American Express Air Miles Reserve Review

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The American Express Air Miles Reserve is the best Air Miles credit card in Canada. It has a higher annual fee than any other Air Miles card, but it is well worth the extra money!

I’m not a huge fan of the Air Miles program, but if I were, this is the card I would get!

The American Express Air Miles Reserve offers better points earning than any other Air Miles credit card. It also comes with two major perks that no other card has. The card comes with an annual companion fare voucher when you redeem your Air Miles. You also automatically get upgraded to Onyx statues. The most premium Air Miles status possible that comes with discounted rewards!

When compared to the American Express Air Miles Platinum that has a $120 annual fee, paying a little more for the American Express Air Miles Reserve seems like a no brainer.

The extra perks that come with this card far outweigh the more expensive annual fee.

Today we’re going to walk through the American Express Air Miles Reserve card to help you figure out whether it is the right credit card for you.

We’re talking about the good, the bad, and the ugly, so strap in and enjoy the ride!

Best travel credit cards in Canada

Highlights

There are quite a few perks that come with the Amex Air Miles Reserve card.

These perks far outweigh the perks on any other Air Miles card on the market!

The top highlights that you need to know about are:

  • Receive 2,400 Air Miles as a sign-up bonus
  • Earn 1 Air Mile for every $10 spent at Air Mile partners
  • Earn 1 Air Mile for every $10 spent at eligible gas, grocery, and drug stores in Canada
  • Receive 1 Air Mile for every $15 spent on every other purchase
  • Receive a complimentary companion fare once per year when redeeming Air Miles for a flight
  • Automatically upgrade to Oynx status and receive all the perks that come along with it
  • Get access to the FlexFly program where you get access to flights and airlines not normally available through the Air Miles program

Those are some pretty good benefits, and they definitely make the Amex Air Miles Reserve card more attractive.

American Express Air Miles Reserve

Pros and Cons of the American Express Air Miles Reserve Card

Pros

  • Amazing perks
  • High Air Miles earning categories
  • Easy to redeem points

Cons

  • Air Miles isn’t a great program
  • Not everybody accepts Amex
  • Redemptions often come with high fees

Points

You earn and redeem Air Miles with the Amex Air Miles Reserve card.

Not much of a surprise, eh!

The Air Miles program is fairly easy to use. You earn Air Miles and redeem directly through the Air Miles website.

You don’t have to worry about transferring points to a partner program, and everything is done is one place.

While Air Miles isn’t one of my favourite travel programs, it has one of the most straightforward redemption platforms on the market.

Sign-Up Bonus

The sign-up bonus on the American Express Air Miles Reserve card is very straightforward.

You earn 2,400 Air Miles after spending $3,000 on the card in the first three months of holding it.

It is as easy as that!

This isn’t one of the Amex cards that have a complicated sign-up bonus structure, which is quite welcome.

Read the full review of the American Express Aeroplan card to get a sense of how complicated some Amex sign-up bonuses can be.

Woman waiting in airport

Earning Points

The points earning on this card are also straightforward and easy to keep track of.

Here are how the points earning works with the Amex Air Miles Reserve card:

  • Earn 1 Air Mile for every $10 spent at Air Mile partners
  • Earn 1 Air Mile for every $10 spent on eligible gas, grocery, and drug store purchases in Canada. Purchases outside of Canada will earn 1 Air Mile for every $15 spent
  • Earn 1 Air Mile for every $15 spent on the card

Those are pretty good point earning categories for an Air Miles card.

Other Air Mile cards have a points earning ratio of 1 Air Mile for every $10 to $20 spent on the card (depending on what card it is).

So the Amex Air Miles Reserve card is in line with its competitors when it comes to points earning.

But it is superior when you take into consideration all the other perks that come with the card!

Redeeming Points

It is super easy to redeem your Air Miles.

You redeem them through the Air Miles website. You simply navigate to the flight redemption page, search for the flight you want, and redeem your points.

It is basically the same process you would go through when booking any other flight directly through an airline but with a different website.

The major problem with redeeming Air Miles for flights is you often get slammed with ridiculously high taxes and fees.

