American Express Air Miles Platinum Canada Review

The American Express Air Miles Platinum is one of the best Air Miles credit cards in Canada.

I’m not a huge fan of the Air Miles program, but if you are, you do not want to miss out on this card!

The American Express Air Miles Platinum Canada gives you 3,000 Air Miles points as a sign-up bonus. It is the largest sign-up bonus on a non-premium Air Miles card, and the minimum spend is half the amount as the BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard. The downfall of the Amex Air Miles Platinum is that it is weak points earning, and you don’t earn a lot of Air Miles quickly. To be fair though, that is a problem with every Air Miles credit card in Canada.

Overall, I think the American Express Air Miles Platinum is a clear front runner when it comes to Air Miles credit cards in Canada.

It isn’t much of a surprise though. American Express leads the way in pretty much every category when it comes to travel credit cards in Canada!

There is a lot of upside with the American Express Air Miles Platinum Canada card, but it isn’t for everybody.

By the end of this post, you’ll have a better idea of whether or not this is the right credit card for you.

Best travel credit cards in Canada

Highlights

The Amex Air Miles Platinum isn’t the fanciest of credit cards. It doesn’t have many bells or whistles, but it does what it is made to do well.

That’s all that really matters!

Here are some of the top highlights you need to know about:

  • 3,000 Air Miles as a sign-up bonus
  • Earn 1 Air Mile for every $5 spent on gas and grocery purchases in Canada
  • Earn 1 Air Mile for every $10 spent on every other purchase
  • Once per calendar year save 25% on flights or vacations through the Air Miles website when redeeming points (save up to 750 Air Miles)
American Express Air Miles Platinum Canada card

Pros and Cons of the American Express Air Miles Platinum Card

Pros

  • Generous sign-up bonus
  • Points can be used in a variety of different ways
  • Points are easy to use even if you’re a beginner

Cons

  • Not the best points program
  • Points earning ratios aren’t great, so you don’t earn points quickly
  • Not every merchant accepts American Express cards

Points

You earn and redeem Air Miles with the Amex Air Miles Platinum Canada card.

Makes sense!

You don’t have the option to transfer your points to a partner program, and all redeeming is done through the Air Miles website.

It is a super easy redemption process, which is great for people new to travel hacking. You don’t have to worry about figuring out the best transfer partner or anything like that.

Everything is in one easy place!

That is definitely one of the perks of the Air Miles program.

Sign-Up Bonus

The sign-up bonus on the American Express Air Miles Platinum Canada card is 3,000 Air Miles.

You have to spend $1,500 in the first the first three months in order to get the full sign-up bonus.

Most people are able to meet the minimum spend within the first three months of holding the card just through their regular spending.

If you don’t tend to spend $500 a month on your credit card, be sure you have a plan to meet the minimum spend before applying for the Amex Air Miles Platinum Canada card!

Earning Points

The points earning on the American Express Air Miles Platinum Canada card is really straightforward!

You don’t have to worry about remembering a bunch of different categories to maximize the points you earn.

Here are the points earning categories for the Amex Air Miles Platinum Canada card:

  • Earn 1 Air Mile for every $5 spent on eligible gas, transportation, and grocery purchases in Canada up to $30,000 in a calendar year.
  • Earn 1 Air Mile for every $10 spent in every other category

Those aren’t great points earning categories, but as far as Air Miles goes, those categories are pretty good.

For example, the BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard has a points earning of 1 Air Mile for every $10 spent across the board.

So you earn more Air Miles with the American Express Air Miles Platinum Canada card just because it has one elevated points earning category.

Woman waiting in airport

Redeeming Points

Air Miles are very easy to redeem!

You just need to log into your Air Miles account, search for what you want to redeem your Air Miles for, and you’re set.

Everything is done through the Air Miles website, so it is no fuss to redeem your miles!

Best Way to Redeem Air Miles

The Air Miles program is known for charging high taxes and fees on flights and vacation packages.

It is very unfortunate and is the main reason I don’t care for the Air Miles program.

I think the best way to redeem Air Miles is for experiences.

You can redeem your Air Miles for many travel-related experiences.

My personal favourite is redeeming my Air Miles for Universal California tickets!

You can redeem Air Miles for anything from museum tickets to event tickets. There is probably an event for everybody no matter what your preferences are.

In terms of travel rewards, the two best ways to redeem your Air Miles is for hotels or short-haul flights within North America.

You tend to get the best value per Air Mile and pay the least in taxes in those two categories.

The best strategy when it comes to redeeming Air Miles is avoiding paying as much as possible out-of-pocket while getting the most value per mile.

Easier said than done though!

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Unpopular Opinion

My somewhat unpopular opinion in the travel hacking world is that you should redeem your points in any way that gets you the most value out of it.

Use your points for what makes you happy and not necessarily what is the best value per point.

It is far more important for you to enjoy your reward and use your miles rather than use your miles to get the most value out of them even if it isn’t for the reward you wanted.

