The American Express Gold Rewards Card is one of the best introductory rewards cards in Canada, allowing you to get started earning highly valuable Membership Rewards points for a modest annual fee.
Bonuses & Fees
The American Express Gold Rewards Card offers a bonus of up to 30,000 MR points after spending at least $1,500 on the card within the first three months, when you apply via a referral link.
By applying through this channel, you’ll earn:
- 25,000 MR points upon spending $1,500 in the first three months
- 5,000 MR points if you add a supplementary card at the time of application
(The standard offer on the Amex website is only 25,000 MR points, without the extra 5,000 MR points when adding a supplementary card; only applying through a referral link gives you the full 30,000 MR points.)
The card has an annual fee of $150, which is not waived.
Furthermore, as a cardholder, you’ll earn 5,000 MR points for every referral you make to any card in the Membership Rewards family, up to a maximum of 75,000 MR points per calendar year.
As for supplementary cards, the first supplementary card can be added for free (and you ought to do so at the time of application in order to unlock the extra 5,000 MR points); however, additional supplementary cards will cost you $50 apiece.
Not only does the Gold Rewards Card come with a good signup bonus, it’s a great card to use on a daily basis as well for earning rewards. You’ll earn:
- 2 MR per dollar spent at gas stations, grocery stores, and drug stores in Canada
2 MR per dollar spent on travel purchases (flights, hotels, car rentals, vacations, cruises, etc.)
Earn 1 additional MR per dollar spent when booking your hotel or car rental through American Express Travel
1 MR per dollar spent everywhere else
Keep in mind that gas stations, grocery stores, and drug stores often sell gift cards for other stores that normally belong in the “everywhere else” category. You can effectively earn 2 MR per dollar spent on many purchases that normally fall into “everywhere else” by buying these gift cards and using them towards purchases that would normally earn 1 MR per dollar spent. This can be especially lucrative when purchasing big-ticket items, such as appliances, electronics, and furniture!
The Membership Rewards program offers outstanding redemption opportunities as well. This is primarily because it’s a flexible, transferable rewards currency.
You can transfer your MR points at a 1:1 ratio to Aeroplan and British Airways Avios, as well as a host of other global frequent flyer programs (including Cathay Pacific Asia Miles) at a 1:0.75 ratio. Moreover, you also have the option of converting points to Marriott Bonvoy at a 1:1.2 ratio for booking hotel stays.
Furthermore, you can redeem MR points directly for flights through the Amex Fixed Points Travel reward chart, although these are limited to round-trip flights departing from Canada.
Essentially, you can use a fixed amount of points towards the base ticket price of a regular cash ticket, up to a certain maximum. The number of points required and the maximum ticket price depends on the geographical region you are visiting (you can only book roundtrip flights that originate in Canada).
Lastly, you have the option of redeeming MR points directly against travel purchases at a rate of 1 cent per point (cpp), although this is typically not recommended, as the value pales in comparison to what you could get by booking flights through Aeroplan, Avios, or even the Fixed Points Travel chart.
Perks & Benefits
While the Gold Rewards Card lacks some of the premium travel benefits that you’ll find on the higher-end American Express cards, you’ll still get all of the standard perks of being an American Express cardholder, including Front of the Line event presale tickets, American Express Invites to exclusive experiences, and Amex Offers for extra everyday value when you use your card.
Charge your travel purchases to your American Express Gold Rewards Card, and you’ll automatically enjoy a wide array of coverage, such as:
Emergency medical insurance, for the first 15 days of each out-of-province trip, up to a maximum of $5,000,000 per insured person under 65
Lost, stolen, or damaged baggage insurance, up to $500 per trip
Travel accident insurance, up to $500,000, for you, your spouse, and any dependent children under 23
Additional coverage includes protection against trip interruption, car rental theft and damage, flight delay, and hotel burglary.
The card also offers the Buyer’s Assurance Protection Plan, which doubles the manufacturer’s warranty on any item charged to the card for up to one additional year, as well as the Purchase Protection Plan, which automatically insures your purchases against accidental theft and damage.