Welcome to another Rewards Canada Clash! This time in our Clash of
the Credit Cards we have two no annual fee credit cards that earn Air
Canada Aeroplan points go against each other! Those cards are the American Express® Green Card and the CIBC Aeroplan® Visa* Card. You will also find this Clash posted on the main Rewards Canada site.
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In this match up we look at over half a dozen criteria to
compare the cards against one another along with a head to head detailed
table comparison. This match up was made possible when American Express
changed things up in August of 2021 by allowing cards like the American
Express Cobalt Card and the American Express Green Card convert their
points directly to Aeroplan instead of having to go through Marriott
Annual Fees / Sign Up Bonus
The first part of this category is easy – there are no annual fees on these cards, zero, zip,nada.
The income requirements for these cards differ slightly but
aren’t hugely different. American Express, does not have any set out
income requirement but approval is based upon your credit rating and
income does likely play a part – there’s just no set minimum. The CIBC
card does have a $15,000 annual income requirement.
When it comes to Aeroplan points the standard sign up bonus
from both cards is the same. The American Express Green Card offers
10,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $1,000 on the card in
the first three months. Those 10,000 Membership Rewards points can be
converted 1:1 to Aeroplan so essentially you have 10,000 Aeroplan
points. The standard bonus on the CIBC Aeroplan Visa Card is 10,000
Aeroplan points which are awarded on your first purchase. So here we
have both cards offering the same welcome bonus when it comes to the
number of Aeroplan points you earn. The Green card does requires some
spending while the CIBC card you could spend as little as $1 and be done
with it. So who wins this category – well that’s a tough one but I
would give the slight edge to the American Express Green Card since the
points can be used for more redemption options than just Aeroplan. I’m
thinking flexibility here even though this feature focuses on Aeroplan
There is a very slight difference in the interest rates
charged on these cards. The CIBC Card is 20.99% on purchases and 22.99%
on cash advances while the American Express card is 20.99% and 21.99%
respectively. While neither is great here this category goes to the
American Express Green Card Card for its 1% better cash advance rate.
Bonus Features & Benefits
As these are no annual fee cards there isn’t very much to
cover in this category as they typically forego benefits for not
The CIBC Aeroplan Visa Card has one benefit to it and that is
the coveted discounted pricing on Aeroplan flight rewards. When the new
Aeroplan program launched in November of 2020 one of the new benefits
that came into effect was discounted flight reward pricing for those who
have Air Canada Elite status and also for those who have an Aeroplan
co-brand credit card. Members can avail of either or both discounts if
they happen to have a co-brand card and elite status. The bigger
discount comes from having a credit card and the elite status adds a
couple more percentage points to that discount.
The American Express Green Card’s benefits are the ones that
are automatically added to any and all American Express cards. Those are
Amex Experiences (includes Front of the Line) and Amex offers. Amex
Experiences provides such things like pre-sale ticket offers for
concerts and entertainment events, special movie screenings and more.
While Amex Offers provides offers to earn statement credits and/or bonus
points when using your card with select retailers.
Recommended reading: Rewards Canada’s Guide to American Express Canada ‘Amex Offers’
Since the focus is on Aeroplan this category has to go to the
CIBC for providing that discount on Aeroplan flight rewards.
Points Earning & Redemption
There are definitely some differences in the cards here for
this round! The American Express Green Card is easy – you earn 1
Membership Rewards points for every $1 in eligible spending. That
equates to 1 Aeroplan per dollar spent. The CIBC Aeroplan Visa card
earns 1 Aeroplan point per dollar spent on Air Canada purchases as well
as gas station and grocery store purchases. All other spending on the
CIBC card comes at a rate of 1 Aeroplan point for every $1.50 spent or
the equivalent of 0.67 Aeroplan points per dollar. As you can see
outside of the three categories where the CIBC card earns 1 point per
dollar it’s earn rate is much lower than that of the American Express
We won’t go into huge detail into the actual
redemption process as that falls into simply redeeming points for
flights with Aeroplan and it is the same for both cards if you are
looking to redeem for Aeroplan flights. I would recommend reading A guide to the new Air Canada Aeroplan program flight reward redemption process to learn more on how to redeem. We will however touch upon a
couple of key points these cards have on the redemption side.
As already mentioned in the benefits section,
the CIBC Aeroplan Visa Card receives preferred pricing on Aeroplan
flight rewards. The question you may ask is how much does the preferred
pricing save a member? Well there isn’t a set amount as it can vary on
the flights you are redeeming for but in our research it can be as high
as 15%. The American Express Green Card on the other hand does not get
that discount but it offers multiple redemption avenues to consider even
if your primary goal is to be with Aeroplan. The American Express Green
Card has a travel option called Fixed points for Travel. This is their
reward chart option that you can use to book travel via American
Express Travel. Think of it as your traditional frequent flyer program
style chart where you redeem a fixed amount of points for travel to a
certain area. For example you can redeem 60,000 points for a flight to
Europe from Canada with a maximum value of $900 before fees and taxes.
Then you also have the Use Points for Purchases redemption option where
you can redeem points at a rate of 1,000 points to $10 for any purchase
you make on the card. And of course you have the conversion options –
Aeroplan obviously, since it is the topic of this clash but you also
have British Airways Executive Club, Air France KLM Flying Blue,
Marriott Bonvoy and a host of other programs you can convert your points
So who’s the winner in the earning and redeeming
category? The American Express Green card for several reasons – even
though it does not have the preferred Aeroplan reward flight pricing
like the CIBC card it’s base earn rate for most categories (1 point vs.
0.67 points) more than makes up for that potential 15% discount. Add in
the additional redemption options and the Green Card takes this
category hands down. I’ll note however (and I do make the same note
again below) ideally you should get yourself both of these cards since
they both don’t have annual fees – that way you can earn more with the
Green Card but then get the discount for having the CIBC card. You get
the best of both worlds.
Much like the benefits category there isn’t a lot of
insurance coverage due to these cards not charging an annual fee but one
card does better than the other here. The CIBC Aeroplan Visa Card
offers Common Carrier Accident Insurance, Car Rental Collision
Loss/Damage Insurance (and good CDW coverage of up to 48 days!) as well
as Purchase Security and Extended Warranty benefits. The American
Express Green Card only offers Purchase Security and Extended Warranty.
The CIBC card definitely takes this round by providing a better more
insurance coverage, namely that excellent car rental benefit!
Having no annual fee options to earn Aeroplan points is a
great way to be introduced to the program for those who are just
starting out in the points and miles world. They are also great options
for those who have a Premium or Ultra Premium
Aeroplan card and want to supplement their earning with a no fee card
from a different issuer. There is one card that does stand out as the
winner though thanks to its overall better earn rates and redemption
options and that’s the American Express Green Card.
The winner of this clash is: American Express® Green Card
Ideally since both of these cards have no annual fee you could
and/or should look at getting both of them – the Amex card for all your
spending except for where you cannot use Amex so you have the CIBC card
covering you there plus you’ll get the preferred Aeroplan award pricing
for having the CIBC card.
The Cards Head to Head:
Yellow background indicates the clear winner
for that category. For rows that do not have yellow in either column it
is a tie between the cards.