Amex Gold + Amex Green Cards for Military Travelers | Military Money Manual Podcast Episode 35

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The Platinum Card® from American Express is my #1 recommended card

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The American Express® Gold Card military benefits include an annual fee waiver for active duty servicemembers and military spouses.

The American Express® Green Card military benefit is the same, with an annual fee waived for anyone in the MLA database, which includes military dependents and active duty troops.

Both the active duty servicemember and the spouse can be primary users on the card and do not need to be authorized users on each other's accounts.

Both cards can add tens of thousands of additional Amex Membership Reward points to your account. They also have complementary bonus categories to the Amex Platinum card, so you can earn more points in different categories like US supermarkets, travel, and restaurants.

Outline of Episode:

  • Amex Gold Card
  • Amex Gold bonus categories
  • Which card to use when traveling in the United States or overseas
  • Other benefits of Amex Gold card
  • Upgrading your Gold card to a Platinum card
  • Amex Green Card
  • Benefits of Amex Green card
  • Is the Green card a good everyday card? 
  • Putting it together using the Platinum, Gold, and Green cards together in your portfolio in an efficient way to take advantage of the benefits 
  • Referral links and bonuses

Military Money Manual Podcast Episode #35 Transcript

[00:00:00] Spencer: So you're flying to your destination on the Platinum card. You're paying for your restaurant with your Gold card because you're earning 4x points. Then at the hotel, unless you have another card that you're using, you should be pulling out your Green card because you're going to be earning 3x points on the hotel charges.

Welcome to the Military Money Manual Podcast.

Hello, and welcome to the Military Money Manual Podcast. I'm Spencer Reese, and I'm here with my co-host, Jamie. 

Hey, Jamie.

[00:00:28] Jamie: Hey Spencer. Thanks for having me again. In every episode, we present a new topic to help you achieve financial independence in the military faster than before. Today on the podcast, we're going to talk about a military traveling topic, the Amex Gold Card and the Amex Green Card.

[00:00:44] Spencer: Yeah. So lots of military service members and their spouses are aware that you can open up the Platinum card from American Express. Get the annual fee wave through the Military Lending Act or MLA, and we covered the Amex Platinum Card in episode 10 of the podcast. If you listen to episode number 19, you can get the details about how to get your annual fees waived on Chase and Amex cards.

But the 62nd version is, it's really easy as long as your active duty and as long as your spouse is properly in DEERS with a social security number. Then you should be able to get your annual fees waived as soon as you open the card. You actually don't have to do anything. You don't have to submit any orders, you don't have to submit any documentation.

And the easiest way to check that is just Google, MLA database, and go look up your social security number or your spousal social security number in the database. Then as long as it says that you're eligible for Military Lending Act benefits, then both Chase and Amex will waive your annual fees as soon as you open up the card.

So again, that's episode number 19. If you want to get all the details on that. I'm sure some of you listening to this are like, that sounds crazy, but nope. That's how it works. It's true. So if you want to deep dive into military credit cards, I do have the Ultimate Military Credit Cards course on my website.

It's 10 short lessons delivered over five days. You can unsubscribe at any time. Don't worry. I hate spam as much as you do, and I honor all unsubscribe requests immediately. You'll never get another email from me again if you don't want it. It's a free course. uniform, Mike, Charlie three, that's Ultimate Military Credit Cards course.

Or you can just Google Ultimate Military Credit Cards course and you'll find it on my website, I'll send you the first email within a few minutes after you sign up. Again, it's 100% free, so no cost to you. Before we dive into the two cards, Jamie, why should military service members or their military spouses, they could be civilians as well?

Civilian spouses? Consider these cards.

[00:02:44] Jamie: The main benefits are that you can earn more membership rewards points, which are the Amex point membership rewards on welcome bonuses or signup bonuses. There are only three Amex cards that earn membership rewards points. You can also upgrade the cards to Amex Platinum and have an additional Amex Platinum to earn the extra or another series of annual benefits on the cards.

Double the Saks credit, double the airline credit, and all those things we talked about in the Platinum episode. Also, there are bonus categories for each of these two cards, the Green and the gold that are different and complimentary to the other cards like the Platinum, and help you earn even more membership rewards points.

