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Get More Points with Referral Programs

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Last updated on June 16, 2022 Comments: 4

The specific referral bonuses mentioned in this page are dated to September 2021, and may have since changed. Contact American Express and KOHO for the most up-to-date referral bonus figures.

There are lots of ways to make the most of your credit card’s assets. Perks like price protection, travel insurance, rental car discounts, welcome bonuses, and other thrifty features can add up to a nice chunk of change over time. But even the most avid Canadian bargain hunters often fail to take advantage of a very lucrative and easy-to-use credit card perk: the ‘refer a friend’ program.

What Is a Credit Card Referral Program?

You’ve likely referred a friend before for a job position or to sign up for a loyalty program in order to earn a bonus. A credit card refer a friend program functions in a similar way. You’ll get extra bonus rewards points every time a friend or family member successfully applies for a credit card you recommended. In order for you to receive the referral bonus, the applicant must use a special email or link code to apply for the card and the application must be approved by the card’s issuer.

While it sounds like an easy way to earn a ton of points, don’t get overly excited yet. Unlike in the USA where referral programs are a lot more common, in Canada there are currently very few card issuers that offer referral bonuses.

Cards with a Refer a Friend Bonus

Credit CardRefer a Friend BonusWelcome BonusAnnual FeeApply
The SimplyCashTM Preferred Card from American Express$100 cash back per referral, up to $1,500 annually10% cash back on every purchase in the first 4 months (up to $400 cash back)$99Apply now
American Express® Gold Rewards Card7,500 Membership Rewards points per referral, up to 112,500 annuallyUp to 50,000 Membership Rewards® (conditions apply)$250Apply now
American Express® AIR MILES®* Platinum Credit Card300 AIR MILES per referral, up to 4500 annually2,000 miles (conditions apply)$120Apply now
Business Platinum Card® from American Express20,000 Membership Rewards® points per referral, up to 225K annuallyEarn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points (conditions apply)$499Apply now
KOHO Prepaid Mastercard®$20 each for you and referred friendN/A$0Apply now

The SimplyCashTM Preferred Card from American Express

Apply Now
Eligibility Criteria:
– Credit score required: Good-Excellent
– Min personal income required: $0
– Annual fee:

The referral deal with the SimplyCashTM Preferred Card from American Express nets an impressive $100 each time you successfully refer a friend or family member—enough to cover the card’s $99 annual fee. You can rack up the referrals until you reach a maximum bonus of $1,500 per year.

The Preferred card has a very enticing 4-month welcome period where new cardholders earn 10% cash back on every single purchase (capped at $400 cash back). Afterwards, when the welcome rate ends, you receive 2% cash back with no limits to the total amount of cash back you can earn. Those who prefer a card with no annual fee can check out the entry-level SimplyCashTM Card, which also has a referral deal (albeit less remunerative, at $50 per referral).

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

American Express® Gold Rewards Card

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


The American Express® Gold Rewards Card nabs Amex Membership Rewards for its referrals: 7,500 points each, up to 112,500 annually. The points are worth $0.01 each when applied as a credit to your card statement, which gives each referral bonus a decent value of $75, but you can potentially get more value for your points if you redeem them for travel via the Fixed Points Travel Program. You can also pump up your points’ value by transferring them to other rewards programs, like Aeroplan and Avios.

The card has a hefty annual fee of $250, but the welcome offer allows you to earn enough bonus points to almost cover that for the first two years.

New cardholders earn up to 50,000 Membership Rewards® points – that’s $500 in statement credits towards your next flight or dinner out with friends that has been charged to the card.

  • New American Express® Gold Rewards Cardmembers can earn a Welcome Bonus of 40,000 points when you charge $3,000 in purchases to your Card in your first 3 months of Cardmembership.
  • Plus, earn an additional 10,000 points when you make a purchase between 14 and 17 months of Cardmembership.
  • Terms and conditions apply.

