Are you looking for an American Express Platinum Canada review? With airfare and hotels being more expensive than ever, paying $799 ($699 until Sept. 26, 2023) a year for a travel credit card may seem insane. That said, with the number of travel benefits you get, including the generous welcome bonus, this card is well worth it. Simply put, the signup bonus pays for itself.
When you look at everything included, the American Express Platinum card is one of Canada’s best travel credit cards. Frequent travellers will love how you get unlimited lounge access, hotel status, and great travel insurance. Read my American Express Platinum Canada review now and find out what you get with the card and how to maximize your benefits.
American Express Platinum Card
- $699 annual fee until Sept. 26, 2023
- Earn 90,000 Membership Rewards points when spending $7,500 in the first 3 months
- Earn 3 points per $1 spent on dining, 2 points on travel, and 1 point on all other purchases
- $200 annual travel credit
- Unlimited airport lounge access
- Hotel status upgrades
Welcome bonus and earn rate
Let’s be real for a second. Many people sign up for this card because it typically has a very generous welcome bonus. The offers have been between 85,000 and 115,000 welcome bonus points when using a referral link. That said, to get the bonus, you need to spend $7,500 within the first three months of card membership.
Since 1,000 point= $10 in travel, your welcome bonus is worth at least $850 when booking through the American Express travel portal. However, if you convert your points to Aeroplan, the bonus can easily be worth double that, so $1,700. That’s much higher than the annual fee.
The earn rate is decent. You’ll earn 2 points per $1 spent on dining (not grocery stores) and travel (3 points per $1 spent until Sept. 26, 2023). All other purchases earn you 1 point per dollar spent. Admittedly, there are cards with a higher earn rate, but this is not bad when factoring in all the additional perks.
Benefits and perks
With an annual fee of $799 ($699 until Sept. 26, 2023), you should rightfully expect a lot of benefits from this metal credit card. Fortunately, the American Express Platinum benefits are easily the best of any travel credit card in Canada. It’s no surprise that it’s one of the best credit cards in Canada.
$200 annual travel credit
My American Express Platinum Canada review is positive because you get an annual travel credit of $200 on your card anniversary (not every calendar year). You also get that travel credit immediately when you sign up.
Let’s be realistic. If you’re applying for this card, you’re likely a frequent traveller, so you’ll want sweet travel perks. The annual credit will be incredibly useful since it can be applied at the time of booking when you’re making a reservation online via the American Express travel portal, or you can call in later to claim your statement credit. Alternatively, some people have been able to convert that amount into “cash” by booking a fully refundable hotel.
$200 annual dining credit
A new annual dining credit of $200 is being introduced as of September 26, 2023. This credit applies every calendar year, so technically speaking, you get it twice the first year you sign up.
While this credit is great, there are a few quirks. It only applies to a single transaction at one of the American Express dining partners. Fortunately, American Express has partnered with Canada’s 100 Best restaurants, giving you access to some of the best dining spots across the country. These restaurants are typically expensive, so burning your $200 credit in a single transaction won’t be difficult.
Since you get an annual $200 credit for both dining and travel, that effectively makes your annual fee $399. But don’t forget, there’s also the $200 travel credit. That means if you use all of your credits, the annual fee for the first year will be just $99 as long as you apply before September 26, 2023.
Unlimited lounge access
Having lounge access is a great way to start your travels. With the Platinum card, you get a Priority Pass membership with unlimited free entries – that’s a value of US $429 (CAD $589). Plus, you can bring a guest during every visit at no extra cost.
The American Express Global Lounge Collection that comes with your card is incredibly valuable since Amex has multiple partnerships in place. This includes American Express Centurion lounges, Plaza Premium airport lounges, Delta Sky Club, and more. Basically, you’ll have lounge access at almost every airport in the world as long as you have the Amex Platinum Card.
