American Express is my favourite type of credit card. Some Canadians complain that it’s not widely accepted, but I find that more and more merchants accept American Express these days. There are obviously some exceptions such as Costco and Loblaw’s owned grocery stores, but they only don’t accept Amex because they’re trying to push their own type of credit cards.

If you’re a fan of American Express like I am, or you’re thinking about getting an Amex card, the question is what are the best American Express credit cards in Canada are? Well, it really depends on how often you travel, the type of rewards you like to earn, and how much you spend each month. Every American Express card is different, but many of them offer premium benefits which are much better than the credit cards you get from the big banks in Canada. Here’s a list of the best American Express credit cards in Canada and what they offer.

CardWelcome BonusAnnual fee
American Express Platinum Card60,000 after $5,000 spend$699
American Express Business Platinum Card75,000 after $7,000 spend$499
Marriott Bonvoy American Express51,000 after $3,000 spend$120
American Express Gold Rewards card25,000 after $1,500 spend$150
American Express CobaltUp to 30,000 points$10 per month
SimplyCash Preferred Card5% cash-back for 6 months$99
American Express Business Edge30,000 MR-S after $5,000 spend$99

American Expres Personal Platinum Card – Best for frequent travellers

  • $699 annual fee
  • 25,000 Membership Rewards points sign up bonus
  • Earn 3 points per $1 spent on dining
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on travel
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • $200 Annual travel credit
  • Unlimited airport lounge access
  • Special benefits at Toronto Pearson International Airport
  • Hotel status upgrades
  • Fine Hotels & Resorts benefits
  • Exclusive dining experiences with the Global Dining Collection
  • Comprehensive travel insurance package
  • Buyer’s assurance
  • Purchase protection

If you travel frequently, then the American Expres Personal Platinum Card is easily the best American Express credit card in Canada since it comes with unlimited lounge access. Normally a membership with Priority Pass would cost you $99 USD and $32 per visit, so there’s a lot of value with the Amex Platinum card when you factor in all the other benefits.

Your earn rate is 3 points per $1 spent on dining, 2 points per $1 spent on travel, and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. This card also gives you an annual travel credit worth $200 and some amazing dining and travel benefits.

American Express Business Platinum Card – Best for business owners

  • $499 Annual fee
  • 45,000 Membership Rewards points welcome bonus when using a referral link
  • Earn 1.25 points for every $1 spent
  • 55 interest free days
  • Unlimited airport lounge access
  • Comprehensive travel insurance package
  • Buyer’s assurance
  • Purchase protection

If you’re looking for a business credit card, the American Express Platinum Business Card is an excellent choice since it gives you 55 interest free days for your purchases. The earn rate isn’t as high as the personal Platinum Card, but you get 1.25 Membership Rewards points for every dollar spent. This is great for businesses or self-employed individuals who do a lot of spending.

The great thing about your earning American Express Membership Rewards points is that you can transfer your points to Aeroplan at a 1:1 ratio or to Marriott Bonvoy at a 1:1.2 ratio. That means you have a lot of flexibility with your points when you’re looking to make a redemption.

The welcome bonus of 45,000 points when you spend $7,000 in the first three months is only available when you use a referral link. The normal offer is 35,000 points.

Marriott Bonvoy American Express Credit Card – Best for hotels

  • $120 annual fee
  • 51,000 Marriott Bonvoy points welcome bonus
  • Earn 5 Marriott Bonvoy points for every $1 on eligible card purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy properties
  • Earn 2 Marriott Bonvoy points for every $1 on all other purchases
  • Free annual night award that can be redeemed at participating Marriott Bonvoy properties worldwide, with a redemption value up to 5,000 points
  • 15 Elite Night credits each calendar year
  • Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status
  • Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status when you spend $30,000 on your card each year
  • Complimentary in-room, premium internet access while staying at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels

If you’re loyal to Marriott properties, then you need to have the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Credit Card (formerly known as the SPG Amex). It comes with a signup bonus of 51,000 points when you use a referral link and charge $3,000 to your credit card in the first three months of card membership. Those points are enough for 5 nights at a category 2 hotel during standard times when you factor in the book 4 nights, get the 5th-night free promotion when booking nights on points. 

Guests who spend at participating Marriott properties will earn 5 points per $1 spent and 2 points per $1 spent on all other purchases. You also get a free annual night award up to 35,000 points which will easily offset your annual fee of $120. If you want to earn an additional 1,000 Marriott Bonvoy points when you sign up, use my referral link below. Note that to get that extra 1,000 points, you need to charge $3,000 to your card in the first three months of card membership instead of the standard offer where you only need to charge $1,500.

