American Express card levels

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

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Publish date May 25, 2019 Views: 547 Comments: 0

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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-$149
  • Credit score requirement: Fair-Good, 670-739
  • Minimum income requirement: none

 Mid-Tier American Express Cards

  • Annual fee: $150-$500
  • Credit score requirement: Fair-Good, 670-739
  • Minimum income requirement: none

 Platinum American Express Cards

  • Annual fee: $699+
  • Credit score requirement: Excellent, 740-900
  • Minimum income requirement: none

 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. Failure to do so will result in a huge interest charge of 30% 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 twenty different card options for Canadians. We’ve chosen three of the most popular cards—the American Express Cobalt card, the American Express Gold Rewards Card, and the American Express Platinum Card—to better compare the differences of American Express levels.

American Express Cobalt

American Express Cobalt Card

Eligibility Criteria:
– Credit score required: 
Fair-Good
– Min personal income required: N/A
– Annual fees: $120

The American Express Cobalt Card is a credit card and would be considered an entry level card. It has a low monthly fee ($10 per month/$120 per year) and any additional cards are free. New cardholders can earn up to 30000 bonus points in the first year if they charge a minimum of $500 to their card during each billing period.

Cardholders will also earn American Express Membership Rewards points for every dollar they spend: 5 points for every $1 at restaurants, stand-alone grocery stores, food delivery, bars, and coffee shops; 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and transit expenses; and 1 point for every $1 spent on everything else. These points can then be redeemed for travel, various merchandise, or toward card statements. You can also transfer your membership points to other loyalty programs that partner with American Express.

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 inclusive insurance plan that includes both travel and shopping protection.

 Click here to learn more about the American Express Cobalt card


American Express Gold Rewards Card

American Express Gold Rewards Card

Eligibility Criteria:
– Credit score required: 
Good-Excellent
– Min personal income required: N/A
– Annual fees: $150

Based on our breakdown of Amex card levels, the American Express Gold Rewards card would be considered a mid-tier card. It’s a charge card and comes with a $150 annual fee. New cardholders can earn a welcome bonus of 25000 Membership Rewards when they charge $1,500 to their card within the first three months.

Eligible travel-related purchases earn 2 points for every $1 spent, as will any purchases at stand-alone gas stations, grocery stores, and drugstores. All other purchases will earn 1 membership reward for every $1 spent. Additionally, you can earn one extra membership reward point for every $1 charged on your card toward car rental or hotel bookings made at americanexpress.ca/travel. Your membership reward points can be redeemed against your credit card statement, transferred to different travel programs (including Aeroplan), or you can use them to book flights with the Fixed Points Travel Program.

Additional perks with this Amex card include travel benefits from The Hotel Collection, privileges with Hertz Car Rentals and comprehensive travel insurance.

Click here to learn more about the American Express Gold Rewards card


The Platinum Card American Express

American Express Platinum Card

Eligibility Criteria:
– Credit score required: 
Good-Excellent
– Min personal income required: N/A
– Annual fees: $699

The American Express Platinum Card is one of the highest levels of Amex cards (Centurion card aside). It is a charge card and comes with an annual fee of $699. Additional cards are $175 per year. New cardholders will receive a 50000 welcome membership rewards bonus when they spend $3,000 within the first three months. On top of that, cardholders will receive a $200 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 experiences charged to the card will earn 3 points for every $1 spent; travel purchases earn 2 points for every $1 spent; all other 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 learn more about the American Express Platinum Card

American Express Card Level Comparison Chart

 Amex Cobalt (Entry Level)Amex Gold Rewards (Mid-Tier)Amex Platinum (Premium)
Annual Fee$120$150$699
Sign Up Bonus30000 pts25000 pts50000 pts
Accelerated Earn Rate5 pts / $2 pts / $3 pts / $
Airline Transfer PartnersNoYesYes
Hotel Transfer PartnersYesYesYes
Travel InsuranceGoodGoodExcellent
Additional BenefitsAmex InvitesAmex Invites; Extra points on hotel or car rental bookings made with American Express Travel.Amex Invites; $200 travel credit; hotel status upgrades.

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.

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