Large bonus, limited earning: Amex Business Green Rewards Card review

The Business Green Rewards Card from American Express now offers a potentially lucrative welcome bonus, but the benefits beyond that are lackluster. If you are spending enough on travel to maximize the welcome bonus on this card, you would actually end up getting more value from The Platinum Card® from American Express.  Card Rating*: ⭐⭐
*Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG’s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.

When I first saw the new welcome bonus offer, I’ll admit I was excited about the new direction for the Business Green Rewards Card from American Express. But as I’ve gotten a chance to take a closer look at the offer and the card’s long-term value, I’m underwhelmed. In my opinion, most business owners are going to get more from Amex’s other business cards.

Let’s walk through this new welcome offer and the details of this card, as well as a few alternatives for those looking to earn Membership Rewards through business expenses.

In This Post

Who is this card for?

The Business Green Amex is a beginner travel card for business owners interested in Membership Rewards. Within Amex’s lineup, it sits just below the mid-tier American Express® Business Gold Card. In my opinion, this card is beneficial for only a very specific type of cardholder:

If you have the Amex Business Platinum or Business Gold, you can easily out-earn the bonus and standard rewards rate by using one of those for your business travel expenses. However, if you have earned bonuses for both of those cards (remember, Amex has a rule of one bonus per card per lifetime) but do not currently have them in your wallet for whatever reason, you might consider the Amex Business Green as an alternative to reapplying. It comes with a low $95 annual fee (see rates and fees) — although it’s no longer waived the first year — and business tools to help you track expenses.

(Photo by Hero Images/Getty Images.)
(Photo by Hero Images/Getty Images.)

You’re earning valuable Membership Rewards points with the Business Green but that’s really it’s only main value. Serious business travelers who haven’t already reaped the benefits of the Amex Business Platinum or Gold should consider applying for those before the Green if you’re looking for long-term value. Although the Business Green’s bonus is enough to appeal to anyone with a Membership Rewards account, the card’s value doesn’t extend far beyond that.

Potentially lucrative welcome bonus

The Amex Business Green’s welcome bonus recently got a much-needed makeover, but it wasn’t exactly the overhaul we were all hoping for. You’ll now earn 3x Membership Rewards points during the first three months on the first $50,000 spent at U.S. restaurants and on hotel stays and airfare booked directly through the hotel or airline. If you maximize this offer, that’s 150,000 points by the end of your first three months — worth $3,000, according to TPG valuations.

This offer doesn’t read like your typical welcome bonus. It somewhat mirrors what Chase is doing with the current Chase Freedom Unlimited offer, but with a higher spending cap and added category restrictions. I’ll be honest, for a lot of people this isn’t the best offer. To get the full 150,000 possible points out of it, you’ll have to spend $50,000 within those specified categories within the first three months. That’s not an impossible threshold to hit if you have a small business, but you can easily earn that without applying for a new card if you already have the Amex Business Gold. It offers 4x on the two categories you spend most on each month, including airfare purchased directly from airlines, U.S. gas stations, U.S. restaurants and select business expenses (on the first $150,000 in combined purchases each calendar year; then 1x).

It is a bump up from the previous offer for the Amex Business Green, which was a measly 5,000 points.

This type of bonus continues to be tested as issuers look for ways to encourage long-term use of their credit cards. I get why they’re doing it (trying to foster long-term use and discourage churning), but it’s not an optimal solution for loyal cardholders who used to be able to maximize sizeable welcome bonuses and still get long-term value from their cards.

Further reading: Amex Business Green Card now offering up to 150,000 points in the first three months

Main benefits and perks

Unfortunately, the Amex Business Green is lacking when it comes to benefits and perks. Where other Amex Membership Rewards cards are known for their annual statement credits and other travel benefits, the Business Green doesn’t offer anything along those lines. Now this is a low-cost card with only a $95 annual fee. The Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, while superior in its welcome bonus and rewards structure, also does not offer much in terms of travel credits and benefits.

The Amex Business Green does offer Amex’s standard portfolio of business tools that can help you manage your business finances. You can integrate your Amex account with Quickbooks for easy expense tracking and labeling. You can designate an Account Manager to have access to your account. You can even pay bills through Amex’s Vendor Pay through Bill.com. These benefits are incredibly valuable to any business owner, but are standard for most Amex business cards.

Further reading: Choosing the best Amex card for you

How to earn points

With the Amex Business Green, you’ll get 2x Membership Rewards points for eligible purchases made through amextravel.com. This is a lackluster rewards structure, even for a card with a lower annual fee. The reward structure is similar to what you’d get with a basic airline cobranded card. Because Amex points are worth 2 cents each, the return is a bit better than your typical airline card. but if you’re spending enough on travel to make this rewards structure worth it, you should consider the Amex Business Platinum, which offers 5x on eligible amextravel.com purchases, plus some of the best travel perks available across any business card.

