The best American Express credit cards in Canada for 2023

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Canada’s best American Express credit cards

As American Express ads from the 1970s onward suggest, it’s the card many of us don’t leave home without, and with good reason. Amex offers some of the highest-earning and most-perk-filled credit cards around, regularly landing it on the annual rankings of the best credit cards in Canada. As well, it’s the only credit-card company that issues its own cards, rather than going through a bank. And while Amex isn’t accepted as widely as Visa and Mastercard, it is taken at virtually all mass retail and food chains, particularly in major Canadian cities. Which card is right for you? Here, we break down the top American Express credit cards by category to help you decide.

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Best overall Amex rewards card

American Express Cobalt Card*


The impressively high earn rate of the American Express Cobalt credit card makes it a standout option. It offers five times the points on essentially all food spending categories (think: groceries, dining out, coffee runs and so on) and twice as many points on travel (flights, transit, gas and even rideshares). Given how much of most people’s spending goes toward these categories, it’s a pretty great (not to mention effortless) way to net a tidy sum toward future travel. Plus, as a welcome bonus, Amex will reward you with 2,500 points for every month you spend at least $500 on the card within your first year—up to a whopping 30,000 points. These can be redeemed for flights and hotels through Amex’s Flexible Points Travel Program, in which every 1,000 points is equal to $10 (or $0.01 per point). Or you can redeem through the Fixed Points Travel Program, where, if you’re a little flexible and can find your way around a rewards chart, you can potentially get up to 75% more value out of your points on round-trip flights out of Canada.   

  • Annual fee: $156
  • Interest rates: purchases 20.99%, cash advances 21.99%
  • Welcome offer: You can earn 2,500 points for each month you spend $500, up to a maximum of 30,000 points.
  • Earn rate: 5 points per $1 spent on food (including groceries, restaurants and food delivery); 3 points per $1 on streaming services; 2 points per $1 spent on travel, transit and gas; 1 point per $1 spent everywhere else
  • Income requirement: None
  • Additional benefits: Travel and shopping insurance; American Express Invites
  • Note: The 5 points per $1 on food will apply on up to a maximum of $2,500 monthly starting August 15, 2023

Best cash-back Amex card

SimplyCash Preferred Card from American Express*

With the SimplyCash Preferred’s impressive earn rates, you’ll earn at least double the cash back on purchases compared to most other cards, which typically offer only a 0.5% to 1% reward. This also makes it one of the best cards to use for online shopping. There is one catch, though: You can only redeem your rewards annually every September, unlike some cash back cards that allow you to redeem more frequently. But your patience will be rewarded—at least 2% back on a whole year’s spending will feel like a nice little windfall. 

  • Annual fee: $120
  • Interest rates: purchases 20.99%, cash advances 21.99%
  • Welcome offer: You can earn a $40 statement credit for each monthly billing period in which you spend $750 in purchases on your card.
  • Earn rate: 4% cash back on eligible gas and grocery purchases up to $1,200 annually; 2% cash back on everything else.
  • Income requirement: None
  • Additional benefits: Travel and shopping insurance; American Express Invites

Best no-fee Amex card

American Express Green Card*

One of the latest additions to the Amex family, this card still offers generous earnings without a fee. With a simple earn rate of 1 point for every $1 spent on all purchases, the card also has an appealing welcome bonus of 10,000 points which is worth around $100. To top it off you can also earn 1 point for every $1 spent on online hotel and car bookings made on the Amex website.

You can redeem your points for a variety of rewards including, food, drinks, groceries, travel, gift cards and just about any other eligible card purchase you can think of. The Amex Green Card is also made of 99% recycled plastic, which makes it a worthy choice if you’re an environmentally-conscious consumer. Since the Amex Green Card is a no-fee card, it only offers a few perks, including, 24/7 customer service, along with purchase and fraud protection. 

