There are several AIR MILES credit cards in Canada and the American Express AIR MILES Platinum credit card is probably the one currently offering the best value in Canada for those who do a lot of spending on their credit card. The card offers a generous sign-up bonus and has a great earn rate on multiple categories which should get Canadians excited.
Read my American Express AIR MILES Platinum card review to find out why this card should be in your wallet and why AIR MILES is still a respectable rewards program.
American Express AIR MILES Platinum benefits
- $120 annual fee
- 1,700 AIR MILES sign-up bonus after spending $1,500 in the first 3 months
- Earn up to an additional 1,800 in your first six months of card membership. You can earn an additional 150 miles for every $500 you spend (up to 300 miles per month)
- Earn 1 Reward Mile for every $5 spent on food and drinks, gas and transit purchases, up to $30,000 annually
- Earn 1 Reward Mile for every $10 spent everywhere else
- Annual travel redemption benefit – Get 25% of the miles used back (up to a maximum of 750 miles).
- Receive 500 AIR MILES as a bonus if you refer a friend to this card
- Travel accident & Car rental theft and damage insurance
- Purchase protection & Buyer’s assurance
The American Express AIR MILES Platinum has an annual fee of $120, but it comes with a 2,000 AIR MILES sign-up bonus when you charge $1,500 to your card in the first three months. Those miles are worth $210 as cash AIR MILES, but if you use your points as dream AIR MILES, that bonus would be enough for a short-haul round-trip flight.
If you like to collect AIR MILES then the earn rate with the American Express AIR MILES Platinum should appeal to you since you’ll earn 1 Reward Mile for every $5 spent at restaurants, grocery stores, gas and transit purchases. All other purchases get you 1 mile per $10 spent.
The new annual travel benefit where you get 25% of your miles back on Air Miles redemption is not a game-changer, but it’ll make a huge difference for people who make a redemption every year.
The buyer’s assurance doubles the duration of the original manufacturer’s warranty up to an additional year while purchase protection covers you from damage and theft as long as you purchase the item in full with your American Express AIR MILES Platinum card.
Note that the included travel insurance only covers you for travel accident and car rental theft & damage. If you want a comprehensive travel insurance package, check out one of the best travel credit cards in Canada.
How to redeem AIR MILES
You can earn AIR MILES multiple ways such as using co-branded credit cards, making purchases at participating stores, and making a purchase through airmilesshops.ca. AIR MILES are separated in two groups: cash miles and dream miles. You need to decide if you want to your AIR MILES as cash AIR MILES or dream AIR MILES. You can split your earnings between the two as you wish (e.g. 100% cash, 0% dream 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 into the other programs. 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 Platinum 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 including Shell, Rona, Sobey’s, IGA, Safeway, Metro (Ontario), Hudson’s Bay, Rexall, Jean Coutu, Cineplex, Starbucks, ACE, VIA RAIL, Toys’R’Us, The Keg, and more. See the complete list of stores for your region here.
Dream AIR MILES -Dream AIR MILES can be redeemed for merchandise, attraction tickets, hotel nights, car rentals, and flights. Most of these categories won’t bring more value than what you can redeem as cash miles, so I would recommend to set up your account as cash miles to get more from your miles.
That being said, redeeming your dream miles for flights is often worth it since you can get more value out of your miles. The AIR MILES redemption chart is based on distance and not on cost, so short but costly flights can yield a very good value out of your AIR MILES. For example, flights to remote cities with small airports within provinces can be very costly, but with your dream miles, you would pay just 1,200 to 1,400 miles so this is one of AIR MILES’ sweet spots.
The cost of AIR MILES redemption flights also differs depending on the season. Here are a few examples of redemption costs in miles (low season / high season) within North America:
- Toronto – Washington : 1,300 / 1,600
- Montreal – Halifax : 1,300 / 1,600
- Calgary – Portland : 1,400 / 1,700
- Vancouver – San Diego : 1,900 / 2,600
- Toronto – Miami : 2,800 / 3,500
For other continents, the number of miles required varies based on distance and flights can cost more than 10,000 miles. To see how many miles you need for a particular destination, you can look it up on their interactive chart.
Note that only a limited number of seats per flight are allocated to award redemptions so you need to book in advance or be flexible with your dates in order to book popular routes and dates.
My American Express AIR MILES Platinum card review is positive. The card often overlooked and is not as prestigious as some of the premium travel credit cards on my list of best travel credit cards, but it’s a very good alternative for people not wanting a card with a high annual fee.