American Express is my favourite card issuer in Canada. Their cards have great rewards and benefits, and they always have excellent customer service. One of the biggest reasons why their points are valuable is because they have many different transfer partners.
Most people actually have several incorrect preconceptions about American Express. Even though they are a premium card, they actually have significantly lower income requirements than the typical Visa Infinite or World Elite MasterCard. Furthermore, their acceptance is pretty universal especially with larger brands and online.
Which American Express Card Should You Get?
My strategy now for collecting Aeroplan miles is to utilize American Express cards. This is because they have the option to transfer to Aeroplan, but other partners as well depending on how things go. If you’re looking to get a card, see where you fit in:
- If you want to get in on the hottest offer
If you are going to apply for only one card, I would recommend getting the SPG Personal AMEX and SPG Business AMEX. The current increased bonus for each card is 25,000 SPG points after spending $1,500 in the first three months. This is a limited time offer, ending October 15, 2017.
While the bonus is 25,000 SPG points, keep in mind they are worth at least significantly more than any other currency. Their tremendous flexibility allows for many sweet spot redemptions. I’ve written about the best airline redemptions with SPG points, as well as large balance redemptions with Hotel and Air packages.
As Marriott and Starwood are merging, this card may not be available later in the year as there may be negotiations over who will issue the new credit card after the merger. For more details about the card offer, see my review.
Additional Reading: Starwood Preferred Guest AMEX Review
- If you are just getting started with miles and points
The best card for a beginner to get is the AMEX Gold Rewards Card. It offers a welcome bonus of up to 30,000 points. You earn 25,000 after spending $1,500 in the first three months, and an additional 5,000 points for adding a supplementary cardholder. The first year annual fee is also waived.
This is one of the easiest cards to get. As well, American Express recently improved their underwriting policies, making more people eligible to apply, such as students. The Membership Rewards points you earn can be transferred at a 1:1 ratio to Aeroplan and BA Avios, as well as a 2:1 ratio to SPG. So depending on where you want to use your points, the signup bonus could be worth 30,000 Aeroplan, 30,00 BA Avios, or 15,000 SPG.
- If you want to get bonuses on gas, groceries, and entertainment
The Scotiabank Gold AMEX Card is the best card for people who spend a lot on these categories. You earn 4x the points compared to the 1 point per dollar earned on other purchases. This isn’t a signup offer, which only lasts 3 or 6 months, but is an ongoing benefit of up to $50,000 per calendar year. It also makes the card great for manufactured spend. If you apply now, you could earn up to 400,000 points within the 12 months from these bonus categories.
Additional Reading: Getting 4% Back on All Your Purchases
On top of that, you can earn 30,000 Scotia Rewards points (worth $300 in travel) after completing the $750 minimum spend within three months. These points can be used for taxes and fees on award tickets, including Aeroplan and BA Avios, truly making your flight “free”.The first year annual fee is waived. Since this is issued by Scotiabank, you can apply for this card along with any other American Express issued card at the same time.
- If you want the best travel benefits
The Platinum Card by American Express is the best card in Canada for folks who travel, period. While there is a steep annual fee, the travel benefits more than make up for it. This is the only card in Canada that gives cardholders a Priority Pass Membership with unlimited visits and one additional guest for free.
Additional Reading: Credit Cards offering Lounge Access
That’s just the start. Luxury hotel benefits, complimentary elite status, additional lounge access benefits, travel and purchase protection insurance, and an annual $200 travel credit are also included. My favourite benefit might be the flight delay insurance, which covers $1,000 of eligible expenses after hour delay. From just one flight misconnect, I recouped the entire annual fee. Furthermore, there is a 60,000 point bonus after spending $3,000 within three months.
- If you want the highest signup bonus
The highest signup bonus in Canada is with the AMEX Business Platinum Card, which comes with 75,000 points after spending $5,000 within three months. This card does not have the once-per-lifetime language, meaning that you are guaranteed the bonus even if you had the card before. This may change anytime.
One great thing about this card is that AMEX is happy to approve you even if you don’t have a registered business. You can put yourself in the business name as a sole proprietor, and in nearly all cases, American Express uses your personal credit score in their lending decision.
If you have trouble with getting that much minimum spend, I recommend using the PayTM app, which lets you pay bills like tuition, taxes, and rent with your credit card. The daily maximum for payments with the app is $1,500, so you should easily be able to satisfy any minimum spending requirement easily. You can get a $10 credit using promo code PTM9462620 when signing up and paying your first bill of more than $25.
Which American Express Card Will You Be Getting?