American Express AIR MILES® Business Card: A Review

The Golden American Express AIR MILES Business card

If you’re a small business owner and you use AIR MILES®, it’s a great idea to sign up to an AIR MILES credit card, because it will help boost your AIR MILES Reward Miles balance. The American Express AIR MILES Business Card is an excellent choice because it brings a 2,000 miles welcome bonus, great earning rates, travel insurance and plenty of Amex business solutions. Read on to learn all the basics about Amex’s best AIR MILES Card for small businesses.

In this post:

Basic Features And Benefits Of The AIR MILES Business Card

  • Annual fee of $180 and $50 for each additional card
  • Charge card with an interest rate of 30% on balance not paid in full after the interest-free period
  • Welcome bonus of 2,000 miles worth over $200 (after spending $5,000 in the first three months)
  • Decent earning rate of 1 mile per every $10 in purchases at AIR MILES sponsors
  • 1 mile per every $15 on all other card purchases
  • Great business solutions like a 55-days interest free period, 25% discounts in the AIR MILES for Business Rewards Catalogue, employee card misuse protection, and special business servicing from both Amex and AIR  MILES
  • Travel and purchase insurance coverage
  • Additional Amex perks

How Do The Perks Compare To The Annual Fee

The American Express AIR MILES Business Card is great choice if you’re a small business owner and use AIR MILES. It does come with an annual fee of $180, but the welcome bonus of 2,000 air miles, which can easily be worth close to $300, will leave it well behind during the first year. After that, only the travel insurance and the 25% discount on AIR MILES rewards for small businesses will help you lower the amount you would have to earn in miles in order to cover the fee.

Related: The American Express Business Edge™ Card

If you do manage to keep in green numbers, which is really as simple as earning close to 1,000 miles every year and renting a car for a couple of days at least once, the business solutions that come with the American Express AIR MILES Business Card will be worth your while.

The American Express AIR MILES Business Card’s Perks For Small Businesses

Cash-Flow Management

As all Amex charge cards, you need to pay your full balance every month in order to avoid paying penalty interests. However, with the American Express AIR MILES Business Card, you get nearly twice the time to pay, because it comes with a 55-day interest-free period. This is great for your small business, because it gives you a lot more flexibility in cash flow management. The only risk is that if you do exceed those 55 days with a balance, then you’ll get a penalty interest rate of 30%, so beware.

Employee Card Misuse Protection

The Employee Card Misuse Protection is a service that helps protect your business from unscrupulous employees who use their employee card for personal expenses instead of those related to your business. There are obvious conditions to use this benefit: The first one is reaching an agreement with Amex as to which charges are authorized and which aren’t. The second big condition is that you have to cancel the employee card immediately when the unauthorized charge is made if you want Amex to assume liability for those expenses.

Discounts On AIR MILES Redemptions

Finally, there’s the 25% discount you get at the AIR MILES for Businesses catalogue. This benefit will help you, as a small business owner, make the most out of the miles you earn with your Amex AIR MILES Business card. A 25% discount in the miles you have to spend on merchandise or travel, will ramp up your mile’s value by 33%, making this benefit a really great value.

Earn More Rewards With Your American Express Business Card And Your Employees’ Additional Cards

The Amex AIR MILES Business Card will boost your miles earning potential in two ways

  • In the first place, you’ll earn 1 mile for every $10 in purchases at AIR MILES sponsors, which is more than what most of those same sponsors will give you through the AIR MILES program. Additionally, you’ll still ear the miles AIR MILES normally gives you for presenting your collector card, so you’ll be double-dipping on the same purchase.
  • Secondly, Amex AIR MILES cards also earn miles on purchases other than on AIR MILES sponsors, so you’ll be earning miles every time you use your card to pay for purchases.

Combine that with extra earnings from every single additional card you give your employees, and you’ll be on your way to AIR MILES Onyx Status in no time flat.

Take Your Business Trips At Ease With The Amex AIR MILES Business Card

One of the reasons behind the annual fee is that this card comes with a good set of travel insurance policies. Even though it doesn’t offer travel medical Insurance or trip cancellation and interruption insurance, it still provides most of the other policies and services that Amex has to offer.

Travel Coverage

  • $100,000 in travel accident insurance
  • 85,000 coverage for Car rental theft and damage
  • Up to $500 in Flight/Baggage delay coverage
  • Up to $500 in Motel/Hotel burglary insurance

With the car rental insurance alone, you could justify the annual fee after an 8- to 12-day rental, considering the fact that these policies are normally worth $16 to $23 per day. The other policies aren’t worth as much, but they sure can be of great help if you lose your luggage with you laptop and other personal effects in it.

Purchase Coverage

Apart from this travel coverage, all Amex cards also come with the standard purchase coverage composed of the following:

  • The Purchase Protection Plan, which covers any recently bought items for up to $1,000 in replacement or repair costs
  • The Buyers Assurance Protection Plan, which doubles the manufacturer’s warranty for up to an additional year
  • And the Fraud Protection Guarantee to protect you against unauthorized use of your card.

The Bottom Line With The American Express AIR MILES Business Card

This charge card is a good choice if you meet the following criteria:

  • You’re a small business owner AND you use AIR MILES
  • 55 interest-free days is enough for you to pay your whole balance on a regular basis without affecting your cash flow
  • You don’t mind paying an annual fee
  • You or your employees travel frequently

Other Business Cards To Consider

The Amex AIR MILES Gold Business Card

If you plan to carry a balance on your card every month, then the AIR MILES Business is not the best choice. You could consider the American Express AIR MILES Gold Business Card, which is a credit card and therefore comes with an interest rate of 19.99% on purchase and 22.99% on funds advances. The card has no annual fee but it doesn’t offer as much insurance coverage and it also has a lower earning rate.

The Business Gold Rewards Card

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

The Marriott Bonvoy™ Business Card

Finally, if you can live without AIR MILES, we recommend the Marriott Bonvoy™ Business Card. It’s also a credit card, it has a lower fee of just $150, and it offers an Annual Free Night award that alone is worth twice that much, making this card a sure win.

American Express AIR MILES® Gold Business Card: A Review

The American Express AIR MILES Gold Business Card

Do you have a startup that’s about to take off on a low budget? The no-fee American Express AIR MILES® Gold Business Card could be the perfect option for you! You can get Amex perks for free, while still acquiring benefits for yourself and your newborn business. Add in the fact that you earn air miles on every purchase you or your employees make, and the possibility to redeem those miles for great rewards in the AIR MILES program, and you’ll quickly see that this is not just another credit card.

In this post:

Basic Features And Benefits Of The AIR MILES Gold Business Card

  • No annual fee
  • Credit Card with an interest rate of 19.99% on purchases and 22.99% on funds advances
  • Welcome bonus of 150 miles worth around $20 (after spending $1,000 in the first three months)
  • Earning rate of 1 mile per every $15 in purchases at AIR MILES sponsors
  • 1 mile per every $20 on all other card purchases
  • Business solutions like annual or quarterly expense management reports and free supplementary cards for your employees
  • $100,000 travel accidents insurance
  • Additional Amex perks

The AIR MILES program touches almost two thirds of Canadian households, making it the biggest loyalty program in Canada. Small business owners can make the most of this program by signing up to the American Express AIR MILES Gold Business Card. You won’t have to pay a dime for your card or for any supplementary card for your employees. Even so, you still get a welcome bonus of 150 miles if you charge $1,000 of purchases to it during the first three months. It’s not huge, but you’re still getting it for nothing, so it’s only profit.

The ability to earn miles on any purchase, and to earn miles twice on AIR MILES sponsors also makes it a great way to boost you dream or cash balance and earn rewards faster.

The American Express AIR MILES Gold Business Card’s Perks For Small Businesses

The first business benefit is the fact that you can get free supplementary cards for your employees. This was to be expected considering that the basic card is free as well.

As a no-fee credit card, the Amex AIR MILES Gold Business Card doesn’t bring many benefits. However, it does include great business expense management tools to keep track of your businesses expenses as well as your employees’ expenses. You could use quarterly or annual expenses reports to assess areas where you can cut operational costs, for example.

Finally, you can also get access to cash at any Interlac ATM in Canada, or Amex branded ATMs worldwide. Keep in mind that foreign transaction fees do apply.

Earn More Rewards With Your American Express Gold Business Card And Your Employees’ Additional Cards

The Amex AIR MILES Gold Business Card will boost your miles earning potential in two ways

  • In the first place, you’ll earn 1 mile for every $15 in purchases at AIR MILES sponsors, which is more than what most of those same sponsors will give you through the AIR MILES program. Additionally, you’ll still ear the miles AIR MILES normally gives you for presenting your Collector card, so you’ll be double-dipping on the same purchase.
  • Secondly, Amex AIR MILES cards also earn miles on purchases other than on AIR MILES sponsors, in this case at 1 mile for every $25, so you’ll be earning miles every time you use your card to pay for purchases.

Combine that with extra earnings from every single additional card you give your employees’, and you’ll be on your way to Onyx status in no time flat.

The Amex AIR MILES Gold Business Card’s Coverage

No-annual-fee credit cards like the AIR MILES Gold Business Card don’t provide much insurance coverage because you normally have to pay for those. Even so, this card does include and embedded $100,000 travel accident insurance policy, which is great, considering that the card’s free.

Apart from this limited travel coverage, all Amex cards also come with the standard purchase coverage composed of the following:

  • The Purchase Protection Plan, which covers any recently bought items for up to $1,000 in replacement or repair costs
  • The Buyers Assurance Protection Plan, which doubles the manufacturer’s warranty for up to an additional year
  • And the Fraud Protection Guarantee to protect you against unauthorized use of your card.

Other Perks In The AIR MILES Gold Business Card

The AIR MILES Business Gold includes Amex perks like American Express Invites, which gives you access to great events and experiences. It also comes with Front of The Line, which opens up the possibility to purchase tickets to great concerts and events be it before they are sold to the public or even after they’ve sold out to everyone else.

Add in American Express’ world-class 24/7 service to all its cardmembers, emergency card replacement wherever you are and fraud protection, all free of charge, and you’ll soon be running out of excuses not to sign up now. It’s a complete winner. You don’t risk anything and you get a package of benefits and rewards potential with which you just can’t go wrong. If you want a no-fee business card with rewards, this is one good choice.

The Bottom Line With The American Express AIR MILES Business Card

You should consider choosing this credit card if you meet the following criteria:

  • First, you’re a small business owner who uses AIR MILES
  • You usually carry a balance every month but always pay your minimum on time
  • You don’t want to pay an annual fee

Other Business Cards To Consider

The Amex AIR MILES Business Card

If you use AIR MILES, don’t plan to carry a balance on your card every month, and you don’t mind paying a $180 annual fee, the AIR MILES Business can be a better choice. It has a great 2,000 miles welcome bonus, it gives you a 55 interest-free period, and it has a good travel insurance package.

The Business Gold Rewards Card

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

The Marriott Bonvoy™ Business Card

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

Amex Platinum vs. Amex Cobalt: Comparison & Review

The usual question we ask ourselves when we select a credit card is ‘What’s the catch?’. As much as any credit card’s benefits are highlighted, it basically boils down to  ‘How much do I need to pay?’ and ‘What are the hidden charges?’ 

To generally summarize the difference between both these cards: The Amex Platinum caters to avid travellers whereas the Amex Cobalt Card to millennials for their daily spending. That doesn’t mean that if you don’t fall in either demographies, the cards are not meant for you. There is a lot more to both these cards than just travel benefits. 

This review will breakdown the differences between both the Amex Platinum and Amex Cobalt cards to determine which card is better suited for your lifestyle. 

Basic Benefits of Amex Platinum Vs Cobalt

Benefits Amex Platinum Card Amex Cobalt Card
Fee $699 annually $10 monthly
($120 annually)
Points Type Membership Rewards (MR) points Membership Rewards Select points
Welcome Bonus 50,000 MR points 
by spending $3000 within the first 3 months
Can be boosted up to 65,000.  Read below for more info.
2,500 MR Select points monthly  (30,000 MR Select points annually)
by spending at least $500 monthly with the Amex Cobalt Card
Travel Credit $200 annually  $100 hotel credit annually
Foreign Transaction Fee 2.5% for purchases and ATM usage 2.5% for purchases and ATM usage
Eat & Drink Bonus (per $1 spent) 3x
unlimited
5x 
limited to the first $30,000 spent annually
Travel Bonus (per $1 spent) 2x 2x 
incl. local commute
Any Other Purchase Bonus (per $1 spent) 1x 1x
Airport Travel Lounge Access  (Priority Pass Prestige) Yes 
(for >1200 lounges globally)
No
Travel Insurance Yes
(incl. trip cancellation/interruption)
Yes 
(excl. trip cancellation/interruption)
Hotel Elite Statuses Yes 
for selected hotel chains
No
Shopping Protection Yes Yes
Front of the Line (advanced access/tickets to concerts) Yes Yes
Supplementary Card Up to 9 cards total; each $175 (platinum) and $50 (gold) annually   Up to 9 cards total; free of charge

Are they worth the annual fee? 

The great thing about the Cobalt card is it’s extremely affordable where you don’t have a hefty annual fee and stick to a monthly plan with just $10 per month. The additional bonus is that you can cancel the card anytime if it doesn’t serve its purpose. 

What about the Amex Platinum?

Don’t be alarmed by the $699 annual fee that comes with Amex Platinum. It does come with worthwhile rewards and benefits that outweighs the annual fee. In the worst case scenario, you would end up making money with the annual fee. How so? I’ll illustrate it below.

Now lets dive into the benefits. 

Massive Welcome Bonus and Membership Rewards Points

Membership rewards points are basically an Amex currency in their loyalty program. You can use them for travel rewards (flights) via Amex travel website or transfer the points to other airlines to book other flights/hotels. If you are not travelling, you can always get a statement credit/cash back for the points received. It really is that flexible!

With Amex cards, they provide a whopping welcome bonus. Amex Platinum offers 50,000 MR points. All you need to do is spend $3000 within the first three months of use.

Here is how much you can get if you redeem these points for a statement credit:

AMEX PLATINUM Points Value
Welcome Bonus   50,000 $500
Travel Credit
$200
TOTAL
$700

With 1 cent per point, 50,000 points = $500. With the travel credit of $200 for 2019, this brings the total to $700. You are already at a surplus! And this is just utilizing two benefits of the Platinum Card. We are just at the tip of the iceberg considering the other perks the Platinum Card gives. 

Now with the Cobalt card, its amazing with the monthly fee of $10 instead of an annual fee lump sum of $120 to pay up front. The welcome bonus is earned on a monthly basis of 2500 MR select points. It gives the flexibility that Canadian millennials with budget issues can come to appreciate with the Amex Cobalt Card. 

Let’s assume you use this card the whole year (12 months) which gives a total welcome bonus of 30,000 MR points.

AMEX COBALT Points
Value
Welcome Bonus   30,000 1 cent per point for eligible travel purchases
*0.7 cent per point for other purchases
$300
Hotel Credit

$100
TOTAL

$400

The Amex Cobalt has an excellent benefit of hotel credit up to $100 dollars annually that, along with the welcome bonus, gives you over 3x the profit from the 12 month fee paid. 

This is purely just utilizing the welcome bonus and travel/hotel credit given by Amex. What else can you redeem with these points?

Benefits and Point Redemption with Amex Platinum & Amex Cobalt

Here is where we get to the really good stuff.

Redeeming Your Points 

The travel benefits for the Amex Platinum are rather impressive where you can further boost your point value. American Express offers a 30% transfer bonus when you transfer the 50,000 MR points to British Airways Avios or Aeroplan miles, . You are now at 65,000 points if you transfer your 50,000 MR points. 

BENEFITS AMEX PLATINUM AMEX COBALT
Statement Credit 1000 points per $10 (any purchases) 1000 points = $10 (travel) 1000 points = $7 (any other purchases)
Point Transfer to Other Airlines
Yes Not applicable for Cobalt as its under the MR select point system. 
Point Transfer to Other Hotel ProgramsYesYes
Using the statement credit system shown above, you can use these points for the redemptions below:
Fixed Points Travel Program Applicable for MR points Applicable for MR Select points
Travel via Amex Travel Online Applicable for MR points Applicable for MR Select points
Purchases on amazon.ca Applicable for MR points Applicable for MR Select points
Purchases on ticketmaster.ca Applicable for MR points Applicable for MR Select points

Even though Amex Cobalt MR select points are not directly transferable to other airlines unlike Amex Platinum MR points, you can still utilize the Fixed Points Travel system by American Express. The great thing about the system is the points are fixed regardless of the airline ticket fare to redeem at any given time of redemption. 

