Choosing The Best American Express Aeroplan Card For You

American Express’ Aeroplan credit cards offer four different options for four different types of travelers. We recommend the AeroplanPlus Gold card for most Canadians, given its low ($120) annual fee and generous 15,000 welcome points bonus, which is enough for a one-way flight anywhere in North America. 

Whether you’re starting fresh with Aeroplan or looking for a boost for an upcoming trip, the AeroplanPlus Gold card is an excellent choice.

Say you’re a travel savvy Canadian resident looking for credit card options that’ll get you around the world on a budget and you happened to stumble into the Aeroplan credit card. You immediately start wondering what it’s all about; what are its pros and cons, its upsides and downsides, and, in general, how they compare with other American Express credit cards for Canadians.

The name itself, Aeroplan, catches your attention right away and tells you that this is a card for travelers (even if you never heard of it before, the word is a bit of a giveaway), but you ask yourself:

How will it help me travel?

In the following post, I’ll clear everything out for you. We’ll do the math and crunch down all the numbers so you can make an educated decision when choosing the right card for your lifestyle: the one that’ll get you the highest amount of benefits for the least amount of money.

We’ll cover everything from the basics of Aeroplan and Aeroplan miles, to the more interesting and specific aspects of the four American Express Aeroplan card options (the Standard, Gold, Platinum and Reserve cards)

At the end of the post, we’ll also give you our professional advice on which card is best in which scenario, all this to help you make sense of it all. By the time you finish reading, you’ll be weighing the ups and downs like a pro, and you’ll have learned how to make the best of every option.

To help you navigate through this post, I’ve broken it down in the following sections:

What Is Aeroplan?

Aeroplan was originally Air Canada’s mileage rewards loyalty program. It was later spun off as an entirely separate company from Air Canada in 2008, continuing to function as the airline’s exclusive loyalty program, but at the same time partnering with other Star Alliance airlines and different travel brands, including hotels, car rentals and consumer goods.

As of today, the company provides its customers the best benefits when flying with Air Canada. However, thanks to is many partners, it also provides plenty of flexibility, allowing travelers to set up itineraries with other airlines that cover over 1,300 different destinations in more than 90 countries worldwide.

What Are Aeroplan Miles?

If you have ever owned a rewards credit card or are familiar in any way to loyalty programs, you probably already guessed what Aeroplan miles are: They are the “points” or “credits” you earn for every purchase at any of Aeroplan’s partners. In other words, “Aeroplan Miles” are what Aeroplan calls its loyalty reward points.

There are different ways to earn Aeroplan Miles. However, the most obvious way is to fly on a partner airline or to shop at a partner brand, in short, to be loyal to Aeroplan and all its partners (that’s why they call them loyalty programs).

Another great way to earn miles is to use any of the American Express Aeroplan cards, or even other American Express cards like the Gold Rewards card or the Marriott Bonvoy™ card, but we’ll get back to that in a minute. Read on to find out how to maximize your miles, and how to spend them to get the most out of this very popular loyalty program.

The American Express® Aeroplanplus® Cards

American Express partnered with Aeroplan a little while ago to bring forth the Aeroplan Credit Card, also called AeroplanPlus card. This card’s most important feature is the fact that it rewards Aeroplan miles for every dollar spent on any purchase, that go directly to your Aeroplan balance, whether or not you’re purchasing at an Aeroplan partner brand.

If you do decide to shop at a partner brand or pay for flights on partner airlines with your American Express Aeroplan Card, you can still give your Aeroplan number to earn miles in the regular way. If you haven’t put two and two together yet, this means that

…you can earn miles twice on the same purchase if you pay at a partner brand with your Aeroplan credit card, once for using your card, and once for shopping at the partner brand.

Add in Aeroplan’s occasional short time offers that can boost mileage-earning rates to as high as 8 times the normal rate, and you could be earning well over 10 miles for every dollar spent. That’s an almost unrivaled earning rate!

As it happens with so many Amex cards, there are different types of American Express Aeroplan Cards:

Read on to find out the key features of these four cards, their most important pros and cons, and, in general, how they compare in different aspects with each other, and with the other American Express cards we recommend. However, before we dive into the differences that set these cards apart, let’s take a look at the common features they share:

Common Features Across The American Express Aeroplan Card Family

Below you’ll find a list of the main features that all four AeroplanPlus cards share.

  • Earn miles for every dollar in any purchase whatsoever.
  • Earn miles twice with every purchase on partner brands (as explained above).
  • Earn miles and rewards faster with additional cards.
  • Access to American Express’ Front of The Line program, which gives you access to tickets for great events, even before they are sold publicly.
  • Emergency card replacement.
  • Travel insurance coverage.
  • Online account management.
  • 24/7 customer service

You’ll find that many of the perks on the above list come with other Amex cards as well, not just with Aeroplan cards, so they’ll be more of a plus that comes with choosing American Express. To see the real tiers, we have to look at each one of the Aeroplan Cards separately.

Aeroplan Credit Cards Comparison

In the table below, you’ll find a summary of the most important characteristics of each of the four American Express Aeroplan Cards:

 StandardGoldPlatinumReserve
Annual Fee$60$120$499$899
Additional Cards$202 for free, $50 for each additional card.$199$299
Welcome Bonus (Miles)5,000 (after spending $500)15,000 (after spending $1,500)40,000 (after spending $3,000)50,000 (after spending $3,000)
Aeroplan Miles Earning Rate1 mile per $1 in purchases1 mile per $1 under $10,000 purchases. 1.25 miles per $1 over $10,000 in purchases1.25 miles per $1 under $25,000 purchases. 1.5 miles per $1 over $25,000 in purchases1.25 miles per $1
Complimentary Partner Ticket1 per year (short-haul, up to 15,000 Aeroplan miles)1 per year (long-haul, up to 25,000 Aeroplan miles)
Travel Credit$200 per year
Priority Pass Airport Lounge Membership
Amex Concierge
Aeroplan Priority Booking

Let’s start squeezing out the info on the table above and see how these cards compare in the most important aspects you should take into consideration when choosing the right card for you:

#1 Card Type

There are basically two types of Amex cards: Credit cards and Charge cards.

Only the Reserve card is an actual credit card, the rest are charge cards.

A charge card – like the Standard, Gold and Platinum cards – is a card that you have to pay in full every month, or else you will get a high annual interest rate of 30% applied to any unpaid balance. The APR on the Reserve card, on the other hand, is only 19.99% for purchases.

That’s a thumbs-up for the Reserve! However, there are more important things to take into account, in particular if you have a good credit history and always pay your credit cards on time.

#2 Annual Fee

You can see right away that there’s a huge difference in the annual fees for each card. Even the Standard card, with its not-too-steep $60 fee, isn’t really cheap, especially considering that there are other Amex cards that’ll give you a lot more benefits for a comparable fee.

If you’re looking for a card with a mid-range fee, you might be tempted to choose the Aeroplan Gold card that goes for $120 a year. However, you’ll get a much better bargain with other options like the American Express Gold Rewards card that’ll cost you $150, but with which you will get $100 in hotel credit and an additional card, for free, that’s worth an extra $50, so the card will pay for itself in no time. You can also transfer your reward points to Aeroplan miles at a 1:1 rate, so you can still earn your beloved miles and trade them in for flight rewards, later on.

The annual fees for the Platinum and Reserve cards are almost prohibitive, but you’ll learn further down this post that the benefits help offset then, at least for the first year. For a long-term credit card, the numbers really don’t add up, in our opinion.

#3 Welcome Bonus Comparison

Before comparing the welcome bonuses let’s get an important fact out of the way:

…you have to reach a minimum of purchases charged to your card in order to get the welcome bonus. This means that you won’t have the welcome bonus miles available right away, and it may take a couple of days for the miles to be available in your Aeroplan account even after you do become eligible for the bonus.

This is not an actual downside to the Aeroplan cards because it happens with all other cards as well. Having said that, the Aeroplan card that offers the best bonus to minimum purchase ratio is the Reserve card, which will get you a 50,000 miles bonus after you charge $3,000 to it. The runner up, the Aeroplan Platinum card will get you 10,000 miles less for the same $3,000 of purchases.

However, when you consider that the fee on the Reserve card is 80% higher than the Platinum Card fee (the $400 difference is 80% of $500), but the bonus is only 25% higher, it gets you thinking…

….maybe the Platinum is a better deal than the Reserve.

Don’t decide just yet, there are other things we haven’t factored in.

#4 Miles Earning Rates

This is a very important aspect of the different cards, especially if you’re considering a card for the long term. The Standard AeroplanPlus card will get you only 1 mile per $1 spent on any purchase, no matter how often you use your card. You can double that if you give your Aeroplan number at a partner brand, but that’s also true for all other American Express Aeroplan Cards as well.

With the Gold Aeroplan card, you’ll start off at the same 1x rate on the first $10,000 in purchases, but Amex boosts your earning rate to 1.25x on every $1 above those $10,000.

Amex’s AeroplanPlus Reserve Card will give you a 1.25x rate, right off the bat, no matter how often you use it, and a 2x rate on a rather short list of eligible Air Canada purchases.

The winner in this category is….

The Platinum Aeroplan card, which starts off at 1.25 miles per $1 of purchases on the first $25,000, then boosts you up to 1.5 miles per $1 above $25,000, on all purchases.

#5 Complimentary Partner Ticket, Travel Credit And Other Perks

Both the Gold and the Reserve cards offer a complimentary partner ticket once every calendar year. The Gold card for a short haul (worth up to 15,000 Aeroplan miles), and the Reserve card for either a short or a long haul ticket (the latter worth up to 25,000 miles). This is an added, long lasting bonus (unlike the welcome bonus that you’ll only get once), which will help offset the high annual fees of both cards after your first year. The Reserve card also offers $200 in travel credit every calendar year that’ll further help thwart the $900 fee.

Other benefits like Priority Pass Airport Lounge access, Aeroplan Priority booking, Amex Concierge, travel insurance and more, only keep adding value to a card that, all of a sudden, doesn’t look that bad, even for $900 a year.

Crunching The Numbers

Now that we’re crystal-clear on how much your Aeroplan miles are worth, and how many miles you can expect to earn with your Aeroplan Credit Cards, let’s do the math and see what the best options are.

We’ll play a little game of worst-case/best-case scenario and calculate how much cash your miles would save you if you spent them in both the worst and the best ways possible. Remember that, in the worst of cases, you would get roughly 1 cent (or $0.01) per mile (it’s actually 0.7 cents, but we’ll round it up make numbers easier to follow), and in the best of cases you would be getting about 4 cents (or $0.04) per mile.

I’m going to break it down in two: the benefits during the first year of card-membership (the short-term benefits) and the benefits after the first year (long-term benefits)

CardAnnual feeWelcome Bonus + extra earned milesWorst Case Scenario:
Miles x $0.01
Best Case Scenario:
Miles x $0.04
Average:
Miles x $0.025
Standard$605,000 Miles$50 (net loss of $10)$200 (net win of $140)$125 (net win of $65)
Gold$12015,000 miles$150 (net win of $30)$600 (net win of $480)$375 (net win of $255)
Platinum$50040,000 + 15,000 (complimentary ticket)= 55,000 miles$550 (net win of $50)$2,200 (net win of $1,700)$1,375 (net win of $875)
Reserve$90050,000 + 25,000 (complimentary ticket) = 75,000 miles$750 + $200 (travel credit) = $950 (net win of $50)$3,000+$200 (travel credit) = $3,200 (net win of $2,300)$1,875 + $200 (travel credit) = $2,075 (net win of $1,175)

Notice I also added an average value of 2.5 cents per mile, which is the most likely value an average cardmember will get.

For the long term, neither the Standard nor the Gold cards offer miles bonuses or travel credits, so the only benefits you’ll receive will come entirely from the use you give them. If you use them enough, you’ll obviously be able to accumulate enough miles to offset the annual fee and come out wining in the end, but they won’t pay themselves as they do during the first year.

The Platinum and Reserve cards will give you long lasting benefits that include partner tickets and travel credit (the latter only for the Reserve card):

CardAnnual feeLong term benefitsWorst Case Scenario: miles x $0.01 (balance)Best Case Scenario: miles x $0.04 (balance)Average: miles x $0.025 (balance)
Gold$1202 additional cards (worth $100)$100 (net loss of $20)$100 (net loss of $20)$100 (net loss of $20)
Platinum$50015,000 (complimentary ticket)$150 (net loss of $350)$600 (net win of $100)$375 (net loss of $125)
Reserve$90025,000 (complimentary ticket)$250 + $200 (travel credit) = $450 (net loss of $450)$1,000+$200 (travel credit) = $1,200 (net win of $300)$625 + 200 (travel credit) = $825 (net loss of $75)

Just looking at the colors in both tables tells you all you need to know. During the first year, the welcome bonuses on all four cards are more than enough to counterweight the annual fees, even if you redeem your miles in an average way. Among the four cards, the Reserve card is the one that’ll get you the highest amount of savings, easily surpassing $1,000, even after accounting for the $900 fee.

After the first year though, things look a little different. The Platinum and Reserve cards can still pay for themselves with the value of the complimentary partner ticket and the travel credit, but only if you take great care in spending your miles wisely (following our recommendations in this post).

On the other hand, if you redeem your miles carelessly and don’t do the math, you’ll end up losing well over $100 a year, just for having any one of these cards in your wallet.

How To Earn Aeroplan Miles

Earning Aeroplan Miles is easy—all you have to do is follow these simple steps:

Step 1: Sign up for a free Aeroplan card. It takes less than 5 minutes and everyone is accepted.

Step 2: Start earning points by doing any of the following:

  • Give your Aeroplan number whenever purchasing products or services at a partner brand.
  • Apply for an American Express Aeroplan Card and use it to receive a great welcome bonus, as well as one or more miles for every dollar spent on purchases (wait for iiiiit…).
  • Transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to Aeroplan miles at a 1:1 rate.
  • Transfer Marriott Bonvoy™ points to Aeroplan miles at a 3:1 rate.

These are the most important and effective ways to earn Aeroplan miles. Aeroplan occasionally offers bargains and deals through their partners that increase your mileage-earning rate, but those promotions are usually of short lived so we won’t cover them here.

