American Express AIR MILES Cards: How To Choose

Canadians have known the AIR MILES Reward program for years and today it touches almost two thirds of all Canadian households. The program offers great rewards and redemptions from hundreds of merchants across Canada that can really give the miles you earn a lot of value. However, when it comes to making the most out of the AIR MILES program, nothing beats having an American Express AIR MILES Card when paying for your purchases. These cards can really help you stock up on miles a lot faster than regular collectors, either with great bonuses, by earning miles twice on AIR MILES sponsors at excellent rates, by earning miles on non-sponsor purchases, and more.

Regarding AIR MILES cards, American Express offers four options: two personal cards and two business cards, depending on what sort of features and benefits you cherish the most. I’ll let you in on a little secret: if you’re already an AIR MILES collector, or if you plan to join in the near future, the question isn’t whether you should sign up for an American Express AIR MILES card… the question is which one. In the following post, we’ll teach you how to make the best decision when choosing the right American Express AIR MILES card for you or your business.

In this post you’ll find:

A Comparison Of The Basic Features And Benefits Of The Four American Express AIR MILES Cards

If you’re looking for a quick take on how the four American Express AIR MILES cards differ, all you have to do is take a look at the table below:

American Express Air Miles Reserve credit card
Amex AIR MILES Reserve Card
American Express Air Miles Platinum credit card
Amex AIR MILES Platinum Card
American Express Air Miles for Business credit card
Amex AIR MILES for Business Card
American Express Air Miles Gold Business credit card
Amex AIR MILES Gold Business Card
Welcome BonusNew American Express AIR MILES Reserve Credit Card Cardmembers earn a welcome bonus of up to 3,800 AIR MILES®* Bonus Miles – here’s how:

• Earn 1,400 Bonus Miles when you charge a total of $3,000 in purchases to your Card in the first 3 months of Cardmembership.

• Earn up to 2,400 Bonus Miles – In your first 6 monthly billing periods as a new American Express AIR MILES Reserve Credit Card Cardmember, you can earn 200 Miles for every $750 you spend in purchases in each monthly billing period (up to a maximum of 400 Miles per monthly billing period).

• Welcome bonus offers end January 20, 2020.
New American Express AIR MILES Platinum Credit Card Cardmembers earn a welcome bonus of up to 3,500 AIR MILES®* Bonus Miles – here’s how:

• Earn 1,700 Bonus Miles when you charge a total of $1,500 in purchases to your Card in the first 3 months of Cardmembership.

• Earn up to 1,800 Bonus Miles – In your first 6 monthly billing periods as a new American Express AIR MILES Platinum Credit Card Cardmember, you can earn 150 Miles for every $500 you spend in purchases in each monthly billing period (up to a maximum of 300 Miles per monthly billing period).

• Welcome bonus offers end January 20, 2020.
2,000 miles
(after spending $5,000 in the first three months)
150 miles
(after spending $1,000 in the first three months)
Miles Earn Rates • 1 Air Mile per $10 in eligible purchases at AIR MILES Sponsors

• 1 Air Mile per $10 in eligible purchases at standalone grocery stores, gas stations and drugstores in Canada

• 1 Air Mile per $15 on everything else
• Earn 1 Mile for every $5 in Card purchases, up to $30,000 annually, on eligible food & drinks, (such as eligible restaurants, coffee shops and stand-alone grocery stores), and eligible gas & transit (such as local commuter transportation including ridesharing services and taxi) in Canada.

• Earn 1 Mile for every $10 in Card purchases everywhere else.
• 1 Air Mile per $10 in eligible purchases at AIR MILES Sponsors

• 1 Air Mile per $15 on everything else






• 1 Air Mile per $15 in eligible purchases at AIR MILES Sponsors

• 1 Air Mile per $20 on everything else






Travel Benefits • Complimentary Annual Companion Flight Ticket worth up to 1,700 miles
• Access to FlexFly redemptions
• Access to AIR MILES business class seats
• 4 complimentary Priority Pass lounge visits per year
• Access to Toronto Pearson Airport Priority Security Lane
Annual travel benefit worth up to 750 air miles N/A N/A
Comprehensive Travel and Purchase Coverage Limited Limited N/A
Small Business Benefits N/A N/A • 55-day interest-free period
• Employee Card Misuse Protection
• 25% discount in the AIR MILES for Businesses catalogue
• Business servicing from Amex and AIR MILES
• Access to Expense Management Reports
• Dynamic purchasing power
• Access to cash through Interlat ABMs
• Monitor employee spending
• Access to Expense Management Reports



Automatic Onyx Status N/A N/A N/A
Optional Balance Transfer Offer N/A N/A
Insider Access N/A N/A
Amex Invites and Front of The Line
Type of CardCredit CardCredit CardCharge CardCredit Card
Applied Interest Rate • 19.99% on purchases
• 22.99% on funds advances
• 19.99% on purchases
• 22.99% on funds advances
30% on any unpaid balance after the interest free period • 19.99% on purchases
• 22.99% on funds advances
Annual Fee$299$120$180FREE
(No Annual Fee)
Additional Card Fee$50Up to 9 free additional cards$50FREE
(No Annual Fee)
Benefit for Additional Cardmembers N/A N/A N/A
Application Links
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The table I just showed you is nothing more than a very organized summary of some of the key aspects to consider when you want to choose a credit card. It always boils down to how the benefits balance the annual fee in each case, under different circumstances. Before we embark in the differences, let’s get the similarities out of the way, since they won’t help you at all to decide for one or for another.

What All American Express AIR MILES Credit Cards Have In Common

The four Amex AIR MILES cards are quite different from one another. However, they share a couple of key benefits that help you boost your earnings at a much faster pace than you’d expect, as well as other benefits that come with almost all Amex cards:

Double-Dipping On AIR MILES Sponsors Purchases

Apart from the miles you regularly earn by being a collector and shopping at partner brands, when you use any American Express AIR MILES card to pay for that purchase you will receive extra miles, courtesy of Amex. This means that by using your Amex AIR MILES card you earn miles twice on eligible purchases. What’s more, the earn rate on these cards is actually better than the ones most AIR MILES sponsors offer.

Earning Miles On Purchases Other Than In AIR MILES Sponsors

In addition to earning miles twice on sponsor purchases, using any one of the Amex AIR MILES cards will let you earn miles on purchases outside of the loyalty program. As long as it’s classified as a purchase, it will earn you miles. The earn rate on non-partner brands is obviously lower than the one for sponsors, but it’s still a good rate with all of the cards, and it can even be better than the one AIR MILES offers on most of its sponsors.

Amex Invites And Front Of The Line

American Express Invites and the Front of The Line service are standard Amex perks that come with all of their current cards. It’s a chance to get tickets to coveted shows and events before they’re sold to the public and, sometimes, even after they’ve already sold out for everybody else. These services also gives you access to special memorable events you won’t be quick to forget, all of it just for being a part of the American Express cardoholders family.

How To Compare The American Express AIR MILES Cards

Now we can really get down to business. In this post, I’ll estimate the value of each card based on a series of assumptions with the intention of making things easier to understand and the cards easier to compare under different circumstances. The basic assumptions, which apply for all four cards, are listed below:

  • Except in the cases of the AIR MILES Reserve card and the AIR MILES for Business Card, I’ll value each mile at the nominal Cash Mile value of $10 for every 95 miles, or 10.5 cents per mile, since it’s the easiest to get value for your miles.
  • The miles earned with the Reserve I’ll value a little higher thanks to the automatic AIR MILES Onyx status that can raise their value to over 17.5 cents when you redeem them for discounted flights. Assuming half of your miles are spent that way, and the rest at the standard 10.5 cents per mile valuation, I’ll value the miles you earn with the AIR MILES Reserve Card at an average value of 14 cents apiece
  • Because of the discount in the AIR MILES Business catalogue, I’ll also value the miles earned with the Amex AIR MILES for Business Card at 12 cents per mile, assuming you manage to spend half your miles on discounted redemptions.
  • I’ll base all my calculations on $1,000 in purchases so that the results can be easily scaled up or down if need be
  • I’ll assume you split your spending half and half at both earn rates, so you’ll get an average earn rate of 1 mile for every $12 in purchases with the AIR MILES Reserve and AIR MILES for Business cards, 1 mile for every $6.67 in purchases with the AIR MILES Platinum, and of 1 mile for every $17 in purchases with the AIR MILES Gold Business Card.
  • Finally, I’ll assume one trip per year with a PP lounge visit and a four-day car rental

Since they are different types of cards, I’ll compare the personal and business cards separately and I’ll also show you other credit card options outside of the AIR MILES program that will probably interest you.

Comparison Of The American Express AIR MILES Personal Cards

The American Express AIR MILES Reserve and Platinum cards are quite different, even though they belong to the same card family. The only aspects in which they coincide are in the fact that both are credit cards with the same interest rates, they both offer a balance transfer offer to help pay off other credit card debts, and they both provide Insider Access. However, the similarities stop there. In the following sections, I’ll take you by the hand and show you where the Amex AIR MILES personal credit cards show the most promising potential.

The Welcome Bonus

It’s common with Amex cards that the welcome bonus pays the annual fee several times over during the first year of cardmembership. This makes these credit cards an attractive investment in which you sign up with the sole intention of winning the bonus, and then you cancel the card after the first year, something referred to as “churning”. We’ll compare the cards’ welcome bonuses based on their potential for churning, without considering any of the other benefits they offer.

Two differences regarding the welcome bonus offers of these two cards stand out:

  1. The 3,800 miles bonus on the Reserve is only 300 miles (8.5%) higher than the platinum’s while its annual fee is almost three times higher.
  2. You need to spend a minimum of $9,000 in purchases during the first six months of cardmembership in order to get the Reserve’s maximum bonus , which is 50% more compared to the Platinum.

Now let’s see how much these bonuses are really worth and how the numbers add up:

Card Welcome Bonus Miles value Bonus Value Annual Fee Return On Investment on the Annual fee
AIR MILES Reserve 3,800 miles 14 cents/mile $532 $299 80%
AIR MILES Platinum 3,500 miles 10.5 cents/mile $367.5 $120 206%

These numbers are really conclusive! As you can see, the AIR MILES Reserve’s welcome bonus falls short from a churning point of view, with an ROI of 80%, when compared to the Platinum, which will give you over 200%. When you add the fact that it’s also 50% harder to get the AIR MILES Reserve’s maximum bonus as the Platinum’s, the bottom line becomes crystal-clear:

The AIR MILES Platinum’s welcome bonus offer is much better than the Reserve’s

Miles Earn Rates And The Return On Your Purchases

The miles earn rates on these two cards are also different. On the one hand, the platinum gives an excellent earn rate of 1 mile per $5 in everyday essential purchases and 1 mile for every $10 everywhere else. The reserve, on the other hand, barely gives you half that amount on not so flexible categories that include AIR MILES Sponsors, groceries stores, gas stations and drugstores in Canada, and 1 mile:$15 on all other purchases. So let’s see how much these earn rates are giving you back on your purchases:

The following table shows how much you recover from a $1,000 purchase with either card in the best and worst case scenarios:

Card AIR MILES Reserve AIR MILES Platinum
Purchase Value $1,000 $1,000
Average Miles Earn Rate 1 mile : $12 purchase 1 mile : $6.67 purchase
Earned Miles 83 miles 150 miles
Miles Value $0.14/mile $0.105/mile
Overall return on your purchase 83 miles x $0.14/mile = $12 (1.2%) 150 miles x $0.105/mile = $15.75 (1.6%)

So, on average, you’re only getting 1.2% cashback with the AIR MILES Reserve and and 1.6% with the AIR MILES Platinum. These numbers aren’t too promising but it’s obvious that the AIR MILES Platinum Card is a better choice than the AIR MILES Reserve in terms of rewards, but neither of these cards actually represents the best choice in terms of earning potential. The only upside to the Reserve is the fact that it doesn’t have a cap on the best earn rate.

Either way, since we’re here to compare, the bottom line is this:

The American Express AIR MILES Platinum card has a better earning potential than the AIR MILES Reserve, but neither excels in this category.

Travel Benefits

Well, not much to say here, is there? I mean, Just look at the features table and you’ll see a long list of travel benefits on the AIR MILES Reserve and only one for the AIR MILES Platinum. So, if you’re looking for a travel card that earns you air miles, the reserve is your only real option.

Those travel perks are really awesome, by the way. The lounge access and annual partner ticket alone will take care of the annual fee for you, as long as you travel at least once or twice a year.

Embedded Insurance Coverage

Both cards offer the same standard Amex shopping coverage, but travel insurance is another matter. The Amex AIR MILES Reserve’s travel coverage exceeds by far the limited coverage that comes with the Amex AIR MILES Platinum, as you can see in the following table:

Travel Insurance Policy American Express AIR MILES Reserve card American Express AIR MILES Platinum card
Emergency Medical Insurance ($5,000,000) N/A
Car Rental Theft and Damage Insurance ($85,000)
Travel Accident Insurance ($100,000)
Lost or Stolen Baggage Insurance ($500) N/A
Flight & Baggage Delay Insurance ($500) N/A
Hotel/Motel Burglary Insurance ($500) N/A

The AIR MILES Reserve has a matching travel insurance plan for its many travel perks. It has almost all the embedded insurance policies that Amex offers, only missing trip cancelation/interruption coverage. The Car Rental Theft and Damage policy is definitely a plus on both cards, but especially on the AIR MILES Platinum card, considering its low annual fee.

However, in terms of travel insurance, the AIR MILES Platinum falls short once again compared to the Reserve.

Are The Benefits Worth The Annual Fee?

As you saw earlier in this post, both cards turn up a profit with the welcome bonus alone during the first year. This is especially true for the American Express AIR MILES Platinum card. Even though the return from the welcome bonus on the Reserve seems low, when you add up all the other benefits this card brings, it’ll leave both its annual fee and the Platinum well behind, particularly during the second year onwards.

Take a look at the following tables to see how much each card can be worth every year of use with only $1,000 in monthly purchases, one trip with lounge access and a four-day car rental:

Overall Annual ROI On the American Express AIR MILES Reserve Card

Benefit During The First Year After The First Year
Welcome Bonus $532 N/A
Complimentary Partner Ticket $240 $240
1 Priority Pass Lounge visit $170 $170
Return from $12,000 in annual purchases $140 $140
Travel Medical Insurance $80 $80
4-day Car Rental Insurance $80 $80
Booking Fee Waiver $5 $5
Annual Fee ($300) ($300)
TOTAL PROFIT: $947 $415
Additional Benefits

This works out to over 300% in return for signing up and using your card during the first year, with a manageable spending level. On the long run, the return drops down to roughly 140%, which is still really good. One thing must be said though. Virtually all the high-value benefits that come with this card are travel perks, and if you don’t travel, you won’t be saving money by having this card. In that case, you would have to spend close to $26,000 a year, or around $2,100 a month in purchases alone just to break even with the annual fee.

The AIR MILES Reserve is a travel card, so the more you travel, the more you will reap its benefits. If you travel at least four or more times a year, especially if you’re travelling with your family, you’ll save hundreds of dollars and you’ll be able to travel at ease and like a VIP, from lounge to lounge while being the one that got in for the least amount of money.

Overall Annual ROI On the American Express AIR MILES Platinum Card

Benefit During The First Year After The First Year
Welcome Bonus $368 N/A
Return from $12,000 in annual purchases $189 $189
4-day Car Rental Insurance $80 $80
Annual Travel Benefit $79 $79
Annual Fee ($120) ($120)
TOTAL PROFIT: $596 $228
Additional Benefits NOT MANY NOT MANY

In the Amex AIR MILES Platinum’s case, numbers get even better. In the same circumstance as before (one trip with car rental, etc.), with this card you’ll get almost 5X in return from the $120 annual fee during the first year. After that, it drops down to about 2X, which is still a lot better than the Reserve’s return in the same conditions. Even if you didn’t travel at all, you’d just need to spend a little over $630 a month in purchases to break even, only a third of what you need to cover the Reserve’s annual fee.

The Bottom Line When Choosing Between The Two Personal American Express AIR MILES Cards

The two personal American Express AIR MILES cards are quite different and I’ll show you how to choose, based on your lifestyle.

You should choose the AIR MILES Reserve if:

  • You use AIR MILES and want to boost your earn rate
  • You value getting instant Onyx status in the AIR MILES program and you want access to Onyx redemptions without having to earn 6,000 miles in the process
  • You travel frequently, especially if you do so with your family and supplementary cardholders
  • You absolutely can’t travel without lounge access (it changed your life the first time you tried it!)
  • You can manage the $300 annual fee and $1,500 in monthly spending, at least during the first six months of cardmembership in order to get the full bonus

Choose the American Express AIR MILES Platinum if:

  • You use AIR MILES and want to boost your earn rate
  • You don’t want to pay such a high annual fee but still want a good return on your investment
  • If you don’t travel a lot, and especially if you always travel alone
  • You don’t mind traveling without a good comprehensive travel insurance plan
  • You can manage the $120 annual fee and the $1,000 in monthly spending, at least during the first six months of cardmembership, in order to get the full welcome bonus

Other Personal Amex Credit Cards To Consider

The Platinum Card

With an impressive welcome bonus, the best travel insurance coverage Amex has to offer and the most spectacular travel perks you can dream of, the Platinum Card pays for itself several times over, and not only during the first year. If you want to experience what VIP travel is all about, then you absolutely need to try this card out. Lounge access and the famed Platinum Concierge Service are just the tip of the iceberg.

The Amex Cobalt Card

The best everyday spending card in Canada today, the Cobalt includes features like a one of a kind accessible monthly $10 fee in lieu of annual fee, great points earn rates on everyday spending like food and drink and transportation, including commuter transport. More benefits and travel perks on the side, make this card a must have in any Canadian’s wallet. Learn more about the Amex Cobalt Card.

The Marriott Bonvoy™ Card

As the successor to the Amex SPG Card, the Marriott Bonvoy Card is the best all-around hotel credit card, and it’s not even expensive. The long term benefits are so great that it becomes one of the best options available to Canadians, even if you only stay at a hotel for one single night during the entire year. A handsome welcome bonus transferable to the membership rewards program gives you all the flexibility you need to get the most out of Marriott Bonvoy points.

Comparison Of The American Express AIR MILES Business Cards

The Welcome Bonus

Both cards offer a welcome bonus, though the difference is noticeable. 2,000 miles after spending  $5,000 in the first three months versus 150 miles after spending $1,000 in the same period? That’s the difference between paying and not paying an annual fee.

At an average value of $0.12/mile, the AIR MILES for Business Card’s bonus is worth $240, which covers the annual fee during the first year. In the second case, those 150 miles are worth only $16, which is not much, but it’s ok because it’s pure profit, no strings attached.

Miles Earn Rates

The AIR MILES Business Card takes the lead in miles earn rates, as it gives you 1 mile : $10 in purchases at AIR MILES Sponsors, and 1 mile : $15 on all other purchases. The AIR MILES Gold Business Card, on the other hand will grant 1 mile : $15 on sponsors and 1 mile: $20 in all other purchases, which is worse.

The following table shows how much you recover from a $1,000 purchase with either business card if you split your spending half-and-half between both of the earn rates each card offers. Since the AIR MILES Business Card offers 25% discount from the Business AIR MILES catalogue, I’ll value each mile a little higher than the basic 10.5 cents per mile, at $0.12/mile:

Card AIR MILES Business AIR MILES Gold Business
Purchase Value $1,000 $1,000
Average Miles Earn Rate 1 mile : $12 purchase 1 mile : $17 purchase
Earned Miles 83 miles 59 miles
Miles Value $0.12/mile $0.105/mile
Overall return on your purchase 83 miles x $0.12/mile = $10 (1 %) 59 miles x $0.105/mile = $6 (0.6%)

What these numbers show is that neither of these two cards are a good choice when it comes to the return on your purchases. Plenty of other cards will give you more bang for your buck.

So, regarding the two American Express AIR MILES Business cards, we can reach the same conclusion we did when analyzing the two personal cards above:

Neither the AIR MILES Business nor the AIR MILES Gold Business cards are a good choice if you’re looking for a high return on your purchases, but the Business is better than the Gold Business card.

