The American Express Gold Rewards Card Canada: A Review

American Express Gold Rewards Card
American Express Gold Rewards Card

The American Express Gold Rewards Card is a great choice for a Membership Rewards (MR) points earning card on a medium budget. With $100 USD in hotel credit (~$130 CAD), a free additional card worth another $50, and loads more benefits like great travel insurance, complimentary room upgrades and more, you’ll be making money just by signing up and keeping it in your wallet, even after paying the $150 annual fee. In addition, the flexibility of MR points means that you’ll allways find a great way to spend them, and even if you don’t, you can always redeem them for a statement credit.

The 25,000 MR points welcome bonus makes the American Express Gold Rewards Card an excellent value.

The American Express Gold Rewards Card is one of Amex Canada’s best choices for most Canadians. By signing up to it, you effectively trade-off Amex benefits like the Concierge service, for a moderate fee that’s easily affordable by most, but you still get some of the best insurance policies Amex has to offer, hotel credit on over 600 properties worldwide and more.

Even though choosing the right credit card can seem daunting at times, given the number of options available, it really doesn’t have to be. It all comes to breaking down all the information, crunching some numbers and then making an educated decision, which is exactly what you’ll be able to do by the end of this post.

Read on to find out about the good and the bad with the American Express Gold Rewards Card, all of the card’s benefits, how and when to use them to your best advantage and, in general, if it’s a good fit for your lifestyle.

I’ve broken the post down into the following sections for your convenience:

Let’s begin!

A Quick Glance at the Overall Pros and Cons of the Amex Gold Canada

Here’s a quick glance at the things you’ll love and things you won’t about the American Express Gold Rewards Card:

PROS CONS
Welcome bonus of 25,000 MR points
$100 USD in hotel credit and complimentary room upgrades at The Hotel Collection properties
Afordable annual fee
Extensive travel insurance, including out of province emergency medial insurance
Good earning rate on many common, everyday expenses like fuel, food, drink and medicines.
Points transferable to Aeroplan, Avios and other loyalty rewards programs at a 1:1 rate.
No Amex Concierge
No additional travel benefits like lounge access
Charge card, not a credit card
High interest rate applied on unpaid balance

Basic Features and Benefits

The American Express Gold Rewards Card comes with a generous welcome bonus and excellent travel benefits, as you’ll soon find out. Here is the list of the most relevant and important features and benefits that come with the card:

Welcome Bonus 25,000 MR points
Travel Benefits $100 USD in Hotel credit
Complimentary room upgrades in eligible Hotels
1 car class upgrade on Hertz car rentals of 5+ days.
1 Additional driver fee waived for Hertz car rental
Annual Fee $150
Additional card Annual Fee The first one is free
$50 each additional card
Points Earned Per $1 Spent on eligible purchases2 MR points + 1 additional MR point if you purchase through Amex Travel.
Points Earned Per $1 Spent everywhere else1 MR points
American Express Invites
American Express Concierge X
Travel Coverage $5,000,000 Emergency Medical Insurance (Out of province/country)
Trip Interruption Insurance
$500,000 Travel Accident Insurance
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
Eligibility Canadian citizens or residents
A valid Canadian Credit file
An account in good standing (credit score of at least 650)
Type of Card Charge Card
Applied interest rate 30% on any unpaid balance

Above: The American Express Gold Rewards card’s features and benefits.

Ok! Now, let’s take a closer look at all the features and benefits and crunch some numbers so I can show you how much they’ll really be worth to you:

Features Explained

The Annual Fee

Most credit or charge cards, especially those that come with great benefits like this one, require paying a fee. As far as fees go, the lower-end fees might be of a couple of tens of dollars, and high-end cards come with heavy fees that can reach almost $1,000.

There are credit cards that don’t come with an annual fee, but in those cases, the only way to reek the benefits of the card is to use it frequently.

As you can see, the Gold Rewards Card’s annual fee of $150 could be considered as somewhat middle ground. It’s safe to say that most Canadians will be able to afford it, and will do so gladly after seeing that the fee is actually an investment that could end up saving you a lot of money, as we’ll show you with real-life examples in this post.