How Much Are Aeroplan Miles Really Worth?

Before we dive into the American Express Aeroplan Cards, it is essential to be able to estimate how much your miles are really worth, in order to get a clear view of the benefits you’ll receive by signing up to any of the four AeroplanPlus cards.

Aeroplan miles vary in value based on how you use them.

If you’ve read any of our other posts, you may already have an idea as to how to estimate the worth of reward points (or miles in this case). It all boils down to how you redeem them. As mentioned above, Aeroplan offers different ways to spend your miles including flight rewards, car rental, hotel bookings and purchasing different products and services.

Read on to learn the best and the worst ways in which you can use your Aeroplan miles in order to estimate how much they’re worth, while at the same time learning the math behind those estimates.

Flight Rewards: What Aeroplan Miles Are “Supposed” To Be Used For

The best way to redeem miles in Aeroplan is to trade them in for flight rewards, which means paying for flights with miles instead of cash. You could spend hours trying to find good deals that’ll give you more for your miles, but I’ll show you the most important tips that’ll turn you into an Aeroplan flight-hacking guru in no time.

Tip #1: Use your miles for domestic flights, and fly Air Canada whenever possible.

It was only to be expected that the best benefits of using Aeroplan miles should come from trading them in for flights on Air Canada, the company that gave birth to Aeroplan in the first place. However, things aren’t as simple as they seem, as this only applies to domestic flights.

Why?

Because Air Canada imposes fuel surcharges on flights paid with Aeroplan miles, which can add up to several hundreds of dollars for international flights, but which are more manageable for domestic flights.

To give you a clearer view of what I mean, let me start by showing you the following international round trip flight from Toronto to Prague on Air Canada, advertised by Aeroplan as a “Great deal” on their landing page:

Aeroplan Toronto to Prague

Example 1: Aeroplan Flight Reward round trip from Toronto to Prague on Air Canada

As you can see, the round trip will cost you 61,800 miles + $597.26 for taxes, fees and surcharges. That means that, besides spending a very large amount of miles, you still have to pay almost $300 in cash for each fare of the round trip!

The same round trip, on the same fight, paid in cash, booked with Air Canada directly would cost $1,066, as shown below.

Air Canada Toronto to Prague

Same flight as above, booked directly with Air Canada runs for $1,066

Ok, let’s crunch some numbers, it’s a lot easier than you think: If you were to use your miles, you would be spending 61,800 miles but you would also have to spend an additional $597.26 in cash. If you were to pay cash only, it would cost you $1,066.28.

This means that the 61,800 miles are saving you the difference of $469, in other words, that

61,800 miles = 1,066 – 597 = $469

At this rate, you would be getting roughly 0.8 cents per mile (all you have to do is divide the worth in cash by the number of miles to get the amount of dollars per mile, than multiply by 100 to get cents).

-Ok, this number alone may not tell you much yet, but you’ll soon find out that you can do way better than that.-

Now let’s take a look at a domestic, long-haul one-way Air Canada flight from Vancouver to Montreal.

Aeroplan Vancouver to Montreal

Example 2: Aeroplan fixed miles Flight Reward one-way trip from Vancouver to Montreal

Air Canada Vancouver to Montreal

Same flight as above, booked directly with Air Canada runs for $519

To compare these numbers with the above example, since this is a one-way trip, we should multiply everything here times 2. Notice the huge difference in the number of miles (12,500 x 2 = 25,000 compared to 61,800) and in surcharge fees ($73 x 2 =$146 compared to $597), even though the actual price in cash is almost the same ($518 x 2 = $1036 compared to $1,066). This combination boosts the value of your miles.

Using the same logic as before, the 12,500 miles are saving you $518 – 73 = $445, which means you’re getting 3.6 cents per mile.

That’s close to 5 times more than what you would get from a “good deal” on an international Air Canada flight! (I can’t imagine what a bad deal would look like)

Flying domestic on other partner airlines also gives you a good rate, but not as good as an Air Canada flight of equal distance (see summary table a little further down)

Tip #2: Spend your miles on international flights that don’t impose fuel surcharges.

You can see clearly that the problem with Air Canada’s international flights is the surcharge fee.

But, does that mean that you’re limited to using your miles only for domestic flights, if you want to get a good exchange rate?

No, it doesn’t. There are a number of Aeroplan partner airlines that don’t add fuel surcharge fees on international flights, even if you’re paying your ticket with miles. The following list includes some of the best ones

  1. United Airlines
  2. Swiss Airlines
  3. Turkish Airlines
  4. Singapore Airlines
  5. Air New Zealand
  6. Eva Airways (SE Asia)
  7. Air China

You’ll usually have to pay more miles with these airlines than you would with Air Canada for the same flight plan, but you save hundreds of dollars on fuel surcharges, so you come out wining in the end.

Let me illustrate this with another example, a one-way trip from Toronto to Singapore flying Eva Air. As you can see bellow, this example illustrates two very important differences with the international Air Canada flights: It costs more miles (remember that the 61,800 miles were for the round trip) but only a small fraction of the cash in fees.

Aeroplan Toronto to Singapore

Example 3: Aeroplan one-way Market Fare Flight Reward from Toronto to Singapore

Eva Air Toronto to Singapore

Same flight as above, booked directly with Eva Air runs for $747

With Eva Air, flying from Canada to Singapore can cost you as little as $54 plus 45,000 miles (that’s even better than my previously posted Asia to North America flight for $75 ), instead of the regular price of $747. This gives you a value of 1.5 cents per mile. That’s almost twice as good as flying international with Air Canada (though not as good as flying domestic).

Tip #3: Use your miles for business class flights.

If you like traveling with style and comfort and you can’t suffer economy-class flights, but you still want to save money while you’re at it, then the best way to spend your miles is definitely flying in business class. As you’ll see from our example below, the cost in miles is twice what you would be spending for the economy-class ticket, but the price in cash is more than double whilst the surcharge is not. This combination gets you more value per mile.

Aeroplan Vancouver to Montreal in Business Class

Example 4: Aeroplan Flight Reward for a one-way trip from Vancouver to Montreal in business class.

Air Canada Vancouver to Montreal in Business Class

Same trip, same flight in business class booked with Air Canada paid in cash.

In this case, you get 4.1 cents per mile. The same applies when flying business class on the other examples, but I’m sure you get the idea.

The following table summarizes everything I’ve explained so far. In it, you’ll find real examples of the value you can get out of your miles by redeeming them for different flight rewards, including the examples already shown above:

Flight PlanAirlineCost (Booked with the Airline)Cost (Booked with Aeroplan)You Save:Estimated Value (¢ per mile)
From:To:
Aeroplan Miles+Taxes, fees and surcharges
Toronto (round trip)Prague (round trip)Air Canada$ 1,06661,800+$ 597$ 4690.8
VancouverMontrealAir Canada$ 51912,500+$ 73$ 4463.6
TorontoSingaporeEva Air$ 74745,000+$ 54$ 6931.5
VancouverMontrealAir Canada (Business class)$ 1,14225,000+$ 112$ 1,0304.1
SeattleNew YorkUnited$ 26512,500+$ 7,5$ 257.52.1
VancouverNew YorkAir Canada and United$ 53212,500+$ 125$ 4073.3
VancouverNew YorkAir Canada$ 59443,100+$ 81$ 5131.2

Summary of the estimated value of Aeroplan miles redeemed for different flight rewards. Unless specified otherwise, all flights are in economy class.

The absolute best value comes from flying domestic on Air Canada in business class. After that comes the same flight in economy class. Flying United inside the US is a great way to save both miles and cash, as the said airline doesn’t impose surcharges on its domestic flights.

Using Your Aeroplan Miles For Hotel Bookings

Another way to redeem your miles is to use them to pay for your hotels. The following is a short list of lodging options in Rome, which you can pay for in full with Aeroplan miles.

Aeroplan Hotel Rewards in Rome

Example of some partner hotels in Rome you can pay in full with your miles.

This is but a short list of the many available options. The first one, marked as a “Great deal”, normally costs $2.400, but you can pay 259,850 miles instead. In other words

259,850 miles = $2.400

This sums up to 0.92 cents per mile, so it’s really not a good deal, especially considering the insane amount of miles you would be spending. With that amount of miles, you could travel around the world and still have miles left over in the end.

Using Your Aeroplan Miles For Other Purchases

You can also trade in your miles for car rentals, vacations packages and purchases with Aeroplan partner brands, but you’ll never reach even an acceptable value for your miles. In fact, probably the worst way to spend them is to trade them in for a gift card at a partner brand. A $500 gift card will cost you 70,000 miles, giving you an appalling value of 0.7 cents per mile.

The Bottom Line

In the worst-case scenario, you’ll get a little under a cent per mile. On the other hand, if you spend like a pro, you can easily get away with 4+ cents per mile.

Now that you know how much your miles are worth, let’s go back to the American Express Aeroplan Credit Cards!

In Summary

If you really want to get an Aeroplan card, we recommend getting the AeroplanPlus Reserve Card. The first year is a net win for you -the 50,000 miles bonus + 25,000 miles complimentary partner ticket + $200 travel credit combined are worth about $2,000 in the first year alone.

If you’re looking for a card that offers lounge access and the Amex Concierge, definitely go for the American Express Platinum instead.

For a card you should keep year after year, we’ve done the number crunching and firmly believe that the Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express Card is the best card for most Canadians. It offers an exceptional welcome bonus of 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy™ points, and gives you lasting benefits like a free hotel night every year, which you can use at some of the most spectacular hotels in the world.

If you’re really keen on building your Aeroplan balance though, we can suggest a couple of alternatives:

  • Transfer your Marriott Bonvoy™ points to Aeroplan miles.
  • Get the American Express Gold Rewards card that has a fee of only $150, gives you a welcome bonus of 25,000 MR points, a $100 hotel credit, a great MR points earning rate and, best of all, you can transfer all your points to Aeroplan miles at a 1:1 rate.

How To Find Cheap Flights To Europe From Canada – $75 Or Less

The American Express Gold Rewards Card for Canadians is an excellent travel card for travelers looking to get some cheap flights to Europe with a low annual fee. It comes with a welcome bonus of 25,000 points—which we value between $500 and $750—plus an impressive travel insurance policy, $100 in hotel credit, and much more.

With an annual fee of just $150, this card pays for itself several times over, even for infrequent travelers. This post will show you exactly how to use the American Express Gold Rewards Card to get your next flight to Europe for $75 or less.

The Request:

Feb 10-24, Toronto to Europe
Destinations are flexible
Arrival/departure cities must be different


As you learned in our How to Fly from Asia to North America (and vice versa) for $75 post, you can save up to 90% off the cost of your flights by using Aeroplan points if you use them correctly. So today, thanks to Sarah, you’re going to learn how to use your Aeroplan points to their absolute fullest when flying to or from Europe.

The first step is in knowing the best airlines to fly with. These are the top 7 airlines you’ll want to fly with when redeeming your Aeroplan points:

  1. United Airlines
  2. Swiss Airlines
  3. Turkish Airlines
  4. Singapore Airlines
  5. Air New Zealand
  6. Eva Airways (Southeast Asia)
  7. Air China

As you can see, two of the top seven airlines are based in Europe – Turkish Airlines and Swiss Airlines – which means that their hub cities, Zurich and Istanbul, are great places to start looking. United Airlines services Europe extremely well, too, so the cities that United serves heavily will also be good targets.

A quick search shows that our logic is spot on: Sarah can get to either Zurich or Istanbul for $50.

Here Are 10+ Cheap Flights To Europe From Canada

Flying from Toronto to Zurich, Switzerland using Aeroplan miles
Flying from Toronto to Istanbul, Turkey using Aeroplan miles

But Sarah wants more than just two options, so here are two more that work just as well:

Flying from Toronto to Rome, Italy using Aeroplan miles
Flying from Toronto to Berlin, Germany using Aeroplan miles

What if Sarah was leaving from Vancouver or Montreal instead of Toronto? No problem.

Flying from Vancouver to Paris, France using Aeroplan miles
Flying from Montreal to Copenhagen, Denmark using Aeroplan miles

Or what if Sarah wanted to fly from New York to Oslo for $35, or San Francisco to Madrid for an amazing $15?! You got it.

Flying from New York to Oslo, Norway using Aeroplan miles
Flying from San Francisco to Madrid, Spain using Aeroplan miles

Okay, so we know that we can easily meet Sarah’s needs of getting her to Europe on her ideal date, and she’s got 10+ great options of cities to choose from. Finding cheap flights to Europe using Aeroplan is a breeze!

But what about her flight home? As it turns out, getting home is just as easy.

Flying from Milan, Italy to Toronto using Aeroplan miles
Flying from Barcelona, Spain to Montreal using Aeroplan miles
Flying from Dublin, Ireland to Vancouver using Aeroplan miles

Just like flying to/from Asia, it’s easy to get to/from Europe for next-to-nothing. But we’ve skipped over the most crucial part: how Sarah got her Aeroplan points in the first place. So here it is: the dead-simple two-step process that Sarah followed to a tee to save over $700 on her trip.

STEP 1 OF 2: GET YOUR POINTS

In November, Sarah got herself an American Express Gold Rewards Card, which gave her a whopping 25,000 points, more than enough to get her to Europe. Her card arrived in 2 days.

STEP 2 OF 2: USE YOUR POINTS

That same day, Sarah got an Aeroplan Card. You’re going to transfer your American Express points into Aeroplan points in order to take the flights above, so you’ll need one of these. Fill out their 60-second online form and you’re all set – everyone gets approved automatically.

And that’s it.

Sounds too good to be true, right? I thought so too, until I helped dozens of people like Sarah follow these exact steps and get on flights like the ones above. Not all great things have to come at high prices.

The Germany Limitation

There are just two hiccups you’ll come across when booking your flights to/from Europe, and they’re both easily avoidable. The Germany Limitation comes as a result of the majority of Aeroplan flights in and out of Germany being operated by Lufthansa, which matches Air Canada as the worst airline for redeeming your Aeroplan miles, so you need to change the airlines you fly with. But doing that within Germany is a bit tricky, just like Thailand proved to be in our deep look at flying from Asia to North America for $75, so our recommendation is the exact same – get out of Germany. Even when I did find a Frankfurt to Toronto flight with United Airlines, the German government-imposed fees added nearly $100 extra on to what the flight should’ve costed. Here’s a breakdown of those taxes and fees.

