**This post may contain affiliate links. I may be compensated if you use them.

The American Express Gold Rewards Card is one of the best travel rewards credits in Canada and is currently one of my favourite cards on the market. Some people complain that Amex isn’t widely accepted, but in recent years, more and more merchants now allow you to pay with American Express. Although this is an inconvenience when your card isn’t accepted, American Express Membership Rewards is the best bank travel rewards program in Canada.

Membership Rewards points are highly flexible thanks to their transfer partners. For context, you can transfer your Membership Rewards points to Aeroplan on a 1:1 basis or to Marriott Bonvoy at a 1:1.2 ratio. Keep reading my American Express Gold Rewards Card review to find out other benefits are included and why it’s one of the best American Express credit cards in Canada.

American Express Gold Rewards Card Review

American Express Gold Rewards card benefits

  • $150 Annual fee 
  • 25,000 American Express Membership Rewards points welcome bonus after charging $1,500 in purchases
  • 5,000 additional points when you add an additional cardholder to your account at the time of application.
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on grocery, gas, pharmacy, and travel
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Comprehensive travel insurance package included
  • 1 Free supplementary card ($50 value)

The American Express Gold Rewards card is an excellent credit card since it comes with a welcome bonus of 25,000 American Express Membership Rewards points as a welcome bonus when you charge $1,500 in purchases to your account in the first three months. When you use a referral link, you can ear an extra 5,000 points when you add another car to your account at the time of the application. What that means is that you need to add an authorized user (known as a supplementary cardholder) to get the bonus. Since there is no fee to add an additional user and there is no effect on that person’s credit score, you should totally take advantage of this increased offer. For reference, the regular does not give you the 5,000 extra American Express Membership Rewards points.

The earn rate of 2 points per $1 spent on grocery, gas, pharmacy, and travel is better than many similar cards. It’s true, some of the best cash back cards in Canada have higher multipliers in some categories, but I believe travel points are more valuable if you use them to their maximum potential which I’ll explain below.

Although the card comes with a comprehensive insurance package, it’s worth noting that trip cancellation is not included. I don’t consider this a deal breaker, but if trip cancellation is important to you, you may want to consider using one of the best credit cards with travel insurance.

How does American Express Memberships Rewards work?

To claim $10 in travel, you need 1,000 American Express Membership Rewards points. That means with the American Express Gold Rewards card, you’re earning 2% in points when spending on grocery, gas, pharmacy, and travel. All other purchases earn you 1% in points. This isn’t bad, but it’s really the other features of Membership Rewards that should interest you.

With your points, you can transfer them to Aeroplan or British Airways Avios at a 1:1 ratio. In addition, Amex occasionally runs promotions where if you transfer 20,000 points, you get another 5,000 points for free which makes your ratio 1:1.25.  Other airline programs where you can transfer your points include Alitalia MilleMiglia, Asia Miles, Delta SkyMiles, and Etihad Guest, but your transfer ratio 1:.75

If you prefer to transfer points to hotels, you can get exchange your Membership Rewards points to Marriott Bonvoy at a 1:1.2 ratio or to Hilton Honors at a 1:1. Marriott and Hilton are both massive chains so you won’t have any issues using your points.

With Marriott, you can basically figure out what’s the best value for your points by comparing it to the nightly room rate and how many points it takes to claim a room with your Marriott Bonvoy points. Let’s say you want to book a night at a Marriott hotel and the regular room rate is $200. Now let’s say that the same room costs 25,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. 25,000 Marriott Bonvoy points = 20,833 Membership Rewards points. But 20,833 MR points = $208.33 in cash. Basically, you’re better off paying cash at this redemption. However, if the nightly rate was $250, converting your MR points to Marriott Bonvoy would be a good value. 

Claiming points for travel is easy, but you must make your reservation through the American Express TripFlex Program. This service does not have the prettiest interface, but you’ll be able to book just about any travel you need. Even if you can’t find what you need via the Amex travel portal, you can book your travel reservations on your own and then apply your points after. In addition,  you can use your points to pay for fees and taxes so it’s possible to have no out of pocket expenses.

There’s also the Fixed Points Travel Program which can offer good value, but it depends on the base fare value of the ticket you’re looking to get. You might get more out of your points if you transfer them to airline partners and make your booking through their respective loyalty programs so always check to see what’s available. 