What makes the American Express Platinum card one of the best credit cards with airport lounge access is that it also gets you into premium lounges such as Centurion by American Express, Air France / Skyteam, and Delta lounges when you fly on Delta.
Some people think lounges aren’t worth it, or if they’ve never experienced them before, they’re not missing out on anything. I disagree as the travel experience starts at the airport. Lounge access makes things much more comfortable and perfect if you have a long layover. Lounges have also made long delays much more reasonable.
Hotel status upgrades
Another major American Express Platinum credit perk is the instant hotel status upgrade at many major chains. The value of the status is subjective, but generally speaking, you would need to stay 25 nights at each chain every year before you qualify. Here’s what you get right at each brand
- Hilton Honors Gold status
- Marriott Bonvoy Gold elite status
- Radisson Rewards Americas Gold Status
Most of these programs offer free Wi-Fi, room upgrades, bonus points, and early check-in and late check-out. This may not seem like a big deal,l but you need to read the details of each hotel loyalty program to see what you’re entitled to.
With Marriot Bonvoy Gold, you get 25% more points on eligible spending, a welcome gift or points, and a dedicated reservation line. This status stacks with the Marriott Bonvoy Amex Card, so you can earn points quickly if you’re a frequent guest at Marriott hotels. Marriott International has over 7,000 properties in 130+ countries, so you’ll have no problem finding a hotel.
When you charge your NEXUS application or renewal to your American Express Platinum Card, you’ll get a statement credit of up to $100 every four years. Since NEXUS is good for five years, you’ll never need to pay any fees again. Nexus is great for those who travel frequently to the U.S. since it allows you to skip the security and customs lines in both Canada and the United States.
Benefits at Toronto Pearson International Airport
If you happen to fly out of Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, you get the following VIP perks:
- Priority security lane
- Complimentary valet service at the Express Park and Daily Park
- 15% discount on parking rates at the Express Park and Daily Park
In my experience, the priority security line is usually faster than the Nexus line. That may seem weird to many NEXUS cardholders, but it’s true. That said, you don’t need to take off your shoes or go through an X-ray at the NEXUS line. Always use the priority line to clear security, but use the Nexus line to go through customs.
Toronto Pearson airport parking is always expensive, so getting 15% off when paying with your American Express Platinum Card is nice. Keep in mind the discount shows up as a statement credit.
The complimentary valet service only saves you on the one-time fee. You still need to pay the daily rate for parking, which is more expensive than using regular or long-term lots.
|Emergency Medical Insurance||$5,000,000 - 15 days / Under 65|
|Trip Cancellation Insurance||$2,500 per person / $5,000 total|
|Trip Interruption Insurance||$2,500 per person / $6,000 total|
|Flight Delay Insurance||$1,000 - 4 hours +|
|Baggage Delay Insurance||$1,000 - 6 hours +|
|Lost or Stolen Baggage Insurance||$1,000 combined per occurrence|
|Car Rental Theft Damage Insurance||$85,000 - 48 days|
|Hotel/Motel Burglary Insurance||$1,000 per occurrence|
|Travel Accident Insurance||Up to $500,000|
That’s a lot of insurance you get with the American Express Platinum credit card. Some people would argue that there are better credit cards with travel insurance in Canada, but that depends on your viewpoint. There’s no denying that the 15 days of insurance coverage with the American Express Platinum Canada Card is a bit disappointing, but you need to look at the entire suite of insurance that’s included.
At $2,500 a person or $5,000 total for trip cancellation and $2,500 a person or $6,000 total for trip interruption, you’re covered for quite a bit if you need to cancel or cut your trip plans.
Your flight delay insurance kicks at 4 hours which is nice since some policies require you to wait 6 hours. I prefer having this four-hour window as I can make a claim sooner. Flight delays can be brutal, and knowing I’m covered for hotels, meals, and minor expenses can make a huge difference. That said, your baggage insurance requires a six-hour delay before making any claims, which is annoying when other policies only have a four-hour requirement.