Click for details on flight fare on Amex Platinum & Amex Cobalt

Insurance Coverage

The travel Insurance coverage is extensive for both cards but it does have a slight advantage towards the Amex Platinum. However, it still is amazing for an Amex Cobalt card holder. 

POLICIES / BENEFITS AMEX PLATINUM AMEX COBALT
Out of Province/Country Emergency Medical Insurance Up tp $5,000,000 
for you, your spouse, any dependent children, any additional cardmember, for any number of trips with a maximum duration of 15 days.
Up tp $5,000,000 
for you, your spouse, any dependent children, any additional cardmember, for any number of trips with a maximum duration of 15 days.
Travel Accident Insurance Up tp $500,000 
for you, your spouse and children in the case of accidental death or dismemberment while traveling
Up to $250,000
for you, your spouse and children in the case of accidental death or dismemberment while traveling
Flight Delay Insurance Baggage Delay Insurance (2 separate policies) Up to $500 coverage 
(aggregate maximum between both policies; Flight & Baggage Delay Insurance)
Up to $500 
(aggregate maximum between both policies; Flight & Baggage Delay Insurance)
Hotel/Motel Burglary Insurance Up to $500 
Up to $500 
Lost or Stolen Baggage Insurance Up to $500 Up to $500
Car Rental Theft and Damage Insurance Up to $85,000 of coverage without paying a single dime
Waive the vehicle rental company’s own insurance policy
Up to $85,000 of coverage without paying a single dime
Waive the vehicle rental company’s own insurance policy
Trip Cancellation Insurance15+ Up to $2,500 per insured person, per trip, up to a maximum of $5,000 for all insured persons combined.
No
Trip Interruption Insurance Up to $2,500 per insured person, per trip, up to a maximum of $6,000 for all insured persons combined. No
StandbyMDSM Travel Medical Concierge19 Provide 24/7 access to physician telephone consultations, arrangement of house call visits, and referral to medical facilities. No
Travel Emergency Assistance18 Access to out-of-town worldwide emergency medical assistance services and legal referrals by telephone, 24/7/365. No

Shopping Experience – Does my card protect me well?

This is a summary of the shopping protection provided by American Express for both cards. 


AMEX PLATINUM AMEX COBALT
Purchase Protection® Plan Up to $1,000 Up to $1,000
Buyer’s Assurance® Protection Plan†16 Up to $10,000 Doubles the manufacturer’s warranty for up to one extra year, on any purchase paid in full with your Amex Cobalt Card
Fraud Protection Guarantee24 You won’t be held responsible for any fraudulent charges, as long as you’ve taken reasonable care to protect your account details and PIN. You won’t be held responsible for any fraudulent charges, as long as you’ve taken reasonable care to protect your account details and PIN.
No Pre-Set Spending Limit on Purchases The Platinum Card® has no pre-set spending limit In accordance to the approved Cobalt credit limit given to you.

Earning Points with Amex Platinum & Amex Cobalt

The key to selecting a suitable card will be to assess how your lifestyle can easily earn these amazing MR /MR select points.


AMEX PLATINUM AMEX COBALT
Dining
3x unlimited 5x limited to first $30,000 spent annually
Travel 2x  (+1x for selected hotel/car rental bookings) 2x
Other Card Purchases 1x 1x
Refer Your Friend 15,000 points 5,000 points
limited to 75,00 points annually

There isn’t any limit when it comes to the Amex Platinum. All it takes is for you to get started with charging your expenses to your card to build your points. 

Amex Cobalt Exclusive Benefits

With the Cobalt card, it literally is a daily spending card. For food and drinks, you can earn 5x compared to Amex Platinum’s 3x. Having said that, American Express is flexible with the definition of Food and Drinks

‘ Restaurants, quick service restaurants, coffee shops and drinking establishments in Canada, stand-alone grocery stores in Canada, delivery of food and groceries in Canada…’ 

Even with travel, only the Cobalt Card allows 2x point earnings with travel purchases that include local commute, and gas stations in Canada. Again, American Express is flexible on the definition of local commute

“…subway, streetcar, taxi, limousine and ride sharing services…as long as it’s the merchant’s primary business”

Be it Uber, bus, train or any other public transportation – you can earn double the points per $1 spent! 

How else can I get MR select points?

Get FREE Additional Cobalt Cards

To maximize your earning rates, you can apply for supplementary cards for your family up until 9 cards – free of charge. 

Usually supplementary cards cost around $50 per card. So with 9 cards FOC, you save up to $450, and still earn the points combined with all 10 cards. 

Amex Platinum Exclusive Benefits 

#1 Worldwide Airport Lounge Access (Priority Pass)

If you have not experienced airport lounge during your flight travel experience, you are really missing out. I really was. We all can agree the waiting time between check ins and flight take offs generally made flight travel a snooze fest. Then, I had the chance to have access to the airport lounge when I was traveling from Singapore Changi Airport and flight travel would never be the same again. It truly changes the entire experience. Now I can’t imagine not having airport lounge access during my flight travels. 

Amex Platinum offers a Priority Pass Prestige membership which gives you access to 1,200 airport lounges globally free of charge. This membership has a value of $429/year. 

Plaza Premium Lounge at Toronto – Lester B. Pearson International (YYZ) 

So what exactly is in these lounges that makes it such a great experiences? 

Usually airport lounges have free WiFi, serve free fine food (some full meals or finger food and assorted snacks), beverages (many include alcohol drinks). Some lounges has amenities like massage chairs, nap rooms, showers, libraries, game rooms and printing facilities. If you are traveling with kids, some airport lounges provide safe playrooms for them to utilize before a flight. All that energy gets used only for them to get a good snooze on the flight making it a smooth journey for you.

Playroom in the Plaza Premium Lounge Helsinki at Helsinki Airport 

If you are travelling from Toronto Pearson International Airport, you are eligible to utilize the Pearson Priority Security Lane (even during peak hours) with the Amex Platinum. You are eligible for a complimentary valet service as well! How sweet is that when you are in a hurry!

#2 Hotel Elite Statuses – immediate hotel status upgrade!

With Amex Platinum, you get to upgrade the paid hotel bookings/reservations status for free at selected chains. The benefits varies at different hotels – exclusive discounts, early check-in and late check-out, complimentary breakfasts and more. You dont have to meet the usual criterias to enjoy these benefits. Being a Amex Platinum cardholder is all that this requires! 

Amex Platinum benefits include: 

  • American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts program
  • Hilton Honors Gold Status
  • Shangri-La Golden Circle Jade membership
  • Marriott BonvoyTM Gold Elite status
  • Radisson RewardsTM Gold Status

To Sum Up…

Amex Platinum is better suited for frequent travellers where Amex makes the travel (flight and hotel) experience a lot more enjoyable and memorable at a lower cost than usual. There is no question on the limit allowed for the points earned or the extent of insurance/protection coverage. You are already at a good head start with the more than generous welcome bonus. You can feel safe to travel with  your trusted Amex Platinum joining you on the trip. 

Where as, Amex Cobalt is the way to go for daily spending purposes and is super flexible with the upfront fee which is only on a monthly basis and mindblowingly high point earning system for food and drinks. Its applicable for almost any daily activities involved. Amex Cobalt is just to die for with the rewards available for its cardholder. 

Make your choice and get your Amex Platinum/Cobalt today!

Amex Centurion ‘Black’ Card – The Complete Guide

The Amex Centurion Card AKA American Express Black Card

Is it just a status card or is it worth earning?

The evolution of technology has made us much too impatient in life. We want everything fast in almost every (if not all) aspects in life. While we keep up to speed, it’s needless to say we expect quick & efficient service when money is spent. Such is the purpose of the Amex Centurion Card, otherwise best known as the Amex Black Card. 

The general perception of this card is being primarily a travel charge card. However, the brilliance of the Amex Centurion card is in its top notch service quality that makes the generally impossible requests from cardholders become possible.

In the following post you’ll find:

How do you get an Amex Centurion card

Amex Centurion card can’t be applied for. It’s by invitation-only. Amex has maintained that exclusivity and takes pride in the benefits provided. This explains why the perks are not officially available or publicized on public platforms. It really is so lucrative to own one that it doesn’t even require advertising. 

How do you earn an Amex Centurion card?

The best way to increase your chances of being invited to become an Amex Centurion cardholder is as follows: 

  • Own an American Express credit card for at least one year
  • Spend between $100,000 – $450,000 on the American Express card during a year (the Amex Platinum Card makes the best sense)
  • Maintain a clean credit report (especially with Amex Card usage)
  • Earn at least $1 million annually
  • Have a high net worth

Now this is just to boost your chances of getting an invite from American Express. It doesn’t necessarily ensure that you will by following the above tips. American Express still reserves the right to choose who they invite, and they’re not letting on their selection criteria.

Key Benefits of Amex Centurion (Black) Card

24/7 Personal Concierge

As an Amex Black cardholder, you could have access to a ‘personal concierge’. Assuming you enjoyed the service quality from a particular concierge, you can request the same person for the subsequent usage of this service. Communication via emails would always go directly to that person, and you will have his or her personal extension number to reach when needed. 

It may seem as it’s like any other concierge service or similar to the Amex Platinum concierge, yet such is not the case. 

Picture this – You need tickets to a supposed sold out concert or you need a reservation at the busiest restaurant. Your Centurion concierge makes it happen. All it takes for the Centurion concierge to say, when calling a business or restaurant,  “This is so and so from American Express Centurion Concierge…” That one word, if said to a high end business/hotel/restaurant, makes all the difference. 

Your concierge can assist you as a personal travel agent: regardless of where you want to go, or how challenging the booking reservations would be, Centurion concierge makes it happen, on time, as requested, 99% of the time – mindblowing!

It has also been said that your concierge can arrange for a personal shopping experience at your requested mall after hours. Talk about living life in style! You can also expect special treats on your birthdays – exclusively taken cared off by your concierge.

Elite Memberships

As a Centurion cardholder, you are automatically upgraded to the topmost elite category for airlines, hotels, certain private clubs, lounges and special events. According to an Amex Black Card user, ‘It’s an automatic by-pass to the top tier ranking for the most valued customer status all around the world.’ 

Hotels: 

Being part of the top tier hotel programs, you can also enjoy these additional benefits:

  • Late checkout until 4pm at fine hotels throughout the world, 
  • Automatic free upgrade to a suite (provided the upgrade room is not previously booked) 
  • Free in-room amenities; a bottle of wine, or cheese and fruit, or both, which will be waiting in the room at time of check-in, 
  • Free spa treatment(s) in certain hotels. 

Flights: 

As an Amex Centurion Card holder, you automatically acquire Platinum Medallion Status with Delta.

With this status, your personal concierge can assist with these perks:

  • Automatic upgrade to first class on selected flights. (the concierge will update you on latest offers at time up booking).
  • You get a free companion first class ticket on select flights (concierge updates at booking) when purchasing a first class ticket for you.
  • Personalized and dedicated concierge travel assistance for any emergencies during travel. 

Airport Lounges:

The card comes with access to the finest lounges globally via the American Express Global Lounge program. This includes the exclusive Centurion Lounge where you are able to experience the muted surrounding with fine quality amenities. The entry to this lounge is exclusive to Amex Centurion and Platinum card holders. 

The difference is Centurion card holders have no time limit to enjoy the Centurion lounge. Platinum card holders are limited to 3 hours (departure and transit passengers only). 

The Centurion Lounge by American Express

It still does raise the question of how do you earn the amazing Amex Centurion card. The most practical way, it seems, is to start with the Amex Platinum card to match the spending requirement ($100,000 – $450,000) as listed above. 

Having said so, in terms of the benefits, the closest card that can compare to the Amex Centurion card is the Amex Platinum card. 

Comparative review of Amex Platinum & Amex Centurion

BenefitsAmerican Express Platinum CardAmerican Express Centurion Card
Card TypeCharge CardCharge Card
Initiation/Annual Fee• Initiation Fee: None
• Annual Fee: $699
• Initiation Fee: $5,000
• Annual Fee: $2,500
24/7 Personal ConciergeAvailable for free. 
Concierge service personnel is assigned to the cardholder
Available for free including travel agent.
Cardholder may request for a designated personal concierge. 
Companion TicketsDiscounts available for participating airlines for companion ticketsFree upgrade for selected airlines
Airport Travel LoungeGolden Lounge Program 
(incl. Centurion Lounges within a time frame of 3 hours only)
Global Lounge program
(incl. Centurion lounges for any period of time and Maple Leaf Lounges)
Foreign Transaction Fee2.5%None
Travel Credit$200 annually $200 annually 
Global Entry Fee CreditYes. $100 application fee credit every 5 years when applied for.Yes. $100 application fee credit every 5 years when applied for.
Free WiFi on FlightComplimentary Boingo WiFi access• Complimentary Boingo WiFi access
• Complimentary Gogo WiFi access
Centurion International Arrival ServicesNoYes.
To fast track the arrival, customs, immigration, and coordinate grounds transportation at selected airports.
Hotel Elite Statuses• American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts program
• Hilton Honors Gold Status
• Shangri-La Golden Circle Jade membership
• Marriott BonvoyTM Gold Elite status
• Radisson RewardsTM Gold Status
• American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts program
• Hilton Honors Diamond
• Shangri-La Golden Circle Jade membership
• Marriott BonvoyTM Gold Elite status
• Radisson RewardsTM Gold Status 
• IHG Priority Club Rewards 
• Centurion Hotel Program
Relais & Châteaux 5C 
Fine Hotels & Resorts Exclusive Benefits YesYes
Car Rental Elite StatusHertz9 and Avis10 Car Rental Benefits• Centurion Auto program
• Avis Presidents Club, 
• Hertz #1 Club
Elite Rent-A-Car
Additional Card• Up to 9 cards total. 
• $175 for additional Platinum cards. 
• $50 for additional Gold cards
• $2,500 for each additional Centurion Card (up to 2 only)
• $175 for up to 3 additional Platinum Cards
• $0 for additional Gold Cards.
Front of the Line(advanced access/tickets to concerts)YesYes
Travel InsuranceYesYes
Shopping ProtectionYesYes

In a nutshell…

The American Express Centurion Card is undoubtedly one of the most prestigious charge cards to be used. It has beyond believe perks that takes luxury living to the next level. The service that comes with the card  alone makes the annual fee worthwhile, considering the time and effort saved with the Centurion concierge. 

Assuming you receive the coveted invitation, you could use the Delta Platinum Medallion status, access to exclusive invite-only events, and the privilege of being a part of one of the most exclusive communities worldwide.

Increase your chances today of getting an invitation, by starting out with the Platinum Card from American Express. It shares similar benefits with the Amex Black Card, and it’s the closest option you’ll find if the Amex Centurion seems too far fetched to earn.

Reviews – By Centurion Cardholders

If you have the budget, the Amex Centurion is a dream come true, but don’t take our word for it; here are quotes from actual Amex Centurion cardholders…

‘There’s nothing you cannot do with the Centurion card but if you travel enough or want to experience the best things in life; nothing compares to the centurion. 
I had friends in my network with the Centurion card long before I got it, so not much surprised me. When I say there’s nothing you cannot do with a centurion I am not exaggerating. I know people who have got front row seats to sold out shows, backstage with celebrities, bought jets and even rare luxury cars on their centurion. 

After having a platinum card for over a year, I reached out to my concierge about booking a yacht charter for a client (I own a luxury chartering service) and happened to in conversation bring up the centurion, which he asked if I would like to apply for. I was denied. A year later, I had changed a few things financially and increased my spend on both of my cards drastically, and asked again and was accepted within 2 days. I used my existing points to pay my annual fee and the rest is history so they say.

You definitely need a near perfect credit score, never missed or late on a payment (not just with Amex no late payments on your report at all) and over 150k a month in spend. I have heard 250 before but can tell you I got my personal centurion much easier after having the business one. I’ve also heard you need a net worth over 2 million dollars however I’m not sure how they would verify that as they only asked me for tax documents. Yes, they will ask for tax documents, bank statements, and will not accept you no matter what you spend without them. 

It’s better to hold because of the perks, as well as the prestige. I know people who barely have a 600 credit score who have a platinum card. The platinum is only a stepping stone to the centurion in my opinion. If you stay at 5 hotels a year and go from a basic room to a suite (let alone a presidential suite) upgrade the card has paid for itself.’ – Kovach.B. (Kovach Companies. Inc)

‘Overall, I get way more out of this card — more than $45,000 in benefits a year — than I spend on keeping it in my wallet. Granted, I do have a business with more than 20 employees, so not everyone will be able to get this much out of this card, but some may be able to get even more out of it. Having a dedicated concierge at Amex who is always available to me is essentially priceless. Combine that with the rest of the perks on this card and it’s well worth the $2,500 annual fee.