How the Amex Gold Rewards card compares to others

The best card to compare the Amex Gold Rewards Card is the BMO World Elite Mastercard. With the BMO card, you earn 3 points per $1 spent on travel purchases, but you need 140 points to claim $1 in travel which makes your return 2.1% on travel purchases. All other purchases earn you 2 points per $1 spent or a 1.4% return.

When looking at the base earn, the BMO World Elite Mastercard is similar and you 4 annual airport lounge passes, but you have no transfer partners with BMO. Amex Membership Rewards are much more valuable since you can transfer your points to airlines and hotels which is why it’s one of the best travel rewards programs in Canada.

You could also compare the Amex Gold Rewards Card to the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card. With the TD card, you earn 1.5 Aeroplan miles per $1 spent on grocery, gas, drugstore and aircanada.com purchases, but the Gold Rewards Card gives you 2 points per $1 spent on the same categories. Since you can transfer your MR points to Aeroplan at a 1:1 ratio, many people would say the Gold Rewards Card is better which is why it’s one of the best Aeroplan credit cards.

Final thoughts

Overall my American Express Gold Rewards card review is positive. The Amex Membership Rewards program offers full flexibility since you can transfer to various loyalty programs. Also keep in mind that with Membership Rewards, you can combine your points if you have other Amex cards by calling customer service. Remember, when you use my referral link below, you get an extra 5,000 Membership Rewards points when you add an additional cardholder to your account at the time of application.

American Express Gold Rewards Card Review | Get up to 30,000 welcome points

35 Comments

  1. Kate on March 21, 2016 at 9:28 PM

    Thank you for this review! I’ve been debating applying for this card for a while now, I’m drawn to the flexibility of the points, the sign up bonus, and the insurance perks you mentioned.

    Why do you say it’s a positive review only from a churning perspective? I’m not looking to churn (don’t want to hurt my credit score? I think that hurts it?) just looking for a good travel rewards cards with perks like insurance (especially if there’s a $100+ annual fee). Any alternatives you’d recommend comparing this card to?

    • Barry Choi on March 21, 2016 at 9:39 PM

      Kate,

      When I say from a churning perspective, what I mean is it’s best if you’re converting the points to Aeroplan or Avios. The AMEX points do offer flexibility but they work out to only be a 1% return. If you want full flexibility with a slightly higher return, take a look at the Capital One Aspire Travel World Elite MasterCard. The insurance that AMEX offers is pretty good.

      In regards to your credit score, when you apply for a new card you take a credit hit of about 10 points, but that goes back up after a few months (assuming you’ve made your payments on time). It’s perfectly fine to apply for multiple credit cards, I just wouldn’t do it before applying for a mortgage.

      The only other travel credit cards worth looking into are the TD Rewards – TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite Card and the BMO World Elite MasterCard

      The TD card is good because you can earn extra points when you book via Expedia while the BMO card gives you airport lounge access (but less of a signup bonus compared to the Capital One card).

      • Kate on March 22, 2016 at 3:27 PM

        Thank you so much for the reply Barry! I appreciate you explaining the effect on your credit score and the card recommendations, I’ll definitely compare those. 🙂

      • Stacee on January 4, 2017 at 6:37 PM

        This is helpful, thanks. Barry, is there a reason you wouldnt recommend the RBC Avion Visa Infinite card? Thats the card that I have and am looking at other options. Thanks!

        • Barry Choi on January 4, 2017 at 7:39 PM

          Hi Stacee,

          The RBC Avion card as a premium credit card doesn’t quite stack up to other cards in the same category. The travel insurance offered is excellent, but there is a redemption cap depending on which zone you’re flying too.

          The 15,000 points are nice, but not worth as much as the 25,000 points (including the Amex Gold card). Plus there’s an annual fee.

          It’s not a terrible card, but there are similar cards that are better and come with a higher sign up bonus and no fee for the first year.

  2. Jay on January 15, 2017 at 9:56 AM

    Barry, you have a typo. Also you’re not mentioning how few merchants accept amex nowadays. Even visa is starting to be limited. I do churning so I can’t get this card again just yet.

    “That being said, I would recommend applying for 5 credit cards right before applying for a mortgage.”