Business Solutions

A big difference with the personal cards is that the Business cards include solutions or perks for your small business, while the others do not. One common feature on both business cards is that you could use quarterly or annual expenses reports to assess areas where you can cut operational costs, for example. They also include great business expense management tools to keep track of your businesses expenses as well as your employees’ spending. Finally, with both cards you can also get access to cash at any Interlac ATM in Canada, or Amex branded ATMs worldwide. Keep in mind that foreign transaction fees do apply.

Yet the American Express AIR MILES for Business Card gives you more than the Gold. Great business solutions like a 55-days interest free period, 25% discounts in the AIR MILES for Business Rewards Catalogue, employee card misuse protection and special business servicing from both Amex and AIR MILES, make the AIR MILES Gold Business Card’s business benefits seem insignificant.

As a no-fee credit card, the Amex AIR MILES Gold Business Card doesn’t bring many benefits. In this sense, perhaps the only business benefit where the AIR MILES Gold Business Card beats the AIR MILES for Business Card is in the fact that you can get free supplementary cards for your employees, while in the latter case each additional card costs $50. This was to be expected considering that the basic card is free as well.

Embedded Insurance Coverage

As a no-fee credit card, the Amex AIR MILES Gold Business card only comes with American Express’ basic purchase coverage, whereas the AIR MILES Business Card gives you four additional travel policies. Of course, they’re not free, because in the end you are paying $180 a year for the card.

Travel Insurance Policy American Express AIR MILES Reserve card American Express AIR MILES Platinum card
Car Rental Theft and Damage Insurance ($85,000) N/A
Travel Accident Insurance ($100,000) N/A
Flight & Baggage Delay Insurance ($500) N/A
Hotel/Motel Burglary Insurance ($500) N/A
Purchase Protection Plan
Buyers Assurance Protection Plan
Fraud Protection Guarantee

If you’re looking for an AIR MILES card with travel coverage for your small business, than the Amex AIR MILES for Small Business Card is the only real choice. As before, the one policy you’ll get the most value from if you travel and rent a car is the car rental insurance coverage.

Are The Benefits Worth The Annual Fee?

Let’s take a look at how these business cards perform overall during the first year and on the long run so you can decide for yourself if it’s worth it or not.

Overall Annual ROI On the American Express AIR MILES for Business Card

Benefit During The First Year After The First Year
Welcome Bonus $240 N/A
Return from $12,000 in annual purchases $120 $120
4-day Car Rental Insurance $80 $80
Annual Fee ($180) ($180)
TOTAL PROFIT: $260 $20
Additional Benefits

Notice that this card can give you a very decent return during the first year, but after that, it barely breaks even, even if you charge $1,000 to it every month. Anything less than that and you’ll be in red numbers. That’s definitely not a good sign.

Overall value of the American Express AIR MILES Gold Business Card

Benefit During The First Year After The First Year
Welcome Bonus $16 N/A
Return from $12,000 in annual purchases $72 $72
Annual Fee ($0) ($0)
TOTAL PROFIT: $88 $72
Additional Benefits

In this case, the AIR MILES Gold Business Card performs almost equally in the short and long terms. It turns out to be a great idea to apply for this card, regardless of any other card you may be considering, because you don’t risk to lose anything… it’s free, so everything it gives you is profit; there’s no losing with this card.

The Bottom Line When Choosing Between The Two Business American Express AIR MILES Cards

Both these cards can be good choices depending on your business’ financial behavior.

You should choose the AIR MILES for Business Card if:

  • You use AIR MILES and want to boost your earn rate
  • You can manage the $180 annual fee and $5,000 in purchases during the first three months of cardmembership
  • You plan to pay your entire balance once every two months (thanks to the 55-day interest free period)
  • You don’t plan to carry a balance after the interest free period
  • You travel frequently on business trips and rent a car wherever you go

Since this is a charge card, you should avoid it if you plan on keeping a balance and paying the bare minimum, as there is a very high penalty interest rate of 30% for any unpaid balance.

Choose the American Express AIR MILES Gold Business Card if:

  • You use AIR MILES and want to boost your earn rate
  • You don’t want to pay an annual fee but still want an AIR MILES credit card for your business
  • You don’t mind traveling without insurance coverage (if you did, it’s a better idea to sign up to the AIR MILES Business Card than to buy a separate policy)
  • You plan to, or don’t mind to carry a balance every month.

Other Amex Business Credit Cards To Consider

The Business Platinum Card

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express has offered excellent value to Canadian business owners for years. The card’s impressive 40,000 MR points welcome bonus is enough for a flight to just about anywhere in Europe or Asia, but the long-term benefits – worldwide airport lounge access, impressive travel and business insurance policies, Amex Concierge, and more – also make this card a winner every single year.

The Business Gold Rewards Card

If you’re not in love with AIR MILES, you can also consider the Amex Business Gold Rewards Card that is also a credit card. This card’s annual fee is a bit higher than the AIR MILES Business, but it also brings more perks and earns MR points which can be more flexible than dream miles or cash miles.

The Marriott Bonvoy™ Business Card

Finally, as our winner in the mid-range fee, we recommend the Marriott Bonvoy™ Business Card. It’s also a credit card, it has a lower fee of just $150 but it offers an Annual Free Night award that alone is worth twice that much, making this card a sure win.

Amex AIR MILES Reserve Card: A Review

The American Express® AIR MILES® Reserve Credit Card is the best AIR MILES credit card that Amex has to offer. The welcome bonus of up to 3,800 miles coupled with Onyx™ Status in the AIR MILES program can be worth over $650, but it doesn’t stop there. The long-term benefits of this card will make paying the annual fee a laugh. A small example is the 1,700-air-miles complimentary partner ticket, which alone almost single handedly covers the fee. Add in an impressive insurance package, worldwide lounge access with four complimentary visits, and other benefits on the side, and you’ll happily sign up before you finish reading this post.

Find out why this is the perfect travel card for occasional travelers, offering the best value when you travel once or twice a year.

The Amex AIR  MILES Reserve Card
The Amex AIR MILES Reserve Card

As one of Canada’s biggest independent loyalty programs, AIR MILES® Rewards is used and trusted by thousands. After Amex partnered with AIR MILES to bring forth the American Express® AIR MILES® Credit Card family, that number has grown even more. Of all these cards, I find that the benefits that come with the Amex AIR MILES Reserve Card are the ones that best balance its annual fee, and give you more besides. In this Amex AIR MILES Reserve review, I’ll show you why I consider this card as the best choice among all the AIR MILES Credit Cards from American Express.

To make it easier to navigate, this post is divided into the following sections:

#1 The Amex AIR MILES Reserve’s Basic Features And Benefits

Welcome Bonus Up to 3,800 AIR MILES Rewards miles:
• Earn 1,400 Bonus Miles when you charge a total of $3,000 in purchases to your Card in the first 3 months of Cardmembership.
• Earn up to 400 miles every month you spend $1,500 during your first 6 monthly billing periods, adding up to a total of 2,400 bonus miles.
Welcome bonus offers end January 20, 2020.

Miles Earning Rate • 1 Air Mile per $10 in eligible purchases at AIR MILES Sponsors or standalone grocery stores, gas stations and drugstores in Canada
• 1 Air Mile per $15 on everything else
Travel Benefits • Complimentary Annual Companion Flight Ticket worth up to 1,700 miles
• Access to FlexFly redemptions
• Access to AIR MILES business class seats
• 4 complimentary Priority Pass lounge visits per year
• Access to Toronto Pearson Airport Priority Security Lane
Comprehensive Travel and Purchase Coverage
Automatic Onyx Status
Optional Balance Transfer Offer
Insider Access
Front of The Line
Type of Card Credit Card
Applied Interest Rate • 19.99% on purchases
• 22.99% on funds advances
Annual Fee $299
Additional Card Fee $50
Benefit for Additional Cardmembers

#2 Pros & Cons Of The Amex AIR MILES Reserve Card

PROS CONS
• Great long-term benefits like an annual partner ticket worth over $200 and automatic Onyx Status in the AIR MILES program
• Great Lounge Access offer for the occasional traveler
• Impressive travel and purchase coverage
• Earn Air Miles on any purchase
• Great earning rate on AIR MILES sponsors even when compared the AIR MILES program’s own earning rate
• More flight redemption possibilities including business and first-class tickets as well as better itineraries
• The choice to use your miles to pay for taxes and fees completely avoiding the need for cash when redeeming your miles
• Unlimited earning potential (no caps on earning)
• Low annual fee for a premium card
• Contrary to other offers, the welcome bonus alone doesn’t cover the annual fee during the first year
• The earning rate doesn’t give you a great overall return on purchases. Other Amex cards can give you a lot more
• $750 cap on daily redeemable Cash miles (in-store or online)
• No Amex Concierge Service even though it’s a premium reserve card

Before diving into the details behind all the features and benefits of this card, it’s important to understand how the AIR MILES Rewards program works.

#3 An Overview Of The AIR MILES Rewards Program

The AIR MILES Rewards program, as you may have imagined, is a loyalty program. However, there are some differences between this loyalty program and others we’ve covered before such as Aeroplan, Membership Rewards and the Marriott BonvoyTM program.

A Different Sort Of Loyalty Program

The biggest difference with the AIR MILES program is that it’s an independent loyalty program, unlike Membership Rewards, which is tied to American Express or Aeroplan, which is tied to Air Canada. Three key features of this program include:

  • Each partner merchant has its own rewarding scheme, depending on the terms in which it signed up with LoyaltyOne, the company that runs AIR MILES.
  • There are literally hundreds to thousands of merchants in Canada where you can shop and earn AIR MILES Rewards miles.
  • There are also hundreds of different ways to redeem your points.

AIR MILES members are called Collectors, and when you sign up, you receive an AIR MILES Collector’s Card, reminiscent of the Aeroplan Card you get when signing up to that loyalty program. You show this card at eligible merchants to earn points on purchases, and you use this card to pay for eligible purchases with your miles.

A Different Way To Express Earning Rates

Earning rates in the AIR MILES Rewards program are expressed a bit differently from other programs. Instead of miles per every $1, they are expressed as the amount you have to spend on purchases to earn each mile.

This makes it a bit bothersome when you want to compare earning rates, especially if you want to compare with other loyalty programs. The bottom line is that the higher the number, the lower the earning rate.

Let me show you what I mean with the following example of a $140 purchase at different typical earning rates:

Earning Rate Total Purchase Miles Earned
$35 per 1 mile $140 $140 x 1mile / $35 = 4 miles
$20 per 1 mile $140 $140 x 1mile / $20 = 7 miles
$15 per 1 mile $140 $140 x 1mile / $15 = 9.33 miles
$10 per 1 mile $140 $140 x 1mile / $10 = 14 miles
$5 per 1 mile $140 $140 x 1mile / $5 = 28 miles

Comparing the first and last earning rates will clearly show what I just said: $5 per mile is seven times lower than $35, but you earn 28 miles on a $140 purchase, which is seven times greater than 4 miles.

This has some other setbacks apart from this unintuitive way to interpret the earning rate. The biggest problem is that you can’t add these earning rates when you earn more than one rate on the same purchase(something you can actually do with your Amex AIR MILES Reserve), but we’ll get back to that further down the post.

Two Different Kinds Of Miles

Here I’ll highlight another oddity of AIR MILES Rewards: The miles you earn are automatically split between two balances: your Cash Balance, and  your Dream Balance. Miles that go to your cash balance are called Cash Miles, whereas the ones that go to your dream balance are called Dream Miles. You can choose what portion of the miles that you earn go to each of the two balances (in 10% increments), but make note that, once in one balance, miles can’t be transferred to the other.

Cash Balance for Cash Rewards

You use your cash miles to pay for Cash Rewards, which you use to get discounts at AIR MILES sponsors, either in physical stores or online.

You trade in 95 cash miles for every $10 in discounts, and there’s a cap at $750 in accumulated discounts each day.

Dream Balance For Dream Rewards

Dream Rewards are the more traditional way to use miles. They work like any other loyalty rewards redemption you’ve come across in the past, in the sense that you pay the whole price of different rewards exclusively with your miles, and you choose those rewards by logging into your collector’s account in the AIR MILES website.

There are four Dream Rewards redemption categories:

  • Merchandise
  • Events and attractions
  • Stage Passes
  • Travel

Some of these categories offer better value than others, but it’s sure great to have options.

AIR MILES has 15 partner airlines with which you can redeem your miles for flights. It also partnered with five of the world’s best hotel chains, giving you access to literally thousands and thousands of dream hotels around the world.

#4 How Much Are The Amex AIR MILES Reserve Miles Worth

As usual, miles value depends on how you redeem them. Since there are two types of air miles, which you can redeem in different ways, we’ll look at them separately:

Cash Miles’ Value

This is the easiest to assess value of any loyalty rewards points. There’s only one redemption value for cash miles: You trade in 95 miles for a $10 cash discount coupon.

This translates to a value of:

$10 / 95 miles = $0.105 or 10.5 cents for each mile.

As you can see, air miles are worth close to 10 times more than other loyalty points like the Marriott BonvoyTM points, for example, which are worth close to 1 cent per point.

Dream Miles’ Value

There are different types of redemptions for Dream miles. Here’s an estimate of the value you can get out of each type:

  • Merchandise Dream Rewards: 6 to 7 cents per mile
  • Events And Attractions, and Stage Passes: 10 to 12 cents per mile
  • AIR MILES Flights Program: 10 to 12 cents per mile
  • Hotel Bookings: 12 or more cents per mile

The Bottom Line On Air Miles Value:

As you just saw, the value of each miles will go from about 6 to more than 12 cents ($0.06 to $0.12/mile). However, the best estimate we can make, the one that will always hit the bullseye, is the Cash miles value of 10.5 cents or $0.105 per mile.

After seen all the redemption categories and the value you can get in each case, I’ll give you some easy to follow advice on how to get the most out of every mile:

  • It’s a good idea to use your miles for cash rewards because it’s where you’ll get a good and consistent value
  • If you prefer dream rewards, then spend your dream miles only on hotel stays or on special events. It’s where you’ll get the best value.
  • Even if you follow the previous advice, do the math every time you plan to redeem your miles and make sure you’re getting a good deal.
  • Just because AIR MILES’ site says that something is a great once-in-a-lifetime deal or opportunity doesn’t mean that it is. Always do the math first.

Air Mile Value For Onyx Collectors

The average 10.5 cents I just mentioned is the value that regular AIR MILES members or Blue Collectors will get out of their miles. However, as you’ll learn in the section covering the AIR MILES Status, Onyx members – a status you get automatically with your new Amex AIR MILES Reserve – could get up to 67% more from each mile when they redeem them for special discounted flights only available for that tier. This could raise the value of each mile to over 17.5 cents or $0.175/mile.

You’ve gotten a couple of previews of some of the benefits that come with the Amex AIR MILES Reserve Card, but now it’s time to really dig into the details:

#5 Amex AIR MILES Reserve Benefit #1: The Welcome Bonus

Once you’re approved for your new Amex AIR MILES Reserve Card for the first time, and after you charge $3,000 in purchases to it before your third month as a cardmember, you’ll receive an enticing welcome bonus of 1,400 AIR MILES Rewards Miles (or simply miles or air miles). Additionally, for every $750 in purchases you charge during your first six billing cycles you will receive 200 extra miles, with a cap of 400 extra bonus miles per month. This means that by the end of the sixth month you could have a total welcome bonus of:

1,400 miles + 6 x 400 miles = 3,800 miles

The AIR MILES Rewards program offers over a thousand different ways to redeem those miles.

Using Your Bonus To Pay For Flights

Regarding travel, you could use those points to pay for a flight anywhere in Canada and continental USA in economy class.

Flight options with the AIR MILES Reserve welcome bonus
Flight options with the AIR MILES Reserve welcome bonus

Using Your Bonus To Pay For Hotel Stays

You can also use them to pay for stays at thousands of different hotels around the world, including Marriott, Hilton and InterContinental, just to name a few. The bonus is enough for 4-5 nights on some great 3 and 4-star hotels many great destinations, or even for one night at any of the following beautiful hotels in Paris:

Four great Parisian hotels you can book for one night with the Amex AIR MILES Reserve
Four great choices to stay in Paris for one night with your welcome bonus

Having said that, this bonus is only 300 miles higher than the 3,500 bonus miles that come with the AIR MILES Platinum Card. This may seem disappointing considering that the annual fee on the reserve is over two times higher. However, at the basic rate of 10.5 cents/mile, the bonus would translate to $400, easily covering the annual fee and leaving you an extra $100 on the side. Furthermore, when you consider the fact that you could get up to 67% more value from your miles with the Reserve Card, thanks to the automatic Onyx Status, these 3,800 miles suddenly start feeling like more than $650, doubling the annual fee and making the Amex AIR MILES Reserve Card an easy choice for an investment. .

#6 Amex AIR MILES Reserve Benefit #2: Miles Earn Rates

A great feature of both the AIR MILES Reserve Cards and the AIR MILES Platinum Card is that they earn miles on all purchases, not just on AIR MILES sponsors. With the Reserve, there are two slightly different rates:

You’ll get 1 mile for every $10 on eligible purchases

This means that on a $60 eligible purchase, for example, you’ll receive 6 miles deposited directly to your AIR MILES Collector’s account (split between the two balances). Eligible implies one of the following four categories of purchases:

  • Purchases at any AIR MILES sponsor or partner
  • Gasoline stations in Canada (Stand-alone)
  • Grocery stores in Canada (Stand-alone)
  • Drugstores in Canada (Stand-alone)

This makes it very easy to get the best earning rate on common everyday expenses like food, medicines and gas.

1 mile for every $15 on all other purchases

In this case, a purchase of the same $60 will get you only 4 miles. The good thing here is that the American Express AIR MILES Reserve Card rewards you for any purchase, while AIR MILES alone will not. In fact, the 1 mile for every $15 earning rate is better than what most AIR MILES sponsors themselves offer (which averages to $20 for each mile)

Now, you may be wondering:

Are these good Earning Rates, or bad ones?

Since they are expressed differently from the earning rates on other cards such as the Aeroplan Reserve, the Cobalt, or the Marriott BonvoyTM Amex cards, it’s a bit hard to compare these earning rates straight up. The answer to this problem is simple though: we just have to know how much the miles are really saving you on your purchase.

Suppose you made a $100 purchase at the 1 mile per $10 rate. That means you’ll receive 10 miles for your purchase. Valuated at an average of 10 cents per mile, those 10 miles are worth $1.

So, basically, your AIR MILES Reserve is really only giving you back $1 on a $100 purchase. In other words, you get 1% back. To put things in perspective, the Amex SimplyCash Card gives you that same return, but it’s free. The Amex SimplyCash Preferred Card gives you 2% back on all purchases, which is twice as much, and it’s a lot cheaper as well. If you compare it with the Amex Platinum Card, it looks even worse.

Either way, 1% is still better than 0%, and this card comes with other great benefits that’ll tilt the balance in the right direction.

#7 Double-Dipping: Earning Miles Twice With Your Amex AIR MILES Reserve Card

How does this work? It’s beyond easy! As a collector (read AIR MILES Rewards member), you’re entitled to earn miles on every purchase at partner brands, as we just showed you. But as an American Express AIR MILES Reserve cardholder, you’ll also get 1 mile for every $10 of the same purchase, no matter how much that merchant awards. This is because, in the second case, it’s Amex that’s rewarding you for your card purchase, not the merchant.

Put two and two together, and you’re earning miles twice when you show your AIR MILES Collector’s Card AND you pay with your Amex AIR MILES Reserve.

Finding out how this adds up isn’t that hard, but, reader beware, it’s not as simple as adding earning rates. Remember that earning rates in the AIR MILES program are expressed differently from other cases!

Let’s look at a simple example so that you’ll learn to work out your own numbers:

Case Study: Buying a $600 laptop at Amazon.ca

Ok, so Amazon.ca is one of AIR MILES’ sponsors. This means that by paying for your laptop with your Amex AIR MILES Reserve Card, you’ll earn miles twice. But at what rate?

