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The Best American Express Credit Cards in Canada for 2021

March 8, 2021
15 mins
A young couple shop online together using a credit card

It is a long-held belief that American Express credit cards are just for the wealthy. This initial impression exists for a good reason. Many widely regard the American Express® portfolio of cards as having some of the highest reward rates and most exclusive perks and benefits — best suited for customers that pay their credit bill every month without carrying a balance.

However, these benefits are not only for the wealthy. American Express® credit cards are more accessible than ever, and if you look closely at their current selection of cards, it should dispel that myth.

While American Express® credit cards tend to boast impressive rewards over low-interest rates on overdue balances, the collection includes something for everyone. It features everything from no-fee cards to top-tier cards with VIP benefits and comprehensive travel insurance. Whether you collect points, are a frequent flyer or want the simplicity of cash back, an American Express card is available.

Almost all major Canadian retailers (and most of the smaller ones) accept American Express cards. So, you won’t have to change your spending habits, and you can reap the rewards and benefits exclusive to members.

The American Express Invites® program boasts advanced and reserved ticket access, special offers and exclusive experiences. On top of this, cardholders can spend their hard-earned money with confidence. All American Express cards have purchase protection, extended warranty, emergency card replacement and fraud protection.

But which is the best American Express® credit card in Canada? Read on to learn more about each card and discover which one is right for you.

Our top picks

Credit cards

Top features

Annual fee

Best overall rewards credit card:
American Express CobaltTM Credit Card

  • Flexible Membership Rewards® points
  • Travel insurance

$155.88

($12.99 per month)

Best no-fee credit card:
SimplyCashTM Card from American Express

  • Cash back

$0

Best cash back credit card:

SimplyCashTM Preferred Card from American Express

  • Cash back
  • Travel insurance

$120

Best credit card for hotel stays:
Marriott BonvoyTM American Express® Card

  • Marriott BonvoyTM points
  • Free hotel stays
  • Travel insurance

$120

Best overall travel credit card: American Express® Aeroplan®* Reserve Card

  • Aeroplan points
  • Air Canada benefits
  • Airport perks
  • Travel insurance

$599

Best credit card for big spenders:
The Platinum Card® from American Express

  • Flexible Membership Rewards® points
  • Platinum experiences
  • Travel insurance

$699

More excellent credit cards from American Express®

Credit cards

Top features

Annual fee

American Express® AIR MILES®* Platinum Credit Card

  • AIR MILES
  • Basic travel insurance

$120

American Express® Aeroplan®* Card

  • Aeroplan points
  • Travel insurance

$120

Best overall rewards credit card: American Express CobaltTM Card

The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$362
+ Annual rewards
$1155
- Annual fee
$156
Total first year value
$1361
American Express Cobalt® Credit Card

card image
Welcome bonus
$362
AMEX Rewards points
Annual rewards
$1155
AMEX Rewards points
Annual fees:
$156
Interest rates:
20.99% on purchases • 21.99% on cash advances
2024 Winner – Best Overall Rewards Credit Card, Best Credit Card for Young Professionals, and Best Credit Card for Earning Travel Points and Best American Express Credit Card.
Particularly great for individuals who live in the city, eat out often or order in.
Details at a glance Collapse details
Welcome bonus
$362
Annual rewards
$1155
The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$362
+ Annual rewards
$1155
- Annual fee
$156
Total first year value
$1361
Annual fees:
$156
Interest rates:
20.99% on purchases
21.99 on cash advances
2024 Winner – Best Overall Rewards Credit Card, Best Credit Card for Young Professionals, and Best Credit Card for Earning Travel Points and Best American Express Credit Card.
Particularly great for individuals who live in the city, eat out often or order in.
Details at a glance Collapse details

The American Express CobaltTM Credit Card is one of the best credit cards on the Canadian market. Get five times the points at coffee shops, bars, restaurants, grocery stores, and even food delivery services. Earn two times the points for every dollar spent on public transport, taxis, rideshare, and gas. Also, access exclusive benefits for members of the American Express CobaltTM Credit Card.

