New Card: The American Express AeroplanPlus Reserve Card – It’s $899 and it ain’t worth it.

American Express just released a new credit card: The American Express AeroplanPlus Reserve Card (this is not a referral). It has an $899 annual fee, and a 50,000 Aeroplan Point sign-up bonus after spending $3,000 in 3 months. Frankly, it’s a terrible offer.

Image Credit from American Express Canada, found on AmericanExpress.com

Image Credit from American Express Canada, found on AmericanExpress.com

What you get

Aside from the ridiculous annual fee and the sign up bonus, you get a $200 travel credit annually. Unlike the American Express Platinum Card, where you get a $200 travel credit every calendar year, which can mean a $400 travel credit in your first year of owning the card, this card issues the travel credit on your card anniversary date. This means only one $200 travel credit in your first year, and every year thereafter.

With the card, you will get an annual Aeroplan partner ticket, that you can use for a North American redemption. Your partner’s points cost will be waived, but you will still be responsible for paying their taxes and surcharges.

You will get unlimited access to any Maple Leaf Lounge anywhere in the world when travelling on Air Canada or any Star Alliance carrier. You will not get access if you’re travelling on a non-Star Alliance carrier. Guests will not be complimentary, and will be subject to an entry fee.

You will also get a Priority Pass card, which grants unlimited access to affiliated lounges all over the world. You do not have to be travelling on any particular airline to access these lounges. Guests will be charged $27 to accompany you.

Now, one of the most offensive benefits: you get your first bag free when travelling on Air Canada, up to a maximum of five times a year. WHAT. THE. HELL. This is a $899 card, and they can only offer a free bag five times a year!?

Now, this is my favourite benefit. The card is offering “Air Canada Privilege Flight Pass – The Air Canada Privilege Flight Pass lets you experience ultimate convenience and flexibility with eight prepaid, one-way flight credits within Air Canada’s North American network.”

Ok, does it come with the Flight Pass, because that would be awesome. Let’s look at the footnote. What does it say? “Basic American Express AeroplanPlus Reserve Cardmembers may purchase one Air Canada Privilege Flight Pass – Business Class (J booking class) and one Air Canada Privilege Flight Pass – Flex Class (H booking class) (each referred to as a Flight Pass) annually based on Cardmembership anniversary date.”

Wow. So, for spending $899 on the card, I get the privilege of buying something? To be fair, we don’t know what the price of the flight pass will be. Perhaps it will be a stunning price, like $100, which would make this card worthwhile. However, the American Express page does not advertise what the price will be, and therefore, I have to assume until I know otherwise that it’s not a good enough price to publish, so probably a bad deal.

You will also get Premium Check In with Air Canada, Priority Access to the Aeroplan contact line, and the usual insurance and warranty benefits.

Analysis 

I’m absolutely flabbergasted. This is the most expensive publicly available credit card in Canada. The sign up bonus sucks – 50,000 Aeroplan points sucks in comparison to the 60,000 offered with the American Express Platinum Card, or the 25,000 offered for free from a number of other cards.

The Maple Leaf Lounge benefit, and the Priority Pass benefit, is OK, but for the price is absolutely not worth it unless you would otherwise be spending the full amount on a priority pass and Air Canada Maple Leaf club membership, which frankly would be stupid since you can get similar benefits from other credit cards, or you don’t have status in which case spending that amount of money doesn’t make sense for your infrequent travels.

The $200 travel credit is given annually, which sucks compared to the $200 credit given per calendar year on Amex’s cheaper Platinum card.

The five free checked bags per year is insulting. For the cost, I would expect all my bags to be free, not just the first checked one, and certainly for every trip in a year (actually, for this cost, I expect a lot more “benefits” for my package). This benefit should either be made unlimited, or entirely dropped, because as it is, it’s insulting and not really value-added.

Regarding the Flight Pass, this could either make the card worthwhile, or just be utter nonsense. For some reason, American Express thinks it is wise to not state how much this special Flight Pass would cost – you can only find out once you get the card. I called Amex and Air Canada to see if anybody had a clue, and guess what, nobody did. If it turns out that the cost is amazingly cheap, that might justify the annual fee and I will change the post. However, by not advertising the cost, I suspect it’s barely a discount. Further, the footnote states that the eligible booking classes are ‘J’ and ‘H,’ which are expensive booking classes.

Should you get this card? Absolutely not. This is one of the worst cards I’ve seen in Canada, and I’m really disappointed in American Express which has historically offered excellent products. It is obscenely priced for the benefits, and they are offering some offensive “benefits” to boot. Go for the American Express Platinum card (this is a referral) which is cheaper and offers significantly more.

Comments

  1. I agree with your analysis that this is a really terrible offer. The Amex Aeroplan Platinum or the Amex Platinum both offer more for less than the cost of this card. You mention that the TD Infinite Visa offers a free checked bag but I believe that you are mistaken. The TD Infinite only offers a free checked bag and lounge access when travelling on an Aeroplan REWARD ticket. Since I tend to redeem my points for J class, this is a pretty useless benefit. The TD Aeroplan Infinite PRIVILEGE card offers free checked backs on Y class revenue tickets, but you would need to make 16 flights a year (8 R/T) to make it worthwhile. Still, Amex Gold or Amex Aeroplan cards are good alternatives – just pay for the bag fees.

  2. I was thinking about this card too!

    But for this price you’re better off getting the “regular” AMEX Plat, you get to access the Centurion/Plaza Premium.

    They also downgraded the Aeroplan AMEX Gold and Platinum! Unbelievable!

    I think AMEX is trying to catch up after they got greedy with Costco. Recently planning to lay off 4000 employees too!

    I guess they wanted to compete with the Visa Infinite Privilege card!

  3. One thing you didnt mention is that with the Platinum Amex, you get to bring one guest free with priority pass (footnote 13 – https://www.americanexpress.com/ca/en/content/the-platinum-card/) unlike this new ReservePlus Card that charges you 27 USD for the guest.

    Considering the fact that this new card is a credit card and not a cash card, odds are, you will be more inclined to not pay the full balance every month, hence incur interest charges – which will make the absolute cost of the card to be way more than $899-year.

    This new card just doesnt make sense.

  4. The free companion long haul flight per year would not be worth the $899 / year? Two tickets for a trip from Toronto to Vancouver would be $1200+, making this seem worth it to me, and all the other benefits are extra.

    Maybe I’m just looking at this too lightly, the signing bonus of 50,000 and point gaining rate only at 1.25 / dollar are lacking…. maybe just use for a year and downgrade to a cheaper card?

  5. I called Amex to see what was going on 25 min wait to get an agent, asked about the cost of this pass, she says it’s included, I said foot note says you have to buy, so what is cost, she transfers me to Aeroplan and drops off the line. Aeroplan say they know nothing. So I call back and the guy I spoke too after another long wait says you don’t get to find out the privilege pass price until you buy the card… he says the price changes every day, another half hour to get that nugget. So searching the net there’s a pdf “welcome” for this card. It says to go to Air Canada /flightpass to buy the pass. But there is NO offering for an 8 pass all north America pass on there and none has ‘privilege’ in the name.

    Who is going to spend all that, plus tax to have a “surprise” to by at the end of it. I think AMEX is out to lunch here.

    Over an hour wasted and the help on the phone was AWFUL.

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