The Best American Express Credit Cards in Canada for 2024

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Without a doubt, American Express offers the best suite of credit cards in Canada. If you were to look at any of my “best of” lists, there’s usually at least one AMEX card on the list. Some people don’t like American Express cards because they’re not accepted at as many retailers compared to Visa and Mastercard. However, I find that to be outdated thinking. I find that only a handful of major merchants (Costco and Loblaws) and a few small businesses don’t accept American Express, so it’s never been a major issue for me.

Simply put, American Express has the best rewards points program, and they have some excellent co-branded travel credit cards. Whether you’re looking to reduce your debt, travel for less, or earn cash back, there’s a good AMEX card for you. Here’s a list of the best American Express credit cards in Canada and what they offer.

Credit cardBest card for
American Express Cobalt CardEveryday spending
American Express SimplyCash Preferred CardCash back
American Express Platinum CardFrequent travel
American Gold Rewards CardCasual travel
American Express Aeroplan Reserve CardAeroplan
Marriott Bonvoy American Express CardHotels
American Express Green CardNo Fee
American Express Business Platinum CardBusiness owners
American Express Business Edge CardFreelancers
American Express Essential Credit CardLow interest

Best American Express card for everyday spending

American Express Cobalt Card

  • $12.99 Monthly fee ($155.88 yearly)
  • 1,250 monthly Membership Rewards points after charging $750 in purchases each month for a year (15,000 points total)
  • Earn 5 points per $1 spent on eats and drinks
  • Earn 3 points per $1 spent on streaming services
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on travel
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

The best American Express credit card for everyday spending is the American Express Cobalt Card. This Canadian exclusive card gives you 5 American Express Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on eats and drinks, 3 points on streaming services, 2 points on travel and transit, and 1 point on all other purchases. No other credit card gives you a higher earning rate in Canada.

Beyond the earning rate, you get a comprehensive travel insurance package (although it lacks trip cancellation), mobile device insurance up to $1,000, and purchase insurance. 

What’s great about American Express Membership Rewards is that they’re highly flexible. You can redeem 1,000 points for a $10 statement credit. There’s also the American Express Fixed Points Travel Program, where you can double the value of your points. Alternatively, you can transfer your points to airlines and hotel loyalty programs such as Aeroplan and Marriott Bonvoy.

Eligibility: There’s no minimum income required. A credit score of 700 is recommended before applying.
Welcome bonus: You’ll typically earn 2,500 American Express Membership Rewards points when you spend $500 monthly for the first 12 months. The offer has also been as low as 1,250 monthly points for 12 months, with a minimum spend of $750 each month.

Best American Express card for cash back

SimplyCash Preferred Card from American Express

  • $9.99 monthl fee ($119.88 annually)
  • Spend $750 each month and get a $40 statement credit for 10 months ($400 total)
  • 4% cash back on groceries ($1,200 cash back max)
  • 4% cash back on gas purchases
  • 2% cash back on all other purchases
  • Travel & mobile device insurance
  • Buyer’s assurance & purchase protection

Instead of earning points, some prefer cash back since it can be easier to understand. The American Express SimplyCash Preferred Card is an excellent choice since it gives you 4% cash back on groceries and gas. That said, the cash back you can earn on groceries is capped at $1,200. All other purchases earn 2% cash back with no limits.

This card gives you mobile device, travel, and purchase insurance. You also get access to American Express Experiences, which includes things such as front of the line access to entertainment tickets and exclusive retailer offers.

Your cash back is paid out every September as a statement credit and resets the following statement.

Eligibility: There’s no minimum income required. A credit score of 660 is recommended before applying.
Welcome bonus: New cardholders usually get a $40 statement credit when spending $750 each month for 10 months. That’s a total of $400 in statement credits you could earn.

Best American Express Card for frequent travel

American Express Platinum Card

  • $799 annual fee
  • Earn 70,000 Membership Rewards points when spending $10,000 in the first 3 months
  • 30,000 additional points when making any purchase in months 14 – 17
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on dining and travel, and 1 point on all other purchases
  • $200 annual travel credit
  • $200 annual dining credit (per calendar year)
  • Unlimited airport lounge access
  • Hotel status upgrades

Frequent travellers will love the American Express Platinum Card since it has many travel benefits. You get unlimited airport lounge access, hotel status upgrades, and perks at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport.

