Is American Express Worth It in Canada?

The perks and rewards associated with Amex’s offerings make them a strong contender in the Canadian credit card market.

That being said, it’s important to consider your own needs and spending habits to evaluate whether or not an American Express card makes sense for you or not.

1. Personal Spending Habits

If you frequently use your credit card for everyday expenses, American Express offers rewards programs like the Membership Rewards Program.

With this program, you can earn points on purchases for travel, dining, or merchandise.

For individuals who enjoy traveling, American Express provides travel benefits such as travel insurance, airport lounge access, and exclusive flight and hotel discounts.

If you have a limited budget and don’t spend much, the annual fees on American Express cards may not be worth it.

2. Travel Frequency

For frequent travelers, American Express offers travel benefits that can enhance your experience.

Even if you don’t travel frequently, American Express can still offer benefits for your occasional trips.

You may still have access to certain travel benefits such as travel insurance coverage and the ability to earn rewards on your travel expenses.

If you rarely travel, the travel benefits of an American Express may not be as significant for you.

You can still consider other factors such as the rewards and perks that can be earned on everyday spending.

3. Preferred Rewards and Perks

American Express offers 15 different credit card options in Canada, all with different monthly or annual fees and rewards structures.

The best card for you will depend on what you usually spend your money on and whether you prefer more travel-centric perks like free airport lounge access or getting cash back to spend on groceries and other purchases.

But whichever card you choose, you’re in for a boatload of benefits.

One of the most popular choices in Canada is the Cobalt Card, which comes up to just over $150/year.

Currently, the welcome bonus is 30,000 points, which equates to about $300 you can spend however you like.

You can earn points by dining out, through your subscription services like Netflix or Disney+, rideshare services, online shopping, and more.

Overall Benefits of Amex Cards

Membership Rewards Program

The Membership Rewards Program offered by American Express provides numerous benefits to cardholders.

With this program, cardholders have the opportunity to earn points for every eligible purchase they make, allowing them to later redeem these points for various purposes, including travel, shopping, dining, and entertainment.

Cardholders also have the option to transfer their earned points to partnering airline and hotel loyalty programs.

The flexibility of this program allows cardholders to use their accumulated points according to their personal preferences.

Travel Benefits

As mentioned before, many American Express cards cater to frequent travelers and offer plenty of travel benefits, such as:

  • Travel rewards: American Express offers travel benefits to its cardholders. This includes earning points or miles for travel-related expenses like flights, hotels, and car rentals. The Membership Rewards Program allows cardholders to redeem points for travel rewards such as airline tickets or hotel stays.
  • Airline lounge access: Certain American Express cardholders have access to airport lounges. These lounges provide a comfortable space to wait for flights, with amenities like complimentary food and beverages, Wi-Fi, and comfortable seating.
  • Travel insurance: American Express provides travel insurance coverage for cardholders. This includes trip cancellation and interruption insurance, baggage insurance, and travel accident insurance.
  • Global assistance: American Express offers 24/7 global assistance to help cardholders with travel-related issues. This includes emergency medical assistance when traveling abroad, roadside assistance for car rentals, and concierge services for travel arrangements and restaurant recommendations.
  • Travel discounts and perks: American Express cardholders can often receive exclusive travel discounts and perks. These can include special rates or upgrades at hotels and resorts, discounted or exclusive access to events, and complimentary benefits like free breakfast or late check-out.

Purchase Protection

American Express offers various purchase protection benefits to cardholders.

One of these benefits is Extended Warranty, where American Express extends the manufacturer’s warranty by 1-2 years and covers defects or malfunctions for eligible purchases.

In addition, Return Protection means American Express to reimburse you if a merchant refuses to accept a return, subject to specific conditions and limitations.

American Express provides Purchase Insurance to protect eligible purchases against accidental damage or theft for up to $1,000 per occurrence.

Should you encounter a dispute with a merchant, American Express will investigate the claim and strive for a fair resolution through its Dispute Resolution process.

It is important to note that the terms and conditions for purchase protection may differ based on your card type.

To fully understand the coverage and any claim requirements, we recommend reviewing the purchase protection benefits of your American Express card.

Exclusive Access and Perks

American Express cardholders receive exclusive access and perks, including special access to concerts, sporting events, and fashion shows through their Front of The Line program.

American Express also offers dedicated concierge services to assist with travel bookings, reservations, and personalized services.

Cardholders can also take advantage of exclusive perks at select hotels and resorts, such as room upgrades, late checkout, and complimentary breakfast. 

American Express also partners with many retailers and restaurants to provide cardholders with exclusive discounts, rewards, and special offers.

Overall Drawbacks of Amex Cards

If you’ve been considering getting an American Express card, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons.

Limited Acceptance

American Express has limited acceptance compared to other credit card companies.