American Express Gold Rewards Card – Best for casual travellers

  • $150 Annual fee 
  • 25,000 Signup points after charging $1,500 in purchases
  • 5,o00 extra points when you use my referral link and add an authorized user
  • 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

With a low annual fee and a strong signup bonus of 25,000 points, the American Express Gold Rewards card is one of the best American Express credit cards in Canada. Your earnings rate of 2 points per $1 spent on grocery, gas, pharmacy, and travel is highly lucrative if you happen to spend a lot on those categories while all other purchases get you 1 point per $1 spent. This card is perfect for travellers who want to earn a lot of points without paying a high annual fee. Here’s a pro tip, if you sign up with my referral link, you get an extra 5,000 points as the welcome bonus when you add a supplementary user. There’s no fee to add the second user, so this is an easy way to earn an extra 5,000 American Express Membership Rewards points for free.

American Express Cobalt Card – Best for heavy spenders

  • $10 Monthly fee ($120 Annually)
  • 2,500 monthly welcome points (30,000 total) after charging $500 in purchases
  • Earn 5 points per $1 spent on food (grocery, restaurants, bars, food delivery, etc)
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on travel (includes public transportation and taxis/Uber)
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

The best American Express credit card for foodies is the Cobalt card. This Canadian exclusive card gives you 5 points per $1 spent on groceries, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and even food delivery. Travel purchases including public transportation and Uber get you 2 points per $1 spent while all other purchases earn you 1 point per $1 spent.

What makes the American Express Cobalt Card is that it uses a structure similar to subscription services. You pay a monthly fee of $10 and your sign up bonus is 2,500 per month for the first year when you spend $500 in purchases. That’s a total of 30,000 you can earn as a bonus in the first year. Read my American Express Cobalt card review to find out what other perks you get.

American Express SimplyCash Preferred Card – Best cash back card

  • $99 annual fee
  • 5% cash-back on purchases for the first 6 months (up to $300)
  • 2% cash-back on purchases after the first 6 months (no limit)
  • 1.99% interest rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months
  • Earn $200 cash back for approved referrals (up to $3,000)

If you prefer to earn cash-back instead of rewards, then the American Express SimplyCash Preferred card will appeal to you. You get 5% cash-back (up to $300) on all purchases for the first 6 months. The card does have an annual fee of $99, but once your promotional period ends, you’ll still earn 2% cash-back on all purchases.

Another nice perk about the American Express SimplyCash Preferred card is the optional balance transfer where you’ll only pay 1.99% interest for the first 6 months which is why it’s one of the best low interest credit cards in Canada. For more details about the card, read my full review.

American Express Business Edge Card – Best for freelancers

  • $99 annual fee
  • 3 MR-S points per $1 spent on office supplies & electronics, rides & gas, and eats & drinks (this caps on your first 75K  points)
  • 1 MR-S point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • 30,000 MR-S points welcome bonus when you charge $5,000 to your card in the first three months of cardmembership
  • 1,000 MR-S points when you charge $3,000 to your card each month (this is ongoing)
  • Car rental theft & damage insurance
  • Purchase protection, buyer’s assurance
  • Business and expense management tools
  • Free supplementary card

One of the best American Express Cards in Canada is the American Express Business Edge Card. It’s similar to the Cobalt Card but has a slightly lower earn rate. That may disappoint some people, but you need to understand that this card is one of the few business cards out there that has an increased earn rate on specific categories so it should still be seen as a positive. The increased earn categories are office supplies & electronics, rides & gas, and eats & drinks, which I would argue are essential for freelancers since that’s what many of their expenses are.

Just like the Cobalt Card, the American Express Business Edge Card earns you MR-S points. MR-S points are similar to American Express Membership Rewards Points, but you can’t directly transfer your points to any airline loyalty programs. You can still transfer your points to Marriott Bonvoy or use them with the Fixed Points Travel Program so your points are still flexible.

Why choose American Express cards?

Okay, if Amex isn’t accepted at all merchants, why should you choose one of the best American Express credit cards for your wallet? The simple answer is the points you earn with Amex credit cards are more valuable than any other program in Canada. There’s a reason why American Express ranks #1 on my list of the bank travel rewards programs ranked.

Not all American Express cards earn you American Express Membership Rewards Points (MR), but the ones that do are very popular. With your MR points, you can transfer them to six different airline partners including Aeroplan. You can transfer your points to two different hotel partners including Marriott Bonvoy. When it comes to booking travel, you can use the Amex travel portal or charge any travel purchase to your Amex card that earns Membership Rewards and then apply your points for a statement credit at full value. There’s also the Amex Fixed Points Travel Program that allows you to redeem a fixed amount of points for flights up to a certain value which can be incredibly valuable.

I should mention that the American Express Cobalt Card and the American Express Business Edge Card earn you Membership Rewards Select points which are slightly less valuable since you can’t transfer your points to airline partners.

One perk that does exist for all Amex cardholders is American Express Invites. This benefit gets you exclusive access to some of the best entertainment, sports and culinary events in the world. In the past, there have been offers such as advance tickets for Lady Gaga, private dining with a celebrity chef and box seats at major sporting events. 

How to pick an American Express credit card

Although my list of the best American Express Credit Cards is based on categories, some people still struggle to pick one card over the others. Always consider the following factors when applying for a new credit card.

