Monday, November 7, 2011

American Express Gold Rewards Card: TripFlex Highlight

In my third post focusing on Canada’s #1 Hybrid* credit card, we look at one of the key features that gave it top spot, TripFlex. The TripFlex feature of the American Express Gold Rewards Card gives true definition to the often-used marketing copy of “Travel anywhere at any time.” I have actually twisted that copy a bit, most cards say something to this effect: “Fly any airline at any time” but TripFlex is not limited to flight redemptions as it can be used for any eligible travel purchases. Add to this the low redemption requirements, the 12-month redemption period and the ease of use and you’ll see why this feature helped me rank this card number one in our 2011 Top Travel Rewards Credit Cards rankings.

Redemption requirements
Unlike some other hybrid and travel points cards, with TripFlex you don’t need the full amount of points to redeem; rather you can redeem as little as 1,000 points for a $10 statement credit towards any travel that has been charged to your card. This means if you find a last minute seat sale or book through a travel agent, you can pay for it on your card and call Amex to use your points for a statement credit against the charge. The beauty of not having set redemption levels with TripFlex means you only redeem the amount of points you want or need to, whether it’s the 1,000 points for $10  or 50,000 points for $500. For example, on one of my TripFlex redemptions, my flight came in at $606.93 and I was able to redeem the exact amount of points right down to the penny – and that included the taxes and fees.

Redemption Period
Unlike airline credit cards and many other travel points & hybrid cards, you don’t have to redeem your points before you book your travel with the Gold Rewards Card. In fact, you can be on vacation and put a travel-related charge such as a hotel stay on your card and then redeem your points for that charge when you get home from your trip. Technically speaking, you can redeem points before, during and/or after you travel and you have up to 12 months after the travel charge is posted to your account to redeem your points for a statement credit. Very few cards on the Canadian market offer this sort of redemption flexibility.

Ease of Redemption
Speaking from experience, the process of redeeming my Membership Reward points was extremely easy. I simply called up American Express, said I wanted to redeem my points against a travel charge on my account and after a few questions such as which charge do I want to redeem for and do I want to redeem the full amount or a partial amount of points, it was all said and done. And the statement credit was posted to my account within 3 days of calling in.

As you can see, the TripFlex feature of the Gold Rewards Card provides the utmost in flexibility for travel rewards – and when you combine this with the other features of the card including the ability to transfer points to Aeroplan, 2x points on eligible spending along with a good suite of insurance benefits you can see why I ranked this card #1 in the Hybrid category.

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

* A Hybrid card is a combination of an airline and/or hotel card and a travel points card. You can convert your points to airline or hotel frequent travel programs or use the points to book travel via the credit card's travel agency or with some cards to book travel how you want and then redeem the points against the charge on your account.


  1. I joined the American Express Gold Rewards Card Program as soon as it was made available and quickly piled up the points. It was a pleasure to ditch both my American Express Aerogold as well as my CIBC Visa Aeroplan card as in the past 2 years I was never able to get a flight that I could pair off with a winter cruise. In the past I would book a winter cruise in the first week of August and find an appropriate flight. The drop that spilled the bucket occurred in August of 2010. I called Aeroplan (at a surcharge) and gave the agent a choice of 5 different dates corresponding to 5 different cruises departing from Ft. Lauderdale in either January or February of 2011. He replied that there were no seats available at the standard redemption rates of 25,000 points and that unless I wanted to increase the points needed from 25,000 each to 40,000 points each, i could not get a seat. (And this was 5-6 months in advance!)They don't care how much you have to spend to acquire an additional 30,000 points! In my discussion with the Aeroplan Agent,I was informed that while Air Canada signs up thousands of members each year, they do not proportionately increase the number of seats available at the standard redemption rates! Aeroplan in turn blame Air Canada for holding back the seats until Dec 22 of each year. The agent told me that he had been with Aeroplan for the past 5 years and it's the same routine every year! If you wait until that date, you are playing Russian Roulette trying to match up the flight and cruise. A month ago after returning from a European Cruise, I called Amex to redeem my Gold Rewards. It took 15 minutes on the telephone after being greeted with "Now let me see and do you want to redeem all your points?" before I received a confirmation number. Next time, I will do it online, if there is to be a next time. I have decided to use the Capital One World Aspire card for two reasons. Two points on everything (no discrimination) and the most comprehensive Insurance plan in the Industry. Amex gives you almost everything except trip cancellation insurance. When you buy this from any insurer (including Amex) this costs at least $225.00 (for 2) Add this to your annual credit card expense and you will see how much better the Capital One card Stacks up against the Amex cards.

    In addition we have traded in our Visa Infinite cards for the new 4% Cash Back Scotiabank Visa Momentum Card which Gives us 4% cash back on Groceries and Gas (we plan to use the Capital One card for everything else.
    OH! a word to the wise. We were one of the original holders of a RBC Cash Rewards Card for groceries. Except that they gave us a 5% cash back as advertised for 6 months and quietly reduced the benefits (without advising us)to 1%. We quietly cancelled our relations with the RBC Visa.

    Keep up the good work Patrick!

  2. Thanks for the info and the previous writer.

    Our experience is simliar except better luck with flying to Europe. we book 5 to 7 months in advance and have a 100% success Aeroplan record.

    we also have the Capital One and Amex Gold and we agree with the comments both of you made.