Based on our Best of Finance methodology, the average Canadian will earn an astonishing $1,822.50 in rewards for the first year. That is a staggering return for such a reasonably priced card.

Once you have your points, you can redeem them for almost anything — even purchases on Amazon.ca.

Credit score requirement for approval:

Fair: You’ve had a credit card or loan for one or more years. For the last two years, you’ve paid back debts to creditors (with no defaults). You haven’t missed more than two payments on your credit in the last three months.

Annual fee:

$120 ($10 per month)

Annual fee for additional cardholders: $0

Limited time offer/bonus:

  • Earn up to 15,000 Membership Rewards® points in the first year. Get 1.250 Membership Rewards® points each month you make at least $750 in net purchases on your card.

Offer expiry date: N/A - Ongoing Offer.

Rewards:

  • Earn five points for every $1 spent at grocery stores, restaurants, cafés, bars and food delivery purchases.
  • Earn three points for every $1 spent on select streaming services purchases.
  • Earn two points for every $1 spent on gas transit and ride shares purchases.
  • Earn one point for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

Earning potential:

How does this card stack up to other rewards credit cards? We crunched the numbers using our Best of Finance methodology to see how much an average Canadian could earn over a 12-month period.

Rewards earned over a 12-month period = 86,685 Membership Rewards® points
Monetary value= $1,517
Annual fee = $155.88
Total earned over the first year (rewards minus annual fee) = $1,361

*The annual fee is a total of 12 monthly fees at a rate of $12.99 per month.

You can redeem your points for:

  • Streaming services
  • Movie tickets
  • Retail purchases
  • Flights through the Fixed Points Travel Program
  • Other travel through American Express Travel Online.ca events
  • Amazon.ca purchases
  • Statement credits

Insurance:

  • Out of province/country emergency medical
  • Flight delay
  • Baggage delay
  • Hotel/motel burglary
  • Lost or stolen baggage
  • Car rental theft and damage
  • $250,000 travel accident
  • Purchase protection
  • Extended warranty

Other perks:

  • Cardholders can access exclusive benefits at over 600 hotels and resorts. These benefits include credits for hotel amenities and complimentary room upgrades when available.
  • Members can access the American Express Invites® program, featuring advanced and reserved ticket access, special offers, and exclusive experiences.
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Compare the best credit cards on RATESDOTCA

Find the best credit card for your lifestyle today!

Best no-fee credit card: SimplyCashTM Card from American Express

The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$100
+ Annual rewards
$368
- Annual fee
$0
Total first year value
$468
SimplyCash® Card from American Express

card image
Welcome bonus
$100
AMEX Cashback Rewards
Annual rewards
$368
AMEX Cashback Rewards
Annual fees:
$0
Interest rates:
20.99% on purchases • 21.99% on cash advances
No annual fee cash back card with no limits on how much you can earn
Includes insurance and access perks
Details at a glance Collapse details
Welcome bonus
$100
Annual rewards
$368
The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$100
+ Annual rewards
$368
- Annual fee
$0
Total first year value
$468
Annual fees:
$0
Interest rates:
20.99% on purchases
21.99 on cash advances
No annual fee cash back card with no limits on how much you can earn
Includes insurance and access perks
Details at a glance Collapse details

The SimplyCash™ Card from American Express offers 2.5% cash back on all purchases for the first three months, up to $6,000 in total purchases. After the welcome rate expires, earn 1.25% cash back. There is no limit to how much you can earn.

Credit score requirement for approval:

Good: You’ve had a credit card or loan for six or more years. You’ve had good credit for the last seven years (no bankruptcies or no defaults on credit as a result of failing to pay debts back to creditors). You haven’t opened a new credit card account, loan, or line of credit in the last nine months. You’ve made the minimum payments for existing credit cards for the past three months.

