Fly like a rockstar with the American Express AIR MILES Reserve Card. It’s one of the best AIR MILES credit cards in Canada, and after this review, you’ll understand why. Let’s manage expectations by stating that this card isn’t necessarily the best travel card out there, but the built-in perks make it a powerful piece of plastic in a lot of other ways. 

AIR MILES die-hards know this program is so much more than just travel points. Now they can squeeze more juice from their MILES with premium top-shelf features reserved exclusively for American Express AIR MILES Reserve cardholders, hence the name. In addition to exclusive American Express Experiences that Amex holders already know and love, this card is like a backstage pass to even better stuff, deeper discounts, and VIP treatment. 

American Express Air Miles Reserve card

Annual Fee: $299

Welcome Offer: 4,000 Bonus Miles and a $100 statement credit. Conditions apply.

Interest Rate: 20.99% on purchases, 21.99% on cash advances

Welcome to the AIR MILES Reserve Card from American Express

As a new American Express AIR MILES Reserve Card member, you get 4000 bonus AIR MILES and $100 credit on your statement when you spend $3,000 on the card in the first 3 months. The points alone are worth $420 dollars when redeemed for travel. Plus the statement credit and that’s $520 worth of sign-up offers.

Major downside? The annual fee is not waived for the first year, unlike the sign-up offers on many other rewards cards. Hey, American Express, what gives? After you account for the fee, you’re left with a net $220 value from your welcome offer. Hey, that’s still something to write home about!

Hurry! The welcome offer ends September 20, 2022.

Earning AIR MILES with your Amex Reserve card

Ok, here’s where this card starts to redeem itself. Use your  American Express AIR MILES Reserve Card to earn 1 Mile per $10 spent on eligible purchases at qualified grocery stores, drug stores, gas stations, and AIR MILES partner merchants. All other card purchases get 1 MILE per $15 spent on the card. 

True, other American Express cards have a lower fee and a higher rewards earn rate on purchases. However, those cards typically have a spending limit on the bonus MILE spending categories. Once you hit that limit, your earn rate drops.

At the time of writing, the American Express AIR MILES Reserve Card does not have any spending limits on the bonus MILE purchase categories. That means your AIR MILES earn rate never drops no matter how much you spend at grocery stores, gas stations, drug stores, and AIR MILES partner merchants. No tracking, no card swapping, just more MILES. Heck yes! 

How to get bonus MILES with your Amex Reserve card

The American Express AIR MILES Reserve Card comes with a few key features that make it rain AIR MILES without spending more of your own bacon. First, register for an AIR MILES account to get your AIR MILES membership card. The AIR MILES program is available to everyone, with or without a credit card. How does that help you? 

Double dip AIR MILES rewards!

You can earn up to double the MILES when you present your AIR MILES membership card every time you make a purchase with your American Express AIR MILES Reserve Card at a participating AIR MILES partner merchant. Don’t worry, it’s not sneaky. They actually tell you to do this on the American Express website! 

Annual Companion Flight benefit

Flights and friends go together like pie and ice cream; they’re better together. Once a year, you’ll get up to 1,700 bonus MILES to put towards a flight for a travel buddy. Obviously, you both need to be travelling together on the same flight itinerary in order to redeem these bonus MILES.

You’ll need to call the AIR MILES Concierge line at 1-888-606-8888 to take advantage of your companion flight benefit. Keep in mind these bonus MILES don’t cover applicable taxes or service charges. If 1,700 MILES aren’t enough for the trip, you can use your Dream Miles to cover the difference, if you have them. 

AIR MILES Onyx Collector Status

Onyx sounds ominous, but it’s actually pretty badass. American Express AIR MILES Reserve cardholders automatically get Onyx Collector status. It’s an exclusive program that puts the redemption value of your AIR MILES on beast mode with deep discounts and killer perks.