Admittedly, the $799 annual fee is high, but you get a lot of credits. You get an annual travel and dining credit worth $200 each. That effectively reduces your annual fee to $399. Also, since the dining credit is per calendar year, you could technically get that credit twice in your first year of card membership. You also get a NEXUS rebate of $100 every four years.

The other advantage of the American Express Platinum Card is that it typically has a generous welcome bonus. The value can easily be worth $800+, but transferring your points to Aeroplan could increase the value by 1.5 – 2X.

Eligibility: There’s no minimum income required. A credit score of 740 is recommended before applying.
Welcome bonus: Typically worth 80,000 to 100,000 American Express Membership Rewards points when using a referral link. The minimum spending requirement is usually $5,000 to $10,000.

Best American Express card for casual travel

American Express Gold Rewards Card

  • $250 annual fee
  • Earn 5,000 Membership Rewards points when spending $1,000 each month for 12 months (60,000 points total)
  • Earn 10,000 points when you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months
  • Earn 2 Membership Rewards points per $1 spent on grocery, gas, pharmacy, and travel purchases
  • Earn 1 Membership Rewards point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • $100 Annual travel credit
  • Priority Pass Membership + 4 annual Plaza Premium passes

If you only travel once a year and don’t want to pay a high annual fee, the American Express Gold Rewards Card could be a good fit. The annual fee is just $250, but you get an annual travel credit of $100. That means your annual fee is effectively $150 a year. You also get 4 free annual Plaza Premium passes and a $50 NEXUS rebate (every 4 years).

What’s also appealing about this card is that the earning rate is decent at 2 American Express Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on grocery, gas, pharmacy and travel purchases. All other purchases earn you 1 point per dollar spent. That’s better than many other similar travel credit cards.

Other benefits of the card include travel insurance (with trip cancellation) and purchase insurance.

Eligibility: There’s no minimum income required. A creditI recommend a credit score of 700 before applying.
Welcome bonus: Typically worth between 50,000 – 75,000 American Express Membership Rewards. The minimum spending requirement has switched between lump sums and monthly charges.

Best American Express card for Aeroplan

American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card

  • $599 annual fee
  • Earn 7,500 points per month when spending $2,000 each month for 6 months
  • Earn 5,000 points each when adding additional users at the time of sign up (up to 10,000 points)
  • Earn 35,000 points per month when spending $6,000 between months 13 and 16
  • Earn 3 Aeroplan points per $1 spent on Air Canada, 2 points on dining and food delivery, and 1.25 points on all other purchases
  • Unlimited free access to Maple Leaf Lounges in North America for you and a guest
  • Free first checked bag, priority check-in and boarding on Air Canada

The American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card is one of the best Aeroplan credit cards and comes packed with features. Many people prefer this card because it comes packed with Air Canada benefits. You get unlimited access to Maple Leaf Lounges in North America, your first checked bag free, priority check-in, and zone 2 boarding. In addition, you’ll earn 1,000 Status Qualifying Miles and one Status Qualifying Segment for every $5,000 spent. Plus, you can roll over up to 50 unused eUpgrade Credits to the next status year.

If those benefits weren’t enough, you also get comprehensive travel insurance, purchase insurance, access to priority security lines at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, and an annual worldwide companion pass when you spend $25,000 on the card each year. 

The other advantage of this card is that you’ll earn Aeroplan points on every purchase. With Aeroplan, you can book any available seat on Air Canada. Since Air Canada flies to 1,300+ destinations and has more than 45 airline partners, you can get almost anywhere in the world on points.

Eligibility: There is no formal income requirement. A credit score of at least 700 is recommended before applying.

Welcome bonus: The welcome offer is usually worth 80,000 – 120,000 Aeroplan points. To get the full bonus, you usually need to meet multiple minimum spending requirements.

Best American Express card for hotels

Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card

  • $120 annual fee
  • 70,000 Marriott Bonvoy points when you charge $3,000 in the first 3 months
  • Earn 5 Marriott Bonvoy points per $1 spent at participating Marriott properties
  • Earn 3 Marriott Bonvoy points per $1 spent at gas and travel purchases for the first 6 months (up to 15,000 points) – Offer ends May 6, 2024
  • Earn 2 Marriott Bonvoy points for per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual free night certificate worth up to 35,000 points

With more than 8,000 properties in 140+ 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 International is the largest hotel chain in the world. That means regardless of where you are in the world, there’s a good chance there’s a Marriott hotel nearby where you can use points for your stay.