It’s a very exclusive card, of course, so you can’t just apply for one — you have to be invited to apply by American Express. While nothing’s guaranteed, there are a couple of tricks that you can try that will (likely) get you on Amex’s radar. The first of these is to spend — a lot — on your Business Platinum card, and the second is to simply ask. 

I love booking hotels with Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts because of the perks you get like room upgrades, free Wi-Fi, a $100 amenity benefit and late checkout. I just recently was upgraded to a Penthouse Fountain View Suite at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, and as you can see below, that definitely didn’t suck. As a Centurion cardholder, these perks go a step beyond, and most upgrades will be confirmed at booking. I also get an additional $200 benefit per two-night or longer stay.’ – Kelly, B (ThePointsGuy)

Three Reasons The Marriott Bonvoy™ Business American Express® Card Is A Great Long-Term Choice

The Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card is the perfect card for business owners who travel at least once a year. The card comes with a 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy points welcome bonus, though it’s in Year 2 and beyond, when the annual Free Night Award kicks in, that the real magic begins.

Add in Marriott Bonvoy™ Gold Elite status and the card’s comprehensive insurance package, and you’ll want to keep your Marriott Bonvoy Business Card for years.

Released in early 2019, the Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card has made a splash amongst Canadian business owners as a card that offers a fantastic ROI.

In this post, I’ll let you in on all the numbers that show why the card is such a great a long-term investment, and why you’ll want to keep it in your wallet for years to come.

To make things easier to follow, I’ve broken the post down into the following sections:

The Marriott Bonvoy Business Card’s Main Features & Benefits

Welcome Bonus 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy points
Annual Fee $150
Additional Card Annual Fee $50
Travel BenefitsAnnual Free Night Award: 1 free night at a participating property with a room rate of up to 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy points
Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status every year you charge $30,000 to your card
15 Elite Night Credits every calendar year
Points Earning Rate • 5 Marriott Bonvoy points per $1 spent on eligible Marriott Bonvoy properties
• 3 Marriott Bonvoy points per $1 spent at stand-alone gas stations
• 3 Marriott Bonvoy points per $1 spent at restaurants, quick service restaurants, coffee shops and drinking establishments in Canada
• 3 Marriott Bonvoy points per $1 spent on travel services and travel bookings, including air, water, rail and road transport, but not including local and commuter transportation
• 2 Marriott Bonvoy points per $1 spent on any other purchase
• 15,000 bonus points when transferring 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points to frequent flyer programs like British Airways Avios or Air Canada Aeroplan
• 10,000 bonus points per every approved referral
Business Benefits • Business and Expense Management Tools
• Business Insurance Coverage
• The annual fee for main and supplementary cards may be tax deductible
• Payment flexibility (pay in full or carry a balance)
• Up to 99 supplementary cards for employees
American Express Invites
Travel Coverage • Travel Emergency Assistance
• Travel Accident Insurance up to $500,000
• Car Rental Theft and Damage Insurance
• Lost or Stolen Baggage Insurance
• Baggage Delay Insurance
• Flight Delay Insurance
• Hotel/Motel Burglary Insurance
Purchase Coverage • Purchase Protection® Plan
• Buyer’s Assurance® Protection Plan
Business Coverage • Employee Card Misuse Protection
Eligibility 1. You are a Canadian resident and have a Canadian credit file.
2. You are the age of majority in the province or territory where you live.
Type of Card • Credit Card
Applied interest rate • 19.99% on purchases
• 22.99% on funds advance

Looking Beyond The Welcome Bonus

We value Marriott Bonvoy points at 0.8 cents apiece, since they can be transferred to airline programs like British Airways Avios or Air Canada Aeroplan at a rate of 3:1, and those programs’ points are worth 2-3 cents apiece when used on flights to Asia or Europe.

Related: The American Express Business Edge™ Card

That means that the 50,000 points welcome bonus that comes with the Marriott Bonvoy Business Card has a value of about $400, making it clearly worth the card’s $150 annual fee. But what about after the first year?

This post will explain why the Marriott Bonvoy Business Card offers excellent value to Canadians, both in the first year and for many years beyond that.

3 Reasons The Marriott Bonvoy Business Card Is A Great Long-Term Choice

Benefit #1: Annual Free Night Award

Every year after your first anniversary, you’re eligible for a free night at a participating Marriott Bonvoy property worth 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy points or less. In our opinion, this is the single most valuable benefit that comes with the Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card.

It’s a long-term benefit that you get every year, as long as your account is in good standing and hasn’t been canceled before the award is issued. There are no minimum purchase requirements, no minimum number of nights booked in a Marriott Bonvoy property during the year… nothing! Your biggest concern for this annual free night award will be deciding in which of the thousands of Marriott Bonvoy properties across the globe to use it.

Understanding Marriott Categories

Finding out which hotels offer the right room rate is simple enough, though, because as I explain in my post on the personal Marriott Bonvoy Card, Marriott classifies its hotels and properties into 8 categories, depending on the number of points you have to trade in to stay for a night.

The total number of points needed depends on several factors: the price of the hotel, whether you’re traveling in low season or high season, and whether or not the hotel participates in the PointSavers program. Here’s the complete list of categories, with the PointSavers rates in brackets:

Hotel Category Off Peak Standard Peak
1 5,000 (4,000) 7,500 (6,000) 10,000 (8,500)
2 10,000 (8,000) 12,500 (11,000) 15,000 (13,000)
3 15,000 (12,000) 17,500 (16,000) 20,000 (18,000)
4 20,000 (17,500) 25,000 (22,500) 30,000 (27,500)
5 30,000 (27,500) 35,000 (32,500) 40,000 (37,500)
6 40,000 (35,000) 50,000 (45,000) 60,000 (55,000)
7 50,000 (45,000) 60,000 (55,000) 70,000 (65,000)
8 70,000 (65,000) 85,000 (80,000) 100,000 (90,000)

As you can see, the 35,000 points limit for the free night award could get you a room in a hotel anywhere from Category 1 – 6.

Category 5 Case Study: Booking A Free Night At The St. Kitts Marriott Resort & The Royal Beach Casino

An example of a great redemption is a room at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort & The Royal Beach Casino.

Marriott Bonvoy Business card free night award at the St Kitts Marriott Resort
St. Kitts Marriott Resort & The Royal Beach Casino

In this case, you could use your free night award to book a room for up to 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy points and save, depending on the season, about $270 USD, as shown below. This particular room has a king bed and a spacious balcony, perfect for your St. Kitts vacation.

Category 5 hotel booking through Trip-Advisor
Actual room rate you would have to pay if you were to book with cash instead of using the free night award

There is an incredibly large number of hotels where you can redeem your Free Night Award, and the value of the benefit is how much you’ll save on the room ($269, in this case). In any case, it’s very easy to see that this benefit alone outweighs the $150 annual fee, and will for as long as you keep the card in your wallet.

And we’re just getting started…

Benefit #2: Gold Elite Status + 15 Annual Elite Night Credits

These are actually two long-term benefits that work in conjunction to improve your experience when staying at a Marriott Bonvoy hotel. To understand the value of these benefits, you first need to understand what “Gold Elite status” and “Elite Night Credits” mean.

The Elite Night Credits program is divided into different levels or tiers that you progressively reach the more you stay at Marriott Bonvoy properties.

After signing up to the program, you initially start off as a regular member who earns an Elite Night Credit for every night stayed at a Marriott Bonvoy property.

Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status

Every night you stay in a Marriott Bonvoy property you receive one Elite Night Credit, which determines the status you’ll have the following year. Here are the number of Elite Night Credits you need to earn within one year to reach each status level:

  • Silver Elite Status: 10 Elite Night Credits
  • Gold Elite Status: 25 Elite Night Credits
  • Platinum Elite Status: 50 Elite Night Credits
  • Titanium Elite Status: 75 Elite Night Credits
  • Ambassador Elite Status: 100 Elite Night Credits

When you charge $30,000 to your Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card in one year, you’ll bypass the regular membership structure and receive Gold Elite status, whether you’ve stayed in Marriott Bonvoy properties or not. You’ll also receive 15 Elite Night Credits every year, giving you a significant head start on the higher tiers.

Benefits Of Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status

Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status comes with plenty of great perks you can capitalize on every time you stay at a Marriott Bonvoy hotel. Here are some of our favourites:

  • Earn 25% more Marriott Bonvoy points from the loyalty program for eligible purchases
  • 250 or 500 Marriott Bonvoy points gift upon check-in at participating hotels
  • Enhanced Room Upgrade
  • Complimentary high-speed Wi-Fi
  • 2 PM late checkout

How Much Is Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status Worth?

The following table shows my estimated value for each of these benefits. The numbers correspond to a single 2-day stay at a full service Marriott Bonvoy property. To make things easier to follow, I’ll assume an average room rate of $200 per night ($400 for the two nights) and an average value of 0.8 cents per Marriott Bonvoy point, as mentioned above.

Benefit Value (For a single 2-night stay)
25% bonus Marriott Bonvoy points $6
250 or 500 Marriott Bonvoy points check-in bonus $2 – $4
Complimentary Room Upgrade (subject to availability) $20 – $100
Complimentary enhanced internet access (estimated at $1 per day) $2
TOTAL $30 – $112

This is a good estimate of the value of the Gold Elite status for a single 2-night stay at an average Category 4 or 5 hotel. If you stay at a higher category hotel, spend more nights or, better yet, if you stay at a hotel more than once during the year (to get the check-in bonus several times), the final value of the Gold Elite status multiplies.

Reaching Platinum Elite Status With The Marriott Bonvoy Business Card

After achieving Gold Elite status, the 15 Elite Night credits that the card includes will get you that much closer to the threshold you need in order to upgrade to Platinum Elite status. Platinum Elite status gives you really great benefits at Marriott Bonvoy properties like:

  • 50% bonus points on hotel stays at participating properties
  • Enhanced Room Upgrades that include special suites
  • Welcome gift of your choice upon check-in. Whenever you check into a participating property, you can choose a gift between complimentary breakfast, special amenities or points (either 500 or 250 Marriott Bonvoy points, depending on the property)
  • Annual gift choice award. Apart from the check-in gift, once a year you can choose one of five different gifts: 5 nights of suite upgrades (Marriott calls them “Suite Night Awards”), Silver Elite status awarded to a friend, 5 Elite Night credits, a 40% discount on your favourite mattress, or a donation of $100 USD to charity.

Benefit #3: Comprehensive Insurance Coverage

The Marriott Bonvoy Business Card comes with extensive travel, business and purchase insurance policies. The generous coverage in health insurance, life insurance, personal effects protection, trip delay, trip interruption and more, stacked on top of all the other benefits of the card, make it an even sweeter deal.

But just like the Business Platinum Card, the Marriott Bonvoy Business Card also offers special insurance policies geared toward protecting small businesses. In particular, the Employee Card Misuse Protection may cover small businesses against unauthorized charges made to the Marriott Bonvoy Business Card if you terminate the Supplementary Cardmember and cancel their Card within 2 business days.

If you want to learn more about all the embedded insurance policies that come with every Amex card, as well as other stand-alone insurance plans that American Express offers, you can read our dedicated post on American Express Travel Insurance. That’s where you’ll learn all the details about coverage, making claims, and what all the footnotes and fine print means.

How Much Is The Marriott Bonvoy Business Card’s Insurance Coverage Worth?

As with so many other perks, this one is very tough to put a price on. However, if you were to choose an insurance plan as extensive as the one that comes with your Marriott Bonvoy Business Card, it would cost much more than the $150 annual fee on this card.

The Bottom Line

The long-term benefits of the Marriott Bonvoy Business Card are fantastic. You’ll save hundreds of dollars per year using your Annual Free Night Award, potentially hundreds more with your Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status, and be safe and secure thanks to an impressively comprehensive insurance plan that covers both you and your business.

If you’re a Canadian business owner who stays in a hotel at least once per year, this card will boost your travels and give you an excellent return on your investment at the same time.

AIR MILES Onyx™ Status Review

AIR MILES Rewards is one of Canada’s biggest independent loyalty programs, and it counts both its members and sponsors by the thousands. It classifies its members or collectors according to how many miles they earn every year, and the AIR MILES Onyx™ status is the highest class of them all. As an Onyx member, you’ll get the whole package of benefits that only the most loyal elite collectors can get.

Learn what’s so special about the Onyx status and why signing up to an American Express AIR MILES Reserve Credit Card is the best way to get the most out of this loyalty program. Hint: A Great welcome bonus is just the beginning…

The AIR MILES Onyx and Gold Status

Everyone wants to be a VIP wherever they go, and achieving high elite status levels in loyalty programs is one way to do it. See what it means to be at the top of the AIR Miles Rewards program with the AIR MILES Onyx status.

In this post you’ll find:

#1 What Is AIR MILES Onyx

Simply put, AIR MILES Onyx is the highest possible elite status in the AIR MILES Rewards program. It brings in the best benefits that AIR MILES Rewards has to offer, including great travel and shopping perks, as well as access to unforgettable events. It took AIR MILES a while to follow in the footsteps of other loyalty programs like Aeroplan who were already offering several levels of rewards by 2014. But in the end, everything fell into place and the Onyx Status was born.

AIR MILES Onyx Benefits: A Quick Take

To give you a spoiler of what it means to be an AIR MILES Onyx collectors, here are all the perks that come with it:

Travel Benefits • Access to more flights and better seats
• Up to 40% less miles on select flight redemptions
• 10% discount on accompanying partner ticket paid in cash
• Special prices on some vacations packages and cruises
Shopping Benefits • Discounts of up to 20% on all merchandise rewards
• Personal Shopper service to help you purchase anything outside the catalogue (Like a shopping concierge) at no extra cost
• Buy anything you want with your Dream miles at the Cash miles exchange rate of 9,500 miles per every $1,000 ($0.105/mile)
Customer Service BenefitsSpecial dedicated service line for priority at the AIR MILES Call Center
Other Perks • Get invited to special Onyx only events
• Access to contests for entertainment tickets as well as the chance to meet & greet your favorite artists
• Monthly giveaways, contests and movie tickets

But before we go headlong into all the details behind each of these benefits, lets review all of the AIR MILES statuses so that you can get a good grip on what’s so special about Onyx.

#2 Elite Status Levels In The AIR MILES Program

All loyalty programs offer different levels of rewards and redemptions depending on how “loyal” you are to the brand. In other words, the more you purchase and spend within the program and earn points (in this case air miles), the more benefits you’ll receive for your spending.  In this sense, the AIR MILES Rewards program is no different from other loyalty programs, and it offers three different rewards levels or statuses, depending on the number of miles you earn each calendar year (January 1st through December 31st):

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

#3 What Do I Get In Each Status

That’s the key question! It’s not about how cool the name is; it’s what it means to be in each level. Check out the following table and compare all the perks and benefits you get with each status in the AIR MILES Rewards Program. The last column is where you want to aim at, since the Onyx status has it all.

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

Blue Status

The Blue Status is the basic collector status, and you get it just for signing up to the AIR MILES program and getting your Collector’s Card. In short, being in the blue status doesn’t really mean much, and it’s not an elite status. To go elite you need to spend and earn miles. While you are in the Blue, you get access to the standard flights, merchandise and events redemptions, with the possibility to earn and redeem either Dream Miles or Cash Miles. AIR MILES Perks and Stage Pass give all collectors, including the blue ones, access to special offers, discounts, redemptions and passes to popular events.

You’ll remain in the Blue Status every year you earn less than 1,000 miles. Blue Status is your starting point, but what’s next?

Gold Status

If you reach 1,000 or more miles, but less than 6,000 miles during the calendar year, AIR MILES will cover you in gold. The first thing you’ll notice once you’re half way up the status ladder, is that you immediately gain access to more flights than before, with better schedules, and you can access better merchandise and events that weren’t available to you when you were in Blue status. You’ll still have access to all the perks in the Blue Status, of course, but you will also get these Prime AIR MILES benefits, and they can be of great value.

The most valuable Gold Status benefit is, without a doubt, the up to 30% discounts you could get on select flights. This could really add up to big savings if you do the math. Of course, 10% discounts on some consumer products and merchandise don’t hurt either.

#4 AIR MILES Onyx Benefits

Now that we’re clear on all the things that the Blue and Gold statuses include, we finally got to where you want to be: The Onyx Status.

