The Best American Express Credit Cards in Canada

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Choosing the best American Express credit cards in Canada is easy since Amex has pretty much designed each card for a specific function. While it’s true that American Express isn’t accepted by all merchants, the cards they offer are incredible. I personally use Amex as my primary card, but I also carry a Mastercard if American Express isn’t accepted.

If you’re applying for your first credit card, or you’re looking to get another, you should look at American Express cards first. In recent years, they’ve made some significant changes to their lineup of cards. Choosing just one card is the tricky part (that’s why some people have multiple Amex cards). Generally speaking, you should focus on the type of card you’re interested in. Here’s a list of the best American Express credit cards in Canada and what they offer.

Best card forCredit card
Everyday spendingAmerican Express Cobalt Card
Cash BackAmerican Express SimplyCash Preferred Card
TravelAmerican Express Platinum Card
AeroplanAmerican Express Aeroplan Reserve Card
HotelsMarriott Bonvoy American Express Card
No Fee American Express Green Card
Business ownersAmerican Express Business Platinum Card
FreelancersAmerican Express Business Edge Card

American Express Cobalt Card – Best for everyday spending

  • $12.99 Monthly fee ($155.88 yearly) 
  • 2,500 monthly Membership Rewards points after charging $500 in purchases each month for a year (30,000 points total)
  • 20,000 additional Membership Rewards points when you spend $3,000 in the first three months of cardmembership
  • Earn 5 points per $1 spent on eats and drinks (Groceries, restaurants, bars, cafés, and food delivery)
  • Earn 3 points per $1 spent on streaming services
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on travel (flights, hotels, trains, public transportation, taxis/Uber)
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Comprehensive travel insurance package included
  • Mobile device insurance
  • American Express Invites access
  • Free supplementary cards

The best American Express credit card for everyday spending is the American Express Cobalt Card. This Canadian exclusive card gives you 5 points per $1 spent on eats and drinks; 3 points per $1 spent on streaming services; 2 points per $1 spent on travel (including public transportation); and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. The welcome bonus is normally 2,500 points for 12 months, so that works out to 30,000 points total. However, American Express occasionally has promos with this card where you’ll get an even greater sign up bonus.

What’s great about American Express Membership Rewards is that they’re highly flexible. Using them for travel or a statement credit has an equal value. There’s also the American Express Fixed Points Travel Program where you can increase the value of your points. Alternatively, you can transfer your points to airlines and hotel loyalty programs such as Aeroplan and Marriott Bonvoy.

American Express SimplyCash Preferred Card – Best for cash back

  • $99 annual fee
  • 10% cash back on purchases for the first 4 months (up to $500)
  • 2% cash back on purchases after the first 6 months (no limit)
  • Travel insurance
  • Cash back for approved referrals (up to $1,500)

The American Express SimplyCash Preferred Card often appears on my list of the best cash back credit cards in Canada for good reason. You get a straight 2% cash back on all purchases with no limits. That means you don’t need to worry about specific categories that give you an increased earn rate. The welcome bonus is 10% cash back on purchases for the first 4 months (up to $500), which is great. There is an annual fee of $99, but there’s also a no fee version in the American Express SimplyCash Card that comes with fewer benefits.

American Expres Personal Platinum Card – Best for travel

  • $699 annual fee
  • 80,000 Membership Rewards points when spending $6,000 in the first three months
  • 25,000 Membership Rewards points when making any purchase between months 14 and 17 of cardmembership when using a referral link
  • 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 a ton of travel benefits. You get an annual travel credit of $200, so the annual fee of $699 is more like $499

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 Aeroplan Reserve Card – Best for Aeroplan

  • $599 annual fee
  • Earn up to 90,000 Aeroplan points as your welcome offer
    • Earn 30,000 Aeroplan points and a Buddy Pass after spending $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of cardmembership
    • Earn 5,000 Aeroplan points for each monthly billing period in which you spend $1,000 in purchases on your card for the first twelve months of cardmembership (60,000 points total)
  • Earn 3 Aeroplan points per $1 spent on eligible Air Canada and Air Canada Vacations
  • Earn 2 Aeroplan points per $1 spent on dining and food delivery in Canada
  • Earn 1.25 Aeroplan points for every $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Unlimited free access to Maple Leaf Lounges in North America for you and a guest
  • Complimentary Priority Pass membership (no free entries)
  • Free first checked bag, priority check-in and boarding for the primary cardholder and up to 8 companions on the same reservation
  • Preferred pricing on Aeroplan redemptions
  • Annual Worldwide Companion Pass when you spend $25,000 in net purchases prior to your card anniversary date
  • American Express offers and experiences

The American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card is one of the best Aeroplan credit cards and comes packed with features. The welcome bonus is quite generous. Right now you can earn up to 90,000 points and a Buddy Pass. What many people don’t realize is that you can convert the Buddy Pass into 30,000 Aeroplan points. That means the current welcome bonus could be worth up to 120,000 Aeroplan points.