Reviewing past sections of this post, you’ll get 1 miler for every $10 thanks to your Amex card + 1 mile for every $20 awarded by Amazon.ca, through the AIR MILES program.

The first mistake you might be tempted to make is to assume that this adds up to a rate of $30 for every mile, but it doesn’t work that way. Remember that the higher the number, the worse the rate, so $30 to earn a mile is worse than any of the two separate rates.

One way to work it out is to figure out how many miles you get with each rate, and THEN add the miles:

Purchase Value: $600
Miles earned with your card purchase: $600 x 1mil/$10 = 60 miles
Miles earned for the sponsor purchase: $600 x 1mil/$20 = 30 miles
TOTAL: 90 miles

This works out to 1 mile for every $6.67 of purchases at Amazon.ca.

#8 Amex Reserve AIR MILES Credit Card Benefit #3: Annual Companion Ticket

This is one of the Amex AIR MILES Reserve’s best long-term benefits. Once every year, when you redeem your miles for an AIR MILES flight reward, you will get a complimentary ticket for a companion for the same itinerary, worth up to 1,700 miles. Those 1,700 miles can easily be worth close to $280 when you combine them with the AIR MILES Onyx Status that comes with your card (read below for more on the Onyx Status).

There are other Amex cards that offer a similar benefit. One example is the AeroplanPlus Reserve Card that also offers an annual partner ticket worth up to 25,000 aeroplan miles. However, the key difference with the AIR MILES partner ticket benefit is that you’re not limited to a 1,700 miles flight ticket. You may still use this benefit even if your flight costs more than 1,700 dream miles. All you have to do is pay the extra miles of your partner’s ticket with your dream balance, and you’re both set to go.

This added flexibility really enhances this benefit’s value, and it practically ensures that you will be able to redeem it for the maximum 1,700 miles.

#9 Amex AIR MILES Reserve Benefit #4: More Flexibility In Flight Redemptions

Ok, so you know that AIR MILES offers its own flight rewards with its airline partners. However, the partners list is limited, and unless you’re an Onyx collector (which, thankfully, you will be if you sign up for this card), you won’t have access all the flights they offer. This slight setback of the AIR MILES Rewards program, is overcome by Amex for its cardmembers, by offering two additional benefits:

Access To Air Miles Business-Class Flights

This is an exclusive benefit of the AIR MILES Reserve Credit Card. AIR MILES Flight Rewards are strictly for economy-class flights, no matter where you go. It doesn’t even matter if you’re an Onyx Collector. However, by signing up to an American Express AIR MILES Reserve Card, you’ll also be able to pay for business-class flights within the AIR MILES Flights program.

Access to FlexFly Redemptions

What do you do if the destination you want simply isn’t covered by any of AIR MILES’ partners? This is a frustrating scenario that many collectors come across once in a while. If you find yourself in this situation, FlexFly redemptions can help. This is yet another Amex AIR MILES Reserve Card exclusive, and it’s as simple as redemptions get: book any flight, on any carrier, in any class you want, and pay for it with the miles in your dream balance.

Amazingly, the redemption rate for the FexFly benefit is of 770 miles for every $100, which turns out to be 13 cents per mile, which is not bad at all!

#10 American Express AIR MILES Reserve Benefit #5: Lounge Access

Airport lounges absolutely change the way you experience travel. The problem is that, in most cases, to access any lounge requires that you be a member of that lounge club, and memberships can be expensive.

The AIR MILES Reserve Card comes with a Priority Pass membership that not only gives you access to over 1,200 lounges worldwide at no extra cost, but it also throws in four complimentary lounge visits per year. You could be chilling out in the newly added Primeclass Lounge Zurich, whether you’re departing from or just in transit in that city’s international airport.

Primeclass Lounge, Zurich, Switzerland
The bar at the Zurich Primeclass Lounge
Primeclass Lounge, Zurich, Switzerland
Some of the inviting snacks and refreshments you can enjoy at the Lounge

What’s so special about lounge access?

Lounges aren’t just comfortable places to sit and rest. Most establishments also offer a wide array of services that make them a great place to be before you go. These services include things like

  • Refreshments, snacks, hot and cold beverages and even alcoholic beverages, in case you’re hungry, thirsty, or you just want a hot cup of coffee
  • Showers to freshen up before your flight
  • Nap-rooms where you can sleep during long layovers
  • Complimentary high-speed Wi-Fi
  • Business centers where you can print or fax anything you need, make an important phone call or give your presentations some finishing touches
  • Satellite or cable TV
  • Newspaper and magazine stands to keep up with the latest news
  • Some lounges even go as far as to offer massage chairs, spas and playgrounds.

The Amex AIR MILES Reserve’s Lounge Access Is A Great Choice For Occasional Travelers And Frequent Fliers Alike

The Amex AIR MILES Reserve Card includes a Priority Pass Lounge membership that grants you access to all of its lounges, four complimentary visits, and a reduced additional-visit fee of just $27 USD.

When Does The Amex AIR MILES Reserve Card’s Lounge Access Offer The Most Value?

This membership plan is like having the Priority Pass Standard membership (which costs $99 USD), and four prepaid visits (which would run for a total $128 USD). So just by signing up, you’re already saving about $300 CAD.

But the kicker is that the reduced additional visit fee saves you $5 USD every time you visit a lounge after the fourth visit. This makes the AIR MILES Reserve’s lounge access better than any of the membership plans Priority Pass offers, at least for the first 16 visits, even after paying for twelve of them!

The bottom line is that signing up to the American Express AIR MILES Reserve Card’ is the cheapest way to get Priority Pass lounge access if you travel between 4 and 16 timer every year.

This makes it a great choice for both infrequent fliers (those who travel only a few times a year), as well as for frequent fliers that travel a little more than once a month. If you don’t travel at all, of course, then this benefit doesn’t offer you any value.

If you’ve never experienced an airport lounge, this is your opportunity to do it with style and at the lowest price possible.

#11 Amex AIR MILES Reserve Benefit #6: Optional Balance Transfer Offer

As a way to attract new members, Amex provides the Optional Balance Offer with the Reserve AIR MILES Card. To be eligible for this offer, the only condition is that you’re not already an Amex cardmember (i.e., you don’t own any charge or credit card issued by Amex Bank of Canada)

What Is The Optional Balance Transfer Offer?

This is an offer for new American Express cardmembers, who can opt to transfer their debts from other credit cards to the AIR MILES Reserve Card upon enrollment. As long as you don’t fall behind on your minimum payments, you’ll get a preferential interest rate of just 1.99% on all transferred balance during the first 6 billing cycles (read months).

In short, it’s a way of helping Canadians pay off their debts by lowering the interest incurred because of the balance they carry every month. It’s like taking a low-interest loan with Amex to pay for your other credit cards.

Pay off your other credit card debts with the Air Miles Reserve Card

Some cash cards offer similar offers, and some even go the length of charging 0% interest and increasing the interest-free period to 1 year. However, the good thing about the AIR MILES Reserve Card’s offer is that Amex doesn’t charge a balance transfer fee, whereas the others do.

How To Opt For The Balance Transfer

Considering that you’re not already an Amex cardmember and are, therefore, eligible for this offer, all you need to do is opt in for the offer when filling out your online application.

That being said, there’s a limit to how much balance you can transfer to your Amex AIR MILES Card account.

How Much Of My Balance Can I Transfer To My New American Express AIR MILES Card

The maximum amount you can transfer is limited to $7,500 or 50% of your assigned credit limit, whichever is smaller.

Let’s look at the numbers of three simple examples to show you how this works:

  • Suppose you have a balance of $2,000 and a credit limit of $6,000. In this case, since 50% of your credit limit is $3,000 and this number is smaller than $7,500, than you can transfer a maximum of $3,000. Consequently, in this particular case, you could transfer your whole balance of $2,000.
  • Now suppose that you have a balance of $8,000 and a credit limit of $20,000 (50% of which being $10,000). Contrary to the previous case, you can’t transfer your whole balance because it’s higher than $7500. Furthermore, since $7,500 is less than $10,000, then you can transfer a maximum of $7,500.
  • Finally, suppose you have a balance of $8,000 but a credit limit of just $10,000 (50% of which is $5,000). You obviously can’t transfer the whole $8,000 balance for the same reason as above. However, since $5,000 y less than $7,500, then in this case you can’t transfer $7,500 either. You can only transfer a maximum of the said $5,000.

When Should You Opt For The Balance Transfer Offer?

One very important thing to consider is that after the low-interest promotional period of 6 months expires, any unpaid transferred balance will be subject to the current funds advance interest rate. As of today, this means that from under 2%, the interest rate jumps up to 22.99%.

That’s an over 10-fold increase in interest rate.

You’ll also immediately lose the low preferential rate and get the funds advance rate if you fall behind on your payments, even during the first six months. Additionally, if you fall behind again, you’ll lose that rate as well and get 26.99%. The bottom line is that it hurts to pay late.

I’ll summarize all this information into simple actionable advice.

You should only apply for the balance transfer if:

  • You’re financially responsible and never miss a payment, even if it is the bare minimum.
  • The current interest rate on your debt is greater than 22.99%, no matter how long you plan to carry a balance
  • Your current interest rate on your balance is between 1.99% and 22.99% but you think you can pay off the entire balance in 6 months or less.

You should definitely not apply for the balance transfer if:

  • You frequently find yourself missing payments or not paying the minimum on time.
  • If the current interest rate on your balance is actually lower than 1.99% (obviously)

If your current interest rate is lower than 22.99% but you can’t pay the debt by the end of six months, it may still make sense to transfer the balance to the AIR MILES Card from American Express. It all depends on the difference between the two interest rates, and how long you think it will take you to pay off the entire debt.

#12 An Amex AIR MILES Reserve Exclusive: Automatic Onyx Status In The AIR MILES Rewards Program

This is one of the great benefits that come exclusively with you Amex AIR MILES Reserve Card.

The AIR MILES Rewards program offers three different levels of rewards, depending on the number of miles you earn each calendar year (January 1st through December 31st):

  • Blue Status (from 0 to 999 annual miles)
  • Gold Status (from 1,000 to 5,999 annual miles)
  • Onyx™ Status (6,000 annual miles or more)

Depending on which status you achieved, you’ll get access to more and more benefits.

What Do I Get In Each Status In The AIR MILES Program?

That’s the key question! It’s not about how cool the name is; it’s what it means to be in each level. Check out the following table and compare all the perks and benefits you get with each status in the AIR MILES Rewards Program. You’ll want to compare the last column with the other two, because that’s what comes with your American Express AIR MILES Reserve Credit Card:

STATUS Blue Gold Onyx™
Flights, merchandise and events Standard Prime Premium
AIR MILES Perks
AIR MILES Stage Pass
Discounts on Flights   Up to 30% off Up to 40% off
Discounts on merchandise rewards   Up to 10% off Up to 20% off
Exclusive Events  
Top Service    
Personal Shopper Service    

The Onyx Status

Becoming an Onyx Collector without the help of your Amex AIR MILES Reserve Card isn’t easy, because you need to earn a minimum of 6,000 air miles during one calendar year. This amounts to $120,000 in purchases, or to roughly half of that if you have the Amex AIR MILES Platinum , which has the same earning potential as the Reserve, but without the automatic Onyx status.

So you would need to spend $5,000 to $10,000 a month to get to Onyx Status by yourself. That’s one steep climb. It sure is great that your new American Express AIR MILES Credit Card brings in Onyx Status, but what will that mean to you?

Keep reading to find out:

Access to Premium flight, merchandise and event rewards.

This means that you get the whole package. You start off with access to all the rewards that AIR MILES has to offer, which translates into the possibility to book better flights, more routes, with more schedule flexibility. Not only that, you can also use your miles to pay for taxes and fees, avoiding the need to pay with cash altogether.

Better Discounts On Flights And Merchandise Than With Gold Status

Onyx collectors enjoy an additional 10% in discounts compared to Gold collectors in both flight and merchandise rewards. This makes savings go up to 40% on select flights and to 20% on eligible merchandise. This is a really valuable benefit, as it could increase your miles value by 67%. Here’s why:

Boost your Dream Mile’s Value By Up To 67%

Suppose you find a flight that normally costs $1,000, but it’s offered in AIR MILES for 12,500 Dream miles. That would give you a value of $1,000 / 12,500 miles = $0.08 per mile, or 8 cents.

Now suppose that you’re an Onyx Collector ant that the said ticket is eligible for a 40% discount. This means that it’ll cost only 7,500 miles, but the value of the ticket is the same $1,000, because it’s the exact same flight. Now, your miles are worth more, because you’re getting the same value for less miles. In fact each mile will be worth, in this hypothetical case, $1,000 / 7,500 miles = $0.1333 per mile, or 13.33 cents.

THAT’S 67% MORE THAN THE ORIGINAL 8 CENTS PER MILE VALUATION!

Have a go and do your own numbers, it’ll be the same every time, no matter how much value the flight you choose will  originally give your miles.

By the same logic, the 20% discount in the miles you have to pay for select merchandise will increase your miles value by almost 25%.

If you manage to spend your entire welcome bonus on Onyx discounted flights, the 2,400 miles could easily be worth $400! That’s $100 over the annual fee.

The question is, will you join one of the biggest loyalty programs in Canada and enjoy from day one all the benefits it has to offer?

#13 The AIR MILES Reserve Card’s Insurance Coverage

As an American Express premium Canadian Credit Card, the AIR MILES Reserve offers an impressive insurance package that will keep your mind at ease when you travel, as much as whe you shop.

Travel Coverage

The following table shows all the travel insurance policies that come embedded into your card, as well as their respective coverage limits:

Policy Description Coverage
Emergency Medical Insurance Covers for accidents or illnesses that require medical attention, during the first 15 days of your trip. $5,000,000
Car Rental Theft and Damage Insurance Used to waive the rental company’s own daily car insurance policy Rental Car with a maximum MSRP of $85,000
$100,000 Travel Accident Insurance AD&D policy to protect you against accidents while in transit $100,000
Lost or Stolen Baggage Insurance Covers for lost personal effects or damage to your luggage while in transit $500
Flight & Baggage Delay Insurance Covers for hotel, restaurant and out of pocket expenses when flights or your baggage are delayed for a long time $500
Hotel/Motel Burglary Insurance Covers for lost personal effects if your hotel gets burglarized $500

A very important feature of the embedded insurance coverage of the Amex AIR MILES Reserve Card is that it covers for any number of trips throughout the year (something referred to as Multi-trip policy in the insurance world). Additionally, it not only covers you, but your spouse and any dependent children you may have, as long as they are traveling with you, of course.

Purchas Coverage

Apart from these travel insurance policies, the Amex AIR MILES Reserve also comes with the standard Amex purchase coverage:

Policy Description Coverage
Purchase Protection® Plan Insures your purchases against accidental physical damage and theft for 90 days after purchase $1,000
Buyer’s Assurance® Protection Plan Doubles the manufacturer’s warranty for up to 1 extra year $1,000

How To Be Eligible For Coverage

One key condition to be eligible for coverage in all the policies I just mentioned is that everything has to be paid for with your Amex AIR MILES Reserve Card. Other conditions obviously apply, such as exclusions, limitations, pre-existing conditions, etc., but that happens with any insurance policy.

If you want to learn more, you can read our post on American Express Insurance.

How Much Is The Reserve AIR MILES Credit Card Insurance Worth?

It’s hard to estimate exactly how much you’re saving by having this insurance coverage. You’ll be hard pressed to find a policy that’ll cover you, your spouse and any dependent children under 23, as well as any additional cardmember, his or her spouse and dependent children, for an unlimited number of trips, every year.

If you add in the fact that insurance prices also depend on age, gender, pre-existing medical conditions and stability periods, calculations get even harder.

Regardless, here’s a quick estimate only considering the two most valuable policies, which are the travel Emergency Medical Insurance and the Car Rental Theft and Damage Insurance:

Emergency Medical Insurance Value

An annual, multi-trip $5 million travel medical insurance policy for one 35 year old traveler in perfect health costs an average $80, give or take. Add in your spouse and one child and the cost, at the very least, doubles. If you add in more children and additional cardmembers, you’ll be pushing well over $300.

Car Rental Theft And Damage Insurance Value

For a rental car worth $85,000 or less, Theft and Damage insurance can cost $16 to $23 per day. Therefore, paying with your AIR MILES Reserve Card for a short, 3-day rental could be saving you anything from $48 to almost $70. And that’s only for a single very short trip.

The bottom line is that, by using your Amex Reserve AIR MILES Credit Card year after year, and by traveling and renting a car at least once a year, you’ll be saving well over $120 in travel insurance alone, but as a conservative estimate, I’ll round this up to $100.

#14 Four Other Special AIR MILES Credit Card Benefits

Special Benefit #1: Use Miles To Pay For Taxes And Fees

When I go flight-hacking, I always try to pay the least amount as possible with cash, that’s what my points are for! However, most loyalty rewards programs will only let you pay for the base ticket price with their reward points, and not the taxes and fees. These can go as high as one or two hundred dollars for international flights on certain carriers.

You could say hey! that’s not a problem, I’ll just pay for the fees with my Amex card and get rewarded and keep boosting my rewards balance. The thing is, since taxes and fees aren’t classified as purchases, they won’t earn you miles or any other kind of points for that matter!

With the Amex AIR MILES Reserve, you get a neat benefit that allows you to pay for taxes and fees with your miles, avoiding the use of cash altogether.

Special Benefit #2: Avoid AIR MILES Booking Fees

This is a simple benefit but it could be worth a lot if you travel frequently. If you book travel through AIR MILES while being a Reserve cardmember, AIR MILES will waive the booking fee whether it’s an online booking or by phone. Those fees are always in the $2-$8 range per trip, per traveler.

That’s another $64 you could save if you travel twice in a year with your spouse and two children!

Special Benefit #3: Insider AccessTM

Insider AccessTM is about seeing your favorite artists LIVE, for FREE!

A couple of times every year, Amex opens up a contest for American Express AIR MILES Cardmembers (sporting either the Amex AIR MILES, AIR MILES Platinum or AIR MILES Reserve credit cards) so they get a chance to win free tickets to their favorite shows.

In some cases, you need to answer some skill-testing questions to enter the contest. You can also participate and enter more than once (usually limited to one entry per day) to increase your chances of winning.

To give you an idea of just how great the prizes are, the most recent contest was for two tickets to see Jennifer Lopez’s “It’s My Party” world tour in Canada. Last year, it was Shania Twain and Bon Jovi

https://www.themarcocorporation.biz/AmexAirMilesContest/contests/c39/JenniferLopez2019.jpg

To keep an eye out for the latest contest, all you have to do is visit American Express Insider Access to find out which event is coming up.

Special Benefit #4: Front Of The Line

Front of the line gives you access to many benefits regarding some of the most sought after concerts and special events. These benefits include getting advanced tickets before they are sold to the general public, and reserved tickets so that you’ll always have an extra chance to buy them even if they run out for everyone else.

Additionally, you get other perks as well on special venues and locations like at the Budwiser Stage where you can get in through a special priority line, and enjoy the show at the Amex lounge.

#15 Is The AIR MILES Reserve Credit Card Worth The Annual Fee?

Absolutely! Even though almost $300 may seem steep at first glance, the benefits will clearly outweigh the fee year after year, as long as you travel at least once or twice annually.

And that’s without counting in the welcome bonus!

To estimate how good of a deal this is I’ll make the following assumptions, based on four trips per year:

  • I’ll value each mile at 16.7 cents apiece due to the Onyx Status and use round numbers.
  • As I explained above, I’ll value the Priority Pass lounge access at $300 CAD .
  • I’ll value the insurance coverage at $100, in order to be as conservative as I can.
  • I’ll value each AIR MILES Booking fee waiver at an average $5 per booking, therefore in four trips you would save $20

Let’s see how this card performs during the first year and for the long run:

Benefit During The First Year After The First Year
Welcome Bonus $650 N/A
Complimentary Partner Ticket $300 $300
Lounge Access $300 $300
Insurance Coverage $100 $100
Booking Fee Waiver $20 $20
Annual Fee ($300) ($300)
TOTAL PROFIT: $970 $420
Additional Benefits

This is a conservative estimate, and it still works out to return of over 300% during the first year and over 100% every year after that. Even if we valued the partner ticket at 10 cents per mile, it still works out to over 100% in return.

