American Express Platinum Canada (Good or Bad?!)

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The American Express Platinum Canada credit card is one of the most popular travel credit cards in Canada. It comes with a steep annual fee, so we need to investigate whether or not the Amex Platinum Canada is actually worth the hype or is overrated.

The American Express Platinum Canada card has a $699 annual fee. You receive complimentary Priority Pass lounge access, a $200 travel credit, and a generous sign-up bonus. In most cases, you get enough value out of the card in the first year that it is worth the steep annual fee, but you have to crunch some serious numbers to determine whether or not the card is worth keeping into the second year and beyond. Most people won’t find enough value in the Amex Platinum Canada long-term to make it worth the annual fee.

In order to make the American Express Platinum Canada card worth the annual fee, you have to be a very frequent traveller and take advantage of your free lounge access on a regular basis.

This post breaks down everything you need to know to determine whether the Amex Platinum Canada is a good addition to your wallet.

There is nothing worse than not getting enough value out a card to make it worth paying the annual fee, and I’m going to help you not make that mistake and only get the card if you get enough out of it.

The American Express Platinum Canada card is not for everybody even though I think most people get enough out of the card the first year to make it worthwhile.

You need to take advantage of every perk the Amex Platinum Canada offers in order for it to be beneficial in the first year and beyond.

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Highlights

There are a lot of perks that come along with the American Express Platinum card.

They have to sweeten the pot to make it worth the annual fee, and they do a great job of it!

Some of my favourite highlights include:

  • Complimentary Priority Pass card that gives you free access to over 1,200 airport lounges worldwide
  • Access to the award-winning Centurion lounges across the US and in Hong Kong
  • $200 travel credit every year
  • Hotel status at Hilton, Marriott Bonvoy, and the Radisson
  • 2x points on every travel purchase
  • Some of the best travel insurance found on any Canadian credit card including car insurance, trip cancellation, trip interruption, lost baggage, accidental, and medical insurance!

It is still best and safest to have your own personal health insurance, but the insurance built into the American Express Platinum Canada card is a great safety net on top of you own personal medical insurance.

There are other smaller perks (like having access to the Platinum concierge service) included in the card, but the above highlights are the ones that the average person will get the most use out of.

My two favourite perks are the free Priority Pass membership and the $200 travel credit.

They really help to elevate your travel experience. The Priority Pass, if used properly, adds a lot more value to you than the sticker price of what it would cost to buy the Priority Pass with your own money.

American Express Platinum Canada

Pros and Cons of the American Express Platinum Canada Card

Pros

  • Great perks like lounge access and $200 travel credit
  • Hotel status at some of the most popular hotel chains in the world
  • Unbeatable insurance

Cons

  • Hefty annual fee that makes the card inaccessible to many people
  • Points earnings aren’t as good as on the American Express Cobalt Canada
  • Many vendors don’t accept American Express cards

Points

You earn and redeem MR points with the Amex Platinum Canada card.

MR points can be redeemed directly through the American Express portal or transferred to partner programs.

American Express partners with a number of airline and hotel partners, and you can easily transfer your MR points to a partner program.

Once your MR points are transferred to a partner program, you redeem your points as you normally would through that program’s portal.

You get the most value out of your MR points by transferring them to a partner program. It gives you more flexibility in how you redeem your points and (in most cases) gives you more value per point than simply redeeming through the American Express portal.

Sign-Up Bonus

The sign-up bonus on this card varies, and it ranges from 40,000 MR points to 60,000 MR points.

That is a very generous sign-up bonus, and the second highest sign-up bonus offered on an American Express Canada card. The highest sign-up bonus is 75,000 MR points on the Amex Platinum Business Canada card.

You have to spend $5,000 in the first three months of holding the card in order to receive the bonus points.

That’s a pretty large amount of money and outside a lot of people’s average three month budget.

If you plan on applying for the American Express Platinum Canada card, make sure you have a plan on how you will meet the $5,000 minimum spend.

You don’t get the bonus points if you don’t meet the minimum spend, so have a plan in place!

A few ways you can meet the minimum spend include:

  • Buying gift cards for food, hotels, or flights that you know you will use later
  • Use a service like PaySimply to pay your rent with your credit card
  • Make purchases for your friends and family on your card and have them e-transfer you money to pay off your card balance

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Earning Points

I have to be honest and say the least attractive part of the Amex Platinum Canada is the points earning.

There aren’t any high point earning categories, and it can be difficult to earn a lot of points quickly.

Here are the earning categories:

  • 3x points on eligible dining purchases made in Canada. You will not get bonus points for dining purchases made outside of Canada.
  • 2x points on eligible travel purchases. This includes flights, hotels, trains, and anything else related to travel. This includes purchases anywhere in the world and not only in Canada.
  • 1x points on every other purchase. No matter what the purchase is, you get 1 point for every $1 spent on items outside Canadian dining and travel.

I certainly wish the earning categories were a little bit higher.

The card has such a high annual fee that I think American Express could have thrown us some better points deals.

I would have loved to see 3x on travel or the same 5x on dining you see with the American Express Cobalt Canada.

