Where is American Express Accepted in Canada?

by Barry Choi February 23, 2018 / No Comments

Despite consistently ranking as one of the best credit cards in Canada, some people are hesitant to sign up for an American Express card because of the misconception that it’s only accepted at a limited amount of stores. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Since 2017, over 70,000 places in Canada started accepting American Express – this is in addition to all the merchants that were already accepting American Express.

Admittedly, not every business accepts American Express. Some major retailers have exclusive deals with other credit card providers while some prefer to accept only Visa or MasterCard. This usually happens when the store co-branded card is a join product with Visa or MasterCard. In other words, by not accepting American Express, some retailers hope that you’ll apply for one of their credit cards instead.

Where is American Express accepted in Canada?

  • Retailers – H&M, HomeSense, Hudson’s Bay, Aldo, IKEA, Indigo Chapters, Lowe’s, Apple, Staples, Walmart
  • Grocery Stores – Sobeys, Longo’s, Metro, Safeway, Rabba, 7-Eleven, Federated Co-op, Pusateri’s, Whole Foods Markets, Walmart Supercenter
  • Quick Service Restaurants – McDonald’s, Burger King, Starbucks
  • Gas stations – Shell Canada, Petro Canada, Pioneer Energy, Fas Gas, Esso, Ultramar, Irving Oil
  • Travel – Air Canada, WestJet, Air Transat, Celebrity Cruises, Budget, Starwood Hotels, Flight Centre

It’s impossible to list every merchant where American Express is accepted, but we wanted to highlight some of the major retailers across Canada that do accept Amex as a payment option. What you’ll notice is that many of the top brands across a variety of industries happily accept American Express.

The above list is just a sample of the merchants, retailers, and brands that accept American Express.

American Express cardmember perks and incentives

Without a doubt, American Express is popular due to their perks and incentives. Which card you choose will have different benefits, but some popular perks include:

Travel insurance – Many American Express credit cards come with a comprehensive travel insurance package which includes trip interruption/cancellation, lost/delayed baggage, and travel medical.

Amex Invites – If you’re into memorable experiences, Amex Invites gives you advance access to some of the most in-demand concerts, theatre productions, restaurants and special events. Even if you miss the pre-sale event, American Express cardholders get access to a block of reserved tickets.

Premium travel Benefits – At Toronto Pearson International Airport, certain American Express cardholders will get lounge access, priority lanes, and complimentary valet service. Even if you don’t have a premium card, all Amex cardholders get free Wi-Fi.

Every American Express card has different benefits, but one of favourites is the American Express Cobalt card. It’s one of the newer credit cards in Canada, but it’s a game changer. You’ll earn 5 points per $1 spent on “eats and drinks” which includes groceries, restaurants, bars, cafés, and food delivery. This is the highest earn rate for this category in Canada.

American Express Cobalt Card


  • Annual fee: $120 (charged at $10 monthly)
  • Earn 5 points per dollar on restaurants, coffee shops, bars, grocery stores, and food delivery
  • Earn 2 points per dollar on gas, taxis, public transportation and travel (air, water, rail, or road transport, plus hotels)
  • Earn 1 point per dollar on all other purchases

American Express at Small Businesses

In the past, higher interchange fees (the amount merchants pay credit card providers for handling the transaction) likely swayed small merchants away from American Express. However, since the OptBlue program was introduced, there has been a huge increase in the acceptance rate of American Express.

With OptBlue, more options are available. Merchant Service Providers set their own rate and can shop around for the best rate for their business. It’s a one-stop servicing solution that allows participants to provide small merchants the benefit of a single statement, one settlement process and one point of contact for all major card brands, including American Express.

In addition American Express has introduced Shop Small which allows American Express merchants to connect directly with cardholders. The Shop Small Map shows which merchants accept American Express in the highlighted area and even they can even be featured in personalized campaigns.

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