Wednesday, April 6, 2022

American Express continues to significantly expand acceptance of their cards in Canada

One comment I hear repeatedly 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 why they should really consider adding an American Express card to their credit card portfolio. Two of the main reasons why I do is 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 a continuing push for increased acceptance. 

Is American Express as widely accepted Visa or Mastercard? No, that part is true and any good credit card portfolio should have a Visa and/or a Mastercard in it as well to cover those places that don't accept Amex but in reality they aren't as far off as many of the people I talk to think they are. American Express covers a major portion of retailers that Visa and Mastercard do (80-90%) and over the last six years they have been aggressive in adding new merchants to their portfolio. In 2017 they added over 70,000 new retailers, 2018 saw over 96,000 new retailers in Canada, 2020 saw over 79,000 and 2021 had over 86,500 retailers starting to accept the cards. Those numbers are not even limited to brick and mortar stores - many online retailers or small businesses using third party payment processing to accept cards, accept American Express. Here are some stats provided by American Express breaking down some of the 86,500+ new retailers added in 2021:

  • Over 41,600 Service provider locations in Canada started accepting American Express® Cards in 2021.
  • Over 22,100 Shopping locations in the Canada started accepting American Express® Cards in 2021.
  • Over 16,300 Dining locations in Canada started accepting American Express® Cards in 2021.
and by major city
  • Over 15,800 places in the Toronto area started accepting American Express® Cards in 2021.
  • Over 10,300 places in the Montreal area started accepting American Express® Cards in 2021.
  • Over 7,800 places in the Vancouver area started accepting American Express® Cards in 2021.
  • Over 4,500 places in the Calgary area started accepting American Express® Cards in 2021.
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® Green Card (No annual fee)
    As a new American Express® Green Cardmember, you can earn a Welcome Bonus of 10,000 Membership Rewards® points when you charge $1,000 in purchases to your Card in the first 3 months of Cardmembership
  • SimplyCash™ Preferred Card from American Express
    New SimplyCash™ Preferred Card from American Express Cardmembers can earn 10% cash back on all eligible purchases (up to $400 cash back) for the first 4 months of Cardmembership
 Further resources that can help you in your points and miles journey:

This post was NOT sponsored by Amex Bank of Canada. 

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