Airplanes at Airport

Worst Way to Redeem Air Miles

The worst way to redeem Air Miles is to use your miles for merchandise and gift cards.

You just don’t get as much value per Mile as you do when you redeem your Air Miles for travel.

Outside of merchandise and gift cards, the worst way to redeem your Air Miles for travel is on long-haul international flights.

You get nailed with taxes and fees on those flights, and you don’t get as much value per Air Mile as you do on short-haul domestic flights.

It isn’t a great situation any way you cut it!

Annual Fee

The annual fee on the American Express Air Miles Platinum Canada card is $120.

That’s a really fair annual fee for this type of credit card. Most other similar American Express cards have a $120 annual fee and many other similar credit cards have an annual fee of $139 or higher!

For comparison, the annual fee on the BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard (Amex’s biggest competition) is $120.

So exactly the same!

Qualifications

American Express makes it pretty easy to be approved for one of their credit cards.

They are basically the only credit card issuer in Canada that doesn’t have a minimum income limit, and we love that!

To be approved for the American Express Air Miles Platinum Canada card you need to meet all of the following criteria:

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

Yup! It is as easy as that!

One other really important think to note is that American Express is pretty strict about you having a strong credit score before being approved.

You should have a credit score of 750 to have the best chance of being approved for the Amex Air Miles Platinum Canada card.

Paris, France

Who Should Get the American Express Air Miles Platinum Canada Card

Anyone who enjoys the Air Miles rewards program should consider adding the American Express Air Miles Platinum Canada card to their wallet.

It is a fantastic Air Miles co-branded credit card.

The 3,000 Air Miles sign-up bonus and the elevated points earnings on gas and groceries makes it a very attractive card to Air Miles lovers.

The only thing I caution you on is making sure you have a varied credit card portfolio. It is easy to fall in love with American Express and load up on their cards. But you want to make sure you have at least one non-American Express card in your wallet to use when merchants don’t accept American Express.

As long as you have a Mastercard or Visa in your wallet, go ahead and get the Amex Air Miles Platinum Canada card!

Who Should NOT Get the American Express Air Miles Platinum Canada Card

This is a bit harsh, but I don’t think this is the right credit card for most people.

The American Express Air Miles Platinum card is great at what it does, but that doesn’t help much when what it does well isn’t great.

That was a confusing sentence.

What I’m trying to say is that the flaw in the Amex Air Miles Platinum card falls in the Air Miles program rather than in the credit credit card.

No matter how good the card is, it isn’t going to compete with other credit cards that have better points programs.

For people new to travel hacking and want an easy program, I suggest looking at Aeroplan credit cards and the RBC Westjet World Elite Mastercard.

I hope this section didn’t come off too harsh!

Luggage

Alternative Credit Cards

Conclusion

The best way to summarize this review is to say that the American Express Air Miles Platinum card is a great credit card for Air Miles loyalists but isn’t a great choice in the whole big scheme of things.

There are way better points programs and travel credit cards out there.

I don’t recommend this card to the average Canadian (unfortunately).

You will be better served by a different credit card. Whether it is an easy to use points credit card like Westjet or Aeromiles or a more complicated card where you transfer points to partner programs, there is most likely a better credit card for you.

That being said, if you love Air Miles and use them all the time, this card will be a nice addition to your wallet!

American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card Review

The American Express Aeroplan Reserve card is one of the best travel credit cards in Canada.

It comes with a hefty annual fee, but if you use the card to its full potential, it is worth the up front annual fee cost!

The American Express Aeroplan Reserve card comes with a generous sign-up bonus of up to 65,000 Aeroplan points and a $100 statement credit. It has elevated points earning on Air Canada purchases, dining, and food delivery services, so you earn points quickly. The free lounge access and free checked baggage is the cherry on top!

The difficult part of the Amex Aeroplan Reserve is figuring out whether or not it is worth keeping the card beyond the first year when you don’t get the nice sign-up bonus.

You really have to look at your travel style and needs and decide whether the American Express Aeroplan Reserve is right for your or if you want to transfer to another premium card like the Amex Platinum Canada.

But for the first year, if you have the means to pay the annual fee and meet the minimum spends, the Amex Aeroplan Reserve card is a great option!

We’re going to talk all things American Express Aeroplan Reserve in this post and give you the low down on the card.

The good, the bad, and the ugly.

By the end of it, you’ll have a pretty good idea whether or not the Amex Aeroplan Reserve card is the right one for you!

Highlights

There are plenty of perks that come along with the American Express Aeroplan Reserve card.

It is a premium credit card, so American Express has to make it worth the annual fee!

Some of the top perks of the card are:

  • Up to 65,000 Aeroplan points as a sign-up bonus
  • $100 statement credit
  • Free first check bag for you and up to eight guests on the same reservation
  • Priority check-in, boarding, and and baggage handling on Air Canada flights
  • Priority access to the stand-by list and eUpgrade list
  • Access to Maple Leaf Lounge for you and one guest
  • Earn 3 points per $1 spent at Air Canada
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on eligible dining and food delivery services in Canada
  • Complimentary valet parking at Pearson International Airport

Yeah. That’s a long list and a lot of perks for one credit card!

