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Compare Canada's best American Express credit cards

The best rewards cards for
  • all reward types
  • cash back
  • store credit
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with
  • any annual fee
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CardBest used forAnnual feeRewards
Food & transit

$120

  • 5 pts/$1 for gas, groceries, restaurants
  • 1 pts/$1 for other

Purchase interest: 20.99%  |  Cash advance: 23.99%  |  Balance transfer: 23.99%

Groceries & dining

$156

  • 5 pts/$1 for groceries, restaurants
  • 2 pts/$1 for gas, travel
  • 1 pts/$1 for other

Purchase interest: 20.99%  |  Cash advance: 21.99%  |  Balance transfer: N/A

$0

  • 1 pts/$1 for all purchases

Purchase interest: 20.99%  |  Cash advance: 21.99%  |  Balance transfer: N/A

Premium perks

$699

  • 3 pts/$1 for Earn 3 points for every $1 in Card purchases on eligible dining and food delivery in Canada.
  • 1 pts/$1 for other
  • 2 pts/$1 for travel

Purchase interest: 20.99%  |  Cash advance: N/A  |  Balance transfer: N/A

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American Express credit cards overview

American Express is the smallest of the three major credit card companies in Canada (the others being Visa and Mastercard), and is the only one to issue its own credit cards rather than rely on a bank or credit union. The company currently offers six personal cards in just its own name – not attached to any outside partners – as well as a total of ten business credit cards and co-branded rewards cards with their partners.

The six personal cards American Express offers are its 2 x SimplyCash Cards, the American Express Cobalt, the Essential Card, the Gold Rewards Card, and the Platinum Card. 

The two SimplyCash Cards are cash back credit cards that offer either a flat 1.25% or 2% cash back on every dollar spent depending on whether you opt for the no fee version or the $99 annual fee SimplyCash Preferred.

Launched in 2017, The American Express Cobalt ($120 annual fee) is the most widely-popular, earning up to 5 times the points per dollar spent on groceries, dining, and eating out, and 2 points per dollar on virtually all travel expenses - from flights and hotel stays to gas and public transit. 

The Essential Card is a no fee, low interest credit card that carries a below-average APR of 12.99% across the board on purchases and cash advances, making it the right fit for anyone who's on a tighter budget and may need to rely on credit to carry them over during a cash crunch.

The last two cards - the Gold Rewards Card and Platinum Card - aren't conventional credit cards like those covered above but charge cards. For all intents and purposes, charge cards function virtually identical to credit cards but don't have hard credit limits (often translating to greater buying power for cardholders) and have to be paid off in full each and every statement period. 

The Gold Rewards Card ($150 annual fee) is particularly popular among savvy points optimizers and frequent flyers, as cardholders can transfer points to over half a dozen airline and hotel loyalty programs (including Aeroplan and Marriott Bonvoy). With the right transfers, cardholders can stretch the value of their points and travel further. The card comes with a welcome bonus of 50,000 Membership Rewards points and offers double points on eligible purchases.

Finally, the Platinum Card is American Express' most high-end credit card, as its $699 annual fee gives you access to world-class concierge services, unparalleled airport lounge access (including coveted Centurion lounges), a $200 travel credit renewed every year, and a slew of hotel and travel insurance benefits.


Canada's Best American Express Cards

 

Best Overall Rewards Card: American Express Cobalt

What makes the American Express Cobalt arguably the best rewards card in Canada is its impressive array of bonus categories. Users can earn a whopping five points per dollar on groceries, restaurants, bars, and food deliveries,  two points per dollar on transportation and travel, three times the points on eligible streaming subscriptions in Canada, and one point per dollar on everything else.

While the card’s annual fee is a little higher than average at $155.88, its manageable $12.99/month payment schedule makes it easy to handle. Plus, in your first year with the card, you can earn For your first year, you can earn 2,500 points for each month you spend $500, up to a maximum of 30,000 points.

Why we like it:

Outside of its generous welcome offer and point values, the American Express Cobalt also provides flexible point redemption options for travellers.

Users have the choice to either: redeem points for hotel stays or flights on virtually any airline at a flat rate of $10 per 1000 (1 cent per point); use AMEX’s Fixed Points Travel Program to get special redemption rates and potentially earn up to 50%-75% more point value on round trip flights out of Canada; or transfer points to select hotel partners like Marriott Bonvoy. You can also redeem points for prepaid cards to use for any purchase at a rate of roughly 0.8 cents per point. Plus, you can also now transfer points 1:1 to several frequent flyer and other loyalty programs.