The German government adds a lot of taxes and fees on to what should be a very cheap flight to Europe.

Given how small European countries are and the ease of flying between them – starting from the major cities in Germany, you can fly internationally in multiple directions for under $20 – there’s no real need to fly to Canada directly from Germany. Do yourself a favour and add on a day or two in a nearby city like Amsterdam, Zurich, or Paris; not only will it add colour to your trip, the cost of your flights will drop significantly. That’s what you call a win-win. Here’s a breakdown of the taxes and fees when departing from Zurich instead, a full $75 cheaper.

The taxes and fees on Swiss Airlines are much less.

The UK Limitation

The second hiccup is the Air Passenger Duty applied to flights departing the UK for North America – and it’s a big one – but you have two options for avoiding it. You could take the same approach as with Germany above and just leave the UK before you start your return journey, or you could book a flight that has European connections built-in. Switzerland is nearby so you could jump on a Swiss Airlines flight with a connection in Geneva or Zurich, or find a United Airlines flight that stops in Paris or Madrid. However you do it, just don’t fly directly back from the UK, or you’ll be hit with a fee like the $145.50 one below.

The UK Air Passenger Duty fee is no fun

Bonus: Hacking Istanbul

There are a few sweet spots that only those of us really deep in our Aeroplan knowledge know about, and one of them is Istanbul.

When I run a search for Istanbul, things look good at first: since you’re flying with Turkish Airlines – one of the top 7 airlines listed above – you don’t pay any fuel surcharge, which is why the price is so low. But upon a closer look, there’s a problem: the Aeroplan points required for that flight, which are 30,000 for the rest of Europe, now sits at 37,500. That 25% jump is substantial, but luckily for you, you won’t be paying it.

Instead, you’re going to skip a leg.

Let’s open up another search tab and look back at one of our previous destinations: Rome. The search results look like any others, but there’s something highly interesting hidden within them: the Turkish Airlines flights from Toronto to Rome have a stop in Istanbul!

Toronto to Rome

You’ve probably put things together by now: The best way to get to Istanbul is not by buying a ticket to Istanbul; instead, it’s by buying this ticket to Rome and getting out in Istanbul.

Anyone else feel like this after reading that?

But we need to be very clear about something: this method of purchasing a multi-segment flight and skipping the end of it is not viewed positively in the airlines’ eyes. Last year, United Airlines and Orbitz.com, one of the world’s largest online travel agencies, collectively sued a website that was making it easier for travelers to find these types of tickets. So if you’re going to do it, do yourself a favour and don’t flaunt it.

Something else to consider: you should not check luggage when skipping a flight segment. While it is sometimes possible to check your luggage to an intermediate destination, it’s not a sure thing, and assuming you don’t want your luggage to end up in Rome while you’re exploring Istanbul, it’s better to just avoid checking bags altogether. Luckily, at the time of this writing, Turkish Airlines allows one piece of carry-on cabin baggage up to 8kg plus an additional personal item, which is enough for most people.


So what’s the point of all this?

Two things.

First, to give you the knowledge you need to make smart, informed decisions about finding cheap flights to Europe, and back to Canada as well. If you’ve been trying to buy cheap flights to Europe, or anywhere else, without this type of knowledge, you’ve probably been over-paying by a substantial amount. That stops now.

And second, to show you that flying doesn’t need to be expensive. With the right tools in place, you can cut your flight costs by 50% or more. Invest 5 minutes to save $500-$1,000 on your travels today.

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll probably like its sister post How to Fly from Asia to North America (and vice versa) for $75, or our new post on the best American Express Aeroplan cards.

How To Fly From Asia To North America For $75

Flying from Asia to Canada can be expensive—but it doesn’t have to be. If you have the right knowledge and tools, you can do it for less than $75. This post will give you the knowledge and the tools you need to do it yourself—all in 10 minutes or less. Getting yourself an American Express Gold Rewards Card is the first step.

The American Express Gold Rewards Card for Canadians is an excellent travel card for Canadians looking for a high-impact card with a low annual fee. It comes with a welcome bonus of 25,000 points—which we value at between $500-$750—plus an impressive travel insurance policy, $100 in hotel credit, and much more. With an annual fee of just $150, this card pays for itself several times over in just a single trip to Asia.

I need to come home.

Not because I’m homesick. No, it’s because I have flights booked that are taking me to LA, San Francisco, Vegas, Toronto and more, all scheduled for the next couple of weeks.

So I’m going to book my flights in the next 60 minutes. And while I do it, I’m going to document exactly how I do it. Here’s my situation:

I need to get from Asia to Los Angeles, where I’ll be visiting a few friends. I have unfinished business in both Guangzhou, China and Singapore, so I’d like to leave Asia from one of those two cities.

Oh ya – and I want to do it as cheaply as possible.

Luckily, I have a secret: I know how to drop the cost of these Asia to North America flights by 90%.

Yes, that’s right, I’m going to pay 10% of what the passengers on my left and right paid.

How will I do it? I’m going to use 37,500 Aeroplan points, which are an exceptionally valuable tool when used in the right way.

And right now, in the next five minutes, I’m going to show you both a) how to get them, and b) how to use them the right way.

This Is How Flight Experts Find Cheap Flights

First, you need to know which are the best airlines for using your Aeroplan points with:

  1. United Airlines
  2. Swiss Airlines
  3. Turkish Airlines
  4. Singapore Airlines
  5. Air New Zealand
  6. Eva Airways (SE Asia)
  7. Air China

Why are they the best? Because they don’t make you pay the fuel surcharge, which is a fee several hundred dollars in magnitude on international flights. In other words, these airlines are a lot cheaper to fly with.

And when I open up the Guide, something jumps out at me right away. Three of the top seven airlines on the list, my personal favourites, are based in Asia: Singapore Airlines, Air China, and EVA Airways. That tells me something even more important: their hub cities, Singapore, Beijing, and Taipei will definitely offer some great prices to North America.

Just thirty seconds into my search process, my decision is made for me: I’m leaving from Singapore.

A quick search on the Aeroplan website confirms it: I can get from Singapore to LA for $73.80 CAD. I’ll book it right now.

(5-minute pause while Jordan books his ticket)

Singapore to LA for under $75!

Okay, I’ve booked the Singapore-LA flight for $73.80. But now I’m curious – what are the prices like from those other two cities? As expected, they’re exceptionally cheap, just like my Singapore flight:

Beijing to LA
Taipei to LA

Okay, that all makes sense – the Guide basically gave that one away. But what if I just wanted to go to LA directly from Chiang Mai?

Good question. And I’d tell you that’s a bad move.

Why? Well, the entire key here is that the most important factor in booking your flights with Aeroplan is the airline, which is why the first thing I did when thinking about my flights was determine which airlines are based where in Asia. So in keeping with that thought process, we need to think about which airlines are based in Chiang Mai. The answer?

ZERO

Not a single one. In that case, we need to look to other airlines based in the same country or region. Here in Thailand we’ve got Thai Airways which, without surprise, dominates traffic in and out of Chiang Mai.

But there’s a problem: Thai Airways isn’t anywhere on our list of good airlines to fly with. In fact, on a global scale, it’s one of the worst for Aeroplan flights. I avoid them at all costs when booking with Aeroplan, and you should too. From a practical perspective, Thailand is a bad place to fly into or out of.

That sounds harsh, but when you see all of the other options you have, it ceases to matter. Here are just a few amazing flights from cities all over Asia that I found in a couple minutes of searching:

Guangzhou, China to LA
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam to LA
Bali, Indonesia to LA
Tokyo, Japan to LA

There’s actually something exciting here for you if you need to reach Thailand: you can visit another Asian city and still pay less than you would by flying into or out of Thailand. Bonus!

Also, do you notice anything about the above examples? That’s right, we’re also using United Airlines. United is another favourite from Page 7 of the Guide, so any flights you can take with them are going to be cheap as well. Just like I did with the Singapore to LA flight, combining one of Singapore Airlines, Air China, or EVA Airways with United Airlines is a fantastic, replicable way of getting from Asia to North America.

So that’s that; my flight is booked, and there’s a myriad of other options for anyone else leaving from Asia as well.

But some of you are thinking, “This doesn’t apply to me, I’m not going to LA!” Take a look at these next two flights. Yes, this strategy works to anywhere in North America.

Hong Kong to Toronto, one of the rare times we advocate using Air Canada for Aeroplan redemptions
Singapore to Vancouver

Okay, maybe this is all a bit overwhelming. After all, you just want to get from A to B as cheaply as possible, right?

Exactly. So here’s the 80/20, or how to get the most value from this post. (Canadians only )

STEP 1 OF 2: GET YOUR POINTS

Your ticket to 25,000 points (and a $75 flight to Asia) is in the American Express Gold Rewards Card. Just take 3 minutes to fill out this form, and you’ll have your Gold Rewards Card in your hands within a week.

STEP 2 OF 2: USE YOUR POINTS

As soon as you close that tab, get yourself an Aeroplan Card. You’re going to transfer your American Express points into Aeroplan points in order to take the flights above, so you’ll need one of these. Fill out their 60-second online form and you’re all set – everyone gets approved automatically.

And that’s it! You’ll be enjoying authentic dim sum in no time.

If you want to show your friends how much of a flight hacker you are, share this post with them. Or if you’re not quite there yet and still need some clarification, we’re easy to reach via email, and we deal with these sort of problems every single day. I’d love to help you explore the world in a deeper, more meaningful way in 2019 and beyond.

Oh, and let us know if you got any value out of this post – depending on the response it receives, we may create similar posts for reaching the other continents, like this one to EuropeYes, you can fly to any continent in the world for under $100 (except Antarctica – we haven’t quite cracked that one yet). Help us help you by sharing this post and giving us your feedback!

How To Use British Airways Avios 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 that 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.


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.

The Amex Business Platinum Canada: A Review

The conversations always start the same way: an aspiring Canadian traveler wants to know how I’ve been flying around the world for the past four years for next-to-nothing. And the answer is always the same: while I had a strong handle on how to travel in style extremely cheaply before that—think roundtrips to Asia or Europe for under $100 total—it wasn’t until I got my own personal Amex Platinum Card in 2015 that things truly kicked into overdrive.

And since then, thousands of Canadians have joined me in capitalizing on an incredible travel opportunity available to Canadians right now. My only question is…

Will you be one of them?

American Express Platinum Card for Canadians
One of the private suites your Business Platinum unlocks for you at the Turkish Airlines Lounge at Istanbul International Airport (IST)

A 40,000 Points Welcome Bonus

I’ve already written about the relevant benefits of the American Express Platinum card here, so I won’t repeat those in this post. The summary, though, is that even if you use the points in the worst possible way, you’ll receive some impressive rewards by getting the Platinum card.

And yes, that’s after accounting for the $700 annual fee.

If you use the points smartly, of course, you can do much, much better than that. For example, when you accumulate 75,000 points, here are some of the trips you can take: 

RoutePoints NeededTaxes & Fees
Roundtrip: Toronto to Hong Kong70,000$100
Roundtrip: Vancouver to Hong Kong60,000$90
Round-the-world: Toronto to Hong Kong to Dubai to London to Toronto74,500$761
Round-the-world: Vancouver to Hong Kong to Dubai to London to Vancouver74,700$742

The Platinum card is a truly exceptional offer that I can’t recommend highly enough. It’s been my ticket to flying in business and first class all over the globe, not to mention staying in some of the world’s nicest hotels for a fraction of the regular price.

But that said, American Express’ Business Platinum card is the new offer in town, and it’s one that every Canadian traveler needs to know about, too.

Though the Platinum and Business Platinum cards are extremely similar in their benefits and features, there are a few crucial differences. Here’s how the two cards compare:

Comparing The Amex Platinum And Amex Business Platinum Canadian Cards

American Express Business Platinum CardAmerican Express Platinum Card
Welcome Bonus40,000 points50,000 points
Annual Fee$499$699
Annual Travel CreditNo$200
Worldwide Airport Lounge Access With Priority Pass Select ($399 USD Value)
Worldwide Centurion Lounge Access
Complimentary flight upgrades and companion tickets
Hotel Upgrades & Extras
Comprehensive travel, medical and purchase insurance
24/7 Platinum Travel Concierge
Earn 1.25 Points Per Dollar Spent
Employee Card Misuse Protection 
Disability Plan for Small Business 
Application LinkAPPLY HEREAPPLY HERE

As you can see, the two cards are pretty similar. For 99% of people, the top three rows are what matter most.

The Business Platinum card costs $499 and comes with a welcome bonus of 40,000 points, while the Platinum card costs $699 and comes with a welcome bonus of 50,000 points plus the $200 annual travel credit.

How To Transform 40,000 Points Into 52,000 Points

This one is dead simple: at least once per year, American Express offers a transfer bonus when you transfer your points to a program like British Airways Avios or Aeroplan. The most recent transfer bonus period, where every point transferred to British Airways Avios earned a 30% bonus, ran from September until November 25, 2018. Just by transferring your points at the right time, 40,000 points all of a sudden become 52,000 points. As we’ll see next, that little trick is worth hundreds of dollars to you.

How Much Are The 52,000 Points Really Worth?

As I outlined in my post on the Platinum card, I value these American Express Membership Rewards points at between two to three cents per point. That means that your 52,000 points are worth between $1,040 and $1,560!

Why isn’t there an exact value for the points?

Because every flight you use them on holds a different value. Here’s an example.

American Express Platinum Card for Canadians
Holders of both the Platinum and the Business Platinum cards get access to American Express Centurion Lounges all around the world, like this one in Hong Kong

This week I booked a direct Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong to London, and a direct British Airways flight from London to Istanbul a few days later. I have plenty of points laying around thanks to my Business Platinum card, so I booked both of them using British Airways’ Avios program.

I also took screenshots on the same days I booked the flights to compare the prices between what I paid and the cash price. Here’s how it all shakes out.