Points Earning Rate

The American Express Gold Rewards card will earn you Membership Rewards points for any purchase you charge to it. Read on to learn the What, the What for and the How regarding MR points and the Gold Rewards card.

What are Membership Rewards points?

Membership Rewards points, or MR points for short, are the points you earn per every dollar of purchases when you charge those purchases to some of the Amex cards, such as the American Express Gold Rewards Card, the Business Gold Rewards Card or the Amex Platinum Card, to name a few.

Membership Rewards is American Express’ own loyalty program, and it “rewards” you for signing up and using the Amex cards. Some Amex cards don’t earn you MR points even though they are from American Express, but that’s only because they’re associated with other third-party loyalty programs like the Marriott Bonvoy Card that earns you Bonvoy points, or the AeroplanPlus card family that’ll earn you Aeroplan miles.

How much are Membership Rewards points worth?

As with all loyalty programs, the value of your MR points depends on how you redeem them. The good thing about MR points is that they’re about the most flexible points out there, and you can use them virtually on anything you might possibly want.

Let’s take a look at some of the things you can do with your MR points:

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· Using MR points for a Statement Credit

The absolute easiest way to redeem your points is through a statement credit, which is pretty much like getting your cash back after the purchase.

When you use your points directly against your card’s statement, you’ll get a value of 1 cent per point. That’s $10 for every 1,000 MR points.

· The Amex Fixed Points Travel Program

Amex MR points can be used to pay for return airfares offered through American Express Travel Services Canada or americanexpress.ca/travel. The good thing about this program is that you can use it to pay for flights on any carrier, on any date and to any destination whatsoever. The only drawbacks are that only return flights are eligible and that Amex puts a cap on the base price covered by the program.

The images below are the flight charts for the Fixed Points Travel Program. The first one shows the points and the maximum base price for Economy Class fares and the next one shows the same for Business class fares.

Fixed Points Travel Program flight chart for Economy class flight rewards - Amex Gold Canada
Flight Chart for the American Express Fixed Points Travel Program in Economy Class
Fixed Points Travel Program flight chart for business class flight rewards - Amex Gold Canada
Flight Chart for the American Express Fixed Points Travel Program in Business Class

As you can see from the charts above, the best case scenario with this type of redemption would be using your MR points for the most popular Short-haul trips inside Canada and Continental USA, like the Montreal-New York route. In that case, you can trade in 15,000 MR points to offset a maximum of $300 of the base ticket price, which sums up to 2 cents per MR point.

The worst you can do with this type of redemption is 1.5 cents per MR point, which you get for other short-haul Economy Class flights, and with Canada-Europe trips.

I always try to use my points for flights instead of a statement credit, because, no matter what flight I use them for, I will always get more value from my points.

Summarizing:

When you use your points on the Fixed Points Travel Program, you can get a value of up to 2 cents per point. That’s $20 for every 1,000 MR points.

· Transfering your MR points to other loyalty programs

Another way to use your points wisely is to transfer them to other loyalty programs like Avios, or Aeroplan at a 1:1 rate. The final valuation of your MR points in those cases will depend on how you take advantage of those loyalty programs.

For example, if you were to transfer your points to Aeroplan miles, you will get, on average, 2.5 cents per mile (therefore per MR point as well), and if you fly creatively, you could even get up to 4 cents per mile, as we explain in our post on The AeroplanPlus card family.

Another great benefit of transferring the points is that sometimes (at least once a year) American Express offers transfer bonuses of up to 25% for every 20,000 points you transfer. This means that by transferring the welcome bonus’ 25,000 MR points, you’ll get 5,000 extra miles for a grand total of 30,000 Aeroplan miles.

· Using MR points to pay for consumer goods

Almost all rewards programs offer the possibility to use your reward points for online purchases through an online store. The American Express Membership Rewards program offers it too.

