- Alyssa Powell/Business Insider
- The American Express® Green Card was relaunched this fall, and its new lineup of benefits is so strong that I think it might be even better than the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.
- The Amex Green card offers statement credits to offset its annual fee, while the Sapphire Preferred does not.
- With the Amex Green card, you’ll earn 3x points on travel and dining, compared to 2x points with the Sapphire Preferred.
- The Sapphire Preferred card does have a higher sign-up bonus, along with some valuable perks like primary car rental insurance and trip delay protection.
- Read more personal finance coverage.
American Express recently relaunched the Amex Green Card, adding more bonus categories for earning travel rewards and benefits that make it more appealing than ever.
Can the revamped version of an old card really compete with a tried and true classic? In this case, the answer is yes. Here are four major reasons I think the Amex Green card has the advantage.
Keep in mind that we’re focusing on the rewards and perks that make these credit cards great options, not things like interest rates and late fees, which will far outweigh the value of any points or miles. It’s important to practice financial discipline when using credit cards by paying your balances in full each month, making payments on time, and only spending what you can afford to pay back.
1. The Amex Green card offers statement credits to offset the annual fee
One of the first things you’ll notice when comparing the two cards is that the Sapphire Preferred has an annual fee of $95, while the Amex Green card’s annual fee is $150.
But here’s the thing – if you take full advantage of the benefits the Amex Green card offers customers, you can offset the annual fee.
If you buy lounge access through LoungeBuddy with your Amex Green, you’ll earn up to $100 in statement credits per year. Buy a membership with CLEAR, a company that scans your eyes and fingerprints to quickly confirm your identity when entering venues including select airports, to earn up to $100 in annual statement credits. And for a limited time (for card applications received by January 15, 2020), you can earn up to $100 back on purchases made in the first three months when you buy luggage through Away using the Amex Green card.
Read more: Amex Green card review
With an Amex Green card, you also receive a complimentary membership to ShopRunner, which offers two-day shipping, exclusive deals, and more. Membership usually costs $79 per year, but that fee is waived with an Amex Green card account.
American Express will also contact you about exclusive offers on pre-sale tickets for events like concerts, sporting events, and Broadway shows.
If you take advantage of these benefits, you could save well over $150 in services. Meanwhile, the Sapphire Preferred fee is lower, but it doesn’t offer any credits to offset the fee, so you could actually end up spending more.
2. The Amex Green card’s welcome bonus is more attainable
Earlier this year, Chase bumped the Sapphire Preferred card’s sign-up bonus from 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points to 60,000, making this card more appealing than ever for travelers. Users have to charge and pay off $4,000 in the first three months to earn the bonus.
The Amex Green card only offers 30,000 Amex Membership Rewards points as a welcome bonus. Although you get half the points compared to the Sapphire Preferred’s intro offer, users only have to charge half as much: $2,000 in the first three month.
If you’d struggle to spend (and especially to pay off)$4,000 in three months, the Amex Green card‘s lower minimum spending requirement makes its welcome offer more attainable. If spending $2,000 in three months still seems a bit high, check out these strategies for meeting a minimum spending requirement. Don’t forget that you can offer to put dinner on your card next time you eat out with friends, and ask them to pay you back.
3. It could be easier to rack up points with the Amex Green card
Sure, you’ll start with a smaller welcome bonus if you choose the Amex Green card over the Sapphire Preferred. But depending on where you spend money, you could actually earn points more quickly with the Amex Green card.
With the Sapphire Preferred card, users earn 2 points for every dollar spent on dining and travel, including airfare and hotels. For everything else, you’ll earn 1 point per dollar.
Meanwhile, the Amex Green card earns 3 points per dollar for dining and travel, and 1 point per dollar for all other purchases. These bonus categories are actually similar to those on another Chase card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
With both the Amex Green card and the Sapphire Reserve, not only can you earn 3x points when using the card to book flights and hotels, but also on transit, taxis, and rideshare services. This means you can earn 3x points even if you aren’t embarking on a big trip. If you book a $20 Uber downtown on a random Friday night, you’ll earn 60 points when paying with your Amex Green card. The Sapphire Reserve has a $450 annual fee compared to the Amex Green card’s $150 annual fee (though there are plenty of reasons to consider the Sapphire Reserve).
4. The Amex Green card is a hybrid charge card
What’s the difference? With a credit card, you don’t have to pay off the full balance every month – the unpaid amount will just roll over to the next month. A charge card, on the other hand, requires you to pay off the full balance every month, or else you’ll face a major late fee.
Amex refers to the Amex Green card as a “hybrid charge card,” meaning they can carry a balance with interest from month to month up to a certain limit (referred to as the Pay Over Time limit). Charges beyond that limit are included in the full amount that’s due each month. Either way, in an ideal world you’d pay off your balance in full each month to avoid paying interest.
Some people may see the Amex Green card’s being a charge card as a pro, while others will view it as a con. On one hand, it can be inconvenient to not have the option to roll over your balance to the next month. On the other hand, ideally you’d pay off the full balance on a credit card anyway. Otherwise, interest accrues, and that’s how people end up paying more than the principal amount and potentially slipping into debt.
Using a charge card that requires you to pay off the full amount can be a strategy for keeping yourself accountable -and for keeping yourself from losing control of your spending.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred does have some advantages
There’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all when it comes to credit cards, even travel rewards credit cards. The Chase Sapphire Preferred does have its advantages, and depending on your situation, it might be a better fit.
The Sapphire Preferred does offer twice the number of points as a welcome bonus compared to the Amex Green card. If you want to use a lot of travel rewards to book a flight or hotel stay soon after receiving the card, a 60,000-point sign-up bonus can help you reach your goal more quickly.
If you don’t think you’ll use all (or even most) of Amex Green’s benefits, like lounge access through LoungeBuddy or credit from purchasing Away luggage, you might not be able to offset the annual fee. In this case, it would be cheaper to go with the Sapphire Preferred card. Plus, with the Sapphire Preferred you get some great coverage benefits, including primary car rental insurance and trip delay protection.