Flight 1: Hong Kong To London — Economy Class

On March 27th, I fly from Hong Kong to London on Cathay Pacific in economy class. I paid 30,000 Avios points plus $52.50 CAD for my ticket. If I had bought my exact same seat with cash, it would’ve cost me $3,911 CAD, but since the cheapest direct flight on that day is $1,194 CAD, we’ll compare with that instead.

American Express Platinum Card for Canadians
Flying from Hong Kong HKG to London LHR in Cathay Pacific’s economy class

$1,194 – $52.20 = $1,141.80 saved by using points

÷ 30,000 points paid

= 3.8 cents per point

This is a really good redemption. At this rate, your 52,000 points would be worth just under $2,000!

Flight 2: London To Istanbul — Business Class

Four days later, on March 31, I’m flying from London to Istanbul in business class. I paid 20,000 Avios points plus $40 CAD for my ticket, though as you can see below, the exact same ticket was priced at $1,001 CAD when I bought it. Let’s do the value per point calculation again.

American Express Platinum Card for Canadians
Flying from London LHR to Istanbul IST in British Airways’ business class

$1,001 – $40 = $971 saved by using points

÷ 20,000 points paid

= 4.9 cents per point

This is an even better value than the Hong Kong to London flight. If you could redeem all 52,000 of the points you get with the Business Platinum card at this rate, they’d be worth over $2,500 to you. That’s a 5x return on your initial $499 investment!

How To Book Some Amazing Flights With Your 52,000 Points

We’ve already put together some mega-posts on how to book some seriouslyamazing flights all over the world, so I won’t repeat those here. You can’t go wrong with these three:

How To Fly From Asia to North America For Under $75

How To Fly From New York to Rio de Janeiro For $8 Flat

How To Fly From Canada to Europe For Under $50

“I always thought people who cared about credit card points were silly. Now I’m kicking myself for not caring sooner.

It’s not tough to spend the travel credit, since you can use it on flights/hotels/rental cars and more, and you don’t need to do the traveling itself in order to spend it. If you’re going on vacation in May, you can buy your flight or hotel in January and you’re all set from there.

Side note: If you are planning on doing some international travel, you should definitely read our N26 review, our review on the new N26 You Card and our TransferWise review to learn the best way to save money on foreign ATM withdrawals and currency conversion while you’re abroad.

My Recommendation

There’s a reason I mentioned above that the current offer on the American Express Business Platinum card is so good:

I don’t expect it to be here for long!

If the Platinum card—which used to also offer a 75,000 points welcome bonus—is any indicator, we’ll see the same things happen to the Business Platinum card.

The welcome bonus will decrease.

The annual fee will increase (in fact, it already increased from $399 to $499 as of mid-February, 2018).

The benefits to new applicants will decrease.

So while this offer still stands, I highly recommend you pick up the Business Platinum card.

While you’re at it, you should seriously consider the Platinum card as well.

I realize that paying $499 AND $699 in fees seems like a lot, and it is. (The Cobalt Card is a much more manageable $10/month, though it doesn’t offer the massive welcome bonuses that you get with these Platinum cards. For a card that offers both an impressive welcome bonus and a low annual fee, go for the Marriott Bonvoy Card.)

But when you compare the value you get out of the offer—more than double that amount in travel, free access to airport lounges around the world, complimentary flight upgrades, extremely comprehensive insurance, and on and on—it truly is a steal.

At the end of the day, it’s a small expense given the value you’ll extract, both today and for years to come.

Three Alternative Cards

If you’re not quite sure whether the Business Platinum Card is right for you, there are plenty of other great credit cards out there.

Here are the three best offers available in Canada right now:

#1 The Marriott Bonvoy™ Amex Card

This is undoubtedly the best credit card offer in Canada in 2019. Its 60,000 points welcome bonus, annual free night award and a wide array of other benefits makes the personal Marriott Bonvoy™ Amex Card an absolute steal for its $120 annual fee. We recommend that every Canadian sign up for this card while this incredible introductory offer still lasts.

#2 The Marriott Bonvoy™ Business Amex Card

If you’re set on getting a business credit card, the Marriott Bonvoy™ Business Amex Card is another great option. If you’re a frequent traveler, you’ll love the annual Free Night Award, which you can cash in at some of the nicest hotels in the world.

The Business Gold Rewards Card offers good value as well, though we feel that 60,000 points welcome bonus and the lower annual fee of the Marriott Bonvoy™ Business Amex Card make it the better choice.

#3 The Cobalt Card

The Amex Cobalt Card is the best everyday spending card available right now, and one of our favorite cards overall. Why? Because you can get up to 10% cashback on your spending when you use the Cobalt Card on at coffee shops, restaurants, bars and grocery stores coffee anywhere in Canada.

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16 Nights In A 5-Star Hotel With The Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express Card For Canadians

The Marriott Bonvoy™ Amex Card for Canadians is one of the best travel cards in Canada, hands-down. It comes with an exceptional welcome bonus of 50,000 points (required spend: $1,500, conditions apply)—which we’ll show you how to turn into 16 nights at a 5-star hotel—an additional free hotel night every year after the first year, and an impressive travel insurance policy to keep you and your belongings safe and secure.

With an annual fee of just $120, this card pays for itself several times over, even for infrequent travelers. Even if you plan to spend just one night per year in a hotel, the Marriott Bonvoy™ Amex Card for Canadians is a no-brainer.

So why is everyone talking about the Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express Card for Canadians these days?

A few reasons. For starters, its 50,000 welcome points bonus is a seriously impressive one. On top of that, the Marriott Bonvoy™ platform is one of the most flexible travel rewards programs out there, right up there with Amex Membership Rewards Points.

But the card isn’t only good for hotels—it offers plenty of benefits for those who want to fly, too. Whether it’s buying a flight with your points or staying covered with the card’s travel insurance, there’s a lot you’ll learn to love about the Marriott Bonvoy™ Amex Card for Canadians.

This post is broken down into the following 12 sections:

#1 Features & Benefits

Welcome Bonus Points50,000
Marriott Bonvoy™ Points Earned Per $1 Spent At Marriott Properties5
Marriott Bonvoy™ Points Earned Per $1 Spent On All Other Card Purchases2
Free Night Award
Marriott Bonvoy™ Silver Elite Status
Travel Insurance
15 Elite Night Credits Per Calendar Year
Additional CardsFree
Annual Fee$120

The card also comes with additional American Express benefits that come with all of their cards. These include Front Of The Line, which offers cardholders advanced access/tickets to concerts, sporting events and shows across Canada.

#2 Three More Special Benefits

Special Benefit #1: The Marriott Bonvoy™ Amex Card Free Night Award

On top of the 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy™ points that come with your Marriott Bonvoy™ Amex Card, you also receive one free hotel night every year after the first year with a redemption value of up to 35,000 points (Category 1-5 hotel). (Note: if you don’t know what we mean by Category 1-5, we’ll explain below.) There’s no spending requirement for this free night—you’ll get it every year after your first card anniversary regardless of how often you use your card—making it an exceptional value.

What can you use this award on? How about a night at the swanky Avalon Hotel Beverly Hills, a member of Design Hotels?

Avalon Hotel Beverly Hills - Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express Card for Canadians
The stunning pool at the Avalon Hotel in Beverly Hills, a member of Design Hotels

Or how about the Moxy Amsterdam, a new design hotel in one of Amsterdam’s hippest districts?

Moxy Hotel, Amsterdam - Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express Card for Canadians
The beautifully-designed Moxy Hotel in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Or the Sheraton in Bali, with its infinity pool overlooking the ocean? Where will you choose?

Sheraton Bali Kuta Resort, Indonesia - Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express Card for Canadians
The infinity pool at the Sheraton Bali Kuta Resort in Bali, Indonesia

As you can see, the opportunities are truly endless for this benefit. And if you haven’t already clued in, a Category 5 hotel can easily go for $300-500 per night, meaning your $120 annual card fee is worth several times its value through this free night benefit alone.

Are you starting to see why Canadians love the Marriott Bonvoy™ Amex Card so much?

Special Benefit #2: Marriott Bonvoy™ Elite Status

As soon as you get your Marriott Bonvoy™ Amex Card, you’ll be upgraded to Marriott Bonvoy™ Silver Elite status, which gives you lower hotel rates, late checkout, free internet, a dedicated customer service line, plus 10% more points at Marriott properties, boosting your earning rate to 5 points per $1 spent.

If you manage to spend $30,000 on your card in a year, you’ll be upgraded to Gold Elite Status, where you’ll earn 25% more on $1 spent at Marriott properties, complimentary room upgrades, and 2 p.m. checkout on your hotel stays.

Special Benefit #3: 5th Night Free

This technically isn’t a benefit exclusive to the Marriott Bonvoy™ Amex Card, but it’s so good that it’s worth pointing out here, anyway. It goes like this:

Every time you book a Marriott hotel for 4 nights, they give you a 5th night for free!

There’s nothing more to explain than that, though I don’t need to tell you how amazing of a benefit this is. As you’ll see below, we’ll use this to our full advantage to get as many as 16 nights in a 5-star hotel with your card.

#3 How To Use Your Marriott Bonvoy™ Points

You have a few options of how to use your Marriott Bonvoy™ points:

  1. Hotel Stays: The best way to use your Marriott Bonvoy™ points—hands-down—is on hotel stays. As you’ll see in the case studies below, your card is worth up to 16 nights in a 5-star hotel if you use it wisely. We’ll show you how.
  2. Flights: Flights are the second-best way to use the 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy™ points that come with your Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express Card for Canadians. We show you below how to get a roundtrip flight anywhere in North America with your points.
  3. Marriott Moments: We won’t talk about Marriott Moments in-depth here, since our focus is on hotels and flights, but you can expect things like VIP Super Bowl parties, private dining with celebrity chefs and more. Here’s the full list of Marriott Moments that you can choose from.

But First…You Need To Understand Redemption Categories

Marriott has its properties separated into different “Categories,” with each property falling into a category from 1-8. Put simply, lower Categories correspond to cheaper hotels, but as we’ll see, some creativity enables you to find some truly exceptional properties at the low end of the redemption chart, making your points go much, much further.

Booking a hotel in a given category is as simple as consulting Marriott’s redemption chart below. In brackets we’ve included the PointSavers rates, which are promotional prices 10-20% lower than the regular price that you can sometimes take advantage of. Marriott hasn’t released their peak and off-peak season dates yet, since this is a new setup for them. Sign up for our email list at the bottom of this post if you want our tips for how to book off-peak dates.

Hotel CategoryOff PeakStandardPeak
15,000 (4,000)7,500 (6,000)10,000 (8,500)
210,000 (8,000)12,500 (11,000)15,000 (13,000)
315,000 (12,000)17,500 (16,000)20,000 (18,000)
420,000 (17,500)25,000 (22,500)30,000 (27,500)
530,000 (27,500)35,000 (32,500)40,000 (37,500)
640,000 (35,000)50,000 (45,000)50,000 (55,000)
750,000 (45,000)50,000 (55,000)70,000 (65,000)
870,000 (65,000)85,000 (80,000)100,000 (90,000)

Now that you understand how Categories work (they’re really simple), let’s look at a few real-world examples of how you could use your points.

Case Study #1: Visiting Family

Suppose you want to visit some family in Calgary, so you do a quick search on Marriott’s website and decide to stay at the Courtyard Calgary South, a Category 1 hotel in the city’s up-and-coming Seton district.

Courtyard Calgary South - Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express Card for Canadians
One of the gorgeous rooms at the Courtyard Calgary South.

As the redemption chart above shows, you’ll pay somewhere between 4,000-10,000 points per night for your stay, depending on the season you visit and whether the property is currently a PointSaver.

This means that at the very least, your 50,000 points get you 5 nights (50,000 points / 10,000 points per night), plus 1 additional free night from Marriott’s 5th night free policy and another free night from your Marriott Bonvoy™ Amex annual free night benefit, which all shakes out to a total of 7 nights.

If you go during an off-peak period, though, you could pay as little as 4,000 points per night, which means you could get 13 nights with your points (50,000 points / 4,000 points per night). Add on 3 extra nights from the 5th night free policy (13 nights / 4 = 3 free nights) and all of a sudden you’re at 16 nights!

This is my kind of card.

Case Study #2: The Big Winner

I’ve recently been planning a trip to Guizhou, China, to take in the natural landscapes there.

You’ve probably never heard of Guizhou—not many Westerners have—but it’s quickly gaining popularity in the East as one of China’s untouched gems. And in the heart of Guizhou sits the brand-new Four Points by Sheraton Bijie, a 5-star marvel of a hotel that’s, amazingly, just a Category 1 on Marriott’s redemption chart.

That’s right—a Category 1 5-star hotel. Here’s what it looks like:

Four Points Sheraton Bijie in Guizhou, China - Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express Card for Canadians
The lounge at the Four Points Sheraton Bijie in Guizhou, China.
Four Points Sheraton Bijie in Guizhou, China - Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express Card for Canadians
The indoor pool at the Four Points Sheraton Bijie in Guizhou, China.

If you visit Guizhou during off-peak season, you’ll pay just 4,000 points per night at the Four Points, which means your 50,000 points will get you 15 nights, just like in the Calgary example above. Combine that with Marriott’s 5th night free policy for your extra 3 free nights and you’re up to an incredible 16 nights with your card.

16 nights at a 5-star hotel, all thanks to your $120 Marriott Bonvoy™ Amex Card.

Not bad, Amex. Not bad at all.

Case Study #3: Balling Out

Of course, you don’t have to stretch your points as far as we are. You can also choose to spend them in a single night, if you’d like.

Spending the weekend in New York? Why not use your points on a Category 6 hotel like the W New York, which sits next to the new World Trade Center.

W Hotel New York World Trade Center - Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express Card for Canadians
A typical room at the W New York World Trade Center.

With more than 7,000 Marriott properties to choose from, the sky is truly the limit with your Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express Card for Canadians.