Overall, this card is perfect for people who prefer to fly Air Canada. You get a higher earn rate on Air Canada and Air Canada Vacation purchases. Plus, you get Air Canada benefits such as free checked bags, access to Maple Leaf Lounges in North America, and preferred pricing on Aeroplan redemptions.

Marriott Bonvoy American Express 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

With more than 7,000 properties in over 120 countries, it’s no surprise that the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Credit Card is one of the best American Express credit cards in Canada. Marriott has over 7,000 properties in 120+ countries. That means you won’t have any problems earning and redeeming your Marriott Bonvoy points.

The earn rate is 5 points per $1 spent at Marriott properties 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 Green Card – Best no fee card

  • No annual fee
  • 10,000 Membership Rewards points welcome bonus
  • 1 Membership Rewards point on all purhcases
  • 1 Additional Membership Rewards point on Amex Travel
  • Buyer’s assurance
  • Purchase protection

The American Express Green Card is often overlooked, but it’s an excellent, no fee credit card. The welcome bonus is 10,000 Membership Rewards points when you charge $1,000 to your card within the first 3 months. Remember, you can transfer your points to Aeroplan and Marriott Bonvoy, so those points can easily be worth $200+. That’s incredible for a no fee card.

Since this is a no fee card, the benefits are pretty basic. You earn 1 point per dollar spent on all purchases. That said, any travel booked through the American Express travel portal gets you an additional point per $1 spent, so that’s not bad. If you want a no fee credit card from American express that earns you travel rewards, this is the card to get.

American Express Business Platinum Card – Best for business owners

  • $499 Annual fee
  • Up to 105,000 Membership Rewards points welcome bonus when using a referral link
  • Earn 1.25 points for every $1 spent
  • Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status
  • 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 on categories that don’t have a bonus earn rate.

It’s worth mentioning that American Express doesn’t typically check to see if you have a business when applying for the card. As in, you could get approved without a formal business. That said, American Express does have the right to ask you to verify you do have a business later if your spending looks suspicious. Now, why would you get this card if you don’t have a business? Because of the crazy welcome bonus of course.

American Express Business Edge Card – Best for freelancers

  • $99 annual fee
  • 3 Membership Rewards points per $1 spent on office supplies & electronics, rides & gas, and eats & drinks (this caps on your first 75K  points)
  • 1 Membership Rewards point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • 30,000 Membership Rewards points welcome bonus when you charge $5,000 to your card in the first three months of cardmembership
  • 1,000 Membership Rewards 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 not as fancy as the Business Platinum Card, but it does have some features that will appeal to freelancers. You’ll earn 3 Membership Rewards points per $1 spent on office supplies & electronics, rides & gas, and eats & drinks. All other purchases get you 1 Membership Rewards point per dollar spent. Those bonus categories were clearly aimed at people who freelance or have a side hustle.

Why choose American Express cards?

Okay, if Amex isn’t accepted by 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

About Barry Choi

Barry Choi is a Toronto-based personal finance and travel expert who frequently makes media appearances. His blog Money We Have is one of Canada’s most trusted sources when it comes to money and travel. You can find him on Twitter:@barrychoi

13 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

  5. Andrew Jamieson on September 15, 2021 at 7:48 PM

    Hi Barry,

    Outside if sign up bonuses and travel benefits the cobalt and personal platinum look to have pretty similar earn rates for points. I have the Cobalt and am good now but now much travel would you think is needed to justify upgrading?

    • Barry Choi on September 15, 2021 at 8:27 PM

      Hey Andrew,

      With the recent Cobalt changes, there’s really no need to get the Platinum unless you want the welcome bonus and travel perks. Since you can transfer your Amex points Aeroplan, there is some value still. I personally value Aeroplan points at 1.5-2 cents each, so the current bonus could’ve easily worth $1,700. The annual $200 travel credit effectively makes your annual fee $499. If you fly regularly, the lounge access can be nice too.

      My Cobalt card is now my daily card, but I kept the Platinum since I’ll hopefully be travelling regularly soon.

      That said, there are easier ways to earn Aeroplan points fast. E.g. CIBC and TD Aeroplan cards.

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