The American Express Aeroplan Reserve also comes with Priority Pass lounge access, but it doesn’t come with any lounge visits!

You have to pay $32USD per lounge visit with the level of Priority Pass you get with the American Express Aeroplan Reserve.

So, really, it doesn’t come with Priority Pass lounge access in my eyes! If you want access to airport lounges around the world, the Amex Platinum is you best choice!

American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card

Pros and Cons of the American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card

Pros

  • Amazing sign-up bonus and perks
  • Easy to earn a lot of points quickly
  • Ability to redeem points on a variety of partner airlines

Cons

  • Expensive annual fee
  • Only get access to Maple Leaf Lounges
  • Not every merchant accepts American Express

Points

You earn and redeem Aeroplan points with the Amex Aeroplan Reserve card.

There isn’t the option to transfer your points to a partner program, but Air Canada has a number of partner airlines you can redeem you points with.

No matter what continent you want to travel to, there is a partner airline that will get you there if Air Canada can’t or you want to experience a different airline.

You can redeem your Aeroplan points on other Star Alliance airlines including Turkish Airways, Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, and more!

You can access some of the best airlines in the world with your Aeroplan points!

Aeroplan points may not seem the most flexible at first glance, but the more you learn about them, the more you see they are very valuable.

Especially for Canadians!

Sign-Up Bonus

You earn up to 65,000 Aeroplan points with the American Express Aeroplan Reserve card.

The sign-up bonus is a little bit unique, and you have to meet multiple minimum spends to get the full sign-up bonus.

Here is how the annual fee on the Amex Aeroplan Reserve card works:

  • 35,000 Aeroplan points when you spend at least $3,000 on the card in the first three months
  • 5,000 Aeroplan points per month when you spend at least $1,000 per month in the first six months of holding the card

Essentially, you have to spend $1,000 per month for the first six months to get the full 65,000 Aeroplan point sign-up bonus.

The wording is a bit confusing, but it as easy as that!

In addition to the Aeroplan points, you also receive a $100 statement credit after spending $3,000 in the first three months of holding the card.

Woman putting credit card in purse

Earning Points

You earn points pretty quickly on the Amex Aeroplan Reserve card!

Here are the points earning categories:

  • 3x points on Air Canada purchases
  • 2x points on eligible dining and food delivery services in Canada
  • 1 point for every other $1 spent

You also have the opportunity to earn points twice when you shop through the Aeroplan webstie.

Aeroplan partners with a number of top retailers in Canada (including Hudson’s Bay and Chapters). If you log into your Aeroplan account and use their Aeroplan link to shop at their partner stores, you earn extra points for doing so!

This is on top of the Aeroplan points you earn by using your credit card!

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Redeeming Points

Air Canada makes it really easy to redeem your Aeroplan points!

It is all done through the Air Canada website, and it is much easier to navigate since the November 2020 upgrade!

There are a few instances where you may need to call Air Canada to book a redemption ticket. This will happen if you’re booking a really complicated redemption that the computer algorithm can’t quite handle. The average person won’t run into that scenario!

The most important step to redeeming your Aeroplan points is to log into your Aeroplan account before you start searching for flights!

Once you’re logged into your account, you search for flights as you normally would.

The only difference is you need to click the use points button.

This will show you the results for Air Canada flights and partner airline flights. It also shows you the price in points rather than in fiat currency.

It is super easy to use and quite an intuitive system.

I personally think they did a great job on upgrading the online redemption portal and made it much easier for people to use!

Best Way to Redeem Aeroplan Points

I personally think the best way to redeem your Aeroplan points is for flights between the North America zone and Pacfic zone.

You arguably get the best value per point between those zones based on the redemption price and miles flown.

This means you can fly from North America to Southeast Asia, India, East Asia, or Oceania for a fair redemption price!

It also gives you the opportunity to fly with some amazing airlines like Singapore Airlines and ANA!

The cost for long-haul flights within North America is pretty good as well!

If you’re flying over 2,751 miles within North America, it only costs 17,500 to 25,000 in economy no matter how far the flight is.

In comparison, it costs 35,000 Aeroplan points to fly the same distance within the Pacific and Atlantic regions!

Spending money on credit card

My Unpopular Opinion

The travel hacking community is hyper focussed on getting the most value per point and maximizing rewards as much as possible.

I think the human aspect of us is often lost in the conversation.

Without a doubt, I think redeeming your points for any trip you want rather than worrying only about maximizing your points is a better strategy.

There is no sense planning a vacation to the Pacific zone just because it is the best value if visiting the Atlantic zone is your dream vacation.

Heck! I don’t always use my points in the most strategic way and use them for trips I want to take even if I don’t get the ultimate value per point!

My philosophy is to maximize your points within your travel style and the trips you want to take.