The question is, will you get your hands on this card, or will you let it pass?

#16 FAQs

Can I transfer dream miles from my dream balance to my cash balance?

No you can’t. What you can do is choose what percentage of your miles go to each balance. That way you’ll always have the miles you need for the rewards you want.

How Do I Protect My Cash Balance Against Unauthorized Use?

All you have to do is log into your AIR MILES profile and lock your cash account. That way no one will be able to use your cash miles (not even you) until you unlock them. If you download the AIR MILES app, you’ll be able to lock/unlock your Cash Balance anywhere, anytime. Consequently, you can keep your account locked all the time, and only unlock it once you’re at the cashier.

If My Collector’s Account Is Locked, Will I Still Earn Miles?

Yes, you will. Locking your account only stops cash miles from going out of your account, but it doesn’t stop them from going in. You can keep your account locked all the time and only unlock it when you’re about to pay with your miles.


Amex AIR MILES® Platinum Card: A Review

The American Express® AIR MILES® Platinum Credit Card is a great tool to increase your AIR MILES balance. The welcome bonus of 3,500 miles is easily worth $370, more than tripling the $120 annual fee, and making signing up to it a great investment. The possibility to double-dip and earn miles twice will help you get more return on every purchase, and the card’s earn rate of 1 mile for every $5 in purchases in everyday essentials like food, drink and transport, is the best earn rate of any of the AIR MILES’ partners.

In addition, more than 80% of the annual fee is covered by the annual travel benetif, and a single 4-day car rental would be more than enough to cover the rest, thanks to its embedded insurance coverage. This, along with all its other benefits, make the Amex AIR MILES Platinum a great choice

The sleek-looking silver colored Amex AIR MILES Platinum Credit Card
The Amex AIR MILES Platinum

AIR MILES is one of Canada’s biggest independent loyalty rewards program and it counts its members by the thousands. With the Amex AIR MILES Platinum Card, you’ll not only join the ever growing number of collectors (read AIR MILES members), but you’ll also get an edge by earning miles on any purchase, and even twice on eligible purchases. In this AIR MILES Platinum Card review, we’ll show you how to make the most of your new Amex card, how to maximize your miles, and how to maximize your return on every mile as well. Keep on reading to learn everything there is to know about the AIR MILES Rewards program and all the benefits that come with the Amex AIR MILES Platinum Card.

To make it easier to navigate, this post is divided into the following 14 sections:

#1 Basic Features And Benefits

Welcome BonusUp to 3,500 AIR MILES Rewards miles:
• Earn 1,700 Bonus Miles when you charge a total of $1,500 in purchases to your Card in the first 3 months of Cardmembership.
• Earn up to 300 miles every month you spend $1,000 during your first 6 monthly billing periods, adding up to a total of 1,800 bonus miles.
Welcome bonus offers end January 20, 2020.
Miles Earn Rate • Earn 1 Mile for every $5 in Card purchases, up to $30,000 annually, on eligible food & drinks, (such as eligible restaurants, coffee shops and stand-alone grocery stores), and eligible gas & transit (such as local commuter transportation including ridesharing services and taxi) in Canada.

• Earn 1 Mile for every $10 in Card purchases everywhere else.
Annual travel benefit
Optional Balance Transfer Offer
Insider Access
Front of The Line
Travel and Purchase Coverage
Additional CardsUp to 9 for free
Type of CardCredit Card
Applied Interest Rate • 19.99% on purchases (20.99% starting February 2020)
• 22.99% on funds advances
Annual Fee$120

#2 Pros & Cons Of The Amex AIR MILES Platinum Card

PROSCONS
• A welcome bonus of up to 3,500 miles that’s worth over three times the annual fee
• Excellent earn rate on everyday purchases
• Earn Air Miles twice on eligible purchases
• Includes insurance coverage even though it has a low annual fee
• Doesn’t give you a great overall return on purchases. Other Amex cards can give you more
• $750 cap on daily redeemable Cash miles (in-store or online)
• $30,000 Cap on the 1:5 earn rate
• Not too many travel perks

#3 Amex AIR MILES Platinum Benefit #1: The Welcome Bonus

The Amex Platinum AIR MILES card brings in a whopping welcome bonus of up to 3,500 air miles. The bonus is split in seven portions:

  • One big slice of 1,700 miles if you charge a minimum of $1,500 in purchases during your first three months of cardmembership
  • Six smaller monthly bonuses of up to 300 miles during the first six months.

The monthly bonuses are given as portions of 150 miles per every $500 in purchases, with a maximum of 300 miles every month. This brings the total welcome bonus to a whopping 3,500 miles.

As you’ll see in the section on how to use your miles, these miles are enough to buy a one-way ticket for a long-haul flight within Canada and most of continental USA with any of their airline partners.

If you’re not keen on scouting around for good deals on flights, how about making your own espresso at home with the new Nespresso machine.

If you’re not into this kind of home appliances or if you don’t like what AIR MILES has to offer in terms of merchandise, you can always trade them in for $370 worth of cash discounts on purchases at any AIR MILES partner. Since AIR MILES counts its partners by the hundreds, it’ll be very easy for you to find a way to use your miles on something you really need or like.

$370 worth of miles for just $120? That’s what I call return on investment.

Bonus: Get up to 20% off all merchandise and up to 40% off all flights with AIR MILES Onyx.

#4 Amex AIR MILES Platinum Benefit #2: Miles Earn Rate

Before diving into the Amex AIR MILES Platinum’s earning rate, there’s something I need to explain first:

A Different Way To Express Earning Rates

Earning rates in the AIR MILES Rewards program are expressed a bit differently from other programs. Instead of miles per every $1, they are expressed as the amount you have to spend on purchases to earn each mile. The reason is simple: These earning rates are a lot lower than for other rewards programs because AIR MILES Rewards miles are worth much more than all the other reward points. This makes Air Miles earning rates per every $1 be only small fractions of a mile, which is not a convenient way to express them.

To compare earning rates when expressed like this, you have to consider that the lower the number, the better the earning rate. If the amount of dollars is four times greater, the earning rate is four times lower.

Let me show you what I mean with the following example of a $140 purchase at different earning rates:

Earning Rate Total Purchase Miles Earned
$35 per 1 mile $140 $140 x 1mile / $35 = 4 miles
$20 per 1 mile $140 $140 x 1mile / $20 = 7 miles
$15 per 1 mile $140 $140 x 1mile / $15 = 9.33 miles
$10 per 1 mile $140 $140 x 1mile / $10 = 14 miles
$5 per 1 mile $140 $140 x 1mile / $5 = 28 miles

Comparing the first and last earn rates will clearly show what I just said: $5 per mile is seven times lower than $35, but you earn 28 miles, which is seven times greater than 4 miles.

This has some other setbacks apart from this unintuitive way to interpret the earning rate. The biggest problem is that you can’t add these earning rates when you earn more than one rate on the same purchase(something you can actually do with your Amex AIR MILES Platinum), but we’ll get back to that further down the post.

And now, The AIR MILES Platinum Credit Card’s Earn Rates

A great perk with the AIR MILES Platinum Card is its excellent earn rates:

You’ll get 1 mile for every $5 on food & drink and on gas & transit

This includes purchases in things like:

  • Restaurants, coffee shops and stand-alone grocery stores
  • Stand-alone gasoline stations in Canada
  • Local commuter transportation including ridesharing services and taxis.

This makes it very easy to get the best earning rate on common everyday expenses. For example, on a $60 super at a restaurant you would earn 12 air miles, which are worth at least $1.26 (a 2.1% return on your purchase)

The Cap On The 1:5 Earn Rate

One thing to look out for is that this earn rate is capped at $30,000 in purchases. Therefore, the maximum earning potential of this card at its top rate is 6,000 air miles, or $630.

1 mile for every $10 on all other purchases

This earn rate applies to any purchase outside the categories mentioned above, and it also applies to all purchases after you’ve capped out the 1:5 earn rate. In this case, a purchase of same $60 will get you only 6 miles.

Now, you may be wondering:

Are these good Earning Rates, or a bad ones?

Since they are expressed differently from the earning rates on other cards such as the Platinum, the Cobalt, or the Marriott BonvoyTM Amex cards, it’s a bit hard to compare these earning rates straight up. The answer to this problem is simple though: we just have to know how much the miles are really saving you on your purchase.

Suppose you made a $100 purchase at the 1 mile per $5 rate. That means you’ll receive 20 miles for your purchase. Valuated at an average of 10 cents per mile (we’ll explain why further down the post), those 20 miles are worth $2.

If you made the same $100 purchase at the 1 mile per $10 rate, you would earn 10 miles, which are worth $1.

So, basically, the most your AIR MILES Platinum Card is really giving you back is $2 on a $100 purchase, in other words, 2% back. To put things in perspective, that’s the same earn rate on the Amex SimplyCash Preferred Card, If you compare it with the Amex Platinum Card, it looks even worse. In its defense, however, 2% is still better than 0%, and this card has other benefits that help make it a good choice.

#5 Amex AIR MILES Platinum Benefit #3: The Annual Travel Redemption

This is a great long term benefit that will help offset the annual fee in the long run. Once per calendar year, when an eligible Cardmember uses Dream Miles with the AIR MILES Reward Program to book their first single flight or package vacation through the AIR MILES site or through their Vacations Site, they can get Bonus Miles equivalent to 25% of the net number of Miles used.

This benefit , of course, isn’t unlimited, and it’s capped at the first 750 bonus mile. You’ll be getting the most out of this benefit as long as you book travel or vacations worth at least 3,000 miles (not something hard to do). Any less, and you’ll be getting less than the maximum 750 miles.

#6 Amex Platinum AIR MILES Benefit #4: Optional Balance Transfer Offer

As a way to attract new members, Amex provides the Optional Balance Offer with the Platinum AIR MILES Card. To be eligible for this offer, the only condition is that you’re not already an Amex cardmember (i.e., you don’t own any charge or credit card issued by Amex Bank of Canada)

What Is The Optional Balance Transfer Offer?

This is an offer for new American Express cardmembers, who can opt to transfer their debts from other credit cards to the AIR MILES Platinum Card upon enrollment. As long as you don’t fall behind on your minimum payments, you’ll get a preferential interest rate of just 1.99% on all transferred balance during the first 6 months.

In short, it’s a way of helping Canadians pay off their debts by lowering the interest incurred because of the balance they carry every month. It’s like taking a low-interest loan with Amex to pay for your other credit cards.

Tablet depicting debt recovery text
Pay off your debts with other credit cards thanks to your new Amex membership and the American Express AIR MILES Platinum Card

This is the same offer made by Amex with the SimplyCash and SimplyCash Preferred cards. Just as in those two cases, the big pro of the AIR MILES Card’s offer is that Amex doesn’t charge a balance transfer fee.

How To Opt For The Balance Transfer

Considering that you’re not already an Amex cardmember and are, therefore, eligible for this offer, all you need to do is opt in for the offer when filling out your online application.

That being said, there’s a limit to how much balance you can transfer to your Amex AIR MILES Card account.

How Much Of My Balance Can I Transfer To My New American Express AIR MILES Card

The maximum amount you can transfer is limited to $7,500 or 50% of your assigned credit limit, whichever is smaller.

Let’s look at the numbers of three simple examples to show you how this works:

  • Suppose you have a balance of $2,000 and a credit limit of $6,000. In this case, since 50% of your credit limit is $3,000 and this number is smaller than $7,500, than you can transfer a maximum of $3,000. In this particular case, you could transfer your whole balance of $2,000.
  • Now suppose that you have a balance of $8,000 and a credit limit of $20,000 (50% of which being $10,000). In this case, you can’t transfer your whole balance, because it’s higher than $7500. Furthermore, since $7,500 is less than $10,000, then you can transfer a maximum of $7,500.
  • Finally, suppose you have a balance of $8,000 but a credit limit of just $10,000 (50% of which is $5,000). You obviously can’t transfer the whole $8,000 balance for the same reason as above. However, since $5,000 y less than $7,500, then in this case you can’t transfer $7,500 either. You can only transfer a maximum of the said $5,000.

When Should You Opt For The Balance Transfer Offer

One very important thing to consider is that after the low-interest promotional period of 6 months expires, any unpaid transferred balance will be subject to the current funds advance interest rate. As of today, this means that from under 2%, the interest rate jumps up to 22.99%.

That’s an over 10-fold increase in interest rate.

You’ll also immediately lose the low preferential rate and get the funds advance rate if you fall behind on your payments, even during the first six months. Additionally, if you fall behind again, you’ll lose that rate as well and get 26.99%. The bottom line is that it hurts to pay late.

I’ll summarize all this information into simple actionable advice.

You should only apply for the balance transfer if:

  • You’re financially responsible and never miss a payment, even if it is the bare minimum.
  • Your current interest rate is greater than 22.99%, no matter how long you plan to carry a balance
  • The current interest rate on your balance is greater than 1.99% but less than 22.99% but you think you can pay off the entire balance in 6 months or less.

You should definitely not apply for the balance transfer if:

  • You frequently find yourself missing payments or not paying the minimum on time.
  • If the current interest rate on your balance is actually lower than 1.99% (obviously)

If your current interest rate is lower than 22.99% but you can’t pay the debt by the end of six months, it may still make sense to transfer the balance to the AIR MILES Card from American Express. It all depends on the difference between the two interest rates, and how long you think it will take you to pay off the entire debt.

#7 Free Additional Amex AIR MILES Platinum Cards

An easy way to quickly build up you AIR MILES balance, is to get help from your closest friends or family members. You can share your credit with your loved ones easily by giving them a supplementary additional card.

With the Amex AIR MILES Platinum Card, you can get up to 9 additional cards, for FREE! You won’t pay a dime, and your loved ones will always have your purchasing power at hand, whenever they need it, even if you’re far away. This makes earning miles a lot faster than it used to be!

#8 Two Other Special AIR MILES Platinum Benefits

Special Benefit #1: Insider AccessTM

Insider AccessTM is about seeing your favorite artists LIVE, for FREE! A couple of times every year, Amex opens up a contest for American Express AIR MILES Cardmembers (sporting either the Amex AIR MILES, AIR MILES Platinum or AIR MILES Reserve credit card) so they get a chance to win free tickets to their favorite shows.

In some cases, you need to answer some skill-testing questions to enter the contest. You can also participate and enter more than once (usually limited to one entry per day) to increase your chances of winning.

To give you an idea of just how great the prizes are, the most recent contest was for two tickets to see Jennifer Lopez’s “It’s My Party” world tour in Canada. Last year, it was Shania Twain and Bon Jovi

Go to Jennifer Lopez's It's My Party world tour, thanks to your Amex AIR MILES Platinum Card's

To keep an eye out for the latest contest, just go to http://amexinsideraccess.ca to find out which event is coming up.

Special Benefit #2: Front Of The Line

Front of the line gives you access to many benefits regarding some of the most sought after concerts and special events. These benefits include

  • Getting advanced tickets before they are sold to the general public and
  • Access to reserved tickets so that you’ll always have an extra chance to buy them, even if they run out for everyone else.

Additionally, you get other perks as well on special venues and locations like at the Budwiser Stage where you can get in through a special priority line, and enjoy the show at the Amex lounge.

#9 A Closer Look At The AIR MILES Rewards Program

The AIR MILES Rewards program, as you may have imagined, is a loyalty program. However, there’s a clear difference between this loyalty program and others we’ve covered before such as Aeroplan, Membership Rewards and the Marriott BonvoyTM program. In those cases, the company that runs the program offers its products and services to loyal clients directly, and rewards them for their purchases. They also have a set of secondary partners who reward their customers under the same loyalty program.

A Different Sort Of Loyalty Program

The first difference is that the AIR MILES Rewards program is an independent loyalty program, in the sense that it’s not tied to a particular brand or merchant. AIR MILES is owned and run by LoyaltyOne Inc., a company that provides loyalty solutions to other companies in a B2B (business-to-business) model. They offer Canadian companies a platform on which to build their loyalty program under the same banner. It’s actually the partner companies who offer you reward miles, through LoyaltyOne Inc., for your purchases. This basically translates into two things:

  • Each partner merchant has its own rewarding scheme, depending on the terms in which it signed up with LoyaltyOne.
  • There are literally hundreds to thousands of merchants in Canada where you can shop and earn AIR MILES Rewards miles.
  • There are also hundreds of different ways to redeem your miles.

AIR MILES members are called Collectors, and when you sign up, you receive an AIR MILES Card, reminiscent of the Aeroplan Card you get when signing up to that loyalty program. Just like in the latter case, you show this card at eligible merchants to earn points on purchases, and you use this card to pay for eligible purchases with your miles (Note: Read below to learn how to use your miles).

#10 How To Earn Air Miles

There are plenty of ways for collectors to earn miles within the AIR MILES program. As a loyalty program, the first one is obvious: shopping at partner brands. However, the list doesn’t stop there, and you’ll see that the AIR MILES program has a lot more to offer. Of course, if you add in a brand new American Express AIR MILES Platinum Credit Card, you’ll multiply your options and increase your rewards.

Shopping at Partner Brands

As stated above, you can buy at any of AIR MILES Rewards’ partners and receive points for your purchases. This includes both in-store and online purchases. To earn your miles, all you have to do is present your collector’s card and you’re set.

In the following tables, you’ll find the complete list of all of AIR MILES Reward’s partners, along with each merchant’s miles offer.