#4 Redeeming Marriott Bonvoy™ Points For Flights

Your 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy™ points can also be transferred to 45 different airline partners. Most, but not all, of the airline partners accept Marriott Bonvoy™ points at a value of 3:1 (eg. 30,000 Marriott Bonvoy™ points = 10,000 Aeroplan Miles). If you transfer 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy™ points to any airline partner, you’ll also receive an additional 15,000 points (worth 5,000 Aeroplan miles) for free, meaning that 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy™ points turns into 25,000 Air Canada Aeroplan miles, British Airways Avios points or American Airlines AAdvantage miles.

(Note: We recommend that you use your Marriott Bonvoy™ points for hotel redemptions, since they’re much more valuable that way. If you’re looking for a card for maximizing flight rewards, we recommend the American Express Platinum Card and the American Express Business Platinum.)

If you follow our advice on how to redeem your airline points, you’ll find that they’re worth about 2-3 cents apiece, putting the value of 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy™ points at about $600-$900 when you use them on flights.

Here’s a full list of all the airline partners you can transfer your points to, with their transfer ratios:

  • Aegean Airlines (3:1)
  • Aeroflot Bonus (3:1)
  • AeroMexico ClubPremier (3:1)
  • Air Canada Aeroplan (3:1)
  • Air China Phoenix Miles (3:1)
  • Air France/KLM Flying Blue (3:1)
  • Air New Zealand Airpoints (200:1)
  • Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan (3:1)
  • Alitalia MilleMiglia (3:1)
  • ANA Mileage Club (3:1)
  • American Airlines AAdvantage Miles (3:1)
  • Asiana Airlines Asiana Club (3:1)
  • Avianca LifeMiles (3:1)
  • British Airways Executive Club Avios (3:1)
  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles (3:1)
  • China Eastern Airlines Eastern Miles (3:1)
  • China Southern Airlines (3:1)
  • Copa Airlines ConnectMiles (3:1)
  • Delta SkyMiles (3:1)
  • Emirates Skywards (3:1)
  • Etihad Guest (3:1)
  • Frontier Airlines EarlyReturns (3:1)
  • Hainan Airlines (3:1)
  • Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles (3:1)
  • Iberia Plus (3:1)
  • Japan Airlines JAL Mileage Bank (3:1)
  • Jet Airways JetPrivilege (3:1)
  • JetBlue TrueBlue (6:1)
  • Korean Air SkyPass (3:1)
  • LATAM Airlines LATAMPass/Multiplus (3:1)
  • Lufthansa Miles & More (3:1)
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer (3:1)
  • Qatar Privilege Club (3:1)
  • Saudia Airlines Alfursan (3:1)
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer (3:1)
  • South African Airways Voyager (3:1)
  • Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards (3:1)
  • TAP Air Portugal Miles&Go (3:1)
  • THAI Airways Royal Orchid Plus (3:1)
  • Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles (3:1)
  • United MileagePlus (3:1.1—10% bonus)
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club (3:1)
  • Virgin Australia Velocity Frequent Flyer (3:1)

You can transfer anywhere between 3,000-240,000 Marriott Bonvoy™ points to airline partners each day.

#5 How Do I Earn Marriott Bonvoy™ Points?

There are several distinct ways to earn Marriott Bonvoy™ points:

#1: Card Spending

You’ll earn 5 Marriott Bonvoy™ points per $1 spent at Marriott properties, which includes the cost of your stay, food and drinks, and some hotel incidentals like spa treatments. Normally you’d only earn 5 Marriott Bonvoy™ points per $1 spent, but since Marriott Bonvoy™ Silver Elite membership also comes complimentary with your Marriott Bonvoy™ Amex Card, you earn an extra 10% on Marriott properties, bringing you to 5 Marriott Bonvoy™ points per $1 spent. You also earn 2 Marriott Bonvoy™ points per $1 spent on all other purchases.

#2: Work Purchases & Events

If you’re planning a work event, such as a conference or large meeting, you can also earn points on spending done by your guests. As a Silver Elite member, you can earn up to 66,000 points per event (earned at 2 Marriott Bonvoy™ points per $1 spent by you or your guests). You also earn 10 Elite Qualifying Nights for your first meeting, and 1 Elite Qualifying Night for every 20 room nights booked by you or your guests. Even if you’re planning a small event, these can accumulate very quickly.

This all adds up to one thing: if you’re an event planner, admin assistant or anyone planning a gathering, you need the Marriott Bonvoy™ Amex Card.

#3: Special Purchases

Some purchases grant you additional Marriott Bonvoy™ points when you charge them to your card. For example, you’ll receive 500 Marriott Bonvoy™ points per day when you rent a rental card with Hertz, up to 2,000 points per rental. You also earn additional points on travel expenditures like cruises and long-distance telephone cards. These bonuses are provided by Marriott, not by American Express, so we recommend calling Marriott after you get your card to learn more about all the unique ways you can earn points.

#6 Is The Marriott Bonvoy™ Amex Card Right For Me?

The Marriott Bonvoy™ Amex Card is a no-brainer for anyone who plans to spend at least 1 night in a hotel per year.

This sounds oversimplified, but it’s actually not at all.

Think about it. If you ignore everything else—the 50,000 points welcome bonus, the travel insurance, and all of the other extras that come with the card—and look only at the annual free hotel night benefit, that alone is worth at least double the $120 annual fee.

You’re getting one night at a 5-star hotel for $120.

And when you add on all the other benefits, the value of the card becomes overwhelming.

Every Canadian should have this card in their wallet for the next 10+ years.

There are other American Express cards we recommend as well, but the great thing is you can hold several Amex cards at the same time.

#7 The Ultimate Canadian Traveler’s Credit Card Stack

Even the best travel credit cards have their strengths and weaknesses, so it’s best to hold multiple cards so you can capitalize on each of their advantages and downplay their weaknesses.

And contrary to what many people believe, having multiple credit cards actually helps your credit score, not hurts it, as long as you pay off your bill every month. This signals to creditors that you’re fully capable of paying off your bills on time, which they reflect by boosting your credit score.

Here’s the triple threat full stack we highly recommend for maximizing every Canadian’s earning and travel benefits:

#1 The Marriott Bonvoy™ Amex Card

As we’ve shown in detail here, this card offers an exceptional welcome bonus, but also provides more than enough benefit to keep it in your wallet year after year.

#2 The American Express Platinum Card

Another card that every Canadian should have in their wallet. We value the current welcome bonus of up to 50,000 points at between $1,000-$1,500, depending on how well you apply the points, plus you get the $200 annual travel credit. This means that the purely quantitative benefits of the card are worth at least $1,200-$1,700 in the first year, far exceeding the $699 annual fee.

#3 The Cobalt Card

You’ll fall in love with this everyday spending card. We show you how to get up to 10% back on your spending (seriously!) when you use this card on coffee, groceries, restaurant and bar spending anywhere in Canada. It’s the card you should be using for your daily spending.

So go ahead and get the full stack—your wanderlust will thank you.

  1. Your hotels card
  2. Your flights card
  3. Your everyday card

#8 Travel Insurance

The Marriott Bonvoy™ Amex Card also comes with an impressive travel insurance policy. Here’s what it includes:

BenefitDescriptionCoverage Limit
Travel Accident InsuranceYou, your spouse and your children are covered in the case of accidental death or dismemberment while traveling$500,000
Car Rental Theft and Damage InsuranceDamage or theft of your rental car$85,000
Flight Delay InsuranceHotel, motel, restaurant expenses and other sundry items when your flight is delayed$500
Baggage Delay InsuranceReasonable and necessary emergency purchases when your baggage is delayed$500
Lost or Stolen Baggage InsuranceLoss or damage to your luggage or personal effects while in transit.$500
Hotel/Motel Burglary InsuranceLoss of most personal items if your hotel/ motel is burglarized.$500
Travel Emergency AssistanceMedical & legal referrals by phone 24/7N/A

Every American Express card also comes with two other insurance benefits:

  1. Buyer’s Assurance Protection Plan doubles the manufacturer’s warranty on your purchases and will repair/replace faulty or damaged items up to $10,000.
  2. Purchase Protection Plan insures your purchases against accidental physical damage and theft for the 90 days after purchase, up to $1,000.

Fraud protection, global emergency card replacement and 24/7 express customer service are included with every American Express card, too.

This is a very good insurance plan, especially since it’s included with your card. If you’re looking for an even more comprehensive insurance plan, though—one that covers emergency medical, emergency dental, trip interruption, personal liability and terrorism—we recommend SafetyWing, the $37/month plan that’s disrupting the travel insurance market in a big, bigway.

If you want to learn more, you can read our post on American Express Travel Insurance where you’ll find all the details about how to use your coverage, the other insurance options Amex offers, how to make claims and more.

#9 The One Downside To The Marriott Bonvoy™ Amex Card: Foreign Transaction Fees

Despite all the amazing benefits and features of the card, there is one noticeable downside to the Marriott Bonvoy™ Amex Card: the 2.5% fee on foreign transactions. This fee isn’t unique to this card—no American Express card in Canada offers fee-free foreign transactions—but it is still worth mentioning here. If you’re able to pick up an N26 You Card on your next trip to Europe, definitely do so: it’ll make your financial life on the road much, much better. Until then, though, we’ll have to accept that there are no good FX cards in Canada.

#10 The Marriott Bonvoy™ Business Amex Card

This entire review has been about the Marriott Bonvoy™ Amex card, though there’s also a Marriott Bonvoy™ Business American Express Card for Canadians, too. There are a few minor differences between the two cards:

  1. Earn 3 points per $1 spent on gas, dining and travel, and 2 point per $1 on all other card purchases. The personal card does not offer a bonus for gas, dining and travel spending (it earns 2 points per $1 on all spending).
  2. The personal card receives complimentary Marriott Bonvoy™ Silver Elite Status, while the business card does not.
  3. Additional cards cost $50 vs. free for the personal card.
  4. Annual fee of $150 vs. $120 for the personal card.
  5. Includes Disability Plan & Employee Card Misuse Protection, which is also included with the American Express Business Platinum card.

If you’re a business owner and plan to use this card in a business capacity, I suggest springing for the Marriott Bonvoy™ Business card.

#11 Is The Marriott Bonvoy™ Amex Card Worth It?

Without a doubt.

The welcome bonus is incredibly generous. The annual benefits far exceed the annual cost of the card. The insurance is a nice bonus, and taking advantage of it all is as easy as a quick search online. If you’re a Canadian that plans on spending at least one night in a hotel in the next 12 months, we can’t recommend this card highly enough.

#12 FAQs

How Do Marriott Bonvoy™ Card Referrals Work?

Once you’ve activated your Marriott Bonvoy™ Amex Card, you can refer friends to the card. You’ll receive a bonus of 10,000 points for every friend who signs up using your unique referral link.

When Do My Marriott Bonvoy™ Points Expire?

Marriott Bonvoy™ points expire after one year of inactivity. Since you earn Marriott Bonvoy™ points every time you stay at a Marriott property, or even just eat at one of their restaurants, it’s very easy to keep your Marriott Bonvoy™ points balance active. See our section “How Do I Earn Marriott Bonvoy™ points” above to see just how easy it is to keep your account active.

How Do Marriott Bonvoy™ Points Compare With American Express Membership Reward Points?

They’re completely different. We value Amex MR points at 2-3 cents apiece, and we help you to get these values in posts like this one on $75 flights to Asia and this one on $75 flights to Europe.

Still, it’s hard to say which are more valuable. One thing we can say is that you should not transfer your Amex MR points to Marriott Bonvoy™ points. American Express offers a rate of 1,000 MR = 1,200 Marriott Bonvoy™ points, which is a very poor valuation. This is only a decision you’ll face with your other cards, since the Marriott Bonvoy™ Amex Card earns Marriott Bonvoy™ points on its own.

All things considered, we recommend keeping your Marriott Bonvoy™ points as Marriott Bonvoy™ points so you can use them on amazing hotel redemptions (see the Case Studies above), and transferring your Amex MR points from your Platinum Card to airlines for flights.

When Are The Peak Season & Off-Peak Season For Hotel Redemptions?

The peak/off-peak system is brand new to Marriott, so they actually haven’t listed which dates will be priced in which way. For now, every date is listed at the standard price, though this will change in the coming months. Join our email list at the bottom of this post so we can update you when that happens and help you maximize your points by planning your travel during off-peak dates.

What About Marriott’s Points + Cash Program?

If you prefer to save some of your Marriott Bonvoy™ points, or if you don’t have enough for a particular booking, you can take advantage of the points + cash option. Generally we recommend against this, since this setup values points lower than what they’re worth if you apply them smartly (see our Case Studies above), but it’s not terrible either. If you don’t have enough points for your hotel stay, use points + cash, but if you do, just use your points. Here’s the points + cash breakdown for each hotel category:

Hotel CategoryOff PeakStandardPeak
150 USD + 2,500 points55 USD + 3,500 points60 USD + 4,500 points
260 USD + 5,000 points65 USD + 6,000 points70 USD + 6,500 points
370 USD + 7,500 points80 USD + 8,500 points90 USD + 9,000 points
490 USD + 10,000 points105 USD + 12,000 points120 USD + 13,500 points
5120 USD + 16,000 points140 USD + 17,000 points165 USD + 19,000 points
6165 USD + 22,000 points190 USD + 25,000 points225 USD + 27,500 points
7225 USD + 27,500 points250 USD + 30,000 points325 USD + 35,000 points
8325 USD + 35,000 points440 USD + 42,500 points635 USD + 50,000 points

You also have another option if you don’t have enough points for a booking: you can book your stay with points and then earn the points later from other hotel stays or credit card spending later. As long as the points reach your account 14 days before your stay, you’re fine. If they don’t, though, your stay will be canceled and you won’t be refunded, so use this strategy with caution.

Where Can I Search For Marriott Hotels?

You can search for hotels using the Marriott search platform here.

We recommend searching on two parameters: the city you’re visiting and the redemption category you’d like to redeem with, which you can find by clicking “All Filters” in the top-right and then selecting “Rewards Category.” If you’re using your annual free night benefit, go for a Category 5, which will show you the best hotels you can get for the 35,000 annual free night points limit. If you’re using your 50,000 welcome points bonus, you can use them however you’d like (see the Case Studies above for ideas of high-value redemptions).