Even if it means leaving a little bit of value per point on the table.

Is Taipei safe for solo female travellers?

Worst Way to Redeem Aeroplan Points

The worst way to redeem your Aeroplan points is for purchasing merchandise or gift cards!

The value you get per point is very deflated form the value you get when redeeming for flights!

It is in your best interest to wait until you’re going on a trip and redeem your points for a flight.

Of course, if you Aeroplan points are about to expire, it is better to redeem them for merchandise or gift cards. It should be a last resort though!

It is fairly difficult for your Aeroplan points to expire, so this shouldn’t be an issue.

As long as you have an Aeroplan credit card, you points won’t expire!

If you don’t hold an Aeroplan credit card, you points expire when there has been 18 months of inactivity on your account.

As long as you either earn or redeem points within 18 months, they won’t expire!

So save them for a trip!

Annual Fee

The annual fee on the American Express Aeroplan Reserve card is a whopping $599!

That is a significant amount of money, so you need to really consider whether you get enough benefits out of the card to make it worth basically $600.

In the first year if you earn the full 65,000 Aeroplan points sign-up bonus, you definitely get the cost of the annual fee back in benefits.

It becomes harder and harder to get enough value out of the American Express Aeroplan Reserve card in years two and beyond.

Luggage and passport

How to Decide Whether You Should Keep the American Express Aeroplan Reserve Past the First Year

You need to do a cost-benefit analysis of how much you’re going to get out of the American Express Aeroplan Reserve to figure out if you should keep in beyond the first year.

Do the math and figure out how much value you get by not paying for checked luggage, accessing Maple Leaf Lounges, and the Aeroplan points you earn on the card.

If the math works out in your favour and you like the card, go ahead and keep it!

If not, cancel it and move onto a different card.

I personally only see this card being valuable past the first year for people who travel extensively in North America (and mostly Canada). And Air Canada loyalists.

Qualifications

I love that American Express doesn’t have minimum income requirements on their cards!

It makes them so much more accessible than most other premium travel credit cards, and I really appreciate that!

You just have to meet these requirements to be eligible for the Amex Aeroplan Reserve:

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

Yup! It is that easy!

The only thing that may get you denied by American Express is your credit score.

American Express has high standards when it comes to credit scores, and for a premium credit card like the American Express Aeroplan Reserve card, you need at least a credit score of 750.

The higher the better!

It takes a while to build up such a strong credit score, but it is worth the effort! It is amazing to be able to access premium credit cards.

Who Should Get the American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card

I think this card is a good option for people who want to earn a lot of Aeroplan points in a short amount of time.

Th American Express Aeroplan Reserve card is without a doubt the quickest way to be rolling in the Aeroplan points without doing a whole lot to get them.

That being said, I think it is important for people to recognize that people who travel within North America often get the most benefit out of this card.

You get access to lounges within North America, free checked baggage on Air Canada, priority benefits on Air Canada.

If you redeem your points with a partner airline, you lose some of the benefits that come with the card.

It is still a great card- don’t get me wrong!

I just want you to have all the information you need to decide if the Amex Aeroplan Reserve is right for you.

To summarize:

  • The American Express Aeroplan Reserve card is great for people who want to earn a lot of Aeroplan points quickly (even if they redeem them on a partner airline)
  • The American Express Aeroplan Reserve card is best for people who want to earn a lot of Aeroplan points quickly and travel within North America on Air Canada frequently

Of course, this should go without saying, only get the Amex Aeroplan Reserve card if you can afford the annual fee and meet the minimum spends!

Who Should NOT Get the American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card

Anybody who can’t afford to pay the annual fee, won’t meet the minimum spend, or doesn’t fly that often shouldn’t get the American Express Aeroplan Reserve card.

It is a premium travel credit card, so it is designed for the most serious of travellers.

If you’re a more casual traveller, you may want to look into a less premium Aeroplan credit card.

Additionally, if you don’t travel much within North America, the American Express Aeroplan Reserve probably isn’t the right credit card for you.

The American Express Platinum is a better premium credit card for people who travel outside North America frequently.

Solo Female Travel

Alternative Credit Cards

Conclusion

The American Express Aeroplan Reserve card is one of the top premium travel credit cards in Canada.

It is a great addition to your wallet if you’re an Aeroplan enthusiast and want to earn points quickly.

The perks that come with the card are pretty nice too!

I do wish there was a better Priority Pass associated with the card, but at least you get access to Maple Leaf Lounges!

I definitely think the average person will benefit from the lower-end American Express Aeroplan card or the CIBC or TD Aeroplan cards.

They have more affordable annual fees and minimum spends.

But if you’re looking to level up and enter the world of premium travel credit cards, the Amex Aeroplan Reserve card is the best option for Canadians who travel within North America on Air Canada on a regular basis.

If you travel outside North America frequently, the American Express Platinum is probably a better option.

American Express Gold Canada (Earn Points Quickly)

American Express Canada has no shortage of amazing travel credit cards, but the best travel credit card for Canadians is the American Express Gold Canada.

