Amex Card Levels - How to Choose the Right American Express Card for You

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Last updated on June 10, 2022

American Express cards are some of the most popular in the Canadian market. They typically offer lots of great perks, strong bonuses, and with no minimum income requirement, they’re an accessible choice for many. However, there are plenty of options out there, and trying to figure out American Express credit card levels can be a confusing journey. In this article, we’re going to show you an easy way to compare Amex card levels so you can find the best card to suit your needs.

American Express Card Levels Explained

American Express Card Levels ExplainedUnlike Visa and Mastercard, American Express doesn’t have a formal tiered system (except for its Aeroplan and Air Miles cards). However, if you are looking for ways to better categorize American Express cards, you can take our approach.

We’ve divided the cards into four different levels based on annual fees and requirements. As a general rule, normally the higher the level of card, the better the benefits and perks (as you will see in our comparison later).

Entry-Level American Express Cards

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Credit score requirement: Fair-Good, 670-739

 Mid-Tier American Express Cards

  • Annual fee: $0–$250
  • Credit score requirement: Fair-Good, 670-739

 Premium American Express Cards

  • Annual fee: $250–$699
  • Credit score requirement: Excellent, 740-900

The American Express Centurion Card

The Amex Centurion (or Amex Black) is the highest level American Express card, but it has a very elite, invite-only membership and Amex does not officially publish its information. We’ll discuss this in further detail later on in the article.

Two Types of Cards

Those interested in applying for an Amex card should know that American Express provides two types of cards: charge cards and credit cards. No option is necessarily better than the other, but they do work very differently and it’s important to understand the distinction between the two.

Credit cards allow cardholders to make their purchase on credit up to a certain amount (your credit limit). Credit cardholders will be billed at the end of the month, but don’t have to pay back the entire amount to be able to continue using the card. While not paying back the entire amount owed on the monthly due date can incur interest charges, the key here is that credit cards offer flexibility. Credit cards also tend to have lower annual fees.

Charge cards act the same way as a credit card in that you make your purchases and receive a bill at the end of the month. However, with a charge card, the cardholder is required to pay back the entire amount of money used on the due date shown on the monthly statement. Failure to do so will result in a high interest charge (in accordance with your Cardmember Agreement, Information Box, and Disclosure statement) of the balance and the potential loss of the card. Additionally, unlike credit cards, charge cards have no spending limit and they may have higher annual fees than credit cards.

American Express Credit Cards Ranked by Card Level

American Express currently offers around twenty different card options for Canadians. We’ve chosen three of the most popular cards to better compare the differences of American Express levels.

The SimplyCashTM Card from American Express

Apply Now
Who’s Eligible?
– Minimum Credit Score: Fair-Good
– Minimum Income: N/A 
– Age: 18+/Age of majority
– Residency: Canadian Resident

The SimplyCashTM Card from American Express offers very high cash back rates for an entry-level card with no annual fee. New cardholders get 4% cash back on all purchases for the first six months, on up to $5,000 spent (max $200 cash back). After that the rate drops to a still very high 1.25% back on all eligible purchases, with no limits to the total amount of cash back you can accumulate.

As an entry-level credit card, its benefits beyond the high cash back rate are somewhat scant, but it does nonetheless come with travel accident insurance, as well as extended warranty and purchase protection on all the items you purchase with the card.

Click here to apply or learn more by reading our complete SimplyCashTM Card from American Express review.

American Express Cobalt® Card

Apply Now
Who’s Eligible?
– Minimum Credit Score: Fair-Good
– Minimum Income: N/A
– Age: Age of majority in province/territory
– Residency: Canadian resident

The American Express Cobalt® Card is a credit card and is considered a mid-tier card by American Express standards. It has a low $155.88 ($12.99 monthly fee) annual fee and any additional cards are free. New cardholders can earn up to 30,000 Membership Rewards® points (conditions apply).