The earn rate is 5 Marriott Bonvoy points per dollar spent at Marriott properties and 2 points per all other purchases. Generally speaking, 1 Marriott Bonvoy point is worth about .9 cents, so this card offers good value. 

What really makes this card appealing is the benefits. Every year, you’ll get a free night certificate of up to 35,000 points. The value of the free night is easily worth more than the annual fee of $120. Plus, you can top up your certificate with up to 15,000 points, so the certificate has a lot of flexibility. As a cardholder, you also start with Silver Elite status, which gives you a 10% points bonus on hotel stays. That means your earn rate is actually 5.5 points per dollar spent at Marriott Bonvoy hotels. In addition, you get 15 Elite Night credits each year, which will help you reach the next status tier quicker.

Eligibility: There’s no minimum income requirement. A credit score of at least 700 is recommended.
Welcome bonus: Typically worth between 55,000 and 70,000 Marriott Bonvoy points when using a referral link. The minimum spend requirement is usually $3,000.

Best American Express card with no annual fee

American Express Green Card

  • No annual fee
  • 10,000 Membership Rewards points welcome bonus
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all purchases
  • Earn 1 Additional point per $1 spent on American Express Travel
  • Buyer’s assurance and purchase protection

The American Express Green Card is often overlooked, but it’s an excellent no fee credit card. The earning rate is 1 point per dollar spent on all purchases. While that may seem basic, this is similar to other no fee cards. That said, remember that you can transfer your points to Aeroplan where the value of your points can easily be worth up to 2 cents per point. This makes this card an excellent choice for those who want to minimize their fees while maximizing their rewards.

Since this is a no fee card, you don’t get any benefits besides purchase insurance and American Express experiences. The good news is that the AMEX experiences can be quite lucrative since you’ll get front of the line access to major concerts and theatre productions. The offers you get through American Express are also good, as you can earn quite a few statement credits throughout the year.

Overall, this is a great choice for anyone who doesn’t want to pay an annual fee. It’s also a good choice for small business owners who don’t spend a lot of money but want a credit card just for business use. 

Eligibility: There’s no minimum income required. A credit score of 660 is recommended before applying.

Welcome bonus: Typically worth between 10,000 American Express Membership Rewards points when spending $3,000 in the first 3 months.

Best American Express card for business owners

American Express Business Platinum Card

  • $799 annual fee
  • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards points when spending $15,000 in the first 3 months
  • 40,000 additional points when making any purchase in months 14 – 17
  • Earn 1.25 points per $1 spent on all purchases
  • Unlimited airport lounge access
  • $200 annual travel credit
  • $120 annual wireless credit
  • $100 Nexus credit every 4 years
  • Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status

If you’re looking for a business credit card, the American Express Platinum Business Card is a great choice since it gives you 55 interest-free days for your purchases. The earning 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 an enhanced earning rate.

The annual fee for this card is $799, but it now includes a lot of yearly credits. You get a $200 annual travel credit, a monthly $10 wireless credit, a $100 Nexus credit (every 4 years), a $200 Dell credit (bi-yearly), and a $300 Indeed credit ($75 quarterly). Admittedly, not every credit will be useful, but it will help you reduce your annual fee.

Besides the credits, you also get unlimited airport lounge access via the American Express Global Lounge collection for the primary cardholder and a guest. Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status and Hilton Honors Gold status are also provided to cardholders. 

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. 

Eligibility: There’s no minimum income required. A credit score of 740 is recommended before applying.

Welcome bonus: Typically worth between 100,000 to 120,000 American Express Membership Rewards points. A minimum spend of $10,000 – $15,000 within three months of account opening is usually required.

Best American Express card for freelancers

American Express Business Edge Card

  • $99 annual fee
  • Earn 55,000 Welcome Bonus points when you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months
  • Earn 1,000 points each month when you spend $3,000
  • Earn 10 points per $1 spent on office supplies & electronics, rides & gas, and eats & drinks for 6 months up to 75,000 points earned
  • Earn 3 points per $1 spent on office supplies & electronics, rides & gas, and eats & drinks
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

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 the earning rate often appeals to freelancers. You’ll earn 3 American Express Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on office supplies & electronics, rides & gas, and eats & drinks. All other purchases get you 1 point per dollar spent. In addition, you’ll earn 1,000 points when you spend $3,000 in a month.

As a cardholder, you get access to some business benefits. One useful perk is the business and expense management tools that will help you get a clear picture of how your business operates. You can also get supplementary cards for employees. 