Through their online store (which you’ll find here) you can use your points to buy all sorts of products that span many categories like electronics, kids products, kitchenware and many more.

Even though this turns out to be a very practical and easy way to spend your MR points, keep in mind that it comes at the price of lower points value.

Let’s run some numbers to show you what I mean:

There is a very popular laptop computer offered at the Amex Membership Rewards e-store for almost 190,000 MR points. Both the manufacturer and Amazon.ca sell the exact same computer for $1,200.

So in this purchase, the 190,000 points will offset $1,200, giving you a value of only 0.63 cents per point. This is a very poor valuation by any standard.

My advice is: use your MR points on travel, and not on purchases.

PRO TIP: If you’re keen on buying something with your points, you’re better off buying it with your American Express Gold Rewards Card, and then using your points for a statement credit.

The Bottom Line for MR Points Value:

“MR Points will be worth anything from about 1 to 4 cents per point, with an average value of about 2.5 cents per point.”

The points earning rate on the Amex Gold Canada

Now that we know what they are and how much they’re worth, we can discuss how fast your American Express Gold Rewards card will earn you MR points.

There are three different earning rates you can access with this card:

· 2 MR points per every 1$ on eligible everyday and travel purchases

This is one of the high notes of the American Express Gold Rewards card.

Two MR points per every dollar may seem little, but it’s actually a very good earning rate for any card, considering the value of the MR points. You could be tempted to think, for example, that the Marriott Bonvoy Card’s earning rate is a lot better, as it will give you 3 to 5 points per dollar. However those points are actually worth about a third of what MR points are worth, so by comparison, the most you could get out of the Marriott Bonvoy card (which by the way is also an excellent choice) would be the equivalent to 1.67 MR points per dollar.

Other Amex cards offer similar earning rates compared to the Gold Rewards Card. One example is the AeroplanPlus Reserve Card that will give you 2x miles for every $1 of Air Canada purchases made directly through aircanada.com. On the other hand, what sets the Gold Rewards Card apart is that it’s much easier to access the same 2x earning rate than with other cards.

So how do you get the 2x earning rate?

Piece of cake! All you need is to know what “eligible purchase” means for the Gold Rewards Card, and you’ll see that it’s a very broad deffinition. There are four kinds of eligible purchases for the 2x rate: Stand-alone Canadian gas stations, drug stores, grocery stores and travel purchases (including travel services, bookings, lodgings and transportations, so long as it’s not local).

The first three types of purchases are clearly every-day expenses that most Canadians have, so there’s a high probability that you will be getting 2 points per dollar, most of the time. All you have to do is avoid stores whose primary business isn’t one of the four mentioned categories, like in the case of superstores, wholesale clubs, etc.

· Earn 1 extra MR point per dollar (which can add up to 3MR/$) on eligible hotel and car rental bookings

In this case, to access the extra mile per dollar, you have to book your hotel or rent your car through the American Express Travel website. Since Amex Travel is a stand-alone travel merchant, and travel purchases like lodgings and transportation are eligible for the 2x earning rate, booking through their website can get you 3 points per every $1 in purchases: 2 MR points for the eligible purchase, and 1 extra MR point for booking through Amex Travel.

You can get 3 MR points per $1 if you book travel arrangements through American Express Travel’s website.

· 1 MR point per every $1 on any other purchase

This is the absolute lowest earning rate you can get with this card. It’s the basic earning rate you’ll get on any purchase not eligible for the other mentioned rates.

Amex Gold Canada Rewards Card Eligibility

Since the American Express Gold Rewards Card is for Canadians only, the first condition to be eligible is to be a Canadian citizen or at least a Canadian resident.

The Gold Rewards Card is a charge card, not a credit card, so it’s easier to be eligible for it. All you need is:

  • A valid Canadian credit file with a good to excellent credit score (most recommend at least 650, others above 700)
  • To be of the age of majority in your state or province of residence.

If you like this card and you fit the bill then don’t let this opportunity pass!.