The card earns 2 points for every $1 in Card purchases at eligible gas stations, grocery stores, and drugstores in Canada, and for eligible travel purchases. Earn 1 point for every $1 in Card purchases everywhere else.

Click here to apply for the American Express® Gold Rewards Card.

American Express® Air Miles®* Platinum Credit Card

Apply Now
Who’s Eligible?
– Minimum Credit Score: Good-Excellent
– Minimum Income: $0

Widespread popularity of the AIR MILES program certainly boosts the chances that a friend or family member will want to sign up for the American Express® Air Miles®* Platinum Credit Card, which would garner you 300 miles, up to 4,500 per year. Each mile’s value can range from less than ten cents to more than twenty cents, depending on what it’s redeemed for—splitting that down the middle means one referral would get you the equivalent of about $45 in value. That’s decent, but not amazing.

Fortunately the card’s regular earn rates are quite good. You get one mile per $5 spent at stand-alone grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, and on local transit, and one mile per $10 spent on everything else. New cardholders who make at least $1,500 in purchases within the first three months can get a welcome bonus of 2,000 AIR MILES, which should be worth enough to make up for the card’s $120 annual fee for two years and then some.

Click here to apply or learn more about the card by reading our complete American Express® AIR MILES®* Platinum Credit Card review.

Business Platinum Card® from American Express

Apply Now
Who’s Eligible?
– Minimum Credit Score: Good-Excellent
– Minimum Income: N/A

The Business Platinum Card offers the most valuable referral bonus of them all, at a massive 20,000 Membership Rewards® points a pop, and up to 225,000 points per year. Cardholders might also occasionally be offered special deals where they can get more than 20K points for a single referral—capitalizing on one of those can go a long way toward offsetting the card’s rather high $499 annual fee.

Even if you don’t manage to get a referral bonus, the card might still be worthwhile for businesses with frequent travel costs, as it allows both you and 1-2 travel guest (e.g. coworkers and colleagues) free access to a wide range of airport lounges; special benefits at a number of global hotels; and a comprehensive travel insurance package, among other travel perks. New cardholders can earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points as a welcome bonus when you spend $6,000 in purchases within the first three months of Cardmembership. That’s $800 in statement credits that can be reinvested in your business. Terms and conditions apply.

Click here to apply for the Business Platinum Card® from American Express.

KOHO Prepaid Mastercard®

Apply Now
Who’s Eligible?
– Minimum Credit Score: Fair-Good
– Minimum Income: $0
– Age: You must be the age of majority in your home province
– Residency: Canadian

KOHO’s referral bonus may be a relatively modest $20, but it’s noteworthy because $20 is awarded to both the person who initiates the referral *and* the recipient of the referral. This mutual benefit might go a long way in convincing your friends to sign up. Each cardholder is limited to a maximum of 50 referrals ($1000 worth of referral bonuses) for the lifetime of their KOHO account.

If you get the basic version of the card with no annual fee you will earn 0.5% back on each purchase. You also have the option of paying the annual fee of $84 (or $9/month) for the KOHO Premium version, which earns 2% cash back on groceries, restaurants, gas, and transit—in addition to the base 0.5% cash back for all other purchases. Cardholders for both card versions can also benefit from earning 1.2% in interest on their account balances, provided they schedule direct deposit into their account.

It’s important to note that both KOHO’s basic and premium cards are prepaid cards, not credit cards, so your use of the card won’t affect your credit score and you have to load the card with funds before you spend.

Click here to apply or learn more by reading our complete KOHO review.

How to Refer a Friend to a Card

American Express Cards

American Express makes it simple to access the referral benefit:

  1. Cardholders log in to a special American Express refer a friend Canada website.
  2. Once you’re logged in, you select which specific card you want to refer.
  3. The website then provides you with a special personal link that can be sent out via email (or cut and pasted to send out via text) to give to select friends and family to whom you want to refer the card. You will then receive the referral bonus points as long as your friend uses the specified link and their application is approved.