It is a common complaint to hear from Canadian travellers who have ever booked a flight through Air Miles.

So be prepared that there are probably going to be some additional fiat money required to pay for your taxes and fees.

Make sure to factor that in when deciding whether or not any particular flight is a good use of your miles.

Best Way to Redeem Air Miles

As mentioned in the last section, you can get hit hard with unwanted taxes and fees through the Air Miles program.

It is for that reason that I don’t think flights are the best use of your points.

Dun dun dun!!!!!

My personal favourite way to redeem Air Miles is for experiences.

There are tons of travel-related experiences that you can redeem your Air Miles for, and you don’t have to pay any taxes or fees on them.

There are museums, theme parks, and so much more you can redeem your Air Miles for.

My personal favourite is Universal Studio in California!

If you do want to redeem for flights, I suggest redeeming for flights within North America.

They tend to have lower taxes and fees than intercontinental flights.

Whatever you choose, be sure you’re booking the travel experience that is right for you. The most important thing is that you’re happy with what you redeemed your points for!

Airplanes at Airport

Worst Way to Redeem Air Miles

As with basically every other travel program out there, the worst way to redeem your Air Miles is on merchandise or gift cards.

You simply don’t get a lot of value per point, and you’re leaving a lot of potential on the table.

Although I do understand the temptation because of those taxes and fees!

In terms of flights, long-haul intercontinental flights are the worst use of your points.

You get killed with the taxes and fees, and it takes ages to earn enough Air Miles for a long-haul international flight.

I say stick to flights within Canada and the US, and you’ll be the most successful.

Annual Fee

The annual fee on the American Express Air Miles Reserve card is $299.

American Express never offers annual fee rebates, so you’re stuck paying that $299 out-of-pocket every single year.

If you use the perks that come with the card to their fullest, you will more than make up the annual fee you pay!

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Qualifications

American Express makes it pretty easy to qualify for their cards. There is no minimum income requirement, so it is much more accessible than many other travel credit cards on the market.

To be eligible for the Amex Air Miles Reserve card you need to meet the following requirements:

  • Be a Canadian resident
  • Have a Canadian credit file
  • Be the age of majority in your home province

It really is that easy!

One more thing to know about is American Express can be fairly picky about your credit score.

You should have a credit score of at least 750 before applying for any American Express credit card.

That will give you the best chance of being approved for one of their cards!

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Who Should Get the American Express Air Miles Reserve Card

I think Air Miles loyalists will benefit from holding the American Express Air Miles Reserve card.

The perks the card comes with are unbeatable, and you’ll benefit from them since you’re an active user of Air Miles.

I think this can also be an interesting play for people who partake in a lot of expensive experiences while travelling.

You can use your Air Miles to avoid using your money for things like theme park and museum tickets.

This especially comes in useful for people who have multiple family members!

You can easily save paying $500 in theme park tickets with a family of four!

Who Should NOT Get the American Express Air Miles Reserve Card

I think the average Canadian travel lover should think long and hard about getting the Amex Air Miles Reserve card.

There are way better travel programs in Canada, and I think most people will get more benefit focussing on Aeroplan or MR points than Air Miles.

If you’re new to the points game and are trying to decide what program to focus your energy on, Air Miles should be low on your list.

Alternative Cards

Solo Female Travel

Conclusion

There you have it! My full review of the American Express Air Miles Reserve card.

This card definitely comes with some sweet perks and is a top contender when it comes to the Air Miles program.

The problem is that you’re stuck with the Air Miles program.

That is the major downfall of every Air Miles credit card.

I think the Air Miles program needs a lot of revamping. Actually, if they just got their taxes and fees under control, the program would be pretty decent.

But until that happens, I think most Canadians can benefit more from the Aeroplan program than the Air Miles program.

I’m all for this card if Air Miles is a part of your travel hacking strategy and you enjoy the program.

However, for people just starting out in the points game, I think AirMiles isn’t the program you should be focussing your energy on.

And for that reason, I’m out.

American Express Air Miles Reserve ReviewAmerican Express Air Miles Reserve ReviewAmerican Express Air Miles Reserve Review

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