Annual fee:

$0

Annual fee for additional cardholders: $0

Limited time offer/bonus:

  • In your first 10 months as a new SimplyCash® Card from American Express Cardmember, you can earn a $10 statement credit for each monthly billing period in which you spend $300 in purchases on your Card. This could add up to $100 in statement credits in the first 10 months.

Offer expiry date: N/A subject to change without notice

Rewards:

  • After the bonus rate expires, earn 2% cash back on gas and grocery purchases, and 1.25% cash back on all purchases. There is no limit to how much cash back you can earn.

Earning potential:

How does this card stack up to other rewards credit cards? We crunched the numbers using our Best of Finance methodology to see how much an average Canadian could earn over a 12-month period.

Rewards earned over a 12-month period = $468
Annual fee = $0
Total earned over the first year (rewards minus annual fee) = $468

Insurance:

  • $100,000 travel accident
  • Purchase protection
  • Extended warranty

Other perks:

  • Cardholders can access all that the American Express Invites® program offers, including advanced and reserved ticket sales, special offers, and exclusive experiences.

Best cash back credit card: SimplyCashTM Preferred Card from American Express

The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$400
+ Annual rewards
$660
- Annual fee
$120
Total first year value
$940
SimplyCash® Preferred Card from American Express

card image
Welcome bonus
$400
AMEX Cashback Rewards
Annual rewards
$660
AMEX Cashback Rewards
Annual fees:
$120
Interest rates:
20.99% on purchases • 21.99% on cash advances
2024 Winner – Best Overall Cash Back Credit Card
Earn accelerated earn rates on eligible gas and grocery purchases
Details at a glance Collapse details
Welcome bonus
$400
Annual rewards
$660
The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$400
+ Annual rewards
$660
- Annual fee
$120
Total first year value
$940
Annual fees:
$120
Interest rates:
20.99% on purchases
21.99 on cash advances
2024 Winner – Best Overall Cash Back Credit Card
Earn accelerated earn rates on eligible gas and grocery purchases
Details at a glance Collapse details

The SimplyCash™ Preferred Card from American Express offers up to $400 cash back when you spend $750 in the first 10 months of cardmemberhip. Earn 4% cash back on gas and grocery purchases, all for an annual fee of $120.

Credit score requirement for approval:

Good: You’ve had a credit card or loan for six or more years. You’ve had good credit for the last seven years (no bankruptcies or no defaults on credit as a result of failing to pay debts back to creditors). You haven’t opened a new credit card account, loan, or line of credit in the last nine months. You’ve made the minimum payments for existing credit cards for the past three months.

Annual fee:

$120

Annual fee for additional cardholders: $0

Limited time offer/bonus:

  • In your first 10 months as a new SimplyCash® Preferred Card from American Express Cardmember, you can earn a $40 statement credit for each monthly billing period in which you spend $750 in purchases on your Card. This could add up to $400 in statement credits in the first 10 months

Offer expiry date: N/A subject to change without notice

Rewards:

  • After the bonus rate expires, earn 2% cash back on all purchases, with no limit to how much cash back you can earn.

Earning potential:

How does this card stack up to other rewards credit cards? We crunched the numbers using our Best of Finance methodology to see how much an average Canadian could earn over a 12-month period.

Rewards earned over a 12-month period = $1,060
Annual fee = $120
Total earned over the first year (rewards minus annual fee) = $940

Insurance:

  • Out of province/country emergency medical (for those under age 65)
  • Flight delay
  • Baggage delay
  • Hotel burglary
  • Lost or stolen baggage
  • Car rental theft and damage
  • $100,000 travel accident
  • Purchase protection
  • Extended warranty

Other perks:

  • Cardholders can access the American Express Invites® program, featuring advanced and reserved ticket access, special offers, and exclusive experiences.