It also won't cost you extra to add authorized users, meaning you'll avoid annual fees should you have to share the account with a loved one.

Travel insurance benefits:

The American Express Cobalt also provides a wide variety of insurance benefits, including:

  • travel emergency medical ($5 million for 15 days) 
  • travel accident ($500,000), $500
  • flight interruption
  • baggage loss/delay
  • car rental collision/loss damage waiver for vehicles up to $85,000

Additional perks:

As with many other Amex cards, users get access to ticket presales and reserved seats for concerts, movie screenings, and culinary events, along with other special offers.

 

Best Cash Back Card: American Express SimplyCash Preferred

For those looking for the best flat-rate cash back card, the SimplyCash Preferred Card from American Express should definitely catch the eye. Offering a standard 2% cash back across the board, cardholders can save on groceries, entertainment, recurring bills, and everything in between. Plus, new cardholders will earn a welcome rate of 10% cash back (up to $400) on all their spending for the first four months of ownership. Cash back is refunded once a year in September as an account credit.

Why we like it:

At 2%, the SimplyCash Preferred earns the highest flat cash back rate on the market. Plus, because the rate is the same for every type of purchase, users won't have to spend time navigating bonus categories and participating retailers to maximize their savings. Authorized users are also free to add, making it easy for family members to share the same account.

Additional perks:

Users of the SimplyCash Preferred Card will enjoy 24/7 customer service, comprehensive travel insurance with up to $5,000,000 in travel medical emergency insurance, up to $85,000 in rental car/damage/loss waiver insurance, and access to American Express Invites.

 

Best no-fee rewards card: American Express SimplyCash

When compared to many other no fee rewards cards, the SimplyCash will earn you upwards of double the returns on otherwise generic purchases like clothes and electronics. Its strong flat earn rate and no annual fee also makes the SimplyCash great for pairing with another card since it offers above-average returns on purchases that don’t fall under most credit card bonus categories.

Why we like it:

The major appeal of the AMEX SimplyCash is, well, its simplicity. The card does away with bonus categories and tiered earn rates to instead offer an impressive 1.25% cash back across the board no matter what you buy. Plus, there's also the card's current welcome offer where you can earn 4% cash back for the first six months up to a limit of $200. 

Then there's the card's insurance coverage: purchases made with the card are covered by AMEX'S Buyer's Assurance Protection Plan up to one additional year, and their Purchase Protection Plan will insure eligible items charged to the card against accidental physical damage or theft of up to $1000 per occurrence. For travellers using the card, you can also get up to $100,000 in travel accident insurance when you use the card to buy your common carrier (plane, train, ship, or bus) tickets.

Additional perks:

The card also offers great side perks including AMEX Offers (which lets you earn discounts on eligible products from retailers partnered with American Express) and American Express Invites (which provides access to presale tickets to live events like concerts and musicals).

 

Best flexible travel card: American Express Gold Rewards Card

If you’re an American Express fan looking for a flexible travel card with a great welcome bonus, the American Express Gold Rewards Card should be on your radar.

The card offers a respectable 2 points per $1 spent at eligible gas stations, drug and grocery stores in Canada. You'll also earn 2 points per $1 on eligible travel purchases (flights, hotels, car rentals, cruises, and more). Outside of that, you'll earn one point per $1 spent in all other categories.To redeem points, simply log in to your account for a statement credit.

Why we like it:

One excellent feature of the American Express Gold Rewards card is its generous signup offer. You can earn up to 70,000 Membership Rewards points (a $700 cash value). Offer ends September 20, 2022. Considering the fact that 60,000 points is enough to redeem for a round-trip flight to almost anywhere in Europe with the American Express Fixed Travel Points Program, that's an excellent incentive. In addition, you'll get one free additional Gold Rewards card (a $50 value) to help you earn points even faster. 

Another thing that makes the American Express membership rewards points so appealing is the fact that you can transfer them to Aeroplan and Avios on a 1:1 basis. Points can also be transferred to other programs, including but not limited to the Starwood Preferred Guest, Asia Miles, and Delta SkyMiles programs. Plus, American Express points don’t expire, so you can transfer your points only when you need to.

Additional perks:

While travelling abroad, there's certainly no shortage of perks with the American Express Gold Rewards card.