Normally, you need to earn 6,000 AIR MILES in a year to qualify for this exclusive program, but the Amex AIR MILES Reserve card just gives it to you like Halloween candy. Here’s why Onyx Collector Status is a game-changer: 

  • Up to 40% off eligible flights booked with Dream Miles through AIR MILES 
  • Up to 10% off merchandise purchased with Dream Miles on the AIR MILES website
  • Use Dream Miles to pay for hotels booked through AIR MILES
  • Personal shopping service to use Dream Miles for stuff not in the AIR MILES catalogue 
  • ShellGO + membership for extra MILES on Shell purchases + exclusive offers & events
  • Priority service when you call the AIR MILES customer care line

Additional cards for additional MILES

The American Express AIR MILES Reserve Card offers up to 9 supplementary cards on your account for $50 a pop. Supplementary cards allow other people to use their own credit card to spend on your account. It’s a bold move if you can stomach the risk, but it can translate into a ton more AIR MILES.

Eligible purchases on supplementary cards earn AIR MILES at the same rate that your primary card does, and they are credited to your account. Remember, there are no spending limits on the shopping categories with the higher AIR MILES earn rate. More people spending on the account means more MILES, more cheap trips, and more free stuff! They’re not technically bonus MILES, but if you’re not spending your own cheddar to get them, it counts!

Kids as young as 13 can have a supplementary card too! Why not earn more MILES for teaching kids how to use credit cards the right way? Keep in mind that you are solely responsible for balances owing and on-time payments. It all reports to the credit bureaus under your name which could impact your credit score. It’s a high-risk high-reward strategy, so only do this with people you trust. Lay down clear expectations with firm boundaries. 

Travel smarter, not harder

The American Express AIR MILES Reserve Card might not be one of the best travel credit cards out there, but it’s darn close. Die-hard AIR MILES lovers travel in style with built-in card perks. In fact, the following features make the Amex AIR MILES Reserve card one of the best AIR MILES cards on the market. Here’s how: 

Show the airport who’s boss with VIP perks

When you redeem your AIR MILES for flights, you can also use them to pay for things like taxes and applicable fees at the time of booking. A complimentary Priority Pass membership gives you 4 free annual passes to exclusive airport lounges around the world.

The flight administration fee is waived when you redeem your AIR MILES for flights booked online through the AIR MILES site or through their Concierge service. Finally, get to your gate faster with the Priority Security Lane at Toronto Pearson Airport. Just present your  American Express AIR MILES Reserve Card with your valid boarding pass to skip the line and clear your security check super fast at terminals 1 and 3. 

Stress-free travel with protection benefits

Pack your stuff, not the stress with complimentary travel insurance. Your American Express AIR MILES Reserve Card offers nine travel-related protections. Conditions and restrictions apply, so read the fine print carefully to make sure you’re covered. Here’s what you get: 

  • Emergency medical insurance: Up to $5 million in coverage for qualified emergency medical services during the first 15 days of your trip. Must be under 65 years old. Other conditions apply.
  • Travel accident insurance: Up to $100,000 of coverage for accidental death and dismemberment on a common carrier. Must charge the full cost of the ticket(s) to your Amex AIR MILES Reserve card. Other conditions apply.
  • Flight delay insurance: Up to $500 for reasonable accommodation and incidentals when your flight is delayed or you’re denied boarding for at least 4 hours. Must charge the full cost of your ticket(s) to your Amex AIR MILES Reserve card. Other conditions apply. 
  • Baggage delay insurance: Up to $500 for qualified incidentals when your baggage is delayed by at least 6 hours. Must charge the full cost of your ticket(s) to your Amex AIR MILES Reserve Card. Other conditions apply. 
  • Lost or stolen baggage insurance: Up to $500 coverage when your checked or carry-on baggage is lost, stolen, or damaged while in transit. Must book the full cost of your ticket(s) on your Amex AIR MILES Reserve card. Other conditions apply. 
  • Hotel burglary insurance: Up to $500 coverage for the loss of most personal items if your room is burglarized. Must book the full cost of your accommodations to your Amex AIR MILES Reserve card. Other conditions apply. 
  • Car rental theft & damage insurance: Up to $85,000 in coverage for loss as a result of theft or damage. Car rental period cannot exceed 48 days and the full cost must be charged to your Amex AIR MILES Reserve card. Other conditions apply. 

Purchase protection: Shop with confidence 

Eligible purchases on your American Express AIR MILES Reserve card are insured against loss from theft or accidental damage for up to $1,000 for 90 days from the date of purchase. You’ll also get an extended manufacturer’s warranty up to 1 additional year for eligible items purchased on your American Express AIR MILES Reserve Card. Conditions and restrictions apply to both your Purchase Protection Plan and Buyer’s Assurance Protection Plan coverage. 

