The American Express Green Card is turning 50, and it’s showing its age, particularly compared to newer credit card rivals with attractive perks. Now, the iconic Green Card is getting a makeover.
Starting Thursday, the card, now called the Green from Amex card, will become a travel-focused rewards credit card. This marks the first major update for the Green Card since 2002, when American Express first added membership rewards to the card.
The most significant change is the Green Card will transition from a charge card to a credit card. The Green Card had required customers to pay their balances at the end of each statement period. Now, customers can carry over balances each month.
The uber-recognizable card is getting a slight redesign as part of the rebranding effort. The Roman Centurion remains on the front, but the numbers have moved to the back of the card, following the trend of other premium credit cards, such as the Chase Sapphire card. Latching onto the “green” theme, the new card will be made with reclaimed plastic collected from beaches, islands and coastal communities, American Express said.
The changes come as competition tightens in the credit card space. Companies are luring young and wealthy customers that crave experiences over purchasing things. Chase (CCF) has garnered success with its Sapphire cards and Citi has rolled out new higher-end cards like the Prestige.
American Express (AXP) said the new green card was redesigned to meet customers’ changing spending habits and reward them for regular expenses, such as travel, transit and dining.
Customers will now receive 3 membership points for each dollar spent on travel, transit and dining purchases and 1 point per dollar on everything else. Previously, cardholders only earned 2 points per dollar when booking through Amex’s travel portal and 1 point per dollar everywhere else. Membership points can be exchanged for hotels, flights and gift cards.
The card’s annual fee has increased to $150 from $95. However, that higher fee is slightly negated when factoring in the $100 annual credit for Clear security membership and $100 in credits for LoungeBuddy, the company’s app that lets people access airport lounges for a fee. Foreign transaction fees have also been dropped.
The old Green Card’s annual fee and lack of meaningful rewards made it among the least-valuable cards on credit card rankings. The changes will inject some life into the largely forgotten card, according to Julian Kheel, a senior industry analyst at The Points Guy.
“Before this revamp, the Amex Green didn’t offer much beyond an entry point into the Amex charge card ecosystem, with weak earning rates and few benefits,” Kheel told CNN Business. “But the changes make the card significantly more competitive instead of just a low-end placeholder.”
With its new, premium perks at an entry-level annual fee, the Green from Amex card could become an important gateway for the company. Cardholders could be tempted to move to Amex’s more expensive cards, Kheel added. The green card has a cheaper annual fee compared to the company’s Gold and Platinum, which all are aimed at people who eat out and travel.
The Green from Amex card isn’t a game-changer, but the changes “do bring the card off the sidelines and into the conversation,” Kheel said.