As a Cardholder, you'll have access to an annual $100 CAD travel credit. This can be used once a year towards any single travel booking of $100 or more charged to your Gold Rewards Card through American Express Travel Online.

You'll also be treated to complimentary membership in Priority PassTM  – one of the world’s largest independent airport lounge programs. Enjoy complimentary refreshments and WiFi as you wait for your flight in a quiet, spacious atmosphere. You'll also get to enjoy four complimentary visits per calendar year to Plaza Premium Lounges across Canada. Enrollment is required and entry fees apply.

As an added bonus for frequent travellers to the U.S., you'll also receive a $50 CAD statement credit when a NEXUS application or renewal fee is charged to your American Express Gold Rewards Card.

 

Best low interest card: American Express Essential

Enter the American Express Essential Credit Card. Introduced in 2016, it has no annual fee, and offers a low interest rate of 12.99% on purchases and cash advances. 

Why we like it:

Low interest credit cards typically have one main trade-off: fewer (or no) rewards. However, rewards such as cash back or travel points are only valuable if you pay off your balance in full every month. This card has a different type of reward: access to American Express Experiences, which includes ticket pre-sales and reserved seats for concerts, movie screenings, and culinary events, plus other special offers. Canadian cardholders can also access pre-sales for select concerts and events in the U.S.

Additional perks:

If you’re planning to make a large purchase, this card comes with buyer’s assurance protection, which doubles the manufacturer’s warranty up to an additional year, and purchase protection, which insures eligible items against physical damage or theft. If you’re taking a vacation and travelling on a common carrier (plane, train, bus, or ship), charge your tickets to the card and you’ll also get up to $100,000 in travel accident insurance. American Express cards are also compatible with Apple Pay.

 

Best premium card: The Platinum Card

If you’re a frequent traveller who likes to treat themselves while abroad, the Platinum Card from American Express is one to consider. While its annual fee is steep ($699), the premium benefits and lucrative sign-up bonus it offers make it worth the hefty price tag for the right cardholder.

Why we like it:

The card currently offers a massive welcome bonus, allowing you to earn 90,000 welcome bonus points after charging $6,000 in net purchases to the card in the first three months. Plus, earn a total of 10 points for every $1 on eligible eats & drinks purchases for the first three months (up to 20,000 points) for a possible total of 110,000 points. Offer ends September 20, 2022. Alternatively, you could convert these points to Aeroplan Miles at a 1:1 ratio. 60,000 Aeroplan points are enough for two round-trip tickets to anywhere in Canada and the continental U.S. Enjoy flexible ways to use your points such as statement credits for any eligible purchase charged to your Card, new travel purchases booked on American Express Travel Online through the Flexible Points Travel Program, and eligible flights through the Fixed Points Travel Program.

And once the bonus period ends, you’ll still enjoy 3 points for every $1 in card purchases on eligible dining and food delivery in Canada, 2 points for every $1 in card purchases on eligible travel, and 1 point for every $1 in all other card purchases, making it easy to rack up points fast. 

Additional perks:

For frequent travelers, The Platinum Card from American Express offers tons of exciting perks that will make any trip feel luxurious and easy. 

Cardholders can enjoy unlimited access to the Global Lounge Collection, getting you into a number of participating airport lounges both in Canada and internationally. You’ll also be automatically enrolled in the following hotel status upgrades: Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status, Hilton Honors Gold status, and Radisson Rewards Americas Gold status.  These upgrades offer benefits such as member discounts, additional points earned, room upgrades, free breakfast, early and late checkouts, and more. To normally qualify for these status upgrades, you would typically have to stay anywhere 20 to 40 nights per hotel.

When it comes to travel insurance, you’ll also be well-covered with the Platinum Card and its comprehensive package. Cardholders under the age of 65 are insured for 15 consecutive days of travel, per trip. The card’s travel emergency medical insurance covers you up to $5,000,000 while trip cancellation and interruption insurance covers up to $2,500 per person up to a maximum of $5,000 and $6,000 respectively. Other travel insurance benefits you get includes flight delay, baggage delay, lost or stolen baggage, car rental theft or damage, hotel and motel burglary, and travel accident.

American Express Membership Rewards points

The American Express Membership Rewards points program is often touted as the best in Canada due to its great value and flexible redemption options.