We already gave you a heads up on the pros that come with this tier, but here well review the top benefits and show you what they’ll be worth to you as an Onyx collector:

Travel Benefits Of The AIR MILES Onyx Status

Travel benefits of the AIR MILES Onyx status

Even though the AIR MILES program has been known to be a bit weak in the travel department, the upgrades that come with the Onyx AIR MILES status really make a difference:

Even though the AIR MILES program has been known to be a bit weak in the travel department, the upgrades that come with the Onyx AIR MILES status really make a difference:

Premium Flight Rewards

In terms of flights, Premium means that you gain

  • Access to more and better flights
  • Access to more seats
  • Better schedule flexibility

This can really help take the edge off finding available seats on the flight you want to book, which is something some blue and even gold collectors have been known to complain about.

Discount Of Up To 40% On Select Flight Redemptions

Compared to Gold Collectors, AIR MILES Onyx collectors enjoy an additional 10% in discounts on select flight rewards. This makes savings go up to 40%. This is a really valuable benefit, as it could increase your miles value by 67%, as long as you can find a flight to use it on.

10% Discount On Companion Ticket Paid In Cash

This is a benefit that is also available for Gold collectors, but it’s still well worth mentioning here. Whenever you book a flight reward with your dream miles, you can buy a second ticket for a companion in cash, and you’ll get a 10% discount.

Shopping Benefits Of The Onyx AIR MILES Status

Shopping benefits of the AIR MILES Onyx status

Shopping and merchandise rewards is what the AIR MILES program is most famous for, but the Onyx status takes this to another level.

With these shopping benefits, you’ll not only get more value from your miles, but you’ll also give your dream miles the ultimate flexibility.

Premium Merchandise Rewards

As with the premium flight rewards, premium merchandise means that you’ll get access to all of the products and merchandise availabe in the AIR MILES catalogue.

Discounts Of Up To 20% On All Merchandise Rewards

The discount that comes with the AIR MILES Onyx status in the merchandise rewards category isn’t as great as the one on flight redemptions, but it’s still a great way to stretch your miles even longer. Additionally, there’s also the fact that these discounts are a lot easier to find than the select discounted flights, so in the end this benefit could offer more value.

By reducing the amount of miles you need by 20%, you’ll effectively increase your dream miles’ value by 25% (I’ll explain below)

Personal Shopper Service

The Personal Shopper Service is almost like having a concierge but only for shopping, so let’s call it a “Shopping Concierge”. The personal shopper service basically puts an entire team at your disposal to look for and shop for any item you might possibly want,

not just the ones in the AIR MILES catalogue!

You can buy literally anything you want, from a brand new iphone to a Mercedes, all straight out of your dream miles balance, without paying a single cent.

A Benefit With No Fineprint

You’re probably thinking “There’s gotta be a catch somewhere!” but there isn’t:

  • Hidden fees? Not a single one. The service is completely free of charge to Onyx collectors. AIR MILES doesn’t just give you access to the service, they literally give it to you. All you have to do is call, request your product and the gears will get into motion.
  • Lower value for your miles? Not even that! You can buy anything you want with your Dream Miles at the regular Cash Miles exchange rate of 9,500 miles per every $1,000 ($0.105/mile).

If you think about it, in a way, this benefit is almost like having the ability to transfer dream miles to the cash balance, and additionally dropping the $750 cap per transaction. It actually lets you save all your miles in your dream balance but without losing the ability to use them as cash miles for merchandise purchases.

Additional AIR MILES Onyx Perks

First Class Customer Service

Customer service benefits of the AIR MILES Onyx status

Onyx collectors get an independent priority customer service line so they don’t have to wait for a service rep to become available. Instead of calling the regular AIR MILES phone number, Onyx collectors call 1-844-399-ONYX (6699) and receive priority service.

This is something good to have in case you need any help, especially considering that AIR MILES has tens of thousands of members all across Canada, which can sometimes saturate the regular customer service line.

Access To Exclusive Onyx Events And Attractions

Additional AIR MILES Onyx perks

Great once-in-a-lifetime experiences can be hard to find and plan out, but AIR MILES takes care of its Onyx collectors by pampering them with things like

  • Exclusive wine tastings
  • Exclusive meet & greets with celebrities like famous chefs and artists
  • Fine dining experiences, and more.

To top it off, you also get discounts of up to 20% in spa and golfing experiences (see the full list here)

#5 With AIR MILES Onyx Status, You Can Boost your Dream Mile’s Value By 25% To 67%

Remember that by being an Onyx collector you can get select flights for 40% fewer miles and select merchandise for 20% less. Here I’ll show you that this benefit translates into an increase of 25% to 67% in the value of each mile.

A Hypothetical Case Study: A 40% Discounted Flight

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

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

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

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

  • If it’s an average deal that gives blue collectors 10 cents per mile, being Onyx will get you 16.67 cents per mile.
  • If the reward flight gives regular members 12 cents per mile, with your Onyx Status, you’ll get 20 cents per mile!

By the same logic, if a $100 product is worth 1,000 miles (at a valuation of 10 cents per mile), the AIR MILES Onyx 20% discount will let you have it at 800 miles, giving you a value of 12.5 cents per mile.have to pay for select merchandise will increase your miles value by almost 25%.

That’s an increase of 25%!

#6 How Do I Reach Onyx Status?

As I mentioned above, to reach each status you need to earn a minimum amount of miles. To learn how, let’s first take a closer look at the AIR MILES program:

A Different Sort Of Loyalty Program

The AIR MILES Rewards program has some differences and similarities with other loyalty programs like Aeroplan, Membership Rewards and the Marriott BonvoyTM program. The most important differences reside in the way earning rates are expressed and in the way you store and redeem the air miles you earn, but there are other more subtle differences as well.

The first difference with other popular programs, is that AIR MILES is an independent loyalty program, in the sense that it’s not tied to a particular brand or merchant, like Aeroplan, which is tied to Air Canada for example. AIR MILES is owned and run by LoyaltyOne Inc., a company that provides loyalty solutions to other companies in a B2B (business-to-business) model. It’s actually the partner companies who offer you reward miles through LoyaltyOne Inc., for your purchases. This basically translates into three things:

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

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

A Different Way To Express Earning Rates

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

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

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

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

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

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

Many Ways To Earn Air Miles

AIR MILES provides plenty of ways for you to earn miles and become an Onyx AIR MILES Collector. As a loyalty program, the first one is obvious: shopping at partner brands. However, the list doesn’t stop there, and you’ll see that the AIR MILES program has a lot more to offer. Pair it with one of American Express’ AIR MILES credit cards, like the AIR MILES Platinum and the AIR MILES Reserve, and you’ll multiply your options and increase your rewards.

Shopping at Partner Brands

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

Check out the FAQs section at the end of this post where you’ll find a complete list of all the AIR MILES Sponsors, along with their respective miles earning rate offers.

Double Dipping: Earn Miles Twice With An Amex AIR MILES Credit Card

This is a great way to boost earnings and it’s as simple as paying with your card at AIR MILES Sponsors. If you show your collectors card, you’ll ear miles thanks to the AIR MILES program, and if you pay with your Amex AIR MILES Card, you’ll earn additional miles, courtesy of Amex.

Earn Miles On ANY Purchase With An American Express AIR MILES Credit Card

With any one of American Express’ different AIR MILES credit cards (like the AIR MILES Platinum, Business Platinum, Business and the Reserve), you’ll earn miles on any purchase, not just on sponsors. There’s always a preferential rate for buying at AIR MILES sponsors and other eligible purchases, and a lower rate for all other purchases.

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

Special Rewards: Booking Hotel Stays Through AIR MILES Travel Hub

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

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

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

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

Buying AIR MILES Rewards Miles

Picture this scenario:

It’s December 30th and you check your annual miles earnings and see that you’re only short by 100 miles to reach AIR MILES Onyx status (in other words, you’re at 5,900 miles). You’re soooo close, and you don’t have too many options, given how little time you have. What are your options?

  1. Make a purchase to earn the extra miles
  2. Get those extra miles somehow, or
  3. Forget about Onyx for another year

Of course, nobody wants to have to choose the third option, but the first one implies making a $2,000 purchase at the average $20 per mile rate. You spent so much on christmas already that putting forth an extra 2K for a random purchase seem unreasonable.

What can you do?

  • You can buy your miles.

Yes, you can, but they’re not cheap! You pay 30 cents per mile, which is 2 to 3 times what those miles will be worth to you in the end, so it’s something to keep as a last resort. However, in the present circumstances, spending $30 to get the extra miles so that you can enjoy all the benefits Onyx offers for an entire year seems more than reasonable.

#7 How Much Would I Need To Spend On Purchases To Reach Onyx Status

Climbing up the status ladder in the AIR MILES Rewards program isn’t easy, especially if you have to do it by yourself, without the help of an Amex AIR MILES credit card.

To compare, I’ll summarize all the amounts you would normally have to spend to reach each level at both the best and the average earning rates the AIR MILES program offers, which are $5 and $20 per mile respectively. I’ll also include the amounts you would need if you had an Amex AIR MILES Platinum or Reserve card in hand, assuming you pay for everything with your card at the Amex rate of $10 per mile.

AIR MILES STATUS (needed miles) AIR MILES Average Earning Rate ($20/mile) AIR MILES Best Earning Rate ($5/mile) Amex AIR MILES Platinum ($10/mile) + Average Earning Rate ($20/mile) Amex AIR MILES Reserve ($10/mile) + Average Earning Rate ($20/mile)
Blue Status (0 miles) $0 in purchases (you get it just for joining AIR MILES) $0 in purchases (you get it just for joining AIR MILES) $0 in purchases (you get it just for joining AIR MILES) $0 in purchases (you get it just for joining AIR MILES)
Gold Status (1,000 + miles) $20,000 annually (almost $1,700/month) $5,000 annually ($417/month) $6,667 annually ($556/month) $0 in purchases (you get it automatically with the Reserve)
ONYX STATUS (6,000 + miles $120,000 annually ($10,000/month) $30,000 annually ($2,500/month) $40,000 annually ($3,333/month) $0 in purchases (you get it automatically with the Reserve)

Breaking Down The Numbers

As you can see in the previous table, at the average earning rate for AIR MILES collectors, which is 1 mile for every $20 in purchases, you would need to spend $120,000 on purchases at AIR MILES Sponsors in the course of one year! This worst-case scenario amounts to $10,000 every month! Not all Canadians have the wallet or the stomach for that kind of spending!

You can do a lot better if you decide to earn all your points on InterContinental Hotel Group properties, which offer the best earning rate of any AIR MILES sponsor, but you’d still have to spend $30,000 a year. That’s like staying at a luxury resort for a whole month! It’s a bit unrealistic.

Luckily, Amex AIR MILES Credit Cards can really help!

Just by signing up to the Amex AIR MILES Platinum, which has the same earning rate as the Reserve, things start looking a little easier. You need $40,000 in purchases at AIR MILES sponsors in order to earn miles twice, but it’s a lot more doable because you’re not limited to hotel stays at a single hotel chain. That’s three times faster just for being a Platinum AIR MILES Cardholder.

#8 Automatic Onyx Status With The Amex AIR MILES Reserve Card

The AIR MILES Platinum helps a lot, like you just saw, but who wants to spend $40,000 to get to the AIR MILES Onyx status, when you can get it automatically just by signing up to the Amex AIR MILES Reserve! What’s more, you won’t have to wait till the next calendar year to enjoy your benefits. You start off in the AIR MILES Rewards program like a pro – right at the top of the chain, ready to get the most out of every mile!

Add in a 2,400 miles welcome bonus, an annual partner flight ticket worth another 1,700 miles, worldwide airport lounge access and comprehensive travel insurance, and the $299 annual fee will look like a joke.

#9 Is The AIR MILES Reserve Card Worth The Annual Fee?

Without a doubt. All benefits combined could give you up to 3X return on the initial $300 investment during the first year, thanks to the welcome bonus. After that, you’ll still be able to get away with an ROI of at least 100%

#10 FAQs

What is the earning rate on AIR MILES sponsors?

There are many AIR MILES sponsors or partners, and each has its own rewarding scheme. In the following tables you’ll find the full list of all in-store and online partners along with their respective earning rates:

In-Store Partners

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

Online Partners

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

When comparing the different earning rates in the tables, it’s clear that you’ll get the best deals with hotels stays and purchases. The absolute best earning rate is 1 mile for every $5 at any of the Intercontinental Hotels Group properties. The worst-case scenario would be ADI, where you’ll need to spend $50 to earn a single mile. The average earning rate for this category is very close to 1 mile for every $20 in purchases. In the case of online stores and retailers, most offer a rate of $20 in purchases for every mile, but a few fetch offer each mile for $35.

Are there special rewards to earn miles?

Yes, there are. One is booking hotels through AIR MILES’ online travel booking system, Travel Hub, you could earn as much as 1,000 miles per night. There are also occasional limited time offers on select sponsors where you can earn a lot more miles than you would just for the purchase alone.

Can I buy AIR MILES Reward Miles?

Yes, you can, but they’re not cheap! You pay 30 cents per mile, which is 2 to 3 times what those miles will be worth to you in the end, so only keep this as a last resort, and only when you’re short by a few miles. Otherwise it doesn’t make sense.

Do AIR MILES expire?

AIR MILES Reward Miles will expire if your account is inactive for 24 consecutive months. To prevent your Reward Miles from expiring, you just need to earn or redeem your AIR MILES at least once during every 24-month period.

AIR MILES will send you multiple emails as your miles approach their expiry date, but if those emails end up in your Junk folder, you might miss them. Our suggestion is that if you haven’t used your AIR MILES Onyx card in a while, bring it out and start earning some miles to prevent those you already have from expiring!

Does my AIR MILES Onyx status expire?

Your AIR MILES Onyx status is valid from the day you achieve it until the end of the following year. For example, if you qualify for Onyx status on July 1, 2020, your Onyx status will expire on December 31, 2021. If you meet the requirements for maintaining your status during that span, it will not expire.

If you have an American Express AIR MILES card like the Platinum or the Reserve card, your Onyx status will only expire after you get rid of those cards.

The Amex Cobalt Card: A Review

With a welcome bonus of up to 30,000 MR points, a 5X earning rate on eligible eats & drinks (including groceries and food delivery) and a monthly fee of just $10, the Amex Cobalt Card is one of the best credit cards for most Canadians.

It’s probably our favourite card of 2019, and we can’t recommend it highly enough. Apply with confidence today.

The American Express Cobalt Card has been receiving a lot of attention since its fall 2017 launch, and with good reason: it’s an extremely compelling offer. $10/month for a card that gets you 5X the points on food and drink purchases in Canada and 2X the points on travel purchases anywhere in the world is an excellent deal.

But of course, as we’ve come to expect from American Express through their other offers—like the Platinum Card, the Business Platinum Card and the Business Gold Rewards Card—there’s much more to the Cobalt than meets the eye. Once you learn the ins and outs of this card, I’ll be surprised if you aren’t applying for one of your own by the end of this post.

This credit card is marketed at millennials and near-millennials, so if you fit either of these, you’ll definitely want to give the Cobalt card a closer look.

Pros & Cons Of The Amex Cobalt Card

PROSCONS
• Monthly fee of just $10 with no annual fees
• Up to 30,000 MR welcome bonus points for using your card every month
• $100 in hotel credit annually
• Save up to 15% on your purchases during the first year of card membership
• One of the best and most flexible points earning rates of any credit card in Canada
• Points are easy to use
• Up to 9 additional additional Cobalt Cards for free
• $30,000 cap on the 5X earning rate (equivalent to 150,000 MR)

 

Amex Cobalt Features & Benefits

Welcome Bonus• 2,500 MR points every month you charge at least $500 to the Cobalt Amex Card, for a total of up to 30,000 MR points
Travel Benefits• $100 hotel credit for spa, restaurants and other amenities at The Hotel Collection participating properties
• Complimentary room upgrades at The Hotel Collection participating properties
Monthly Fee$10
Additional Card FeeUp to 9 free additional cards
Points Earned Per $1 Spent• 5X on eligible eats and drinks, including groceries and food delivery
• 2X on eligible travel & transit
• 1X on everything else
American Express Invites
Travel Coverage• $5,000,000 Emergency Medical Insurance (Out of province/country)
• $250,000 Travel Accident Insurance
• Flight Delay Insurance
• Baggage Delay Insurance
• Lost or Stolen Baggage Insurance
• Hotel/Motel Burglary Insurance
• Car Rental Theft and Damage Insurance
Purchase Coverage• Buyer’s Assurance Protection Plan
• Purchase Protection Plan
Eligibility• Canadian citizens or residents
• A valid Canadian Credit file
• An account in good standing (recommended credit score of at least 650)
Type of CardCredit Card
Applied Interest Rate• 19.99% on purchases
• 22.99% on funds advances

The Amex Cobalt’s Monthly Fee

The Amex Cobalt Card is the first and only American Express card to offer a monthly fee in lieu of an annual fee. This makes the Cobalt Card extremely affordable for most Canadians, because you don’t have to pay one single, bulky annual fee. Instead, the annual fee gets split up across twelve more manageable payments, and those payments are just $10/month.