This is one of the few cards where the welcome bonus is based on a set minimum spend instead of spending over multiple months. This can be incredibly handy for anyone who’s looking to earn points fast.

Eligibility: There’s no minimum income required. A credit score of 700 is recommended before applying.
Welcome bonus: Typically worth 45,000 American Express Membership Rewards points when spending $5,000 in the first 3 months. There have occasionally been 10X points (up to 10,000 points) bonus offers for the first 6 months.

Best American Express card for low interest

American Express Essential Card

  • $25
  • Interest rate of 12.99% on purchases and cash advances
  • Buyer’s assurancee
  • Purchase protection
  • American Express experiences

Anyone that typically carries a balance on their card should focus on a low interest credit card instead of one that offers rewards. The American Express Essential Credit Card is an ideal fit since the interest rate is just 12.99% on purchases. This is significantly lower than most other cards as they typically charge 20% – 24% interest.

Similar to other low interest cards, you won’t get many benefits with this card. That said, you do get access to American Express Experiences, which can be beneficial at times.

While having a low purchase interest rate is appealing, your goal should be to pay off your balance every month so you can avoid all interest charges.

Eligibility: There’s no minimum income required. A credit score of 660 is recommended before applying.
Welcome bonus: There’s typically no welcome offer with this card.

What is an American Express credit card?

American Express is one of the three credit card issuers in Canada. The other two are Visa and Mastercard. What makes American Express unique is that they offer credit cards directly to consumers, whereas Visa and Mastercard use financial institutions to get their cards into the hands of consumers. That said, Scotiabank is the one traditional bank that also offers American Express cards.

American Express credit cards are highly favoured by Canadians because they have co-branded credit cards with some of the top loyalty programs, such as Aeroplan and Marriott Bonvoy. In addition, its own rewards program, American Express Membership Rewards, is often regarded as the best bank travel points program in Canada.

While American Express cards are highly regarded, two things work against them. First, its cards aren’t accepted by all merchants. Second, Canada has no credit card without foreign transaction fees that are issued directly by American Express.

How do American Express cards work?

As you can see from the list above, there are multiple types of American Express credit cards. Here’s how the different types work.

American Express cash back cards

American Express cash back cards pay out their cash back on an annual basis. In the case of the American Express SimplyPreferred Cash Card, cardholders will receive their cash back as annual statement credits every September. Some people don’t mind the annual payout, but it can be frustrating when there are other cash-back cards on the market that payout monthly.

American Express Membership Rewards cards

American Express Membership Rewards is easily the best bank travel rewards program, so naturally the cards that earn these points are some of the best. The program offers card members tons of great offers that give you discounts at various retailers. American Express also has more transfer partners than any other program.

You can redeem 1,000 points for a $10 statement credit – that’s a value of 1 cent per point. However, if you use the fixed points travel program, you can double the value of your points with some redemptions.

You can also use points for gift cards or merchandise. However, the point value doesn’t go quite as far. You can expect, at most, a value of $0.80 per point in this case.

That said, there are a few ways to increase the value of your Membership Rewards points. By using their transfer partners, such as Aeroplan and Marriott Bonvoy, you can sometimes get great value.

American Express low interest cards

Low interest cards can be incredibly helpful for individuals who struggle to pay off their credit card balance in full and find that they often carry a balance. Typical credit card interest rates hover around 20%, but the American Express Essential Credit Card has a regular interest rate of 12.99%. That said, if you miss two payments, then you lose that low interest rate, and it doubles to 24.99%.

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.

Welcome bonus

When looking at the best Amex credit cards in Canada, consider the welcome bonus first. American Express is very generous with its bonus points offers, many of which are worth hundreds of dollars. Heck, the American Express Platinum card typically has a welcome bonus worth more than $1,000. Keep in mind that every sign up offer has a minimum spend requirement to get it, which is typically in the thousands. If you can naturally spend that amount, then choosing a card with a huge welcome offer could be worth it.

Type of rewards

Besides the welcome bonus, the type of rewards you’ll earn is the most important factor to consider when choosing an American Express card. The first decision to make is cash back or travel rewards. If you opt for travel rewards, you need to decide on which type of travel rewards you want to earn. Once you’ve answered that question, which card you get should become more obvious.