Not only is the American Express Gold Canada one of the best credit cards for new travel hackers, but experienced travel hackers love it too!

The American Express Gold Canada card has one of the most generous sign-up bonuses with a fairly low annual fee. You receive 25,000 MR points after spending $1,500 in the first three months of holding the card. Additionally, you earn 2x the points in nearly every major spending category, so you can rack up the points quickly!

The Amex Gold Canada feels like a luxury travel credit card, but it has a much lower annual fee than you would expect.

There is a reason I named it the best overall travel credit card in Canada!

There is hardly a traveller who won’t benefit from the American Express Gold Canada card. No matter where you’re travelling, you will be able to use points to pay for a significant portion of your trip.

Today, I’m going to fill you in on all the ins and outs of the Amex Gold Canada, so you can decide whether this is the right travel credit card for you!

Best travel credit cards in Canada

Highlights

For a really affordable and accessible credit card, the American Express Gold Canada has a lot of highlights to cover.

Seriously! This card pretty much has everything you could ask for out of a mid-range travel credit card.

It, obviously, doesn’t have some of the big perks that come along with the high-end American Express Platinum Canada, but it still has some pretty nice perks.

Here are the major highlights of the Amex Gold Canada card:

  • 25,000 MR points as a sign-up bonus
  • 2x points on travel-related expenses (this includes flights, hotels, cruises, car rentals, and more!)
  • 2x points on eligible purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, and drug stores in Canada
  • Extra perks and benefits when you rent a car through Hertz

Not too shabby at all!

American Express Gold Canada

Pros and Cons of the American Express Gold Canada Card

Pros

  • Generous sign-up bonus and points earning categories
  • Very transferrable points
  • Lots of perks for a fairly low annual fee

Cons

  • You don’t get extra points at restaurants and food delivery services
  • Transferring points can takes days
  • Not every vendor accepts American Express cards

Points

You earn American Express MR points with the Amex Gold Canada card.

MR points are some of the most versatile points in the travel space, and you can easily use them to your advantage to get a lot of value per point.

You do have to transfer your MR points to partner programs to get the most value out of them, but it is really easy to do!

If that is what is scaring you away from getting the American Express Gold Canada, then you don’t have to worry!

It is a very easy process.

Sign-Up Bonus

The sign-up bonus on the American Express Gold Canada card is 25,000 MR points.

You have to spend $1,500 on the card in the first three months to receive your bonus points, and they normally show up in your account within 4 to 6 weeks of meeting the minimum spend.

Earning Points

You can earn some pretty good points with the Amex Gold Canada.

There are elevated points in most major categories. The only one that is really missing is elevated earnings on restaurants and meal delivery.

If you spend a lot of money in those categories, you may want to look into the American Express Cobalt Canada. It offers 5x points on groceries, dining out, and food delivery.

Outside of wishing you could earn double the points on dining out and food delivery, there isn’t really anything to complain about when it comes to the points earning on the Amex Gold Canada.

Here is a breakdown of the points earning categories:

  • 2x points on travel-related expenses (this covers basically anything related to travel)
  • 2x points on gas, grocery store, and drug store purchases in Canada
  • 1x point for every other $1 spent

One really important thing to note is you only earn 2x points on gas, grocery store, and drug store purchases in Canada. You earn 1 point for $1 spent in these categories when outside of Canada.

Since the elevated earning categories include some of the areas where people tend to spend the most money, you can feel confident in using the Amex Gold Canada as an everyday card.

Spend away, and you’ll be redeeming points for a trip in no time!

Spending money on credit card

Redeeming Points

American Express makes it really easy to redeem points!

You can either:

  • Redeem points directly through the American Express portal or
  • Transfer points to a partner airline or hotel partner

This can all be easily done through your American Express account online.

You simply go to the rewards section of your account and click transfer. From there, you can choose how many points you want to transfer and to what program.

It can take up to 5 days for your points to transfer so make sure you don’t need them ASAP!

It really is as easy as that!

You need to think long and hard before transferring your points to a partner program.

Once you have submitted your request to transfer MR points to another program, you cannot get them back. They are forever turned into the partner program’s points and can’t be turned back into MR points.

AIRLINE PARTNER PROGRAMS

AirlineTransfer RatioEstimated Transfer Time
Air Canada (Aeroplan Points)1000:100030 minutes
Alitalia (MilleMiglia)1000:7505 business days
British Airways (Avios)1000:10005 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

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

Best Use of MR Points

On a value per point basis, the best way to redeem your MR points is to transfer them to a partner program.

This gives you a lot of flexibility and allows you to choose a program that gives you and your travel style the most benefit.

The most popular transfer programs for Canadians are Air Canada, British Airways, Delta, and Hilton.

Transferring points to a partner program allows you to take advantage of the weak spot in that program’s redemption rates.

For example, Air Canada Aeromiles has pretty good redemption prices for flights between North America and Asia/Oceania.