[00:03:28] Spencer: Yeah. All good points. So Jamie, let's start with the higher tier card, the Amex Gold card. So just for the listeners at home in, in case you're a little bit new to this game. Basically, every credit card company has about three or four different tiers of travel rewards cards or credit card rewards cards, or excuse me cashback rewards cards.

And for American Express, at the top, you have the Amex Platinum Card. Then you have, below that you have the Amex Gold Card, and then below that, you have the Amex Green. With all these cards, you can earn Amex membership rewards points, which can be extremely valuable. So most websites price the Amex membership reward points at 2 cents per point.

So if you see a bonus, like 60,000 points for instance, you can just multiply at times two, cut off a couple of zeros, and you can recognize that bonus is worth probably $1,200 or even more. I once got 11 cents per point on redemption, which was pretty crazy. I think we talked about it in the Amex Platinum episode, and then you can transfer the points to travel partners for maximum value.

Someone, the easiest way is to redeem the points you'll probably see Amazon wants you to use the points on their website and that's a fine way to do it. But you're probably only going to get 0.70 cents per point, which is a terrible redemption. You can go listen to one of our episodes that we talked about values.

And so rather than doing that though it's probably better to transfer the points to travel partners or cash out the points for airfare and hotels through the Amex travel portal, even that's not the best redemption. 

Jamie, on the Amex Gold Card what kind of annual fees can you expect on this card and for a normal person?

And then what about somebody who's in the military or married to a military service?

[00:05:28] Jamie: So the Amex Gold currently is a $250 annual fee per card. Again, check for the latest if you're listening to this several months or several years down the road, the $250 annual fee is waived.

For military members and their spouses under the Military Lending Act, like Spencer mentioned earlier, one note that we've talked about in the past before, but just to make sure this is really important to understand, is that both this service member and their spouse, the military spouse, if they're properly in DEERS, can have their own card, their own account, and all that separate from each other, not just an authorized user or additional card holder. At the time of this recording right now, the current bonus offer, Spencer, is 60,000 membership rewards points, which is really great. You do have to spend $4,000 in the first six months, and that offer is subject to change anytime.

As I said, make sure you're looking at the latest offer from One of your favorite things about the Gold Card, Spencer, is that it comes in gold or rose gold, which I'm not really a big fan of, but you do the rose gold one.

[00:06:35] Spencer: Yeah, I sure do. I think it's it's one of the most unique-looking cards out there, and I'm glad that they offer those two different color choices.

That's a pretty awesome welcome bonus to start off with, and it's one of the highest welcome bonuses, I think public offers that I've seen on this card. 

One thing you mentioned there, Jamie, was that military spouses can open up their own cards. It doesn't have to be an authorized user. One question I got recently is if my spouse is already an authorized user on my card do I have to take her off the card, him or her off the card, and then open up their own account?

And the answer is no. You can leave them as an authorized user on your card is the primary, and they can open up their own card as well. So I do that where I am an authorized user on several of my wife's cards, and she's the authorized user on several of my cards. But then we both also have our own primary card.

[00:07:29] Jamie: So the reason that there's a difference between the authorized user and having your own full account is a couple. But the main thing is that you can, as an authorized user, just swipe it's an extra card that goes back to the main card or the main account holder's profile bill and earning points versus an entirely separate account.

One of the reasons that you have authorized cards on some of your spouse's cards you've mentioned before, is that they've sent something like $20,000 or 20,000 points. To add an additional cardholder, right? So that's some of the reasons why you might have one if it wasn't from having an authorized user in the past.

One other thing I want to mention real quick is with any of these cards, with the signup bonus, there's always going to be some kind of spend requirement for $2,000, $3,000, or something like that in the first three or six months. So make sure you're only signing up for a new card. If it's natural for your spending.

We don't want you to have to go into extra in extra debt or spend extra. You never want to carry a balance. So if you're not spending $4,000 naturally in six months, then it's probably not quite the time to open a card. Right now. It's Spencer. Absolutely. We mentioned, oh, go ahead. Sorry.

[00:08:49] Spencer: I was going to say, if you're overseas, you might want to hold off on opening up Amex cards anyways, just because sometimes it's a lot harder to meet the minimum spent naturally when you're overseas because not a lot of.

