American Express Membership Rewards Canada

Jack Prenter, Founder of Dollarwise

American Express Membership Rewards (Amex MR) is a premier loyalty program in Canada, offering cardholders the opportunity to receive points that they can spend on a variety of rewards. 

While the precise value of an Amex MR point can fluctuate based on the chosen redemption method, many consider it to be approximately 1 cent per point, particularly for travel-related expenses. 

We will provide an analysis of AMEX MR Points and their value, as well as explain key strategies to maximize what they offer. 

Let’s first dive into how American Express Membership Rewards in Canada work.

Understanding AMEX membership rewards

What are american express membership rewards points?

American Express Membership Rewards Points (Amex MR Points) are a crucial part of the American Express loyalty program in Canada. These points serve as a form of currency that cardholders accumulate through their spending activities using eligible American Express credit cards. 

Each dollar spent on these cards typically translates into a certain number of Membership Rewards points, varying based on the card and specific spending category.

Amex MR points can be gathered through various spending avenues, with specific cards offering bonus points on categories like dining, groceries, travel, and more, allowing cardholders to gather points at an accelerated rate based on their spending habits.

Amex MR Points offer versatility in their usage, allowing cardholders to redeem them for an array of rewards, including travel, merchandise, gift cards, statement credits, and more. 

How to earn AMEX MR points?

There are three primary AMEX cards that you can use to get AMEX MR Points. The semantics of each card differ from each other, but you can use multiple cards at the same time to get even more AMEX Points and combine welcome bonuses. 

You can also refer friends to the cards you have, increasing their points gain. For instance, the AMEX Platinum Card usually has a welcome bonus of 70-80K points, but by using a referral link, this bonus can increase to more than 80K

Here’s a breakdown of what you can get with each AMEX card:

AMEX cobalt card:

  • Fee: $12.99/Mo ($155.88 yearly)
  • Earning Points based on monthly purchases: 1,250 points monthly for spending $750 every month for 12 months (15,000 points total)
  • Earning Points based on general spending:
    • 5 Points/$1 on food and drinks
    • 3 Points/$1 on streaming services
    • 2 Points/$1 on travel
    • 1 Point/$1 on all other purchases

AMEX platinum card:

  • Fee: $799/Yr
  • Earning Points based on monthly purchases: 70,000 points for spending $10,000 in the first 3 months of card ownership
  • Get 30,000 additional points for any purchases between the 14th and 17th month of card ownership
  • Earning Points based on general spending:
    • 2 Points/$1 on travel and dining
    • 1 Point/$1 on all other purchases
  • Additional card rewards:
    • $200 annual dining credit
    • $200 annual travel credit
    • Hotel status upgrades
    • Unlimited access to the airport lounge

AMEX gold rewards card:

  • Fee: $250/Yr
  • Earning Points based on monthly purchases: 5,000 points monthly for spending $1,000 every month for 12 months (60,000 points total)
  • Get 10,000 additional points for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months of card ownership
  • Earning points based on general spending:
    • 2 Points/$1 on pharmacy, grocery, gas, and travel purchases
    • 1 Point/$1 on all other purchases
  • Additional card rewards:
    • $100 annual travel credit
    • 4 annual Plaza Premium passes & Priority Pass Membership

How to redeem AMEX MR points?

There are 5 possible options for redeeming AMEX MR Points in Canada, making it easy for cardholders to enjoy all of the benefits of owning an American Express card. 

Travel redemptions

When it comes to redeeming American Express Membership Rewards Points for travel, cardholders will find that there is plenty of flexibility. Points can be used to book flights, hotels, and other travel-related expenses directly through the Amex Travel Portal or by transferring points to partner airline and hotel loyalty programs. 

This flexibility allows for options in choosing airlines, accommodations, and travel dates. Comparatively, using points for travel tends to offer better value than converting them into statement credits, as the latter typically diminishes the point value.

Fixed points travel program

The Fixed Points Travel Program by American Express provides a structured way to redeem points for flights. Cardholders can book flights at a fixed points rate based on specific geographic zones and travel distances. Here’s a quick breakdown:

RegionsRoutesRequired PointsMaximum Base Ticket Price
Canada/US (Short Haul)Popular Routes:
Calgary – Vancouver
Montreal – New York
Toronto – Montreal
Toronto – New York
Toronto – Ottawa
Going within/from a Canadian
territory/province to an adjacent Canadian territory/province/US State (except the State of Alaska)
Canada/US (Long Haul)Going from a Canadian territory/province to a non-adjacent Canadian territory/province/US State (except the States of Alaska and Hawaii)40,000$700
Alaska, Bermuda, Caribbean, Central America, Hawaii, MexicoCanada to all the mentioned regions/countries50,000$800
EuropeCanada to all destinations in Europe60,000$900
WorldwideCanada to destinations all over the world (Africa, Asia, Australia, Middle East, New Zealand, South America, South Pacific)100,000$1,700

Source: AmericanExpress

The most interesting part about this is that you should always go for the sweet spot. For instance, if you were to fly to any Caribbean nation, you’d ‘pay’ 50,000 points for it (if the fare isn’t more than $800).

You’d need $500 for 50,000 points so if your ticket cost comes out between $501 and $800, you’re better off using the Fixed Points Travel Program instead of getting a statement credit for the same amount (1 cent/1 Point).

In essence, you can get up to 2 cents/1 Point when using the FPTP (Fixed Points Travel Program). Of course, this depends on the destination and ticket price.