AIR MILES In-Store Partners

• Ace ($20 per mile)
 • ADI ($50 per mile)
 • Alamo Rent-A-Car (5 miles per day of rental)
 • Auto Plus UniSelect
 • Best Western (20 miles per stay)
 • Budget Car & Truck Rental ($15 per mile)
 • Cedarlane Laboratories ($25 per mile)
 • Co-op Atlantic ($30 per mile)
 • Co-op Country Store ($30 per mile)
 • Craftsman Collision ($15 per mile)
 • FOODLAND ATLANTIC ($20 per mile)
 • Fountain Tire ($20 per mile)
 • Gerrie Electric ($30 per mile)
 • Gescan ($30 per mile)
 • Global Pet Foods ($20 per mile)
 • Goodyear ($20 per mile)
 • HearingLife Canada (N/A)
 • Hudson’s Bay Rewards (N/A)
• IGA (Excludes Quebec Stores) ($20 per mile)
 • IGA Express ($10 per mile)
• Intercontinental Hotel Groups (IHG)
    o  InterContinental Hotels and Resorts ($5 per mile)
    o  Crowne Plaza ($5 per mile)
    o  Hotel Indigo ($5 per mile)
    o  Holiday Inn ($5 per mile)
    o  Holiday Inn Express ($5 per mile)
    o  Staybridge Suites ($5 per mile)
    o  Candlewood Suites Hotel ($5 per mile)
 • Irving Oil (1 mile per 20L)
 • Jean Coutu ($15 per mile)
 • Jiffy Lube ($20 per mile)
 • Johnsons Insurance ($20 per mile)
 • Kent (N/A)
 • Lawtons Drugs ($20 per mile)
 • LCBO ($30 per mile)
 • Les Marchés Tradition ($20 per mile)
 • Lowes ($20 per mile)
 • Lumen ($30 per mile)
 • Lumino Health (100 bonus miles)
 • Macdonalds Consolidated (N/A)
• Manitoba Liquor Marts ($30 per mile)
 • Manulife (N/A, earn miles for your Quote)
 • Metrobus (N/A)
 • Metro ($20 per mile)
 • National Car Rental (10 to 40 miles per day of rental)
 • Needs (N/A)
 • Nettoyeurs Daoust ($10 per mile)
 • NLC Liquor Stores ($25 per mile)
 • NSLC (N/A)
 • OSSO Electrical ($30 per mile)
 • Pharmasave ($10 per mile)
 • Primus ($15 per mile)
 • Rachelle-Béry ($20 per mile)
 • Reno Depot ($20 per mile)
 • Rexall ($20 per mile)
 • RONA (Excludes ACE) ($20 per mile)
 • RSA ($20 per mile)
 • Safeway Grocery ($20 per mile)
 • Safeway Liquor ($20 per mile)
 • Safeway Pharmacy (7 miles for $20, conditions apply)
• SaskEnergy ($20 per mile)
 • Shell AVIATION ($25 per mile)
 • Shell Bulk Fuel (1 mile per 100L)
 • Shell Residential Heating Oil ($30 per mile, or 1 mile per 30L of oil)
 • Shell Retail ($10 in-store purchase per mile, or 1 mile per 15L of fuel)
 • Sobeys Atlantic ($20 per mile)
 • Sobeys Ontario ($20 per mile)
 • Sobeys Urban Fresh ($20 per mile)
 • Staples Canada ($40 per mile)
 • Thrifty Foods ($20 per mile)
 • Thrifty Foods Liquor ($20 per mile)
 • TIMBER Mart ($15 per mile)
 • United Van Lines ($30 per mile)

AIR MILES Online Partners

• Addition Elite ($20 per mile)
 • ALDO Canada ($20 per mile)
 • Allposters.com ($20 per mile)
 • Amazon Canada ($20 per mile)
 • Anthropology ($20 per mile)
 • Apple Store Canada ($20 per mile)
 • Ardene ($20 per mile)
 • ArrivalGuides ($35 per mile)
 • ArrivalGuides at Cost Travel Club ($35 per mile)
 • Art.com ($20 per mile)
 • Backcountry ($20 per mile)
 • Banana Republic Canada ($20 per mile)
 • Barnes and Noble ($20 per mile)
 • Bed Bath & Beyond ($20 per mile)
 • Bench ($20 per mile)
 • Best Western Hotels & Resorts ($20 per mile)
 • Bloomingdale’s ($20 per mile)
 • Blue nine ($20 per mile)
 • Bobbi Brown ($20 per mile)
 • Bogs Footwear ($20 per mile)
 • Bowflex ($20 per mile)
 • Buffalo David Bitton ($20 per mile)
 • Canada Post ($20 per mile)
 • Candlewood Suites ($20 per mile)
 • Canon ($20 per mile)
 • Clinique ($20 per mile)
 • Club Monaco Canada ($20 per mile)
 • Competitive Cyclist ($20 per mile)
 • Crocs ($20 per mile)
 • Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts ($20 per mile)
 • Dell.ca ($20 per mile)
 • Dell.ca Small Business ($20 per mile)
• Designer Shoe Warehouse ($20 per mile)
 • Dynamite ($20 per mile)
 • Dyson Canada ($20 per mile)
 • eBay.com ($20 per mile)
 • Expedia ($35 per mile)
 • EXPRESS ($20 per mile)
 • Footlocker ($20 per mile)
 • Forever 21 Canada ($20 per mile)
 • Forzieri Canada ($20 per mile)
 • French Connection Canada ($20 per mile)
 • Gap Canada ($20 per mile)
 • Garage.ca ($20 per mile)
 • GLOBOShoes.com ($20 per mile)
 • Groupon ($20 per mile)
 • Holiday Inn Hotels & Resorts ($20 per mile)
 • Holiday Inn Express ($20 per mile)
 • Hotel Indigo ($20 per mile)
 • Hotels.com ($35 per mile)
 • HP Canada ($20 per mile)
 • Hudson’s Bay ($20 per mile)
 • Indigo.ca ($20 per mile)
 • Intercontinental Hotels & Resorts ($20 per mile)
 • J.Crew ($20 per mile)
 • JC Penniy ($20 per mile)
 • Keurig Canada ($20 per mile)
 • Kobo ($20 per mile)
 • Lacoste Canada ($20 per mile)
 • Lands’ End ($20 per mile)
 • Le Château ($20 per mile)
 • Lego Shop ($20 per mile)
 • Lenovo ($20 per mile)
 • Lids.ca ($20 per mile)
• LL Bean ($20 per mile)
 • Mackage ($20 per mile)
 • Macys.com ($20 per mile)
 • Madewell ($20 per mile)
 • Marciano ($20 per mile)
 • Mark’s ($20 per mile)
 • Matt & Nat ($20 per mile)
 • Miscrosoft Store Canada ($20 per mile)
 • Minted. ($20 per mile)
 • Murad ($20 per mile)
 • Neiman Marcus ($20 per mile)
 • NewEgg.ca ($20 per mile)
 • Nike ($20 per mile)
 • Norton by Symantec ($20 per mile)
 • Origins ($20 per mile)
 • Orvis ($20 per mile)
 • Overstock.com ($20 per mile)
 • Penningtons ($20 per mile)
 • Priceline.com ($35 per mile)
 • Proactive+ ($20 per mile)
 • Quicksilver ($20 per mile)
 • Reitmans ($20 per mile)
 • REVOLVEClothing.com ($20 per mile)
 • Roots ($20 per mile)
 • Rosetta Stone ($20 per mile)
 • ROXY Canada ($20 per mile)
 • Royal Canadian Mint ($20 per mile)
• Saks Fifth Avenue ($20 per mile)
 • Sephora ($20 per mile)
 • Shoes.com ($20 per mile)
 • Shopbop ($20 per mile)
 • Sierra Trading Post ($20 per mile)
• SOIA & KIO ($20 per mile)
 • Sole Society ($20 per mile)
 • Spafinder Wellness 365 ($20 per mile)
 • Sport Check ($20 per mile)
 • Sport Experts ($20 per mile)
 • Staybridge Suites ($20 per mile)
 • Steve Madden ($20 per mile)
 • StrawberryNET ($20 per mile)
 • Suzy Shiar ($20 per mile)
 • The Body Shop Canada ($20 per mile)
 • The Shoe Company ($20 per mile)
 • TOMS Canada ($20 per mile)
 • TurboTax Canada (N/A)
 • Vistaprint ($20 per mile)
 • WagJag ($20 per mile)
 • Wayfair ($20 per mile)
 • WaySpa Gift Card ($20 per mile)
 • Weight Watchers Canada ($20 per mile)
 • YvesRocher.com ($20 per mile)

When comparing the different earning rates in the tables, it’s clear that you’ll get the best deals with hotels stays and purchases. The absolute best earning rate is 1 mile for every $5 at any of the InterContinental Hotels Group properties. The worst-case scenario would be ADI, where you’ll need to spend $50 to earn a single mile.

In the case of online stores and retailers, most offer a rate of $20 in purchases for every mile, but a few fetch a higher price of $35.

Double-Dipping: Earn AIR MILES Rewards Miles Twice With Your Amex AIR MILES Platinum Card

How does this work? It’s beyond easy! As a collector (read AIR MILES Rewards member), you’re entitled to earn miles on every purchase at partner brands, as we just showed you. But as an American Express AIR MILES Platinum cardholder, you’ll also get 1 mile for every $5 of the same purchase, no matter how much that merchant awards. This is because, in the second case, it’s Amex that’s rewarding you for your card purchase, not the merchant.

Put two and two together, and you’re earning miles twice when you show your AIR MILES Card AND you pay with your Amex AIR MILES Platinum.

Finding out how this adds up isn’t that hard, but, reader beware, it’s not as simple as adding earning rates like you may intuit. Remember that earning rates in the AIR MILES program are expressed differently from the other cases!

Let’s look at a simple example so that you’ll learn to work out your own numbers:

Buying a $600 laptop at Amazon.ca

Ok, so Amazon.ca is in the list of AIR MILES sponsors. This means that by paying for your laptop with your Amex AIR MILES Platinum Card, you’ll earn miles twice. But at what rate?

Reviewing past sections of this post, you’ll get 1 miler for every $10 thanks to your Amex card + 1 mile for every $20 awarded by Amazon.ca, through the AIR MILES program.

The first mistake you might be tempted to make is to assume that this adds up to a rate of $30 for every mile, but it doesn’t work that way. Remember that the higher the number, the worse the rate, so $30 to earn a mile is actually worse than any of the two original cases.

One way to work it out is to figure out how many miles you get with each rate, and THEN add the miles:

Purchase Value: $600
Miles earned with your card purchase: $600 x 1mil/$10 = 60 miles
Miles earned for the sponsor purchase: $600 x 1mil/$20 = 30 miles
TOTAL: 90 miles

There is an alternate way to work out a sort of average earning rate, but this method is by far easier to understand. The bottom line, though, is that the Amex AIR MILES Platinum Card can help you get a lot more for every buck, compared to regular collectors.

Earn Miles On Any Purchase With An Amex AIR MILES Card

Nothing new here. With any one of American Express’ different AIR MILES credit cards (not just with the Platinum), you’ll earn miles on any purchase. There’s always a preferential rate for buying at AIR MILES sponsors and other eligible purchases, and a lower rate for all other purchases.

However, the bottom line is simple enough: every time you use your card, you’ll earn miles!

Special Rewards: Booking Hotel Stays Through AIR MILES Travel Hub

As a special offer, if you book and pay for hotels through AIR MILES’ online travel booking system, Travel Hub, you could earn as much as 1,000 Miles per night, depending on the property. Additionally, if you book any hotel before the end of 2019, you’ll also receive an extra, one-time 75 miles bonus.

With this method, you could get some seriously high earning rates. If you book a room at the Boston Park Plaza, for example, paying the $190 would get you, at the normal rate of $5 to a mile:  $190 x 1mile/$5 = 38 miles.

However, if you book through travel hub, you’ll receive 440 miles per night.

That’s over ten times what you would get, just for booking through their travel service!

By the way, if you pay with your American Express AIR MILES Platinum Card, you’ll also get an extra 19 miles, which doesn’t hurt at all!

Way to go AIR MILES Rewards, and way to go Amex!

Buying AIR MILES Rewards Miles

Picture this scenario:

You want to use the miles you’ve been earning on a dream vacation in a beautiful resort, but you’re short by some miles. AIR MILES doesn’t offer split cash/miles redemptions, so you only have two options:

  1. Either you pay the full price in cash, or,
  2. You have to get those extra miles somehow.

There’s one other way to get miles for cases just like this one: You can buy them.

As a last resort, since AIR MILES allows collectors to transfer miles between each other, you could always ask your best friend to give you a hand.

#11 How To Use Your Miles

Here I’ll highlight another oddity of AIR MILES Rewards: you don’t have one, but actually two AIR MILES balances, depending on how you want to redeem them.

Two Redemption Methods, Two AIR MILES Balances: Cash Rewards And Dream Rewards

As I said, there are two ways to redeem miles. One is for discounts on direct in-store or online purchases at partner brands, and the other is the more familiar set of rewards you can choose from in the AIR MILES site.

The air miles you earn are automatically split between two balances: your Cash Balance, and  your Dream Balance. Miles that go to your cash balance are called Cash Miles, whereas the ones that go to your dream balance are called Dream Miles. When you sign up to AIR MILES, and at any time in the future, you can choose what portion of the miles that you earn you want to go to each of the two balances (in 10% increments), but make note that, once in one balance, miles can’t be transferred to the other.

Cash Balance for Cash Rewards

You use your cash miles to pay for Cash Rewards. As I just mentioned, those Cash Rewards get you discounts at AIR MILES sponsors, either in physical stores or online.

The way it works for in-store purchases is by presenting your Collector’s Card or number at checkout, and letting the cashier know that you want to pay with Cash Miles. You have to pay a minimum of $10 in cash (before taxes) and then you can choose how much of a discount you want, in $10 increments.

You trade in 95 air miles for every $10 in discounts. There’s a cap on this redemption method, and you can only reach a maximum of $750 in accumulated discounts each day.

In Canada, cash rewards are an especially versatile redemption method, because, as you saw above, there are literally hundreds of partners at which you can spend your miles. Additionally, it’s the easiest possible way to use your miles, since all you have to do is give your card and choose how many miles you want to trade in. It’s kind of like having $10 coupons redeemable for any purchase whatsoever.

Online redemptions are a bit different, as you have to log into your AIR MILES profile and order $10 virtual coupons or e-Vouchers, which you then use at participating online stores.

Dream Rewards

Dream Rewards are the more traditional way to use miles. They work like any other loyalty rewards redemption you’ve come across in the past, in the sense that you pay the whole price of different rewards exclusively with your miles, and you choose those rewards by logging into your collector’s account in the AIR MILES website.

There are four Dream Rewards redemption categories:

  • Merchandise
  • Events and attractions
  • Stage Passes
  • Travel

 You can choose hundreds to thousands of different redemptions from within these categories. Anything from a new microwave oven and that concert you’ve been dreaming of since you heard it was coming, to flights around the world and stays at 5-star hotels.

Some of these categories offer better value than others, but it’s sure great to have options.

AIR MILES has 15 partner airlines with which you can redeem your miles for flights. These partners are:

  • Westjet
  • Air Canada
  • Porter Airlines
  • Delta Airlilnes
  • KLM
  • AIRFRANCE
  • Alitalia
  • Air New Zealand
  • PAL Airlines
  • American Airlines
  • British Airways
  • Iberia
  • Canadian North
  • CalmAir
  • Central Mountain Air

It also partnered with five of the best hotel chains in the world, giving you access to literally thousands and thousands of dream hotels around the world. AIR MILES’ hotel partners include:

  • Best Western Hotels & Resorts
  • Hilton Honors
  • InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG)
  • Marriott Hotels, Resorts & Suites
  • Starwood Hotels & Resorts

#12 How Much Are My AIR MILES Worth

As usual, miles value depends on how you redeem them. With AIR MILES Rewards Miles, there’s also the issue of two different kinds of miles, but since you can choose to which balance you want your miles to go, we’ll consider them as equal.

 Let’s look at some examples and numbers to see the best way to spend your miles:

Cash Miles’ Value

This is the easiest to assess value of any loyalty rewards points. There’s only one redemption value for cash miles: You trade in 95 miles for a $10 cash discount coupon.

This translates to a value of:

$10 / 95 miles = $0.105 or 10.5 cents for each mile.

As you can see, air miles are worth close to 10 times more than other loyalty points like the Marriott BonvoyTM points, for example, which are worth close to 1 cent per point.

Dream Miles’ Value

Here, we’ll analyze each individual Dream category separately, much like we did before with the Aeroplan miles:

Merchandise Dream Rewards:

In the merchandise category, you can choose from electronics, home, kitchen and cooking, garden, kids and many more sub-categories where you’ll find all sorts of products to meet your every whim.

You can buy a $1.250 cell phone for an average 20,000 miles or a $1,500 4K 65” TV for around 22,000 miles.

At this rate, each Mile is worth about 7 cents, or $0.07. That’s not a great value considering that you can get over 10 cents from cash miles, which are easier to redeem and offer even more flexibility.

Events, Attractions, and Stage Passes:

You can use your dream miles to purchase tickets for major events, concerts and different attractions. In this category you could redeem about 1,800 miles for a pair of tickets to a concert that are worth close to $200. In some cases, the reward even includes other perks like beverages, or complimentary valet parking and the like, which further increases the value you get for each mile.

Things start looking up, as with this kind of redemption you could easily get 10 to 12 cents per mile.

Using Your Miles For Flights

When redeeming your dream miles for flights, you’ll be spending a minimum of 1,200 miles and a maximum of 20,000. The 1,200 miles minimum is for flights within your own state or province during the low season, traveling in economy class. Of course, you have to choose a carrier from within the airline partners list.

Let’s look at a couple of typical case-studies:

Visiting Relatives In The Same Province: Flying from Toronto to Ottawa:

Looking at the AIR MILES redemption chart, you’ll see that this trip will cost you a minimum of 1,200 miles during the low season. The least this trip will cost, according to Google flights, is $230 for the round trip, or $115 for the one-way fare, flying with Porter Airlines, one of AIR MILES partners, as you can see in the image below:

Google Flights graph for airfare prices from Toronto to Ottawa during the low season. showing the lowest price of $230 for the round trip
Google flights price graph for a Toronto-Ottawa round trip

With a price tag of $115 per trip, the 1,200 miles reach an average value of j 9.6 cents each.

Going Far Away: Flying from Ontario to Sydney, Australia

A good example of a big flight is going from Toronto to Sydney. During the High season (December 21st), this flight will cost you 19,000 dream miles. The lowest fare, according to Google flights, is $1,833, giving you a value, again, of just over 9.6 cents per mile.

Google Flights graph for airfare prices from Ontario to Sydney during the high season. showing the highest price of $1833 for December 21st
Across-the-world trip in high season: From Ontario to Sydney on christmas

Booking Hotel Stays With Dream Miles:

Not only are hotel stays and purchases the best category to earn miles, but they’re also a good place to spend them. On most cases, you’ll find deals that’ll get you around 9 or 10 cents per mile, but on some other deals, you’ll do a lot better. One example is a night at the InterContinental Residence Suites in Dubai, where you have to pay 955 miles + $40 in taxes and fees for a 1-night stay in mid-September, in a standard Deluxe room, as you can see in the image below.

An example of a hotel booking with miles in the AIR MILES site. Picture features the InterContinental Residence Suites Dubai
Booking a 5-star hotel in Dubai with your Dream miles

If you were to book it in cash, the same room on the same date would cost $151, taxes and fees included. That means your 955 miles are saving you $111 and thus, are worth almost 12 cents a piece.

The Bottom Line On Air Miles Value:

Now that we’ve seen all the redemption categories and the value you can get out of every mile in each case, here’s some easy to follow advice on how to get the most out of every mile:

  • It’s better to use your miles for cash rewards because it’s were you’ll get a good and consistent value
  • If you prefer dream rewards, than spend your dream miles only on hotel stays or on special events. It’s where you’ll get the best value.
  • Even if you follow the previous advice, do the math every time you plan to redeem your miles and make sure you’re getting a good deal.
  • Just because AIR MILES’s site says something is a great once-in-a-lifetime deal or opportunity doesn’t mean that it is. Always do the math first like I showed you here.

In any case, as you just saw, the value of each miles will go from about 6 to 12 cents ($0.06 to $0.12/mile). However, the best estimate we can make, the one that will always hit the bullseye, is the Cash miles value of 10.5 cents or $0.105 per mile.

#13 The AIR MILES Platinum Card’s Insurance Coverage

Even though the AIR MILES Platinum fee is small, that doesn’t mean it won’t bring travel and purchase coverage. However, don’t be mislead by the name of the card, because its coverage is nothing like the Amex Platinum Insurance. The following table shows the coverage you’ll get when you sign up to the AIR MILES Platinum Credit Card.

Policy Description Coverage
Car Rental Theft and Damage Insurance Used to waive the rental company’s own daily car insurance policy Car rental with a maximum MSRP of $85,000
$100,000 Travel Accident Insurance AD&D policy to protect you against accidents while in transit $100,000

Of the two policies, the most valuable is hands down the Car Rental Theft and Damage policy, because you can use it to save yourself the rental company’s policy every time you rent a car. That policy can run for about $16 to $23 per day!

The only condition is that you charge everything to your Amex AIR MILES Platinum Card, as usual.

Apart from these travel insurance policies, the Amex AIR MILES Platinum also comes with the standard Amex purchase coverage:

Policy Description Coverage
Purchase Protection® Plan Insures your purchases against accidental physical damage and theft for 90 days after purchase $1,000
Buyer’s Assurance® Protection Plan Doubles the manufacturer’s warranty for up to 1 extra year $1,000

It’s nice to know that Amex always has your back, even with its ower end cards.

#14 Is The AIR MILES Platinum Credit Card Worth The Annual Fee?

As it happens with all Amex cards, the first year is an absolute no-brainer, as usual. For starters, the fee isn’t that high at just $120, so it doesn’t take much to outweigh it. The welcome bonus alone is worth at least three times as much, so you don’t even have to think about it before signing up for the first time.

Keeping it after the bonus runs out is another matter. It all comes down to your lifestyle. Every American Express rewards card, like this one, is a clear deal if you use it frequently to pay for your purchases. However, even if you don’t use them every day for whatever reason, some cards also offer great value just for keeping them in your pocket.

Let’s look at how the Amex AIR MILES Card performs on both fronts:

Turning The Tide For The Long Haul

There will always be a turning point in which the card’s return on your purchases surpasses the annual fee. After you reach that amount, every other dollar you spend will only bring you profit. We’ll show you a very conservative estimate of the minimum amount in purchases you have to charge to your American Express AIR MILES Platinum Card every year, in order to recover the $120 annual fee.