Places will accept the Amex card. Other than I would say in the US now, it's probably up to 95, 90 8%. I don't know if I've been anywhere in the US now that hasn't accepted an Amex card in the last couple of years. Then in Japan as well, I've noticed that a lot of places take Amex there.

[00:09:22] Jamie: Yeah I've had a couple still, but do the proliferation of the Square card readers and things, PayPal, kind of those platforms, seems like almost everyone is taking on, like you said, at least here.

But how about the bonus categories for this card? We mentioned that's one of the advantages, how it complements the Platinum. What kind of things would the Amex gold be good to buy with buy on this card?

[00:09:48] Spencer: So the main benefit for this card and the reason that it's one of the daily drivers, one of the cards that I keep in my wallet is you can get 4x membership reward points on restaurants.

And that includes takeout and delivery. So like Uber Eats and GrubHub in the United States. Then you can also get 4x points on US supermarkets. So it's very specific there. There has to be a United States supermarket, and it doesn't include things like Costco. I think Walmart's not included.

It's kind of like Target. The big warehouse. That's up to $25,000 per year you can get that 4x. So that would be if you spent $25,000 a year at grocery stores, you could be looking at an extra 100,000 Amex membership reward points, which would be pretty nice to have in your travel bank.

A military-specific benefit of the US supermarkets though is that because of the way that commissaries and the BX system are set up overseas, they do qualify as a US supermarket. So that's a pretty cool benefit. I've, I've tested this in several places when I've been TDY, whether it's to Korea or Japan or Guam.

I guess Guam's still part of the United States, but lots of places in Europe, Italy, Germany and the UK. Whenever I've been TDY I've always made sure to stop by the commissary and just check it. I've actually got a list on my website as well of all the overseas commissaries that code as supermarkets on the Amex Gold card, and then you can earn the 4x points.

You know I said earlier, if you're overseas, maybe hold off on an Amex card, if you're spending, a couple hundred or a thousand dollars at the commissary feeding your family or buying supplies, then you might want to consider the Amex Gold card even if you're stationed overseas.

Yeah. Then the final benefit is you can earn 3x flights on Amex Travel or any flight booked directly with the airline. But this is one benefit here where you're going to want to use your Amex Platinum card instead because, on the Platinum card, you can earn 5x points. On airfare book directly with the airline or book through

And don't count out Amex I know it's a travel portal and sometimes you might be a little anemic to that, but I've actually been on there where you can get some pretty good deals and the airlines will actually discount the fair on Amex travel specifically. Probably, I'm not sure why they're doing it.

It's probably some kind of marketing thing that either Amex is paying them the difference but, I have seen where you can get, a 5% or 10% discount on airfare by booking on Amex Jamie, to me this means that the card is much better than the Amex Platinum card for a lot of everyday purchases, right?

[00:12:35] Jamie: 100%. We've mentioned before how funny it is when people take out the Amex Platinum oh, I'm a big deal, or whatever. Really, if you want to be really smart, you'd be swiping your Amex Gold card when you're out at dinner with the crew or with your coworkers because then you're getting 4x instead of the 1x that you get.

But it's definitely in my wallet all the time and on my Gold card, I'm using it for restaurants and grocery shopping wherever I can to earn membership rewards points.

[00:13:06] Spencer: How about travel both overseas in the United States? Are you going to use this card or are you going to use your Platinum card or a different card?

[00:13:14] Jamie: So it's nice there are no foreign transaction fees. If Amex is accepted, it's still great for the 4X membership rewards points while traveling for fun, whether it's, TDY or even during a PCS for all those restaurants. You know, we all know PCS and TDYs can be tough on eating out budget and health-wise. 

But Amex cards, like you mentioned, aren't always as accepted overseas, so I often always will also carry my, I said often, always, but often carry my Chase Sapphire Reserve or a Visa-based card as well when I'm traveling overseas. But I definitely bring the Gold with me in case it is accepted.

[00:13:55] Spencer: Yep. I do the same thing. Then any other recurring annual benefits people should be aware of?