Best credit card for hotel stays: Marriott BonvoyTM American Express® Card

The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$876
+ Annual rewards
$465
- Annual fee
$120
Total first year value
$1221
The Marriott Bonvoy® American Express®* Card

card image
Welcome bonus
$876
Marriott Bonvoy Rewards
Annual rewards
$465
Marriott Bonvoy Rewards
Annual fees:
$120
Interest rates:
20.99% on purchases • 21.99% on cash advances
Great for individuals who travel more by road or rail
Includes many unique hotel perks
Details at a glance Collapse details
Welcome bonus
$876
Annual rewards
$465
The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$876
+ Annual rewards
$465
- Annual fee
$120
Total first year value
$1221
Annual fees:
$120
Interest rates:
20.99% on purchases
21.99 on cash advances
Great for individuals who travel more by road or rail
Includes many unique hotel perks
Details at a glance Collapse details

The Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card offers cardholders 50,000 bonus points when they spend at least $1,500 on purchases in the first three months of opening the account. That alone is enough for three free nights at a nice hotel.

Earn five points for every $1 spent at participating Marriott Bonvoy properties — there are over seven thousand of them — and two points for every $1 spent elsewhere. If you already stay at hotels regularly, you can reasonably expect to earn over $800 in rewards in the first year.

The perks are excellent too. Receive a free night’s stay at a hotel after your account anniversary each year, automatic Silver Elite status at Marriott BonvoyTM hotels and plenty more.

This card does not provide emergency medical travel insurance, which is the only reason this card doesn’t take our “best of travel” award.

Credit score requirement for approval:

Good: You’ve had a credit card or loan for six or more years. You’ve had good credit for the last seven years (no bankruptcies or no defaults on credit as a result of failing to pay debts back to creditors). You haven’t opened a new credit card account, loan, or line of credit in the last nine months. You’ve made the minimum payments for existing credit cards for the past three months.

Annual fee:

$120

Annual fee for additional cardholders: $0

Limited time offer/bonus:

Receive 50,000 Marriott BonvoyTM points when you spend at least $1,500 in the first three months of opening the account.

Offer expiry date: N/A subject to change without notice

Rewards:

  • Earn five points for every $1 spent at participating Marriott BonvoyTM properties.
  • Earn two points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

Earning potential:

How does this card stack up to other rewards credit cards? We crunched the numbers using our Best of Finance methodology to see how much an average Canadian could earn over a 12-month period.

Rewards earned over a 12-month period = 98,000 Marriott BonvoyTM points
Monetary value= $950
Annual fee = $120
Total earned over the first year (rewards minus annual fee) = $830

You can redeem your points for:

  • Stays at over 7,000 hotels, with no blackout dates
  • Once-in-a-lifetime events, like meeting A-list artists and athletes through Marriott Bonvoy MomentsTM
  • Transfer points to frequent flyer miles (if you transfer 60,000 points to a frequent flyer program, you receive 15,000 bonus points)

Insurance:

  • Flight delay
  • Baggage delay
  • Hotel burglary
  • Lost or stolen baggage
  • Car rental theft and damage
  • $500,000 travel accident
  • Purchase protection
  • Extended warranty

Other perks:

  • Receive a free night’s stay at a hotel after your account anniversary each year.
  • Get complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status.
  • Get an automatic upgrade to Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status if you reach $30,000 in annual purchases.
  • Take advantage of the travel emergency assistance to get medical and legal referrals by phone, 24/7.
  • Access the American Express Invites® program, featuring advanced and reserved ticket sales, special offers, and exclusive experiences.