You can redeem your Marriott Bonvoy™ points (with zero blackout dates) at any of these hotel brands, anywhere in the world:

  • The Ritz-Carlton
  • St. Regis
  • JW Marriott
  • The Luxury Collection
  • W Hotels
  • EDITION
  • Marriott Hotels
  • Sheraton
  • Marriott Vacation Club
  • Delta Hotels by Marriott
  • Le Méridien
  • Westin
  • Autograph Collection
  • Renaissance Hotels
  • Tribute Portfolio
  • Gaylord Hotels
  • Courtyard by Marriott
  • Four Points by Sheraton
  • SpringHill Suites by Marriott
  • Protea Hotels by Marriott
  • Fairfield by Marriott
  • AC Hotels by Marriott
  • Aloft
  • Moxy Hotels
  • Element

The Marriott Bonvoy™ Business American Express Card For Canadians: A Review

The Marriott Bonvoy™ Business Amex Card is one of the best travel cards available in Canada today. With its extremely generous 50,000 welcome bonus (required spend: $1,500, conditions apply) , annual Free Night Award, and comprehensive travel insurance policy, it’s got everything you need.

The card’s $150 annual fee pays for itself many times over in the first year of having the card, and still makes sense in subsequent years. If you plan to spend at least one night in a hotel in the next 12 months, you’d be wise to pick up the Marriott Bonvoy™ Business Amex Card.

There’s a lot of hype around the new Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express Business Card right now.

50,000 points is a pretty amazing signup bonus, after all.

But choosing the right credit card is about finding lasting value, not just value in the first year.

So we dug deep into the intricacies of the Marriott Bonvoy™ Business Amex Card to see whether it would stand the test of time.

It did. And you’re about to learn why.

This Marriott Bonvoy™ Business Amex review is broken down into the following 9 sections:

#1 The Basics & Benefits

Welcome Bonus Points50,000
Marriott Bonvoy™ Points Earned Per $1 Spent At Marriott Properties5
Marriott Bonvoy™ Points Earned Per $1 Spent On All Gas, Dining & Travel Purchases3
Marriott Bonvoy™ Points Earned Per $1 Spent On All Other Card Purchases2
Free Night Award
Travel Insurance
Disability Plan for Small Business
Employee Card Misuse Protection
15 Elite Night Credits Per Calendar Year
Supplementary Cards$50/year
Annual Fee$150

The card also comes with additional American Express benefits that come with all of their cards. These include Front Of The Line, which offers cardholders advanced access/tickets to concerts, sporting events and shows across Canada.

#2 Two More Special Benefits

Special Benefit #1: The Marriott Bonvoy™ Amex Card Free Night Award

On top of the 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy™ points that come with your Marriott Bonvoy™ Business Amex Card, you also receive one free hotel night every year after the first year. There’s no spending requirement for this free night—you’ll get it every year after your first card anniversary regardless of how often you use your card—making it an exceptional value.

What can you use this award on? How about a night at the swanky Avalon Hotel Beverly Hills, a member of Design Hotels?

Avalon Hotel Beverly Hills - Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express Card for Canadians
The stunning pool at the Avalon Hotel in Beverly Hills, a member of Design Hotels

Or how about the Moxy Amsterdam, a new design hotel in one of Amsterdam’s hippest districts?

Moxy Hotel, Amsterdam - Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express Card for Canadians
The beautifully-designed Moxy Hotel in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Or the Sheraton in Bali, with its infinity pool overlooking the ocean? Where will you choose?

Sheraton Bali Kuta Resort, Indonesia - Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express Card for Canadians
The infinity pool at the Sheraton Bali Kuta Resort in Bali, Indonesia

As you can see, the opportunities are truly endless for this annual Free Night Award.

Are you starting to see why Canadians love the Marriott Bonvoy™ Business Amex Card so much?

Special Benefit #3: 5th Night Free

This technically isn’t a benefit exclusive to the Marriott Bonvoy™ Business Amex Card, but it’s so good that it’s worth pointing out here, anyway. It goes like this:

Every time you book a Marriott hotel for 4 nights, they give you a 5th night for free!

There’s nothing more to explain than that, though I don’t need to tell you how amazing of a benefit this is. As you’ll see below, we’ll use this to our full advantage to get as many as 16 nights in a 5-star hotel with your card.

#3 Three Ways To Use Your Marriott Bonvoy™ Points

#1 Using Marriott Bonvoy™ Points For Hotel Stays

The best way to use your Marriott Bonvoy™ points—hands-down—is on hotel stays. We cover this at length in our Marriott Bonvoy™ Amex Card review, so we won’t cover it again here.

The summary is that if you use your points wisely, you can get anywhere between 2 and 16 nights in 5-star hotels completely free with the 50,000 points that come with your card. Getting 2 free nights is extremely easy, and getting 16 nights is more difficult, but both are possible, and we show you how.

#2 Using Your Marriott Bonvoy™ Points For Flights

Your 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy™ points can also be transferred to 45 different airline partners. Most, but not all, of the airline partners accept Marriott Bonvoy™ points at a value of 3:1 (eg. 30,000 Marriott Bonvoy™ points = 10,000 Aeroplan Miles). If you transfer 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy™ points to any airline partner, you’ll also receive an additional 15,000 points (worth 5,000 Aeroplan miles) for free, meaning that 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy™ points turns into 25,000 Air Canada Aeroplan milesBritish Airways Avios points or American Airlines AAdvantage miles.

(Note: We recommend that you use your Marriott Bonvoy™ points for hotel redemptions, since they’re much more valuable that way. If you’re looking for a card for maximizing flight rewards, we recommend the American Express Platinum Card and the American Express Business Platinum.)

If you follow our advice on how to redeem your airline points, you’ll find that they’re worth about 2-3 cents apiece, putting the value of 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy™ points at about $600-$900 when you use them on flights.

Our Marriott Bonvoy™ Amex Card review has a full list of airline partners (with transfer ratios) that you can transfer your points to.

#3 Using Your Marriott Bonvoy™ Points For Marriott Bonvoy™ Moments

We won’t talk about Marriott Bonvoy™ Moments in-depth here, since most people like to use their points on hotels and flights, but you can expect things like VIP Super Bowl parties, private dining with celebrity chefs and more. Here’s the full list of Marriott Bonvoy™ Moments that you can choose from.

#4 Is The Marriott Bonvoy™ Business Amex Card Right For Me?

The Marriott Bonvoy™ Amex Card is a no-brainer for anyone who plans to spend at least 1 night in a hotel per year.

This sounds oversimplified, but it’s actually not at all.

Think about it.

The annual Free Hotel Night benefit—which gives you a free night in a 5-star hotel—is worth more than the $150 annual fee on its own.

And when you add on everything else—the 50,000 points welcome bonus, the travel insurance, and all of the other extras that come with the Marriott Bonvoy™ Business Amex Card—the value of this card becomes overwhelmingly good.

Every Canadian should have this card in their wallet for the next 10+ years.

#5 Three Alternative Cards

If you’re not quite sure whether the Marriott Bonvoy™ Business Amex Card is right for you, there are plenty of other great credit cards out there.

Here are the three best offers available in Canada right now:

#1 The Amex Platinum Card

Alongside the Marriott Bonvoy™ Card, the Platinum Card is an one of the best travel credit cards in Canada in 2019. Its 50,000 points welcome bonus, $200 annual travel credit, worldwide airport lounge access, travel insurance and a wide array of other benefits makes the Canadian Amex Platinum an excellent value. We recommend that every Canadian sign up for this card while this incredible offer still lasts.

#2 The American Express Business Platinum Card

If you’re set on getting a business credit card, the American Express Business Platinum Card has been our card of choice for years. If you’re a frequent traveler, the airport lounge access that comes with the Business Platinum Card will upgrade your travels in a pretty serious way.

The Business Gold Rewards Card offers good value as well, though we feel that the 10,000 extra welcome bonus points (which we value at $200-$300), the airport lounge access that comes with the Business Platinum card, and the better referral structure (25,000 points per Business Platinum referral vs. only 5,000 points per Business Gold Rewards referral) more than make up for the additional $250 annual fee.

#3 The Cobalt Card

The Amex Cobalt Card is the best everyday spending card available right now, and one of our favorite cards overall. Why? Because you can get up to 10% cashback on your spending when you use the Cobalt Card on at coffee shops, restaurants, bars and grocery stores coffee anywhere in Canada.

#6 Travel Insurance

The Marriott Bonvoy™ Business Amex Card also comes with an impressive travel insurance policy. Here’s what it includes:

BenefitDescriptionCoverage Limit
Travel Accident InsuranceYou, your spouse and your children are covered in the case of accidental death or dismemberment while traveling$500,000
Car Rental Theft and Damage InsuranceDamage or theft of your rental car$85,000
Flight Delay InsuranceHotel, motel, restaurant expenses and other sundry items when your flight is delayed$500
Baggage Delay InsuranceReasonable and necessary emergency purchases when your baggage is delayed$500
Lost or Stolen Baggage InsuranceLoss or damage to your luggage or personal effects while in transit.$500
Hotel/Motel Burglary InsuranceLoss of most personal items if your hotel/ motel is burglarized.$500
Travel Emergency AssistanceMedical & legal referrals by phone 24/7N/A

Every American Express card also comes with two other insurance benefits:

  1. Buyer’s Assurance Protection Plan doubles the manufacturer’s warranty on your purchases and will repair/replace faulty or damaged items up to $10,000.
  2. Purchase Protection Plan insures your purchases against accidental physical damage and theft for the 90 days after purchase, up to $1,000.

Fraud protection, global emergency card replacement and 24/7 express customer service are included with every American Express card, too.

If you want more information on these policies, you can read our post on American Express Travel Insurance where you’ll learn all the details regarding insurance coverage, options, claims and more.

#7 The Marriott Bonvoy™ Personal Amex Card

This entire review has been about the Marriott Bonvoy™ Business Amex card, though there’s also a personal Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express Card for Canadians, too. There are a few minor differences between the two cards:

  1. The business card earns 3 points per $1 spent on gas, dining and travel, and 2 point per $1 on all other card purchases. The personal card does not offer a bonus for gas, dining and travel spending (it earns 2 points per $1 on all spending).
  2. The personal card receives complimentary Marriott Bonvoy™ Silver Elite Status, while the business card does not.
  3. Supplementary business cards cost $50 vs. free for the personal card.
  4. Annual fee of $150 vs. $120 for the personal card.
  5. Includes Disability Plan & Employee Card Misuse Protection, which is also included with the American Express Business Platinum Card.

Which card you should choose is entirely dependent on how you plan to use it. If the Disability Plan and Employee Card Misuse Protection are valuable for your business, go for the business card. If not, we recommend taking advantage of the lower annual fee and the complimentary Marriott Bonvoy™ Silver Elite Status by getting the personal card.

Comparing The Marriott Bonvoy™ & Business Marriott Bonvoy™ Cards

Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express CardMarriott Bonvoy™ American Express Business Card
Welcome Bonus50,000 points50,000 points
Marriott Bonvoy™ Points Earned Per $1 Spent At Marriott Properties55
Marriott Bonvoy™ Points Earned Per $1 Spent On All Gas, Dining & Travel Purchases23
Marriott Bonvoy™ Points Earned Per $1 Spent On All Other Card Purchases22
Marriott Bonvoy™ Silver Elite Status
Annual Free Night Award
Travel Insurance
15 Elite Night Credits Per Calendar Year
Additional CardsFree$50/year
Employee Card Misuse Protection✔<
Disability Plan for Small Business✔<
Annual Fee$120$150
Application LinkAPPLY HEREAPPLY HERE

#8 Is The Marriott Bonvoy™ Business Amex Worth It?

Definitely.

As we showed above, the annual Free Night Award benefit alone makes this card worth its annual fee. And when you add on everything else you get with it, including the extremely generous 50,000 points welcome bonus, the Marriott Bonvoy™ Business Amex Card is a steal.

#9 FAQs

How Do Marriott Bonvoy™ Card Referrals Work?

Once you’ve activated your Marriott Bonvoy™ Amex Card, you can refer friends to the card. You’ll receive a bonus of 10,000 points for every friend who signs up using your unique referral link.

When Do My Marriott Bonvoy™ Points Expire?

Marriott Bonvoy™ points expire after one year of inactivity. Since you earn Marriott Bonvoy™ points every time you stay at a Marriott property, or even just eat at one of their restaurants, it’s very easy to keep your Marriott Bonvoy™ points balance active. See our section “How Do I Earn Marriott Bonvoy™ points” above to see just how easy it is to keep your account active.

How Do Marriott Bonvoy™ Points Compare With American Express Membership Reward Points?

They’re completely different. We value Amex MR points at 2-3 cents apiece, and we help you to get these values in posts like this one on $75 flights to Asia and this one on $75 flights to Europe.

Still, it’s hard to say which are more valuable. One thing we can say is that you should not transfer your Amex MR points to Marriott Bonvoy™ points. American Express offers a rate of 1,000 MR = 1,200 Marriott Bonvoy™ points, which is a very poor valuation. This is only a decision you’ll face with your other cards, since the Marriott Bonvoy™ Amex Card earns Marriott Bonvoy™ points on its own.

All things considered, we recommend keeping your Marriott Bonvoy™ points as Marriott Bonvoy™ points so you can use them on amazing hotel redemptions (see the Case Studies above), and transferring your Amex MR points from your Platinum Card to airlines for flights.

How Do Marriott’s Redemption Categories Work?

Marriott has its properties separated into different “Categories,” with each property falling into a category from 1-8. Put simply, lower Categories correspond to cheaper hotels, but as we’ll see, some creativity enables you to find some truly exceptional properties at the low end of the redemption chart, making your points go much, much further. For a full understanding of Marriott’ redemption categories, read our post on the Marriott Bonvoy™ personal Amex Card.

#5 How Do I Earn Marriott Bonvoy™ Points?