[00:14:02] Jamie: Absolutely. So the Gold Card also includes $120 a year, which comes as $10 a month towards Uber or Uber Eats credit. You can combine that with your Platinum’s Uber Credit. So for example, on my Uber account, I know Spencer does something similar, we have multiple Platinum cards, and multiple gold cards. Even my wife's cards, we put them all on one account. So this month I had, $80 or $100 of Uber Eats credit. Just tonight I picked up Chipotle for my son using Uber Eatse credit, and it was $19, but I'm like, what? Thank you, Amex for the Chipotle.

You also get $120 a year, which is $10 a month. Again, for GrubHub, Seamless, Cheesecake Factory, Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, or Shake Shack. There are enrollment requirements for these benefits on the Amex website. So you just go to the Amex website, go to the benefits tab, and then some of them will have enroll button.

It's pretty simple to do, but you just gotta do it that one time. Actually, when we were in Hawaii, we were downtown one time for date night in town and we walked by Ruth Chris, and we walked in, and asked for a $10 gift card from each of our gold cards. My wife and I, they looked at us like we were crazy, but I'm like, Hey, whatever, we'll use it eventually, but we're not going to eat here this month.

Yeah. So that's a good way if your pride can handle going in there and asking for a $10 gift card. They also have lost luggage protection as well as purchase protection if there's damage or theft to something you purchased on your goal card within 90 days. So some nice benefits like that are also mirrored on the Platinum and other cards as well.

Spencer, one of the other great things about this card we mentioned already is that you can upgrade it to another Platinum. Can you talk a little bit about that?

[00:15:48] Spencer: Yeah, sure. But first I have to mention $10 at Ruths’ Chris is probably going to buy you half a side of potatoes. You're going to have to combine a few to get that.

[00:15:55] Jamie: Yeah, do it every month for six months, then you can pay for your side. 

[00:15:59] Spencer: There you go. There you go. Yeah, so absolutely. Back to your question, Jamie, the Amex Gold Card, and the Green card can both be upgraded to an additional Amex Platinum card. We've talked about that a little bit already in the last 15 minutes.

But this was one way I was able to build up a portfolio of 8 Amex Platinum cards. I think my wife has 2 or 3 as well. I should probably start adding those up before I left the military and all of them with the annual fees waived. And if you want to learn more about upgrading credit cards, we have podcast episode number 25.

You can go check that one out, and we get into in-depth about how to upgrade lower-tier cards like the Green and the Gold to the higher tier card like the Platinum, but the short and sweet version is you gotta wait a year usually to upgrade the card. Then for Amex, there's a complicated method where you have to move the card to a different login account.

So it's a pretty detailed episode. Go check out episode number 25. Then I've also got a couple articles on my website as well. Another point that a lot of not a lot of people realize is that after your Gold or your Green card, you're not locked out of those cards. So I know some people have emailed me and said if I upgrade my Amex Gold card, I'm going to miss the 4x restaurant benefit.

And absolutely you don't want to, you don't want to miss out on the 4x restaurant benefit. So the nice thing is even the same day after you upgrade the Gold Card to the Platinum Card, I would usually give it a day or two just to let the systems update. But you can upgrade or you can go and open apply for another Amex Gold card or Amex Green card, and you don't need to pay the annual fees on it and you'll be able to open up that account. You will not be eligible for the welcome bonus. That is one caveat there. So Amex has a once per lifetime. You'll probably get the popup that says, based on your recent account activity, you're not eligible for this welcome bonus.

That's fine. Just say you accept it. Open up the Amex gold card, and let's say you just upgraded your Gold to a Platinum. Now you have 2 Platinums and a Gold card. Yep. You can keep earning the 4x on restaurants and groceries.

[00:18:09] Jamie: That's a really amazing travel credit card strategy. I think we both love talking about this because there are so many ways to maximize your benefits, especially for active duty service members or Guard or Reserve on long to term orders.

And their spouses, there's so much cool stuff to get into in this, and it can be as complex or as simple as you want. Maybe having 4 Amex cards might seem doable for you. Maybe having 24 might seem doable for you, but travel credit cards doesn't have to be 9 Amex Platinums. It could just be a couple of them.

Let's transition now to the Amex Green card, which again is a very nice card that compliments the Platinum and the gold ideally, but compliments the Platinum really well. But it's not as common among military members. 