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Interest rates: purchases 20.99%, cash advances 21.99% 
  • Welcome offer: earn 10,000 Membership Rewards points when you charge $1,000 in purchases to your card in the first three months of cardmembership.
  • Earn rate: 1 point for every $1 spent on all purchases and 1 point for every $1 spent on hotel or car bookings made on 
  • Income requirement: None
  • Additional benefits: Purchase and fraud protection, emergency card replacement

Best no-fee cash back Amex card

SimplyCash Card from American Express*

Some of us just don’t have room in the budget for expenses like annual fees, which is why you may consider American Express’s SimplyCash credit card. But just because you’re not paying a fee for your card doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be rewarded for using it. SimplyCash is one of the highest-earning no-fee credit cards in Canada, offering 2% cash back on gas and grocery purchases and 1.25% back on every other dollar you spend. This is particularly impressive when you consider that most other no-fee rewards cards only offer 0.5% back on the majority of everyday purchases. However, the one drawback is the limited timing when it comes to rewards: You can only redeem once per calendar year in September. 

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Interest rates: purchases 20.99%, cash advances 21.99%
  • Welcome offer: earn a $10 statement credit for each monthly billing period in which you make at least $300 in purchases (for a total value of up to $100).
  • Earn rate: 2% cash back on eligible gas and grocery purchases up to $300 annually; 1.25% cash back on everything else.
  • Income requirement: None
  • Additional benefits: Travel and shopping insurance; access to virtual events and special offers with American Express Experiences

Best Amex card for points optimizers

American Express Gold Rewards Card*

Like the Platinum Card by American Express above, the American Express Gold Rewards credit card earns Membership Rewards points. And this card is king for flexibility, too. With plenty of transfer options, it is an easy choice for the seasoned points optimizer who cares about maximizing values over simplicity. You can transfer your points to other travel programs, including Aeroplan, British Airways Avios, Marriott Bonvoy and others, often at favourable transfer ratios. Make the right transfer and you can get a big boost in your rewards value. For example, you can trade 1 Membership Rewards point for 1 Aeroplan point, which can then be redeemed for maximum value, depending on the flight. 

  • Annual fee: $250
  • Interest rates: purchases 20.99%, cash advances 21.99%
  • Welcome offer: You can earn up to 60,000 Membership Rewards points.
  • Earn rate: 2 points for every $1 on eligible travel purchases, including flights, hotels, car rentals, and cruises, 2 points for every $1 on gas, groceries and drugstore purchases and 1 point for every $1 on everything else
  • Income requirement: None
  • Additional benefits: Receive a $50 statement credit when a NEXUS application (or renewal fee) is charged to your card. You also get a $100 travel credit to use toward any travel booking, $100 or more, charged on your card through American Express Travel Online. Plus, you can enroll for a free membership for the airport lounge program Priority Pass, airport lounge program.

Best low-interest Amex card

American Express Essential Card*

There are times when unexpected extra expenses—leaky roof, sick dog, those boots you told yourself you weren’t going to buy—make us rely on our credit card a little more. And that’s when paying off the full balance at the end of the month isn’t always within budget. It might take a few billing cycles to get back in the black, and in the meantime, the interest on those outstanding payments can be… painful. The American Express Essential Card takes away some of that pain with its low interest rate of 12.99%. Compare that with the 19.99% interest rate of most other cards, and it’s clear that this difference could amount to significant savings for anyone who struggles to pay off their card from time to time. As well, unlike other low-interest credit cards, the Essential comes with no annual fee. Bonus: This low interest rate also applies to cash advances, a reassuring option to have for those situations when you’re in a pinch and need cash pronto.  