You can use this to your advantage and book a trip through Air Canada’s program rather than the American Express portal.

You get more value per points that way!

Luxury overwater bungalow

Unpopular Opinion

When it boils down to the heart of it, no matter what you redeem your points for, it is a good use of your points.

A lot of time travel hackers (especially beginners) get caught up in figuring out the very best way to use their points and get the most value out of them.

This is great, but it can also lead to analysis paralysis.

In every single case, it is better to use your points for something than to let your points sit and collect dust.

I think it is much better to use your points for a trip you are super excited about taking than use points in the most profitable way possible.

Points are a tool to unlock travel experiences but shouldn’t be the be-all-end-all.

Tips for travelling alone for the first time

Worst Use of MR Points

Okay. I know I just got finished telling you that you can never use your points in a bad way, but I’m going to contradict myself now.

There is a really bad way to use your points and that is redeeming them for merchandise or gift cards.

The value per point is so low when you do this, and it isn’t worth it!

I know it can sometimes feel overwhelming to redeem points for flights and hotels. Sometimes merchandise feels like the easiest option.

Don’t fall into that trap!

It is always worth the effort to figure out how you want to redeem your MR points for travel and book either flights or hotels with your points.

Please don’t use your points for merchandise or gift cards!

As a side note, I know a lot of people say that using your points as a credit statement is a bad idea.

I’m not part of that crowd.

The way I see it, if a person is using their points to pay down their credit card, they are in a desperate situation.

Using points as a statement credit is a last resort for a lot of people, and I’m not going to sit here and tell you it is a bad choice.

Helsinki, Finland

Annual Fee

The annual fee on the Amex Gold Canada card is $150.

I think that is pretty reasonable considering the sign-up bonus and how quickly you can earn points.

The annual fee is well within the normal range of annual fees on similar credit cards in Canada.

Qualifications

I love how easy American Express makes it to get one of their credit cards!

There are no pesky (and frankly discriminatory) minimum income requirements, so you don’t have to worry about being denied solely because you’re underpaid at your job.

To be eligible for the American Express Gold Canada card, you have to meet the following requirements:

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

American Express doesn’t list a credit score requirement, but they can be pretty picky about this.

You should have a credit score of at least 750 before applying for the Amex Gold Canada.

I know it can be quite difficult to get a high credit score- especially when you’re young. Keep working at it and being responsible, and your credit score should increase in a few months!

Kensington Palace, London

Who Should Get the American Express Gold Canada Card

I think basically any Canadian travel enthusiast can benefit from holding the American Express Gold Canada in their wallet.

It is a very versatile card, and no matter what trip you want to take, chances are, you can transfer your MR points to a partner program. And use them to pay for part of your trip!

The annual fee on the Amex Gold Canada is quite reasonable, so it isn’t a huge financial consideration on whether or not to get the card.

The minimum spend on the card is also quite reasonable. Even if you don’t have a lot of expendable money in your budget, you can form a plan and meet the minimum spend.

In a lot of cases, you can meet the minimum spend just by putting your every day purchases on the card.

I really like the American Express Gold Canada card, and I think it is one of the best travel credit cards in Canada.

Basically everybody can benefit from it, and it is fairly easy to earn points!

Who Should NOT Get the American Express Gold Canada Card

It is a bit hard to imagine a scenario where the American Express Gold Canada card would be a terrible fit for someone.

It suits basically any travel style and any level of credit card experience.

The only people I would really not recommend the Amex Gold Canada to are people who don’t travel very often or don’t have the financial means to pay the annual fee or meet the minimum spend.

But whether you’re a frequent traveller or a casual traveller, you’ll find benefit from the American Express Gold Canada.

Solo Female Travel

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Conclusion

There you have it! A complete analysis of the American Express Gold Canada card.

You now have all the information you need to go out into the world and decide whether this is the right credit card for you or not.

I personally love the American Express Gold Canada card and think it is a useful card for basically every travel-loving Canadian.

It has a great sign-up bonus, good points earning categories, and a low(ish) annual fee.

The cherry on top of it all is that MR points are some of the most flexible points in Canada.

You can use them to book basically any vacation you can dream of!

It doesn’t put you in a box and confine you to one points program. You have all the flexibility in the world, and that is hard to beat in the travel hacking world!

Why I Love the American Express Cobalt Canada Card

The American Express Cobalt Canada credit card is in the running to be the best travel credit card in Canada.

The Amex Cobalt card is designed with millennials in mind. You get huge bonus points in the categories (like grocery and food delivery services) that millennials use constantly, so you quickly rack up the points. The annual fee and minimum spend are calculated monthly, so even if you have a small budget, you can get those sweet, sweet bonus points without breaking the bank. All in all, there is nothing to dislike about the American Express Cobalt Canada credit card.

It is without a doubt a keeper card, and you keep getting value out of it year after year!

If you’re a millennial looking to earn travel points, the Amex Cobalt Canada should be at the top of your list.

