American Express® AIR MILES®* Platinum Credit Card Review
The main purpose of the American Express® AIR MILES®* Platinum Credit Card is to take the average Canadian’s most common everyday expenses, and turn them into AIR MILES at one of the fastest rates ever. At restaurants, cafes, grocery stores, the gas pump, and even on ride sharing services, cardholders earn MILES at an industry-best accelerated rate. They’ll also enjoy some purchase coverage and protection during their travels, plus an annual redemption benefit, made even more potent thanks to a nice AIR MILES welcome bonus.
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The generous welcome bonus of up to 2000 AIR MILES can be earned by new cardholders in their first year by meeting a single milestones— over the first 3 months make sure to spend $1,500 and the 2,000 Bonus Miles are yours.
Earning AIR MILES
The American Express® AIR MILES®* Platinum Credit Card makes an accelerated MILES earning rate the epicenter of its value proposition. You’ll collect 1 MILE for each $5 spent on eligible restaurants, coffee shops and stand-alone supermarkets, as well as eligible gas and transit such as ride sharing or taxi services. You’ll also get 1 MILE per $10 spent anywhere else, which is already a flat rate that rivals that of American Express’s premium credit cards. Eligible categories for the accelerated earning rate, according to American Express, are defined as, but aren’t limited to restaurants, standalone groceries, coffee shops, gas at the pump, local commuter transportation, and ride sharing or taxis.
Refer a friend, and you could earn 500 MILES for each referral, up to 7,500. AIR MILES are earned twice at Partner stores and brands across Canada as well, as long as you use your American Express card and show that you’re a member. Essentially, it’s set up so that those with relevant expenses (and even those without) will find they’re quickly and constantly earning MILES.
Redeeming AIR MILES
AIR MILES are easily redeemed by logging into the airmiles.ca website using the information provided when you received your American Express card. Card members will see their balance and be able to spend MILES directly on merchandise, electronics, gift cards, and other rewards online. The system is two-fold: there’s Dream MILES for redeeming on travel and rewards, while Cash MILES can be redeemed on direct statement credits or in-store discounts at a rate of 95 MILES per $10.
Cardholders who are AIR MILES members can customize the ratio at which they earn Dream and Cash MILES on their purchases. Just find the Allocation menu on the AIR MILES site, and type in your preferred proportion out of 100% — for example, 70% Dream MILES to 30% Cash MILES.
Annual Travel Redemption Benefit
Those who redeem Dream MILES once per year to book travel can get a lump sum bonus of MILES returned to their account. Equal to 25% of the total redemption price, this annual bonus is capped at 750 MILES, meaning that if you spend 3,000 MILES on a trip then you’ll get a quarter of those miles back immediately and you can do this every year. Therefore, on both earning and redemption the American Express® AIR MILES®* Platinum Credit Card brings boosted value.
What’s an AIR MILE Worth?
The value of a Dream MILE depends on what you get for redeeming one, and since there are lots of things to redeem MILES for, we took an average of about $0.105. That’s for redemption on travel including flights, hotels, and rental cars but also events, merchandise, and more. Cash MILES are worth the same, illustrated by the flat 95 MILES for $10 rate. That’s $10 off at the register or applied to a monthly statement.
With a value of $0.105 the bonus of 2,000 AIR MILES is worth $200 in the first year alone. That’s more than the cost of the $120 annual fee, making the American Express® AIR MILES®* Platinum Credit Card capable of paying for itself in the first few years, and therefore much easier to hold knowing that it isn’t tearing a hole in your pocket.
Most of what cardholders get for their annual fee manifests in the card’s impressive earning rates and redemption bonuses, but travel insurance isn’t entirely left out of the equation. There’s car rental theft and damage coverage, travel accident coverage, and then the standard purchase protection plan and buyer’s assurance (automatically extended manufacturer’s warranties up to 1 additional year).
Card Fees and Rates
The main thing to consider for potential cardholders is the card’s annual fee, which amounts to $120. However, for travelers who rely on AIR MILES for their trips, it’s easy to justify this as a small price to pay for much greater value. The American Express® AIR MILES®* Platinum Credit Card also has a purchase interest rate of 20.99% and a funds advance interest rate of 21.99%, for those who carry a balance month-to-month.
Comparing the American Express® AIR MILES®* Platinum Credit Card
With a $120 annual fee and a focus on acquiring travel value through common expenses, it’s helpful to compare the American Express® AIR MILES®* Platinum Credit Card against similarly priced peers in the same category, like the Scotiabank Gold American Express and the American Express Cobalt® Card.
|American Express® AIR MILES®* Platinum Credit Card||Scotiabank Gold American Express||American Express Cobalt® Card|
|Bonus / Value||2,000 Bonus Miles/$200||30,000 points/$300||30,000 points/$300 towards any eligible purchases charged to your Card or $225 in Amex Prepaid Cards|
|Regular Earn Rate||1 MILE per $10||1 point per $1||1 point per $1|
|Enhanced Earn Rate||1 MILE per $5||3-5 points per $1||2-5 points per $1|
|Redeem On||Dream MILES on travel and more, Cash MILES against statement or purchases||Travel through Scotia, merchandise, gift cards, statement credits||Travel through American Express, merchandise, streaming services, gift cards, Amazon.ca|
|Extras||- Annual travel redemption bonus|
- Basic Travel Insurance
|- No Foreign transaction fees|
- Travel coverage for medical, cancellations & interruption
- Discount lounge membership
|- Hotel benefits and upgrades |
- Exclusive event invites
- Travel coverage for medical and more
Basically, this comparison between high-value American Express cards shows three alternatives that can be used to spend and redeem flexibly on travel and other rewards. The American Express® AIR MILES®* Platinum Credit Card offers the most direct value in terms of its earning rate, has a unique annual redemption bonus and will be best for those who prefer AIR MILES and Air Canada. Both the American Express Cobalt® Card and the Scotia Gold American Express cards have a less valuable introductory bonus and will not collect travel value as quickly on expenses. Despite this, the two cards’ earnings and redemption models are broader concerning purchases and rewards, and for some may be easier to use than the Dream and Cash MILES system.
Pros and Cons of the American Express® AIR MILES®* Platinum Credit Card
- Earn AIR MILES at a faster rate on common expenses and elsewhere
- Yearly 25% redemption bonus when redeeming AIR MILES on travel
- Generous bonus of 2,000 Bonus Miles
- Missing travel insurance like emergency medical, trip cancellation
- Dream and Cash MILES system takes getting used to
Getting the Card: Who and How?
Cardholders who want to apply for the card and be eligible for the 2,000 Bonus Miles can apply through the link on GreedyRates directly. There is no annual income requirement for any American Express card in Canada, and no credit requirement either. That said, we recommend applicants to have at least good to excellent credit, and to consider the other crucial components of creditworthiness such as current utilization ratio, debt-to-income ratio, and more before applying.
The ideal cardholder of the American Express® AIR MILES®* Platinum Credit Card is a Canadian who appreciates the AIR MILES program for its large network of destinations and great service, and who wants a significant boost when earning and redeeming AIR MILES. This is emphasized first and foremost by an accelerated rate on common expenses, but reinforced by a huge introductory bonus, a great flat rate for collecting MILES on all other purchases, and a yearly 25% bonus when redeeming those MILES.
For all this, the card does neglect travel insurance, as it’s missing features such as out-of-province medical and trip cancellation or interruption coverage. Those who have more comprehensive insurance from another card will find it a great complement, but even as a standalone card, AIR MILES travelers will do themselves a favor to consider it.
* This post was not sponsored. The views and opinions expressed in this review are purely my own.