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 Platinum Card®.
If you're looking to get started with an American Express card that's widely accepted across Canada and beyond, we highly recommend the Cobalt™ Card. With a welcome bonus of up to 15,000 points, $100 USD in annual hotel credit, and exceptional earn rates on your purchases, the Cobalt Card is our top credit card pick.
For years, many Canadians have believed a few things about American Express Cards:
- American Express Cards are for people who love to travel widely and live the good life.
- 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 like the Platinum, the Marriott Bonvoy, the Cobalt, and the Gold Card 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 travelling 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?
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.
If you’ve read any of our other posts about American Express 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
And 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.
American Express also gives this partial list of where Amex cards are accepted in Canada:
|• 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
• 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
• Bell, Virigin Mobile, The Source
• Grocery Gateway
• London Drugs
• Marketplace IGA (BC Only)
• Rogers, Fido
• Save-On-Foods, PriceSmart Foods, Urban Fare, Overwaitea Foods
• Shell Canada
• Sobeys, Foodland, IGA, Commisso's
• Telus, Koodo Mobile
• Whole Foods Market
|Home & Entertainment
• Best Buy, Future Shop
• Cineplex Entertainment, Famous Players, Alliance Atlantis Cinemas, Galaxy Entertainment
• Crate & Barrel
• Home Depot
• Home Hardware
• Pottery Barn
• Restoration Hardware
• Sleep Country Canada
• The Brick
• Urban Barn
• Visions Electronics
• West Elm
• William Ashley
• Williams Sonoma
• 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
• Indigo, Chapters, Coles, Calendar Club Of Canada
• Reitmans, RW & Co, Smart Set, Thyme Maternity, Addition-Elle, Penningtons
• Sporting Life
• The Bay, Home Outfitters
• Victoria’s Secret, Bath And Body Works, Pink, La Senza
|• Air Canada
• Air Transat, Nolitours
• Best Western
• Carnival Cruise Lines
• Celebrity Cruises
• Enterprise Rent-A-Car
• Flight Centre
• 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
• Westcorp Hotels
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 $12.99/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:
It's no coincidence that our choice for the top Canadian credit card—the Cobalt Card—is offered by American Express. With a 15,000 points welcome bonus, $100 USD in annual hotel credit, and some of the best earn rates in Canada, the Cobalt Card is an excellent everyday spending card for just about everyone.
Apply with confidence today.