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There’s a lot of history behind the iconic American Express® Green Card, which made headlines in recent days for its splashy relaunch. Setting aside the elevated 30,000-point welcome bonus and the slew of other perks that should get many travelers pretty excited, the relaunch Amex celebrated was sorely needed for a card that’s actually 50 years old this year. It first launched back in 1969, when the Beatles were still together and the same year mankind first stepped onto the moon. At the time, travelers loved it, because it was an alternative to carrying around traveler’s checks.

And while the focus seemed to increasingly shift to Amex’s more luxe Platinum and Gold cards, the Amex Green Card’s relaunch has brought new perks and rewards that should once again excite anyone who travels more than once a year. One travel publication has gone so far as to call the refreshed card a “travel game-changer.”

Let’s take a deeper look at why that’s the case, and what all is new.

What’s changed

  • After having been the subject of rumors for months, the card’s enhanced features are finally here, and they include a higher welcome bonus of 30,000 Membership Rewards points once you’ve spent $2,000 on the card within your first three months of owning it.
  • Between now and January 15, 2020, new cardholders can also earn up to $100 in statement credits for eligible purchases from the luggage brand Away made within the first three months. That might not sound like the most ground-breaking credit card perk you’ve heard of, but hey — the holiday season is almost upon us. Which means right about now is when some savvy travelers might be thinking about, say, a chic new carry-on.
  • No more foreign transaction fees from Amex on the card (but there may be exceptions where a merchant or ATM, however, charges a foreign transaction fee).
  • You’ll earn points at a rate of 3x worldwide on travel, restaurants, and transit. The latter includes flights, hotels, campsites, tours, car rentals, rideshares, buses, subways, third-party travel websites and purchases made via amextravel.com.
  • The annual fee has increased — to $150, from $95.

Among the other benefits you get with the revamped card is an annual credit of up to $100 when using the card to buy a CLEAR® membership, as well as an additional annual credit of up to $100 for LoungeBuddy access. CLEAR can make it a breeze to deal with the airport security screening process, in tandem with  TSA PreCheck®. The $100 credit means you’re only out of pocket $79 for a standard membership, and you can also get more CLEAR discounts for being a Delta SkyMiles or United MileagePlus member.

As far as the LoungeBuddy credit, that one will likely get you one to two passes covered per year, which is perfect for a beginner traveler who doesn’t use airport lounges all that often.

Image Source: NEIL HALL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

The final word

While the card does carry a higher annual fee now, its new rewards structure represents a definite improvement. This is a card arguably built for points and miles beginners, and it fills a kind of void in Amex’s current Membership Rewards lineup below the Amex Gold. You can apply for the card now and enjoy the opportunity for 30,000 bonus points — and the Away credit of up to $100 — by applying before January 15, 2020.