The best American Express credit cards in Canada for 2024

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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Canada’s best American Express credit cards

American Express, a.k.a. Amex, offers some of the highest-earning and most-perk-filled credit cards in Canada, regularly landing it on the annual rankings of the best credit cards in Canada. Here, we break down the top American Express credit cards by category.

Best overall Amex rewards card

The impressive high earn rate of the American Express Cobalt credit card, particularly in the popular food category, makes it a standout card. The travel category—which includes flights, transit, gas and even rideshares—is also a high-earner. 

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American Express Cobalt

Annual fee: $156

5 points per $1 on dining and groceries

3 points per $1 on streaming services

2 points per $1 on travel, transit and gas

1 point per $1 on all other purchases

Welcome offer: earn 1,250 points for each month you spend $750, up to a maximum of 15,000 points.

Card details

Interest rates21.99% on purchases, 21.99% on cash advances
Income requiredNone specified
Credit score725 or higher
Point value1 Amex Membership Rewards point = $0.01 when redeemed with the Flexible Points Travel Program, $0.015 on average with the Fixed Points Travel Program, and up to $0.02 with airline points transfers.

Pros

  • With its generous points bonuses (up to five times the rewards on groceries and dining), the Cobalt easily one of Canada’s most lucrative rewards cards 
  • It offers the ultimate flexibility for points. You can redeem the straightforward way with 100 points for a flat $10 in travel savings, or use its Fixed Points Travel Program chart, where you can strategically get up to 75% more value on round-trip flights out of Canada.
  • Cardholders can also transfer points to other loyalty programs like Aeroplan to maximize points values
  • This card comes with 10 types of insurance, including travel accident, car rental theft and damage, and new mobile device coverage.


Cons

  • At $156, the annual fee is higher than some other cards in this category.

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Best cash-back Amex card

At 4% back on gas and groceries and a 2% base rate the SimplyCash Preferred offers some of the highest earn rates for credit cards in Canada.

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Amex SimplyCash Preferred

Annual fee: $120

4% cash back on eligible gas and grocery purchases

2% cash back on everything else

Welcome offer: earn a $40 statement credit for each monthly billing period in which you spend $750 in purchases on your card.

Card details

Interest rates21.99% on purchases, 21.99% on cash advances
Income requiredNone specified
Credit score725 or higher

Pros

  • Gas and groceries are two of the most popular spending categories and this card rewards them both with 4% cash back.
  • The base rate of 2% is very competitive, while other cards tend to offer 0.5% to 1%.
  • This card comes with 10 kinds of insurance including travel accident, car rental theft and damage, and new mobile device coverage.
  • There are no minimum income requirements and the annual fee is $119.88, charged at $9.99 monthly.


Cons

  • You can only redeem your rewards annually every September, unlike some cash back cards that allow you to redeem more frequently.

Best no-fee Amex cards

If you don’t need to pay an annual fee, that is a perk on its own. But that’s not all that these no-fee American Express credit cards are about. There are lots of perks. Just choose what’s best for you.

Best no-fee Amex card for travel

Think of the American Express Green Card as the Cobalt’s little sister. Like the Cobalt, this card lets you earn flexible Amex Membership Rewards points that you can redeem for travel and cash rewards, with no fee.

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American Express Green Card

Annual fee: $0

Earn rate: 1 point for every $1 spent on all purchases and 1 additional point for every $1 spent on hotel or car bookings made on americanexpress.ca.

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.

Card details

Interest rates21.99% on purchases, 21.99% on cash advances
Income requiredNone specified
Credit score725 or higher
Point value1 Amex Membership Rewards point = $0.01 when redeemed with the Flexible Points Travel Program, $0.015 on average with the Fixed Points Travel Program, and up to $0.02 with airline points transfers. .

Pros

  • Amex Membership Rewards points are super flexible and can be used for travel or cash rewards—your choice.
  • You can transfer your rewards points to other programs, such as Marriott Bonvoy and British Airways, to increase the point value and get better rewards value.
  • It’s pretty accessible, making this a great starter card since there’s no minimum annual income and no annual fee.