- Purchase protection
- Buyer’s assurance
The included purchase insurance is pretty standard. You get purchase protection which covers your purchases for 90 days from theft, loss, and damage. With the buyer’s assurance, your manufacturer’s warranty is doubled up to one additional year. In both cases, you must charge the total purchase amount to your American Express Platinum Canada Card for the insurance to apply.
American Express International Airline Program
The American Express Platinum Card gives you access to the International Airline Program, a little-known benefit. This feature gives you discounts when you book premium economy, business and first-class tickets on international flights with select airlines. For reference, the only Canadian airline participating in the American Express International Airline Program is WestJet.
In addition, the International Airline Program gives you discounted companion tickets with select airlines when booking business or first-class seats. I don’t think you should expect to save hundreds of dollars with this discount, but it’s worth calling the Platinum Card Travel Service at 1.800.263.1616 if you plan on booking any seats in premium economy, business or first class to see any deals.
American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts
The American Express card gives you access to the American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts collection, a highly underrated benefit. When booking a hotel that falls into the Fine Hotels & Resorts collection, you’re entitled to the following benefits:
- Free room upgrade
- Free daily breakfast for two
- $100 hotel credit for food and drinks per stay (may vary per hotel)
- Noon check-in
- 4 PM check-out
- Complimentary WiFi
The website lists that the average value of this benefit is US$550, but I prefer to value this benefit at $150 since the room upgrade is not guaranteed.
Whenever you book a hotel, it’s worth checking to see if a hotel you’re interested in is part of the Fine Hotels & Resorts collection. Sometimes, booking through this benefit will cost me only $20 more, but I get all the extra perks that have made it worthwhile.
American Express Experiences
American Express Experiences are exclusive to American Express cardholders. Not every offer will be of interest, but occasionally, you’ll get one or two that will excite you.
- Front of the line presales – Get access to tickets to concerts, theatre productions, restaurants and more before the general public.
- Front of the line reserved tickets – At select venues, American Express, has agreements where cardholders can purchase reserved tickets and seats.
- Entertainment experiences – Purchase special entertainment experiences such as screenings of movies, theatre packages and more.
- Dining experiences – From tasting menus to food festivals, cardholders can get access to some of the most sought-after culinary events.
- Offers – Throughout the year, you’ll get special shopping offers. These offers can be incredibly valuable since you’ll get a certain amount back as a statement credit. For example, spend $400, and get $100 back.
How to redeem your points
In this American Express Platinum Canada review, I need to go over how American Express Membership Rewards (MR) work since those are the points you’ll earn.
You can redeem 1,000 MR points for $10 for a statement credit. This applies to ALL purchases. American Express Membership Rewards is the only bank travel rewards program that allows you to redeem your points for a statement credit at the same value as travel redemptions.
Booking on your own and then redeeming your points is incredibly valuable since you can find the lowest prices or book directly with brands to take advantage of your loyalty stays. You must Book through the American Express travel portal to use your annual travel credit.
Another interesting thing about Membership Rewards is that you can double the value of your points. Take a look at the chart below. A short-haul flight between Canada and the U.S. requires 15,000 points but has and has a maximum base ticket price of $300. That means your points can have a value of 2 cents each.
American Express Platinum Canada transfer partners
What makes Membership Rewards points valuable is that you can transfer your points to various partners, which include airlines and hotels. This gives your points a lot of value since they’re flexible. Basically, you can look at all the different options available to you and then redeem your points for maximum value.
The transfer ratio for American Express Membership Rewards points is as follows:
|Transfer partner||Transfer ratio|
|Air Canada Aeroplan||1:1|
|British Airways Avios||1:1|
|Cathay Pacific Asia Miles||4:3|
Understanding your transfer partners and the American Express/Fixed Points Travel Program is essential to getting maximum value.
