American Express Platinum Card Canada – A Travel Hacker’s Ticket To Luxury

American Express Platinum Card Canada – A Travel Hacker’s Ticket To Luxury

By |2019-03-14T12:24:09+00:00February 27th, 2019|Categories: American Express, Beginner's Guide To Travel Hacking, Credit Cards, Home Featured, How To Travel Hack|

This post was sponsored by Amex Bank of Canada. The views and opinions expressed in this blog, however, are purely my own.

Table of Contents

The American Express Platinum Card Canada – Everything You Wanted To Know About Its Travel Reward Benefits

When it comes to travel rewards cards, the American Express Platinum Card Canada is at the top of the list, thanks to its exceptional travel benefits, points earning potential, and creative ways to redeem points for flights and hotels. As a frequent traveller, the annual fee of $699 may come as an initial shock, but even the occasional traveller can extract much more value out of this card with very little effort.

Let’s take a look at why the American Express Platinum Card in Canada is a must-have for any traveller, and anyone fascinated with getting the most benefits out of their travel rewards card.

American Express Platinum Canada

American Express Platinum Card®

Apply Now!

The Refreshed American Express Platinum Card Canada Is Now Available

American Express Canada just refreshed the Platinum Card as of February 13, 2019, and new members will now receive their own precision cut METAL card with their name engraved on it! Needless to say, this makes me really happy that we get to enjoy this fun benefit in Canada, finally!

If you’re a current Platinum Cardmember, you will automatically be issued the metal card upon your next card renewal date. For those looking to get yours early, call Platinum Services at 1-800-263-1616, or go to your account online to order a replacement card.

We called to request our new metal card on the BC Family Day long weekend holiday, and American Express promised to get the card precision cut, engraved, and ship it priority mail for a Wednesday delivery following the holiday. That’s a 2 business day turnaround time. Needless to say, we were very impressed and excited to be able to use this card so soon. Thanks Amex!

One thing to note, if you’re requesting your metal Amex card before your renewal date, the last 4 digits of your card will change. You can continue using your current card until the new one arrives, but just be prepared to update your banking info if you have any automatic payments being withdrawn from that card.

Currently, the American Express Platinum Card is one of few metal cards available in the Canadian market and certainly the most easily obtainable, compared to the USA where there are over a dozen different kinds. Historically, Canada has always been a little behind the States when it comes to credit card opportunities (among other things), so let’s just enjoy feeling special with our metal cards before it becomes commonplace like it is in the US.

The American Express Platinum Card Canada, available as of February 13, 2019

Card Basics

Welcome Bonus: 50,000 points
Rewards Type: Fixed and flexible travel rewards
Card Type: Charge Card. (Your balance must be paid in full each month).
Annual Fee: $699.00 (billed on your first statement)
Secondary/Supplement Card Annual Fee: $175.00
Interest Rate: 30% annual
First Year Free?: No

Do I Qualify for an American Express Platinum Card in Canada?

Applying is easy, but here’s what you’ll need to get your hands on the Platinum Card:

  • Be a Canadian resident
  • Have a Canadian credit report
  • Be the age of majority in your province/territory
  • A good credit score

What Credit Score Do I Need To Get Approved for the American Express Platinum Card?

You should have a preferred minimum credit score of 700+ before applying. If you’re not sure, you can always check your credit score for free with Credit Karma.

Unlike other premium cards in Canada, there’s no annual income requirement to be eligible for the Platinum Card, so if you’re a student with good credit, you’re in luck. A world of travel awaits you as well!

Applying for the Amex Platinum Card takes just a few minutes online, with an instant decision. Better get started now, this is just the beginning of unlocking a whole new world of travel. We’ve got flights and hotels to book, and some serious travel hacking to do. But first…

Maui sunset from our upgraded ocean view suite at the Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui

Maui sunset from our upgraded ocean view suite at the Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui

How To Earn Points

So how do you earn points with your new Platinum Card in Canada? That’s easy. Here are 5 ways to do it:

1. Get the Welcome Bonus of up to 50,000 Points

Signing up for a credit card with a generous welcome bonus is the easiest and quickest way to get you travelling on points. Currently, the American Express Platinum Card is offering a welcome bonus of up to 50,000 points when you meet the minimum spend requirement of $3,000 in the first 3 months.

2. Earn 3x Points on Dining – 3 Points Earned Per $1 Spent

If you enjoy restaurants as much as I do, your points will add up fast when you pay with your Platinum Card. You’ll earn 3 points for every $1 spent on eligible dining across Canada. This is a new category bonus introduced in February 2019 for the refreshed Platinum Card.

3. Earn 2x Points on Travel – 2 Points Earned Per $1 Spent

It pays to use your new travel rewards card for travel. You’ll earn 2 points for every $1 you charge to your Platinum Card on eligible flight, hotel or car rental bookings, as well as travel-related purchases.

4. Earn Points With Your Daily Purchases – 1 Point Earned Per $1 Spent

You’ll earn 1 Membership Rewards point for every $1 you spend on purchases. You’ll want to put every purchase you can on your Amex Platinum Card so you can be earning points every chance you get Gas, groceries, insurance, car repairs, everything. Previous to the Platinum Card refresh, 1.25 points per $1 spent were awarded, so this is a slight devaluation from what members are used to.

