Well, this has been a roller coaster.
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Amex Green Card: Credit Card or Charge Card?
When the new American Express Green card launched last week, I wrote that it was a standard Amex
proprietary charge product, like Gold and Platinum, despite marketing speak dubbing it a credit card. I was pretty convinced.
Then I got a passed a message from American Express stating that the American Express Green card is, indeed, a credit card – not a charge card – and that I should update accordingly. I was also told it would therefore be subject to the 5-6 card limit on American Express credit card products.
Even sites like Marketwatch stated that it had been “switched from a charge card to a credit card.”
After Further Research, I Think It’s Still a Charge Card
When I wrote that correction, based on the info directly from Amex, I got a lot of heat. After all, as many people pointed out, the terms listed on the application for the Green Card mirror those of the American Express Gold Card and Platinum Card from American Express cards and do not read like any credit card.
Sure, you can Pay Over Time (POT as many like to abbreviate it) which makes it function like a credit card, but making it function like a credit card doesn’t make it a credit card.
Despite all the conflicting information, I initially felt that there must be changes under the hood if Amex was correcting blogs to say that it was a credit card.
But after a few phone calls this morning and drilling deep into specific words and language with Amex application reps and new card reps, I now believe, with 99.9999999999999% certainty, that this is what we know (whether they want to get away from the term or not) as a charge product.
American Express clearly wants to stop using the word “charge card” to describe the Green Card. And they want to position it like a traditional credit card.
All of this is more than fine by me.
But, for the definition of what this card is to those of us in miles and points that care for very different reasons than the general public, let’s remove the words charge and credit and replace them with “Amex Proprietary” and “Amex Lending.”
Proprietary cards are American Express’ line of Green/Gold/Platinum/Centurion cards, that we have historically called charge.
Lending cards are all other credit cards issued by Amex. Your cobranded airline and hotels cards, the Blue cards, etc. – everything that isn’t a Membership Rewards earning Green/Gold/Platinum/Centurion card.
Why does it matter?
American Express limits most people to 5 “lending” products – credit cards. Some get a 6th but I don’t know of anyone with more than 6 credit cards.
American Express does not include “proprietary” products, like Green, Gold, and Platinum in this count.
So if you are at 5-6 credit cards with Amex, you’d expect to be declined for the Green card on that basis if it were a credit (lending) product but approved (at least if you met all other lending criteria) if it’s a charge (proprietary) product.
I was skeptical at the outset when I was corrected on my original belief that it was a proprietary card but issued my correction that it was a credit product based on the source. Perhaps I should have written that I was still skeptical (I did post a disclaimer that I was awaiting more clarification).
In the end, I’m 99.99999999% sure that this is a case of Amex’s marketing team working overtime to market the card as a credit card while it remains, behind the scenes, a proprietary card.
This means that it won’t count against your 5-6 card limit with Amex credit card products.
It will *function* like a credit card, however, with Pay Over Time acting the same as your revolving line on any other credit product. Simply put, before Pay Over Time was a thing with Amex, the charge cards required payment in full each month. The Green Card will not, and that’s pretty much the end of the story.
So to anyone that isn’t a rewards addict, sure, it’s “like a credit card” or “acts like a regular credit card” but for us, it’s still a “proprietary charge card” that functions like a credit card with built-in Pay Over Time.
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