    • Barry Choi on January 15, 2017 at 10:13 AM

      Hey Jay,

      Good catches on both. I’ve just updated the post to address those issues. Much appreciated!

      As for churning, since AMEX has a once per lifetime rule, I won’t be reapplying for this card =(

  3. Vickie B on January 16, 2017 at 7:20 AM

    Make sure as well that you are using the card after a year..they take away miles if you haven’t used your card in a year( even though most are from merchants who are members, that paid for the miles you earned) Happened to my niece – she didn’t use her card – didn’t even think of it- when her mother died suddenly from a brain bleede, and she not only had to deal with the grief and shock of losing her mother & best friend – but the distribution of her assets, sorting out her finances, ( mother was a single working mom, and still had a mortgage, credit cards, car loan, etc., and no will – she was only 57 & thought she had more time) Anyway, after getting the sale of her house & car, plus all the other stuff- time flew by & she decided to take a trip using her Aeroplan miles. ( she had last used the card when she took her mother on a trip the year before – in November) Well, she had no miles left. They had expired 10 days before she called.

    I do not have any love for a company that treats people so shabbily ( there is a class action against them for this reason) If you can exploit them, and take them for more than you give- go for it.
    But when they can do this to a person in pain, with no conscience about it- I’m done with them.

    Also, are you able to earn the referral miles from people who sign up on the link you provided on this blog?

    Some places do not allow you to earn referral fees from posting your link on a website or blog..

    • Barry Choi on January 16, 2017 at 7:26 AM

      Hi Vickie,

      You’re right that Aeroplan points expire after one year, but that doesn’t mean you need to keep using the credit card. You just need to earn at least one Aeroplan point every year which you can do at participating merchants.

      American Express Membership Rewards never expire, so if you plan on transferring them to Aeroplan, you can wait until you need them.

      I do indeed earn referral miles from people who use my signup link

  4. Angela on February 17, 2018 at 8:26 PM

    Hi Barrie! Once you hit your minimum spend, can you please clarify the AMEX Gold Rewards Card footnote:

    “You will receive your bonus points when you have at least $1,500 in net purchases posted to your account in your first 3 months of Card membership. Please allow 8 to 10 weeks for the bonus Membership Rewards points to be awarded.”

    If you receive approval on April 1st, hit the minimum spend in Month1 for example by April 30th, are the points awarded 8 to 10 weeks from April 30th or not until after the first 3 month period is complete?

    ie. are points awarded 8 to 10 weeks after minimum spend completion date or after first 3 months 🙂

    Thanks as always for your help!!

    • Barry Choi on February 17, 2018 at 8:29 PM

      Hi Angela,

      When rewards points get posted to your account can vary. Some people have said that they get them right away after meeting the minimum spend while the 8-10 weeks disclaimer refers to after you’ve met the spend requirement.

      In your example, points could post 8-10 weeks from April 30th (the minimum spend completion).

  5. dAVID on April 16, 2018 at 6:56 PM

    Hi Barry,

    Question : If I were to pay something with my Gold rewards card and say I do balance transfer over to MBNA would that be possible and still get the points?
    Thanks

    • Barry Choi on April 16, 2018 at 7:54 PM

      David,

      In theory, that would work, but I can’ confirm this.

      Note that if you can’t pay the entire balance off right away that the points won’t be worth it due to interest charges.

      • David on April 16, 2018 at 8:37 PM

        Ah Okay thank you, Do we get 21 days grace period like all credit cards?

        • Barry Choi on April 16, 2018 at 8:46 PM

          yes, but note that Amex is a charge card so acts a bit differently compared to traditional credit cards.

      • Paul on September 23, 2019 at 12:55 PM

        Thinking about getting this. So I tried searching for flights for Paris- comparing how I would Aeroplan vs just buying a ticket from a site such as Air Canada. Air Canada was about $700 all in/ round trip where as in Aeroplan it was in total $1400 with some US surcharge, EU surcharge blah blah …. So it isnt The AMEX fixed flights better in that case? Also, if I use your link to apply for this card do I get the Annual fee waived or do I still use my Perkopolis code? Thanks again

        • Barry Choi on September 23, 2019 at 6:37 PM

          Paul,

          You basically nailed the reason why Amex MR can be so valuable. In some cases, Aeroplan will cost you less, but you’ll often find the Amex’s Fixed travel program gives you even better value. Remember, you can transfer Amex MR to Aeroplan so only move points when you find a better value.