The Perks Explained

All right. Now that we know how the Gold Rewards Card works, let’s uncover all of the great benefits that come with it:

Benefit #1: The Welcome Bonus

Welcome bonuses are a great reason to sign up to any American Express card for the first time, and the Amex Gold Canada Rewards Card is not the exception. This card comes with a welcome bonus of 25,000 MR points, which is very generous given the low annual fee.

The only condition to be eligible for the bonus is that you charge a minimum of $1,500 to your new American Express Gold Rewards Card during the first three months of cardmembership. This adds up to approximately $500/month, or roughly $125 per week. There are no conditions on these purchases, only that you charge them to your new Gold Rewards Card, so it really shouldn’t be too much trouble reaching the minimum.

If you use your card wisely, those $1,500 can earn you 3,000 to 4,500 MR points, so that by the time you get your bonus , you’ll have close to 30,000 points.

What can you do with the welcome bonus?

Membership Rewards points are about the most flexible loyalty points in existence. Therefore, there are literally hundreds of things you can do with your 25,000 points welcome bonus.

As I mentioned earlier, the easiest way to spend them is to use the points for a statement credit to help you pay for card purchases. In this case, valued at 1 cent per MR point, the 25,000 points will turn into $250. If you don’t mind losing out on the opportunity to earn an extra couple of hundred dollars, then it’s definitely an option to consider.

A much smarter way to redeem your points is for flights, either by way of the American Express Fixed Points Travel Program or by transferring your points to Aeroplan or Avios. All with the intention of getting the most out of your bonus.

How does the Fixed Points Travel Program work?

This is a flight rewards program, but it works a little bit differently compared to other popular loyalty programs. Instead of using your points to pay for flights directly, as you would with Aeroplan miles or Avios, in this case you actually trade the points in for credits on your card’s statement after you’ve charged the full price of the airfare to your American Express card.

As you saw on the travel charts shown in the MR points value section above, the Fixed Points Travel Program lets you trade in a fixed number of MR points to offset the return flight airfare for up to a maximum base ticket price. The base ticket price is the price of the flight ticket without counting any fees, taxes and surcharges imposed either by the airline or by the airport itself.

The fixed number of miles will cover the entire base ticket price, as long as it is equal or less than the maximum base ticket price in the table shown above. Tickets that cost more than that, will only be covered up to the said maximum. It sound confusing but it’s actually really simple. To illustrate this better, let’s see a couple of examples of a short-haul domestic flight reward in economy class:

  • Example 1: If your return flight costs $200 without the fees and surcharges (in other words, has a base price of $200), you can pay 20,000 MR points along with the $200 charged to your card, and you’ll receive a credit in your card’s statement for the $200, since it is less than the $300 maximum base ticket price.
  • Example 2 If, on the other hand, the ticket costs $380, then you can pay the same amount of points as before (that’s why it’s called Fixed Points), charge the $380 to your American Express Gold Rewards Card, and you will receive a credit in your statement for $300 (not $380), since it is the maximum the 20,000 points will give you.

If you decide to transfer the bonus to Aeroplan miles, you’ll get enough miles for a long-haul round trip ticket in Economy Class, or for a one-way long-haul flight in Business Class.

Benefit #2: The Hotel Collection $100 USD Hotel Credit

Apart from the handsome welcome bonus, being an American Express Gold Rewards cardmember gives you access to The Hotel Collection program by American Express. The Hotel Collection is a carefully curated group of over 600 hotels and resorts spread around the globe in more than 30 countries, where you’ll get amazing benefits just by booking your stay of two or more days through American Express Travel, with your brand new Amex Gold Canada Rewards Card.

One of the benefits you’ll receive is a $100 USD credit for dinning, spa, golf and pretty much anything other than the room itself, taxes, any gratuities and fees. Only the basic cardholder is eligible, everything has to be paid for with the Gold Rewards Card, and bookings and other travel arrangements must be made through http://americanexpress.ca/travel or http://americanexpress.ca/thc.

Other than that, you’re good to go!

Where can you enjoy this benefit?