Membership Earn Rates

 New earn rate (effective Feb 13, 2019)Old earn rate
Dining in Canada3 points per $1 spent1.25 points per $1 spent
Travel (flights, hotels, car rentals, Uber, purchases at hotels etc.)2 points per $1 spent1.25 points per $1 spent
All other purchases1 point per $1 spent1.25 points per $1 spent
Asiana Airlines First Class Seat

Asiana Airlines First Class Seat

5. Refer Your Family and Friends and Get Up To 225,000 Points Per Year!

Referring a friend for a Platinum Card is the easiest and quickest way to earn points, next to earning the welcome bonus of 50,000 points. American Express has an extremely lucrative referral program that you can take advantage of once you sign up for your own Platinum Card.

For every approved person you refer to the Platinum Card, you could earn 15,000 points. There is a yearly maximum of 15 referrals, which works out to 225,000 Membership Rewards points.

American Express Platinum Canada

American Express Platinum Card®

Apply Now!

All Platinum Cardmembers are eligible to refer friends and family for bonus points, so just think of the response you’ll get when you lay down your metal Platinum Card (clink!). Now, some might look at this as a needless frill and complain that American Express should be spending money on travel benefits, rather than production costs for these new cards, but I think the opposite. Having a metal card like this will create buzz, and for a card with such a generous referral program, that’s a good thing, and an easy conversation starter. You know they’ll want to know all about it, and after reading this post, you’ll be an expert on all this card has to offer anyway, so study up.

*Nerd alert ramble warning*
I’d even go as far to jot down your referral link from your American Express My Account page (once you’ve signed up for your Platinum Card), and then use a link shortener service to turn that ugly link into something easy to remember and type.

Maybe even get that link printed on some business cards (I use Moo.com), and keep them in your wallet alongside that metal beauty. When people ask, give them your card with the referral link, and after telling them all about how it will change the way they’ll travel, forever, they can use your link to signup. For every approved referral, you could earn 15,000 points, up to a maximum of 15 referrals, 225,000 points per year.
*End nerdy, but hopefully useful ramble.*

If your eyes glazed over at that last part about using link shorteners and getting business cards made up, ok, admittedly that might be a bit overkill for some. But, I truly believe people you know will be asking you about this metal card. You can always email your friends and family a referral link as well, from within your American Express account too! Business cards with referral links are just handy to have on the spot, so people can go home and research the card for themselves first.

225,000 points is easily enough to travel the world in luxury, with points leftover. No other card in Canada comes close to offering this opportunity to earn points that quickly. I’m not sure how long this will last, because it seems almost too good to be true, but let’s enjoy the ride together while we can.

Poolside popcicle service at the Four Seasons, Jakarta

Travel Benefits

This gets me excited. Your Platinum Card will change the way you travel forever, and I’m excited for you to experience the benefits too.

Airport Lounge Access

Airport lounge access is one of my favourite benefits of being a Platinum Cardholder.

Unlock over 1,200 airport lounges

I used to think airport lounges were only reserved for the ultra-elite traveller paying 10s of thousands of dollars for a first-class plane ticket. Not if you’re a Platinum Cardholder though. You’ll receive a complimentary Prestige PriorityPass membership, valued at $429 USD. You and a guest will get to enjoy complimentary food and drinks (yes, alcohol is included!), a quiet space to relax, wi-fi, charging ports, and more at over 1,200 lounges worldwide. I’d say that’s worth leaving for the airport early.

Access American Express Centurion Lounges

As a Canadian Platinum Cardholder, you’ll also have access to American Express Centurion Lounges. Along with complimentary food and drinks, there are even spas and private showers offered at some of the lounges. You and a guest will have access (even if they aren’t a Platinum Cardholder) to the lounge. Just present your Platinum Card and same-day boarding passes upon entry.

Here’s a look at the Miami Centurion Lounge, and the amenities you can expect before your flight as a Platinum Cardmember:

Use The Mobile Lounge Finder In The Amex App To Help You Find an Airport Lounge

Now that you’ve unlocked a whole, new world of airport experiences, you’ll need an easy way to find all the lounges you have access to. Just use the Mobile Lounge Finder in the Amex App. You will be able to search for lounges by city or airport, receive notifications for nearby airport lounges when travelling, and view all available airport lounges based on your location. Mobile Lounge Finder within the Amex App will also provide you with information about the lounges you have access to including amenities, access requirements, guest policies, and more.

Get an Annual $200 Travel Credit

As a Platinum Cardmember, you’ll receive an annual $200 travel credit, which brings the annual fee on this card down to $499. Your $200 travel credit will get applied as a statement credit towards flights, hotels, or car rentals booked through American Express Travel. It also can be used towards hotels booked through American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts, or The Hotel Collection.

Check out our beginner’s guide for how to use your $200 annual credit, and a step-by-step guide for how to redeem it.

Instantly Fast-track Your Way To Elite Benefits at Hotels

I love hotels. When I book a trip, I’ll purposely plan to stay at several properties just so I can hotel hop and experience something different at each one. I might have had a slight addiction to hotels before signing up for the Platinum Card, but now it’s fullblown There’s no turning back. It’s just so easy to get added benefits at a variety of hotels with your Platinum Card, without having to work the hard way and stay a certain number of nights, or spend a certain amount of money.

One of the first things you’ll want to do when you get your new Platinum Card is phone Platinum services and request to be automatically enrolled with these hotel loyalty programs so you can start getting the benefits you deserve:

Marriott Gold Elite

Room upgrade and 2pm late checkout.

Hilton Honors Gold Status

Room upgrade, complimentary breakfast, no resort fees on points stays.

Shangri-La Golden Circle Jade membership

Daily breakfast, room upgrade, 11am early check-in, 4pm late checkout.

