The American Express Essential Credit Card Review
A large outstanding balance on a credit card can be a stressful weight to carry, and after bearing this debt for a long time, high interest rates may make it difficult to finally pay off.
Fortunately, those who have had issues with this in the past can get a head start on their obligations with the American Express Essential credit card. Cardholders who transfer their balance from another card or account enjoy 6 months of paying just 1.99%, providing relief from high rates and the peace of mind to erase outstanding debts.
At a Glance
- 1.99% APR on balance transfers for the first 6 months
- 8.99% regular APR
- No annual fee
- Free supplementary cards
- Buyer’s purchase protections
- Easy eligibility
- World-class service from American Express
- Front of the Line event access
A large outstanding balance on a credit card can be a stressful weight to carry, and after bearing this debt for a long time, high interest rates may make it difficult to finally pay off. Fortunately, those who have had issues with this in the past can get a head start on their obligations with the American Express Essential credit card. Cardholders who transfer their balance from another card or account enjoy 6 months of paying just 1.99%, providing relief from high rates and the peace of mind to erase outstanding debts.
While this benefit certainly is not unique among other issuers, competing cards rarely offer cardholders a low interest rate after this introductory period as well.
Why We Like It:
- No Annual Fee: The lack of any annual fee on primary and supplementary cards represents savings of hundreds of dollars over time, as many similar cards charge up to $70 per year just for being a member. This benefit aligns well with the other money-saving functions inherent in the Essential card, providing a great solution for those individuals who want to put every dollar they save towards reducing their debt.
- Dual-Rate Deal: The Essential card offers a special balance transfer rate of 1.99% for 6 months, but those who are not successful in reducing their balance to zero at the end of this introductory period can also access competitive rates after the promotion expires. After the promotion period, cardholders can enjoy a rate of 8.99% on their balance. Competing cards typically offer an APR around 20% after the promo period ends.
- Purchase Protections: Buyers can rest assured that their expensive purchases made with the card receive extra protection. All warranties on items bought with the American Express Essential card receive an extension of up to a year, and new items are insured against damage or theft for 90 days after purchase.
- Easy Eligibility: Often a low credit score or smaller household income will hold back the neediest individuals from gaining access to the tools that can help them most. But entry barriers to the American Express Essential card are relatively minimal. In order to qualify, applicants must be Canadian residents with an existing credit file, which indicates some history of taking out a loan or using a credit card. They also must be at or above their provincial or territorial age of majority, along with a minimum income of $15,000 per year.
- AmEx Services: Members of American Express have an added advantage wherever they happen to be, in that many potentially lifesaving services are at their beck and call. Emergency card replacement, 24/7 customer service, fraud protection and prevention tools, along with $100,000 worth of travel accident insurance, help cardholders keep their cool in urgent circumstances.
- Front of the Line: Receive priority status at the most exclusive events with American Express’ Front of the Line service, which grants cardholders access to a dashboard that lets them reserve spots and buy tickets for the year’s hottest upcoming events. Concerts, movies, restaurants and more apply.
Card Type and Interest Rate
The American Express Essential card is classified by Amex as a ‘credit card,’ rather than a charge card (which has higher interest rates). The card comes with an 8.99% interest rate on purchases and cash advances.*
Purchase interest rates can increase to 23.99% and/or 26.99% in the event that multiple payment dates are missed. Be sure to read through the card’s other relevant interest rates before you apply.*
American Express Essential Credit Card Fees
|Supplementary Card Fee||$0 each|
|Foreign Transaction Fee||2.5%|
|Funds Advanced||$2.75 each|
|Balance Transfer/Amex Cheque||3% each|
Eligibility requires Canadian residency, a Canadian credit file and age of majority in the province or territory where you live.
Is It Worth It?
For those who are having difficulty paying off their remaining balance and want to take advantage of a worthwhile balance transfer deal, there are few better options than the one offered by American Express with their Essential credit card. A low promotional APR rate of 1.99% is followed by a low regular rate of 8.99%, giving cardholders a break from the high rates that are keeping them from resolving their debts. Alongside some valuable features from American Express, like extended warranties and other purchase assurances, a lack of any annual fee helps bolster the benefits for this card.
*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.