You really have to be strategic about how and when you use your Amex Platinum Canada.

There are better American Express Canada cards to use on everyday spending (like the Cobalt and Gold).

If you hold multiple American Express cards, make sure you’re using the right one for the right purchase to get the most points!

Imperfect earning categories aside, the Amex Platinum Canada is a great card to earn points on when travelling.

You earn 2 points per $1 spent on all travel purchases, and if you’re interested in this card, you probably travel a lot.

This is the best category to use your Amex Platinum Canada in and how you will earn the points the quickest.

Redeeming Points

You can redeem your points through the American Express portal or you can transfer your points to a partner program and redeem them directly through that program.

Redeeming points directly through the American Express portal is easier, but you often get a better value for your points when you transfer them to a partner program.

It requires an additional step, but it is worth the effort!

Transferring your points to a partner program can be intimidating, but it isn’t, and after you’ve done it once, you see how easy it is and feel confident next time you transfer your points.

MR points can be used to book airfare, hotels, travel experiences, buy merchandise, or purchase gift cards.

All of this is done directly through the American Express portal in your American Express account.

It is the one-stop place to go whether you’re redeeming points or transferring them to a partner program.

The best part is that American Express makes it incredibly easy to use your points!

You simply toggle to the redemption portion of the header section, and click however you want to use your points.

It only takes a few clicks, and you’ve either redeemed your points directly through American Express or transferred them to a partner program!

It doesn’t get any easier!

One important thing to note about transferring points is that you can’t transfer them back into MR points after they are transferred to a partner program.

Once you ask the system to transfer points to a partner program, there is no way to reverse it.

So please be sure you want to transfer your points before you click the transfer button!

Airplanes at Airport

AIRLINE PARTNER PROGRAMS (IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER)

AirlineTransfer RatioEstimated Transfer Time
Air Canada (Aeroplan Points)1000:100030 minutes
Alitalia (MilleMiglia)1000:7505 business days
British Airways (Avios)1000:1005 business days
Cathay Pacific (Asia Miles)1000:7505 business days
Delta (SkyMiles)1000:75030 minutes
Etihad (Etihad Guest Miles)1000:7503 business days

HOTEL PARTNER PROGRAMS (IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER)

HotelTransfer RatioEstimated Transfer Times
Hilton1000:10005 business days
Marriott2:35 business days

Best Ways to Redeem MR Points

Without a doubt the best way to redeem your MR points is transferring them to a partner program.

You get the most out of every point, and you have more flexibility to create the trip you want rather than being limited to the options American Express offers.

You decide what trip you want to use your points for, do the research on what partner program gets you where you want to go for the best price, and transfer the points to that program!

It is incredible how much you can do with your MR points when you use them strategically and transfer them to the right program that suits your travel needs!

The best partner programs to transfer MR points to are Air Canada Aeroplan, British Airways Avios, and Hilton Honors.

You get the best bang for your points with these transfer programs!

That being said, it is better to use your MR points in any fashion than to let them go to waste and not use them at all!

There is no bigger faux pas in the travel hacking game than not using your points and letting them expire or collect dust.

It is better to use your MR points on any trip even if it technically isn’t the best use of your points or you don’t get the highest value out of them.

You need to use your points in any and every way possible or else it isn’t worth being in the credit card point collecting game.

This isn’t popular advice to give in the travel hacking community, but it is the truth.

You hear all the time that you have to get every single cent out of your points that a lot of people get analysis paralysis and don’t end up using their points at all.

Don’t be that person.

Use you points in a way that suits you and your travel needs (but still try to get as much value out of them as possible)!

Worst Ways to Redeem MR Points

While I’m not going to tell you there is a 100% right and best way to use your MR points, I am going to tell you there is clearly a worst way to use our MR points!

The absolute worst way you can redeem your MR points is using them to purchase merchandise or gift card.

It is the worst value for your MR points, and you should avoid using them for merchandise and gift cards at all costs.

MR points don’t expire as long as you have at least on MR-earning credit card open, so there is no rush to use your points.

Don’t get sucked in by the “deals” on merchandise because the value is never as good as it seems.

Another less than desirable way to use your MR points is for a statement credit, but I’m not going to tell you that is the worst way to use your points.

Most people who use points as a credit statement are in a poor financial situation. They may have lost a job, had a car break down, or hit with some unexpected medical bills.

If using your points as a statement credit is the only way you can pay off your bill at the end of your billing cycle, do it!

It is far better to use your points as a credit statement than not being able to pay off your balance and go into debt.

Couple Travel Hacking

Annual Fee

The annual fee on the American Express Platinum Canada card is a painful $699.

There is no waiver of the annual fee in the first year, so you have to be prepared to shell out $699 as an annual fee each and every year you hold the card.

It is quite a substantial annual fee, but when you consider the perks you get with the American Express Platinum Canada, the true cost of the annual fee shrinks.

You get a $200 travel credit each year you hold the card and a complimentary Priority Pass, which has a retail value of $429USD (approximately $550CAD).

That means you’re getting about $750 worth of perks for holding the Amex Platinum Canada card.