  • Type of benefits – The type of benefits you want is usually the most important choice. Are you interested in travel or cash back rewards? Don’t forget to consider a low interest credit card if you have any debt.
  • Annual fee – Will the benefits you get from your credit card be worth more than the annual fee? If not, look at no fee credit cards. Keep in mind that you may get your annual fee waived if you have a premium banking plan with RBC.
  • Welcome bonus – The welcome bonus is usually worth more than the annual fee so always take a look at what credit card deals are available when applying.
  • Additional benefits – For some people, the additional benefits such as no foreign transaction fees, lounge access and travel insurance are important, so check to see what each card offers and compare it to others.

By using the above criteria, you should have no problem figuring which American Express credit card you should apply for.

Final thoughts

The best American Express card in Canada is subjective, so pick one based on the type of rewards you want to earn. Once you know the category of rewards you want to earn, pick the card that best fits your spending so you can maximize the number of points you can earn. If you want to see what other great cards are out there, check out my list of the best travel credit cards in Canada.

The Best American Express Credit Cards in Canada

12 Comments

  1. Catherine on October 6, 2018 at 3:44 PM

    Hi Barry
    We hold an SPG Amex card (our preferred card) since Chase bailed on it’s Mariott Visa Card in March of this year.
    We also hold a TD Aeroplan card.
    We prefer our SPG points to Aeroplan but since AMEX is not as widely accepted, having both works BUT the additional charge now of a Foreign Curency Transaction fee is adversly affecting our travel budget.

    We need a card to use when we travel out of Canada that won’t blow our budget by two additional fees: a foreign transaction fee as well as another ‘annual’ fee! Been considering the Home Trust card……with the concept that even when travelling we might still use the SPG Amex when staying in a Marriott or Starwood property IF the points earned might nearly equal or better the FCT fee ……are we on the right track? ….or is there something else you’d suggest!
    Appreciate your help!
    Cathie

    • Barry Choi on October 6, 2018 at 4:02 PM

      Hey Catherine,

      That’s EXACTLY what I would do. Generally speaking, I value 1 SPG point at about 1 cent. Since you get 5 points per $1 (CAD) spent on eligible purchases at participating SPG and Marriott Rewards properties, you’re essentially getting a bit over 5% which offsets the 2.5% currency exchange fee.

      The HomeTrust card is good since it has no fees, but it’s kind of hit and miss since it has a few issues that I don’t love e.g. can’t change PIN, 10 transactions per day.

      The Rogers World Elite Mastercard has no fee and charged the 2.5% forex fee, but you get 4% back in purchases made in a foreign currency. Also note that currently the Scotiabank Passport Infinite card has a 25K sign up bonus (worth $250), but comes with an annual fee of $139. You could basically test that card out for “free” for a year.

      • Danielle Ogilvie on January 12, 2019 at 12:52 PM

        The Rogers World Elite Mastercard sounds interesting. If you’re a traveler, would it be something you would recommend?

        • Joanne on February 1, 2019 at 1:51 PM

          Just be aware that the 4% back in points must be spent on something sold by Rogers. Like your Rogers TV or phone bill, or blue jays tickets.

          • Barry Choi on February 2, 2019 at 8:02 AM

            Joanne,

            That’s correct but you can request a once per year statement credit. Rogers also recently announced you’ll be able to redeem your cash back on more stuff. That should come into play in March.



  2. SPG Amex Canada Review - Money We Have on October 6, 2018 at 4:09 PM

    […] Finally, if you charge the full airfare or car rental to your SPG Amex Canada card, you instantly get travel accident, car rental theft and damage, flight delay, baggage delay, lost and stolen baggage, and hotel/motel burglary insurance. It should be noted that travel medical insurance is NOT included. This doesn’t change the fact that the SPG Amex Canada is one of the best American Express credit cards in Canada. […]

    • Cathie on October 6, 2018 at 6:29 PM

      Thanks Barry
      Just to clarify, H Trust’s website says they send you a pin my mail and I assume you can change that to a PIN of your choice.
      Are you saying:
      1. that we are stuck with the PIN they mail out…or
      2. once changed to a PIN of our choice, we are then not able to change that one/first choice?

      Thanks for clarifying
      Cathie

      • Barry Choi on October 6, 2018 at 7:08 PM

        Hi Cathie,

        The PIN you’re assigned cannot be changed. It’s a bit of a pain. You also need to alert them when you’re travelling or else a block will be put on your card.

  3. Elizabeth Taylor on February 24, 2019 at 3:05 PM

    Indeed, I own this card. The benefits are just as great when compared to the other good ones there in the market.

    Agree to most of the content you have written, thanks!

  4. Harry on January 30, 2020 at 2:31 PM

    I wish AMEX Canada offered the Hilton AMEX like their US counterpart. If you have any pull please put a bug in their ear to offer us this choice.
    It sucks that in Canada we only have 2 hotel credit card options the Marriott Bonvoy AMEX and MBNA Best Western MasterCard.

    • Barry Choi on January 31, 2020 at 12:08 AM

      Harry,

      The U.S. Hilton Amex card is indeed excellent. I can assure you that Amex pays little attention to me and likely does not care about my opinion =D

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