There are over 600 properties you can stay at where you can enjoy delicious dining, relaxing massages at a spa and many more perks. You’ll find a complete list of eligible hotels at The Hotel Collection’s website. More hotels are added periodically, and Amex visits every last one of them on a yearly basis to make sure they keep up with their quality standards.

One of the most recently added properties to The Hotel Collection is none other than the iconic Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Get Hotel credit and  complimentary room upgrades at the Cesar Palace thanks to your Amex Gold Canada Rewards Card
Enjoy, get some rest and hit the casinos at the famous Cesar Palace , thanks to your American Express Gold Rewards Card

As I said, everything has to be charged to your Gold Rewards Card, but far from that being a problem, it’s actually a blessing, because on these purchases you could be accessing the 3x earning rate, which is great for building up your point balance.

If you read the small letters in the terms and conditions, you’ll see that it says that you’re limited to one credit per room, per stay, which means that you can get the $100 USD credit every time you stay at one of the eligible hotels.

This turns the American Express Gold Rewards Card into a gold mine with the potential to save you over $100 (CAD) every time you decide to stay at a partner hotel.

Benefit #3: The Hotel Collection Complimentary Room Upgrade

This is yet another benefit of signing up to the Amex Gold Canada Rewards Card and being a part of American Express’ The Hotel Collection program.

If there are rooms available, you will get a room upgrade the minute you check-in to your hotel.

In fact, in case you’re traveling with friends and family, you can get up to three rooms upgraded, per stay, as long as all the original rooms were paid for with your Gold Rewards Card.

Benefit #4: Hertz Car Rental Benefits

Once you sign up to the Gold Rewards Card, you become eligible for more benefits with Amex partner Hertz rent-a-car. When renting a car for five or more consecutive days and after charging the car rental in full to your American Express Gold Rewards Card, you will receive:

  • Complimentary one car class upgrade for a standard vehicle

This doesn’t include any vehicle of the Hertz’s fleet like collection cars, vans, green, fun, Prestige, Family, Dream and Supercar vehicles; only standard vehicles are eligible. There are also certain limitations regarding location.

  • Complimentary additional driver

As long as he or she is included in the rental agreement, the fee for one additional driver will be waived.

Things you should do before requesting your benefits:

In order to get these benefits, you first have to sign up to Hertz’s loyalty program, which is called Gold Plus Rewards. It only takes five minutes and you can sign up online, for free, here. Upon filling the application, you have to provide the promotional code CDP 705500 for the Hertz-American Express benefits. Once this is done, you’re good to go.

Benefit #5: Extensive Travel and Purchase Coverage

Having the right insurance policy can make a world of difference in your traveling experience. The American Express Gold Rewards Card comes with a good set of comprehensive travel insurance policies that’ll ease your mind when abroad. It brings in most of the policies that come with the Platinum Card and the AeroplanPlus Reserve Card, including, among other policies, Emergency Medical Insurance, Travel Accidents Insurance, Trip Interruption Insurance and more.

Keep reading to find out more about the travel coverage that comes with the Gold Rewards Card:

· $5,000,000 Travel Emergency Medical Insurance

Nothing eases your mind like having a good medical insurance policy. Many travel cards come with travel accident insurance or similar, but that only covers you while in transit, and not while you’re actually at your destination. The travel medical insurance, on the other hand, does.

The Travel Emergency Medical Insurance policy is a group policy issued by Royal and Sun Alliance Insurance Company, and it will cover you as the basic cardholder, your spouse and any dependent children, as well as any supplementary cardholder, his or her spouse and children, during the first 15 days of your trip. The coverage is for up to $5,000,000 per person under the age of 65, and comes into effect once you leave your Canadian state or province of residence.

· $500,000 Travel Accident Insurance

This is an AD&D policy underwritten by the Chubb Life Insurance Company, which covers you, your spouse and your children under the age of 23, as well as any additional cardmember, his or her spouse and children. The only condition is that you are all traveling in the same carrier (plane, ship, train or bus), and that all tickets were paid for in full with the American Express Gold Rewards Card. The only downside is that this policy will only cover you while in transit, and not when you’re at your destination, but that’s what the Travel Emergency Medical Insurance policy is for.

