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The best American Express credit cards in Canada

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Compare Canada's best American Express credit cards

The best rewards cards for

all reward types

with

any annual fee
CardBest used forAnnual feeRewards

Food & transit

$120

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

Everyday spending

$99

  • 2% all purchases

Groceries & dining

$120

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

Everyday spending

$0

  • 1.25% all purchases

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Ratehub's best credit cards for June 2021

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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 25,000 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.



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 (+/-)

Mikael Castaldo, Senior Business Manager of Everyday Banking

Mikael is a Senior Business Manager at Ratehub.ca and the driving force behind our Everyday Banking Team. He knows everything there is to know about the best credit cards and bank accounts, and 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 plastic. A numbers guy at heart, having worked as a strategy consultant at the Boston Consulting Group, he’s found himself right at home as a personal finance expert at Ratehub.ca.

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