Cons

  • This credit card has limited insurance coverage and lacks travel, mobile device and rental car protection.

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Best no-fee cash back Amex card

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. 

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Amex SimplyCash

Annual fee: $0

2% cash back on gas and groceries

1.25% cash back on all other purchases

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).

Card details

Interest rates21.99% on purchases, 21.99% on cash advances
Income requiredNone specified
Credit score725 or higher

Pros

  • Earn accelerated rewards on gas and groceries, two of the most-used spending categories for Canadians.
  • At 1.25%, its base rate is higher than most no-fee credit cards, which typically earn 0.5% to 1%.


Cons

  • Cardholders are capped to earn the 2% rate on the first $15,000 (that’s $300 cash back) spent in these categories annually. After, these purchases will earn at the 1.25% base rate.
  • The cash back is only paid out once a year, every September rather, than on-demand.


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Best low-interest Amex card

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American Express Essential Card

Annual fee: Annual fee: $25

Low interest rate: 12.99% on purchases

Welcome offer: None

Card details

Interest rates12.99% on cash advances
Income required$15,000 per year
Credit score725 or higher

Pros

  • Low permanent interest rate so you don’t have to worry about promotional periods.
  • Includes $100,000 in travel accident insurance—a rare perk for a low APR card. (Read: “What is APR?”)
  • The 12.99% interest rate extends to cash advances, which is almost unheard of for low-interest cards.


Cons

  • Unlike many low-interest cards, this one doesn’t offer a balance transfer deal.


Best premium Amex card

The Platinum Card takes prestige to the next level. With more perks than any other credit card in Canada, this is one of American Express’s premium offerings. That means, though, it comes with a hefty annual fee but enough perks to make it worth the money.

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American Express Platinum

Visit americanexpress.com for more details

Annual fee: $799

2 points per $1 on dining and food delivery

2 points per $1 on travel, plus 1 additional point on purchases booked through Amex Travel Online

1 point per $1 on everything else

Welcome offer: earn up to 100,000 rewards points ($1,000 value). Conditions apply.

Visit americanexpress.com for more details

Card details

Interest ratesN/A (as a charge card, you’re required to pay off your balance in full every month)
Income requiredNone
Credit score760 or higher
Anniversary bonus$200 annual dining credit to use at a curated list of Canada’s top restaurants. Plus, $200 annual travel credit when booking through American Express Travel Online.
Point value1 Amex Membership Rewards point = $0.01 when redeemed with the Flexible Points Travel Program, $0.015 on average with the Fixed Points Travel Program, and up to $0.02 with airline points transfers.

Pros

  • Headline perks include a recurring annual $200 dining credit, an annual $200 travel credit and—perhaps the best gift for frequent flyers—airport lounge access. With this card you get access to the prestigious Centurion lounges and free access for you and a guest at more than 1,300 Priority Pass lounges.
  • Boosted rates on dining out and travel help you reach your rewards goals faster. 
  • There are many ways to redeem points. You can use the Flexible Points Travel Program with every 1,000 points equalling $10 or use the Fixed Points Travel program’s travel chart to get potentially more value out of them. You can also transfer your points to frequent-flyer or hotel-loyalty programs. 
  • This card typically offers lucrative sign-up bonuses.


Cons

  • The annual fee is $799, making this a serious investment and inaccessible for most Canadians.
  • At this price point, you might expect to see a wider variety of perks, but things like roadside assistance are not included.

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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 Membership Rewards (MR) points work and how much points are worth. 

Travel

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.

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.

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 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 one-to-one 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.

Transfers don’t just apply to airlines. You can transfer either Membership Rewards 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, although the value is not as good as with travel rewards. 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

If you just want to cash in your points for a gift card or merchandise, with American Express Membership Rewards you can do that. 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’ll notice warning about limitations around how widely accepted these cards are. It’s true Mastercard and Visa can be tapped at more places, but the stigma around American Express may be a bit 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. It’s also accepted at 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 Loblaw-banner stores do not. Shoppers Drug Mart, some independent restaurants and several smaller mom-and-pop shops do not 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:

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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.