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 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.
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.