An important note of caution: Be careful about whom you refer. In the fine print, Amex clearly states that you can’t send out the link willy-nilly in hopes of getting as many bonus referral points as possible. Amex notes, “If this is a personal or family referral, you agree to only make recommendations to known friends and family members with whom you have a relationship and who have confirmed to you that they want to receive this communication. If this is a referral in the context of your business, you agree to only make recommendations to business contacts whom you know and have consented to receive this recommendation from you. You must not send recommendations to people you do not know.”

If you breach these rules, Amex reserves the right to cancel your own card. But as long as you follow the guidelines, it’s a classic win-win situation: your friend gets a great, rewards-rich card and you get a nice pot of extra points. For privacy reasons, Amex will not contact you to let you know who has applied and if they’ve been successful. It can take between 8 to 10 weeks for the referral bonus to be applied to your account.

KOHO Cards

Existing KOHO cardholders can get a referral code by going to the ‘Perks’ tab in their KOHO app. The cardholder can then share the code with their friend; if the friend signs up and makes a purchase within 30 days of registering, both the cardholder who sent the referral and the newly referred cardholder get the $20 bonus.

Tips for Using Your Refer a Friend Perk

It can be tempting to tell everyone you know about this perk so that you can reap as many bonuses as possible, but you risk making people feel uncomfortable if you’re too pushy about getting them to sign up for a credit card they might not need. So, how can you make the most of referral bonuses while not provoking the ire of your friends and family? Here are some etiquette tips to keep in mind:

  • Let the topic arise naturally. Don’t corner your friends with a credit card offer, but rather, if a related topic comes up in a conversation, mention it to them. For example, if they mention they’re looking to switch credit cards or looking for a way to rack up more hotel and travel points, you can bring up a relevant Amex card.
  • Think of what’s important to your friends or family. Do you have friends who are new parents and could use the cash back perks? Perhaps you have a cousin who travels often. When recommending a credit card, try and tailor it to each specific person’s spending needs.
  • Bring it up on social media. You don’t want to refer a credit card to strangers, but maybe some long-distance friends or online followers are looking for an opportunity to sign up for a new card. Ask on your social channels if anyone is looking to sign up for a new credit card or if someone wants more information. You never know who you might draw in.
  • Don’t pressure your friends. If someone rejected your offer or said they signed up and you don’t know if they have yet, avoid badgering them. At the end of the day, you don’t know the status of everyone’s finances and it’s possible they don’t want to apply for a new card at the moment for a variety of reasons, such as a low credit score.

A Win-Win Perk

The refer a friend perk is one of the easiest credit card bonuses to take advantage of. Think of it this way: if you enjoy having a credit card with a generous rewards program and helpful extra perks that save you cash, your friends and family will probably like it too.

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.

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


Author Bio

Sandra MacGregor
Sandra MacGregor has been writing about finance and travel for nearly a decade. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications like the New York Times, the UK Telegraph, the Washington Post, and the Toronto Star. She spends her free time travelling, and has lived around the globe, including in Paris, South Korea and Cape Town. You can follow her on Twitter at @MacgregorWrites.

Article comments

Salman says:

Hi, Very information article. I got the referral from a gold card holder (mywife). But when I click on the link, Platinum card is not one of the options to chose from. Any advice? Thanks,

GreedyRates says:

Hi Salman, thanks for your question. If your wife referred you to become a cardholder of the Amex Gold Rewards card, then you’ll only be able to apply for that card or others in the same tier, and not cards that have stricter requirements and greater perks. If she was a Platinum cardholder, then the referral she sent you would invite you to sign up for the Platinum card, for example. We suggest calling Amex and asking if this is intentional, because it sounds like this obstacle is preventing you from becoming a customer. Report the issue to customer service (Amex representatives are usually very friendly and easy to work with) and they’ll help you get the result you want.

GreedyRates Staff

Salman says:

Thank you, I will try that and update here as well.

Salman says:

Hi, I did call them and they told me that there is no way to override what it shown. So for Platinum Card it has to be a new application and referral bonus will not be applicable. Thanks!