Best overall travel credit card: American Express® Aeroplan®* Reserve Card

The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$1100
+ Annual rewards
$729
- Annual fee
$599
Total first year value
$1230
American Express® Aeroplan®* Reserve Card

card image
Welcome bonus
$1100
Aeroplan Points
Annual rewards
$729
Aeroplan Points
Annual fees:
$599
Interest rates:
20.99% on purchases • 21.99% on cash advances
An accelerated rewards program to help you redeem on all things travel!
Great comprehensive travel insurance included.
Details at a glance Collapse details
Welcome bonus
$1100
Annual rewards
$729
The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$1100
+ Annual rewards
$729
- Annual fee
$599
Total first year value
$1230
Annual fees:
$599
Interest rates:
20.99% on purchases
21.99 on cash advances
An accelerated rewards program to help you redeem on all things travel!
Great comprehensive travel insurance included.
Details at a glance Collapse details

The American Express® Aeroplan®* Reserve Card has a $599 annual fee, which may turn a few people off. But the welcome bonus of up to 90,000 Aeroplan points and $100 statement credit should pique your interest.

Regularly earn three points for every $1 in eligible purchases made directly through Air Canada®* and Air Canada Vacations®. Get two points for every $1 spent on eligible dining and food delivery in Canada and one point for every $1 on all other purchases.

Also, receive airport lounge access and other perks like priority security lanes at Toronto’s Pearson Airport.

Credit score requirement for approval:

Good: You’ve had a credit card or loan for six or more years. You’ve had good credit for the last seven years (no bankruptcies or no defaults on credit as a result of failing to pay debts back to creditors). You haven’t opened a new credit card account, loan, or line of credit in the last nine months. You’ve made the minimum payments for existing credit cards for the past three months.

Annual fee:

$599

Annual fee for additional cardholders:

  • $199 for each card to share some of the benefits
  • $0 for each card without sharing benefits

Limited time offer/bonus:

  • For a limited time, New American Express® Aeroplan®* Reserve Cardmembers can earn up to 90,000 Aeroplan points.

Offer expiry date: N/A subject to change without notice

Rewards:

  • Earn three points for every $1 spent on eligible purchases made directly through Air Canada®* and Air Canada Vacations®.
  • Earn two points for every $1 spent on eligible dining and food delivery in Canada.
  • Earn one point for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

Earning potential:

How does this card stack up to other rewards credit cards? We crunched the numbers using our Best of Finance methodology to see how much an average Canadian could earn over a 12-month period.

Rewards earned over a 12-month period = 91,450 Aeroplan points
Monetary value= $1,829
Annual fee = $599
Total earned over the first year (rewards minus annual fee) = $1,230

You can redeem your Miles for:

  • Travel
  • Hotel stays
  • Car rentals
  • Vacation packages
  • Exclusive experiences
  • Merchandise and gift cards

Insurance:

  • Out of province/country emergency medical
  • Trip cancellation
  • Trip interruption
  • Flight delay
  • Baggage delay
  • Hotel burglary
  • Lost or stolen baggage
  • Car rental theft and damage
  • $500,000 travel accident
  • Purchase protection
  • Extended warranty

Other perks:

  • Receive an Annual Worldwide Companion Pass when you spend at least $25,000 on purchases on the card.
  • unlimited access to the Air Canada® Maple Leaf Lounge and Priority Pass lounges.
  • Get exclusive perks at Toronto Pearson Airport, including access to the Pearson Priority Security Lane, complimentary valet services, and parking discounts.
  • Cardholders can access Air Canada Priority Check-in, priority boarding, priority baggage handling and more.
  • Take advantage of the American Express Invites® program to get advanced ticket access, special offers, and exclusive experiences.

More excellent credit cards from American Express

The “top picks” section highlights our favourite cards, but Canada is a diverse place, and not everyone will agree! Look at these other excellent options from American Express®; they might be better suited to your specific needs.