          • Paul on September 23, 2019 at 11:55 PM

            Thanks. I had to see it for myself after reading the pros and cons of Aeroplan and Amex MR.
            So does the perkopolis code still work? I have perkopolis code from work.



          • Barry Choi on September 24, 2019 at 7:36 AM

            Paul,

            I believe Perkopolis just got rid of their deal with the Gold Amex



  6. Mark on November 4, 2018 at 2:35 AM

    Hi Barry,

    I learned recently that the double points on grocery, gas, pharmacy and travel only works in Canada. If you use the Card in those categories in the US, you don’t get double points. Somewhat annoying. Do you recommend a card for Canadians spending money in the US?

  7. Jeremy on December 6, 2018 at 12:48 PM

    Hi Barry,

    How does the scotia bank American Express gold card compare to the TD, BMO, and Amex Gold card that you were previously mentioning about?

    https://www.scotiabank.com/ca/en/personal/credit-cards/american-express/gold-card.html

  8. Lei on February 3, 2019 at 7:55 AM

    I have this card and it does include trip cancellation on its insurance coverage. (It’s the main reason I got it and faster accumulation of points).

  9. Lei on February 6, 2019 at 10:22 AM

    The one I linked! Oh god, their names are so confusing!

    • Barry Choi on February 6, 2019 at 11:23 AM

      The you’re covered, that’s all that matters!

  10. Matt on March 6, 2019 at 10:53 PM

    Hi Barry,

    You mentioned that “With your points, you can transfer them to Aeroplan or British Airways Avios at a 1:1 ratio. In addition, Amex is constantly running promotions where if you transfer 20,000 points, you get another 5,000 points for free which makes your ratio 1:1.25.” So my questions are:
    1) How frequent are these promotions? Once a year or like RBC Avion twice a year?
    2) Is the bonus transfers applicable to both Aeroplan and BA Avios?

    You also mentioned that “If you prefer to transfer points to hotels, you can get SPG points at a 2:1 ratio or Hilton Honors at a 1:1.” So my question is:
    3) Now that Marriott completely merged the SPG program and renamed it as Marriott Bonvoy, is the transfer ratio still 2:1? If so, it is much better off just getting the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card which earn 2 points for every $1 on all other purchases.

    Thanks,
    Matt

    • Barry Choi on March 7, 2019 at 7:23 AM

      Hey Matt,

      There have been quite a few changes since I originally wrote the article and it’s obvious I missed a few things when I made updates over the years.

      The bonus 5,000 points used to be quite frequent, but in the last year, I haven’t seen any for Aeroplan or Avios. The transfer rate of 1:1 for Aeroplan is still good and I would argue that this is better Aeroplan compared to the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite card (although the TD card has a great promotion right now).

      As for Marriott Bonvoy the new transfer ratio is 1:1.2 as in 1 Amex points = 1.2 so yes the new Marriott Bonvoy card has a better earn rate, but it also depends on what you want to do with your points. Amex MR gives you flexibility since you can use them at a 1% return on ANY travel purchases. You could also used the fixed mileage program that Amex has which can be lucrative, and as you know, you can transfer to Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton.

      It’s also worth noting that sometimes keeping your points in Amex MR is more valuable than transferring to Marriott. For example let’s say you want to claim a room at Marriott and it’ll cost you 35,000 points, but has a real cost of $250. 35,000 Marriott = 29,167 Amex MR Points (If you had them and were going to transfer to Marriott) so in this scenario it would be better to just use your Amex MR points to make the claim instead of transferring to Marriott Bonvoy. However, if the hotel had a real value of $300+, then transfer away.

      Of course, I’m not factoring the higher earn rate with the Marriott Bonvoy card, I just wanted to illustrate that Amex MR points can give you more flexibility. There’s also the free annual night to consider for the Marriott Bonvoy card which is a great benefit.

      • Matt on March 7, 2019 at 8:36 AM

        Thanks Barry! I really appreciate your quick response and detailed explanation – allowing me to make an informed decision.

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