AMEX is a special animal in the credit card world. It’s the only credit card I know of in the USA that offers Canadians a credit card! Yes, you may be able to get one if you bank with TD or some other Canadian bank’s US affiliate, but those cards offer little to no benefits and NO welcome sign up bonus! **YOU WILL NEED A US ADDRESS TO APPLY AND TO RECEIVE THE CARD AT THAT ADDRESS. Then you can get paperless billing after that.**
It also helps to have a Canadian AMEX card, as they can use it to pull up some info on you, perhaps your credit worthiness. They will possibly ask you to send them documentation proving your credit worthiness–pay stub, mortgage payments, etc.
A problem when applying over the phone is that you will not get the BIG bonus sign ups unless those are being currently offered everywhere, not just by invitation or online. You’ll get the regular ones (25K AMEX Membership Reward points for the Gold Rewards card, 40K for the Platinum). You can TRY to get them to match the online offer you will likely receive on your browser if you’ve never applied before for 50K points for the Premier Gold Rewards card after spending only $1K USD in 3 months, but no guarantees! I just called them and they refused to honour the online deal.
You’ll also have to find a source of USD. My previous post of XenBanx is one option. Another good one is Knightbridge, but Knightbridge will only trade CDN to USD at a minimum exchange of $5K USD (at a great rate mind you).
The reason is because you will need to apply for your card over the phone as the online application requires you to have a Social Security number. If you have business in the US or you vacation there, it’s totally worth getting this card.
The Gold Rewards card now comes with no foreign exchange fee (as of June 2015) so though you’ll have to pay your bill in US$ or lose on the exchange. The Platinum number doesn’t have one and costs a LOT less than the Canadian version, and is BETTER with the offers that are given on the card, as well as the benefits.
You can also apply for business cards, other consumer cards, like the SPG card with the annual fee waived for the first year, only $65/yr after that (not $120 like in Canada) and 25K SPG points upon approval! That’s better than any Canadian offer ever gets!
The “Premier Rewards” card comes with a 25K point sign up and a first year annual fee waived. The 25K can be switched 1:1 with Aeroplan or British Airways Avios. BUT it can also be switched to WAYYYYYYYYY more airline point systems than the Canadian version. It can also be switched at better rates. For example, the Canadian AMEX offers a switch to Alitalia points at a 1:0.75 rate, so 1000 AMEX points turns into 750 Alitalia points. Alitalia is a good airline that can get you to places like Tel Aviv comfortably, connecting in Rome. AMEX USA does the switch at a 1:1 conversion rate!
Rumours are swirling that the Avios system may be devalued, but they’ve already made a change recently to their system, so a devaluation would be very unlikely in the near future. As I’ve written about on many posts, the British Airways Avios system is very valuable, and should be collected along with Aeroplan to diversify your airline points portfolio. Those points can be used to fly AA, US Airways (same thing now as AA), along with a ton of other airlines, all part of the One World Alliance, with very flexible cancellation policies, less points to fly, especially for short haul flights, such as Toronto to New York, but even on long haul flights, with respect to the number of points it will cost you, you’re better off with Avios. Availablility-wise, it depends when you want to fly. Flying to Florida in December will be tough (as it will be with Aeroplan) but at least with Aeroplan, Distinction status will get you the flights, even if for WAYYY more points.
The card comes with INCREDIBLE free offers. You can link your AMEX to your Twitter account to take advantage of other offers that will be added to your account. It’s SOOOOO much better than what the Cdn AMEX system currently offers:
Case in point:
AMEX has a deal that has been offered to some card holders ’til Saturday–spend $50+ at BJs Wholesale (there’s two in Buffalo–like Costco but not Costco), and get $25 cashback to your AMEX account within 90 days AND YOU CAN GET THIS DEAL FOR THREE VISITS! So, you make one trip, make three purchases, of which they can be gift cards for future trips, and get back $75USD! That is just ONE example of the deals that are out there when you sign into your US AMEX account and choose offers that may include ones like that one! Then, you simply add the offer to your account.
It also offers FOUR FREE TOWS up to 25 miles away! While you may already have CAA, consider cancelling your membership if you can get some kind of towing coverage with your auto insurance. I’m with the Cooperators, and for $10 a year, I get up to $100 towards a tow with no limits, so if I end up needing a tow that is more than 25 miles away, I can charge my insurance to cover up to an extra $100 in towing fees!
To get the card, call 1-800-243-3888 to apply. Let me know how it goes! If you have a Social Security Number, you definitely should apply on line for the 50K AMEX points welcome bonus offer! BTW, in the US, they only allow you to one welcome bonus per card.