Depending on if you go for the American Express Cobalt, Gold or Platinum cards, the rewards points you earn can be redeemed for any number of things:

  • Flexible Points Travel Program: lets you redeem points for virtually any travel expense (including flights, hotel stays, vacation packages, and car rentals) in flat increments of 1,000 points for $10. You can charge the travel expense to your credit card and apply points against the purchase retroactively at a later date to offset the cost.
    • American Express Cobalt, Gold or Platinum cards are all eligible
  • Fixed Points Travel Program: lets you redeem points for only round-trip flights out of Canada according to a chart. This chart breaks up potential travel destinations into six regions - each requiring a set number of points (i.e. 60,000 points for a flight to Europe or 100,000 points for a flight to the middle east). While slightly less intuitive than the aforementioned Flexible Points Travel Program, you can get far greater value (anywhere from 1.75 cents to 2 cents per point) provided you book the right flight and utilize the chart to your advantage. 
    • American Express Cobalt, Gold or Platinum cards are all eligible
  • Airline Transfers: With this option, you can transfer your points (often at a 1:1 ratio) to a number of frequent flyer programs including Aeroplan and British Airways Avios. Done right, these transfers can help open up the door to even more opportunities to maximize your points values by leveraging the power of other loyalty programs - not just Amex's own program.
    • Gold or Platinum cards are eligible (the American Express Cobalt is not)

  • Hotel Transfers: Similar to airline loyalty program transfers, you can transfer the points you earn on your American Express card to either the Marriott Bonvoy or Hilton Honours programs. 
    • American Express Cobalt, Gold or Platinum are all eligible

  • Other rewards (American Express Cobalt, Gold or Platinum are eligible)
    • Ticketmaster: 2,000 points for $20 (1 cent per point)
    • Gift cards: (varies but averages around 0.7-0.8 cents per point)
    • Statement credits: 1,000 points for $7 (0.7 cents per point)


American Express credit card partnerships

American Express has always been fairly selective about who they team up with. American Express’s current credit card partnerships include:

  • AIR MILES: Similarly, American Express also offers 3 AIR MILES credit cards: the American Express AIR MILES Card, American Express AIR MILES Platinum Card and American Express AIR MILES Reserve Card. Each card comes with a welcome bonus of some free AIR MILES (more as you move up the tiers) and helps you earn AIR MILES Rewards Miles.
  • Marriott Bonvoy: The Marriott Bonvoy Credit Card from American Express comes with a welcome bonus of 50,000 free Bonvoy Points (3 free nights at eligible hotels) and is associated with the world's largest hotel chain. You will also earn 5 Bonvoy per $1 spent at Marriott International hotels (which encompasses over two dozen major hotel brands including Starwood Hotels, Ritz-Carlton, among others) and 2 points per $1 spent on all other purchases charged to the card.
  • Scotiabank: Currently, Scotiabank is the only bank in Canada to offer American Express credit cards. One of the most popular American Express credit cards in Canada is the Scotiabank Gold American Express Card, which lets you earn up to 5x the points for every $1 spent at certain retailers. They also offer the Scotiabank American Express Card, which earns a flat 1 point for every $1 spent.
  • Holt Renfrew: The Holt Renfrew Card from American Express (NOW DISCONTINUED) has no annual fee and lets you earn 1.4 Holt Renfrew Rewards Points for virtually every dollar you charge to the card at Holt Renfrew stores. You can also earn 1 Holt Renfrew Rewards Point for every dollar spent anywhere else, and will receive invitations to exclusive Holt Renfrew events.

American Express also used to be the only credit card company to have a partnership with Costco, until 2014 when that relationship ended and Costco decided to offer its members a Capital One Mastercard credit card instead.



More on American Express

American Express (also known as Amex) is a multinational financial services corporation that offers a variety of credit cards, charge cards, travel insurance and traveller’s cheques. While Amex cards are said to account for 24% of the total dollar volume of credit card transactions in the U.S., The Nilson Report showed that American Express held just 3.8% of the market share of purchase transactions made worldwide in 2013. American Express operates in more than 140 countries.

Cards summary (+/-)

Natasha Macmillan, Senior Business Manager of Everyday Banking

Natasha is the Business Director of Everyday Banking at Ratehub.ca. With over a decade of business, strategy and execution experience in the financial services industry, Natasha has worked with numerous public and private enterprises across North America. Her passion for finance and education brought her to Ratehub.ca, where she works closely with Canada’s top financial institutions - from banks to credit unions - to help ensure our over 1,200,000 monthly users get matched with the right credit cards and personal financing accounts.

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