The Forbes Advisor editorial team is independent and objective. To help support our reporting work, and to continue our ability to provide this content for free to our readers, we receive payment from the companies that advertise on the Forbes Advisor site. This comes from two main sources.
First, we provide paid placements to advertisers to present their offers. The payments we receive for those placements affects how and where advertisers’ offers appear on the site. This site does not include all companies or products available within the market.
Second, we also include links to advertisers’ offers in some of our articles. These “affiliate links” may generate income for our site when you click on them. The compensation we receive from advertisers does not influence the recommendations or advice our editorial team provides in our articles or otherwise impact any of the editorial content on Forbes Advisor.
While we work hard to provide accurate and up to date information that we think you will find relevant, Forbes Advisor does not and cannot guarantee that any information provided is complete and makes no representations or warranties in connection thereto, nor to the accuracy or applicability thereof.
Updated: Nov 8, 2022, 3:35pm
Edited By
Edited By
The American Express® Green Card is a jack-of-all-trades card capable of earning points on pretty much any purchase, but it lacks lucrative rewards options, robust consumer protections or insurance. Still, it’s a card that boasts no annual fee, a low minimum credit score and a decent annual percentage rate for comparable credit cards.
Think of the Amex Green Card as a cheap and cheerful card that’ll scoop up rewards points, but lacks the bells and whistles of the top-tier (and more expensive) options.
None