There are several distinct ways to earn Marriott Bonvoy™ points:

#1: Card Spending

You’ll earn 5 Marriott Bonvoy™ points per $1 spent at Marriott properties, which includes the cost of your stay, food and drinks, and some hotel incidentals like spa treatments. Normally you’d only earn 5 Marriott Bonvoy™ points per $1 spent, but since Marriott Bonvoy™ Silver Elite membership also comes complimentary with your Marriott Bonvoy™ Amex Card, you earn an extra 10% on Marriott properties, bringing you to 5 Marriott Bonvoy™ points per $1 spent. You also earn 2 Marriott Bonvoy™ points per $1 spent on all other purchases.

#2: Work Purchases & Events

If you’re planning a work event, such as a conference or large meeting, you can also earn points on spending done by your guests. As a Silver Elite member, you can earn up to 66,000 points per event (earned at 2 Marriott Bonvoy™ points per $1 spent by you or your guests). You also earn 10 Elite Qualifying Nights for your first meeting, and 1 Elite Qualifying Night for every 20 room nights booked by you or your guests. Even if you’re planning a small event, these can accumulate very quickly.

This all adds up to one thing: if you’re an event planner, admin assistant or anyone planning a gathering, you need the Marriott Bonvoy™ Business Amex Card.

#3: Special Purchases

Some purchases grant you additional Marriott Bonvoy™ points when you charge them to your card. For example, you’ll receive 500 Marriott Bonvoy™ points per day when you rent a rental card with Hertz, up to 2,000 points per rental. You also earn additional points on travel expenditures like cruises and long-distance telephone cards. These bonuses are provided by Marriott, not by American Express, so we recommend calling Marriott after you get your card to learn more about all the unique ways you can earn points.

Booking a hotel in a given category is as simple as consulting Marriott’s redemption chart below. In brackets we’ve included the PointSavers rates, which are promotional prices 10-20% lower than the regular price that you can sometimes take advantage of. Marriott hasn’t released their peak and off-peak season dates yet, since this is a new setup for them. Sign up for our email list at the bottom of this post if you want our tips for how to book off-peak dates.

Hotel CategoryOff PeakStandardPeak
15,000 (4,000)7,500 (6,000)10,000 (8,500)
210,000 (8,000)12,500 (11,000)15,000 (13,000)
315,000 (12,000)17,500 (16,000)20,000 (18,000)
420,000 (17,500)25,000 (22,500)30,000 (27,500)
530,000 (27,500)35,000 (32,500)40,000 (37,500)
640,000 (35,000)50,000 (45,000)50,000 (55,000)
750,000 (45,000)50,000 (55,000)70,000 (65,000)
870,000 (65,000)85,000 (80,000)100,000 (90,000)

When Are The Peak Season & Off-Peak Season For Hotel Redemptions?

The peak/off-peak system is brand new to Marriott, so they actually haven’t listed which dates will be priced in which way. For now, every date is listed at the standard price, though this will change in the coming months. Join our email list at the bottom of this post so we can update you when that happens and help you maximize your points by planning your travel during off-peak dates.

What About Marriott’s Points + Cash Program?

If you prefer to save some of your Marriott Bonvoy™ points, or if you don’t have enough for a particular booking, you can take advantage of the points + cash option. Generally we recommend against this, since this setup values points lower than what they’re worth if you apply them smartly (see our Case Studies above), but it’s not terrible either. If you don’t have enough points for your hotel stay, use points + cash, but if you do, just use your points. Here’s the points + cash breakdown for each hotel category:

Hotel CategoryOff PeakStandardPeak
150 USD + 2,500 points55 USD + 3,500 points60 USD + 4,500 points
260 USD + 5,000 points65 USD + 6,000 points70 USD + 6,500 points
370 USD + 7,500 points80 USD + 8,500 points90 USD + 9,000 points
490 USD + 10,000 points105 USD + 12,000 points120 USD + 13,500 points
5120 USD + 16,000 points140 USD + 17,000 points165 USD + 19,000 points
6165 USD + 22,000 points190 USD + 25,000 points225 USD + 27,500 points
7225 USD + 27,500 points250 USD + 30,000 points325 USD + 35,000 points
8325 USD + 35,000 points440 USD + 42,500 points635 USD + 50,000 points

You also have another option if you don’t have enough points for a booking: you can book your stay with points and then earn the points later from other hotel stays or credit card spending later. As long as the points reach your account 14 days before your stay, you’re fine. If they don’t, though, your stay will be canceled and you won’t be refunded, so use this strategy with caution.

Where Can I Search For Marriott Hotels?

You can search for hotels using the Marriott search platform here.

We recommend searching on two parameters: the city you’re visiting and the redemption category you’d like to redeem with, which you can find by clicking “All Filters” in the top-right and then selecting “Rewards Category.” If you’re using your annual free night benefit, go for a Category 5, which will show you the best hotels you can get for the 35,000 annual free night points limit. If you’re using your 50,000 welcome points bonus, you can use them however you’d like (see the Case Studies above for ideas of high-value redemptions).

You can redeem your Marriott Bonvoy™ points (with zero blackout dates) at any of these hotel brands, anywhere in the world:

  • The Ritz-Carlton
  • St. Regis
  • JW Marriott
  • The Luxury Collection
  • W Hotels
  • EDITION
  • Marriott Hotels
  • Sheraton
  • Marriott Vacation Club
  • Delta Hotels by Marriott
  • Le Méridien
  • Westin
  • Autograph Collection
  • Renaissance Hotels
  • Tribute Portfolio
  • Gaylord Hotels
  • Courtyard by Marriott
  • Four Points by Sheraton
  • SpringHill Suites by Marriott
  • Protea Hotels by Marriott
  • Fairfield by Marriott
  • AC Hotels by Marriott
  • Aloft
  • Moxy Hotels
  • Element

The American Express Platinum Canada: A Review

The American Express Platinum Canada comes with worldwide airport lounge access, a $200 annual travel credit, platinum hotel memberships, travel medical insurance, a sleek metal card and 50,000 Amex MR points—which we value at $1,500—on top of it all.

It’s been one of our top two favourite cards in Canada for years, and offers exceptional value to Canadian travelers. Every Canadian who flies once or more per year should have an American Express Platinum in their wallet.

This American Express Platinum Canada review is broken down into the following 10 sections:

#1 The Basics & Benefits

Welcome Bonus Points50,000
Points Earned Per $1 Spent On Dining3
Points Earned Per $1 Spent On Travel2
Points Earned Per $1 Spent On All Other Card Purchases1
Companion Tickets
Fine Hotels & Resorts Exclusive Benefits
Hotel Elite Statuses
Amex Platinum Concierge
American Express Invites
Comprehensive Travel Insurance
Annual Fee$699

The card also comes with additional American Express benefits that come with all of their cards. These include Front Of The Line, which offers cardholders advanced access/tickets to concerts, sporting events and shows across Canada.

#2 Four More Special American Express Platinum Benefits

Amex Platinum Special Benefit #1: Worldwide Airport Lounge Access (Priority Pass)

On top of the 50,000 Membership Rewards points that come with your Amex Platinum Card, you also receive a Priority Pass Prestige membership, which holds a value of $429 USD per year. Your Priority Pass membership gets you into more than 1,200 airport lounges around the world without paying a dime. All of the lounges have free food (some offer full meals, while others have an array of snacks), drinks (many, though not all, offer alcoholic drinks as well), and many include additional amenities like nap rooms, showers, libraries, printing, and games rooms.

My Priority Pass is definitely the American Express Platinum benefit that I use the most, and it’s completely changed the way that I travel. I seriously can’t imagine flying without stopping in the American Express Platinum lounge first now.

Where can you use your Canadian Platinum lounge benefit in Canada? How about the 24-hour SkyTeam Lounge in Vancouver (YVR)?

American Express Platinum Card for Canadians
The SkyTeam Lounge at Vancouver International Airport (YVR)

Or the National Bank Lounge in Montreal (YUL)?

American Express Platinum Card for Canadians
You get free access to the National Bank World MasterCard Lounge at Montreal International Airport (YUL) thanks to your Canadian Platinum lounge benefit

Toronto (YYZ) has a whopping seven Priority Pass lounges—plus the American Express Lounge at Pearson—and you’ll be able to access all of them for free.

You’re stepping up your travel game already.

Amex Platinum Special Benefit #2: $200 Annual Travel Credit

This is exactly what it sounds like: $200 for you to use on travel, every single year. In the past 3 years alone, I’ve used my $200 travel credit on a flight to Asia, a flight to South America, and a flight to Europe.

The Amex Platinum Card comes with a $200 annual travel credit you can use anywhere in the world!

Pro Tip: Use your $200 annual travel credit on the first hotel or flight booking you make with your Platinum Card. You don’t want to forget to use it!

Amex Platinum Special Benefit #3: Hotel Elite Statuses

Your Amex Platinum also upgrades your statuses with a handful of hotel chains. This means you get special benefits: exclusive discounts, early check-in and late check-out, complimentary breakfasts and more.

These are the sort of status upgrades you can expect with your Amex Platinum Card:

Amex Platinum Special Benefit #4: American Express Front Of The Line

Front of the Line gives American Express Cardmembers exclusive access to ticket pre-sales and reserved seating at concerts, musicals, sporting events and much more.

The best thing about Front of the Line is in the name itself: you get access to tickets at the biggest shows (think Justin Bieber and Beyoncé) before everyone else. These shows are known for selling out in seconds, but with Front of the Line, you’ll always get your ticket. Past performances that Front of the Line has had pre-sale access to include Taylor Swift, Selena Gomez, Wicked, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Billy Elliot, West Side Story, Imagine Dragons, The Lion King and many more.

Front of the Line always offers great seats close to the action at these events. They also send periodic emails to let you know when artists are coming to town so you never miss a show.

#3 How To Turn 50,000 Points Into 65,000 Points

The 50,000 welcome bonus points that come with the American Express Platinum are great, but if you know what you’re doing, you can actually turn them into 65,000 pretty simply.

How? At least once per year, American Express offers a 30% transfer bonus when you transfer your points to a program like British Airways Avios or Aeroplan. Just by transferring your points smartly, 50,000 Membership Rewards points all of a sudden become 65,000 Avios points.

. Just by transferring your points smartly, 50,000 Membership Rewards points all of a sudden become 65,000 Avios points.

You just gained another 15,000 points—worth at least $300 if you use them at a value of 2 cents per point or above—just for being in the loop.

Here are 3 realistic scenarios of the value you can achieve with the Amex Platinum:

Very EasyVery EasyModerate Difficulty
Redemption TypeCash (against statement balance)FlightsFlights with creativity
Redemption Value Per Point1 cent2 cents3 cents
Total Value Of 65,000 Points$650$1,300$1,950
Less: Annual Fee($699)($699)($699)
Plus: $200 Annual Travel Credit$200$200$200
Profit From Points-$50$600$1,250
Additional BenefitsYesYesYes

Most of you will find yourselves in columns 2 or 3 in the $801-$1,451 profit range, since you can just read our other blog posts like how to get cheap flights to Asia and how to get cheap flights to Europe to find tons of flights that get you 2-3 cents per point of value.

But if you’re ambitious and want to push your points even further, it’s completely possible to surpass what’s listed above with a value of 3 cents per point or more. Just  send us an email and we’ll help you sift through your options to ensure you get a great bang for your buck.

#4 How To Use Your 65,000 Points

Case Study #1: Visiting Asia

Suppose you want to take a trip to Hong Kong to visit family or friends. The Amex Platinum is your perfect companion, since one of the easiest, best ways to use your 65,000 Avios points is on direct flights to Hong Kong with Cathay Pacific.

Since Cathay Pacific is a premium airline, these flights normally cost at least $1,000 from Vancouver, and even more from Toronto. You won’t be paying anywhere close to that.

Roundtrip flights from Vancouver to Hong Kong cost just 60,000 Avios points + $90 in taxes and fees. Roundtrip flights from Toronto to Hong Kong cost 70,000 Avios points + $100, though you can pay a little bit more in cash (~$50) and drop the points down to 65,000 if you want.

American Express Platinum Card for Canadians
How does a $90 roundtrip flight to Hong Kong sound? It’s yours with the Amex Platinum for Canadians.

Of course, Hong Kong isn’t your only option. Tokyo is a bit closer than Hong Kong, so flights between Vancouver and Tokyo are just 50,000 points.

Are you getting excited yet?

Case Study #2: Going Round-The-World

Let’s suppose you want to go around the world using your Platinum card.

No problem.

If you’re in Vancouver, you can fly from Vancouver to Hong Kong to Dubai to London to Vancouver (or the opposite direction) for 74,700 points + $742 in taxes and fees.

Yes, 74,700 is a bit more than 65,000, but don’t worry—you’ll earn the extra 10,000 points (and more!) after a few months of using the card.

Toronto works just the same.

Flying from Toronto to Hong Kong to Dubai to London to Toronto (or the opposite direction) costs just 74,500 points + $761 in taxes and fees.

Did you ever imagine you could fly around the world for $750?

That’s the power of the Amex Platinum.

RoutePoints NeededTaxes & Fees
Roundtrip: Toronto to Hong Kong70,000$100
Roundtrip: Vancouver to Hong Kong60,000$90
Round-the-world: Toronto to Hong Kong to Dubai to London to Toronto74,500$761
Round-the-world: Vancouver to Hong Kong to Dubai to London to Vancouver74,700$742

These round-the-world trips offer a value of well over 4 cents per point, meaning the $699 fee you paid just saved you several thousand dollars on flights.

#5 Is The Amex Platinum Canada Worth The $699 Annual Fee?

Absolutely.

Here’s the magic in the $699 annual fee: it’s impossible not to make money by having this card, even after paying the fee.

Huh? Sounds confusing, right?

Here’s how it works.

If you use your 50,000 points in the worst way possible, they’re worth $700 to you. Why? Because American Express allows you to apply your points against your statement balance at a value of one cent per point, which means 50,000 points = $500. Add in your $200 travel credit for 2019 and you’re at $700.

It’s impossible not to make money with the Amex Platinum Card.

And that’s not even considering the other benefits you get from the card. The travel/emergency/baggage insurance and additional purchase insurance (for theft/damage of your items), the worldwide airport lounge access, the premium hotel memberships, and everything else you see here everything else you see here are all just cherries on top.