Radisson Rewards Gold Status

Room upgrade, early and late check-in upon request, in-room welcome gift.

Just call Platinum services after signing up for your card, and ask them to enroll you in all of the above hotel loyalty programs and jump ahead to elite hotel loyalty status. Call 1-800-263-1616 and press 2.

You’ll need to book directly with each hotel to receive these loyalty benefits and earn points with each hotel loyalty program which go towards free night stays.

Some loyalty benefits may be subject to availability. Always check with the hotel at the time of booking to confirm eligibility.

Book With American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts and Get Elite Hotel Benefits and 2x Points

When you book a luxury hotel stay through American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts you’ll get a bunch of exciting benefits if you’re staying at elite hotels like The Fairmont, Mandarin Oriental, Four Seasons, the Shangri-La and more.

Room upgrade when available

I’ve received a room upgrade every single time booking with Fine Hotels and Resorts. Sometimes even as much as an 8 category room upgrade. That means going from a standard room to a 1-bedroom suite with gorgeous views, dining room, and a shower that could comfortably fit 6 people at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia in Vancouver, BC.

Daily breakfast for two people

This is a huge benefit, prices of course vary, but resort hotels can be pricey, that means you could receive a value of about $80 in breakfast if the going rate is $40 per person. And check with the hotel you’re looking to book with, you might be able to use this benefit towards room service and enjoy breakfast in bed with your loved one!

Guaranteed 4pm late checkout

This is another huge benefit. If you have a late flight or just want to enjoy the property a little longer, you’ll be able to make a day of it and not have to leave until 4 pm. I’ve even requested a later checkout of 5 or 6 pm when I have a late flight and it’s been honoured. In fact, I purposely try to book late flights for this reason. It gives me time to enjoy the hotel before heading to the lounge at the airport. Definitely, a better way to travel!

American Express Platinum Canada

American Express Platinum Card®

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12pm early check-in when available

Not only do you get a guaranteed late checkout, but you’ll also receive an early check-in at noon when available. I’ve been lucky enough to receive this every time, so I’ve always got on average an extra 7 hours extra when I’ve stayed at the Fairmont, Rosewood, and Four Seasons properties. That’s exceptional value! And a real chance to enjoy the spa, pool, and other property amenities. Or just sleep in and be lazy.

Complimentary Wi-Fi

Ok, admittedly this one isn’t that big of a deal. Most hotels I’ve stayed at already offer wi-fi included in the room. However, if you’re staying at one that charges for it, you won’t have to pay when you book with Fine Hotels and Resorts.

Property credit of up to $100 USD

This one is another amazing benefit! Every hotel is different, but you’ll most likely be able to use your credit towards dining, including room service, or the spa! Treat yourself to some room service or a nice dinner at the property’s restaurant, or put it towards your spa treatment. Don’t forget you’ll already be getting free breakfast, so my advice is to save this credit for dinner! It can’t be applied towards the room rate, taxes, tips, or resort fees.

Sunset views at the Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui

Sunset views at the Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui

Book With The American Express Hotel Collection And Get Elite Hotel Benefits and 2x Points

Booking a hotel through The Hotel Collection is similar to booking through Fine Hotels and Resorts. You’ll receive a number of elite benefits when you pay with your Platinum Card, including:

  • A $100 property credit that can be used towards dining or the spa.
  • A room upgrade, if available.
  • You can pay with your American Express Membership Reward points when you prepay your booking.
  • You’ll need to book at least a 2-night stay with The Hotel Collection to receive your benefits.

Get Elite Status With Car Rental Loyalty Programs

Get in the fast lane with these car rental loyalty programs and receive special benefits, just by being a Platinum Cardmember (upon complimentary enrolment).

Avis Preferred

  • Priority service at the counter
  • Special discounts on rentals in North America and internationally
  • One car class upgrade for groups C-E (Intermediate, Standard, and Full size)
  • Learn more and enroll.

Hertz Gold Plus Rewards

  • One car class upgrade (subject to availability) on rentals of 5 or more consecutive days
  • Fee-waived for one additional driver (spouse/civil partner)
  • Learn more and enroll.

Cruise Privileges Program

If you’re a fan of cruises, you’re going to love the exciting benefits you’ll get onboard, just by being a Platinum cardmember with the Cruise Privileges Program from American Express Canada. Benefits vary by cruise line, let’s take a look:

Crystal Cruises

  • $300 USD per stateroom shipboard credit
  • $200 USD per stateroom shore excursion credit
  • All benefits are per booking, based on two adults sharing accommodation on voyages of 5 days or more.

Cunard

  • Up to a $300 USD per suite shipboard credit (varies by stateroom/suite category)
  • Bottle of wine
  • Privileges are available on cruises of 5 days or more, excluding charters, based on double occupancy.

Holland America

  • Up to a $300 USD per suite shipboard credit (varies by stateroom/suite category)
  • Shipboard credits are available on cruises of 5 days or more, excluding charters, based on double occupancy and subject to booking in certain stateroom and suite categories.

Paul Gauguin

  • A $300 USD per stateroom shipboard credit
  • Additional special amenity
  • Privileges are available on cruises of 7 days or more, excluding charters, based on double occupancy.

Silversea Cruises

  • $300 USD per suite shipboard credit
  • Bottle of champagne
  • Privileges are available on cruises of 6 days or more, excluding charters, based on double occupancy.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises

  • $300 USD per suite shipboard credit
  • Privileges are available on cruises of 6 days or more, excluding charters, based on double occupancy.