American Express Cobalt Card for Canadians
Where will you use your new American Express Cobalt Card?

What Are Membership Rewards Select Points And How Much Are They Worth?

The value of any loyalty program’s points depends on how you use them. Keeping this in mind, American Express has always offered a lot of flexibility regarding what you can do with your Membership Rewards points.

Normally, I recommend using your American Express points on flights, since you can get exceptional deals like these that we mention in our post on the Platinum Card:

Roundtrip Toronto to Hong Kong
70,000 points
$100 total taxes/fees
Roundtrip Vancouver to Hong Kong
60,000 points
$90 total taxes/fees
Round-the-world Toronto to Hong Kong to Dubai to London to Toronto
74,500 points
$761 total taxes/fees
Round-the-world Vancouver to Hong Kong to Dubai to London to Vancouver
74,700 points
$742 total taxes/fees

But the difference with the Cobalt card is that you use a different points system when spending your points on flights. American Express has introduced a new tier of points called Membership Rewards (MR) Select, which are usable for just about everything that regular MR points (which you receive with the PlatinumBusiness Platinum and Business Gold Rewards cards) are, including hotel stays and travel purchases, but you can’t transfer them to loyalty programs like Aeroplan or Avios.

As a consequence, rather than valuing these MR Select points at 2-3 cents per point (ilke the regular MR points), I suggest a slightly lower value of 1-2 cents per point (Read on to understand why).

So the Amex Cobalt comes with both good and bad. The bad is the change I just described: the method for redeeming your MR Select points for flights is a bit different, so many of our strategies for flying from Asia to North America for $75 or from Canada to Europe for $50 are less relevant.

But the good is really, really good: once you know how, you can save 10% on your monthly spending using the Cobalt card.

How To Use Your MR Select Points

Even though you can’t transfer your MR Select points to Aeroplan or Avios, there are still a couple of different ways to use them:

  1. For statement credits
  2. For flights
  3. You can transfer them to Marriott Bonvoy™
  4. For purchases in different retailers and Amazon.ca

#1 Using MR Select Points For Statement Credits

This is, by far, the easiest way to redeem your MR Select points. You can choose to exchange 1,000 points for a $10 statement credit towards eligible travel purchases, or you can trade them for $7 towards any other purchase.

When used for a statement credit as I described above, you will get a value of 0.7 or 1 cent per point.

This isn’t a great valuation, but it sure is the easiest type of redemption you can get. It’s absolutely hassle-free. All you have to do is

Step 1: log in to you Amex account through the Membership Rewards site

Step 2: Choose to use your points

Step 3: Select which purchase you want the statement credit to be used for

Step 4: Finally, choose how many MR points you want to use. The minimum is 1,000 points.

#2 Boosting Your Points With Fixed Points Flight Rewards

The one cent per point valuation I’ve suggested above is extremely easy to achieve: all you need to do is apply your points against the spending on your American Express statement, nothing more. However, American Express’ Fixed Points Flight Rewards offer value that’s up to twice as good. Here’s how to capitalize on that.

The table below shows the redemption costs for various destinations around the world using the Fixed Points system. As you can see at the very top, you can redeem 15,000 points to offset $300 (value of 2 cents per point) on short-haul routes like those between Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and New York, as well as between Vancouver and Calgary. Longer flights offer a slightly lower valuation (1.5-1.75 cents per point), though if you choose your routes wisely, they can still save you hundreds of dollars more than what you’re already saving by applying your MR Select points directly against your American Express statement.

At the end of the day, you really can’t lose.

American Express Cobalt Card for Canadians

 

Redeeming Amex Cobalt MR Select Points For Amex Fixed Points Flight Rewards At A Valuation Of Two Cents Per Point

#3 Transferring Your Points To Marriott Bonvoy

This is another option, in case you’re not keen on using your points as MR points, but would rather build up your balance in hotel loyalty programs like the Marriott Bonvoy program or Hilton Honors.

In the first case, you can transfer your points at a 1:1.25 rate. This means that for every 1,000 MR points you transfer, you’ll receive 1,250 Marriott Bonvoy points. Because Marriott Bonvoy points are valued at around 0.8 cents per point, transferring you MR points at this rate will still give you a final value of 1 cent per MR point:

1.25 MB/MR x 0.8 cents/MB = 1 cent/MR

Therefore, unless you have the option to use them for flights (in which case you could get up to 2 cents per MR point), you wouldn’t be hurting your MR points’ value by transferring them to Marriott Bonvoy points.

The downside would be limiting yourself to only being able to use the transferred points in Marriott Bonvoy participating hotels and resorts.

#4 Using Your MR points For Other Purchases

The last way in which you can spend your MR points is by using them to pay directly for gift-cards and other merchandise at select retailers, and for purchases through Amazon.ca.

As you might have guessed from the value of statement credits, using your points in this way (which is by far the most flexible way to use them), will only give you the minimum value of 0.7 cents per point. This is because you effectively trade off value for flexibility.

Bonus Cobalt Points

Just like its fee, the Cobalt Card’s welcome bonus is also split in 12 equal parts.

Most American Express cards come with a single welcome bonus that you get once you reach a minimum amount charged to the card. The same principle applies to the Amex Cobalt, only on a monthly basis:

You can earn 2,500 bonus Cobalt points, every month, during the first year of card membership. The to get each bonus, you need to charge a minimum of $500 to your Cobalt Card, every month.

If you manage to get the 12 bonuses, you’ll have a total of 30,000 bonus points by the end of the year. At the least possible value of 0.7 cent per MR Select point, this bonus adds up to $210, for a card worth $120. If you ramp it up to 2 cents per MR point, you’ll get back $600.

That’s one sweet deal!

Points Earning Rate Of The Amex Cobalt

You can access three different earning rates with the Cobalt Amex:

  • 5X on food & drinks (with a cap at $30,000 )
  • 2X on eligible travel purchases
  • 1X on all other purchases

The 5X earning rate (5 points per every $1) on eligible food and drink purchases is one of the highest earning rates American Express has to offer. Additionally, American Express is generous with their definition of food and drinks:

Restaurant, quick service restaurant, coffee shop and drinking establishments in Canada, stand-alone grocery stores in Canada, delivery of food and groceries in Canada…

The flexibility of the food & drink category makes it especially easy for anyone to access it, every day. This is exactly what makes the American Express Cobalt card one of the best everyday spending cards available in Canada today.

Upcoming Cap On The 5X Earning Rate

Important Notice: The cobalt credit card has been so successful, that Amex was forced to put a cap on the total amount of points you can earn on food and drinks. The 5X earning rate is limited to a maximum of $30,000 per year, and after that you’ll earn 1 point per dollar spent.

As of today, the 2X earning rate on travel purchases is unlimited, but, since it’s also a very good earning rate, things could also change in the future.

If you want to take advantage of all the perks this card offers today, I recommend that you sign up to the Cobalt card soon, before Amex decides to put any more caps on its benefits.

Save 10% on your spending with the American Express Cobalt

As I explained in the previous sections, if you apply for the American Express Cobalt card today, you’ll receive 2,500 MR Select points for every month of the first year that you charge $500 to the card.

On top of that, you also earn 5X points for every dollar you spend on food and drinks.

In other words: you earn 5X the points at all restaurants, bars, cafés, grocery stores, and food delivery services (UberEATS etc.), making the magic $500 monthly threshold fairly easy to hit for most of us (about $120/week in food). And when you do…

You’ll save 10% on that month’s spending.

Here’s the math to show what I mean:

2,500 bonus points for spending $500/month

+ 2,500 points (5X points on $500 spent on food/drinks)

= 5,000 points earned per month

When you apply those points at the one cent per point valuation I mentioned above (which is as simple as applying them against your American Express statement, nothing more), you get $50 back on your $500 of spending. That’s a savings of 10%!

Here’s how it looked when I applied 4,000 of my MR Select points against two flights I’d recently redeemed my regular MR points for on Aeroplan:

American Express Cobalt Card for Canadians

 

Redeeming American Express Cobalt MR Select Points For Purchases At A Valuation Of One Cent Per Point

Of course, it’s not a problem if you don’t spend $500 per month on food and drinks. Let’s imagine that one month you only spend $300 on food and drinks and the other $200 on something else:

2,500 bonus points for spending $500/month

+ 1,500 points (5x points on $300 spent on food/drinks)

+ 200 points (1X points on $200 spent on other items)

= 4,200 points earned per month

In this case, you end up with 4,200 points, worth $42, for a savings of 8.4%. This trend continues: the more you spend on food and drinks, the higher your monthly savings will be.

While we’re at it, let’s look at some of the other benefits of the Cobalt Card.

American Express Travel Insurance And Shopping Coverage

Insurance coverage is very important to most travelers, and the Cobalt Card delivers a very comprehensive set of embedded insurance policies, given how inexpensive this card is.

The Amex Cobalt’s Travel Coverage

The travel-related insurance policies that come with your new Amex Cobalt Card are:

  1. $5,000,000 Emergency Medical Insurance (Out of province/country): This policy will cover virtually any accident that needs medical attention, once you’re on your way. The coverage is for you, your spouse, any dependent children, any additional cardmember, his or her spouse and dependent children, for any number of trips with a maximum duration of 15 days.
  2. $250,000 Travel Accident Insurance: This is an AD&D life insurance policy that covers you and your family while you”re all traveling in a common carrier.
  3. Flight Delay & Baggage Delay Insurance: Two separate policies but with an aggregate maximum coverage of $500. Intended to cover you for unforeseen expenses due to your flight or baggage been delayed for a long time. It includes out-of-pocket money, money for food and even hotel stays.
  4. Lost or Stolen Baggage Insurance: This policy can help you recover up to $500 in lost items and personal effects.
  5. Hotel/Motel Burglary Insurance: Similar to the Lost or Stolen Baggage Insurance, it protects you for up to $500 in stolen personal effects if your hotel gets burglarized, as long as your lodgings were paid with your Amex Cobalt Card.
  6. Car Rental Theft and Damage Insurance: You can use this policy to waive the vehicle rental company’s own insurance policy and get up to $85,000 of coverage without paying a single dime.

Amex Cobalt Purchase Coverage

Regarding card purchase coverage, the Amex Cobalt Card comes with American Express’ two standard policies:

  • The Buyer’s Assurance Protection Plan, which doubles the manufacturer’s warranty for up to one extra year, on any purchase paid in full with your American Express Cobalt Card.
  • The Purchase Protection Plan, which covers your Cobalt Card purchases against accidental damage and theft, to a maximum of $1,000.

Read our post on American Express Insurance to learn all the details regarding these and other insurance policies offered by American Express Canada.

Free Supplementary Cobalt Cards

Giving your family members (or employees) supplementary cards is a great way to boost your earning rate. While some additional cards require you to pay an additional fee, this is not the case with the Cobalt Amex card.

You can request up to 9 additional cobalt cards for supplementary cardholders, free of charge. The only condition is that he or she be 13 or older.

American Express Front Of The Line

The Amex Cobalt Card comes with American Express Invites, a benefits package for major public events like concerts and shows. These benefits include:

Front Of The Line Advance Access

This benefit lets you purchase or reserve tickets for highly sought after events, sometimes even before they’re on sale.

Front Of The Line Reserved Tickets

These are blocks of seats reserved by American Express exclusively for its cardmembers. With Reserved Tickets you won’t be left out of any major event, even when tickets have sold out for the general public.

Front Of The Line E-Updates

This is a subscription email service that periodically sends you the listings of all the events you can access thanks to your Amex Cobalt Card.

Other Amex Invites Benefits

Special Access and benefits at Budweiser Stage, Roy Thomson Hall and Massey Hall, including a separate entrance, lounges and bars.

What About Foreign Currency Exchange?

While you earn 2X the points on travel purchases like flights and hotels, you still pay a 2.5% fee on all foreign transactions and foreign ATM withdrawals with the Cobalt card. 2.5% isn’t huge, but if you spend $5,000 over the course of a month-long Europe trip, that’s an extra $125 you’ve thrown away in currency exchange fees. Instead, I recommend picking up the N26 You card, which leverages TransferWise’s technology to offer zero currency exchange fees and free ATM withdrawals around the world. Since getting my N26 You two years ago, it’s been my go-to travel card, and I absolutely love it. With your N26 You card, the sky’s the limit.

The Bottom Line

Once you add in all of the other benefits, this card is an excellent choice. Add it to your arsenal of the Platinum Card, the Business Platinum Card and the Business Gold Rewards Card, and you’re laughing.

So…will you take advantage of the Cobalt card or let it pass you by?

Why The American Express Business Platinum Card Is An Excellent Long-Term Choice

The Business Platinum Card by American Express

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

One of the things many American Express cardholders love most is how generous Amex is to their new cardmembers. Welcome bonuses regularly reach 25,000 (the Gold Rewards Card), 40,000 (the AeroplanPlus® Platinum Card) and even 50,000 points (the Platinum Card® and the Marriott Bonvoy™ Card), which are exceptional offers if you have any desire to travel the world. The Business Platinum Card offers its own welcome bonus of 40,000 MR points.

But many people don’t see past those welcome bonuses: they believe that once the welcome bonus is gone, much of the value of these cards is, too.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

That’s why this post is designed to show you that the Business Platinum Card® by American Express isn’t just a no-brainer for its huge welcome bonus, but also because of all the long-term benefits that come with it. These benefits outweigh the annual fee every single year, and once you know how to make use of the Business Platinum Card, you won’t want to go back to life without it.

Since we’ll be focusing our attention on the long-term benefits, we won’t linger much on the welcome bonus, as you only get it once during the first year. You can read our separate posts on the Business Platinum Card® and on the personal Platinum Card if you want to learn more about the welcome bonus, how best to redeem your MR points, and how to maximize your return on your initial investment during the first year.

To make this post easier to read, I’ve broken it down into the following sections:

The Business Platinum Card’s Main Features & Benefits

Welcome Bonus 40,000 MR points
Annual Fee $499 (may be tax deductible)
Additional Card Annual Fee Additional Business Platinum Card $199
Additional Business Gold Card $50
Travel BenefitsThe American Express Global Lounge CollectionTM:
· The Centurion® Lounge
· International American Express Lounges
· Plaza Premium Lounges
· Delta Sky Club®
· Airspace Lounges
· Escape Lounges
· Priority PassTM

As a Canadian Business Platinum Cardmember, you can also access the following lounges in Canada by presenting your Business Platinum Card:
· Executive LoungesTM by Swissport
· Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport VIP Lounge

Hotel Benefits:
· Fine Hotels & Resorts
· The Hotel Collection from American Express®
· Premium Hotel Program Membership

Car and Limousine Rental Services:
· Hertz
· Avis
· Carey

Additional Travel Benefits
· International Airline Program
· Platinum Card Travel Service
· Special benefits at Toronto Pearson International Airport
Points Earning Rate 1.25 Membership Reward points for virtually every $1 in purchases charged to your Card.
Business Benefits Cash Flow Management
Dynamic Purchasing Power
Expense Management Report
Business Servicing
Business Insurance Coverage
American Express Invites
American Express Concierge
Travel Coverage Emergency Medical Insurance (Out of province/country)
Trip Cancellation Insurance
Trip Interruption Insurance
StandbyMDSM Travel Medical Concierge
Travel Emergency Assistance
$500,000 Travel Accident Insurance
Car Rental Theft and Damage Insurance
Lost or Stolen Baggage Insurance
Baggage Delay Insurance
Flight Delay Insurance
Hotel/Motel Burglary Insurance
Purchase Coverage Purchase Protection® Plan
Buyer’s Assurance® Protection Plan
Business Coverage Employee Card Misuse Protection
Eligibility1. You are a Canadian resident and have a Canadian credit file.
2. You are the age of majority in the province or territory where you live.
Type of Card Charge Card
Applied Interest Rate 30% on any unpaid balance

Looking Beyond The Welcome Bonus

If you’ve read our other post on the Business Platinum Card, you’ll know by now that the 40,000 MR can be worth $400 simply by redeeming them for a statement credit. American Express may occasionally offer a transfer bonus, offering a better rate on all transfers of MR points to an airline partner like British Airways Avios or Air Canada Aeroplan, for example, for a limited time. We’ve seen bonuses reach 25% or 30% in the past, which means that if you transfer your MR points to an airline partner at the right time, you may be able to turn those 40,000 points into 50,000 or 52,000 points.

