American Express – Company Review

Rewards are one of the best parts of modern credit cards – so much so, in fact, that 82% of Canadian consumers prioritize rewards when choosing a credit card. American Express credit cards are somewhat overlooked in the Canadian market, but their rewards (particularly for travel-based cards) can be incredible in the hands of certain spenders. We’ve created this American Express company review to help you decide if their offerings are right for you.

American Express Review

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American Express credit cards are generally focused around travel rewards, but they actually provide several high-value cards in other categories. No matter what you need, they might be worth a look.

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American Express’s Credit Card Lineup

Our American Express company review will break down this company’s available credit cards into four distinct categories: low interest, rewards, travel, and cash back.

Low Interest Cards

American Express only offers a single low interest credit card, but it’s a surprisingly good one that we think is important to include in our American express company review. The American Express Essential credit card offers no annual fee and an incredible interest rate of just 8.99% on both regular purchases and cash advances. This is just about the lowest rate you’ll find on any Canadian credit card, and certainly lower than the free options other companies have put out there. It also comes with extra insurance and VIP bonuses as well as a great introductory offer of 1.99% interest on balance transfers for the first 6 months. This is a very attractive card with few downsides, so if you need to save money on interest fees, it’s definitely worth looking into.

Rewards Cards

American Express offers a fair number of rewards cards, starting from the American Express Cobalt card all the way up to the coveted Platinum Card. These cards typically carry annual fees that hover around $100 per year at the very least and charge high interest rates, but they offer enough points-earning opportunities to counteract that expense. Many offer generous bonuses for some luxury purchases like food and drinks at certain restaurant establishments, making them ideally suited to people with high discretionary spending. You can then spend these points on things like retail merchandise, streaming service subscriptions, or even more food and drinks; some also combine with their travel programs.

These cards are great for people who like to live a little more lavishly than most, as they help you to make your money go a little bit further. They usually have some type of welcome bonus to start you off with plenty of points right away, too – their best offer in 2018 was the 50,000 bonus points available to new applicants for the Platinum Card. The higher-tier cards also come with extensive additional benefits, such as memberships to golf clubs, access to exclusive lounges, access to tickets to exclusive dining and entertainment events, inclusion in the extra hotel, airline, and car rental programs, and much more. If you can afford one of these cards, you probably want one, and we can’t say we blame you.

Travel Cards

Travel cards are and always have been the focus of this company, and are a vital aspect to cover separately in an American Express company review. Most of these cards offer gains of several points (up to 5!) per dollar spent, maximizing the reward potential over almost any other card. American Express has partnered with several travel rewards organizations (including Air Miles, Aeroplan, and Blue Sky) to bring you as wide a range of options as possible on top of their own personal card offerings. Most of these cards carry annual fees in the hundreds, making them a little hard to justify initially. However, if you know you’ll be doing a lot of spending and a lot of travel, there’s no better way to make sure you’re getting the most out of your credit card. In those cases, you’ll more than make up the fee in the extra points you earn.

These cards also come with plenty of side benefits including access to special lounges and priority seating, trip insurance (for flights, baggage, and even medical), concierge service and even free travel credits on the very most exclusive options. All are meant to help you travel more easily and comfortably, providing a superior experience just for American Express customers. There’s no doubt about it – anyone who spends a lot of time traveling, whether for business or leisure, will have a better time doing it with one of these cards in their pocket.

Cash Back Cards

The final type of credit card offered by American Express is the cash back card, available as the SimplyCash Card and the SimplyCash Preferred Card. The free SimplyCash card provides 1.25% cash back outside of the 2.5% 3-month introductory bonus, while the $99 Preferred version offers 5% cash back at first followed by 2% later on. While the Preferred option is a little pricey compared to the middling rates it offers, the free version is a solid option for a low-rung cash back card. Both options come with a referral program, bonus insurance and access to the American Express Invites program too, so there’s a little extra incentive to go with this company’s cards over similar ones.

Conclusions

American Express credit cards are typically upmarket options catering to the middle and upper class, but if you dig deeper, you’ll find that they actually have a lot to offer for the cash-strapped customer as well. The type of card you can get will vary based on these parameters, of course, but it’s still not a stretch to say that any credit card customer can find something useful to them with American Express.

What We Think

Our American Express company review might focus mainly on their rewards and travel cards, but those aren’t the only ones we’d recommend from this lineup. The American Express Essential card is a particular gem that you might overlook if you didn’t already know about it, and the base version of the SimplyCash Card is similarly good. Overall, this company’s cards are obviously great for elite spenders, but they’re definitely worth considering at lower income levels too.