· Trip Interruption Insurance

Sometimes, you may have to cut your trip short and return home. In that case, if you have pre-paid travel arrangements, you could ask for a refund for the unused remainder of your trip, but companies will seldom refund the whole price, so you’ll end up losing money.

This policy covers you for the non-refundable portions of unused prepaid travel arrangements, as well as the most cost-effective flight fares either to rejoin your tour, to your point of departure or to your next destination. It also covers pocket money for small daily expenses.

The maximum sum covered is $1,500 per person for a maximum of $6,000 for all insured persons combined.

In the case of out-of-pocket money, the maximum is $100 a day per person, with a cap at $1,000.

· Flight and Baggage Delay Insurance

Flights can be delayed for long periods, and during this time, you may have unplanned expenses like eating at a restaurant or even staying at a hotel. Your baggage not arriving on time can be just as frustrating and can also generate more expenses. Amex’s Flight Delay and Baggage Delay Insurance cover you for up to $500 of these, and other sundry expenses.

· Lost or Stolen Baggage Insurance

If your baggage disappears altogether, is damaged or stolen while in transit, you’re covered for up to $500.

· Hotel/Motel Burglary Insurance

This policy covers up to $500 in lost personal items in case your hotel gets burglarized, as long as you paid for the room with your American Express Gold Rewards Card.

· Car Rental Theft or Damage Insurance

This one is a money saving jewel. When you rent a car, you’re required to buy a Theft and Damage policy which can cost anywhere from $16 to $23 per day!

To give you an idea, if you were to rent a car for a one-week business trip (perhaps with Hertz so as to take advantage of the other benefits mentioned above), this could add up to as much as $161 just for the insurance (not counting the car rental itself). If you pay for the car rental with your Amex Gold Canada Rewards Card, you can decline the company’s own policy and use your card’s instead, without paying a single dime, therefore saving you the $161. Keep in mind that this insurance policy will cover any rental car with a MSRP of up to $85,000, so don’t go renting a Ferrari.

A downside to the Gold Rewards Card’s insurance package is that it doesn’t come with trip cancelation insurance, which is something that many people cherish.

· Purchase Coverage

Regarding purchase coverage, you’ll get the Buyer’s Assurance Protection Plan, which doubles the manufacturer’s warranty on any purchase paid in full with the Gold Rewards Card for a maximum of one extra year. You’ll also get the Purchase Protection Plan that covers your purchases against accidental damage and theft, for a maximum of $1,000.

All this coverage for a card that only costs $150 a year?

Sounds like a plan!

Additional Benefits

Other than the card specific benefits I explained above, the Gold Rewards Card also brings in other American Express benefits that are common to all other Amex cards. These include:

  • American Express Invites, which includes Front of The Line Advance Access, Reserved Tickets, and E-Updates.
  • Access through the American Express Entrance and access to the American Express Lounge at Budweiser Stage.
  • AMEX Priority Line at The Royal Alexandra Theatre and exclusive Priority Bars at Princess of Wales and Ed Mirvish Theatres.
  • Emergency Card Replacement, anywhere in the world, in case you get burglarized or you accidentally misplace your card.

Do the benefits justify the annual fee?

Absolutely, and not just because of the welcome bonus!

With the American Express Gold Rewards Card, the welcome bonus alone will be worth a lot more than the annual fee itself. In the worst of cases, if you decide to use the points against your balance as a statement credit, the 25,000 MR points will be worth $250, giving you $100 of profit, just for signing up and using it to pay for purchases during the first three months of card membership.

On the other hand, if you go pro and do some flight hacking, you could get, at the very least, $375 for your bonus, and in the best of cases, as much as $1,000!

I’ll bet you’re thinking: All that, and you haven’t even begun with the other benefits?

YUP! That was my exact reaction when I first heard about the Gold Rewards Card. Trust me when I say that I didn’t hesitate for one second, I signed up immediately and have had it in my wallet ever since

Will this be a good deal after the first year?