Highlights

There is a lot to love about this card!

The Amex Cobalt is a great starter card. It is easy to use, and you earn points at a pretty quick rate.

The top highlights of the card include:

  • Up to 30,000 MR Select points as a sign-up bonus
  • The card fee is charged monthly rather than annually
  • 5x points on eligible restaurant, food delivery service, and groceries purchases at Canadian locations
  • 2x points on eligible gas and transportation purchases in Canada
  • 2x points on eligible travel purchases including hotels and flights
  • $100USD hotel credit to be used on amenities such as dining and spa treatments
American Express Cobalt Canada Card

Pros and Cons of the American Express Cobalt Canada

Pros

  • The card fee is charged monthly rather than annually
  • Generous points earning on food and transportation
  • Point redemption and transfers are easy to use even as a beginner

Cons

  • You have to spend $500/month to get the full 30,000 sign-up bonus
  • Hard to earn a lot of points outside of food and transportation
  • Not every vendor accepts American Express

Points

In 2021, American Express changed the rules around earning and spending points with the AMEX Cobalt Canada, and it was a game changer.

You used to only be able to earn and spend MR Select points. MR Select points were only able to be transferred to hotel rewards programs.

In 2021, they changed it, so you earn the same MR points that you earn with other AMEX travel cards.

These points can be transferred not only to hotel programs but also to flight programs.

It was an absolute game changer, and the American Express Cobalt Canada became even more valuable than it already was.

Sign-Up Bonus

One of the biggest selling features of the Amex Cobalt Canada card is the sign-up bonus.

You earn up to 30,000 MR Select points in your first year of holding the card!

That’s an estimated value of about $300!

That’s a very generous sign-up bonus- especially when you compare it to the cost of holding the card!

The American Express Cobalt Canada is quite unique and a leader in the credit card space. One of the most innovative features of the card is that you get your sign-up bonus monthly rather than up front after meeting a specific minimum spend in the first three months as is the case with most credit cards.

You earn 2,500 MR Select points each month you spend $500 in the first 12 months. If you meet the $500 spending threshold every month in the first year, you earn 30,000 MR Select points.

The sign-up bonus on the American Express Cobalt Canada card is pretty hard to beat and is one of the best in travel credit card space!

Hotel Room

Earning Points

Outside of the sign-up bonus, one of the most important things to consider when applying for a new travel credit card is the points earning.

It is incredibly important to analyze the points earning on a credit card. The better the points earning on categories you spend a lot of money in, the more beneficial the card is for you.

Lucky for you, the earning categories on the American Express Cobalt Canada card are incredible and make it easy for you to earn a lot of points without changing your spending habits!

The points earning on the Amex Cobalt are:

  • 5x points on eligible grocery, restaurant, and food delivery services purchases. The bonus points are only awarded on purchases made in Canada and aren’t awarded on purchases made outside of Canada. You earn 1 points per $1 in these categories outside of Canada.
  • 2x points on eligible gas and transportation purchases. This includes bus passes, rail passes, and cabs! Just like the food category, the bonus points only apply to purchases in Canada, and, unfortunately, you don’t earn 2x points when filing up your rental car with gas while on an Icelandic road trip.
  • 2x points on eligible travel purchases. This includes flights and hotels no matter what country the purchase is made in!
  • 1x points on all other purchases. Whether it is university tuition, rent, concerts, movies, or anything else under the sun, you earn 1 point per $1 spent on every other purchase that doesn’t fall within the bonus point categories.

You can probably already tell, but the best way to maximize your points earning with the Amex Cobalt is to use it every time you purchase food!

You’ll earn points at a staggering rate and be reaping the travel benefits in no time!

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Redeeming Points

Now it is time to talk about the fun stuff and how you use the MR points you earn with the American Express Cobalt Canada card to travel the world for free!

As mentioned earlier, there are two ways you can redeem your MR points. You can book travel directly through the American Express portal or transfer your MR points to a partner program and redeem them through their portal.

You get the best value for your points when you transfer them to a partner program.

It gives you more flexibility and control of the value you get per point, and you have more redemption options.

On the other hand, I would be lying if I didn’t acknowledge that it was easier to redeem your points directly through the American Express portal rather than transferring them to another program.

It all comes down to personal choice though. Do what’s best for you and your travel needs.

If you’re going to transfer your points to a transfer program, all the information is below!

Fancy Hotel

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

Rules for Transferring Points to Partner Programs

There are two rules to be aware of when transferring MR points to partner programs:

  • All transfers are final, and you can’t get your points back once you’ve clicked the button to transfer them to another program.
  • There is a small fee for transferring points to Delta. It never exceeds $100 and is normally worth the additional fee with the added value you get from transferring points to the Delta program.

Best Use of MR Select Points

This probably isn’t a popular opinion. In fact, I know it isn’t a popular opinion, and I’ll be shamed in the travel hacking community for it.

BUT!

The best use of your points is whatever works best for you and your travel needs!