  • Annual fee: $25
  • Interest rates: purchases 12.99%, cash advances 12.99%, % on balance transfers
  • Income requirement: $15,000
  • Additional benefits: Travel and shopping insurance; American Express Invites; Plan It—The American Express Installment Program
  • Note: If you don’t make your minimum monthly payments on time, the purchase interest rate ranges from to 24.99%—26.99%

Best premium Amex card

American Express The Platinum Card*

If you like prestige, The Platinum Card is for you. This is one of Amex’s premium offerings—which means it comes with a hefty annual fee ($799), but enough perks to make it worth the investment. With an earn rate of triple the points on dining out compared to other cards, and double on travel, you’ll be racking up rewards every time you order in, fill the gas tank, do the weekly grocery shop and more. The options for redeeming points are varied: Put them toward flights or hotel, with every 1,000 points equalling $10, via the Flexible Points Travel program; using the Fixed Points Travel program’s travel chart to get potentially more value out of them; transfer them to frequent-flyer or hotel-loyalty programs; or even redeem them in the form of gift cards at premium retailers like Holt Renfrew. 

The Platinum Card, as one might expect, comes with some serious benefits. It entitles its holder to American Express Platinum concierge services, a $200 travel credit that’s renewed each year and—perhaps the holy grail for frequent flyers—airport lounge access. You’ll be able to take advantage of Amex’s highly coveted Centurion lounges as well as more than 1,300 Priority Pass lounges around the world, making layovers—and even flight delays—a whole lot more bearable. And the welcome bonus is a good one, too. But, maybe the coolest thing about this card: It’s made of metal instead of the usual plastic. This luxe detail, however, may make you want to flash your card more often. (Consider yourself warned.)

  • Annual fee: $799
  • Interest rates: n/a
  • Welcome offer: You can earn up to 100,000 rewards points ($1,000 value).
  • Earn rate: 2 points per $1 on dining and food delivery; 2 points per $1 spent on travel; 1 point per $1 on everything else
  • Income requirement: None (just a good-to-excellent credit score rating)
  • Additional benefits: Travel and shopping insurance; American Express Invites; Fine Hotels & Resorts exclusive benefits; automatic Elite status in multiple hotel programs; benefits at Toronto Pearson airport, such as priority-security-lane access and complimentary valet service  

Best Amex card for groceries

American Express Cobalt Card*

If you’re trying to offset high grocery and food costs, then the Amex Cobalt is a card to consider. You’ll earn 5 points for every $1 spent on all food and drink purchases and 1 point for $1 spent everywhere else. You can also earn 2,500 points every month when you spend $500 on the card within the first year—adding up to a generous 30,000 points (worth around $300, but the value of the points do change over time). You can use rewards points to pay for groceries and almost anything else. To find out which grocery stores and businesses take Amex points see their helpful map.

This card also gives you access to exclusive food festivals and restaurants all over Canada.

  • Annual fee: $156
  • Interest rates: purchases 20.99%, cash advances 21.99%
  • Welcome offer: earn 2,500 points for each month you spend $500, up to a maximum of 30,000 points.
  • Earn rate: 5 points per $1 spent on food (including groceries, restaurants and food delivery); 2 points per $1 spent on travel, transit and gas; 1 point per $1 spent everywhere else
  • Income requirement: None
  • Additional benefits: Travel and shopping insurance; American Express Experiences

Must-know facts American Membership Rewards points—and points values

American Express Membership Rewards is one of the most valuable and flexible rewards programs in Canada. But to make the most of it, it’s important to understand how the points work and how much points are worth. 

American Express points come in two varieties: Membership Rewards (MR) and Membership Rewards Select (MR Select). 

You’ll earn MR points with American Express Platinum. MR Select points are earned with the American Express Cobalt and the American Express Choice cards. While both MR and MR Select can be redeemed in a variety of ways, there are some slight differences between the two as covered below.  

MR pointsMR Select points
Flexible Travel Points ProgramYesYes
Fixed Travel Points ProgramYesYes
Transfer optionsHotel and airline partnersOnly for hotel partners
Statement creditsYesYes
Gift cards / merchandiseYesYes


Travel is one of the most popular ways to redeem any of American Express points programs, partly because of the flexibility. There are several ways to make the most of your points, and you don’t need to use American Express’s in-house travel agency. You can redeem points for purchases booked directly from an outside airline, hotel or travel agency.