The Yachts of Seabourn

  • $300 USD per suite shipboard credit
  • Special bed turn-down service (one evening)
  • Welcome bottle of wine
  • Privileges are available on cruises of 5 days or more, excluding charters, based on double occupancy.

Windstar

  • $300 USD per stateroom shipboard credit (up to $225 USD for single travellers)
  • One Romance Package per cabin (deluxe hors-d’oeuvres, welcome bottle of champagne, chocolate covered strawberries)
  • Privileges are available on cruises of 5 days or more, excluding charters, based on double occupancy.

Royal Caribbean International® Cruise Line

  • Shipboard credit of up to $300 USD per stateroom on cruises of 5 days or more based on the type of stateroom category booked
  • Bottle of premium champagne or wine
  • Shipboard credits are available on cruises of 5 days or more, excluding charters, based on double occupancy and subject to booking in certain stateroom and suite categories.

Oceania Cruises

  • $300 USD Shipboard Credit Per Stateroom
  • Premium Wine Tasting Event
  • Complimentary Bottle of Wine from the Tasting Menu of Guests Selection
  • The Promotion shall be available on Cruise Line sailings of five (5) nights or more, excluding charters, based on double occupancy.

Uniworld

  • $300 USD Shipboard Credit Per Stateroom
  • Complimentary Bottle of Premium Champagne & Box of Chocolates, upon arrival onboard the ship
  • The Promotion shall be available on Cruise Line sailings of five (5) nights or more, excluding charters, based on double occupancy.

Wagyu beef dinner on a Japan Airlines first class flight.

Travel Insurance

As a Platinum Cardmember under 65 years of age, you’ll receive a number of travel insurance benefits including:

  • Emergency Medical Insurance, out of province/country
  • Trip Cancellation
  • Trip Interruption
  • Travel Accident
  • Travel Emergency Assistance
  • Flight Delays
  • Baggage Delays
  • Lost or Stolen Baggage
  • Hotel/Motel Burglary
  • Car Rental Theft and Damage
  • Standby Travel Medical Concierge
American Express Platinum Canada

American Express Platinum Card®

Apply Now!

You’ll want to make sure you completely understand your coverage before you leave for your trip. Check out our article about credit card travel insurance in Canada to learn more about what’s covered.

Luckily, I personally haven’t needed to use my Platinum Card for any medical issues while travelling, but I’ve certainly saved money when renting a car.

Car rental places love to upsell you on car rental insurance which can add up very fast. Thankfully, as an American Express Platinum Cardholder, you can comfortably waive those addon insurance options because you’ll already be covered. On our recent trip to Maui, it would have cost an extra $35 per day for the week of car rental insurance. That would have meant an additional $245 in fees without our Platinum Card! We definitely had piece of mind, and were able to drive the beautiful and windy road to Hana without worry.

Access to Unique Experiences

Part of being a Platinum Cardmember means having access to unique and unforgettable experiences.

American Express Invites

American Express often holds exclusive invite-only events for their Platinum Cardmembers across Canada. Make sure to watch your inbox for an invite to the next event. Dinner with a celebrity chef and a luxury hotel stay, advance movie screenings, weekend getaway packages are just a few of the invites you can expect. You’ll generally need to act fast as tickets can be limited and go very fast.

Front of the Line Presales

Another reason your American Express is a necessary tool in your wallet is the advantage you’ll have at the box office. American Express frequently has Front of the Line presales. That means they reserve a block of seats at concerts, sports, and theatre events just for Amex Cardholders. You’ll have the chance to buy tickets ahead of the general public on Ticketmaster with Front of The Line presales, and you can even pay for tickets on Ticketmaster.ca with your American Express points. This is great if you’re a fan. Or, if you’re a student, stay at home mom, living life on the road, or an entrepreneur and data nerd like me, there’s more you can do.

Just having your Amex Platinum Card gives you a whole new work-at-home opportunity buying and reselling tickets on Ticketmaster. Just think. You have a credit card that gives you access to buy tickets before the general public, and by purchasing tickets (your inventory) on your Platinum Card with the intent to resell, you’ll be earning valuable Membership Rewards in the process that you can use towards your travel goals. Now admittedly, being on an online ticket broker isn’t for everyone, but it sure is a great way to work from home. It’s just a natural fit for anyone living the van life, and who loves to travel. I’ll save my tales of using my American Express to buy and sell concert tickets for another post, but for now, I hope your wheels are spinning.

Global Dining Collection

Get special access to dining reservations and customized experiences with the American Express Global Dining Collection. Kitchen tours, custom made menu items just for you, and drinks on the house are just a few of the special benefits offered. The Global Dining Collection is a curated list of restaurants backed by world-renowned chefs. Just call Platinum Services (1-800-263-1616 and press 2) when you’re ready to book.

Marriott Moments

Here’s a lesser known benefit of being an American Express Membership Rewards Cardmember: Make some memories with Marriott Moments and bid on the chance to attend ultra-exclusive events like the SuperBowl, watch a concert or a sporting event from a box suite, meet celebrity athletes, musicians and chefs, or just get away with a luxury vacation package. Marriott Moments offers Marriott members the chance to bid on experiences using their points. All you’ll need to do to take part is transfer your American Express Membership Rewards points to your Marriott account to get in on the action.

Cathay Pacific Business Class

Cathay Pacific Business Class

Downsides of the American Express Platinum Card

With the travel benefits of this card far outweighing the annual fee, there has to be a catch right? Not really, however more of a caution.

Where is American Express Accepted in Canada?

