AIR MILES is one of the most popular loyalty programs in Canada and there are multiple co-branded credit cards to help you earn additional MILES such as the American Express AIR MILES Credit Card. For a card with no fee, it offers a decent sign up bonus and a respectable earnings rate which should get AIR MILES collectors excited.
Read my American Express AIR MILES card review now to find out if this card should be in your wallet and the AIR MILES rewards program works.
American Express AIR MILES card benefits
- No annual fee
- 500 AIR MILES sign up bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 months
- Earn 1 Reward Mile for every $15 spent at AIR MILES sponsors
- Earn 1 Reward Mile for every $20 spent everywhere else
- Optional balance transfer with an interest rate of 1.99% in the first 6 months
- Receive 500 AIR MILES as a bonus if you refer a friend to this card
- $100,000 Travel Accident Insurance
- Purchase protection & Buyer’s assurance
The American Express AIR MILES card comes with a sign up bonus of 500 AIR MILES which is worth $52.50 as cash AIR MILES. If you decide to use that bonus as dream AIR MILES, you’ll need to collect some more points before you’re able to fly anywhere. This sign up bonus may not sound very good, but since there’s no annual fee, there’s not much to complain about.
I should also note that Great Canadian Rebates is offering $30 in cash-back when you apply through them (referral link) so you actually come out with cash-back and AIR MILES by applying which is pretty sweet.
The earn rate with the American Express AIR MILES card is 1 Reward Mile for every $15 spent at AIR MILES sponsors and 1 Reward Mile for every $20 spent everywhere else which is pretty standard for a no fee AIR MILES card.
Purchase protection, buyer’s assurance, and travel accident insurance are a nice throw in, but if you want a comprehensive travel insurance package, check out one of the best travel credit cards in Canada.
How AIR MILES works
When you earn AIR MILES, you have the option of selecting which type of miles you collect. The two options are cash miles and dream miles. You can choose to have your miles earned 100% towards one category or split whichever way you want (e.g. 100% dream, 0% cash or 75% dream and 25% cash), but once the miles are in one of the two groups (cash or dream), they can’t be transferred to the other category, so set up your account carefully.
Cash AIR MILES – Cash AIR MILES can be redeemed at retailers or for gift cards online at a ratio of 95 AIR MILES = $10. This makes the American Express AIR MILES card different from some of the best travel credit cards as you can use your points for free groceries, gas and more. The list of stores where you can redeem cash AIR MILES is quite extensive but it only makes sense to collect AIR MILES if you shop at participating retailers on a regular basis.
Dream AIR MILES – Dream AIR MILES can be redeemed for merchandise, attraction tickets, hotel nights, car rentals, and flights which may seem appealing, but many of these rewards aren’t worth much more than had you redeemed your points for cash miles. Generally speaking, I find cash AIR MILES to be more valuable than dream miles.
How the American Express AIR MILES card compares to others
The American Express AIR MILES card has a lower sign up bonus and earnings rate compared to the American Express AIR MILES Platinum and American Express AIR MILES Reserve cards. This shouldn’t be surprising since the other cards have an annual fee of $65 and $299 respectively while the American Express AIR MILES card has no fee. In other words, if you’re willing to pay an annual fee, you’ll get more rewards.
It’s hard to compare the American Express AIR MILES card to some of the best travel credit cards in Canada since AIR MILES is a very different program. I personally prefer straightforward travel rewards programs such as the one that comes with the Scotiabank Passport Infinite Visa.
Since I believe that cash miles are better than dream miles, you should be comparing the American Express AIR MILES card to popular cash-back cards such as the Tangerine Money-Back card or the American Express SimplyCash card. Both of those cards make it much easier to earn cash-back.
My American Express AIR MILES card review is neutral. If you’re going to collect AIR MILES, you likely shop a lot at partner retailers which means it’s likely a better value for you to sign up for an AIR MILES card that gives you better rewards. That being said, for a no-fee card that earns you AIR MILES, it’s not bad.