American Express® Aeroplan®* Card

The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$600
+ Annual rewards
$558
- Annual fee
$120
Total first year value
$1038
American Express® Aeroplan®* Card

card image
Welcome bonus
$600
Aeroplan Points
Annual rewards
$558
Aeroplan Points
Annual fees:
$120
Interest rates:
N/A on purchases • N/A on cash advances
A rewards program that lets you redeem on all things travel!
Includes travel insurance coverage and access to exciting entertainment experiences.
Details at a glance Collapse details
Welcome bonus
$600
Annual rewards
$558
The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$600
+ Annual rewards
$558
- Annual fee
$120
Total first year value
$1038
Annual fees:
$120
Interest rates:
30.0% on purchases
30 on cash advances
A rewards program that lets you redeem on all things travel!
Includes travel insurance coverage and access to exciting entertainment experiences.
Details at a glance Collapse details

The American Express® Aeroplan®* Card offers cardholders up to 40,000 bonus Aeroplan points in the first year. Earn 3,000 Aeroplan points for each monthly billing period in which you spend $1,000 in net purchases on your Card for the first 10 months of Cardmembership. Plus, you can also earn 10,000 Aeroplan points when you make a purchase between 14 and 17 months of Cardmembership.

The American Express® Aeroplan®* Card is a charge card, so there is no pre-set spending limit, although you have to pay off the bill in full each month or a 30% annual interest rate applies.

Credit score requirement for approval:

Good: You’ve had a credit card or loan for six or more years. You’ve had good credit for the last seven years (no bankruptcies or no defaults on credit as a result of failing to pay debts back to creditors). You haven’t opened a new credit card account, loan, or line of credit in the last nine months. You’ve made the minimum payments for existing credit cards for the past three months.

Annual fee:

$120

Annual fee for additional cardholders:

  • $50 for additional cardholders with some shared benefits
  • $0 to add additional cardholders without sharing benefits

Limited time offer/bonus:

  • New American Express® Aeroplan®* Cardmembers can earn up to 40,000 Aeroplan points. That’s up to $900 or more in value when you combine your welcome bonus points and card benefits

Offer expiry date: N/A subject to change without notice

Rewards:

  • Earn two Aeroplan points for every $1 spent on eligible purchases directly through Air Canada®* and Air Canada Vacations®.
  • Earn 1.5 Aeroplan points for every $1 spent on eligible dining and food delivery in Canada.
  • Earn one Aeroplan point for all other purchases.

Earning potential:

How does this card stack up to other rewards credit cards? We crunched the numbers using our Best of Finance methodology to see how much an average Canadian could earn over a 12-month period.

Rewards earned over a 12-month period = 57,900 Aeroplan points
Monetary value= $1,158
Annual fee = $120
Total earned over the first year (rewards minus annual fee) = $1,038

You can redeem your points for:

  • Travel
  • Hotel stays
  • Car rentals
  • Vacation packages
  • Exclusive experiences
  • Merchandise and gift cards

Insurance:

  • Flight delay
  • Baggage delay
  • Lost or stolen baggage
  • Hotel burglary
  • $500,000 travel accident
  • Car rental theft and damage
  • Purchase protection
  • Extended warranty

Other perks:

  • Get your first checked bag for free (up to 23kg/50lb) with Air Canada.
  • Get peace of mind with travel emergency assistance for medical and legal referrals by phone, 24/7.
  • Access the American Express Invites® program, featuring advanced and reserved ticket sales, special offers, and exclusive experiences.

Rates, product information, and reward estimates are subject to change at any time and do not constitute financial advice. This post was not sponsored. The views and opinions expressed in this review are purely those of RATESDOTCA. Information in this article is accurate as of the date of this posting, March 8, 2021. Read our full disclaimer.

Hayley Osmond

Hayley Osmond is an editor and writer in the personal finance space, where she uses her eight years of media and marketing experience to bring content to life. She specializes in money products, including mortgages, home and auto insurance, and credit cards. Hayley holds a Broadcast Journalism diploma from Sheridan College and was awarded the Shaw Media Journalism and Media Award for graduating at the top of her class. Her work has appeared in Global News and diverse digital corporate training materials behind the scenes.

Hayley is passionate about making complex subjects, such as home buying and financial literacy, concise and intriguing. Her work has garnered media coverage from The Globe and Mail, blogTO, Yahoo! News, and CityNews 680 and has been syndicated across other publications.

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