First, we need to know how many miles you must earn to cover the $120 fee. To keep numbers simple, we’ll round up each miles value to 10 cents or $0.10. Let’s get started:

To get a value of $120 in miles, you need:

$120 / $0.10 per mile = 1,200 miles

Estimating An Average Earning Rate

In order to convert these 650 miles into purchases, we need to know what your average-earning rate throughout the year will be. To calculate this average, we’ll assume that you split your spending half-and-half between both of the earning rates, which is a fair assumption.

We’ll start by assuming a $100 purchase split evenly on both earning rates. That means $50 @ $5 per mile + $50 @ $10 per mile

The total amount of miles you’ll earn in this case will be:

($50 x 1mile / $5)  +  ($50 x 1mile / $10) = 15 miles for the entire $100 purchase

Therefore, your Average Earning Rate will be:

$100 / 15 miles = $6.67 for each mile

The Break-Even Point

With the average earning rate, it’s easy to find how much you have to spend to earn 1,200 miles, and so, the needed $120:

1,200 miles x $6.67 /1 mile = $8,000 in purchases

THE BOTTOM LINE: For the Amex AIR MILES Platinum Card, the break-even point sits at $8,000 in purchases.

You can definitely get a better value than $0.10 per mile (as we explained before), and you could probably reach more than 50% spending at the best rate. Therefore, it’s highly probable that you’ll need less than the estimated $8,000 in purchases. Either way, it won’t be a meager sum, and you’ll get a lot more benefits and return if you charge those same purchases to other Amex cards, like Canada’s best every-day spending card, the Cobalt Credit Card. So regarding card use, the Amex AIR MILES Platinum is probably not your best choice.

What About The Other Long-Term Benefits?

Ok, so getting your annual fee back just for using your card is doable, but it isn’t easy. However, this card comes with other benefits that may give you a head start or even get you past the finishing line. Of all the benefits that this card offers for $120 a year, the one that has the most potential value is, without a doubt, the annual travel redemption, which is worth 750 miles, or around $75, leaving short only by $45.

After this benefit, the runner up in terms of potential value is the Car Rental Insurance policy.

Since damage or theft policies for an $85,000 car rental can go for as high as $23/day (with an average of roughly $20/day), the American Express AIR MILES Platinum Card can help you save more than the missing $45 in a single 2 or 3-day car rental. Add in Travel Accident and Purchase Protection insurance, Front of the Line, Insider Access and everything else, and you’ll easily be in green numbers.

Summarizing this section, the Amex Platinum AIR MILES Card is a great choice for the first year, as are all Amex Cards. It will keep on being a good choice after that, so long as you either charge more than $8,000 in purchases to it, or use it to pay for four or more days of car rentals during each year.

#15 FAQs

How Do I Protect My Cash Balance Against Unauthorized Use?

All you have to do is log into your AIR MILES profile and lock your cash account. That way no one will be able to use your cash miles (not even you) until you unlock them. If you download the AIR MILES app, you’ll be able to lock/unlock your Cash Balance anywhere, anytime. Consequently, you can keep your account locked all the time, and only unlock it once you’re at the cashier.

If My Account Is Locked, Will I Still Earn Miles?

Yes, you will. Locking your account only stops cash miles from going out of your account, but it doesn’t stop them from going in. You can keep your account locked all the time and only unlock it when you’re about to pay with your miles.

Scotia Gold Amex: A Review

The Scotiabank Gold American Express Card

Does an all-rounder daily spending card for Canadians exist? Or is it a myth? The Scotiabank Gold American Express Card could be your answer. It does come with an annual fee of $120 but the perks are lucrative with top point earn rates for your daily needs and varied redemption choices from travel to Apple products. Here is our review of the Scotiabank Gold Amex Card. Take a look and decide if this card is for you.

Great news! Scotiabank has recently improved the features and benefits that come with the Scotiabank Gold Amex Card for Canadians, to make it a lot more worthwhile to hold. The great thing is that Scotiabank is aware of the existing benefits available to consumers and is matching up to them. Not only is the card great for millennials, it’s also a more affordable option for the senior generation above 65 years of age. 

In this Scotiabank Gold American Express Card review you will find:

The Scotiabank Gold Amex Card’s Features & Benefits

Card TypeCredit card
Welcome BonusUp to 30,000 SR points
Annual Fee • $120
$79 if cardholder is above 65 years old
Purchase Interest rate19.99%
Cash Advance interest rate22.99%
Foreign Transaction FeeNone
Minimum Credit Limit$5,000
Supplementary cards  • $29/year
$15/year if primary cardholder is above 65 years old
Earn Rates • 5X on Grocery & Dining
• 5X on Entertainment
• 3X on Gas & Daily Transit
• 3X on Select Streaming
• 1X on everything else
Comprehensive Travel Insurance
Airport Lounge Access
Concierge Service

Benefit #1: No Foreign Transaction Fees

This card is pretty great to use locally within Canada, but Scotiabank has made it cheaper to use on any foreign expense including online purchases or when travelling abroad, thanks to its 0% foreign transaction fee. This makes it equally great to use overseas. 

Credit cards generally impose a standard 2.5% fee on foreign transactions, so this is a benefit that makes the Scotiabank Gold a great option for travelling cardholders. The only cost involved when using your Scotia Gold Amex abroad, is the currency conversion rate from the currency charged to Canadian dollars.

Benefit #2 : The Scotia Gold Amex Welcome Bonus

Once you get the Scotia Gold Amex, there is an $120 annual fee. But by signing up to this card for the first time, you will receive 25,000 Scotia Rewards points after you charge $1,000 to the card within the first 3 months upon the card receival.  You can get an additional 5,000 Scotia Rewards points if you make purchases worth $10,000 within the first 12 months of cardmembership. 

How much are Scotia Rewards points worth?

Each SR point is worth approximately $0.01. As such, the whopping 25,000 SR points bonus is worth $250 in redemptions. Add in the extra 5,000 SR points, and you’re up to $300! And that’s as easy as using them for a statement credit!

Sure, you only get the bonus once and only after the first three months, but let’s not forget you are earning points as you spend as well. If you swipe your card for the higher point earn rates, as listed in the table above, you are bound to earn way more points along the way. Read on below for more details on the purchase categories eligible for the 5x and 3x earn rates.

What about additional cards?

To further enhance the number of points you can earn, you can request supplementary cards to accumulate the total points earned by the primary and supplementary cardholders of the same account. The cost of supplementary cards are different for primary cardholders 65 and above, and for those 64 and below, being $15/year and $29/year respectively.

If you compare the benefits that come with this card to other options, you’ll see that, in most cases, additional cards cost around $50/year each. This makes even the $29 fee for supplementary Scotia Gold Amex Cards a bargain.

The Scotiabank Rewards System (Scotia Rewards points) 

Scotia Rewards is Scotiabank’s loyalty program, and its loyalty points are known as Scotia Rewards points. Scotia Rewards (SR) points are earned upon purchases charged to Scotiabank cards like the Gold Amex. You can track the points you earn via your statements or online, anytime at scotiarewards.com. One neat feature about Scotia Rewards points, is that they’ll never expire as long as you are a cardholder. 

How to Earn Scotia Rewards Points With The Scotiabank Gold Amex

Here is a breakdown of the Scotia Rewards points you can get by applying for and using your Scotiabank Gold.

Welcome Bonus
(For new applicants)
25,000 Scotia Rewards points 
as long as 
a) You apply by December 30, 2019
b) You charge $1,000 to the Scotiabank Amex Gold card within the first three months of cardmembership
5,000 Additional Scotia Rewards points 
if you charge $10,000 in purchases to your card within the first year of use. 
Eat In, Eat Out (Grocery & Dining Bonus)Earn 5x Scotia Rewards points for every $1 spent on eligible grocery stores, supermarkets, eating places/restaurants, drinking places, and fast food restaurants and delivery of food as a primary business.
Watch & Cheer (Entertainment Rewards)Earn 5x Scotia Rewards points for every $1 spent on
• Eligible Motion Picture Theaters
Theatrical Producers
Ticket Agencies, Bands, Orchestras and Miscellaneous Entertainers 
Ride & Drive (Gas & Daily Transit Bonus)
Earn 3x Scotia Rewards points for every $1 spent on
Gas Service Stations (with or without Ancillary Services)
Automated Fuel Dispensers
Local and Suburban Commuter Passenger Transportation, including Ferries, Passenger Railways, Taxicabs and Limousines, Bus Lines, Transportation Services (Not elsewhere Classified) 
Listen & Stream (Select Streaming Bonus)Earn 3xScotia Rewards points for every $1 spent on eligible select streaming services (excluding gaming). Eligible streaming services are always subject to change.
All Other PurchasesEarn 1x Scotia Rewards point for every $1 spent on purchases anywhere else

Do take note that the accelerated earn rates for 5x and 3x Scotia Rewards points is applicable for purchases in Canadian dollars (CAD) only. Also, these earn rates are limited to the first $50,000 spent each calendar year (January through December). This means that you can potentially earn anything from 150,000 to 250,000 SR points in the previously mentioned purchase categories.

After you reach that cap, you will receive 1x Scotia Rewards on all purchases whatsoever.

How Good Are The Scotia Rewards points?

Scotia Rewards points can be redeemed for rewards in different categories like travel, entertainment and statement credits.

Of course, the value varies depending on the category, but to make it simple, 10,000 SR points are equivalent to $100 in travel value, giving each point a valuation of 1 cent apeace, or $0.01. It depends on what is best suited for your lifestyle. 

Details on redemptions are available on the Scotia Rewards website, but we’ll give you a brief description of what you can do with your points in the following section.

ScotiaRewards loyalty program ad

How To Redeem Scotia Rewards Points

Travel

You can access the Scotia Rewards Travel Service through scotiarewards.com, to to use your points and save on travel expenses. 

Be it any form of travel – airfare, railroads, cruises, etc. – there are different ways to use your card to get the best possible deal.

You can:

  1. Pay for the entire trip arrangements with your points: If your points balance (visible at scotiarewards.com) is sufficient to fund your trip cost, you can go ahead and redeem them so, including taxes and surcharge fees.
  2. Combine points and cash: Short a few points? Want to save some for later? You can pay part of your travel arrangements with your points and charge the rest to your card.

If you find yourself confused on how to best optimize your points with the Scotia Travel service, you can always make use of the 24/7 concierge service that comes free of charge with the Scotiabank Gold American Express Card. 

What if you don’t have enough points for either of the two options above? 

You can always use your card to cover the full amount of your travel. That way, you’ll earn rewards points for every Canadian dollar you spend. What’s more, you can enjoy the extensive insurance coverage that comes with your card, provided you charge a minimum of 75% of your total travel expenses to your Scotiabank Gold Amex card. More details on the insurance coverage below.

It all boils down to using your card wisely to reap the amazing benefits and get the most value from the money you spend.

Convert to SCENE points

Get entertained with motion pictures for free! You can convert your Scotia Rewards points to SCENE points or your SCENE points to Scotia Rewards points instantly online, anytime you want. It works both ways which makes it amazingly flexible. 

Enjoying the latest movie premieres with the Scotia Gold Amex
Enjoy the latest movie premieres with the Scotia Gold Amex

You must convert a minimum of 1,000 points per conversion, and you can convert points up to a maximum of 4 times within a 24 hour period. 

There are still more rewards… 

You can shop at their online catalogue using your points. Point redemptions are allowed from merchandise from Apple and Best Buy catalogues. 

Otherwise, you could redeem your points for a credit towards your card account with the Statement Credit option.

For more details on the Scotia Rewards, you can view the Scotiabank Gold Amex membership terms and condition 

Benefit #3: Airport Lounge Access

As a Scotia Gold Amex cardholder, you have a preferred discount of 35% off on the Standard Priority Pass membership. Instead of the regular $99 USD that this membership costs, you’ll be paying close to $64 USD, or approximately $85 CAD, after the discount. This means that having this card in your pocket could save you close to $50 every year.

With the Priority Pass membership, you’ll be granted access to over 1300 lounges globally! 

If you have never tried airport lounges before, you’re in for a treat! Picture having complimentary food, a relaxing massage chair, and peace and quiet in a luxurious ambience before your flight.

Gain access to the SkyTeam lounge at Vancouver International Airport thanks to the Scotia Gold Amex
SkyTeam Lounge at Vancouver International Airport

Once you’ve tried airport lounges before take off, your flight experience will never be the same. What’s more, Priority Pass is one of the largest lounge clubs in the world, which means you’re almost sure to find one to relax in at any destination you are flying from. 

Not much of a traveller? No problem. The Scotia Gold Amex is just as useful to use for your daily lifestyle.

Benefit #4: Scotia Rewards Concierge

At the tap of your fingers on your mobile phone, you can easily have up to date info on anything involved with your card purchases with the Scotia Rewards personal concierge service.

Be it finding the best rated cuisine of your choice, scouting the perfect location for your next vacation or even inquiries on a new active pursuit – scuba diving, horseback riding, etc. – let the Scotia concierge specialists assist you for FREE. 

What’s more – the service is available 24/7!

Benefit #5 : Scotia Gold Amex Insurance Coverage

Scotia Gold Amex Cardholders receive an impressive insurance package that comes with the card at no extra charge; it is covered by the annual fee, along with all the other sweet benefits that come with the Scotia Gold Amex.

This comprehensive insurance package is so great, in fact, that it even includes Trip Interruption Insurance, which is a policy that usually only comes with premium Amex cards such as the Platinum Card, or the AeroplanPlus Reserve Card. The big difference is that those cards cost 6-8 times more than this one.

Here is a breakdown of the insurance you are entitled to as a Scotia Gold Amex Cardholder:

Travel Emergency Medical InsuranceUp tp $1,000,000 
for you, your spouse, any dependent children, any additional cardmember, for any number of trips with a maximum duration of 25 days.
**for ages 65 and above, coverage is up to 3 days. 
Travel Accident InsuranceUp tp $500,000 
for you, your spouse and children in the case of accidental death or dismemberment while traveling
Flight Delay InsuranceUp to $500 
per insured person during the period of a delayed flight or missed connection which lasts four hours or more 
Delayed and Lost Baggage InsuranceUp to $1000
for coverage against the loss or the delay (within four (4) hours from your time of arrival at your final destination.) of your checked luggage.
Hotel/Motel Burglary InsuranceUp to $1000
as long as your lodgings were paid with your Scotia Gold Amex Card.
Rental Car Collision Loss/Damage InsuranceWaive the vehicle rental company’s own insurance policy for full payment by Scotia Gold Amex
provided rental period cannot exceed 48 consecutive days and vehicles costing over $65,000 are not covered.
Trip Cancellation InsuranceUp to $1500 per person for eligible expenses (maximum $10,000 per trip
for you, your spouse, one travelling companion, any dependent children, when you charge at least 75% of such trip expenses to your Scotia Gold Amex Card
Trip Interruption InsuranceUp to $1500 per person for eligible expenses (maximum $10,000 per trip
for you, your spouse, one travelling companion, any dependent children, when you charge at least 75% of such trip expenses to your Scotia Gold Amex Card
Purchase Security & Extended Warranty ProtectionAutomatically insured against theft loss or damage for purchases fully charged to your Scotia Gold Amex Card
Doubles the manufacturer’s warranty for up to one extra year, on any purchase paid in full with your Scotia Gold Amex Card

Benefit #6: American Express Invitee & Front of the Line

Access to Amex Invites & Front of the Line with the Scotiabank Gold American Express Card

Yes – you are now a part of the exclusive American Express event invite list. As per the Front of The Line privileges you are entitled to, you have access to pre-sale tickets to some of the most in-demand concerts, theatre productions, restaurants, and special events before the general public.

You can also enjoy reserved tickets from a block of seats reserved exclusively for American Express during the public on-sale period for many major events.

Is the $120 Annual Fee Worth The Benefits?

As steep as the annual fee may sound, the welcome bonus alone (25,000+5,000 points) gets you at a surplus, as it is worth at least $300 (for travel redemption). Considering that the welcome bonus is a one time benefit, you might be wondering whether the Scotiabank Gold Amex card maintains its sustainability in the long run, and it does.

The insurance alone can save you hundreds of dollars if you travel at least once every year, and the discount on the Priority Pass membership can save you almost $50 every year, so these benefits alone outbalance the annual fee.

However, the biggest long-term potential comes from its mighty fine earn rates. What’s so great about them is that the earn rates are especially high for your daily spending, since tou get 5x and 3x points per $1 spent on groceries/dining/entertainment and gas/transit/select streaming, respectively.

With as little as $1,000 in typical everyday purchases each month in the high earn rate categories, you can earn 4,000 SR points on average, which gives you an average $40 a month. Within 3 months, you would have recovered your $120 annual fee. In a year, you can see yourself with a total of $480 worth of points.

Requirements to Apply for the Card

  • Canadian citizen or permanent resident 
  • Aged 18 and above
  • Not been declared bankruptcy in the past 7 years
  • Have a Canadian address 
  • Annual personal gross income of $12,000+

Overall…

The Scotia Gold Amex’s recent upgrades: 0% foreign transaction fee and accelerated points earn rates, are a great leap forward in terms of features. Additionally, the annual fee/supplementary card charges are rather accommodating to cardholders who are 65 of age and above. 

If you count in the whopping welcome bonus of 25,000 + 5,000 points for new applicants, which gives you a strong head start for point redemption in the Scotia Rewards program, an impressive travel insurance package, lounge access and concierge service, I’ll be surprised if you don’t apply for your own right away.

If you feel this card is for you, you can click on the secure link below.

3 Amazing Trips You Can Take With Your American Express® AeroplanPlus®* Reserve Card

Traveling in style is something we all want to do, but it can get expensive: all those flights, hotels and restaurant bills add up. 

But what if there was a way to do it economically, to have your cake and eat it too?

Now, with the refreshed American Express AeroplanPlus Reserve Card, you can see the world in all its glory – and all without sacrificing your style. 

This post will dig into the benefits of the card, and showcase 3 incredible trips you can take with the 50,000 Aeroplan Miles that come as a welcome bonus with your AeroplanPlus Reserve Card.

American Express AeroplanPlus Reserve Card Features & Benefits

Annual Fee$899
Welcome Bonus50,000 miles
When $3,000 is spent in the first 3 months of Cardmembership
+ $200 Air Canada eGift card
When $6,000 is spent in the first 6 months of Cardmembership
Miles Earning Rate• Earn 1.25 Aeroplan Miles for every $1 in Card purchases
• Plus earn 2 Aeroplan Miles for every $1 of eligible Air Canada purchases
• Earn Aeroplan Miles twice when you pay with your American Express® AeroplanPlus®* Reserve Card and provide your Aeroplan Number at over 150 Aeroplan Partner brands
Supplementary Card$299 for additional Aeroplanplus Reserve Cards
Maximum of 9 supplementary cards per account
No access to the Annual Partner Ticket Benefit, $200 Annual Travel Credit, and Aeroplan Priority Line.

New AeroplanPlus Reserve Cardholders are rewarded with a welcome bonus of an impressive 50,000 Aeroplan miles upon spending $3,000 in the first 3 months of Cardmembership.

If you don’t have an Aeroplan account, you can open one for free. Then, link your Aeroplan account to your American Express account so you earn Aeroplan Miles directly on your purchases with the AeroplanPlus Reserve Card.

An Exciting New Offer: The $200 Air Canada eGift Card

American Express recently added a brand new offer to the AeroplanPlus Reserve Card: a $200 Air Canada eGift Card, usable on flights across Canada and beyond, when you spend $6,000 in the first six months of Cardmembership.

This is an exceptional value-add for an already value-packed card. When you factor in all of the other benefits that come with the AeroplanPlus Reserve Card, on top of the 50,000 welcome bonus miles, it’s a great card for anyone who travels internationally 2 or more times per year.

Is the Annual Fee worth the 50,000 Aeroplan miles?

The $899 annual fee is definitely a large sum, but it comes with some amazing benefits as well.

Let’s look into whether the welcome bonus miles are as good as they sound.