Do you know why or what do you think and what are some of the details of the card?

[00:19:06] Spencer: To answer your last question first, I think the primary reason is that most military service members just hear the Amex Platinum fees are waived. They open up an Amex Platinum and they're done. That's why like when you go out to dinner on the road with a crew or your TDY with the guys and everybody's paying for their hotel room with their Amex Platinum card and you're cringing inside because they're only getting 1X points.

And then when they're, they're buying Chipotle and again, they're using their Amex Platinum card and you're like, ah, come on guys, you can be earning 4x points with the Amex Gold card, and they're like, what? Really? The gold card is better than the Platinum card. It's yeah, actually in this respect, it is for, yeah, for this specific instance.

And that's, that's why it's a game. That's why you have to have a little bit of strategy and use use some tactics going into it. But the Amex Green card, I think I'll highlight the main complimentary benefit, is that you can get 3x points on travel, and that's any travel, so that's flights, hotels, transit, rental cars, taxi, rideshares, like Lyft and Uber.

And that's the complimentary point there. So yeah, with the Platinum card, you can be earning 5x points on airfare, so you're flying to your destination on the Platinum card, you're paying for your restaurant with your gold card because you're earning 4x points. Then at the hotel, unless you have another card that you're using, you should be pulling out your Green card because you're going to be earning 3x points on the hotel charges.

And that's not something people realize that often is that the Green card, even though it's the lowest tier Amex membership reward points card, it's actually going to be pretty powerful. 

We'll talk about just some of the nitty-gritty details here, but Amex Green Card annual fee is waived for military service members and their spouses just like the Gold, just like the Platinum, $150 annual fee otherwise.

You can earn 45,000 membership reward points after you spend $2,000 in the first six months of card membership. Again, that offer is up to change at any point in time. So check my website for the latest. Like we said, 3x points on travel. It also has 3x points on restaurants worldwide.

But again, hopefully, you have a Gold card and you can be earning 4x points on restaurants worldwide and get a 33% bump right there. You also get a hundred dollars per year statement credit to pay for Clear, which is like TSA Pre-check. It helps you get through airport security a little bit faster and you get a hundred dollars per year statement credit for Lounge Buddy, which I actually haven't used yet, but I think you probably won't have too much value in that just because you'll have an Amex Platinum card and or a Chase Sapphire reserve and you'll have the best Priority Pass access there. 

So you won't really need that lounge buddy. Again, no foreign transaction fees. That's most Amex cards, they don't come with foreign transaction fees, but the caveat there is that it's hard to sometimes overseas to get somebody to accept your Amex Platinum card.

So that’s the Amex Green card in a short summary.

[00:22:10] Jamie: So what do you think about using this as a daily driver card? Do you keep it in your wallet?

[00:22:28] Spencer: I don't keep the Amex Green card in my wallet. I've amassed over a million Amex membership reward points due to Covid and not traveling and just really not finding a good redemption.

And I know that you should earn and burn because they devalue points all the time. But I just haven't been able to find a good redemption that I've wanted to use recently, and I haven't been traveling as much due to Covid. So I haven’t been wanting to build up my Amex stash of points.

So no I don't keep the Green around as a daily driver. How about you?

[00:23:05] Jamie: Same, but I add it to my wallet whenever we're going on any kind of vacation or trip. So it will go in there for the vacation. I also will usually put my hotel on that as well as any other travel expenses except for airfare.

And depending on what I'm trying to earn my earning strategy at the time. It may be better than my Hilton Aspire card. For example, if I'm staying at Hilton, that earns 14 points per dollar spent at the Hilton, which is about 8 cents per dollar. My Amex Green will earn 3 points per dollar, which is about 6 cents.

But if I'm trying to earn more Amex points for an upcoming redemption strategy or something like that, then it might be better than that, but at an IHG hotel at a Marriott, or, which apparently is Marriott is how you say that? Chariot I don't know if you've heard that. I heard that the other day.

It was like a TikTok on Instagram or something. So there are times when the Green card is going to be better than some of those co-branded hotel cards. 

