The Business Green Rewards Card from American Express OPEN is a small business charge card with a $95 annual fee and a rewards program that rewards general spending. Most Green Rewards Card purchases earn 1 Membership Rewards point per $1 spent. Travel booked through American Express Travel is the exception, as those purchases earn 2 points per $1 spent.
As a charge card, Business Green Rewards doesn’t incur regular interest charges. However, you’re required to pay your balance in full before each statement’s due date. If you fail to pay in full for more than two consecutive cycles, American Express reserves the right to close your account.
Business Green Rewards competes with numerous other business credit cards and charge cards, including the American Express “color” charge card family (Business Platinum, Business Gold Rewards, and Plum), Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express, and SimplyCash Plus Business Credit Card from American Express. Compared with more exclusive business credit and charge cards, Business Green Rewards is easier to qualify for, though you still need very good credit and may need to demonstrate that your business has adequate cash flow.
You get a bonus of 5,000 Membership Rewards points when you make your first purchase with Business Green Rewards. That’s worth up to $50 when redeemed at American Express’s Membership Rewards shopping portal.
Earning Membership Rewards Points
This card earns 1 Membership Rewards point per $1 spent on most purchases, with no spending caps or earning restrictions. The only exception to this rule is travel purchased through American Express’s own travel portal. Such travel purchases earn an unlimited 2 points per $1 spent.
Redeeming Membership Rewards Points
You can redeem your accumulated Membership Rewards points for travel, general merchandise, transportation (including Uber rides), and cash equivalents, such as gift cards and statement credits. Redemption minimums start at 1,000 points and vary by method. Point values range from $0.005 to $0.01, depending on redemption method. Merchandise redemptions are generally worth $0.01 while cash equivalent redemptions can be worth as little as $0.005 or $0.006.
The $95 annual fee is waived for the first year. There is a 2.7% foreign transaction fee (after conversion to U.S. dollars). Late payments (balances left unpaid for more than two consecutive statement cycles) cost $38 or 2.99% of the late balance. Returned payments cost $38.
Pay Over Time
As a charge card, Business Green Rewards requires cardmembers to pay their balances in full at the end of each billing period. Those who don’t pay in full are at risk of account closure after two consecutive periods.
However, American Express does offer a way around this requirement for longtime cardmembers in good standing. Known as “Pay Over Time,” this feature permits cardholders to carry balances from month to month, with interest, for an indefinite length of time. Interest charges are variable, depending on prevailing rates.
OPEN Savings Benefit
Business Green Rewards cardholders are entitled to additional earnings through OPEN Savings, which lets cardholders earn their choice of 2 additional Membership Rewards points per $1 spent (on top of normal earnings) or straight 5% discounts (payable to your monthly billing statement) at participating merchants, such as FedEx and 1800Flowers.com. A full list of participating merchants is available at opensavings.com.
Additional Business Benefits
Business Green Rewards offers a number of business benefits, including:
- No-fee employee cards
- Adjustable employee spending limits
- Automatic alerts when employees use their cards
- Digital receipt storage
- Expense tagging and tracking
- Access to the American Express OPEN Forum, a great resource for small business owners
Business Green Rewards also has some general benefits available to Amex consumer and business cardholders:
- 24/7 roadside assistance
- 24/7 global assistance for travelers more than 100 miles from home
- Baggage insurance for stolen or damaged luggage (subject to dollar amount limits)
- Extended warranties on all purchased items with original warranties of five years or less
This card requires good to excellent credit. Any notable credit blemishes are likely to be disqualifying.
- Somewhat Looser Qualification Standards Than Some Competitors. Business Green Rewards isn’t as exclusive as some business cards. While good to excellent credit and ample cash flow are still required, you don’t need a flawless credit profile or eye-popping revenues to earn card membership. Amex stablemates such as Business Gold Rewards and Business Platinum are much more difficult to qualify for.
- Varied Redemption Options. The Membership Rewards program has a highly varied array of merchandise to choose from. It also offers travel, transportation, gift cards, and cash equivalents (including statement credits) as redemption options. That’s a big plus relative to cash- or travel-only rewards programs, such as Capital One Spark Cash and Spark Miles for Business.
- OPEN Savings Benefit Boosts Spending Power With Popular Merchants. With OPEN Savings, Business Green Rewards cardholders earn 2 additional Membership Rewards points per $1 spent (on top of what they’d already earn) or straight 5% discounts with partner merchants. Since big names like FedEx and Hertz participate, this benefit is likely to apply to merchants you’d spend money with anyway – a nice addition to Business Green Rewards’ existing loyalty deal.
- Nice Travel Rewards. Business Green Rewards’ best points-earning power comes on travel purchases made through American Express Travel. Some competing cards, including those in the U.S. Bank Business Edge family, give no special preference to travel purchases or redemptions.
- Lots of Fringe Benefits. Business Green Rewards has a lot of fringe benefits, including 24/7 roadside assistance, luggage insurance, extended warranties, and a global assistance hotline for travelers. Chase Ink Business Cash and Chase Ink Business Preferred have fewer such benefits.
- Has an Annual Fee. Business Green Rewards comes with a $95 annual fee. This is a disadvantage compared with some fee-free business rewards cards, such as American Express SimplyCash Plus and Blue Business Plus, as well as Capital One Spark Miles and Spark Cash Select for Business.
- Rewards Points Accumulate Slowly. Business Green Rewards earns just 1 Membership Rewards point per $1 spent on most purchases. The only exception is travel booked through American Express, which accrues points at 2x that rate. This is far less generous than many competing business cards, such as Chase Ink Business Preferred (up to 3x points on select categories) and Capital One Spark Cash (unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases).
- Weak Sign-up Bonus. This card’s sign-up bonus is worth just $50 when redeemed for merchandise at the Membership Rewards portal, and even less when redeemed for statement credits. By comparison, Capital One Spark Miles’s sign-up bonus is worth $500, while Chase Ink Business Preferred‘s is worth up to $1,000.
- Usually Need to Pay in Full. Unless you’re approved for the Pay Over Time deal, you must pay your Business Gold Rewards balance in full each month. Since Pay Over Time is only available to cardmembers with long periods of responsible card use and on-time payments, you shouldn’t expect to enjoy it from the get-go. If you value the ability to pay off large business purchases over time, this limitation is likely to give you pause as you weigh your card options. For cards that let everyone pay over time from the outset, look to American Express Blue Business Plus or U.S. Bank Business Edge.
The Business Green Rewards Card from American Express OPEN is one of several color-coded business charge cards offered by American Express. It’s useful for prospective Business Green Rewards cardmembers to think of their card as just one rung on American Express’s charge card ladder. Higher rungs equate to more generous benefits and rewards-earning power, while lower rungs are easier to climb onto if your credit history and cash flow are not ideal.
In this setup, Business Green Rewards is the lowest rung on the ladder. It doesn’t have a generous rewards-earning scheme or particularly attractive benefits, beyond the value-added benefits that accrue to all American Express business cardholders. As your business grows, your credit improves, and your cash flow increases, you can set your sights on graduating to higher rungs on the ladder: Business Gold Rewards, which has a much more generous rewards scheme, and Business Platinum, whose travel benefits are legendary. The climb may take some time, but the view from the top is definitely worth it.