For example, 60,000 Membership Rewards points are worth $600 if you use them on travel purchases. However, they’re worth up to $900 if you use the Fixed Points Travel Program.
Transferring the same number of points to Aeroplan would give you 60,000 Aeroplan points, which can go quite a long way, depending on how you use them. I personally don’t have much issue getting a value of 2 cents per Aeroplan point. That means 60,000 Aeroplan points are worth $1,200.
If you’re an American Express Platinum cardholder and plan to book a flight, always compare the Amex travel portal, the fixed points travel program and Aeroplan to see what gives you the best value.
Regarding hotels, transferring your points to Marriott Bonvoy could save you some money. Generally, you should value your Marriott Bonvoy points at 0.9 cents each. If a hotel costs you 25,000 points, but the nightly rate is $300, that’s a good value. However, if the nightly rate is $150, paying cash or redeeming your American Express Membership Rewards points towards the travel purchase would be better.
American Express Platinum Card eligibility
- You’re a Canadian citizen, or you’re a permanent resident
- You’re at least the age of majority in your province or territory
You’ll quickly notice that American Express doesn’t have a formal personal or household income requirement. In addition, there’s no minimum credit score listed. That said, since this is a premium travel credit card, having a credit score of 700+ will likely improve the odds of you being approved.
How the American Express Platinum Card compares
I like to compare this card to the American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card. The Reserve card has an annual fee of $599 but no travel credit, so the Platinum Card comes out ahead.
What most people get hung up on is the lounge access. With the Platinum Card, you get unlimited access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection, whereas the Reserve Card gives you unlimited access to Maple Leaf Lounges in North America. I personally think Maple Leaf Lounges are better, but that only applies to North American airports that have them. If you fly a lot internationally or to airports without Maple Leaf Lounges, you’d be better off with the Platinum Card.
The secondary benefits are also worth considering. With the Reserve Card, your first checked bag free when flying Air Canada, priority airport check-in, boarding, and baggage handling. These benefits alone could be worth it for travellers who frequently fly Air Canada.
It’s also worth looking at the points. With the Platinum Card, you have flexibility with your points since you have a few transfer partners. With the Aeroplan Card, you’re restricted to using your points on Aeroplan rewards.
My American Express Platinum Canada review is positive. This card is ideal for people in the following situations:
- You want a huge welcome bonus – The signup offer is typically worth around 100,000 points. That’s usually one of the most generous offers on the market.
- You frequently travel – This card gives you unlimited airport lounge access, a yearly travel credit, and hotel status.
- You want flexible rewards – American Express Membership Rewards can be transferred to Aeroplan and Marriott Bonvoy.
If you’re a frequent traveller, want to travel like a VIP, or are trying to earn many points fast, this card is for you. You can easily get more than $2,000 in value in the first year, so the annual fee of $799 ($699 until Sept. 26, 2023) shouldn’t be a huge concern. Friends, family, and readers of my blog can use my referral link below to earn some extra points.
Is the American Express Platinum annual fee worth it?
If I haven’t convinced you about the value of the American Express Platinum Card yet, let me break down the real value of the benefits for you.
- Travel credit – $200
- Welcome bonus – $1,000+
- Lounge access – $520
- Travel insurance – $300
That equals at least $2,020 in value in the first year. Yes, the fee is $799 ($699 until Sept. 26, 2023), but you still come out ahead by more than $1,300.
Let me break down the value for you.
The annual travel credit is $200. Assuming the welcome bonus is worth at least 100,000 points, that’s a minimum value of $1,000. However, if you transferred your points to Aeroplan, it wouldn’t be hard to get a value of at least $2,000. With lounge access, a prestige Priority Pass membership is US $429 (CAD $580), and it gives you and a guest unlimited free visits. Finally, the travel insurance is worth roughly $300 per person. As you can see, there’s an insane amount of value with this card. Even after the first year, the benefits you get are still easily worth more than the annual fee, so consider keeping this card if you travel regularly.