Amex PLAN IT: Pay on your terms with

Savvy credit card hackers know the only way to get value from any rewards program means never carrying a balance on their credit card. Like ever. But life happens, and when it does, there’s a hack for that. PLAN IT is a financing plan built right into your American Express AIR MILES Reserve card

It lets you convert all or some of your eligible credit card balance into an installment loan with fixed monthly payments. Instead of icky revolving credit card interest, you’ll pay a flat financing fee added to each monthly payment. Always run the numbers to ensure you’re making the smartest money move. Use the Hardbacon Credit Card Repayment Calculator and compare the results against the PLAN IT Calculator. 

Rates & fees for the Amex AIR MILES Reserve card

If you pay your credit balance off in full each month, and you should, the interest rate is completely irrelevant. Rates are about industry standard at 20.99% on card purchases, and 21.99% on cash advances. The annual card fee is a hefty one at $299, and it’s not waived for new card members in the first year either. The welcome offer bonus MILES do help to offset the cost, but only in the first year. After that, you’re paying full price for the card. Unfortunately, there’s no huge benefit to the welcome offer unless you strategically redeem those MILES for travel. Otherwise, it’s just a balm for the sticker shock of a 3-digit fee.

Who is eligible for the AMEX AIR MILES Reserve card? 

To qualify for the American Express AIR MILES Reserve card you must be a Canadian resident with a Canadian credit file and the age of majority in the province where you live. There is no minimum annual income requirement which makes the card more accessible to lower-income individuals or those without income at all, like homemakers for example. 

Also noteworthy, there is no specific bankruptcy disclaimer which typically disqualifies past bankrupts who have not been discharged for at least 7 years. Having said that, Amex cards have a bit of a reputation for being harder to get than most other credit cards. To reduce the risk of a rejected application, you should probably have a good credit score over 660. No matter your financial situation or credit history, approval is never guaranteed.

Who is the America Express AIR MILES Reserve card meant for? 

The American Express AIR MILES Reserve card is best suited for frequent flyers with big budgets. Why do I say that? There is no spending limit for the bonus MILE purchase categories, which makes this card a great option for people or households with significant day-to-day expenses.

Other cards that offer aggressive earn rates on select purchase categories usually cap your spending limit by a maximum amount per month or year That’s super annoying for the big spenders forced to gamify their rewards by swapping between different cards. Who even has time for that? 

The annual card fee is a bit tough to swallow but you get hundreds if not thousands of dollars worth of benefits in return. I mean, those annual bonus MILES for a travel buddy are pretty awesome and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The laundry list of travel insurance benefits, coupled with Onyx Status and airport perks, the whole thing is just a chef’s kiss. Maybe I wouldn’t hate planes so much if I scored 40% discounts on flights, skipped long security lines, then chilled in a ritzy lounge sipping a Cosmo. If you want to fly like a rockstar, the American Express AIR MILES Reserve card is your taste of the high life.

The American Express AIR MILES Reserve Card: Our Rating

Purchase Interest Rate3/5
Cash advance interest rate3/5
Annual Fee2/5
Rewards4/5
Purchase insurance5/5
Extended warranty insurance5/5
Travel insurance5/5
Emergency medical travel insurance5/5
Other Perks4/5
Benefits and perks of the American Express AIR MILES Reserve Card:

* Earn up to 1 Mile per $10 spent
* Double up on AIR MILES
* Redeem AIR MILES for travel, products and experiences
* Annual Companion Flight Benefit
* Onyx Collector Status
* Airport lounge access
* Reduced travel fees & taxes
* Emergency Travel Medical Insurance
* Travel Accident Insurance 
* Flight Delay Insurance
* Baggage Delay Insurance
* Lost/Stolen Baggage Insurance
* Hotel Burglary Insurance
* Car Rental Theft & Damage Insurance
* Purchase Protection
* Extended Warranty
* American Express Experiences
* PLAN IT repayment plan
* Up to 9 additional cards
4.0

How would you like to earn hundreds of dollars in rewards?

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