It’s no secret that American Express has a strong reputation for giving excellent value back to its members.
Today, let’s review the ins and outs of Amex Offers, a popular feature by which cardholders can frequently earn additional rewards points or cash statement credits.
What Are Amex Offers?
Amex Offers are special promotions offered to current cardholders.
Like a signup bonus for a new credit card, Amex Offers have a requirement to be fulfilled before distributing a reward.
Rewards may be cash back in the form of a statement credit, or points in the card’s rewards currency, depending on the offer. All of these bonuses are earned on top of the card’s regular everyday earning rate and any active welcome bonus.
You can get Amex Offers on cards that earn all sorts of types of rewards, including Membership Rewards, Aeroplan points, Bonvoy points, or cash back.
The Structure of an Amex Offer
There are two main ways an Amex Offer’s requirements are structured: lump sum bonuses and boosted earn rates.
Also known as “Spend X, Get Y”, lump sum bonuses are triggered by making a large purchase at an eligible merchant. These can range from a meagre $5–10 credit, to a full credit for the cost of a purchase which may be hundreds of dollars. Here are a few examples:
Most offers require you to make the qualifying spend in a single transaction, although some are cumulative, letting you break up the qualifying spend into multiple purchases.
There are also sometimes recurring bonuses, like Shop Small or FedEx credits. These usually aren’t cumulative, and you can’t redeem more than one iteration of the bonus on the same transaction. For instance, you can’t earn two $45 FedEx credits on a single $90 transaction.
Boosted earn rates work a bit differently, paying out a bonus until you reach a predetermined maximum:
You may also see offers for a percentage cash back up to a specified maximum, such as the Shangri-La Hotels offer.
Also, each offer may require you to make the qualifying spend at a specific merchant, at a category of merchant, or at any merchant. Occasionally, there are bonuses for using a different payment method, such as contactless, online, or mobile pay.
Naturally, each offer is a bit different, and as always you should check the fine print. Offers may be limited by a registration cap, a registration deadline, and/or a completion deadline.
Sometimes there’s a special link that you have to use to make an online purchase, although in my experience this particular provision usually isn’t enforced, and any purchase from the merchant will do.
Who Is Eligible for Amex Offers?
Some Amex Offers, like FedEx credits or Disney+, are offered to all cardmembers with a certain product. When the ever-popular Shop Small promotion runs, it’s available for all cardholders with any Amex card.
However, many others are only offered to targeted cardholders. The United Airlines $250 credit and the Accor $70 credit come to mind as two recent offers which were quite desirable but unfortunately not offered universally.
Other offers may be available on a variety of different products, but each member might see them on different cards. For example, I might get an offer on my Business Gold Card, while you may get the same one on your Aeroplan Card instead.
In any event, Amex Offers usually don’t start to show up on a new card until after the first few monthly statement cycles. There’s no tried and true method to get more Amex Offers, but generally speaking, the more you spend, the more promotions you’ll receive.
You’ll also get Amex Offers on your US credit cards. In fact, the program is way stronger there than in Canada, with up to 100 offers available on each card at any given time.
Because they partner with stores with a major American presence, it’s harder to derive value from many of these offers unless you’re shopping in the US.
As with all things stateside, terms and conditions tend to be enforced more strictly, so you might struggle to, say, use a “.com” offer with a company’s “.ca” online store.
Instead, keep an eye out for lucrative offers with travel providers, such as Marriott, Hilton, cruise lines, and other luxury resort properties.
If you’ve heard about an offer that you want but which isn’t available to you, try activating a few offers. Your list of available offers will immediately refill to 100 if there are others available, and ideally you’ll be offered the one you’re looking for.
If you have a Scotiabank Amex card – issued by Scotiabank but using the Amex payment network – you’re also eligible for Amex Offers!
Since Scotiabank cards don’t use the Amex Bank of Canada online interface, there’s a separate landing page to register Amex Offers onto your Scotiabank cards.
Not all Amex Offers are available for Scotiabank cardholders, and not all cardholders are eligible for the same offers.
Note that you can’t register Amex-issued Amex cards this way. If you weren’t targeted for an offer you wanted, your best bet is to hope that the offer is available on this page, and register a Scotiabank Amex instead.
How to Use Amex Offers
You can view your Amex Offers on the main dashboard of your Amex online profile. Scroll down below your recent transactions and you can’t miss it.
You can also access your Amex Offers through a dedicated screen in the mobile app.
Here, you can see your available offers. Make sure you click the button to register the offer before you use it, as almost all Amex Offers are on an opt-in basis.
Sometimes, Amex will also display other promotions here which don’t need to be activated, like an idle cardholder benefit or a referral bonus that they’re trying to advertise.
You can always switch to the tab showing your registered offers to remind yourself of any expiring offers or to guide your holiday shopping.
Click on the offer to reveal the fine print. (You can also do this from the Available Offers tab.)
