It was 1995 and I had just bought a wallet from a roadside vendor in Mumbai, India. The wallet came with a dummy American Express Green card, made of paper and tucked tightly in the section designed for keeping bank cards. As a teenager in a cash driven economy, anything resembling a credit card was a thing of ‘prestige’ in those days. So, I kept that paper Amex card in my wallet and made sure to flash it every time I opened my wallet (it was a conversation piece). Come to think of it, I preserved that dummy card for an unusual amount of time 🙂
Fast forward to 2008 (Canada) and I was given a corporate card for work travel, first ever Amex card with my name on it, the American Express® Green Card nonetheless. My mind raced back to the wallet in India, with a similar sense of excitement. I could not wait to share my story, brag about my new work card. However, to my surprise and dismay, most friends quipped that an American Express card was not accepted in most places and hence not good for everyday use. Well, I just had to prove them wrong so I used my Amex Green card extensively across ~20 odd countries in 4 continents, at every given opportunity. I booked all my work travel including flights, hotels, meals, taxis, etc. That I had it linked to my personal Membership Rewards (MR) account, also helped :). Not only was I using my card for regular work expenses, I was using it across the globe!
Having tasted the power of the MR points I could earn with Amex, I signed up for the personal Gold card and started using it for my day-to-day personal expenses. Between groceries, restaurants, transit, utility bills, I realized that the there was some truth in the fact that bigger operators or businesses were more likely to accept Amex, compared to the smaller local stores. That was ~2009.
Fast forward some more to 2017, the acceptance of Amex had continued soaring amongst local operators as well. In 2017, Amex Canada had added 70,000 new places that accepted American Express® cards, in addition to the ones that did before. Between my personal Gold and Cobalt cards, Amex was my primary card and I never found myself at a check-out counter asking “Do you accept Amex?” anymore. Not just that, the generous bonus categories helped me earn the points much quicker.
American Express Cobalt Card (Apply Now):
Quick view of earn rates;
- 5x the points on eligible eats and drinks in Canada, including groceries and food delivery
- 2x on Travel and Transit (including flights, hotels, taxis, gas, ride sharing, and transit)
- 1x on all other purchases.
American Express Gold Rewards Card (Apply Now):
Quick view of earn rates;
- 2x at eligible travel purchases, gas stations, grocery stores and drugstores in Canada
- 1x in Card purchases everywhere else
- 1 additional Membership Rewards point for every $1 spent on bookings made with American Express Travel
Acceptance of American Express cards in Canada
In 2018, over 96,000 places in Canada started accepting American Express® Cards. Amex Canada was able to share the following stats with me;
Acceptance of Amex cards for all industries (consolidated):
- 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.
Acceptance of Amex cards broken down by 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 highlight the growing popularity of Amex cards in Canada, Amex Canada has done a great job in keeping an updated Merchant Map which can be used to browse local businesses that accept their cards. Search using postal codes for detailed map view of each neighbourhood.
Not only are American Express cards the best points earning cards in Canada, they are consistently accepted among big and small retailers alike. As the popular adage goes, that myth is definitely busted.