As long as you use the Priority Pass enough to get the full value out of the card and apply your $200 travel credit, you’re essentially not paying an annual fee on the American Express Platinum Canada.

This calculation doesn’t even include the perks you get by having elite status at various hotel chains.

You need to use all the perks in order to essentially negate the annual fee on the Amex Platinum Canada.

If you only use the $200 travel credit and hardly use your priority pass, then the annual fee is still pretty hefty and possibly not worth paying.

You really need to crunch the numbers and look at your travel schedule to see if you’ll use the Amex Platinum Canada perks enough to justify paying a $699 annual fee.

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Qualifications

American Express makes it pretty easy to get one of their credit cards. You just need:

  • Be a Canadian resident
  • The age of majority in the province you live in
  • Have a Canadian credit file

They don’t place a minimum income requirement on their cards, which is something I love.

The American Express Platinum Canada is a charge card, and that means you’re expected to pay it off in full every single month. It is also a premium credit card.

Because of those two things, American Express expects you have a good credit score.

They don’t publicly advertise what credit score you need to be accepted for the Amex Platinum Canada, but I suggest having at least a 700 before applying for the card.

Who Should Get the American Express Platinum Canada Card

This is a card for the most serious of travellers. People who fly multiple times a year and will get a lot of use out of the complimentary Priority Pass.

The annual fee on the American Express Platinum Canada is not inexpensive, and $699 can buy you a week’s stay in a budget hotel or multiple short-haul flights in Asia or Europe.

You really need to weigh the pros and cons of the card perks and see if you’ll get a lot of benefit out of them.

If you’re a casual traveller and only go on one or two holidays per year, this probably isn’t the card for you.

However, if you’re a frequent traveller and fly at least four or five times per year, you’ll most likely get a lot of use out of the Amex Platinum Canada.

It all comes down to how frequently you travel.

Woman waiting in airport

How to Decide Whether to Keep the Amex Platinum Canada Past the First Year

Most people get enough value out of the Amex Platinum Canada in the first year to justify the annual fee.

Between the sign-up bonus and the perks, the majority of people come out on top in the first year.

But that changes in the second year.

You no longer get those juicy sign-up bonus points, and it is time for you to figure out whether or not it is worth keeping the American Express Platinum Canada past the first year.

You get the $200 travel credit, so you can subtract that from the annual fee. This makes your annual fee now $499 out-of-pocket.

You really need to do the math and figure out how often you plan on using the Priority Pass in the coming year.

Each lounge visit is about $32USD a pop, and the Priority Pass has a value of $429USD. That means you have to use a lounge at least 13 times to get the full value from the priority pass.

In other words, you need to fly at least six round-trip flights with no stop overs and use the lounge each flight to get the value out of your Priority Pass.

You also get the hotels perks of being automatically upgraded in status, but those are more difficult to quantify. You don’t know whether you’ll ever be upgrade, so you can’t rely on those perks to add value to you.

When push comes to shove, if you’re not taking at least 12 one-way flights in a year, the American Express Platinum Canada probably isn’t worth holding for a second year.

Tips for flying alone for the first time

Who Should NOT Get the American Express Platinum Canada Card

Anybody who doesn’t travel very often, only travels by land, or isn’t in a financial position to afford the annual fee should not get the Amex Platinum Canada.

It is as easy as that.

You need to travel by air a lot to get the full benefit from the American Express Platinum Canada, and if you don’t, then this simply isn’t the card for you.

Additionally, if you’re not in a position to pay $699 for an annual fee, this isn’t the card for you. You should never put yourself in a precarious financial position just to get the points from a credit card sign-up bonus.

It isn’t worth it!

If you’re in that position, wait a few years until you can afford the annual fee and apply at that point.

Venice, Italy

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Conclusion

The American Express Platinum Canada is a bit of a tricky card. It isn’t for everybody, and you really have to crunch the numbers to see if it is the right card for you.

If you fly a lot, then the Amex Platinum Canada is probably a good addition to your wallet.

It is the most premium travel credit card in Canada and comes with a host of benefits and perks that make it easy to justify the $699 annual fee.

Any frequent traveller knows how luxurious a lounge sounds after a long flight with multiple layovers. The inclusion of a complimentary Priority Pass is a huge seller for me and many other frequent fliers.

The American Express Platinum Canada is the only credit card in Canada that offers a full complimentary Priority Pass, so it is the only option available to you if you don’t want to pay for lounge access out-of-pocket.

On the other hand, if you don’t fly a lot, then the Amex Platinum Canada probably isn’t the right card for you.

The sign-up bonus is attractive and can lure you in, but if you don’t use all the perks that come with the card, then it isn’t worth paying such a high annual fee.

There are plenty of credit cards in Canada (like the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite) that offer a few lounge passes each year you hold the card. Having four to six lounge passes included is probably enough to get you by if you don’t travel all that often.

As you can see, there isn’t a universal answer to the question of whether the American Express Platinum Canada is a good card or not.

It is so dependant on your individual circumstances and travel style.

American Express Platinum Canada (Good or Bad?!)American Express Platinum Canada (Good or Bad?!)American Express Platinum Canada (Good or Bad?!)

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