Note: Only round-trip flight tickets are eligible for the FPTP. 

Gift cards

Redeeming Amex MR Points for gift cards offers a straightforward and practical option. Points can be exchanged for gift cards from various retailers, restaurants, and entertainment establishments. 

The value of points when used for gift cards can vary based on the specific brand or merchant. Keep in mind that the points value for all gift card options is the same at .79 cents/1 Point:

  • $50 gift card – 6,500 points needed
  • $100 gift card – 13,000 points needed
  • $250 gift card – 32,500 points needed

There are sales on occasion where you can get 1 cent out of a single point which makes it even with travel redemptions. 

But you shouldn’t wait for sales; statement credits give a value of 1 cent per point so it’s best to redeem your points as a statement credit to get the most value out of the gift cards. 


Cardholders have the option to redeem Amex Membership Rewards Points for merchandise through the Amex online catalogue. The catalogue typically includes various items such as electronics, home goods, fashion accessories, and more. 

While this redemption option provides a range of choices, the value per point may vary across different items. Generally, merchandise redemptions may not offer the same value as travel-related redemptions and most fall in the .7 – .75 cents per point range. The same statement credit strategy applies here. 

Some popular categories of merchandise that you can find include: 

  • Laptops
  • Tablets
  • Toys
  • Headphones
  • Small Appliances

Transferring points to other programs

Transferring Amex MR Points to partner loyalty programs might offer the most significant value among redemption options. American Express has several airline and hotel partners, allowing cardholders to transfer their points at varying transfer rates. 

This option can provide opportunities for increased point value, especially when redeeming for premium flights or hotel stays that might otherwise require a higher point investment if booked directly through the Membership Rewards portal. 

Be mindful that you can’t transfer the points back to AMEX MR Points so wait until you have a plan in place. As for the transfer ratios:

  • Marriott Bonvoy – 1:1.2
  • Aeroplan – 1:1
  • Avios – 1:1
  • Delta SkyMiles – 1:0.75
  • Asia Miles – 1:0.75
  • Etihad Miles – 1:0.75
  • Alitalia MilleMiglia – 1:0.75

Maximizing the Value of American Express Membership Rewards (AMEX MR) Points

The average AMEX MR Points value is dependent on a couple of factors. One is the type of AMEX credit card you’re using and how many points you’ll get for specific purchases. The other includes the various redemption options. 

Spending your points on retail may not have the same value as spending them on travel or transferring them to other airlines. 

Almost all the rewards you can get for redeeming your points are gift cards that you’ll be able to spend at that AMEX partner’s business, be it a hotel, convenience store, online store, or travel options. 

AMEX has made it so you would always spend the same amount of points for the same type of gift card, no matter which points redemption option you pick. The value here is always 2 Points/1 cent (or 200 Points/$1).

As for points transfers, that’s a slightly different story when it comes to value. 

Airline/HotelAMEX MR PointsTransferred PointsPoints Ratio
British Airways – Executive Club30,00020,000~0.67/1 AMEX Point
Delta SkyMiles30,00020,000~0.67/1 AMEX Point
Emirates Skywards30,00020,000~0.67/1 AMEX Point
Etihad Guest30,00020,000~0.67/1 AMEX Point
Finnair Plus30,00030,0001/1 AMEX Point
Flying Blue30,00020,000~0.67/1 AMEX Point
Hilton Honors (Hotel)30,00037,5001.25/1 AMEX Point
Malaysia Airlines – Enrich30,00030,0001/1 AMEX Point
Marriott Bonvoy (Hotel)30,00030,0001/1 AMEX Point
Qatar Airways – Privilege Club30,00020,000~0.67/1 AMEX Point
Radisson Awards (Hotel)30,00045,0001.5/1 AMEX Point
SAS EuroBonus30,00020,000~0.67/1 AMEX Point
Singapore Airlines30,00030,0001/1 AMEX Point
Virgin Atlantic Real Time30,00020,000~0.67/1 AMEX Point

Source: AmericanExpress

The best way to use AMEX MR Points is to keep them and wait for deals at other airlines. This is the ideal approach because of the large number of partner airlines and frequent deals across all of them. 

Business class tickets are often the best choice in this regard. Keep in mind that this may require some planning and strategizing because there’s usually a 48-hour (minimum) period for transferring your points. As soon as you see a great deal, start the transfer process. 

Some of these deals provide crazy points value, upwards of 5 cents per point when transferring points to other programs. 

If you own more than one AMEX card, you’ll be able to employ specific strategies to maximize how many points you earn and guarantee that you get the best value out of them. Based on the information in the ‘How to earn AMEX MR Points’ section, we can deduce the following best strategies:

  • If you want to just earn points: AMEX Cobalt Card (5 Points/$1 on food and drinks)
  • Best for big spenders: AMEX Platinum Card (70,000 points for spending $10,000+ in the first 3 months of card ownership) + 2 Points/$1 on dining and travel
  • Best all-around card: AMEX Gold Rewards Card (60,000 points yearly/5,000 monthly for spending $1,000 each month + 10,000 points for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months of card ownership) + 2 Points./$1 on pharmacy, grocery, gas, and travel purchases

The only way to utilize the full value of points is to use all three cards, each for specific situations and purchases. However, keep in mind that this approach can be costly when it comes to spending.

And let’s not forget about their referral program. You can earn up to 10,000 points for each purchase the friend you referred makes. 

About The Author