For lower-budget businesses, there are also a lot of other $95 annual fee business cards out there that offer a better way to earn flexible points. For example, the Ink Business Preferred offers 3x points on travel and select business expenses (on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases each account anniversary year). Travel is defined broadly, too, so you won’t be limited to just airfare and hotels booked through an issuer portal to earn points. Because Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth the same as Amex Membership Rewards in our eyes, you’re getting a better deal all around with the Ink card.

Further reading: The ultimate guide to Amex Membership Rewards

How to redeem points

It seems like the one thing this card has going for it is that you’re earning Membership Rewards points. With Amex you can redeem points for travel, gift cards, statement credits, Amazon purchases and a number of online retailer purchases. However, you’re only getting the best value when you redeem for award travel.

Amex has 22 transfer partners, including top airline and hotel brands. For example, you can transfer Amex points over to Avios and redeem them for American Airlines or Alaksa Airlines routes. You can transfer your Membership Rewards points instantly at a 1:1 value with any of these partners and Amex frequently runs transfer bonuses where you can transfer to some partners at even more attractive rates. When redeeming for premium class cabins, you can often find sweet spots in the program.

You can transfer Membership Rewards to Virgin Atlantic for an Upper Class Suite on this A350.
You can transfer Membership Rewards to Virgin Atlantic for an Upper Class Suite on this A350. (Photo by Nicky Kelvin/The Points Guy)

You can also redeem points through the Amex travel portal, but keep in mind that you won’t get the same Pay with Points rebate as you do with the Business Platinum or Gold.

Further reading: Redeeming Amex points for maximum value 

Other Amex business cards to consider

The Amex Business Green card does offer value for a specific set of business owners, but most people are going to get more value out of Amex’s other business card options.

Best for frequent travelers: Amex Business Platinum

The Amex Business Platinum is offering a tiered welcome bonus where you can earn up to 100,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $25,000 on qualifying purchases in the first three months (not limited to specific categories). You’ll earn more than double the points with the Platinum than with the Green on business travel expenses, with 5x on airfare and prepaid hotel stays through amextravel.com.  Better yet, you’re also getting access to multiple luxury travel benefits, including an airline-fee credit of up to $200, a 35% Pay with Points rebate on qualifying travel purchases, lounge access, elite status with Hilton and Marriot and much more.

If your business is spending enough on travel to really take advantage of the Business Green, it’s likely that you can find even more value with the Amex Business Platinum.

Best for everyday business expenses: Amex Business Gold

Right now, the Amex Business Gold is offering an abysmal welcome offer. However, that offer ends Nov. 6, 2019, and we will hopefully see a points-based offer take its place. For long-term value, this card is an asset to any business owner. You’re getting 4x on the two categories you spend most on each month. With this card, you’ll earn points on far more than just travel, which makes it ideal for anyone who needs a card for more than just business travel expenses.

If you can wait until the current offer switches to something better, this card will likely be better for most business owners who want to earn points on travel expenses without paying an astronomical annual fee.

Best for low-budget businesses: Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express 

With no annual fee (see rates and fees) and a simple rewards rate, smaller-budget businesses are better off with the Blue Business Plus. You’ll get a flat 2x points on the first $50,000 spent on the card each year (then 1x). You don’t get a welcome offer with this card, but you could argue that you’re not technically getting one with the Business Green, either.

If you want a no-frills way to earn Membership Rewards points, the Blue Business Plus offers that without category restrictions. For businesses that are spending less than $50,000 a year, it’s a good fit.

Bottom line

I appreciate Amex revamping the welcome offer, but this card still falls short. If you are spending enough on travel to really maximize this card’s offer, you’ll likely get even more worth from one of Amex’s other cards. If you’re not spending enough on travel to get your money’s worth with the Business Green, you’ll be better off with the no-fee Blue Business Plus.

The only exception to this is if you’re one of the few who have earned the bonuses for both the Amex Business Platinum and the Amex Business Gold in the past but don’t currently hold either card. If so, you should consider this offer as a way to earn up to 150,000 points on business travel expenses in the first three months. It’ll also be a low-cost way to earn Membership Rewards points on business expenses throughout the year if you chose to keep it long-term.

APPLY HERE: The Business Green Rewards Card from American Express offering up to 150,000 points in the first three months.

For rates and fees of the Business Green card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Blue Business Plus card, click here.