Reviewing your registered offers can help you remember which cards have which offers, an important consideration as your Amex portfolio grows. You have to make the qualifying purchase with the card that has the offer registered in order to redeem it. For example, you can’t cash out the Reserve Card’s Disney+ credit by using your Cobalt Card.
If you have more than one Amex card, navigate between them to see each card’s distinct promotions.
For a spending threshold, your bonus is usually credited within a few days, even if the terms and conditions say it may take longer. For a boosted earn rate, the bonus points will post with the base points for the transaction, usually the same day the authorized charge is finalized. Statement credits on Scotiabank Amex cards may take an additional few days.
Once an Amex Offer has been successfully redeemed, it may stay on your account, disappear from your account, or move to the Statement Credits tab. It doesn’t seem to have any bearing on anything, and sometimes it happens before your bonus arrives. Just be sure you’ve met the qualifications properly and don’t be alarmed if you don’t receive your rewards instantly.
You also check to see how much you’ve earned from Amex Offers with each card by clicking on the “Statement Credits” tab. When your card is coming up for its annual renewal, the amount you’ve earned can be one of the metrics by which you gauge the value you get from the card each year.
Why You Should Use Amex Offers
Signup bonuses on new credit cards receive a lot of attention. It’s the fastest way to earn high-value rewards, and the strongest return both on the annual fees you pay and on the spending you put through the card.
However, we can’t rely on new credit card incentives for our entire rewards strategy. That’s where benefits for existing cardholders come into play.
Flexible benefits like a catch-all grocery credits are ideal. You don’t have to make a purchase from a specific merchant that otherwise might not interest you. That’s a huge advantage, as any cardholder can treat it like cold hard cash regardless of their lifestyle and purchasing habits.
That said, you can still find lifestyle value adds at a steep discount. Last year I nabbed a Dell monitor at a great rate, a purchase which I likely wouldn’t have made if not for the Amex Offer, but one which I’m very happy with.
As another example, if you’ve been trying to cut entertainment costs as everything has become more expensive, this is a great opportunity to give Disney+ a try for a full year with no downside or out-of-pocket costs.
Amex’s premium credit cards, including the Platinum, Business Platinum, and Aeroplan Reserve, reliably get the highest-value and most-flexible Amex Offers.
If you can anticipate these year after year, you can effectively treat them as a statement credit to offset the cost of your annual fee. That certainly makes it a lot easier to keep a card with a high annual fee long-term for the ongoing benefits.
Additionally, Amex’s strong ties to Marriott Bonvoy inspire frequent Amex Offers for spending at a Marriott property. This can significantly offset your travel costs, especially when the value of hotel points is dropping.
Simply put, you should keep tabs on your Amex Offers because you’d be crazy to look a gift horse in the mouth. Whether you keep your cards year after year or cancel them before the second annual fee, you can’t overlook the value you can get from these promotions for cardholders.
Now, to be fair, when you start chasing $5 credits by splitting a restaurant bill eight ways during Shop Small, you’ll reach a point of diminishing returns on your time (and your willingness to make a scene in public). Fortunately, though, there are enough high-impact one-shot offers that are worth your energy to pursue.
Do Other Banks Offer Similar Promotions?
For the most part, Amex is the only major Canadian bank offering meaningful rewards on specific purchases.
In recent years, RBC has introduced a similar concept dubbed RBC Offers. You can access your promotions from the “Offers For You” link on any card page.
These offers are similar to Amex’s, with a mix of lump sum rewards, extra rewards per dollar spent, and special partnerships (such as a complimentary DoorDash DashPass). Some offers are automatically registered, while others are opt-in. However, RBC doesn’t have as many cash back offers, and the value of the kickbacks is usually orders of magnitude less than what Amex provides.
In the past, we’ve also seen Air Canada mimic Amex Offers on their co-branded cards with TD and CIBC. In the summer of 2021, Air Canada had a “Spend X, Get Y” offer for cash rebates on Air Canada purchases. Registration was done via Aeroplan, not the banks, as we see a closer integration of loyalty programs with credit cards.
Smaller fintech startups like Brim and Neo have made partner-based bonuses the foundation of their rewards programs. I’m lukewarm at best towards the concept, though it seems to be the popular approach among the innovators in the payments space.
Hopefully these and other programs will take cues from Amex and deliver real value to their members, such as high rebates with appealing brands or 100% rebates for generalized purchases.
Amex Offers are yet another great way that American Express provides superior value for its members. They come in all shapes and sizes, and any cardholder should be on the lookout for these additional ways to squeeze a bit more value out of their credit card strategy.
Nowadays with lower odds of receiving a repeat signup bonus, I’m seeing more appeal in keeping premium credit cards long-term. With Amex Offers, you can reduce your recurring costs for cards with high annual fees, while maintaining top-tier travel benefits.