American Express is not accepted everywhere Visa and Mastercard is in Canada, but over 70,000 merchants and counting will accept American Express. Just make sure your spending habits line up with where Amex is accepted so you’re not disappointed, or struggling to meet the minimum spend requirement.

If you’re flexible, plenty of online shopping can be done with your Platinum Card. I mean really, do you even need to leave the house, other than for the next airport or hotel? I like to buy groceries and household items from Amazon.ca and use my Platinum Card as payment. Now, not everything is cheaper than my local no-frills grocery store, so I still need to price shop, but I find it a much more convenient way to shop.

All major gas stations in Canada accept American Express, but grocery stores can be tricky. No frill stores and small vendors probably won’t accept American Express. This might be a deal breaker for you, so check the complete list of where American Express cards are accepted in Canada.

This is a Charge Card, Interest Penalties are Huge

The American Express Platinum Card is a charge card, meaning your balance must be paid in full each month. Now, this shouldn’t be a downside if you’re fiscally responsible, but you’ll get hurt if you decide to carry a balance on this card. Paying 30% in interest charges defeats the purpose of owning a travel rewards card, so please make sure before you signup, that you can handle the responsibility of paying off your balance in full. Treat it like a debit card and don’t spend it if you don’t have it.

Yes, the annual fee is $699

I feel obliged to add the annual fee as a downside, just because of the pricetag, but I think the math is pretty clear that you’ll end up ahead with the bounty of benefits this card has to offer. And worst case scenario, even if you used your $200 annual travel credit and redeemed your 50,000 welcome bonus points for a $500 statement credit, you would still break even.

One thing to note is the $699 annual fee will be billed on your first statement, and unfortunately, does not count as an eligible purchase to earn points.

If You Don’t Travel, Don’t Get This Card

The annual fee won’t make sense for you if you don’t travel. This is a premium travel rewards card in Canada, and all of the main benefits come from flying or staying in hotels. A $699 annual fee just won’t make sense for someone who doesn’t value airport lounges, travel hacking their way to business and first class flights, or receiving luxury hotel benefits.

EVA Air Boeing 777 Business Class

EVA Air Boeing 777 Business Class

Travel Hacking is Work

Signing up for the Platinum Card and earning points is the easy part. Want to know the hard part? Redeeming your points! Now let me be clear, redeeming your points is actually quite easy, IF you’re not interested in getting good value out of them.

But if you want to dig into the world of travel hacking and understand how airline alliances and loyalty programs truly work, it’s going to take some time. But the payoff is huge. If you’re willing to learn the skills, and put in the time, you can make flying first class around the world a real possibility with this card. The Platinum Card is very forgiving in that you have the opportunity to do both. We’ll get to how to redeem your points shortly.

American Express Platinum Canada

American Express Platinum Card®

Apply Now!

How To Redeem Your Points

There are three main ways you can redeem your American Express Membership Rewards points. I strongly believe Amex offers the best travel rewards program in Canada due to the fact the points are so versatile and can be transferred to other loyalty programs for added value. Let’s take a look. One thing to remember about American Express Membership Rewards Cards is that you can transfer your points to other loyalty programs, and even use your points as a statement credit towards any eligible purchase on your card.

Department store credit cards like the Canadian Tire or Hudson Bay Mastercard are extremely limiting. Sure, you might get deals at those stores and be able to use your points at those stores, but the value stops there.

Even with other banks, you’re locked into using their reward system. With no ability to transfer your points to other loyalty programs, you’re really missing out on a ton of travel rewards.

You can redeem as little or as many Amex points as you want, yes you can even redeem 1 point if you wanted to. That’s what makes Amex Membership Rewards so flexible.

Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge Birthday Surprise

Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge Birthday Surprise

With a Membership Rewards Card like the Platinum Card Canada, you have full control over how you’d like to use your points, so let’s take a look at the different ways to redeem your points:

1. Use Points for Purchases (ie. Statement Credit)

So when you signup for your American Express Platinum Card Canada and receive your 50,000 welcome bonus points after hitting the minimum spend of $3,000 in the first 3 months of card membership, you could use your points for a $500 statement credit for an easy redemption. Generally, the easier it is to redeem your points, the lesser value you’re going to get out of them.

You can redeem points for your purchases online for the last 3 months, and for the last 12 months by phone.

What is an Amex point worth?

Here’s a breakdown of what your Amex points are worth if you were to redeem them as a statement credit:

Qualified Travel Purchases:
1,000 American Express points equal $10
10,000 points equal $100
100,000 points equal $1,000
and so on.

Other Qualified Purchases:
1,000 American Express points equal $7
10,000 points equal $70
100,000 points equal $700
and so on.

Just login to your American Express account to use your points for purchases.

The American Express Membership Rewards Catalogue

Easy redemption. Cringeworthy value.

American Express is hoping you’ll default to the easiest option and redeem your points for an overpriced item in the Membership Catalogue. Please don’t do this.

Generally, the easier it is to redeem your points, the lesser value you’re going to get out of them. American Express is hoping you’ll default to the easiest option and redeem your points for an overpriced item in the Membership Catalogue. If you’ve ever done this, or are considering doing this, please let me convince you otherwise.

I’ve never even bothered to look at the Membership Rewards Catalogue until now because it’s not even an option for me to redeem my points for anything in there. That thing is just a trap to get you to spend your points foolishly, so don’t fall for it.