Used wisely, 50,000 Aeroplan Miles can go a long way toward funding your trip. And with a $200 Air Canada eGift Card and the $200 Annual Travel Credit at your disposal, you’ve got an additional $400 to use alongside them for your flights and beyond.

AeroplanPlus Reserve Card BenefitMiles EarnedBenefit Value
Welcome Bonus50,000
Air Canada eGift Card
$200
Annual Travel Credit
$200
TOTAL50,000$400

You’ll also accumulate Aeroplan Miles as you spend the $3,000 necessary to obtain the welcome bonus, plus more miles on every purchase you make on the card in the future.

The miles earning rate for the $3,000 depends on what you buy:

  • Earn 1.25 Aeroplan Miles for every $1 in Card purchases
  • Plus earn 2 Aeroplan Miles for every $1 of eligible Air Canada purchases
  • Earn Aeroplan Miles twice when you pay with your American Express AeroplanPlus* Reserve Card and provide your Aeroplan Number at over 150 Aeroplan Partner brands—such as Amazon.ca and dozens of airline and hotel partners

With this in mind, it’s safe to assume you’ll earn 1.25 miles per $1 spent on the card. Over the first three months, then, as you spend $3,000 to earn your welcome bonus miles, you’ll earn around 6,000 additional miles or so on those purchases. And after another 3 months, you’ll earn another 6,000 more – plus your Air Canada eGift Card worth $200!

After 3 monthsMiles
Welcome Bonus50,000
Spending Requirement ($3,000)3750
After 6 months
Spending Requirement ($3,000)3750
TOTAL57,500

This means that after 3 months, you can use your 53,750 miles for a trip, or you hold off for another 3 months until you’ve got a total of 57,500 miles plus your $200 Air Canada eGift Card. 

How far can you travel with 50,000 Aeroplan Miles? Just about anywhere in the world. But that’s not all. You also receive one complimentary long-haul partner ticket per year as an AeroplanPlus Reserve Cardholder, allowing you to take someone else with you on your long-haul trips. Why see the world alone when you can see it with the people you love? 

Here are a few examples of trips you can take using your 50,000 welcome bonus miles: 

Trip #1: Vancouver to Tokyo, Japan

Sushi lover? Have an authentic dining experience in Japan, or treat yourself to Disneyland in Tokyo. Your welcome bonus miles are more than enough for a one-way direct flight from Vancouver to Tokyo. 

The cost for this flight is just $133 in taxes and fees, and you’ll still have 12,500 miles left to spare. Buying a direct flight with any airline using cash will cost you at least $900, so you’re saving over $750 on this trip alone.

Extra Bonus: You can use your 12,500 leftover miles on a short-haul one-way flight anywhere in Canada or the USA! Want to add on a trip to New York, LA or Toronto? With the AeroplanPlus Reserve Card, they can all be yours.

Trip #2: Toronto to Istanbul, Turkey

Another option for a long-haul direct flight is to fly from Toronto to Istanbul, which costs just 37,500 miles and $54.

Buying a direct flight using cash will cost you $1,300, putting your savings on this flight at over $1,200.

Trip #3: Montreal to San Francisco, USA (x2!)

Is it possible to make a roundtrip with your 50,000 Aeroplan Miles? Yes, you can – not just once but TWICE! A trip to San Francisco from Montreal only costs 25,000 miles + $205, so you can do it twice with your welcome bonus miles.

Keep in mind that in all these examples, we’re only using the welcome bonus miles – we haven’t even gone into the $200 Annual Travel Credit or the Air Canada eGift Card. Both of those benefits will still be available to you for other flight fares when these trips are behind you.

Other Benefits Of The American Express AeroplanPlus Reserve Card

If you buy an Air Canada ticket using your AeroplanPlus Reserve Card, you’re entitled to priority check-in and complimentary first checked baggage service. At rush hour, you can use the complimentary valet service and priority security lane at Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ). Amex Concierge is there to help you with all of your travel planning needs. And you can always arrive to the airport early for a relaxing time at the Maple Leaf lounges and Priority Pass lounges in Canada and around the world.

Here’s a deeper breakdown of the main features of the AeroplanPlus Reserve Card:

BenefitsDetails
Annual Partner Ticket Benefit• Enjoy an annual Partner Ticket™ benefit for a short-haul or long-haul roundtrip
• Fixed Mileage Flight Reward®* when you redeem up to 25,000 Aeroplan Miles 
Travel Credit$200
Pearson Priority Security LaneYes
Complimentary Valet at Pearson AirportYes
Located at the departure levels of Terminal 1 & 3 at Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ)
Air Canada Priority Check InYes
Air Canada Complimentary First Checked Baggage Yes
Aeroplan Priority LineYes
Airport Lounge• Unlimited access to Air Canada’s Maple Leaf lounges
• Unlimited access to over 1,200 Priority Pass lounges around the world
Travel Insurance• $5,000,000 Emergency Medical Insurance (Out of province/country)
• Trip Cancellation Insurance
• Trip Interruption Insurance
$500,000 Travel Accident Insurance
• Travel Emergency Assistance
• Flight Delay Insurance
• Baggage Delay Insurance 
• Lost or Stolen Baggage Insurance
• Hotel/Motel Burglary Insurance
• Car Rental Theft and Damage Insurance
Purchase Coverage• Buyer’s Assurance Protection Plan
• Purchase Protection Plan
24/7 Customer ServiceYes
American Express ConciergeYes
American Express InvitesYes

If you want even more detail into these features, read our full review of the AeroplanPlus Reserve Card.

In Summary

With 50,000 welcome bonus miles, the annual $200 travel credit and the $200 Air Canada eGift Card, the AeroplanPlus Reserve Card is a traveler’s delight. Add on the complimentary long-haul partner ticket, which allows you to enjoy the card’s perks with your loved ones, and we highly recommend this card as an exceptional value for those who travel internationally 2+ times per year.

Credit Card Churning In Canada: Benefits, Risks & How To Do It Smartly

Churning credit cards in Canada has become a popular thing as of late. So what does churning credit cards mean? To simply put it, it’s when you sign up for credit cards with large signup bonuses such as travel miles or member rewards and then canceling them after obtaining those bonuses.

It seems odd that people would signup for credit cards just to cancel them, but when you look at the value of those bonuses, it makes a lot of sense. For example, if you were to sign up for the Amex Gold Card, upon meeting the minimum spend, you would get enough points for a return flight to anywhere in Canada and the continental US. Now you see why churning credit cards in Canada is so popular?

Does churning credit cards hurt your credit score?

Without a doubt, churning credit cards affects your credit score, but when you understand how your credit score works, you’ll realize that churning isn’t a big deal.

Your credit score can range anywhere from 300 to 900. To be realistic, you want your score to be at least 650 since that’s around where you won’t have any issues getting access to credit. If your score is 725+, it’s considered excellent, but if it falls under 650, it’ll be harder to get a loan.

There are many things that determine your credit score, but the biggest factor is your payment history. If you’ve been paying your bills in full and on time, you’ll likely have a good credit score.

Now, whenever you apply for a credit card, a hard inquiry is performed on your credit history which results in a loss of about 10 points on your credit score. If you have a good credit score, then a 10-point hit really won’t matter much.

More importantly, after a few months of paying your new credit card bill on time and in full, your credit score will go back up to where it was.

You could apply for 2-3 credit cards in one month and it probably wouldn’t be a big deal. Just don’t do it every month, and don’t apply for a ton of cards if you plan on getting a mortgage soon. Lenders will wonder why you need access to so much credit.

Benefits of churning credit cards in Canada

As stated above, the biggest benefit of churning credit cards is the signup bonus. Many cards offer a big signup bonus and will even waive the annual fee for the first year.

Yes, you’ll need to meet the minimum spend which can be anywhere from $500 – $1,500 in the first 90 days, but your signup bonus could be worth anywhere from $200 – $700.

Some of the premium credit cards may not waive their annual fee or they might have a high annual fee, but the signup bonuses might be worth more than those fees so you’ll end up ahead. You just need to do the math to figure out if it’s worth it.

In addition to the signup bonuses, many credit cards come with additional benefits that make worth churning specific cards worth it. For example, some credit cards offer a companion fare for a fixed price; that could be a huge savings. My American Express Platinum gives me airport lounge access which is worth $500 a year, this is in addition to the 60,000 Membership Rewards points I got when I signed up.

The best credit cards for churning in Canada

You could make an argument about what the best churning credit cards in Canada are, but I like to make my picks based on simplicity. I give extra weight towards all the American Express cards since you can refer friends and family for extra points. This can be a great strategy if you’re churning credit cards as a couple. Here are my picks for the churning credit cards in Canada with a few quick points on the benefits.

American Express Gold Rewards Card 

  • 25,000 MR points signup bonus
  • First-year annual fee waived ($150 value)
  • Earn two points for every $1 spent on grocery, drug stores, and gas purchases. One Membership Rewards point for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

What makes the American Express Gold Rewards card appealing is how you can transfer your points to Aeroplan or Avios on a one-to-one basis. You can basically turn this into an Aeroplan card.

American Express Platinum Canada 

  • 60,000 MR points signup bonus
  • Earn 1.25 points for every $1 spent
  • $200 Annual travel credit
  • Airport Lounge Access
  • $699 Annual fee

The annual fee sounds really high but the benefits included are worth way more so it makes it worthwhile. Sign up for the Amex Gold first and then self-refer this card to maximize your points. If you want to learn more about this card, check out my review.

Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card

  • 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy points welcome bonus
  • $120 annual fee

Although the annual fee is not waived, the Marriott Bonvoy points are valuable for two main reasons. 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy points are enough for enough for 3 free nights at a Category 2 hotel, though we show you how to get up to 16 nights at 5-star hotels using your 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. The points can also be transferred to 45 airline partners at an average transfer value of 3:1.

In Summary

It’s not difficult to see why churning credit cards in Canada has become so popular – I personally churn cards on a regular basis. If you’re responsible with your spending, then you might as well take advantage of signup bonuses. The key is to remember to cancel your cards before the yearly fee kicks in.

Grow Your Business With The New American Express Business Edge™ Card

Every entrepreneur knows that starting a business requires a lot of hard work and commitment. And once you’re established as a small business, the next logical step is to grow.

This is where the all new American Express Business Edge Card comes in. With a unique combination of both short- and long-term benefits and just a $99 annual fee, the Business Edge Card is making a strong case for becoming your go-to card for your business’ everyday expenses.

If you’re a small business owner and you like what the Amex Cobalt™ Card offers for your personal spending, then you’ll love the features that the brand new American Express Business Edge Card will bring for your business. The folks at Amex really nailed it with this new credit card for small businesses, as it combines features similar to the Cobalt Card with other qualities specifically tailored to helping growing small businesses make the most out of their spending.

Here’s a quick outline of this post:

Features And Benefits Of The Business Edge Card

Welcome Bonus Offer30,000 Membership Rewards® (MR) points
Monthly Bonus Offer 1,000 bonus MR points every month you charge a minimum of $3,000 to your card. This could add up to 12,000 points in a year.
Points Earn Rate • 3X on Eats & Drinks
• 3X on Rides & Gas
• 3X on Office Supplies & Electronics
• 1X on everything else
Card TypeCredit Card
Annual Interest Rate • 19.99% on purchases
• 22.99% on funds advances
Annual Fee$99
Additional CardsNo annual fee
Eligibility • You are a Canadian resident and have a Canadian credit file
• You are the age of majority in the province or territory where you live

Let’s take a closer look at these features and benefits to see how they’ll help you in growing your business.

Bonus Points On The New Business Edge Card

Considering the low annual fee, the welcome bonus offer on the American Express Business Edge Card is definitely one of the best Amex has to offer.

You can earn up to 42,000 bonus MR points in your first year of Cardmembership, split across thirteen separate portions:

  • 30,000 MR points welcome bonus once you charge a minimum of $5,000 to your card during the first three months of Cardmembership.
  • An additional 1,000 MR points for every month you charge $3,000 to your card, totalling 12,000 extra MR points annually.

That brings the grand total to an impressive bonus of 42,000 MR points in your first year of Cardmembership!

Valued at 1 cent per point, which is what you’ll get for using them for a statement credit, these bonus points are worth $420 – a 324% ROI on the annual fee. However, if you get creative and use your points to pay for travel, in some cases you could get up to 2 cents per point, making the 42,000 bonus MR points be worth more than $800! All that for a $99 annual fee and for using your card to pay for any purchase you want.

Of course, if you’re going to use your card to pay for business-related purchases, you’ll want to make sure you get the most out of those purchases. This is where the Business Edge Card really starts to shine!

Points Earn Rates On The American Express Business Edge Card

The Business Edge Card really outshines other Canadian business credit cards when it comes to points earn rates, and even some of the higher-end personal cards as well.

Why?

Because it offers an unbeatable 3X earn rate on the three purchase categories essential to growing small businesses. Here’s some more detail on each of them.

3X On Eats & Drinks

Let’s face it: whether you’re charging everyday expenses like coffee and snacks for your team, or you’re celebrating a big milestone, eats and drinks are something every business, big or small, spends on. Earning 3 MR points for every $1 spent means that you’ll be saving 3-6% (at a valuation of 1-2 cents per point) on those same purchases when you charge them to your new Business Edge Card.

With a 3X earn rate on eats and drinks, you really can’t go wrong with the new American Express Business Edge Card.

This is an exceptional return on your eats and drinks purchases, and means that if you just spend $5,200 per year – $100 per week – on eats and drinks, you’ll earn back $150-300 in MR points.

Do the math for your own business and see how much that 3-6% is worth to you.

(Hint: If you spend more than $64/week on eats and drinks, this benefit alone will pay for the card’s annual fee.)

3X On Rides & Gas

Taxis, rideshare, the occasional limo to impress that investor you’ve been after – any of these expenses will give you 3 MR points per dollar and the same 3-6% return as you get on eats and drinks. If you have your own fleet of company cars, or simply if you use your own car to move around, this 3X earn rate also applies to fuel purchases at Canadian stand-alone gasoline stations.

This is another category that most businesses spend a lot on throughout the year, and another reason why the Business Edge Card is such a great deal. Again, if you charge just $3,300 in transportation and gas charges to your card throughout the year – $64 per week – you’ll earn back your annual fee and more.

3X On Office Supplies & Electronics

What does your growing business look like? Are you opening a new office, expanding your workforce, or developing new products for new markets?

In any of those cases, you’re bound to need new computers, office equipment, company phones, and more. And once that hardware is in place, you’ll also need printer ink, paper, and all the other little things that make an office work.

When you charge your office supplies and electronics expenses to your Business Edge Card, you’ll find yourself with thousands of MR points ready to trade in for great rewards down the road.

Worth Noting: The Cap On The 3X Earn Rates

Just like the 5X earn rate on the Cobalt Card, these 3X earn rates are so lucrative Amex had to put a cap on them. You’ll receive 3X on your first $25,000 in purchases in any of the three 3x earn rate categories mentioned above (i.e. until you earn your first 75,000 MR points on those categories). After that, you’ll earn the regular 1X on every purchase.

How To Use Your Business Edge Card’s Points

Option #1: Redeem your points for a statement credit

The easiest way to use your MR points is to redeem them for a statement credit towards eligible purchases. It’s as simple as:

  1. Logging in to your Membership Rewards account
  2. Choosing to use your points
  3. Selecting statement credit.

You’ll be able to choose from a list of past purchases you want to use your statement credit for, and that’s it!

When redeeming MR points in this way, you’ll receive a $10 credit for every 1,000 MR points you redeem, giving your points a value of 1 cent apiece.

Option #2: Book Travel

You can also use your points to pay for travel bookings including flights, hotel stays, resorts, vacation packages, cruises and car rentals – just book through American Express Travel services and pay for the entire booking with your points. The value you’ll get depends entirely on the destination, dates, airlines etc., but in general, you’ll be able to get at least 1 cent per point, with some trips giving you a value of 2 cents per point or more.

Where will you let your new American Express Business Edge Card take you?

Option #3: Use Your Points For Merchandise And Other Purchases

Another popular way to use your MR points is to pay for purchases on Amazon.ca or other online merchants. You can buy gift cards and merchandise from a wide range of online merchants, or you can use your MR points to pay for dining and entertainment. Paying for merchandise with points usually offers a lower value per point than spending on travel, so we generally recommend using your points on flights to Asia or Europe instead.

Option #4: Transferring Your MR Points To Other Loyalty Programs

Finally, if the flexibility of MR points redemptions aren’t enough for you, you can also transfer them to two hotel loyalty programs: Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy™. Once transferred, you can use your new points to pay for hotels stays and amenities at thousands of properties worldwide.

One thing to note: Points earned with the Business Edge Card cannot be transferred to airline loyalty programs like Avios or Aeroplan. If you’re looking for a business card that can transfer to those programs, we recommend the Business Platinum Card or the Marriott Bonvoy Business Card.

The Bottom Line

The impressive welcome bonus, monthly purchase bonus, low annual fee and exceptional 3X earn rates make the American Express Business Edge™ Card a true stand-out card. We highly recommend it for growing small businesses anywhere in Canada today.

3 Amazing Trips You Can Take With Your American Express® AeroplanPlus®* Platinum Card

How do I travel cheap without burning a hole through my bank account? 

It’s a very common problem among travel enthusiasts, and American Express has the solution: travel the world for less with the welcome bonus miles that come with the American Express AeroplanPlus Platinum Card! In this post, we’ll look at three trips you can take with your brand new AeroplanPlus Platinum Card.

American Express AeroplanPlus Platinum Card Features & Benefits

Annual Fee$499
Welcome Bonus40,000 miles when $3,000 is spent in the first 3 months of Cardmembership
+ $150 Air Canada eGift cardwhen $6,000 spent in the first 6 months
Miles Earn Rate• 1.25 Aeroplan Miles for every $1 of Card purchases up to $25,000 annually
• Then, earn 1.5 miles for every dollar in purchases over $25,000 annually

You can also earn Aeroplan Miles twice when you use your American Express® AeroplanPlus®* Platinum Card and provide your Aeroplan Number at over 150 Aeroplan Partner brands

New AeroplanPlus Platinum Cardholders are rewarded with a welcome bonus of a whopping 40,000 Aeroplan miles upon spending $3,000 in the first 3 months. 

If you don’t have an Aeroplan account, you can open one for free. Then link your Aeroplan account to your American Express account so you earn Aeroplan Miles directly on your purchases with the AeroplanPlus Platinum Card.

A Brand New Offer: The $150 Air Canada eGift Card

American Express recently added a brand new offer to the AeroplanPlus Platinum Card: a $150 Air Canada eGift Card, usable on flights across Canada and beyond. Since this benefit can be used so widely, this is the next best thing to cash, and essentially lowers the annual fee from $499 to $349 for the first year.

When you factor in all of the other benefits that come with the AeroplanPlus Platinum Card, along with the 40,000 welcome bonus points, there’s an extremely strong case for applying today. 

Is The Annual Fee Worth The Welcome Bonus Miles?

As hefty as $499 sounds, there are ways to compensate for it, especially through traveling. If you are not a traveler (or trying to become one), you can look into other Amex cards which comes with other benefits, such as the Cobalt Card or the SimplyCash Preferred Card.

What Is The Value Of The 40,000 Miles Welcome Bonus?

The value of your 40,000 welcome bonus miles depends on the flight you end up taking. As you’ll see below, these miles are more than enough to get you an international roundtrip flight. 

On top of that, you’ll still accumulate Aeroplan Miles as you spend the $3,000 to obtain the welcome bonus miles, plus more miles on every purchase you make on the card in the future.

The miles earning rate for the $3,000 depends on what you buy:

  • Earn 1.25 miles per $1 for purchases within $25,000 annually.
  • Then, earn 1.5 miles per $1 for purchases after $25,000 has surpassed annually.
  • You can also earn Aeroplan Miles twice when you use your American Express® AeroplanPlus®* Platinum Card and provide your Aeroplan Number at over 150 Aeroplan Partner brands —such as Amazon.ca and dozens of airline and hotel partners

Let’s assume you earn 1.25 miles per $1. That means that if you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months of holding your card, you’ll earn an additional 5,250 Aeroplan Miles from your spending. After another 3 months, you’ll receive another 5,250 miles, plus your Air Canada eGift Card worth $150! 

