Editor’s Note: American Express is a partner of Fundera.
The American Express Business Green Rewards card is the most affordable of Amex’s business charge card suite. With a $95 annual fee that doesn’t kick in until the second year, a solid rewards rate of 1 Membership Rewards Point per $1 spent and 2 points per $1 on travel purchases made through Amex’s travel site, there’s a lot of reasons to recommend the card.
But how does it stack up against other heavyweights? We’ll break down the pros and cons of the American Express Business Green Rewards card, compare it to other business credit cards, and help you decide if the Green is right for you.
The Amex Green is the entry point into OPEN (Amex’s set of business and charge cards) for cardholders uncomfortable with a high fee. Its annual fee is lower than the Amex Gold ($175 after the first year) and Platinum ($450), but it also has fewer perks and rewards.
Its rewards rate (1 Membership Rewards Point per $1, 2 points per $1 spent through Amex’s travel portal) is pretty standard, but the ancillary perks are enticing. It offers purchase protection and extended warranty, plus lost baggage, travel accident, and rental car insurance. These can be helpful for frequent business travelers. Finally, it offers a signup bonus of 5,000 Membership Rewards Points after your first purchase.
To be honest, the Amex Business Green Rewards card isn’t the best choice for most businesses—if you want to avoid high fees, you’re probably better off with a no fee card. And if you don’t mind a fee, there are other cards with better benefits and rewards.
Get the Amex Business Green Rewards card if:
If you’re looking for a card that minimizes annual fees, the Chase Ink Business Cash is worth a look. Offering 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent on office supply stores and phone, Internet, and cable TV services combined; 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent on gas and restaurants combined; and 1% elsewhere, the card also boasts no annual fee. This makes it pretty attractive compared to the Amex Business Green Rewards card—you’d have to spend $4,750 on Amex travel alone to recoup that card’s annual fee, while the Ink gives you higher rewards with no fee.
However, the Business Green Rewards card does have two advantages over the Ink. First, it offers access to American Express OPEN, which provides useful features like receipt management, extra value through OPEN savings, and an account manager. Second, it’s a charge card, so you don’t have a preset spending limit (though you do have to pay your bill in full every month to avoid really high interest rates).
Verdict: The Chase Ink Cash is better if you’re okay with getting a credit card, but the Business Green Rewards card wins out if you specifically want a charge card.
The Chase Ink Business Preferred offers 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on preset categories (this year, those categories are travel; shipping; Internet, cable, and phone services; and search engine and social media ad buys) and 1 point per $1 elsewhere, plus a signup bonus of 80,000 points after spending $5,000 on purchases. It comes with the same annual fee as the Amex Business Green Rewards card—$95—but unlike the Amex card, you have to pay the fee starting in your first year.
However, remember the signup bonuses: Amex’s 5,000 points are worth around $50, while the Ink’s is worth $800. That more than makes up for the first-year annual fee. Its rewards program is arguably preferable to the Green’s, unless you spend a lot of money on travel through Amex. In fact, you’d have to spend 50% more on Amex travel than you do on all of the Ink bonus categories combined to break even on rewards.
The Ink’s benefits roughly track the Green’s, with purchase and warranty protection and trip cancellation or interruption insurance, plus cell phone protection. And finally, if you travel abroad, the Ink offers no foreign transaction fee compared to the Green’s 2.7% levy on all foreign purchases.
The Green’s major advantage on the Ink Preferred is that it offers access to American Express OPEN, a program that provides business-friendly services and discounts. But if you’re looking to maximize rewards, the Ink Preferred is a better choice.
Verdict: The Chase Ink Business Preferred is the one to go with unless you spend a lot of money on travel booked through Amex or want a charge card.
A business traveler’s charge card, the American Express Enhanced Business Platinum offers the same rewards rate as the Green (5 points per $1 on flights and prepaid hotels booked through amextravel.com) as well as 1.5 points per $1 on purchases of $5,000 or more, and a host of travel benefits (more on those later). However, these perks come at a price: a $450 annual fee per year.
The sticker shock is somewhat mitigated by those travel benefits. Platinum cardholders receive:
Finally, it offers a great Welcome Offer of 75,000 Membership Rewards points—50,000 after your first $10,000 spent and 25,000 after you’ve spent an extra $10,000, all within the first 3 months of Card Membership. That’s a pretty steep spending threshold, especially when you consider that the Business Green Rewards card gives you 5,000 points as soon as you use the card.
The Enhanced Business Platinum is a great choice for high-spending business travelers. Let’s say you take advantage of the Global Entry reimbursement and annual airline fee credit, value lounge access at $100 a year, and use Boingo’s unlimited plan ($4.98 a month). The Enhanced Business Platinum would give you $460 in perks in your first year because of Global Entry, and $360 in perks thereafter. Once you subtract the perks’ value from the Enhanced Business Platinum’s annual fee, you’re looking at a $10 benefit in year one and $90 in fees thereafter.
Compare that to the Green’s $95 fee after the first year—after accounting for benefits, the Platinum’s fees are less onerous. That’s without factoring the impressive 75,000 signup bonus, compared to the Green’s 5,000.
Keep in mind: The Platinum assumes that you’re a high roller. If you don’t fly often, you won’t get much mileage out of an airline fee credit, lounge access, in-flight Wi-Fi, or Starwood Gold status. If you can’t spend $20,000 in 3 months, that 75,000 signup bonus is moot.
Verdict: The Platinum is great for business travelers and big spenders, but other business owners would be better served by the lower-fee Business Green Rewards card.