After trying out many different credit cards, I reached a simple conclusion:

Signing up to any Amex card for the first time will always be a good deal during the first year, because of the welcome bonus.

However, some cards are better than others when you consider the long term benefits. Let’s start our analysis of the Gold Rewards Card by estimating how much each benefit is worth.

How much is the hotel credit really worth?

The most valuable long-term benefit that the Gold Rewards Card has to offer is the $100 USD in hotel credit. As I mentioned before, the limit for this benefit is one $100 USD credit per room, per stay! Yes, you read correctly. Notice I didn’t say a limit of one credit per year of card membership.

What this actually implies is that you’ll get this benefit EVERY TIME you book a room for two or more consecutive nights in any of The Hotel Collection properties, AND if you book more than one room in a single stay, you’ll get the credit for each room you book as well.

 $100 USD are worth roughly around $130 CAD, so let’s take a look at how this benefit could multiply itself, depending on how you use it:

Example Case 1: Booking a room for two nights only once during the year

If you book a room all to yourself for two nights, the benefit is clearly worth $130, provided you spend that much on dinning, spas and the like.

Example Case 2: Booking several rooms for two separate stays in affiliated hotels

Suppose you were to book three rooms for you and your friends for the Easter Holidays at a beach resort, and two rooms in another hotel for a couple of days on Christmas. In this case, you can receive the hotel credit FIVE TIMES DURING THE SAME YEAR. That’s 3 times for the first three rooms you booked during the first stay, and another two for the other two rooms you booked for the second stay.

That’s a value of up to $750!

How much is the hotel room upgrade worth?

This one obviously depends on the hotel you stay at and the type of room you originally booked. Since there are over 600 eligible properties and each has its own price list, there’s no way we can actually give you an exact value for this benefit. However, I will show you how much it could be worth in a specific hotel, during a specific time of year, just to give you an idea.

One weekend at the Caesars Palace in Las Vegas

A standard, 1 king sized room at the Caesars costs on average $164 USD per night, and a Palace Premium room of the same size costs an average $195 USD during low season (when it’s most probable that you’ll find available upgraded rooms). Consequently, in this case the complimentary room upgrade for the two nights will be worth  

(2 x $195)-(2 x $164) = 62 USD (approximately $80 CAD)

There is a limit of three room upgrades per cardmember, per stay, so you could save up to $240 in the Caesars Palace if you booked all three rooms and got the complimentary upgrade for each.

How much are the Hertz car rental benefits worth?

Depending on location, renting a standard car for five days can cost an average $250. Renting a car of a superior class like a full size for the same five days can cost an average $275. The fee for an additional driver runs for about $13.5 USD ($17.55 CAD) per day, adding up to $67.5 USD ($87.75 CAD) for the five-day rental. In the end, the Hertz benefits could be worth roughly around $100 or more, depending on the particular car you actually choose.

Actually being able to take advantage of these savings implies having the income necessary to spend on hotels and car rentals. Perhaps your lifestyle doesn´t allow you to travel three times a year and stay at award-winning hotels all the time, but as long as you can use these benefits at least once in a year, they make having the Gold Rewards Card a great idea, as you can see in the following table where I add up all the benefits that come with the card for the minimum value of each benefit:

The Hotel Collection hotel credit (per room, per stay) $130
Complimentary room upgrade (1 room for 2 nights at the Ceasars Palace) $80
Hertz 5 day car rental one class upgrade $25
Hertz additional driver fee $88
1 Free Additional Gold Rewards Card $50
Total Benefits $373
Annual Fee ($150)
Total Profit $223
Additional Benefits Yes

That’s over $200 in profit for a single hotel stay and a single car rental, all without adding in the other benefits

The numbers speak for themselves. It’s no wonder why so many people consider the American Express Gold Rewards Card as one of the best travel cards for Canadians today.

How does the Gold Rewards Card compare to other Amex Cards for Canadians?