Earn rate

In an ideal world, you’ll want to pick a card that gives you an increased earning rate on categories where you do most of your spending. It’s unlikely that you’ll find a card that matches up perfectly with your spending habits, so just choose one which will give you the most bang for your buck.

Annual fee

Some people are against annual fees and can’t imagine paying what American Express charges for some of their cards (up to $699 per year). While that’s understandable, you need to look at the value you’re getting from the card. If the card comes with an annual fee of $599, but the benefits you get each year are worth more than that, then the annual fee is irrelevant. That said, if you prefer to pay nothing, American Express does have a few no fee cards.

Additional benefits

Every one of the best American Express credit cards in Canada comes with different benefits. Most people will gravitate towards travel insurance, but make sure you read the fine print. For example, some cards include trip cancellation, while others don’t. 

American Express cards are also known for their travel perks. Benefits to look out for include airport lounge access, travel credits, first checked bag free, global entry discounts, a free night award,  and priority boarding.

How to apply for an American Express credit card

Applying for one of the best Amex credit cards in Canada is easy. Just follow these steps:

  1. Browse through the cards listed above and decide the best option for you. Click the ‘Apply Now’ button for that card. Make sure that you qualify for the credit card, such as meeting the minimum income requirements and minimum credit score requirements.
  2. Gather all your information to have on hand when filling out the form. You will need to provide your personal information, your income, and you might need your SIN, so have that handy as well.
  3. Fill out the form as directed. There will be some small print details conditions and ‘terms apply’ sections. Be sure to read these through so you understand the ins and outs of the credit card.
  4. Wait for approval. Most credit cards have automatic approval these days, but it will still take a few days for you to get your new card (the American Express Platinum card will likely come sooner as they are expedited). Once received, new cardholders must activate the card and then use it. Don’t forget that there’s a time limit to reach the minimum spend requirement to get your welcome bonus.

FAQ

Are American Express credit cards worth it?

As I said, in my opinion, American Express has some of the best credit cards on the market. Especially when it comes to their rewards program. That said, you need to remember that American Express credit cards are not as widely accepted as Visa or Mastercard. So, before you apply, consider your spending habits and check to see if the places you do your shopping will accept Amex cards. 

What is the best American Express credit card?

If you are a travel lover, then the Platinum American Express card is a no-brainer. The annual fee is pretty hefty, and you do need an excellent credit score to qualify, but it is fully loaded with good insurance coverage, access to airport lounges, and plenty of other perks. As a top-tier card, it is considered a more luxury card, but I would argue it’s the best travel card on the market.

If you aren’t necessarily a big traveller but still want to earn points to take advantage of the American Express rewards program, then the Cobalt card is a good pick. It allows you to earn a lot of points on your daily spending.

How do American Express cards compare?

It depends on the card. If you take the two cards above that I recommend, the best comparison for the Cobalt is the Scotiabank Gold American Express. Both have similar earning rates and annual fees but different rewards programs. Again, I think American Express Rewards comes out on top. 

As for the American Express Platinum card, it’s really in a league of its own with nothing similar to compare it to.

What are the types of American Express Cards?

Every bank has different types of rewards credit cards. Generally speaking, it can be broken down into two categories: travel and cash back. With American Express, you need to further break down the categories since they have so many different partnerships. If you’re thinking about getting one of the best Amex credit cards in Canada, consider the following types of cards:

American Express Membership Rewards cards

American Express Membership Rewards (MR) is the name of the points program owned by American Express. This program stands out because your points can be redeemed for travel or statement credit at an equal value. This is not common as every other rewards program owned by a bank gives you a lower value for your points when redeeming them for a statement credit instead of travel. In addition, MR points can be transferred to various hotel and airline loyalty programs.

American Express credit cards that earn MR points include:

  • American Express Cobalt Card
  • American Express Gold Card
  • American Express Platinum Card

American Express Aeroplan cards

American Express, along with TD and CIBC are the official credit card partners of Aeroplan, the loyalty program of Air Canada. Admittedly, all three providers have similar Aeroplan credit cards. While this may seem redundant, it’s a good thing for consumers. Essentially, you have multiple credit cards where you can sign up and earn a lot of Aeroplan points fast. If you want to travel hack, then you should consider getting one of the following American Express Aeroplan cards:

  • American Express Aeroplan Card
  • American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card

American Express Marriott Bonvoy cards

Marriott Bonvoy is the loyalty program of Marriott International, which is over 8,000 properties in more than 130 countries. If you’re looking to stay at hotels for free, you must collect Marriott Bonvoy points. American Express is the only credit card company in Canada that offers Marriott Bonvoy co-branded cards. You can earn extra points at Marriott properties and an annual free night certificate with one of the following cards:

  • Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card
  • Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card

American Express cash back cards

If travel rewards aren’t your thing, then consider a cash back card. Tehcanilly speaking, any American Express credit card that earns you MR points can be considered a cash back card since you can use your points as a statement credit. However, American Express does have two formal cash back credit cards:

  • SimplyCash Card from American Express
  • SimplyCash Preferred Card from American Express

What is American Express Fixed Points Travel?