Fair/Good

20.99% – 26.99%

None

Fair/Good

20.99% – 26.99%

For decades, the American Express Green Card was the card of choice for American travelers looking to pay for all of their on-the-road expenses without lugging around paper cheques. Essentially, it was the Amex card everyone associated with Amex. Today, it remains a stalwart card for budget-conscious consumers who are looking to earn some rewards and gain access to some perks without stiff annual fees.
When compared to Amex’s Gold and Platinum line, or the suite of cards offered by major banks the Green Card fails to stand out. Its rewards program is pretty basic and it doesn’t do much for travelers who expect their credit cards to cover everything from emergency medical benefits to lost luggage. However, it does have a few saving graces. The Green Card may not be the flashiest, but consumers won’t need to keep track of a dizzying array of benefit programs. Its rewards program is very straightforward: one point is earned per one Canadian dollar spent (with a few very specific exceptions). For consumers who can’t be bothered with complex point earning schemes, the Amex Green Card’s simplicity is ideal.
In many ways, the Green Card is the greenback featured so prominently on its face. Humble, utilitarian, yet adaptable for pretty much any purchase imaginable. Credit card and rewards program geeks won’t find anything worthwhile about the Green Card. Yet for consumers who make the occasional Amazon order as a way to maintain their credit score, the Green Card may be just what they need.
Earn 1 Membership Rewards point per $1 on nearly all purchases, with an additional point on any hotels or airline expenses booked through American Express itself. This only applies to costs paid through American Express. If you just happen to book a third-party hotel through an American Express promotion, for example, you won’t earn the extra 1 point per dollar spent.
It really isn’t hard to earn rewards though the American Express Green Card. You earn points on nearly anything. The trade-off is in how many points you earn per purchase. Other Amex cards, like the American Express Platinum Card or American Express Gold Card, offer anywhere from 2 to 5 points per dollar spent, depending on the type of purchase. With just 1 point per dollar gained for nearly all purchases, the Green Card’s rewards package is fairly lacklustre.
Rewards earned by the American Express Green Card can be redeemed as a credit on your account. You just need to log into your American Express online account and click on a button that says “Use points for eligible purchases.” Then, you simply select whichever purchase you want to spend your points on. Within 48 hours, a statement credit will be applied to your account.
If you want to redeem points a little faster, you can download the Amex App and redeem points on your smartphone — all without leaving the store.
To calculate exactly how much you could earn through a Green Card, Forbes Advisor Canada uses data from various government agencies to calculate baseline income and spending averages across various types of purchases, from food to online shopping.
We compared these averages to the Green Card’s earning purchase categories to give you the best understanding of how much an average Canadian household would earn in rewards on their purchases every year.
The average Canadian household spends $7,536 annually on groceries. The Green Card earns 1 point per $1 spent in that category, so that means 7,536 points, or roughly $75.36. Dining out costs that same family around $2,775. That comes out to 2,775 points, or around $27.75. This average Canadian family also spends $3,360 on gas, which comes out to just $33.60 a year worth of rewards paints. Online purchases comprise $2,136, or around $21.36 in rewards.
The rewards benefits for airlines and hotels depend on whether you’re booking your travel expenses through American Express itself or on your own. If it’s the latter, you’re looking at around 1,713 points for hotels, or $17.13 in redeemed points, or just $8.71 on an average yearly airline ticket spend of $871.
The grand total for the American Express Green Card’s total possible rewards for this average Canadian family comes out to $278.51.
Interest Rates
Fees
On its face, the Platinum Card earns more points, but the results of our calculations were surprising.
The American Express Platinum Card’s welcome bonus is worth $800, eight times more than the American Express Green Card (and three times more than what the Green Card earns in a year). It also earns double points on all travel-related expenses, such as hotels and travel, not just those booked through American Express, and triple points on every $1 spent at restaurants, coffee shops, bars and food delivery. In short, you can earn a ton of points with this card. However, the Platinum card charges a fee of $699 per year. When we calculated the same spend with both cards, the American Express Green Card actually came out on top—earning $278.51 in a year, factoring in its annual fee of $0. The Platinum Card, however, earned a staggering -$339.14 in a year, based on the same average spending, when you accounted for its annual $699 fee.
The Platinum Card wins on insurance and consumer protections. It boasts $5 million in emergency medical coverage, as well as a host of standard features for travel-friendly cards: travel accident insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, rental car insurance, and extended warranties for purchases.
In short: if you aren’t a huge spender and don’t travel much, stick with the Green Card. Only choose The Platinum Card if you’re a high spender who will utilize its travel perks (there are many)  to the fullest extent. Otherwise, you might end up in the red by choosing this card.
The American Express Cobalt Card is basically the Green Card on steroids. Not only does it offer a $300 welcome bonus, but cardholders earn five times the points on food and drink purchases compared to the Green Card, three times more on streaming subscriptions and twice the points on eligible transit and gas purchases in Canada. (Oh, it also covers twice the points on travel expenses).
There are a few differences when it comes to rewards for individual categories. The Cobalt Card has an annual rewards cap of $30,000 for both groceries and eating out — probably not an issue for most cardholders, but anyone who eats out a lot might run into problems. The Green Card, by comparison, has no cap, but doesn’t earn anywhere near the same number of points per $1 spent.
Sure, the Cobalt Card does cost $155.88 a year, but even when you factor that in, it still earns $594.52 per year with average spending, compared to the Green Card’s $278.51.
In short, if you can afford to shell out for the annual fee, the Cobalt is the superior choice.
Unsurprisingly, the Scotiabank Gold American Express Card is pretty sweet if you love escapism, whether it’s via the silver screen or real life traveling. Plus, unlike nearly every Canadian credit card on offer, the Scotiabank Gold doesn’t charge any foreign purchase fees.
You’ll earn 5 Scene+ points for every $1 spent on restaurants, fast food, ticket purchases, and drinking establishments. If you shop at a “participating eligible grocery store”, it goes up to 6. This card also gives 3 Scene+ points for every dollar spent on eligible transit and gas, as well as “eligible select streaming services.”
When you look at the total annual rewards, the Scotiabank Gold can’t be beat. Our average Canadian household from earlier could earn $823.12 in rewards value, factoring in the annual fee.  That number absolutely trumps the Green Card’s $278.51, and honestly, most cards on the Canadian market.
There are a couple of minor cons for Scotiabank Gold card holders. Unlike the Green Card, it does require a $12,000 annual income minimum. That said, for anyone who loves eating out, traveling, and catching movies, the Scotiabank Gold is king.
When determining a rating for individual credit cards, the Forbes Advisor Canada editorial team factors in an exhaustive list of data points. With rewards, the scoring model used takes into account factors such as, but not limited to, rewards rates and categories, fees, welcome bonus, and other benefits and features. Keep in mind, what may be best for some people might not be right for you. Conduct informed research before deciding which cards will best help you achieve your financial goals.
The American Express Green Card’s strength lies in its ability to earn at least a few points nearly anywhere. That may turn off grizzled travelers or jaded foodies looking for serious savings, but it could make the Green Card worthwhile for cardholders who simply don’t have super defined spending habits.
Another perk of the Green Card, for some cardholders, lies in its lack of an annual fee. High powered traveler cards like the American Express Platinum Card may seem like fun, but its $699 annual fee may not end up earning enough to be worth the price of admission If you’re looking for a card capable of earning points without hefty costs, you could do far worse than the American Express Green Card.
Credit card data researched and collected by Tia Duncombe.
Apply here. Be sure to read the fine print!
The American Express Rewards Gold Card is a beefier version of the Green Card. It has a $250 annual fee, but offers double the rewards for most hotel and travel expenses compared to the Green Card, as well as purchases at select gas stations, grocery stores, and drug stores. Eligible hotel or car rental bookings through American Express Travel also earn an additional 1 point per dollar spent.
You’ll need a score of Fair/Good, which is about 560 to 724.
The original American Express Green Card goes all the way back to 1969, although it wasn’t a credit card in the traditional sense. The original Green Card was actually a charge card, meaning it required users to actually ‘charge’ their cards with cash, rather than charging them to an account like a credit card.
For decades, Green Card was the iconic American Express card. In fact, it was simply known as ‘The American Express Card’, and helped to turn American Express from a company that largely made its money through travelers’ checks in the 1960s to a global credit card powerhouse.
But the card was largely overshadowed by Amex’s Gold and Platinum lines. It only received its latest update in 2019 and largely declined in popularity over the last fewhre years because it stuck to its charge card roots. Today, the card sits alongside the rest of the Amex lineup as a classic credit card.
Brennan Doherty is a Toronto-based writer. His work appears in the Toronto Star, TVO, VICE World News, Strategy Online, MoneySense, and Maisonneuve Magazine.

source

Shop Sephari