Valued at an average of 2.5 cents per Avios or Aeroplan mile, those 52,000 points turn into $1,300. If you use them to fly creatively, as we show you how to do in this post, you can reach point values in excess of 4 cents per point, which means 52,000 points would be worth more than $2,000 in travel to you.

So there’s no doubt that the welcome bonus is great, and it’ll cover the annual fee completely, making signing up for the Business Platinum Card an easy decision. But the really important question here is: What happens after your first anniversary, when you have to pay the annual fee again?

Three Reasons Why The Business Platinum Card Is A Great Year-Over-Year Investment

Benefit #1: The American Express Global Lounge Collection™

One of the most important highlights of the Business Platinum Card is the incredibly extensive lounge access you get with it. Amex partnered with the best names in the industry to give Platinum Cardmembers a place to relax almost anywhere they travel. Amex’s worldwide coverage is made possible through their own networks, The Centurion® Lounge and The International American Express Lounges, as well as access to other networks such as Plaza Premium Lounges and Priority Pass™. Nevertheless, I’ll give you a short summary of the most important features these lounges offer, and how much they’ll be worth to you.

The Centurion® Lounge

American Express sets itself apart from the competition by being the only card-issuing company to offer its own lounge club to its members: The Centurion Lounge. Inspired by the invitation-only Centurion Card, commonly known as the Black Card, these lounges are exclusively for premium American Express Cardmembers, so only Platinum, Business Platinum, Corporate Platinum and, of course, Centurion cardholders can get in. Today, there are 9 Centurion Lounges around the world, with another six preparing to open their doors.

Centurion Lounge access thanks to your American Express Business Platinum card
The Amex Centurion Lounge at San Francisco International Airport (SFO), Terminal 3

Lounges like the San Francisco Centurion Lounge shown above offer food, drink, resting areas, showers, newspapers, magazines, TV, high speed Wi-Fi, and more.

How Much Is Centurion Lounge Access Worth?

You can’t buy a Centurion Lounge membership, so it’s not possible to give you an exact figure of how much you would have to spend to gain access to these lounges, if you didn’t apply for the Business Platinum Card. Nevertheless, the guest entrance fee is $50 USD per guest, so that could be taken as an estimate of how much it would be saving you, per visit, per person.

Plaza Premium Lounge Access

With the Amex Business Platinum Card, you gain access to all Plaza Premium lounges around the world. There are over 70 different lounges in over 40 different airports that offer great service and a place to lay back and relax while you wait for your flight.

There is a lounge for every taste: some are classier, others are simpler, but they sure beat having to wait on a hard bench for a couple of hours before your departure.

How Much Is Plaza Premium Lounge Access Worth?

Unlike other lounge clubs, Plaza Premium isn’t a membership club, which means that anyone can get in, as long as they pay the entrance fee. This makes it hard to estimate how much this benefit is worth to you, especially considering that there are many different price tags on different classes of lounges. But we can get some rough numbers.

The Plaza Premium lounge access that comes with the Business Platinum Card gives the cardholder and 1 guest complimentary access.

How much are these fees worth? It depends on the lounge you choose.

For example, when I fly out of Toronto Pearson (YYZ), I’ll sometimes head to the Plaza Premium lounge in Terminal 1.

Accessing Plaza Premium Lounges thanks to Amex Business Platinum
Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) Plaza Premium Lounge (International Departures, Terminal 1)

This lounge costs $43 USD per person, so if you were traveling with a guest, the Business Platinum Card would save you $86 USD.

And that’s only for using it once in one single trip. If you travel frequently, you could save this sort of money every time you fly. There are more expensive lounges in the program as well, and you’ll have to pay more if you want to stay for 5 or 6 hours instead of the standard 2 or 3, so you could easily be saving hundreds of dollars in Plaza Premium lounges alone.

Priority Pass™ – Worldwide Lounge Access

Priority Pass is a behemoth in the airport lounge industry, with over 1,200 lounges in its program. Priority Pass boasts some of the best, most innovative lounges available, like the PrimeClass Lounge at Muscat International shown below, which includes all the regular amenities that you would expect from a great lounge, and other less common like a cinema, children playing area, gaming zones, and more.

Innovative Gaming Zone at the Muscat Airport PrimeClass Lounge of Priority Pass.
Muscat International Airport (MCT) PrimeClass Lounge, available with Priority Pass

How Much Is A Priority Pass Membership Worth?

This is a membership club, and its membership is expensive. Offering three separate membership plans, the one that best compares to the access granted with the Platinum and Business Platinum cards is the Prestige membership for frequent travelers. This is an annual membership plan that grants unlimited, complimentary access to all Priority Pass lounges, all over the world, and it costs $429 USD.

Delta Sky Club

The Delta Sky Club lounge access grants you complimentary access to all Delta Sky Club lounges, as long as you have a Delta flight boarding pass. Additional guest access and fees are subject to terms and conditions of participating airport clubs.

JFK Delta Sky CLub lounge thanks to The Amex  Business Platinum
Delta Sky Club lounge at JFK Terminal 4

How Much Is Delta Sky Club Membership Worth?

The membership included with the Business Platinum Card is comparable to Delta Sky Club’s annual Individual Membership plan, which costs $545 USD. However, we’d say that most Canadian travelers will find their Priority Pass and Plaza Premium memberships more valuable, since there are many more of those lounges in Canadian airports than there are Delta Sky Club lounges, which is more US-focused.

The Bottom Line: Lounge Access

When you add up the retail values of the Priority Pass ($429 USD) and Delta Sky Club ($545 USD) memberships, plus access to the Centurion Lounges and Plaza Premium lounges, you’re saving in excess of $1,000 USD per year. Of course, how much those memberships are actually worth to you depends on how often you fly, but a reasonable ballpark is $25 – $50 per lounge visit.

That means that if you take a roundtrip flight every three months, which is 8 airport visits per year, you’d be saving $200 – $400 per year just in lounges alone. Many of us travel much, much more than that.

Benefit #2: Amex Concierge

Amex Concierge is one of those services that are simply priceless. Sometimes planning a trip can be a hassle, so having an expert to back you up and get things sorted out for you is just what you need to be able to really relax and enjoy the ride. Other times, the stress of work and other day-to-day obligations don’t leave enough time to plan something original for that special occasion you’ve been thinking of.

Whether you need to book tickets for a show you want to see, send a gift and you just don’t have the time to look for one, or need advice on what to do at your city of destination, an American Express Concierge will be there to help.

Having the Amex Concierge service is pretty much like having a 24/7 personal assistant, travel planner and lifestyle counselor, all rolled into one.

How Does Amex Concierge Work?

It’s really simple.

Whenever you have a request, all you have to do is contact Amex Concierge, from anywhere in the world, by phone or by email, to let them know what you need. Any of Amex’s concierges will respond by asking a series of questions to get to know you a little better, get to know your likes and dislikes, and what you expect out of the service.

A little while later, they’ll let you know if he or she can do what you ask, and will get to work on it immediately. The service is completely free for Platinum Cardholders. If the service you’ve requested requires making a purchase (eg. booking flights or hotels, shipping an item, etc.), your concierge will inform you of the charges for your approval before charging them to your card.

Tasks You Can Outsource To An American Express Concierge

People get really creative when it comes to testing the reach of an Amex Concierge. Here are just a few of the most popular things you can ask him or her to do:

  • Send a gift
  • Get tickets to sold-out events
  • Get reservations at highly coveted restaurants
  • Help plan a trip
  • Help plan an event
  • Find special service providers near you
  • And much, much more!

If there’s something you need help with, and you’re unsure whether a concierge will be able to deliver, all you have to do is ask. You’d be surprised at how many things they’re able to help you with.

Benefit #3: Impressive Insurance Coverage

The Business Platinum Card offers highly extensive coverage for everything related to travel, shopping and your business.

The generous coverage in health insurance, life insurance, personal effects protection, trip delay, trip interruption and more, stacked on top of all the other benefits of the card, make it an even sweeter deal.

If you want to learn more about all the embedded insurance policies that comes with every Amex card, as well as other stand-alone insurance plans that American Express offers, you can read our dedicated post on American Express Travel Insurance. That’s where you’ll learn all the details about coverage, making claims, and what all the footnotes and fine print means.

How Much Is The Business Platinum Insurance Coverage Worth?

As with so many other perks, this one is very tough to put a price on. However, if you were to choose an insurance plan as extensive as the one that comes with your Business Platinum Card – one that covers you, your spouse and any dependent children, for an unlimited number of trips, it would cost much more than the $499 annual fee on this card.

The Bottom Line

By now, you can probably tell why I love this card so much. Even by just looking at the three benefits we’ve described here, you get an exceptional return on your $499 investment, the card’s annual fee. Once you add in the different hotel benefits, limousine and car rental benefits, and everything else shown in the benefits table at the beginning of this post, you’ll see why so many Canadians are happy, year after year, with their Business Platinum Cards.

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.

The Amex Marriott Bonvoy Credit Card

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

A few reasons. For starters, its 50,000 points welcome 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 15 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
Travel Insurance
Referral Bonus Points10,000
Additional CardsFree
Free Night Award
Marriott Bonvoy™ Silver Elite Status
15 Elite Night Credits Per Calendar Year
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.

Let’s break down some of the items in the table.

Benefit #1: The Welcome Bonus Of The Amex Marriott Credit Card For Canadians

When you sign up for the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card for the first time, you can receive a bonus of 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. To get the bonus, the only condition is that you manage to charge a minimum of $1,500 in purchases to your card in the first three months of card membership. This evens out to $500 of purchases a month, which isn’t hard for most Canadians.

How Much Is The Welcome Bonus Worth?

It all depends on how, when and where you use your points. As a very conservative estimate, we value Marriott Bonvoy points at around 0.8 cents apiece. At this valuation, which, as I say, is very conservative, the bonus is worth $400, more than tripling the annual fee! There are ways to get much better value, though. With a little bit of creativity, and redeeming only for hotel stays, you can get a value of 1 to 1.5 cents per point. At this valuation, your bonus could be worth $500 to $750. All that for only $120!

Benefit #2: Points Earning Rates

Using your card earns you Marriott Bonvoy points. These points go straight to your linked Marriott Bonvoy™ account, the new loyalty program that united the Marriott Rewards® Program, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Program, and the Starwood Preferred Guest® Program (the “SPG Program) into one. There are two different earning rates, depending on where you make your purchases:

5 Points On Eligible Marriott Purchases

If you use your card to pay for room rates, room amenities and anything else chargeable to your room, at any of the 30 hotel brands affiliated to the Marriott Bonvoy program, Amex will reward you with 5 points for every $1. You can also get the same rate for purchases in any physical or virtual store owned and operated by Marriott Inc. or its partners.

As I said, Amex, and not Marriott, awards those points for using your Amex card. However, since Marriott Bonvoy is a stand-alone loyalty program, to be enrolled as a member means that Marriott will also award you points for the same eligible purchase.

This is very similar to what happens with other cobranded Amex cards like the AeroplanPlus Card Family, which can earn you points twice: once for the card purchase, and once again for the Aeroplan-partner purchase.

Marriott is very generous with its loyal guests, and it awards 10 points per spent $1 dollar to basic Members in most of its participating brands. Add the two together and you’re up to 15 points per $1 with your Marriott Bonvoy Amex Card.

2 Points On All Other Purchases

If you book a room through a third party travel agent, or if you make a purchase in any store or merchant that’s not a part of the Marriott family, you won’t get the 5 points per dollar, but 2 points instead. All and all, it’s not too bad an earning rate, because if you manage to get 1.5 cents per point as redemption value, you’re saving up to 3% on all your purchases. This is more than the maximum that some other credit cards will give you in return.

Benefit #3: Referral Bonus

Why would you want to keep this gem of a credit card a secret, when you can earn points by telling your friends about it. Another way of earning Marriott Bonvoy points is with the Referral Bonus. When you sign up to your new Amex Marriott Credit Card Canada, you’ll get a personal referral link. You can use this link to refer friends, family members and other acquaintances to Amex. If Amex approves them for a Marriott Bonvoy Credit Card, you’ll receive a 10,000 points bonus.

That’s 10,000 points just for telling your friends about one of the best travel cards in Canada today!

This benefit is capped at 150,000 points per year, so you’re limited to an annual maximum of 15 approved referrals. Don’t let this get you down though, because those 150,000 points plus the welcome bonus can get you two nights in the best Category 8 Hotels Marriott has to offer (read below for more in hotel categories).

Benefit #4: Free Additional Cards

Additional supplementary cards are a great way to earn points faster. Amex allows for up to nine additional cards, free of charge, so you can share your credit with your family or even with employees. In the latter case, it may make more sense to sign up to the Marriott Bonvoy™ Business American Express Card, as it includes a special policy to protect you against unauthorized charges made to your card by unscrupulous employees.

If you’re more of a loner, then this benefit won’t mean much to you. However, if you have a big family and you want them to be able to spend whenever they need to, nine free additional cards can be of great value.

#2 Four More Special Marriott Bonvoy 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). (Remember, 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, as there are currently over 6,800 hotels in Categories 1 through 5. 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. This last benefit is for the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program’s earning rate, not for the Marriott Bonvoy Amex Card’s earning rate (read this post’s section on The Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status to understand exactly what I mean).

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. Keep reading for more details.

There’s more to the Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status than Silver and Gold. We’ll be covering all the Elite Statuses in depth in the following sections below.

Special Benefit #3: 15 Elite Night Credits

Not only does the Marriott Credit Card Canada reward you with Silver Elite status in the Marriott Bonvoy program, it also gives you a head start to achieve the higher levels of the loyalty program. Every year you keep your Amex Marriott Credit Card in your pocket, you’ll get 15 complimentary Elite Night Credits that get you that much closer to reaching all the milestones needed to get to the Gold, Platinum, Titanium and Ambassador Elite statuses.

Special Benefit #4: 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! It doesn’t even matter how you paid for those nights -whether with points or cash-, or whether they are free night awards, like the one that comes with your Marriott Amex Card.

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

#4 An In-Depth Look At Marriott Bonvoy™ Hotel 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)

(Note: Marriott announced an update of the Off Peak and Peak redemption rates coming next September 14th. We’ll keep you up to date on what that means to you once the changes are officially released)

There are over 7,500 Marriott Bonvoy properties to choose from, spread all over the world. If you want to use the points you’ve earned with your Amex Marriott Credit Card, you can plan ahead by searching for your ideal hotel in Marriott’s hotel directory, where you can filter results by category, brand, amenities and more.

Let me show you examples of some of the best hotels you’ll find within each category.

Marriott Category 1 Hotels

Off Peak Standard Peak
5,000 (4,000) Marriott Bonvoy points 7,500 (6,000) Marriott Bonvoy points 10,000 (8,500) Marriott Bonvoy points

This is the lowest category in the Marriott Bonvoy program. If you manage to book a room with the PointSavers rates during the Off Peak season, you’ll only have to trade in 4,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night.  Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean that you’ll be staying in a shack!

Far from it! In this category, you can find awesome new properties like the 5-star Four Points by Sheraton Bijie we mentioned above. There aren’t many 5-star hotels in this category, but there are plenty of 4-star hotels around the world like the brand-new 4-star Protea Hotel Pretoria Loftus Park by Marriott (South Africa).

Visit one of the most Interesting cities in South Africa and stay at the Protea Loftus Park enjoying its rooftop pool, great spacy rooms and beautiful views of Pretoria.

As a matter of fact, almost all Protea hotels and resorts in South Africa belong to Category 1 and are 4-star hotels. There are almost 400 high quality Category 1 hotels to choose from worldwide (396 to be precise) located in many major cities, as well as in less popular destinations. Since price is primarily about location (and then quality, of course), Category 1 hotels in big expensive cities like New York are bound to be mostly Business hotels like the 3-star Fairfield Inn & Suites East Greenbush.

Planning a business trip to New York? A great inexpensive choice is the Fairfield Inn & Suites Albany East Greenbush

Marriott Category 2 Hotels

Off Peak Standard Peak
10,000 (8,000) Marriott Bonvoy points 12,500 (11,000) Marriott Bonvoy points 15,000 (13,000) Marriott Bonvoy points

You can that see the price tag on these hotels start off where category 1 left off. As you would expect, Marriott category 2 hotels tend to be a bit more expensive than category 1, and I’m not just talking about prices in points, but about regular room rates as well. There are almost four times as many Marriott Bonvoy Category 2 properties as there are Category 1 Hotels.

If you’re thinking of a long business trip to Belleville, Ontario, you should definitely consider staying at the TownePlace Suites Belleville. This spanking new 3.5 star hotel is Belleville’s first extended-stay hotel. You won’t even have to leave you dog behind, as this hotel is pet-friendly, includes free high-speed internet and complimentary breakfasts.