So to summarize, no, I don't carry it, but I will bring it out for vacation and use it for a lot of travel expenses because I'm more interested in earning Amex points right now than I am in Hilton or IHG.

We, with my wife and I combined. We're at about 900,000 Amex points right now. So I'm also in that boat of still accumulating and needing to find a redemption, and I'm just waiting for the Maldives to work out. That's my next goal.

[00:24:39] Spencer: That's awesome. Yeah. I'm still waiting for Japan to open up.

[00:24:44] Jamie: Yeah, I think these, the Green and the Gold cards are great cards to consider adding to yourportfolio, even if you're interested in just expanding your travel credit card portfolio just a little bit. It doesn't add a lot of complexity to have these cards, and it doesn't take a complicated spreadsheet, although I have one.

And if you want to get complicated, you can, but if you just remember like the Gold or rose gold, use that at restaurants. Use the silver, the Platinum one. Whenever I buy airfare. Use the Green one for other travel stuff, it can be as simple as that. You don't need stickers on the cards. You don't need a spreadsheet.

But these three cards together are very powerful membership rewards earning portfolio that can really open up some doors because of the way that membership rewards points can be redeemed or transferred to partners to book incredible travel and hotels and airfare and things like that.

You can also upgrade the cards to Amex Platinum to earn the additional benefits that come with that card, as well as take advantage of the different bonus categories and just have a very complimentary portfolio here.

[00:25:52] Spencer: Yeah the restaurant and the groceries category is the biggest reason I see military troops should open up the gold card and the hotel, 3x points on just all general travel.

Like you were saying, Jamie, you can have all these cards in the same Amex account, so you can see your Platinum card, your Gold card, and your Green card, and it's very easy to keep track of. You can just set up autopay so you never have to worry about missing a payment. You know if you are just going to open up three Amex cards and called a day, you could do a lot worse than opening up these three.

And I think that it's definitely a great way to start getting a little bit more complicated in your traveling journey than just opening up an Amex Platinum card. 

Another good thing about when you open up these cards that you'll be able to do is if you have a spouse or a friend, you can get a referral link from them and you can open up the account with the referral link, and oftentimes you'll see a better welcome bonus using somebody's personal referral link than you will see on a public offer.

And you'll also. Be able to earn them some points as well. So it's a nice quit pro quo there. We had an episode about that. So episode number 26, you can go check that out and you can learn. All there is to know about credit cards.

[00:27:24] Jamie: So thanks for joining us today as this quicker episode. We kept the main recording under an hour, so it's pretty impressive. I hope you guys are all proud of us. for Thank you for joining us today, though. Thank you for being here to discuss the great travel credit card potential of these complimentary Amex Gold and Amex Green cards, and how they complement the portfolio is what I meant.

But they're also complimentary for active duty service members and their spouses. So I guess that Fruedian Slip worked out. If you are enjoying the podcast, we'd appreciate if you leave a five-star review on Apple or on Spotify, wherever you listen to the podcast. We do appreciate all the reviews we've had so far.

Thank you so much for supporting us as we continue to podcast. Dozens of episodes, dozens of months now. We've really enjoyed the journey. Also, please subscribe to the podcast. Hit the Plus, smash that like button as Spencer likes to say before I ban that phrase. If you do have any questions or feedback, you can message us on Instagram @MilitaryMoneyManual, or email us at

[00:28:31] Spencer: If you want to support what we're doing here on the podcast, my new book is available right now on Amazon Prime with free shipping. It's a Kindle ebook and it's also an audible audiobook. So if you've got the Amex Platinum card, you can use your free audible credits on that and you can go purchase my audiobook on Audible, and I would really appreciate it.

If you've already purchased a book, thanks so much, and if you have a minute to leave a review of the book on the Amazon page, that would be awesome. I think we're almost up to 20 reviews there. All five stars so far. So thank you very much. I appreciate that positive feedback. But please be honest. When you go leave a review. You can find it on Amazon by searching Military Money Manual, A Practical Guide to Financial Freedom by Spencer Reese.

And it's also on my website, If you want to support me directly by buying the book from me and I'll ship it to you from the Warehouse that I rent in Asheville, North Carolina. Again, thanks for listening and we'll see you on the next episode of the Military Money Manual Podcast.

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