Many small businesses do not accept American Express due to higher transaction fees.

In addition, in international travel, certain establishments may not accept American Express.

More details can be found in our article on where Amex is accepted in Canada.

Annual Fees

Annual fees are a crucial aspect to consider when determining the worth of American Express.

American Express does have free cards, but their cards with the best perks and rewards come at a higher cost.

The Platinum Card, for example, comes at a hefty price of $799/year.

It is important to note that these fees may be higher compared to other credit card issuers.

Ultimately, the worthiness of the annual fee depends on an individual’s spending habits, frequency of travel, and the importance they place on American Express rewards and perks.

Careful evaluation of these factors and weighing of the annual fee will determine whether it is a worthwhile investment.

The welcome bonus helps.

Higher Interest Rates

American Express credit cards are known for their higher interest rates compared to other issuers as Amex cards are mainly charge cards, meaning the balance is paid off in full each month.

The interest rate charged by American Express ranges from 12.99% to 29.99%, depending on the cardholder’s creditworthiness and market conditions.

Lady on her computer shopping online using her Amex

Is the Amex Platinum Worth It?

The American Express Platinum Card, with its $799 annual fee, is particularly valuable for frequent travelers and those who appreciate luxury.

It offers extensive travel perks, including access to over 1,300 airport lounges worldwide, valuable travel credits, and elite hotel statuses with benefits like room upgrades and complimentary breakfasts.

The generous rewards program accelerates point earning, especially on travel and dining, with points transferable to numerous airline and hotel partners.

Additional benefits like comprehensive travel insurance, exclusive dining experiences, and concierge service enhance its value. Though it has a high annual fee, the card’s array of premium benefits can significantly outweigh the cost for active users.

Is the Amex Aeroplan Reserve Card Worth It?

The American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card, with an annual fee of $599, is ideal for frequent Air Canada flyers and Aeroplan enthusiasts, offering up to 90,000 bonus points as a welcome incentive.

It provides a high earning rate on Air Canada purchases, dining, and food delivery.

Key benefits include complimentary Maple Leaf Lounge and Priority Pass lounge access, an Annual Worldwide Companion Pass, and priority airport services.

Additionally, the card accelerates Aeroplan Elite Status attainment and offers a comprehensive travel insurance package

While it has a significant annual fee, the value derived from frequent travel, lounge access, and bonus points can outweigh the cost for regular Air Canada customers.

Is the Amex Gold Worth It?

The American Express Gold Rewards Card, with its $250 annual fee, is worth it for those who frequently spend on travel and everyday purchases like gas, groceries, and drugstores, thanks to its rewarding points system.

You can earn significant Membership Rewards points, which are versatile for travel bookings, statement credits, or transfers to airline and hotel partners.

Key benefits include a $100 annual travel credit, complimentary airport lounge access, and extensive travel insurance.

The card’s additional perks, such as special access to events and shopping protections, enhance its value.

While it has an annual fee, active users who leverage these benefits can find great value in the card.

Is the Amex Cobalt Worth It?

The American Express Cobalt Card, with a monthly fee of $12.99, is especially valuable for those who frequently dine out or order in, and for avid travelers, thanks to its robust rewards program.

It offers an exceptional earning rate on eats and drinks, including restaurants and food delivery, as well as on streaming services, travel, and transit.

The flexibility in redeeming Membership Rewards points for travel, dining, or as statement credits adds to its allure.

Additional perks include comprehensive travel insurance, mobile device protection, and exclusive access to events and offers through American Express Experiences.

With a monthly fee instead of an annual one, it’s financially manageable for regular spenders in these categories.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the benefits of American Express?
  • American Express offers excellent customer service, a stellar membership rewards program, tons of travel perks, and generous welcome bonuses.

  • Are there any drawbacks to American Express?
  • The biggest drawback to American Express cards is their limited acceptance. Some also complain about their annual fees and high interest rates.

  • Is the annual fee for the American Express cards justified?
  • Whether the annual fees for American Express cards are justified depends on individual spending habits and lifestyle. For big spenders and those who frequently fly or stay at specific hotel chains, the perks and rewards of the card can outweigh the fees of the more premium cards. It may not be suitable for frugal spenders, credit-builders, or those who prefer cash back or statement credits.

Tara Al-Khudairi

Tara Al-Khudairihas worked in the financial services industry since 2017. She graduated from McMaster University with a degree in Finance and is pursuing her CFA.

She has worked at a major Canadian financial institution in various client-facing advisory roles, starting as a bank teller and working up to a Client Services Associate within the Asset Management division. She specializes in simplifying concepts of personal finance for people of various financial backgrounds.

When she’s not examining the markets looking for the next SHOP.TO, she’s either practicing yoga, planning her next vacation, or has her nose buried deep in a book.