After 3 monthsMiles
Welcome Bonus Miles40,000
Spending Requirement ($3,000)3,750
After 6 months
Spending Requirement ($3,000)3,750
TOTAL47,500

How far can you travel with your miles? Believe it or not, you can travel across continents. 

Here are a few examples of trips you can take using those welcome bonus miles: 

#1 Vancouver to Taipei, Taiwan

Fancy a trip that involves diving into Taiwanese culture and enjoying great food around the clock? Use your Aeroplan miles for a one-way trip from Vancouver to Taipei and still have miles left over.

Your cost? It’s only $95 for the taxes and fees. That’s incredibly cheap for an international long-haul flight from Canada to Asia.

The total number of miles used for this trip is just 37,500 miles. Since you receive 40,000 welcome bonus miles with the AeroplanPlus Platinum Card, plus the 3,750 or so that you earn on your first $3,000 of spending, you’ll have a remaining balance of around 6,250 miles if you book your trip after 3 months of Cardmembership. 

#2 Montreal to Zurich, Switzerland

Another example of a long-haul flight to use your 40,000 welcome bonus miles is a one-way direct flight from Montreal to Zurich. You’ll still have more than 10,000 miles to spare for your next flight, and the cost is just $60 for taxes and fees.

#3 Toronto to Mexico City, Mexico

Is a roundtrip possible with your welcome bonus miles? Absolutely! How about a roundtrip flight from Toronto to Mexico City?

And the cost? A mere $227 in taxes and fees.

Other Benefits Of The American Express AeroplanPlus Platinum Card 

Along with the incredible welcome bonus miles, you’ll also enjoy other perks with your AeroplanPlus Platinum Card. 

If you arrive early for your flight, grab a complimentary cocktail or meal at the Maple Leaf Lounge or the other Priority Pass lounges at airports across Canada. If you’re flying out of Toronto (YYZ), capitalize on the complimentary valet service and priority security lane that comes with your card.

You can also travel worry-free with the extensive insurance and purchase protection coverage that comes with the card. This chart captures even more details of the major perks that comes with the AeroplanPlus Platinum Card.  

BenefitsDetails
Annual Partner Ticket BenefitBring along a friend with a Partner Ticket™. Once per year, you can redeem 15,000 Aeroplan Miles for a short-haul roundtrip Fixed Mileage Flight Reward™ in economy class and receive a second Partner Ticket for the same itinerary.
Pearson Priority Security LaneYes
Located at the departure levels of Terminal 1 & 3 at Toronto Pearson International Airport 
Complimentary Valet at Pearson AirportYes
Air Canada Priority Check InYes
Airport LoungeAccess to Maple Leaf LoungesTM** & Priority Pass membership
Travel Insurance• $5,000,000 Emergency Medical Insurance (Out of province/country)
• Trip Cancellation Insurance
• Trip Interruption Insurance
• $500,000 Travel Accident Insurance
• Travel Emergency Assistance
• Flight Delay Insurance
• Baggage Delay Insurance
• Lost or Stolen Baggage Insurance
• Hotel/Motel Burglary Insurance
• Car Rental Theft and Damage Insurance
Purchase Coverage• Buyer’s Assurance Protection Plan
• Purchase Protection Plan

If you want even more detail into these features, read our full review of the AeroplanPlus Platinum Card.

In Summary

The AeroplanPlus Platinum Card is a card designed specifically for travelers. Between the welcome bonus miles and the brand new $150 Air Canada eGift Card, it’s an excellent choice for the frequent flyer. Add in the complimentary short-haul partner ticket benefit and you can save a serious amount of money on air travel by getting this card.

Where Is American Express Accepted In Canada?

American Express Cards accepted window sign

This post was sponsored by Amex Bank of Canada. The views and opinions expressed in this blog, however, are my own. American Express is not responsible for maintaining or monitoring the accuracy of the information on this website.

The question of how widely American Express cards are accepted has been a hot topic for years. That’s why this post takes both a qualitative and a quantitative look at where American Express is accepted in Canada and abroad, and takes a peek at the top benefits on some of their most popular cards, like the American Express Cobalt Card.

For years, many Canadians have believed a few things about American Express Cards:

  1. American Express Cards are for people who love to travel widely and live the good life.
  2. American Express Cards offer plenty of benefits, both at home and abroad, and reward their cardholders generously.

And they’re absolutely right!

But alongside these truths, a false belief has manifested as well: the belief that American Express Cards are not widely accepted in Canada.

In fact, nothing could be more incorrect.

This post will show you why American Express Cards are accepted more widely than you might think in Canada, and why the future is bright for Amex Cardholders.

My Experience With American Express Cards

My personal experience with my American Express Cards in Canada and abroad has been very positive. I’ve been traveling with my Platinum Card® for nearly 5 years now, and it’s accepted virtually everywhere that I go. Generally the only places I find that don’t take my Amex are those places that don’t accept credit cards at all. Even those spots are becoming harder and harder to find.

Where is American Express Accepted in Canada?

Everyday Expenses

I use my American Express® Gold Rewards Card at grocery stores and gas stations all across Canada. I use my American Express Cobalt Card at eligible bars and coffee shops all the time. Just about all of the big names in food and beverage, consumer electronics and apparel gladly accept American Express Cards, and once you understand how much you’re leaving on the table by not using an Amex card, you’ll want to start using yours everywhere, too.

Travel Purchases

If you’ve read any of our posts on the different Amex cards (like the Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express Card or any of the American Express Aeroplan Cards), you’ll know that they excel when it comes to travel purchases. Thousands upon thousands of airlines and travel providers in Canada and abroad accept American Express.

What’s even better, though, is that many of those airlines and travel providers also offer special benefits and bonuses for clients who pay with an Amex card. You’re essentially getting doubly rewarded – once by Amex, and once by the merchant – for using your Amex travel credit card.

Who Accepts American Express In Canada?

It’s tough to find information on how many merchants accept Amex cards at any given time. However, American Express does leave some clues.

For example, on the American Express Canadian website, they mention that more than 96,000 new places in Canada started accepting American Express Cards in 2018. Looking at the main industries involved, that’s 47,000 new service providers, 27,000 new shopping locations, and 16,500 new dining locations.

Breaking these 2018 numbers down by city, you can see that Amex acceptance in the big cities is growing at an extremely fast pace:

Number of new merchants accepting American Express Cards In 2018

Toronto20,000
Montreal10,000
Vancouver9,000
Calgary5,000

American Express also gives this partial list of where Amex cards are accepted in Canada:

Dining• Alice Fazooli’s, Jack Astor’s, Canyon Creek Chophouse, Second City, Loose Change Charlies
• Browns Socialhouse
• Bymark, Fabbrica, North 44°, One Restaurant
• Earls Kitchen & Bar
• Harvey’s, Kelsey’s, Milestone’s, Montana’s, Swiss Chalet, The Second Cup
• McDonald’s
• Moxie’s Classic Grill, Chop Restaurants, Dennys, Revelstoke Mountain Resort, Sandman Hotels & Inns, Shark Clubs Of Canada, The Shark Club Of Langley
• Oliver & Bonacini Restaurants
• Pickle Barrel
• The Keg, Hy’s Steakhouses
Health & Essentials• 407 ETR
• 7-Eleven
• Bell, Virigin Mobile, The Source
• Esso
• Grocery Gateway
• London Drugs
• Longos
• Marketplace IGA (BC Only)
• McEwan
• Metro
• Petro-Canada
• Pusateri’s
• Rogers, Fido
• Save-On-Foods, PriceSmart Foods, Urban Fare, Overwaitea Foods
• Shaw
• Shell Canada
• Sobeys, Foodland, IGA, Commisso’s
• SAQ
• Telus, Koodo Mobile
• Whole Foods Market
Home & Entertainment• Apple
• Best Buy, Future Shop
• Cineplex Entertainment, Famous Players, Alliance Atlantis Cinemas, Galaxy Entertainment
• Clublink
• Crate & Barrel
• Home Depot
• Home Hardware
• Leon’s
• Lowe’s
• Mirvish
• Pottery Barn
• Restoration Hardware
• Sleep Country Canada
• Staples
• The Brick
• Ticketmaster
• Urban Barn
• Visions Electronics
• West Elm
• William Ashley
• Williams Sonoma
Retail• Aldo
• American Eagle Outfitters
• Atmosphere, Coast Mountain Sports, National Sports, Nevada Bob’s Golf, Sport Mart, Sports Experts, Fitness Source, Gen-x Sports Inc, Podium, Rnr Outdoors
• Birks
• Browns
• H&M
• HomeSense
• Indigo, Chapters, Coles, Calendar Club Of Canada
• Lululemon
• Marshall’s
• Reitmans, RW & Co, Smart Set, Thyme Maternity, Addition-Elle, Penningtons
• Roots
• Sporting Life
• The Bay, Home Outfitters
• Victoria’s Secret, Bath And Body Works, Pink, La Senza
• Walmart
• Winners
Travel• Air Canada
• Air Transat, Nolitours
• Avis
• Best Western
• Budget
• Carnival Cruise Lines
• Celebrity Cruises
• Enterprise Rent-A-Car
• Flight Centre
• Hertz
• Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Hilton Homewood Suites, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Inn Hotels, Embassy Suites Hotels, Doubletree Hotels
• Holiday Inn Hotels, Intercontinental Hotels, Crowne Plaza Hotel, Candlewood Suites, Staybridge Suites
• Porter Airlines
• Princess Cruises
• Royal Caribbean Cruises
• Sunwing Tours
• Thrifty
• Westcorp Hotels
• WestJet

What Is American Express Doing To Increase Acceptance In Canada?

Offering Great Benefits

The most important thing American Express does to increase Amex acceptance is offer a great product. The Amex family of cards are some of the top cards in Canada today. The American Express Cobalt Card makes a strong case for being the best credit card in Canada for millennials – its $10/month fee and generous reward scheme have quickly made it a favourite among students and young professionals alike. Business owners rave about the Business Platinum Card® and Marriott Bonvoy Business Cards.

Benefits like welcome bonuses, travel benefits, American Express Invites and purchase, travel and small business insurance make Amex cards appealing to just about everybody. And as more Cardmembers sign up, there’s more demand put upon businesses to start accepting Amex cards, a key driver behind why tens of thousands of Canadian businesses are starting to accept American Express every year.

Finding Amex-Friendly Merchants With American Express Maps

One great way to find American Express merchants is by using Amex Maps. You can think of Amex Maps as Google Maps overlaid with Amex-friendly establishments nearby. Looking for a restaurant or coffee shop near you that accepts Amex? The answer is just a couple of clicks away.

Here’s what Amex Maps looks like in downtown Toronto. As you can see, there are a lot of places on there:

The Bottom Line

Based on statistics by the Canadian Government, there are about 1.2 million businesses in Canada today, and that number grows by about 10,000 businesses every year. Yet with 70,000 new businesses accepting Amex in 2017, and 96,000 more in 2018, the future is clear: it won’t be long before just about every business in Canada accepts American Express cards.

If you want help deciding which American Express card is best for your lifestyle, take our 60-second quiz and we’ll help you out!

How To Use British Airways Avios Points In Canada

I’ve been using British Airways Avios in Canada for a long, long time, yet there’s a good reason why I’ve never written about it.

Simply put, it’s because Yore Oyster is about delivering concise, actionable material to Canadian travelers when they need it. Rather than trying to teach you everything, we’d rather just give you the tools to do the things that have a real, positive impact on your life starting today.

Flying to Europe for $75 thanks to American Express and Avios Canada
How to Fly from Europe to Canada (or vice versa) for $75

But there’s also a reason why I am choosing to write about the best way to use Avios as a Canadian now: it’s the perfect complement to Aeroplan. And as you’ve probably seen through our posts How to Fly from Asia to North America (and vice versa) for $75 and How to Fly from Canada to Europe (and vice versa) for $75, Aeroplan is extremely powerful when used correctly. So starting today, with the addition of Avios to your toolkit, you’ll be flying more smartly and more cheaply than 99% of the other people who step onto the same plane.

If you don’t want to spend hundreds of hours reading and learning every intricacy, but would rather have 95% of the information you need to get a cheap flight right now, this post is for you.

Using British Airways Avios In Canada

What is Avios?

British Airways’ Avios is a points program that works just like Aeroplan: you gather points on your credit card or by flying, and then you redeem them for flights in the future. So from a very high level, the two programs are doing very similar things – helping you fly more cheaply – but when you get into the details, you start to notice their differences.

Avios has one of the widest-reaching airline partner networks out there, which is a fancy way of saying this: no matter where you are in the world, there’s a very good chance that you can buy a flight with Avios points instead of cash. I’ve personally used it for flights between Colombia, Brazil, Peru and Uruguay, within South Africa, between Thailand and Hong Kong, and a lot of other places. It just works.

And there’s another neat feature that Avios has that most other programs don’t: you can choose between different cash and points splits when you pay for your flight. For example, on this direct Toronto to London flight, you can choose any of the following payment options:

Avios Canada redemption flexibility: Cash/Points splits
Avios gives you a lot more flexibility than Aeroplan

To choose which option you’d like to pay, it just comes down to how much you value your points. I generally opt for paying more cash so that I can keep my points for another flight in the future, but if you’d rather just pay the minimum amount of cash, that’s totally fine too.

In short, Avios gives you options. And when you’re traveling and don’t always have your next step planned to a tee, options are a very, very valuable thing.

Okay, so where is Avios most valuable?

That’s a tough question: if you’re only flying within North America, finding a great way to use Avios in Australia isn’t very useful to you. But if we do step back for a minute and look at things from a global level, three particular areas stand out.

Region 1: Within South America

I spent a few months in South America this year, and I noticed something very peculiar about the flights: while domestic flights in nearly every country were super cheap – $30 for the 650-km flight from Bogota to Cartagena in Colombia, or $90 for the monstrous 2,100-km trip from São Paulo to Recife in Brazil – international flights were extremely expensive.

For example, Quito, Ecuador is a similar distance from Bogota as Cartagena, but a flight to Quito regularly sits at 10x the price of one to Cartagena. And from São Paulo? Buenos Aires is 500 km closer than Recife, but you won’t find a flight for less than double the price. So trust me when I tell you: you need Avios in South America.

Lucky for you, Avios has two major partners in South America – LAN in Chile and TAM in Brazil – who dominate air traffic in South America. And this plays into a very straightforward strategy when in South America: buy domestic flights with cash, and buy international flights with Avios.

When I was there, I applied this strategy ruthlessly. Even when I needed to book a flight just a few days in advance, there was almost always a seat available for me, and I saved at least $200-300 on each flight that I otherwise would’ve had to shell out. In fact, I never booked a flight more than two weeks in advance, and I made it on all of the 10+ flights that I wanted, saving over $2,000 in the process. The Avios flights became so cheap that I stopped looking at ground transportation altogether; that’s the sign of a strong program.

Region 2: Intercontinental Flights to/from South America

This is a sweet spot in the Avios program that few very people know about, but using Avios to fly between South America and any of Australia, North America, or Europe is extremely cheap. Let’s look at a few examples.

First, an amazing direct flight from New York to Rio de Janeiro that costs you just $8. No, that is not a typo, $8! This flight runs daily so availability is extremely easy to get, and the same flight at the same prices works from other cities like Miami, too.

Flying from New York to Rio for just $8 thanks to Avios Canada
New York to Rio de Janeiro for $8

Santiago-Sydney is the only direct flight between South America and Australia, but thanks to Avios’ wide reach, you can get on it. A cash ticket for this highly sought-after flight will run you about $2,000 one-way if you buy it within the recommended purchase window, which is about 2-3 months before you fly. But with Avios? It’s just $73 + 50,000 points.

Intercontinental flight from South America to Australia for only $73 thanks to Avios Canada
Santiago, Chile to Sydney, Australia for 50,000 points and $73

Buenos Aires-London is another behemoth of a direct flight, and this one you’ll actually be flying with British Airways. Again, cash tickets normally go in the range of $1,000+ for a one-way ticket (and much more if you want to be on this direct British Airways flight instead of one through the US with 1-2 stops), but here you’re only paying $344 and 22,750 points.

South America to Europe for less than half the price when paid with Avios
Buenos Aires to London for just $350

Avios is starting to look pretty good, isn’t it?

Region 3: North America to Asia

There are so many ways to use your Avios points here, but I’ll talk about just one: Hong Kong. Hong Kong is a sweet spot because it’s the home of Cathay Pacific, an Avios partner airline, and Cathay flies direct to several North American hubs like Vancouver, Toronto, and New York. So if you’re going to Hong Kong, or really anywhere in Asia, this is the way to do it. (If you want another surefire way of getting to/from Asia, see our post How to Fly from Asia to North America (and vice versa) for $75).

Canada to Asia for less than $100
Vancouver to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific CX889 or CX837 for $65 and 30,000 Avios points
Canada to Hong Kong for less than $100
Toronto to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific CX829 or CX825 for $70 and 35,000 Avios points
North American East Coast to Hong Kong for less than $100
New York to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific CX845 or CX899 or CX841 for $70 and 35,000 Avios points

Those are just two really good ways of using your Avios points, but there are plenty of other ways that you can make them work for you. For example: need to buy a last-minute flight between Toronto and New York departing tomorrow? Cash ticket prices will be through the roof, so Avios is the perfect solution since last-minute tickets purchased with points are the exact same price as if you bought the ticket months in advance.

You might’ve noticed something else in our examples: flights with Avios are much, much more direct than Aeroplan flights. In fact, it’s tough to find any of those intercontinental flights (with the exception of Vancouver to Hong Kong) without at least one connection if you’re using Aeroplan. That’s another win for your new friend, Avios. Time is money, and Avios is saving you both.

Wait – if I’m not going to South America or Asia, is Avios a waste of time?

Good question, but definitely not. Avios is fantastic for flights within North America (you can use your Avios points on any American Airlines flight), Europe (British Airways and Iberia Airlines), and a lot of other regions as well. I could give a thousand more examples of how to use your Avios points effectively, but instead I’m going to let you discover them on your own.

Okay, what if I don’t travel as often, do Avios points expire?

This is something you definitely won’t have to worry about! Avios points will stay with you as long as you collect, spend, purchase or share at least one Avios every 36 months. That’s three whole years to spend them! And remember, you can collect Avios not only flights but also you can rent a car or stay in a hotel or book a holiday. So you have options to both collect and use your points.


This post is just an introduction to Avios, so I won’t go any deeper right now, but hopefully, you can see how valuable Avios is as a #2 program. By leveraging the strengths of Aeroplan and Avios together, all of a sudden you go from playing by the airlines’ rules (not fun) to making your own rules (very fun). This is how you become the passenger who paid the least amount for their ticket, every single time.

Here’s the quickest way to get two Toronto-London roundtrip flights by using your Avios strategically:

How To Get Started

STEP 1 OF 2: GET YOUR POINTS

Your ticket to 25,000 Avios points is in the American Express Gold Rewards Card, which gives you 25,000 American Express MR points.

Spend 3 minutes today and you’ll receive your card within a week.

STEP 2 OF 2: USE YOUR POINTS

As soon as you finish your application, join Avios. The application takes 2 minutes and everyone is approved, plus you’ll get access to their search tool, so you can start searching for your ideal flights while you wait to receive your card from Step 1.

Once you’ve spent 5 minutes on the two steps above, you’re set. Add 25,000 points of your own to the 25,000 points coming your way with the card and you’ll have enough for any of the following flights:

  • Roundtrip New York to Brazil
  • Roundtrip Toronto to London twice (technically this will cost you 52,000 points, but who’s counting)
  • The South American Rally: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to Montevideo, Uruguay, to Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Santiago, Chile to Lima, Peru to Bogota, Colombia, to São Paulo, Brazil – yes you can do ALL of these flights and still have Avios left over!
  • An absolutely crazy itinerary connecting eleven countries across Europe. This one deserves a blog post unto its own…coming soon!

I hope this marks the beginning of a prosperous new friendship: you and British Airways Avios!

For more destination-specific information on redeeming points, see our other similar posts on Asia and Europe.