Cardholders earn 5 points for every dollar they spend in stand-alone grocery stores, at restaurants, or on food delivery services; 3 points for every $1 spent on eligible streaming services; 2 points for every $1 spent on travel, transit, and gas; and 1 point for every $1 spent on everything else. These points can then be redeemed for a credit against a card statement, for travel, gift cards, or on Amazon.ca purchases. They can also be transferred to other popular travel programs like Aeroplan and Avios.

Additional benefits offered by the American Express Cobalt® Card include perks with properties of The Hotel Collection, entertainment access via American Express Invites, and an insurance plan that includes both travel and shopping protection.

 Click here to apply or learn more by reading our complete American Express Cobalt® Card review.

The Platinum Card®

Apply Now
Who’s Eligible?
– Minimum Credit Score: Good-Excellent
– Minimum Income: N/A
– Age: 18+/Age of majority
– Residency: Canadian Resident

The Platinum Card® is one of the highest levels of Amex cards (Centurion card aside). It comes with an annual fee of $699. Additional cards are $175 per year. New Platinum® Cardmembers earn 60,000 Welcome Bonus points after you charge $6,000 in net purchases to your Card in your first 3 months of Cardmembership. Plus, earn 20,000 points when you make a purchase between 14 and 17 months of Cardmembership. Terms and conditions apply. Combined, that’s up to $800 in statement credits that can be used towards extra leg room on your next flight, or a weekend away at the spa charged to your card. On top of that, cardholders will receive a $200 CAD annual travel credit which can be used toward a single travel booking worth $200+ made through America Express Travel Online or through the Platinum Card Travel Service (and charged to your card).

Eligible dining and food delivery in Canada charged to the card will earn 3 points for every $1 spent; eligible travel purchases earn 2 points for every $1 spent; all other card purchases earn 1 point for every dollar spent.

Cardholders can also take advantage of additional benefits including unlimited airport lounge access for yourself and one companion, automatic gold status in several hotel programs, Amex entertainment benefits, Toronto Pearson Airport benefits, entry to Amex’s International Airline Program, and a comprehensive travel insurance package.

Click here to apply or learn more by reading our complete The Platinum Card® review.

American Express Card Level Comparison Chart

 SimplyCashTM Card from American Express (Entry Level)American Express Cobalt® Card (Mid-Tier)The Platinum Card® (Premium)
Annual Fee$0$155.88 ($12.99 monthly fee)$699
Sign-Up Bonus4% cash back for first six months (conditions apply)Up to 30,000 Membership Rewards® points (conditions apply)Up to 80,000 Membership Rewards® points (conditions apply)
Accelerated Earn Rate1.25%5 pts / $13 pts / $1
Travel InsuranceMinimalGoodExcellent
Additional BenefitsMinimalAmex Invites; transfer points to other programs$200 travel credit; hotel status upgrades; unlimited lounge access; Amex Invites; transfer points to other programs

What Is the Highest Level American Express Card?

The highest level American Express card is the Centurion card, which is also known as the ‘black card.’ However, it’s available only by invitation from American Express, meaning you can’t just apply for it as you would the other cards mentioned in this article.

So, how do you get invited? It seems many invitees are chosen from existing American Express cardholders, particularly Platinum cardholders. Cardholders generally need to charge a very high amount to their cards (perhaps above $100K) to be invited.

Those invited to become Centurion cardholders will need to pay a very significant annual fee (estimated at $2,500) in addition to a one-time initiation fee of around $7,500.

But reports of the card’s benefits indicate that those sky-high fees might be worth it. Centurion cardholders have access to a personal travel concierge; flight upgrades; companion tickets; free hotel nights; highest-level airport lounge access; and are exempt from foreign transaction fees, among numerous other rumoured benefits.

This post was not sponsored. The views and opinions expressed in this review are purely my own.

American Express is not responsible for maintaining or monitoring the accuracy of information on this website. For full details and current product information click the Apply now link. Conditions apply.

Author Bio

Hannah Logan
Hannah Logan is a freelance finance and travel writer/blogger based in Ottawa. Her stories have appeared on Fodor’s Travel, Livestrong, World Nomads, Intrepid Travel, and more. You can keep up with her at Eatsleepbreathetravel.com or follow her on Twitter and Instagram: hannahlogan21.

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