The Gold Rewards Card is an excellent choice for a travel card, as it has a good balance between annual fee andboth short and long-term benefits. Nonetheless, it’s not the only option. In the same price range, we can mention the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card that also gives you excellent travel benefits. The Amex Platinum Card is a higher end card with a heavy annual fee, but it hauls great benefits the Gold Rewards lacks, and if flight hacking is your thing, you could also consider Amex cards that’ll earn you Aeroplan miles directly like the AeroplanPlus Platinum, or the AeroplanPlus Reserve.

The Amex Cobalt Card is also a great contender and it’s gained a lot of ground amongst millenials thanks to its high flexibility when earning points.

The following table shows a comparison of the most relevant features and benefits of the mentioned alternatives and the Gold Rewards Card.

Comparison of the Amex Gold Canada Rewards Card with the Aeroplan Platinum Card, the Gold Rewards Business Card, The Amex Platinum Card and the Amex Cobalt Card
Gold Rewards Card vs other Amex alternatives comparison chart

As you can see, only the Marriott Bonvoy Card and the Cobalt Card have lower fees and they’re both credit cards with lower interest rates. The Platinum and AeroplanPlus Platinum cards are both charge card with very high annual fees, but they bring a lot more benefits.

If you can afford it, I definitely recommend getting the American Express Platinum Card. If not, then the Gold Rewards Card is a sure bet.

How to Apply

If you decide that the American Express Gold Rewards Card is the one for you, applying is as simple as clicking the link below and filling out the application form. It only takes about 5 minutes, and you’ll get a response almost immediately. All you need to be eligible is to be an adult Canadian resident with an account in good standing.

FAQs

How long will it take to receive my welcome bonus?

There are two things to consider: First of all, in order to get the Gold Rewards Card’s bonus you have to reach a minimum of $1,500 in purchases (any purchase) charged to your new card in the first 90 days of card membership. This could take a while.

After you hit that goal, you have to allow up to 8 weeks for the bonus to be available in your account.

Consequently, we estimate that the soonest you could get your bonus is in about 8 weeks if you really rush your spending and charge the $1,500 in a very short time. For an average Canadian it could take anywhere from four to five months after signing up.

You might get it earlier, but it’s better to play it safe. If you plan on using the points towards a trip, be very careful not to sign up any later than 20 weeks prior toit!

How much are Membership Rewards (MR) points worth?

Depending on how you decide to redeem them, MR points can be worth:

  • Less than 1 cent per point if redeemed for merchandise in the online store
  • 1 cent per point if used for a statement credit
  • 1.5 to 2 cents per point if you use them on the Membership Rewards’ Fixed Points Travel Program
  • Up to 4 cents per mile if you transfer them to Aeroplan miles

We estimate that, on average, each point will be worth 2-2.5 cents.

What’s the highest points earning rate I can get with the American Express Gold Rewards Card?

The highest earning potential is 3 MR points per 1$ if you book hotel stays or car rentals through American Express Travel Canada’s website.

How do I transfer my MR points to Aeroplan or other loyalty programs?

There are 4 steps needed to transfer your MR points to any affiliated third party loyalty program like Aeroplan or AVIOS for the first time:

Step 1: Log into your Amex online account and select your American Express Gold Rewards Card

Step 2: Click on Explore Rewards and then, under your Points Balance section open the drop-down menu, select “Transfer Points” and click GO

Step 3: Link you Aeroplan, AVIOS or other loyalty program account to you Gold Rewards Card by choosing it from the list and filling in all the required information.

Step 4: Transfer your points in 1,000 points increments.

How long does it take to transfer my MR points to Aeroplan or Avios?

It’s very quick! Transfers to Aeroplan are made immediately, though you may need to log out of your Aeroplan account and log back in for the points to show up. Transfers to British Airways’ Avios program can take up to 5 business days, though we’ve noticed they tend to take about 2 business days on average. Be sure to transfer your points in advance if you need to urgently book a flight!

This post was not sponsored. The views and opinions expressed in this review are purely my own.

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