No matter how you look at it, the points and miles game is dying a slow death, as churning becomes a more mainstream activity and creditor profits are dipping. While there are still a number of opportunities to score a huge number of points quickly, those opportunities are shrinking in quality and in frequency.
American Express offers the best sign-up bonuses in Canada. However, over the years, we’ve noticed significant devaluations in their bonuses. Benefits have been cut, sign-up bonuses have gone down, minimum spends have increased, and we’ve even seen an American “once per lifetime” rule applied (though the application of said rule is inconsistent).
What are the best sign-up bonuses in Canada?
For about a year now, the best-ever sign-up offer has been available on the American Express Platinum Business card, of 75,000 Membership Rewards (‘MR’) points after spending $5,000 in three months (MR convert 1:1 into Aeroplan and BA Avios) . This deal remains incredible, considering that 75,000 MR is worth substantially more than $1,000, and even with the $399 annual fee, you’re getting a significant return with the sign-up bonus and the card benefits (Centurion Lounges, insurance benefits, hotel/travel benefits, etc.).
Note that you don’t actually have to have a business – in the business name field, your name is sufficient as a sole proprietorship. History shows that AMEX is fine with a $0 business income.
A while ago, the American Express Platinum card offered 75,000 MR points as well, however, that bonus is long gone, and I don’t expect it to come back. Right now, the best offer is 60,000 MR points after $1,000 in spend, which I still think is a terrific deal. The card’s annual fee is $699, however, you get $400 off in your first year through travel credits, which means an effective annual fee of $299 for 60,000 points, Priority Pass, etc.
Are these bonuses at risk?
Without a question, these are the best sign-up bonuses available in Canada. However, I believe they are at risk of dying. Both sign-up bonuses are historically high, and as AMEX has lost the Costco partnership, they are likely to reduce the bonuses in order to curb losses. Further, while reports of AMEX enforcing their new once-per-lifetime rule are rare, they could start strictly enforcing that rule at any time – it makes sense to get the card right now for the bonus before they start enforcing a once-per-lifetime rule.
In the unlikely event AMEX enforces the rule after you applied, you can always cancel the card within the first month for a full refund – so if you can make the minimum spend quickly, it makes sense to get the card, make the spend, and in the unlikely scenario that your points are denied, cancel the card for a full refund. As of right now, there is no once-per-lifetime rule on the American Express Platinum Business card, but this could change at any time.
We’ve also seen AMEX raise annual fees for a number of other cards. So far, the Platinum cards have been untouched, but if AMEX continues on the trend of increasing fees, we could see the Platinum card annual fees increasing, and the sign-up bonus decreasing.
If you haven’t had the American Express Platinum card before, now makes perfect sense to apply – you’re sure to get the sign-up bonus and be able to lock-in the current favourable bonus/fee structure.
Even if you’ve had the American Express Platinum Business card before, you can still get the sign-up bonus again, as the once-per-lifetime language isn’t yet included in the terms and conditions. This is definitely a deal to jump on – the card is currently at the highest bonus ever (75,000), and the annual fee hasn’t changed for years, and previous card holders can get the bonus again.
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