The exterior of the TownePlace Suites hotel by Marriott in Belleville.
Beautiful, fully equipped kitchens are one of the things this hotel is known for

Of course, if you’re looking for first class amenities, it’s only obvious that you should also find 5-star hotels in this category. One example is the beautiful Yogyakarta Marriott Hotel.

The Yogyakarta 5-Stars Marriott Hotel

This 5-star property, located at the heart of Java’s cultural, artistic and intellectual heritage center, is a wonderful example of all you can get for as little as 8,000 points per night. Experience Indonesian and Javanese culture at its purest while going to bed every night in the best lodgings around.

With your Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card, you could spend:

Between 3 and 6 nights with the welcome bonus

+ 1 more night from the Fifth Night Free benefit

+ 1 annual free night award = 5 to 8 nights

That’s over a week in a popular destination in Java, at a 5-star hotel for only $120!

Pair your Marriott credit card Canada with one of Amex’s best travel cards, like the Platinum Card or the AeroplanPlus Reserve Card, and you’re set for your dream vacation or honeymoon!

Marriott Category 3 Hotels

Off Peak Standard Peak
15,000 (12,000) Marriott Bonvoy points 17,500 (16,000) Marriott Bonvoy points 20,000 (18,000) Marriott Bonvoy points

On the third step of the Marriott redemption chart, you’ll be paying a minimum of 12,000 and a maximum of 20,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night. Consequently, your welcome bonus alone can get you between 2 and 4 nights. In the latter case, you can add the fifth extra night, and in both cases, you can also count in your annual free night award, totaling 3-6 nights for only $120.

Where can you use those nights? At any of the 2,164 hotels that make up the third category.

If you’re thinking of visiting the Pacific islands, why not stop at Bali and stay at the Fairfield by Marriott Bali Kuta on Sunset road.

It’s a brand new hotel in a strategic zone at the heart of the city. It’s great for both business and leisure, plus, it’s only a couple of minutes away from Kuta Beach, so if you want to hit the surf in Bali, this is also a great choice.

Marriott Category 4 Hotels

Off Peak Standard Peak
20,000 (17,500) Marriott Bonvoy points 25,000 (22,500) Marriott Bonvoy points 30,000 (27,500) Marriott Bonvoy points

Now that we’re at category 4 hotels, numbers start to decrease as exclusivity starts to climb. After peaking at over 2,000 hotels in the previous category, this one includes a not-so-humble 1,700 properties, 138 of which are brand new or were recently renovated.

Going to Hawaii can be expensive, but staying there doesn’t have to be, especially considering that you can stay at the Sheraton Kauai Coconut Beach Resort, a newly renovated property formerly known as the Courtyard by Marriott Kauai, at Coconut Beach. It’s set to reopen its doors this September, so you could be among the first to book a couple of nights in this beautiful resort, right in the middle of one of Hawaii’s beautiful beaches.

Enjoy the scenery and relax at the Marriott Kauai’s infinity ocean-view pool.

Marriott Category 5 Hotels

Off Peak Standard Peak
30,000 (27,500) Marriott Bonvoy points 35,000 (32,500) Marriott Bonvoy points 40,000 (37,500) Marriott Bonvoy points

Now that we’ve passed the middle of the rewards chart, we’re looking at more and more exclusive hotels every time. This exclusivity arises from not only hotel quality and star rating, but also from the location of the properties.

There are 1,186 Marriott Category 5 hotels to choose from. This is the highest category you can use your Annual Free Night Award on, in standard season and at a standard rate (without the PointSavers rate). However, you won’t be able to redeem that benefit if you’re thinking of using it during the Peak season – remember that it’s worth a maximum of 35,000 points.

From this Category onwards, it becomes ever easier to find luxury 5-star hotels and resorts. If you’re a coffee enthusiast (or maybe even a coffee snob), then you probably know about the world famous Panamanian Geisha coffees. Why not book a trip to Panama, take a tour of the most famous coffee estates such as the Hacienda La Esmeralda, and stay like a VIP at The Santa Maria, a Luxury Collection Hotel and Golf Resort, in Panama City.

Poolside at The Santa Maria
One of The Santa Maria’s beautiful rooms with a view of the resort’s golf course

In this category, it’ll also be easier to find spas, golf courses around the world, beach resorts with stunning balcony views and much more.

Marriott Category 6 Hotels

Off Peak Standard Peak
40,000 (35,000) Marriott Bonvoy points 50,000 (45,000) Marriott Bonvoy points 50,000 (55,000) Marriott Bonvoy points

You’ll find lodgings at great locations in this category, like the W New York I mention further down this post.

Stepping up on exclusivity, there are only 393 hotels around the world that made it into this category. As the third highest-ranking Marriott category, 5-star hotels start becoming mainstream. However, there are also lower class hotels that offer unique activities like the nine 4-star ski-resorts in this category. Three of them are right here in Canada, and include The Westin Trillium House, Blue Mountain hotel, at the foot of the Blue Mountains in Ontario. The other six are in the US.

The Westin Trillium Blue Mountain hotel with its amazing scenery during the summer.
Hotel view during the winter with its hot tub that’ll keep you warm no matter how cold it is outside.

If skiing or snowboarding is your thing, these category 6 properties will be the cherry on top of your trip. Of course, there is much more than skiing among the almost 400 category 6 hotels. You’ll also find 5-star beach resorts, business hotels at the heart of the most important financial capitals and cities in the world and much more. If you have the points, don’t miss out on the opportunity to experience some of the best hotels Marriott Bonvoy has to offer.

One important note about this category is that, technically speaking, you could use your annual free night award if you manage to book a room with the PointSavers rate during the off peak season. This is the absolute highest category for which you will be able to use this benefit, but it’s really hard to accomplish, because most Category-6 hotels don’t frequently offer PointSavers rates. That’s the reason why I said before that the free night award is only redeemable for up to Category-5 hotels.

Marriott Category 7 Hotels

Off Peak Standard Peak
50,000 (45,000) Marriott Bonvoy points 50,000 (55,000) Marriott Bonvoy points 70,000 (65,000) Marriott Bonvoy points

This category engulfs all the runner-ups that didn’t make it to the top of the Marriott redemption categories. With a points-per-night value of 45,000 to 70,000 Marriott Bonvoy points, you can rest assured that you’ll be looking at some of the best hotels in the world, second only to the most exclusive VIP properties on earth.

I’ll only mention a couple of examples here, to give you a good oversight of what you can find in this category. One of the most highly rated hotels in Quebec, the 5-star Ritz-Carlton Montreal, is a Marriott Category 7 hotel.

Stunning suites like this one, with its hardwood flooring, king-size bed and great views of downtown Montreal, make this hotel a gem.

Divine rooms for every taste, a spacious and richly decorated lobby, spa, in-house restaurant, in-house swimming pool and many more amenities, along with world-class service, make up for its hefty price tag. This sort of comfort isn’t cheap, though, and the lowest room-rates will only be a couple of dollars short of $1,000 if paid in cash. The best rooms, like corner executive suites on a high floor with a fireplace, will go for close to $2,000 per night!

This hotel is a clear example of the level of luxury that comes with being a Category-7 hotel. This category only counts 166 hotels. If you thought being in front of the new world trade center was something, wait to hear where category 7 can take you.

The recently renovated London Marriott Hotel County Hall lies in the bank of the river Thames in London, right in front of the iconic Big Ben, the House of Parliament and the Palace of Westminster, and right next to the London Eye. You could make postcards just by taking pictures right from your room window.

The Presidential Suite at the London Marriott Hotel, with its mix of both modern and traditional English style decoration.
The exterior view of the hotel, formerly the London County Hall

This massive six-story, 192-room, and 14-suite hotel is a historic landmark in the UK. As in the case of the Ritz-Carlton Montreal, a suite in this wonderful property can go for over $2,000 a night.

Marriott Category 8 Hotels

Off Peak Standard Peak
70,000 (65,000) Marriott Bonvoy points 85,000 (80,000) Marriott Bonvoy points 100,000 (90,000) Marriott Bonvoy points

We’re finally at the top of the chain. I won’t bore you with more of the same arguments. Category 8 hotels are as high in quality and location as they are expensive. These hotels are really only for the rich and powerful. However, if you add up the Marriott Bonvoy Card’s welcome bonus of 50,000 points with $1,500 worth of eligible purchases at Marriott properties, which can earn you an extra 22,500 points, you might just make the cut and be in line for the experience of a lifetime, even if it is for only one night during the off peak season.

If that’s the case, or if your wallet can stand it, here are some of the most spectacular hotels and resorts that made it to the top of Marriott’s hotel categories, which houses only 69 hotels:

The St. Regis Bora Bora Resort in French Polynesia

Breathtaking, beautiful and stunning don’t come close to describing this amazing complex. It really doesn’t matter which one of the 90 over-water suites you choose. They all seem to float on top of Bora Bora’s perfect turquoise lagoon, and they all offer incredible views.

Only the two two-bedroom suites with a pool seem to stand out from the rest, with a clear 180-degree view of nothing but beautiful mountains, the lagoon and the Pacific Ocean. You only need to take a couple of steps and you’re in the water. The entire lagoon feels like one giant saltwater swimming pool.

If this isn’t in your bucket list, than I don’t know what is. However, it’ll take a little bit of saving up to afford it. The bare minimum will be of roughly around $1,000, but during peak season? It can reach a staggering $7,000 a night. Oh, and you also have to get there, of course, which is quite costly as well.

The Al Maha Desert Resort and Spa in Dubai

Ok, maybe a tropical paradise isn’t what you crave the most. There are plenty of other options like the Luxury Collection Al Maha Desert Resort and Spa in Dubai. In a city where everything screams luxury, you’d expect the finest high-end hotels, and the Al Maha delivers.

View of the desert from one of the suites with its own private controlled-temperature swimming pool.

This hotel in the middle of the desert immediately feels like an oasis. It offers a full-service spa, on-site restaurant, meeting rooms and business amenities, and the possibility to enjoy one-of-a-kind desert activities like camel and horseback riding and even falconry! All that for a “modest” rate of somewhere around $1,800 a night.

The W Koh Samui in Thailand

Marriott Category 8 hotels go beyond 5-stars to reach heights of their own. Even though its price is not as high as St. Regis Bora Bora I just mentioned, the W Hotel at Koh Samui is another beach paradise that takes luxury to another level. This luxury boutique hotel features residences that are more like fully equipped luxury apartments than hotel suites.

Gorgeous 270 degree views of the Gulf of Thailand from the Woobar at the W Koh Samui

An example of what I just said is the WOW Ocean Heaven, which is a private, two-bedroom, and two-story residence with a private infinity pool, equipped kitchen and pantry, and a modern look.

The private WOW Ocean Heaven villa. It does seem like the hotel’s lobby, but it’s actually just the private living room area of the residence.

It also houses five bar/lounge/restaurants that span grill, international and Japanese cuisine. A full service spa with beauty and health treatments, an herbal sauna as well as business solutions like meeting rooms and fully equipped business centers and services, make the $600-$1,500 rates of the simpler villas seem pretty reasonable. However, villas like the one in the last picture can go for as much as $3,000 a night during peak season.

You can see that there’s a clear difference between both the quality and the price of the different Marriott hotels in each category. If you’re an average Canadian who still hasn’t reached an income big enough to afford the best hotels in the world, chances are you’ll find yourself looking around categories 1 through 5, or maybe even 6, when you travel. Within these categories is where you’ll be able to get the most out of your Canadian Marriott Credit Card’s welcome bonus, and the additional points you earn with it.

After seeing just some of the options you can choose from within these categories, there’s no doubt that you’re in for some unforgettable travel experiences if you sign up to the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card.

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 for hotel stays.

#5 Using Your Points For Hotel Stays, or How To Get 16 Nights At A 5-Star Hotel

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.

Just like in the Calgary example above , 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 12 nights. Combine that with Marriott’s 5th night free policy for your extra 3 free nights and with the Marriott Bonvoy™ Amex Card’s Free Night Award, and you’re up to an incredible 16 nights with your card.

That’s 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 7,500 Marriott properties to choose from, the sky is truly the limit with your Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card for Canadians.

#6 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.

#7 Understanding The Marriott Bonvoy™ Elite Status

An Elite Status corresponds to a particular level of earnable rewards within the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program. It’s a way the said program has to reward their most faithful customers. The more you stay and spend at Marriott Bonvoy properties, the more benefits you’re entitled to.

To climb up the Elite Status ladder, you have to accumulate a predefined number of eligible nights each year, which Marriott refers to as Elite Qualifying Nights. Once the year ends, your count resets to zero and you start over from scratch, unless you have the Marriott Credit Card Canada in your pocket, in which case you get an initial boost to the first level plus 15 Elite Night credits.

The loyalty program consists of six status levels:

  • Member
  • Silver Elite
  • Gold Elite
  • Platinum Elite
  • Titanium Elite
  • Ambassador Elite

Since it’s not really an Elite Status, and since you start out at the Silver Elite Status thanks to the Amex Marriott Credit Card, I won’t elaborate much on the Member Status. All I’ll say is that you get it just for signing up to the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program (which is free), and it includes benefits like

  • Earn 10 Marriott Bonvoy points per $1 on 26 hotel brands including Marriott Hotels, W Hotels, Ritz-Carlton and more
  • Earn 5 points  per $1 spent in Residence Inn, Towneplace Suites and Element Hotels
  • Earn 2.5 points per $1 spent only on stays in Marriott Executive Apartments and in Execustay properties
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Exclusive member rates
  • Mobile or Keyless check-in
  • Use your points to pay for hotel amenities instantly
  • Access to PointSavers rates
  • Pay for room rates with Points or Cash + Points

 Each Elite level has its own set of extra rewards –“extra” meaning apart from the Members benefits and the Marriott Bonvoy Amex Card’s own separate benefits. In addition, after achieving certain status levels several times, you can be awarded that status permanently, which is really good value for the Marriott Bonvoy program.

In the following sections, we’ll cover each Elite Status, how to achieve it, and what comes with it.

Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite Status

To be eligible for the silver Elite Status, you need to spend a minimum of 10 nights in Marriott hotels during the year.

Once you’ve reached that minimum, you’ll be entitled to the following exclusive Silver Elite Benefits, in addition to the ones included in the Members Status:

10% bonus points on stays

Silver Elite members earn an additional 10% of the points they would earn for just being Members. This means that Marriott rewards you with a total of 11 points per $1 spent on most Marriott properties. Add in the 5 extra points you earn with your Marriott Bonvoy Card, and you’re up to 16 points per $1.

Priority Late Checkout

This is a nice benefit if you like to get up late in the mornings, even if it’s your checkout date. Marriott doesn’t specify the checkout hour, and it depends on availability, but all you have to do is call the front desk and ask.

Ultimate Reservation Guarantee

Being a Silver Elite member means that your reservation is guaranteed. In the unlikely case that the hotel can’t honor your reservation, they will pay for one night at room in another nearby hotel and compensate you with up to US$200 and 90,000 points, depending on which hotel you had originally reserved.

Gift Shop Discount of 10%

On Marriott operated gift shops, all elite members get a 10% discount as long as they charge their purchases to the credit card linked to the Marriott Bonvoy account. In our case, that implies paying with your Marriott Bonvoy Amex Card.

Dedicated Elite Reservation Line

A 24/7 reservation line to book your hotel stays may not seem like something you’re bound to use. However, you never know when a last minute emergency or business trip may pop up in the middle of the night. In these cases, a dedicated reservation line could be just what you need.

How to get Lifetime Silver Elite Status

When you stack 250 or more nights at Marriott properties and achieve a total of 5 years as an Elite Status member, you’ll automatically get Silver Elite Status for life. As an additional benefit, your Marriott Bonvoy points will never expire.

The Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card gets you many steps closer to achieving this goal. Even if you never stay at a Marriott hotel, you’ll still get Silver Elite Status every year you keep you card. Additionally, you’ll also receive 15 complimentary Elite Qualifying Night credits every year, which means that, by the end of the fifth year, you’ll have 75 nights already accumulated.  After you add up the 15 nights from your welcome bonus and 5th night free policy, plus your four Free Night Awards (remember you’ll get this benefit after the first year), you’ll only have to stay and pay for a total of 156 nights to be eligible for the permanent Silver Elite Status.

Marriott Bonvoy™ Gold Elite Status

Gold Elite is as easy as staying for 25 nights or more a year in Marriott properties. But remember that your Marriott Bonvoy Credit Card gives you 15 Elite Night Credits, so your count actually starts at 15. A single family vacation or a pair of business trips could be enough for you to become a Gold Elite Status member.