There is no shortage of information on the internet about how to maximize every point to get the most value out of it.

This is all well and good, but if it doesn’t suit your travel style or isn’t a place you want to go, then what’s the point?!

You’ll sit on your points, not use them, and let them go to waste.

That’s one of the worst things you can do with your MR Select points!

That being said, there are ways to use your MR points to maximize your points if you don’t have any specific travel plans you’re saving your points up for.

But, again, I want to emphasize that it is better to use your points for anything even if it isn’t technically the best use of your points from a sheer numbers perspective.

You don’t want those points to go unused and lose their value. Or worse expire!

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Worst Use of MR Select Points

I bet you’re expecting me to say there is no bad use of your MR points, but I’m not going to tell you that.

There are bad uses for your MR points.

The least value you get for your MR points is when you use them for a statement credit or use them to purchase merchandise or gift cards.

You should only use these options as a last resort when either you’re struggling so much financially that you can’t afford to pay your bills or your points are going to expire before you can use them for travel.

But, again, using your points for anything is better than not using your points at all.

We don’t like wasted and forgotten points here!

Luggage and passport

America Express Cobalt Canada Annual Fee

The Amex Cobalt Canada is incredibly accessible, and that is one of the reasons I love this card as much as I do!

A lot of people can’t afford a $100+ annual fee all at once, and the American Express Cobalt Canada card takes that worry away and makes it easier for the average person to get the card.

You are charged $12 every month you hold the card for a total annual fee of $144 if you hold the card for an entire year.

It is significantly easier for someone to budget for a $12 charge every month than a $100+ charge the month after they receive the card.

The other amazing upside to having the fee charged monthly rather than annually is that you only pay for what you use. If you try the card for a few months and don’t like it, you’re only out $12 per month rather than the full $144 like you would if it were a traditional annual fee.

The flexibility of the American Express Cobalt Canada is unbeatable, and I wouldn’t be surprised if more and more cards moved to this model in the future.

Qualifications

Unlike most credit card providers in Canada, American Express doesn’t have a minimum income requirement to qualify for their cards.

We love this because it makes accessing credit cards easier for people in lower-earning jobs.

Just because someone is underpaid doesn’t mean they don’t deserve to have a great credit card that helps them travel for free.

We appreciate that American Express credit cards are accessible to everybody and are based on other qualifications rather than simply income.

You need to meet the following criteria to be eligible for the Amex Cobalt Canada:

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

And that’s it!

A word of caution though.

Just because you meet the qualification requirements doesn’t mean you will be approved for the American Express Cobalt Canada card.

America Express likes you have a pretty good credit score in order to be approved.

I recommend you have at least a 650 credit score and the higher or better.

Who the American Express Cobalt Canada Card is Best For

The Amex Cobalt Canada card is very versatile, and it is a great addition to basically everybody’s wallet.

I think the card is best for millennials who are on a tighter budget because you pay the annual fee monthly and have a smaller monthly minimum spend rather than a large minimum spend to meet within the first three months of holding the card.

The Amex Cobalt Canada is really good for everybody no matter your travel style. MR points are so easy to use and work for any kind of travel, so it is hard to go wrong with the Amex Cobalt Canada card.

Most people spend a lot of money on food, so anybody and everybody can earn a lot of points pretty quickly.

All in all, I think every Canadian travel hacker or average Canadian traveller can benefit from having the American Express Cobalt Canada in their wallet.

Who the American Express Cobalt Canada is Not For

It is a bit difficult to identify who the Amex Cobalt Canada isn’t for, but there are a few categories of people who may want to think harder before getting this card.

Here are the two types of people who may not want to get this card:

  • Credit card minimalists: Not every vendor accepts American Express credit cards. If you only want to hold one or two credits may not want to have the Amex Cobalt in their wallet, so they don’t run into an issue with not having a credit card in their wallet they can pay with if someone doesn’t accept American Express.
  • Digital nomads or full-time travellers: Since you have to make purchases at Canadian businesses to earn the bonus points, if you don’t spend a lot of time in Canada, this isn’t the card for you. You simply won’t get the most out of the card, and there are other options that may work better for you and your lifestyle.
Couple Travel Hacking

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Conclusion

There is a reason why I everybody praises the American Express Cobalt Canada card!

It is a well-rounded card that appeals to basically everybody no matter where you want to travel or how often you travel.

There are basically no barriers to entry, and almost everybody meets the posted qualifications.

On top of how accessible the card is to lower-income earning people, the sign-up bonus and points earning categories are unbeatable.

I challenge you to find another Canadian travel credit card that offers 5x on food delivery services, restaurants, and groceries.

I’ll wait while you search for it and then come back and tell me in the comments that it doesn’t exist. 😉

There really isn’t anything to complain about with this card.

It is a great card for travel hacking beginners and for more experienced travel hackers.

The American Express Cobalt Canada is at the top of my list for credit cards I recommend to everybody in my life (and on the internet) who are interested in travel hacking as a Canadian.

I could gush about it all day long!