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Thursday, September 5, 2019

Debunking the myth of American Express Cards not being widely accepted

This post was sponsored by Amex Bank of Canada. The views and opinions expressed in this blog, however, are purely my own.


One comment I hear time and time again from our readers is that they don’t want an American Express card because the cards aren’t widely accepted. They come to us for advice on getting a new credit card and this is one of the statements that I usually find in their initial email to us. I then proceed to help educate them on the truth surrounding the cards and that they should really consider an American Express. Two of the main reasons why are that American Express cards are some of the most rewarding cards in Canada - if you are looking to rack up lots of points that have value and are flexible to use, you want to go with American Express and the second reason is increased acceptance.

Over the past few years American Express has been aggressive in adding new merchants to their portfolio. In 2017 alone, American Express are added over 70,000 retailers and this was topped in 2018 with over 96,000 new retailers in Canada starting to accept the cards. This is not even limited to brick and mortar stores - most online retailers or small business using third party payment processing to accept cards, accept American Express. I can speak from personal experience that when I am at my daughters' sporting events, the companies taking and selling the photos and videos, have all accepted American Express via their card reader attached to their iPad or iPhone thanks to those third party payment processors! Here are some stats provided by American Express breaking down some of the 96,000+ new retailers added in 2018:
  • Over 47,000 Service provider locations in Canada started accepting American Express® Cards in 2018.
  • Over 27,000 Shopping locations in the Canada started accepting American Express® Cards in 2018.
  • Over 16,500 Dining locations in Canada started accepting American Express® Cards in 2018.
and by major city
  • Over 20,000 places in the Toronto area started accepting American Express® Cards in 2018
  • Over 10,000 places in the Montreal area started accepting American Express® Cards in 2018.
  • Over 9,000 places in the Vancouver area started accepting American Express® Cards in 2018
  • Over 5,000 places in the Calgary area started accepting American Express® Cards in 2018.
To further educate cardmembers about card acceptance and encourage them to use their cards at non major retailers, American Express also has their Shop Small program, which is a map based feature on the American Express website that allows you to find small merchants who accept the cards. I find myself regularly looking at the map to see who accepts the cards. You'd be surprised at the type of merchants who do accept the cards - my daughters were out shopping (they are additional cardholders under my wife's accounts) and were able to even use an American Express card at a second hand vintage clothing store.

Continuing on personal experience of using the cards I would say close to 95% of all of the purchases that the Rewards Canada household has, are placed on our American Express cards. From dining to cell phone bills to travel, almost all of our spending is put on American Express cards. We have four different Amex cards in our family and here is a breakdown of how we utilize them for our purchases:
If you want to learn more about the various American Express cards that are available to Canadians I would suggest you start with our American Express summary page as this lists all the cards with all their features. If you don't currently have an American Express card but are thinking of getting one, I would recommend starting with any one of these three cards first and then adding more once you are up to speed with them:
  • American Express Cobalt™ Card In your first year as a new Cobalt Cardmember, you can earn 2,500 Membership Rewards® points for each monthly billing period in which you spend $500 in net purchases on your Card. This could add up to 30,000 points in a year.
  • American Express Gold Rewards Card
    New American Express® Gold Rewards Cardmembers can earn a Welcome Bonus of 25,000 Membership Rewards® points just by making $1,500 in purchases in the first three months of Cardmembership.
  • SimplyCash Preferred Card from American Express
    New SimplyCashTM Preferred Card from American Express Cardmembers can earn 5% cash back on all eligible purchases (up to $300 cash back) for the first 6 months of Cardmembership.
 Further resources that can help you in your points and miles journey:

Title Image source: Reddit

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