Let’s see what 50,000 points gets you in the catalogue…

Price is Right rules, so anything over 50k points doesn’t count. Let’s go shopping:

Breville Smart Convection Toaster Oven – 44,700 points
If we value our Amex points at $0.01 per point, that would cost us $447 to buy this countertop appliance from the Catalogue With no effort, I can get this same toaster on sale at Amazon right now for $295.99. If we redeemed our Amex points for this, we would have overpaid by $151.01. Yikes.

Next…

Coach Slim Accordion Zip Smooth Leather Wallet (Light Saddle) – 40,000 points
That would cost us $400, if we value our points at $0.01 per point. I just found the same Coach Wallet on Amazon for $140 plus $21.40 shipping with the option to get it in a different colour. If we redeemed our points for this, we would have overpaid by $238.60. Wowsers.

This is getting fun, let’s look at one more…

$250 Fairmont Gift Card – 30,000 points
If you’re a Fairmont lover like I am, a Fairmont gift card in the catalouge might catch your eye. However, like everything else in the catalouge, it should come as no surprise that it’s overpriced. That $250 gift card would cost us $300 if we value our points at $0.01 per point. If we redeemed our points for this, we would have overpaid by $50. No thank you!

If you’re looking for a better way to enjoy a luxury stay at a Fairmont property, check out our travel hacking tip instead and save 25% on your next stay at any Fairmont in Canada.

These redemptions make me sad. So instead, I’ll show you a way to redeem your 50,000 welcome bonus points for two roundtrip plane tickets to Hawaii. Keep reading.

So I think it’s pretty obvious that you should steer clear of the Membership Rewards Catalog. Let’s take a look at some other options for redeeming our American Express points.

Would you rather redeem your 50,000 points on 2 pairs of Oakley sunglasses from the catalogue, or score two roundtrip plane tickets to Hawaii? The majority of consumers get starry eyed at the prospect of a big credit card signup bonus, but then are left confused and frustrated with restrictions for redeeming the points, and get lost in a sea of possibilities. They end up giving up and simply redeeming them for something in the Catalouge for a horrible value. Remember, this is a game. The bank wants to lure you in with a generous welcome bonus they hope they’ll make up for on transaction fees. Using points for purchases is the easiest way to redeem your Amex points, however, there are more ways we can redeem our points to get better value out of them.

Let’s take a look.

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Pay with American Express Points on Ticketmaster

Easy redemption. Cringeworthy value.

You can pay for concert, sports, and theatre tickets directly on Ticketmaster.ca with your American Express points.

1,000 American Express points equal a $5 credit on Ticketmaster, for a 0.5¢ value per point. Ouch! This is an easy redemption, but a very sad value.

If you’re looking to pay for your Ticketmaster purchases with points, you’re better off redeeming them for a statement credit directly from your American Express account and get a value of 0.7¢ per point instead.

Pay with American Express Points on Amazon

Easy redemption. Poor value, except with a promotional offer.

You can pay for your purchases on Amazon.ca with your American Express points as well.

1,000 American Express points equal a $7 credit on Amazon, for a value of 0.7¢ per point. This is an easy redemption, with a fair value.

Sometimes Amazon offers discounts when you pay for part of your purchases with points. Watch your inbox for deals like these.

JW Marriott New Delhi Aerocity Room Service Breakfast

JW Marriott New Delhi Aerocity Room Service Breakfast

The Fixed Points Travel Program

Now we’re getting into redeeming our points for travel, the real reason you signed up for an American Express Platinum Card Canada!

The American Express Fixed Points Travel Program takes the guesswork out of redeeming your points for flights. You’ll use the same amount of points regardless of what the ticket price is.

Your points will cover the cost of the ticket price up to a maximum price for economy or business class tickets. Premium economy and first class are not eligible.

Let’s take a look at the chart below and see how much a return flight would cost using American Express points with the Fixed Points Travel Program.

CabinDestinationEligible Route (Return Airfare)Points RequiredMaximum Base Ticket Price
EconomyCanada/US Short HaulCalgary to Vancouver15,000$300
EconomyCanada/US Short HaulMontreal to New York15,000$300
EconomyCanada/US Short HaulToronto to Montreal15,000$300
EconomyCanada/US Short HaulToronto to New York15,000$300
EconomyCanada/US Short HaulToronto to Ottawa15,000$300
EconomyCanada/US Short HaulWithin or from a Canadian Province/Territory to an adjacent Canadian Province/Territory/U.S. State (except Alaska)***20,000$300
EconomyCanada/US Long HaulFrom a Canadian Province/Territory to a non-adjacent Canadian Province/Territory/U.S. State (except Hawaii and Alaska)***40,000$700
EconomyAlaska, Bermuda, Caribbean, Central America, Hawaii or MexicoAlaska, Bermuda, Caribbean, Central America, Hawaii or Mexico50,000$800
EconomyEuropeCanada to destinations in Europe60,000$900
EconomyWorldwideCanada to destinations in Africa, Asia, Australia, Middle East, New Zealand, South America or South Pacific100,000$1,700
BusinessCanada/US Short HaulWithin or from a Canadian Province/Territory to an adjacent Canadian Province/Territory/U.S. State (except Alaska)***50,000$800
BusinessCanada/US Long HaulFrom a Canadian Province/Territory to a non-adjacent Canadian Province/Territory/U.S. State (except Hawaii and Alaska)***100,000$1,800
BusinessAlaska, Bermuda, Caribbean, Central America, Hawaii or MexicoCanada to Alaska, Bermuda, Caribbean, Central America, Hawaii or Mexico120,000$2,100
BusinessEuropeCanada to destinations in Europe140,000$2,500
BusinessWorldwideCanada to destinations in Africa, Asia, Australia, Middle East, New Zealand, South America or South Pacific250,000$4,500

*Return airfares only

**Based on the highest class of service within the itinerary. Itineraries that contain flights with Premium Economy and/or First Class cabin fares are not eligible for the Fixed Points Travel Program.

