American Express Membership Rewards Program: U.S.A. versus Canada

I thought it might be fun to compare the differences of the American Express Membership Rewards program between the US and Canada. The first factor I will compare is the transfer travel partners.

Frequent Traveler Participants

Canadian Airlines

Generally, you need to transfer a minimum of 1,000 American Express points and then increments of 100 points, unless otherwise specified below.

  • Air Canada (Aeroplan): 1,000 points = 1,000 miles
  • Alitalia (MileMiglia): 1,000 points = 750 miles
  • British Airways (Executive Club): 1,000 points = 1,000 Avios
  • Cathay Pacific (Asia Miles): 1,000 points = 750 miles
  • Delta (SkyMiles): = 1,000 points: 750 miles
  • Etihad (Guest Miles) = 1,000 points: 750 miles

Canadian Hotel Partners

  • Hilton HHonors: 1,000 points = 1,000 points
  • Starwood Preferred Guest: 1,000 points = 500 Starpoints

US Airlines

Generally, you need to transfer a minimum of 1,000 American Express points, unless otherwise specified below.

  • AeroMexico (Club Premier): 1,000 points = 1,000 miles
  • Air Canada (Aeroplan): 1,000 points = 1,000 miles
  • Air France & KLM (Flying Blue): 1,000 points = 1,000 miles
  • Alitalia (MileMiglia): 1,000 points = 1,000 miles
  • All Nippon Airways (ANA Mileage Club): 1,000 points = 1,000 miles
  • British Airways (Executive Club): 1,000 points = 800 miles
  • Cathay Pacific (Asia Miles): 1,000 points = 1,000 miles
  • Delta (SkyMiles): 1,000 points = 1,000 miles
  • El AL Israel Airlines (Matmid): 1,000 points = 20 points
  • Emirates (Skywards): 1,000 points = 1,000 miles
  • Hawaiian Airlines (HawaiianMiles): 1,000 points = 1,000 miles
  • Iberia (Iberia Plus): 1,000 points = 1,000 Avios
  • JetBlue Airways (JetBlue TrueBlue): 250 points = 200 points (minimum transfer of 250 points and in 250-point increments thereafter)
  • Singapore Airlines (Krisflyer): 1,000 points = 1,000 miles
  • Virgin America (Elevate): 200 points = 100 miles (minimum transfer of 200 points and in 200-point increments thereafter)
  • Virgin Atlantic (Flying Club): 1,000 points = 1,000 miles

US Hotel Partners

  • Best Western International, Inc. (Best Western Rewards): 1,000 points = 1,000 points
  • Choice Hotels (Choice Privileges): 1,000 points = 1,000 points
  • Hilton Hotels and Resorts (Hilton HHonors): 1,000 points = 1,500 HHonors points
  • Starwood Hotels & Resorts (Starwood Preferred Guest): 1,000 points = 333 Starpoints

For Canadian programs, you generally see 1,000 to 750 transfer ratios. Canada surprisingly comes out ahead of the United States are British Airways and Starwood Preferred Guest.

It is worthwhile to note that the US program usually runs more frequent transfer bonuses than the Canadian one. For US members, I would always wait for a transfer bonus before transferring any points, unless I really need the points sooner.

For Canadian members, it is tougher to wait it out. Personally I have been banking all my Membership Reward points into British Airways. Every now and then I put some points into Starwood. Even though it isn’t a great ratio, I am happy to top up my account for a specific reward redemption if need be.

Travel Purchases

Both programs allow members to use their points at a set value of 1 cent per point to pay for travel purchases; therefore 1,000 points is worth $10 of statement credit. In the US, they call it Pay With Points, while in Canada you just need to book your trip through American Express Travel. Canadians also have another option called TripFlex, where you have more options on how you want to book your trip, including with an agent or entity of choice. All you have to do is pay with the AMEX card and then request a statement credit.

Personally I would not use my points in this manner. I feel that I can get more value from transferring to airline partners as I will get more than 1 cent per point.


Both programs give additional experiences to certain entertainment activities. In the US, they simply call it Entertainment and Events and in Canada they call it Front of the Lines. Just check the websites to see what are the latest special offers, which include categories such as dining, film, music, shopping and theatre.

Other Rewards

Members from both countries can use their points to redeem for business equipments, clothing, electronics, gift cards, home & garden, and other rewards. Unfortunately, pretty much all of these redemptions give you less than 1 cent per point, so they are definitely not worth it. Every now and then you may see some Special Offers in the United States or Point Drop in Canada, but they still are pretty dismal returns.


As you can see, the Canadian program is actually very competitive relative to the US version, which is one of the reasons why Membership Rewards is pretty much my favourite rewards program in Canada. The two main things I would hope to see improve on the Canadian end is for more frequent traveler participants and more transfer bonuses. This may not be entirely under American Express’ control because it does require a two-way agreement.


  1. The US program seems to get way too many statement credit offers from retailers. I haven’t come across any statement credit offers in Canada yet..have you?

    1. Yes, you are correct. Every now and then we have some in Canada. I remember using a McDonald’s and Tim Hortons when both retailed first allowed American Express to be used at their stores. Every now and then they do have offers though, just not as frequent as you pointed out.

  2. Great idea to compare!
    I have had AMEX PLAT since 1999 and what is missing with AMEX PLAT CAD is *A GOLD with an airline or OW GOLD etc. For the fee we pay, I would expect that!

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