American Express Flexible Travel 

The most simplified travel redemption comes from the Flexible Travel points program, where each point is worth $0.01 towards flights, hotel stays, car rental, vacation packages and cruises. You can redeem points for travel in flat increments of 1,000 points, worth $10. Both MR and MR Select points are eligible.

American Express Fixed Travel

If you’re looking to maximize your points value and score great deals, you might want to use the Fixed Travel points program. Here, you redeem points for round-trip flights out of Canada, based on a regional rewards chart. Both MR and MR Select points are eligible.

Point values vary depending on the flight and region you’re travelling to, with each region requiring a minimum number of points in exchange for a maximum price ticket 

For example, let’s say you’re flying from Toronto to Montreal (a short-haul flight within Canada).

  • According to the rewards chart, you’ll need a minimum of 15,000 points, which can cover up to a maximum $300 of a flight ticket’s base price (not including taxes). 
  • If you find a ticket that costs $350 ($250 plus $100 in taxes)you would redeem 15,000 points and pay $350 (total price of the ticket). 
  • Then, American Express would refund you $250—the base price of the ticket, not including taxes. 

Ultimately, you would pay 15,000 points plus $100 out of pocket for the $350 ticket, which works out to $0.0167 per point—far greater than the $0.01 per point value you’d receive in the Flexible Points program.

Transfer options

One of the benefits of American Express Rewards points is the ability to transfer your points to six different frequent flyer programs, often at favourable ratios. For example, you can transfer 1,000 Membership Rewards points for 1,000 Aeroplan Points at a 1:1 ratio. The value of Aeroplan Points fluctuates. But, depending on which flight you redeem them for and how well you optimize your trip, you can reap as much as $0.02 to $0.04 per point, especially on business class flights. The right transfers can boost your rewards values. Be aware that Membership Rewards Select points can’t be transferred to airline partners.

Transfers don’t only apply to airlines. You can transfer either Membership Rewards and Membership Rewards Select points to hotel partners including Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors. Point values and transfer ratio fluctuate by program, so do the math to get the very best deal. 

Statement credits

If you’d rather spend points on your everyday card purchases, you can do that, too, though the value is not as good as with travel. When using a statement credit, 1,000 points equals $7 (which is $0.007 per point). If you find you prefer rewards to save on everyday purchases in general, your best bet is to stick with a cash back credit card instead of a travel rewards card since they offer redemptions values on everyday purchases.

Gift cards and merchandise

Sometimes you just want to cash in your points for a gift card or merchandise—and with American Express Membership Rewards you can do that, too. The values on merchandise vary dramatically, so getting a deal may take a bit of math, but you can expect around $0.0075 per point on gift cards.

Amex acceptance–is it really an issue?

If you read up on American Express cards, you’re going to notice that they carry a warning about how widely accepted they are. It’s true Mastercard and Visa can be used at more places, but the stigma around American Express may be slightly overblown. 

American Express is accepted at more than 96,000 places across Canada including most department and big box stores like The Bay, Walmart, Canadian Tire, and Home Depot, as well as thousands of restaurants and cafes, including a large number of fast food and chain restaurants as well as food delivery apps. Metro and Sobeys grocery stores accept American Express, but Costco and Loblaws stores do not. Shoppers Drug Mart, some independent restaurants and several smaller mom-and-pop shops don’t take American Express. 

Where does this leave you? Rather than forgoing the valuable rewards and perks found with many American Express cards, our advice is to carry at least two cards with you. Bring your American Express along with another no-fee Visa or Mastercard, just in case.

More of Canada’s best credit cards:


About Keph Senett

About Keph Senett

Keph Senett writes about personal finance through a community-building lens. She seeks to make clear and actionable knowledge available to everyone.
About Luca Tatulli

About Luca Tatulli

Luca Tatulli is the research assistant at He fact-checks and provides research for our content, and he previously studied journalism at Centennial College.