So even if you use your points in the worst way you could—by applying them to your statement balance as a cash equivalent—you still come out way, way ahead.

But if you use them in the ways we’ve suggested in sections #3 and #4 above, you can reasonably expect to save $800 or more after accounting for the annual fee.

#6 Amex Platinum Travel Insurance

The Platinum Card also comes with an impressive American Express travel insurance policy. Here’s what the policy includes:

BenefitDescriptionCoverage Limit
Travel Accident InsuranceYou, your spouse and your children are covered in the case of accidental death or dismemberment while traveling$500,000
Car Rental Theft and Damage InsuranceDamage or theft of your rental car$85,000
Flight Delay InsuranceHotel, motel, restaurant expenses and other sundry items when your flight is delayed$500
Baggage Delay InsuranceReasonable and necessary emergency purchases when your baggage is delayed$500
Lost or Stolen Baggage InsuranceLoss or damage to your luggage or personal effects while in transit.$500
Hotel/Motel Burglary InsuranceLoss of most personal items if your hotel/ motel is burglarized.$500
Travel Emergency AssistanceMedical & legal referrals by phone 24/7N/A

Every American Express card also comes with two other insurance benefits:

  1. Buyer’s Assurance Protection Plan doubles the manufacturer’s warranty on your purchases and will repair/replace faulty or damaged items up to $10,000.
  2. Purchase Protection Plan insures your purchases against accidental physical damage and theft for the 90 days after purchase, up to $1,000.

Fraud protection, global emergency card replacement and 24/7 express customer service are included with every American Express card, too.

#7 The Amex Business Platinum Card

This entire review has been about the Amex Platinum Card, though there’s also an American Express Business Platinum Card for Canadians, too. There are a few key differences between the two cards:

  • 40,000 welcome bonus points for the Business Platinum Card (10,000 less)
  • $499 annual fee for the Business Platinum Card ($200 less)
  • No $200 annual travel credit for the Business Platinum card

Since the Platinum Card’s higher annual fee is offset by its $200 annual travel credit, the biggest difference between the two is that you get 10,000 fewer welcome bonus points with the Business Platinum Card.

#8 Three Less Expensive Cards To Consider

Even though we’ve clearly shown how you can save thousands of dollars with the Platinum Card, the $699 annual fee still rubs some people the wrong way.

So here are a few less expensive, high-value cards you can consider instead:

#1 The Marriott Bonvoy™ Amex Card

Released in March 2019, the Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express Card is the best travel credit card available in Canada right now. It comes with an incredible 60,000 welcome bonus points at an annual fee of just $120. You also receive a free hotel night every year after the first year with the card, which you’re able to use at some of the swankiest hotels in the world. While this current offer lasts, we can’t recommend the Marriott Bonvoy™ Amex Card highly enough.

#2 The Amex Cobalt Card

The Amex Cobalt Card is the best everyday spending card available right now. Why? Because you can get up to 10% cashback on your spending when you use the Cobalt Card at coffee shops, restaurants, bars and grocery stores coffee anywhere in Canada.

#3 The Amex Gold Rewards Card

You can think of the Amex Gold Canada as the classic American Express card. It comes with 25,000 welcome bonus points, which is enough for a roundtrip flight anywhere in North America. With its $150 annual fee, the Gold Rewards Card has offered good value for years, though the current offer on the new Marriott Bonvoy™ Card provides better value right now.

#9 How To Apply For The American Express Platinum Card

Applying is as simple as clicking the button below, taking 3 minutes to fill in the application form, and waiting a few days for your card to arrive!

It’s important to take action now, though—the welcome points bonus used to be 75,000 on this card, but Amex has reduced it several times over the past few years. Grab yours while this sweet offer is still available.

Is The Amex Platinum Canada The Best Travel Credit Card In Canada?

If not the best, the Amex Platinum is certainly one of the best Canadian credit cards of 2019. While the Marriott Bonvoy™ Amex Card has recently grabbed a lot of attention for its incredible 50,000 points welcome bonus with just a $120 annual fee, the Platinum Card offers great value-for-money, too.

#10 FAQs

What Is The New American Express Platinum Metal Card Like?

Honestly—it’s pretty cool!

If you didn’t already know, the American Express Platinum is now made of metal. It has a significant heft to it, weighing in at 19 grams (for reference, a typical plastic American Express credit card weighs 5 grams). It’s sure to impress your friends when you “accidentally” drop it on the table as you pay.

All new Platinum cardholders now receive the metal card, so that’s a nice bonus on top of all the other benefits we’ve talked about above. Existing cardholders can also request to have their old plastic card exchanged for a metal card at any time.

How Can I Sign Up With An American Express Platinum Referral?

To get the best available welcome points bonus, which is currently 50,000 points, sign up here. After you’ve signed up, you can refer your own friends to the American Express Platinum for a referral bonus of 15,000 points.

What Is The American Express Canada Exchange Rate?

All foreign purchases are made at the American Express foreign currency exchange rate, which tracks the bank rate very closely with small fluctuations above and below that rate. A 2.5% commission is charged on top of that on all foreign purchases regardless of the currency.

How Does American Express Travel Work In Canada?

American Express Travel is Amex’s online travel portal for buying flights, booking hotels and rental cars, and getting support from some of the best travel concierges in the business.

The $200 annual travel credit that comes with your Amex Platinum can be used either directly through the American Express Travel platform or as a statement credit after you’ve made a travel-related purchase with your card.

What Is The Amex Concierge?

The Amex Platinum Concierge is definitely an under-rated benefit of the Platinum Card. It’s totally free for as long as you have the card, and is there to offer you 24/7 assistance with a whole host of things.

Need a table for four at a fully-booked place in Paris or New York? No problem. Looking for the perfect gift for a friend visiting from out of town? Easy.

I mainly use the Platinum Concierge to help me build travel itineraries when I’m visiting a new city, and they’ve done a remarkable job. After a minute or two on the phone getting to know my preferences (Do I like fancy restaurants or low-key joints? Do I prefer museum hopping or getting lost walking around a neighbourhood? etc.), they send back a document of 30+ pages outlining restaurants and bars to check out, cultural attractions, events taking place when I’m there, and a lot more. It takes them 24-48 hours to compile it all, which is extremely quick.

You can request help using email as well, though I find just calling them up is faster (you never have to wait on hold) and easier.

If you enjoyed this Amex Platinum Canada review, share it with your friends here.

How To Pack Lean

This post is written by Kelvin Ewald, the Founder of Colborne Bag Co., the first lunch bag to bring together fashion and function. We caught up with him to learn how he maintains his impeccable style while on the road.

While travelling between Toronto to Austin for 7 months I had the chance to test and refine Packing Lean while looking sharp – and I’ve been pushing it further ever since. For me, function and style are an exciting and essential intersection. I strive to merge the two in many parts of my life, including my upcoming Kickstarter launch for the first fashionable and functional lunch bag, The Colborne Bag:

  • Travelling to Austin for up to 2 weeks at a time: 1 carry-on, 1 briefcase and sported a suit every day at work.
  • 10 days on business in London and Luxembourg: 1 carry-on, 1 briefcase.
  • Then in October I paid less than $300 for a round-trip to Europe (and Brooklyn) using a combination of an incredible error fare and strategies from Yore Oyster’s post on how to get cheap flights to Europe. When my friend and I met up in Brooklyn to fly to Milan to begin the trip, I had 1 Herschel Little America backpack (19″x11″x7″) and the clothes on my back. He had only one bag more, for a 6-month trip!

One backpack isn’t much, so you wouldn’t think you’d receive compliments for being the best dressed backpacker other travelers had ever encountered – but the themes I’m about to explain mean you don’t have to compromise your style when packing lean.

Have the Right Bags

“Carry-on” is a magical word. It means saving on fees, limiting hand-offs during which your bag can be lost or damaged, and eliminating physical and mental baggage.A hard-shell PVC bag carry-on (20″ x 14″ x 9″ is a typical restriction) is essential. A hard shell means your stuff is safe from impact, moisture, rain, etc.For work, I bring a briefcase and slide the handles over my luggage bag while walking through the airport. A briefcase carries your essentials like a laptop, tablet or mini umbrella. In the air, mine is under the seat in front of me so all my music, books, and work are within reach for the whole flight. On the ground, it is my day bag.One more thing – department stores often discount luggage by up to 80%. Don’t buy luggage if it isn’t on sale.

A few of Kelvin’s essentials: Kindle e-reader, American Express Gold Rewards Card, and NEXUS Card

Eliminate What You Don’t Need

Wherever you’re going, they have what you need! Why pack toothpaste? I never bring liquids over 1 oz. because they will require me to open my bag at security. Any hotel will give you toothpaste, or you can buy some at a corner store.If you’re light on clothes (you will be now) and staying somewhere for a while, you’ll need laundry. Find a dry cleaners near your hotel or wash your clothes at the hostel. You don’t need 10 t-shirts for your trip, you need 2 or 3. I have friends living abroad that frequent a laundry service for a dollar or two per week.If you settle somewhere for a while, or return to the same place, make yourself at home. In Austin I had a locker in the office with toiletries, American cash, and my gym shoes – eliminating all those items from my subsequent trips. I hired a cook to make me healthy organic meals from scratch for lunch and dinner, for less than I would spend eating out each day. Didn’t pack for the cold? See something you really want? Buy it and donate it to charity at the end of your trip or bring it home. This is how I discovered the most essential item to a versatile travel wardrobe: the vest.

Forget packing the entire wardrobe. Pack for versatility instead.

Pack For Versatility

How do you dress a la mode for a night out in Paris’ Le Marais while only having a backpack waiting back at your hostel? Versatility. Focus on items that have low space requirements but high versatility.Here are some of my packing essentials:

Down Filled Vest (1)
Excellent layer with impressive thermal properties. Wear it under a suit jacket or coat, or over a shirt to transition easily from Toronto in February to a night out in L.A.

Oxford Shirt, Blue (1)
When a good dinner or event in London calls for it, pairs well with a tie and jacket, but looks just as at home with the sleeves rolled up on a beach in Barcelona.

Tie, esp. Knit Black (1+)
Even if you’re travelling for fun, a tie is turns up a casual outfit, has a low space requirement, and I swear commands better customer service.

Mini Umbrella (1)
Low space requirement, but high value – just don’t get a cheapie, spend $30+

Swims Galoshes (1 Pair)
Protects your dress shoes (if you need them) from rain to light snow and an excellent way to transition between warm and cold climates. Also a surprisingly good conversation starter.

Kindle E-Reader (1)
Takes up less space than paperbacks, and if you finish your book, download a new one on the fly.

Tide to-go Pen (1)
When you pack light caring for your few items is essential. This pen also has a minimal space requirement.

The Question of “Where?”

A typical mental barrier to packing light is wondering where your bulkier items will go while in-transit.

Wear your suit on the plane for short haul trips. For long haul trips wear jeans and the suit jacket and roll your suit pants in your luggage. Either way, always put your suit jacket neatly folded above your perfectly sized carry-on bag in the over-head. Likewise with an overcoat.

If you can, get on the plane earlier than other passengers, this gives you the space you need to ensure your suit isn’t getting wrinkled by other bags, and that you don’t lose your leg room to your carry-on bag.

This post was written by Kelvin Ewald, the Founder of Colborne Bag Co., the first lunch bag to bring together fashion and function. Check out his current product line here.

How To Use Google Flights

If you’ve been following us here at Yore Oyster for a while, you’ll know that understanding how to use Google Flights is a big part of how we find such impressive deals on flights. It’s the first place we search for every flight, and by far our favorite place on the web to find deals.

So just how do you use Google Flights?

First, let’s look at what Google Flights is good at:

Good at:

  • Quick searches
  • Multi-city flight searches

Quick Searches

Google Flights is by far the fastest flights search engine out there. Try entering a one-way flight search like New York JFK to London Heathrow a month or two from today and see what you get.

How To Use Google Flights
Every search with Google Flights is completed instantly.

Instantly, you get months’ worth of up-to-date prices. Google Flights allows you to book these flights through online travel agencies (OTAs) like Booking.com or Priceline, directly from the airline, or occasionally through Google itself.

On every search, Google Flights highlights the lowest prices in green to let you know you’re getting a great deal. If you don’t see any prices in green, scroll left and right through the months to find the green price. That’s the lowest price available right now on the route you’re searching for, and gives you an idea of whether the dates you’ve selected are cheap or expensive.

How To Use Google Flights
Google Flights highlights the best prices in green so you can find them easily and quickly.

Google Flights will often offer you tips, suggesting that you change your airport or your dates to find a cheaper price. Here’s an example where Google Flights is suggesting I fly to London Gatwick (LGW) instead of London Heathrow (LHR) to save $139:

How To Use Google Flights
Google Flights recommends you to change your dates or airports when it’s going to save you money.

Another trick: you can enter up to five airports in the departing and arriving boxes, which makes finding the cheapest price much easier.

For example, if you didn’t find a good price for New York JFK to London Heathrow, try changing your departing airports to include all of the New York City airports (typing in NYC automatically includes JFK, LGA and EWR), plus Philadelphia (PHL) and Boston (BOS). Then add all five London airports (typing LON includes LHR, LGW, STN, LCY and LTN) to your list of arriving airports. Now the prices Google Flights shows are quite different:

How To Use Google Flights
You can search to/from five different airports with Google Flights.

As you can see, Google Flights makes finding cheap flights super easy.

Multi-city flight searches

Not only can you search flexibly to/from multiple cities, but you can also create multi-city itineraries as well. To do that, just click the Multi-City button at the top and enter your route. For example, here’s a multi-city trip that includes stops in London, Paris and Barcelona before returning to New York.

How To Use Google Flights
Build multi-city itineraries in real-time with Google Flights.

$490 is an impressive price for all that travel! One thing to keep in mind with multi-city itineraries is that Google Flights no longer provides the prices in green, so you’ll have to experiment with the dates to find the best price. For example, if you keep the first three flights the exact same but depart Barcelona for New York two days later, the price drops another $45 to $445.

How To Use Google Flights
However, you may need to spend a bit of time experimenting with the dates on your multi-city flights, since there are no green prices on multi-city itineraries.

Ready to give Google Flights a go?