A few weeks ago, I reported that the Amex US Gold Card was offering a record-high welcome bonus of 60,000 US MR points, and many of you jumped on the opportunity to apply.
Well, if the Gold Card’s offer can be described as “stunning”, can a similar record-high welcome bonus on the Amex US Green Card be described as “lush”?
Indeed, the Amex US Green Card is now also offering at least 50,000 US MR points when applying via refer-a-friend links, which is also one of the highest bonuses that this card has ever seen. Moreover, while the offer for 50,000 points can be accessed quite easily, some users report that they’re able to pull up an offer for 60,000 US MR points too!
Either way, now’s a fantastic time to get yourself the Green Card if you don’t have it already, so let’s take a look through the special welcome offer, as well as weigh up the benefits of the card to see if it justifies the US$150 annual fee in the long run.
50,000+ US MR Points Via Referral
The Green Card is a charge card, meaning that it has no preset spending limit and you need to pay the balance off in full every month. It comes with an annual fee of US$150.
When applying for the Green Card via the public page on the Amex website, applicants will only earn 30,000 US MR points after spending US$2,000 in the first three months. That’s a decent chunk of US MR points to be sure (which are generally seen as more valuable than Canadian MR points, given their wider range of transfer partners and the favourable exchange rate), but to be honest, it hasn’t been tempting enough for me to applying for the Green Card just yet.
However, the current baseline offer via the refer-a-friend channel takes things up a few notches. There are actually at least two different offers that regularly pop up, and you may need to open the link a few different times (perhaps using incognito mode as well) to get the one you want.
The first “Special Offer For You” is a very impressive 50,000 US MR points upon spending US$2,000 in the first six months. US credit cards can often come with very intimidating minimum spending thresholds, so this one is definitely on the more manageable side, especially since you get an extended six-month window to complete the spending.
There’s also a second elevated “Referral Offer”, which gives you 30,000 US MR points upon spending US$2,000 in the first six months, as well as a 20% statement credit rebate on all your spending at US supermarkets, up to US$200.
The two offers are essentially equivalent assuming that you value US MR points at 1 US cent per point (cpp) and plan to spend at least half of your US$2,000 minimum spending requirements at US supermarkets. Of course, most of us will aim to derive much greater than 1cpp in value from our US MR points, so the first offer is definitely superior in my eyes.
(Some users also report being able to pull up a “New Launch Offer” of 60,000 US MR points upon spending US$2,000 in the first six months on the Amex US Green Card as well. As far as I can tell, there doesn’t seem to be a reliable way to pull up this offer consistently, but it’s definitely an even more outstanding proposition if you can pull it up.)
Given that Amex US enforces a strict once-in-a-lifetime rule on welcome bonuses, it’s best to wait for historical high offers, such as this one, before applying for any product you haven’t held before.
As a reminder, some of the best uses of US MR points these days might include:
- Transferring to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club to book ANA First Class for 120,000 miles round-trip
- Transferring to ANA Mileage Club to book an ANA round-the-world award with eight stopovers and four open-jaws
- Transferring to Emirates Skywards to book Emirates First Class to Europe for 135,000 miles round-trip
- Transferring to Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer to book elusive Singapore Airlines business class, First Class, and Suites Class awards
- Transferring to Cathay Pacific Asia Miles to book Cathay Pacific flights with much greater award space
- Transferring to Canadian MR points at the prevailing exchange rate
The welcome bonus of 50,000 US MR points would therefore go a long way towards a wide range of high-flying awards when it’s safe to travel again, and could also be used to boost your Canadian MR balance too.
Indeed, as of today’s exchange rate, 50,000 US MR points would equal 65,852 Canadian MR points when transferred across the border, which is far higher than most of the credit card welcome bonuses we have in Canada at the moment.
If you’ve already gotten started with US credit cards, then you can simply go ahead and apply to add the Green Card to your portfolio.
If not, you can quite easily apply for this card via the Nova Credit service. When filling in the application, simply check the box that says “I don’t have a credit history in the US, but have had a credit card or loan in the UK, India, Mexico, Canada or Australia” on the application form, where it asks you for a Social Security Number.