One feature of American Express Membership Rewards is the Fixed Points Travel program. Depending on where you’re flying from and where you’re flying to, it’ll cost you a fixed number of points to redeem a flight. There’s a maximum base ticket price, but this benefits you if you can max out the value.

For example, a short haul flight within Canada and the U.S. will cost you 15,000 MR points, and there’s a maximum base ticket price of $300. If your base ticket price is at least $300, you’d be getting a value of 2 cents per point. This can be very handy for people booking last minute when flights cost more.

What are Membership Rewards transfer partners?

Another reason why MR points are so popular is that you can transfer your points to multiple airline and hotel loyalty programs.

  • 1,000 Membership Rewards points = 1,000 Aeroplan points or Avios points
  • 1,000 Membership Rewards points = 750 Flying Blue Miles, Asia Miles, Delta SkyMiles or Etihad Guest Miles
  • 1,000 Membership Rewards points = 1,000 Hilton Honors points
  • 1,000 Membership Rewards points = 1,200 Marriott Bonvoy points

Being able to transfer your points to other programs gives you more options. For example, it’s widely accepted that 1 Aeroplan point is worth 1 cent. By transferring your points over, you could instantly double the value of your points compared to a regular MR redemption. Alternatively, it may be of value for you to transfer some points to Marriott Bonvoy if there’s a specific property you’re looking to stay at for free.

What are Amex offers?

Another benefit of having an American Express card that warrants its own section is the American Express offers you get as a cardholder. Through the app, American Express will send special offers to its cardholders that can save you quite a bit. For example, some of the recent offers included:

  • $175 credit at eligible restaurants
  • $100 one time credit on a restaurant purchase
  • $50 credit when spending $200 at Marriott
  • $150 credit when spending $400 on Amex Travel
  • $100 credit when spending $500 at Shangri-La Hotels of Canada
  • $20 credit when spenidng $50 online at Best Buy or Indigo
  • $5 credit when spending $15 at Subway
  • $5 credit when spending $20 at Dollarama

Basically, every year offers more credits than what the annual fee is worth. You’ll also notice that some of the offers listed can be combined, so you can get multiple credits with a single purchase. Admittedly, you won’t be able to take advantage of every offer, but there are enough that will appeal to everyone.

What is American Express Refer a Friend?

American Express has a highly lucrative referral program. The concept is simple. Current cardholders can refer friends and family to a card they currently have. Both the person making the referral, and the person accepting the referral get extra points.

For example, someone holding the American Express Platinum Card could refer a friend to the card. If the person approved, both people would get 10,000 MR points.

To get your referral link, all you need to do is go into your online account, You’ll see it once you’re logged in. You can refer up to a maximum of 15 people a year.

Note that you can also refer people to cards you don’t have as long as they belong to the same family of cards. For example, if you have the American Express Cobalt Card, you could refer someone to the American Express Gold Rewards Card.

What is American Express Front of the Line?

American Express cardholders get access to presale tickets to some of the hottest entertainment events thanks to the Front of the Line benefit. It’s not just concerts you get presale access to. It also includes movies and theatre performances. American Express will email you about Front of the Line access whenever there’s a show near where you live. That said, you technically get worldwide access as long as American Express is a partner.

Even if tickets have gone on sale to the general public, you could still get access to an exclusive block of seats that are being held for American Express cardholders. For example, Mirvish Productions has a deal with American Express in Canada, so most of their shows have seats, just American Express Cardholders.

Does American Express charge foreign transaction fees?

The answer is yes and no. None of the credit cards issued directly by American Express has no foreign transaction fees. That means you’ll be paying a 2.5% premium whenever you make a purchase in any currency that’s not Canadian dollars. That said, there is one exception. The Scotiabank Gold American Express Card, which earns you Scene+ points, does not charge foreign exchange fees.

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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