In addition to the 15 Elite Night Credits, this Marriott credit card will also get you to Gold Elite Status when you charge $30,000 in purchases to it. Striking gold was never easier!

Let me show you why you would want to become Gold Elite:

25% more points on stays

Instead of the Member’s 10 points per $1, Gold Elite members earn an additional 2.5 points, summing up to 12.5 points awarded by Marriott. Add those to the 5 points you can earn with your Marriott Bonvoy American Express, and you’re already up to 17.5 points per $1 spent on most Marriott properties. That’s an astounding earning rate by any measure!

Welcome Gift Of Points At Check-In

On most Marriott hotels, you’ll receive a welcoming gift of 500 points the minute you check in. On a couple of hotel brands the welcome gift is only half. For a full list of all the Marriott branded properties with their respective welcome gift, you can read the full Terms & Conditions of the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty rewards program.

One of the things I love about this benefit is that I get it every time I check in at a Marriott branded hotel, even if I only stay for one night.

Enhanced Room Upgrade

Gold Elite members are eligible for an automatic room upgrade at check-in. As in most cases, this type of benefit depends on availability. You will only receive an upgrade for your own room, and not for your guest’s rooms, even if you paid for them. Suites are excluded, but you could get upgraded to higher floors, executive floors, rooms with desirable views and more.

2pm Late Checkout

In all Marriott properties except on Marriott Vacation Club, Marriott Grand Residence Club, and Vistana, you can opt for a late checkout at no extra cost. All you have to do is call the front desk and if your room is available for 2pm checkout, you’re set.

Complimentary Enhanced Internet Access

Even though many of the hotel brands under the Marriott umbrella already offer complimentary internet access to all its guests, some of them don’t. In addition, in some of the cases where they do, it’s not the best connection they have to offer. In any of those cases, being a Gold Elite member will get you access to an enhanced internet connection at no extra cost.

How to get Lifetime Gold Elite Status

The condition for permanent Gold Elite Status is a total of 400 lifetime nights and 7 years of Gold Elite Status or higher.

The Canadian Marriott Credit Card by Amex can also help you get closer to being gold for life. Remember you can achieve Gold Elite Status every year you manage to charge a total of $30,000 in purchases to your card. By doing this for seven years, you’ll not only reach the minimum time as a Gold Elite Status member, but you can also add up to 105 Elite Night credits plus 6 Free Night Award plus the 15 nights from your welcome bonus, reducing the total number of lifetime nights needed to only 274.

Marriott Bonvoy™ Platinum Elite Status

The next level in Elite Status is Platinum. To go Platinum you need a minimum of 50 Elite Night Credits, but with your Marriott Bonvoy Card, you’ll only need to stay for 35 nights at a Marriott property.

As you may have guessed, Platinum Elite Status includes everything in the Gold Elite Status (except the 500 points welcome gift) only better, and more.

50% Bonus Points on Eligible Purchases

Platinum members receive not 10%, nor 20%, but 50% additional points compared to regular Members. That’s 15 points per $1. With the card’s 5 extra points, you’re up to 20 points per $1 spend on eligible purchases, which include the room rate and anything you can charge to it like dinning, spa, and other Marriott operated services and products.

Enhanced Room Upgrade (Suites Included)

With the Platinum Elite Status your room upgrade doesn’t exclude suites. As long as one is available, you could get a suite for the price of a standard room. If not, you’re still entitled to higher floors, better views and everything else.

4pm Late Checkout

Same conditions as the one mentioned above, only you can choose to leave as late as 4pm instead of 2pm, pending availability.

Welcome Gift Choice

Just as the points welcome gift of Gold Elite Status, which you can get every time you check in at a hotel, with Platinum Elite Status, you’ll also get a gift. The sweet thing about being Platinum is that you can choose what gift you prefer. Where available, you can choose between points, breakfasts and other amenities. Some properties will give you 1,000 points or a $10 credit in food and beverages for you and one extra guest, and some resorts will even offer free breakfast for you and a guest for every day of your stay.

If the clerk at the front desk doesn’t offer you the gift when checking in, then you’re entitled to a compensation that can go from $US25 to US$100. You can read the Terms and Conditions for more details.

50-Night Annual Choice Award

Apart from the gift you get every time you check-in at a hotel, you’ll get an additional gift once every year you achieve 50 nights as a Platinum Elite member. You can choose from the following five options

  • Five Suite Night Awards
  • Give the gift of Silver Elite status to a friend or family member
  • Get 40% off your favorite mattress
  • Five Elite Night Credits
  • A $100 charity donation

Guaranteed Lounge Access

As long as the room rate doesn’t include breakfast, Platinum Elite members and one extra guest get access to Concierge, Executive, Club, Signature Club and M Club lounges in some of the most important Marriott properties. Wherever there isn’t a lounge or alternative available, you could get free continental breakfast at a restaurant for yourself and your guest, or you could choose a 750 points gift per day instead. There are a couple of cases where brands don’t offer the breakfast alternative, so when their lounges are closed they offer 1,000 points instead.

This is a great way to save money on your lodgings when you travel. Instead of paying extra for a room with included breakfast, you can keep the difference, pay the standard rate, and eat a continental breakfast with your roommate, free of charge, at the lounge.

Being guaranteed means that if the property where you are staying doesn’t offer a lounge or any other alternative, then you will be compensated with US$100 or equivalent in foreign currency.

Going Platinum Elite For Life

Reaching Platinum Elite Status and staying there takes time and effort. To get permanent Platinum Elite Status, you need to reach 600 lifetime eligible nights and a total of 10 years of Platinum Elite status.

One way of to pull this off in record-time, is to sign up for the Marriott Bonvoy Amex Card, and stay at least 45 nights a year in Marriott properties, ten years straight. With the 15 bonus Elite Night Credits you get with the card every year, you’ll have reached 600 nights by the tenth year, therefore also reaching the minimum time requirements. If you manage this feat, by the end of the 5th year, you’ll have earned Silver Elite for life, by the end of the 7th year you’ll have earned a lifetime of Gold Elite status, and by the 10th, you’ll be Platinum forevermore.

Marriott Bonvoy Titanium Elite Status

Almost at the top of the loyalty ladder, the Titanium Elite Status requires you to achieve at least 75 eligible nights in a year. I know this starts to sound difficult to manage, but there are many businessmen and women who do, in fact, spend up to a third of the year in hotels around the world. Remember that there are extended-stay properties among participating hotels, which are specifically tailored for stays that can last even a couple of months.

Along with 4pm late checkout, the fastest in-room internet connection for free, and all the other Platinum benefits, the exclusive Titanium Benefits you’ll enjoy are:

75% Bonus Points On Stays

This benefit will increase your points earning rate to 17.5 points per $1, or to 22.5 points per $1 if you use your Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card.

Never Get Left Out With The 48-Hour Guarantee

This benefit ensures that you’ll always be able to get a room in the hotel you want and on the date you want, as long as you book 48 hours prior to you desired check-in. It’s a way Marriott has of saying “we love you as a client, come back whenever you want”.

Complimentary MileagePlus “Premier” Silver Status

After becoming a Titanium or Ambassador Elite member, you’ll receive complimentary Premier Silver Status on United Airlines’ loyalty program, MileagePlus. To reach this status, you would normally have to earn more than 25,000 qualifying miles flying United or its partners, and, if you live in the US, you would have to spend at least $3,000 in flights as well. Marriott grants you this status with United, free of charge.

75-Night Titanium Annual Gift Choice Award

This benefit is just like the one for the Platinum Status, only better. Once you reach 75 nights as a Titanium member, you can choose between the following gifts, once a year:

  • Five Suite Night Awards
  • Get one Free Night Award with a value of up to 40,000 points
  • Give the gift of Gold Elite status to a friend or family member
  • Get 40% off your favorite mattress
  • Five Elite Night Credits
  • A $100 charity donation

Contrary to the other Elite Statuses, you can’t get the Titanium Elite Status or higher for life.

Marriott Bonvoy™ Ambassador Elite Status

We’re finally at the top. This is the Elite Status that has it all. Reaching it is somewhat harder than the other levels. Why? Because, apart from the eligible nights you have to achieve, which are now 100 in a year, there’s also a minimum spend of $20,000 you also have to reach.

But what do you get in return?

All the benefits I showed you for the Titanium Elite plus another two:

The Ambassador Service

The ambassador service is similar to American Express’ Platinum Concierge. Ambassador members get 24-hour access to a personal ambassador that can help you do anything from booking a room at your favorite hotel to making reservations at the most sought-after restaurants in town. He’s also there to help you clear up any doubts you may have about your Elite Status benefits.

Another neat aspect of the Ambassador Service is that it doesn’t last for only one year. Once you achieve Ambassador Elite Status, this benefit will be available to you throughout the rest of the current calendar year and until December 31st the following year.

Since you need 100 eligible nights, and subtracting the 15 annual Elite Night Credits that come with your Marriott Bonvoy Card, the soonest you can reach Ambassador Elite status will be 85 days after January 1st. In other words, by the end of March.  This means that the longest this benefit will last is roughly about 21 months.

Your24

Ambassador members get a really great perk: They can check in whenever they want, and their checkout will be the at the same time on the departure date. In other words, you could check in at 5am, in which case your checkout time will be 5am as well when you leave.

Not to encouraging, is it?

But if you check in at 8pm, then your checkout will also be at 8pm. Talk about late checkout!

This benefit is optative, of course, and you can choose the regular check-in and checkout times of the hotel. You don’t even have to request it yourself because that’s one of the things your 24 hour Ambassador is for. Also, remember that, just as with the Titanium Elite Status, you can choose 4pm late checkout if available, which is late enough for most.

#8 How Do I Earn Marriott Bonvoy Points?

There are several distinct ways to earn Marriott Bonvoy points:

#1: Card Spending

As we mentioned above in the Points Earning Rate section, 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. You will also earn additional points on the same expenses depending on your Elite status. Basic “Members” of the Marriott loyalty program earn 10 points per $1, Silver Elite members earn 11 points, Gold Elite earn 12.5 points, Platinum Elite members get 15 points and Titanium as well as Ambassador Elite members earn 17.5 points per every $1 in eligible purchases. You also earn 2 Marriott Bonvoy points per $1 spent on all other purchases made with your Marriott Bonvoy Amex Card.

#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.

#9 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.

#10 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

#11 Insurance Coverage

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.

#12 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.

#13 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 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.

#14 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.

#15 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?

It depends. If you haven’t achieved any Elite status for life, 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. It’s even easier if you have a Marriott Bonvoy Amex Card, because it’ll earn you points for any purchase. See our section “How Do I Earn Marriott Bonvoy points” above to see just how easy it is to keep your account active.

If, on the other hand, you managed to become a lifetime Silver Elite member or higher, your points will never expire.

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. Alternatively, you can scout around Marriott’s Hotel Directory 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

What are Elite Qualifying Night Credits?

They’re the credits you need to round up during a calendar year to achieve the different Elite Statuses in the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program. For example, to reach Silver Elite Status, you need a total of ten or more Elite Night Credits; for Gold Elite you need 25; to become a Platinum Elite member you need 50; and so on. Your lifetime total Elite Night Credits also count towards achieving permanent Silver, Gold or Platinum Elite Status.

How do I earn Elite Qualifying Night Credits?

There are different ways to earn Elite Night Credits, the most straightforward of which is to stay at Marriott Properties. Each eligible night you stay will add one Elite Night Credit to both your annual and lifetime balance. You can also earn Elite Night Credits by signing up to the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card, which gives you 15 credits every year you decide to keep it. In addition, achieving some of the higher Elite statuses in the Marriott Bonvoy program entitles you to a gift of your choosing and among the options, you can choose 5 Elite Night Credits every year.

What are Suite Night Awards?

Suite Night Awards are awards you can use to upgrade a standard suite or a premium room to a premium suite. Premium Suites are suites with a view, in high floors or with special amenities.

How to trek to Everest Base Camp

Mount Everest has wowed the most adventurous among us for the past hundred years. The tales of risk-takers in the 1920s put this remarkable peak on the map, and tens of thousands have followed in the decades since.

Today, though, trekking to Everest Base Camp has become a feasible ambition for people from all walks of life. In 2012 alone, more than 35,000 people trekked in the Everest region, and it seems like more people flock there every single year.

On the way to Everest Base Camp.

What is it like to trek to Everest Base Camp?

Here are some of the things you can expect to experience on your way to Everest Base Camp:

  • Exceptional scenery and breathtaking views
  • Sherpa culture (there are plenty of museums and monasteries to visit along the way).

Expect yourself to walk for hours through the region, passing colorful prayer wheels and crossing swing bridges. Evenings are full of hot meals and good conversation with people from all over the world.

The mix of incredible natural landscapes, uniquely fascinating culture, and warm Nepalese hospitality makes the Everest Base Camp trek the world’s most desirable.

When should I make the Everest Base Camp trek?

There are two good seasons to trek to Everest Base Camp: between March and May, and again from September to December. The weather warms up in May as the monsoon season approaches, so be prepared for rain. December sees sub-zero temperatures, though the days are gorgeous and the mountain is significantly less busy. Just don’t forget to put on your layers in the evenings!

Trekking along the Everest Base Camp trail.

Do I need a guide?

After the disappearances of some lone trekkers and the death of a Belgian trekker in Langtang in June 2012, the Nepal government may make hiring a guide compulsory moving ahead.

Still, the solo trekking ban has been put on hold for now, so at the moment it’s still possible to go it alone. At the same time, hiring a porter or guide has many advantages: for $10-$20 USD per day you’ll learn plenty about the local culture and natural environment.

Working with a trekking company means everything will be arranged for you, including airport transfers, your accommodations, porters/guides and their insurance. You can book western tour companies in advance, though you’ll pay significantly less in Kathmandu. Just make sure they’re registered with the Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal (TAAN). Here’s a list of registered companies.

How do I get in shape?

No physical training will truly prepare you for the extreme hills and altitude of up to 5,545 meters (18,200 feet) that you’ll face on the way to Base Camp.  But don’t let that discourage you. People of average fitness do the trek all the time, as do those in their sixties and above.

Experts suggest preparing with cardiovascular training like cycling, swimming or speed walking a few times a week. If you can do a 5- or 6-hour walk once a week, that will help boost your endurance, too. Seek out hills you can walk up and down, or find a tall building and make a habit of walking up and down its stairs.

You’ll need the right equipment to make the trek to Everest Base Camp.

What should I take with me?

In general, pack lightly, and don’t exceed 10-15 kg.

A fleece jacket, down jacket and thermal underwear are a must, as the mountains get cold above 3,000 meters (10,000 feet) any time of the year. Also take 2 pairs of long pants, 2 or 3 T-shirts (synthetic fabrics like polyester wick away sweat, so leave the cotton at home), and another warm sweatshirt or fleece.

As for footwear, opt for broken-in boots, trekking socks, and sneakers or sandals for the evening. You’ll also need a raincoat, gloves, sunhat, and polarised sunglasses for visibility. A good sleeping bag (rated to -20°C/0°F) is another must. If it’s winter, you’ll thank yourself for bringing a thermal sleeping bag liner, too.

Opt for travel-size toiletries, including a good sunscreen (SPF 45 or higher), lip balm, travel towel and tissues. Baby wipes are a godsend on those days when you can’t shower (and there will be those days).

Your first aid kit should include medication for diarrhea, antibiotics for a chest or sinus infection, and adhesive bandages for blisters. Visit your doctor for Nepal-specific immunizations. Using two 1L water bottles with water purification tablets is a reliable and safe way to drink water – and more environmentally friendly than buying bottled water from lodges.

Staying healthy and safe on the trek

Take your time. Altitude sickness can impact all of us – even those of us in extremely good shape. ( Acclimatization days, which generally take place at Namche and Dingboche, are there for a reason.) Watch out for the symptoms of altitude sickness, which include sleeplessness, headaches, loss of appetite, dizziness, and breathlessness. Bring a supply of Diamox for altitude sickness treatment, and if the symptoms persist, descend.

Go vegetarian. As tempting as it is to try a juicy yak steak or ‘buff burger’, all the meat is carried up by porters from below Lukla due to the no-killing policy in Sagamartha National Park. That means that by the time you eat that meat, it’s already getting old. The safest, healthiest option is to eat dal bhat (lentil soup with rice), which is made fresh daily and is a great source of protein and energy. As they say on the mountain: ‘Dal bhat power, 24 hour!’

Cover up. The sun at Everest Base Camp is harsh, so use a good sunscreen (SPF 45 or above) and reapply regularly. Wear long-sleeved shirts, pants and a scarf or shawl over your head – or be prepared to burn.