The Nova Credit service will then link to your Canadian credit file to assess your creditworthiness, although you may still be required to call or live-chat with Amex US for identity verification purposes (usually to submit a copy of your foreign passport). Be sure to review the full guide to getting US credit cards for Canadians for more information.
There are some data points that users are able to complete the Nova Credit process twice (such as if you had already gotten the excellent offer on the Gold Card recently, and were interested in the Green Card as well), but it does seem that “your mileage may vary” in this case, as not everyone has reported success with this route.
Is the Amex US Green Card a Long Term Keeper?
If you apply for the Amex US Green Card, does it make sense to keep the card in the long run with its US$150 annual fee?
Like many other Amex US products, the Green Card does offer a few annual credits to offset the fee, but I find the utility of these credits to be quite limited – even from an American cardholder’s perspective, let alone a Canadian one.
First, there’s a US$100 CLEAR credit per calendar year. CLEAR is a service that uses biometric scanning to get you through the security screening process faster at select US airports and event venues. The service is only open to US citizens and legal permanent residents, and the membership is US$179 per year, so the annual credit will only cover a portion of that.
While a subset of US-based cardholders may be tempted by the statement credit into trying out CLEAR’s services, I think it’s safe to say that most Canadians will prefer using NEXUS and TSA Pre-Check to facilitate our cross-border travel instead, especially since we’re now getting many new credit cards that offer NEXUS credits as a perk.
Then, there’s a US$100 LoungeBuddy credit per calendar year. LoungeBuddy started off as a service to inform airport visitors of their airport lounge options, and then moved to allow users to purchase lounge access and was eventually acquired by American Express in 2019.
On the surface, it seems like frequent travellers would certainly be able to make use of the US$100 annual LoungeBuddy credit; however, most airport lounges worth their salt are either already part of the Priority Pass network (which is far more easily accessible through other US and Canadian credit cards) or operated by an airline themselves, in which case they’re unlikely to sell access via LoungeBuddy.
There may be some occasions when you could use the LoungeBuddy credit to access a lounge that you wouldn’t otherwise have access to, or perhaps bring in an extra guest over and above your guest allowance. But I get the feeling that, for those of us who usually have a Priority Pass membership on hand, using up this credit may require a fair bit of going out of our way to do so.
Still, the LoungeBuddy credit is the more practical one for Canadians to derive value from, thereby partially offsetting the US$150 annual fee.
(Until December 2020, there is also the temporary benefit of a monthly US$10 credit on US wireless services. If you don’t have any US wireless services, you can always offer to pay the phone bill for any US-based friends or family and have them buy you a beer next time.)
The remainder of the value we derive from the Green Card will be from its ongoing earning bonuses: 3 US MR points per US dollar spent on worldwide dining (including food delivery), transit, and travel.
These earning rates are very competitive compared to what we have in Canada. The 3x earning rate on transit and travel is virtually unparalleled, while the 3x earning rate on dining is arguably better than the Canadian-issued Platinum Card’s 3x rate (due to the stronger MR points south of the border) and comparable with the Cobalt Card’s 5x MR Select earning rate (due to the more limited usage of MR Select points).
So I can definitely see a case for keeping the US Green Card around after the first year, but you’ll also want to think about other US-issued cards that the Green Card might compete with.
For example, the Gold Card and the Green Card are generally seen as competing rather than complementary products, so you’ll want to take a look at the respective fees, credits, earning rates, and benefits of both cards and think carefully about which one provides you with more value in the long run.
Certainly, both cards have really ramped up their welcome offers in recent weeks, so it’s as great a time to raise your US credit card game as any.
If you want to benefit from the record-high offer of 50,000 US MR points on the Amex US Green Card (or perhaps even 60,000 US MR points if you’re lucky enough to pull it up), you’ll want to apply via the refer-a-friend channel rather than through the public page.
Feel free to reach out via the contact form if you’re interested in receiving a refer-a-friend link from me. Otherwise, to continue spreading the love around, anyone who currently holds an Amex US Green Card may feel free to share their referral link in the comments below, so that other Prince of Travel readers may take advantage of this offer by choosing one of the links in the comments, and we can all benefit.