green Card is the clear winner if you’re seeking a long-term card for restaurant spend.

travel perks using credit card

Hot Tip

However, if you’re looking for the best card to earn travel rewards with good travel protections while avoiding the higher fees of premium cards, the Amex Green Card is calling your name.

Travel

When it comes to travel, both cards offer bonus spend but with an important difference.
The Amex Green Card earns 3X on all travel including flights, hotels, general transit, taxis, tours, and rideshares. This is a great earning rate for a card only costing $150. Many cards that offer 3X on all travel are premium cards with much higher annual fees.

Meanwhile, the Amex Gold only earns 3X points on flights purchased directly with airlines or booked through American Express Travel.

When it comes to rewards earned on travel, the Amex Green Card is easily the preferred card. You’ll earn 3X on all your travel, whether it is booked through American Express or not.

earning-points-from-grocery-and-supermarkets

Supermarkets

Supermarkets are increasingly becoming a bonus category on many cards. Having the right card in your wallet for supermarkets can really boost your points earning potential.

The Amex Gold Card earns 4X at U.S. supermarkets on the first $25,000 you spend every year. Meanwhile, the Green Card doesn’t earn any bonus points at supermarkets, so you’ll only earn 1X on supermarket purchases.

The Amex Gold Card easily wins this category, but taking everything into consideration could mean it deserves a permanent spot in your wallet. The $100 higher annual fee is easily covered at supermarkets if you spent $2,500 a year at the grocery store. Many families will easily spend this much, making the Gold Card a real winner for grocery store purchases.

Credits

The benefits run deep on both these cards, beyond just the welcome bonus and category bonuses you’ll receive some credits with each card.

American Express Gold Card Credits

The Amex Gold Card offers a $120 dining credit. The dining credit is spread out as $10 every month. You can use the dining credit with food delivery services GrubHub and Seamless, as well as at select restaurants including The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, Boxed, and select Shake Shack locations.

You’ll also be eligible for up to $10 a month in Uber Cash. You can use this for rides or for Uber Eats. Simply add your Gold Card to your Uber account and you’ll see it every month. The Uber credit is use it or lose it, but you can get up to $120 a year from it.

In total, you get $240 in credits for a $250 annual fee. That’s an almost even trade helping to make the value of the Gold Card even better.

American Express Green Card

The Amex Green Card also comes with two credits. First is a $100 credit towards Clear. Clear is similar to TSA Pre-Check, except they have an expedited line to get you through security fast.

Typically, Clear costs $15 a month, or $180 a year. While the credit doesn’t fully cover the costs, there’s plenty of ways to get the cost down lower. The easiest way is to simply join United MileagePlus. United MileagePlus members get discounts with Clear.

Just being a United MileagePlus member gets you a discounted price of $119 a year. If you have a United Credit Card, or you have United Silver, Gold or Platinum status, the price drops to $109 a year. For very frequent United travelers with Premier 1K you get Clear for free which means the credit really doesn’t have too much value. This means at most you should only be paying about $20 a year out of pocket for a Clear membership after using the credit.

In addition to the Clear credit, the Amex Green Card offers $100 a year credit for LoungeBuddy. LoungeBuddy is a pay-per-use lounge system that has 26 locations in the US currently, and many more worldwide.

Many of the lounges also have access from Priority Pass. Many credit cards issue Priority Pass membership. Since you can access most of the same lounges as you can with LoungeBuddy, this credit likely isn’t as useful for most people.

In total you get $200 in credits for $150 in an annual fee. However, if you already have lounge access from a credit card that offers priority pass, the LoungeBuddy credit really isn’t as valuable.

Choosing based on credits all comes down to your needs. If you don’t have a Priority Pass, there’s more value to be gained from the Amex Green Card. If you do have a priority pass membership from another card, then the credits from the Amex Gold Card will likely be more beneficial.

Foreign Transaction Fees

If you’re traveling overseas often, it is important to have a card with no foreign transaction fees. Both the American Express Gold Card and the American Express Green Card have no foreign transaction fees.

When travelling, most of your expenses will likely be on transportation and food. Because both cards have no foreign transaction fees, it depends on what you do the most when traveling.

For travelers who like to stay at a resort, you’ll get more benefit from the Amex Green Card since the hotel bill should earn 3X Membership Rewards. If, instead, you like to go out and about and eat at local restaurants, you’ll be earning 4X Membership Rewards with the Amex Gold Card.

Insurance

If you’re booking any travel with either card, you want to be sure to have adequate insurance protections. Neither the American Express Gold Card nor the Amex Green Card includes trip cancellation and interruption insurance. Both cards include rental car insurance and baggage insurance.

rental car insurance

Rental Car Insurance

With both cards, you’ll get rental car insurance when you pay for the entire rental with your Amex Gold or Green Card. The insurance provided is the same on both cards.

Rental car insurance on both cards is secondary insurance. This means that it applies after any other insurance, including your personal insurance plan. If there is any theft or damage, coverage is up to $50,000.

If you’re going to be renting a car, the Amex Green Card is the best option since you’ll get rental car insurance and 3X points versus just 1 point on the Gold card.

baggage delay insurance

Baggage Insurance

You’re eligible to receive baggage insurance with both cards when you use either to purchase your entire airfare with the card. You can receive up to $1,250 for carry-on bags and up to $500 for checked bags if your luggage is damaged, stolen, or lost.

Booking tickets with a credit card that offers baggage insurance can be critical if you end up at your destination with no bags. Weston took advantage of his baggage insurance when he ended up in Rome while his bags were still in Philadelphia.

If baggage insurance matters a lot to you, it is virtually a toss-up. The Amex Green Card edges out, since you’ll get baggage insurance and 3X points on any type of travel you book: plane, train, or car.

Conclusion

When choosing the American Express Green Card or American Express Gold Card, a great case can be made for either one. If you’re looking for the biggest rewards, the bonus with the Amex Gold Card will most always be a better choice.

If you’re looking for a solid everyday card, the Amex Gold Card wins out again. Earning 4X at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets is a great way to build up your Membership Rewards Balance.

However, if you’re looking for the best card to earn travel rewards with good travel protections while avoiding the higher fees of premium cards, the Amex Green Card is calling your name.

Both are great cards and will make a good choice for your next card.