***Adjacent is defined as a geographical jurisdiction (Province/Territory/State within Canada and Continental U.S.) that has a land border with another geographical jurisdiction. The following are exceptions to the definition and are considered to be short haul flights: (i) travel between any of the four provinces in Atlantic Canada; (ii) travel originating in Ontario and going to either New York or Michigan. Determination of geographical jurisdictions is based on the IATA code.

When you’re ready, just login to American Express account and search for your flights with the Fixed Travel Points Program.

You’ll still be responsible for paying the associated taxes and fees, plus the residual cost above the maximum base ticket price for your airline ticket.

Since I live on the west coast, I have a few airports I can leave from. Now, this example is targeted at Vancouverites looking to go to Maui, or any destination in Hawaii.

If I’m looking to fly to Maui, here’s what a search for a roundtrip flight from Vancouver, BC (YVR) to Kahului, HI (OGG) looks like using the American Express Fixed Points Travel Program:

Flight results for Vancouver, BC (YVR) to Kahului, HI (OGG), using the American Express Fixed Points Travel Program.

Hmmm…50,000 American Express points plus $132 for a one roundtrip plane ticket to Maui. I think we can do better. Let’s see what the American Express Flexible Points Travel Program has to offer.

American Express Flexible Points Travel Program

Hence the name, the American Express Flexible Points Travel Program allows you more flexibility to redeem your points for travel purchases. 1,000 American Express points equal a $10 statement credit, so a value of 1¢ per point. Although this still isn’t the maximum value we can get out of our points, it’s still an excellent option. Always make sure to apply your points to travel related purchases first, before other expenses that can only be redeemed for 0.7¢ per point.

You can use your points towards a statement credit for these eligible travel purchases:

  • American Express Travel bookings
  • Fine Hotels and Resorts bookings
  • The Hotel Collection bookings
  • Flights
  • Hotels
  • Car Rentals
  • Cruises
  • Other eligible travel related expenses, such as dining at your hotel, travel experiences booked with Marriott Moments, and much more.

In the meantime, let’s continue our flight search with the American Express Flexible Travel Program and see what that costs us for the same flight to Maui:

Flight results for Vancouver, BC (YVR) to Kahului, HI (OGG), using the American Express Flexible Points Travel Program.

It pays to check both the Fixed and Flexible rates if we’re booking through American Express Travel. Looks like the Flexible rate would cost us 37,799 points compared to 50,000 + $132. But keep in mind we happen to have got lucky because the cost is based on the plane ticket which can vary depending on the time you’re flying, and the demand.

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I still think we can do better for our trip to Maui though. Let’s look at the most important way to redeem our American Express points.

New Years Eve Party at the Fairmont Pacific Rim, Vancouver, BC

Frequent Travel Partners

The magic happens when you transfer your points to American Express Frequent Travel Partners, and what makes American Express such a valuable travel rewards card. A lot of people overlook the value in transferring their points to hotel and airline loyalty programs, but that’s where you’ll get the absolute best value out of your points.

I’ll be honest, this is where you’re going to fall down the infinite rabbit hole of travel hacking. If you take the time to learn about each of the loyalty programs in-depth, you’ll have the knowledge to travel the world in luxury for a fraction of the retail cost. For now, let’s just cover the basics and show you what you can do with your newly earned American Express points.

Each airline and hotel loyalty program has different transfer rates and times. Let’s take a look at the frequent travel partners below:

CategoryTravel PartnerConversionTransfer Partner RatioTransfer Time
FlightsAeroplan1000 Membership Rewards points = 1000 Aeroplan® miles1 to 1Up to 30 minutes
FlightsAlitalia MileMiglia1000 Membership Rewards points = 750 MilleMiglia miles1 to 0.755 business days
FlightsAsia Miles1000 Membership Rewards points = 750 Asia Miles1 to 0.755 business days
FlightsBritish Airways Executive Club1000 Membership Rewards points = 1000 Avios1 to 15 business days
FlightsDelta SkyMiles1000 Membership Rewards points = 750 SkyMiles®1 to 0.75Up to 30 minutes
FlightsEtihad Guest1000 Membership Rewards points = 750 Etihad Guest miles1 to 0.753 business days
HotelsHilton Honors1000 Membership Rewards points = 1000 Hilton Honors points1 to 15 business days
HotelsMarriott Bonvoy (Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest)5 Membership Rewards points = 6 Points1 to 1.25 business days

You’ll need to create an account with the loyalty programs you plan to transfer your points to and then link them within your American Express account from the Frequent Travel Participants page.

The possibilities are endless here, as airline loyalty points can be used on partner airlines. For example, if you wanted to use your American Express points for a WestJet flight, you would transfer them to Delta SkyMiles, since WestJet is a partner with Delta. Now, this isn’t as obvious as transferring your points to Aeroplan for an Air Canada flight, but I did tell you there would be some work involved if you want to get exceptional value out of your points.

As an American Express Platinum Canada Cardmember you’ll also get access to Delta Sky Club lounges when you fly WestJet and present your American Express Platinum Card upon arrival to the lounge.

I’m a huge fan of Marriott hotels and always look to transfer my American Express points to Marriott where I can redeem my points for budget hotels, midrange hotels, or ultra-luxury hotels like the Ritz Carlton.

There are so many exciting possibilities when you transfer your American Express points to airline and hotel loyalty programs, so here are a few ideas to get you started. All of these can be accomplished with the 50,000 welcome bonus points you’ll receive when you meet the minimum spend requirement of $3,000 in the first 3 months of membership, and just by being an American Express Platinum Cardholder.

  • 1 roundtrip business class plane ticket anywhere in North America.
  • 1 night stay at a luxury hotel like The Ritz Carlton or JW Marriott.
  • 3-night stay at a mid-range business hotel like the Courtyard.
  • $500 statement credit using the Flexible Points Travel Program. This is the easiest way to redeem your 50,000 points, however, not always the best value. Use your $200 travel credit too and you’ll have broken even after the $699 annual fee.
  • $200 annual travel credit can be used towards flights, hotels or car rentals. Since we can get the best use out of transferring our Amex points to flight and hotel partners, I like to save the travel credit towards hotels I normally wouldn’t stay at, or car rentals. You can also look forward to not having to pay extra insurance (which can easily be an extra $20-$30 per day) on your car rental. You’ll automatically be covered with your Platinum Card. Learn more.
  • Lounge access. Flying to Las Vegas? My favourite way to start a Vegas vacation. Enjoy complimentary food and drinks at the Centurion Lounge when you land at Mccarren Airport in Vegas. Step off the plane and hit up the Centurion Lounge there for a complimentary drink (or two) and a snack before heading to your hotel. (Lounge access for arrivals is subject to availability. If the lounge is at peak capacity, arrivals may not be able to enter the lounge).
  • Transfer your Amex points to Delta for a WestJet flight and get access to the DeltaSky Lounge when you show your same day boarding pass and Platinum card upon checking into the lounge.

And lastly, let’s see how transferring our points to an American Express travel partner will get us a better deal on those Maui tickets if you’re on the west coast.

British Airways, an American Express frequent travel partner uses a distance based award chart, which means they charged a set number of points based on the distance flown. Luckily, if you’re on the westcoast and can fly out of Bellingham, WA, a short drive across the BC, Washington border, you’ll be able to fly Alaska Airlines, one of British Airways partners.

Again, this is one of those transfers that isn’t easily obvious, but when you transfer your 50,000 welcome bonus points to British Airways, you’ll actually be able to redeem those points for two roundtrip economy plane tickets for a direct flight to Maui or the other Hawaiin islands. Now that’s a far better deal than using your points on American Express Travel. Check out the detailed guide from Million Mile Secrets for how to redeem your Amex points for 2 tickets to Maui.

Two very happy American Express Platinum cardmembers in their upgraded suite at the Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui!

Two very happy American Express Platinum Cardmembers in their upgraded suite at the Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui!

American Express Platinum Card Canada Recap

Wow. Well, we just covered a ton of benefits that the American Express Platinum Card offers Canadians. I’m sure it’s clear by now why this card is considered a premier choice for Canadian travellers. If you’ve yet to experience the travel benefits this card offers, you’re in for a treat. Currently, American Express is offering 50,000 welcome bonus points which will jumpstart your new found hobby of travel hacking the globe. With airport lounge access, an annual $200 travel credit to elite status with hotels, invitations to special cardmember events, and the flexibility to use your travel rewards the way you want, this card should be an obvious choice for you.

Welcome aboard your luxury travel hacking journey.

American Express Platinum Canada

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American Express Platinum Canada Infographic

Check out the infographic below for a fun summary of the travel benefits the American Express Platinum Card Canada has to offer.

Infographic: Amex Platinum Canada Card Travel Benefits
American Express Platinum Canada

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About the Author:

With a passion for tech startups, Britt has always loved being hands on with designing and developing websites. When she’s not at the computer, she’s probably enjoying time with her German Shepherds, Trevor and Stacy. From rustic cabins, to five star hotels, Britt is always ready for the next adventure.

4 Comments

  1. Jay February 28, 2019 at 1:43 am - Reply

    “I’m not sure how long this will last, because it seems almost too good to be true”, please. This card used to offer a welcome bonus of 75,000. The paltry 50,000 offer won’t be gone anytime soon, if ever. At the very least, if you can manage a higher spend of $5,000, apply through a referral for a 60,000 offer.

    • Britt February 28, 2019 at 12:52 pm - Reply

      Hi Jay,

      Hmmm I believe you’ve taken my comment completely out of context. I was referring to the 15,000 referral bonus…not the welcome bonus. The referral bonus is in fact quite generous and provides any Platinum cardmember the chance to boost their points balance and fasttrack their next trip.

      If anyone is looking for a referral link for an increased welcome bonus on the Personal or Business Platinum Card Canada, please reach out to me for one at [email protected]:

      Personal Platinum Card: Receive 60,000 welcome bonus points when you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months of card membership.
      Business Platinum Card: Receive 75,000 welcome bonus points when you spend $7,000 in the first 3 months of card membership.

  2. Jay March 1, 2019 at 11:50 pm - Reply

    A 15,000 points referral bonus is quite generous? Oh… the days when the American Express Gold Rewards Card gave 25,000 points per referral. Now THAT was generous. Considering how AMEX’s referral offerings continue to be severely devalued (mind you the Business Platinum recently got bumped up to what it used to be), take what you can get, while it lasts.

    • Britt March 4, 2019 at 11:23 am - Reply

      I guess it depends on your perspective Jay. I’m more than happy to continue receiving 15,000 points per referral and look forward to many more trips funded by welcome bonuses and referral points.

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