Cardholders with high fixed expenses may need to forego paying the full credit card balance each month, and this can get expensive when purchase balance interest rates are frequently 20.00% or higher.

Fortunately, those who have had issues with this in the past can get a much-needed break on their obligations with the American Express Essential™ Credit Card. Cardholders who make purchases or cash advances with the card will pay just 12.99% and 12.99% interest respectively on these portions of their balance, providing the peace of mind to get ahead on other debts.

Also, stay connected with American Express® Experiences. You’ll have access to experiences like in-demand concerts and other events, special offers for food lovers and retail enthusiasts, and wellness experiences.

At a glance

  • 12.99% Purchase APR
  • Free additional cards
  • Buyer’s purchase protections
  • Easy eligibility
  • World-class service from American Express
  • Front of the Line event access
  • Access special events and offers curated for Cardmembers with American Express® Experiences

Pros and cons



  • Low APR for purchases and cash advances

  • Low annual fee and free additional cards

  • Buyer’s purchase protections for extended warranty

  • Easy eligibility for Canadian residents

  • World-class service from American Express

  • Access to exclusive events with American Express® Experiences



  • Potential high fees for late-payments and foreign transactions

  • Interest rates may increase if payments are missed

  • Limited installment program fees may apply

Why we like the American Express Essential™ Credit Card:

  1. 1.

    Low annual fee: The low annual fee on primary and no annual fee for additional cards represents savings of hundreds of dollars over time, as many similar cards charge up to $70 per year just for being a member. This benefit aligns well with the other money-saving functions inherent in the American Express Essential™ Credit Card, providing a great solution for those individuals who want to put most dollars they save towards reducing their debt.

  2. 2.

    Low-rate deal: The Amex Essential™ Credit Card offers a low special purchase rate (12.99%) and cash advance rate (12.99%), but make sure to make minimum payments, or the rate will increase. Competing cards typically offer an APR of around 20% or more, potentially saving hundreds or thousands over the year.

  3. 3.

    Purchase protection: Buyers can rest assured that their expensive purchases made with the card receive extra protection. All warranties on items bought with the American Express Essential™ Credit Card receive an extension of up to a year, and new items are insured against damage or theft for 90 days after purchase.

  4. 4.

    Easy eligibility: Often, a low credit score or smaller household income will hold back the neediest individuals from gaining access to the tools that can help them most. But entry barriers to the American Express Essential™ Credit Card are relatively minimal. To qualify, applicants must be Canadian residents with an existing credit file, which indicates some history of taking out a loan or using a credit card. They must also be at or above their provincial or territorial age of majority.

  5. 5.

    Amex services: Members of American Express have an added advantage wherever they happen to be in that many potentially life-saving services are at their beck and call. Emergency card replacement, 24/7 customer service, fraud protection, prevention tools, and $100,000 worth of travel accident insurance help cardholders keep their cool in urgent circumstances.

  6. 6.

    Exclusive experiences: Members can access special events and offers with American Express® Experiences. You’ll have access to exclusives such as Front of the Line® services with live and special events, entertainment experiences with advanced movie screenings and theatre packages, private shopping excursions, and special dining experiences. You’ll also be privy to wellness experiences and on-site benefits.

Amex Essential™ card type and interest rate:

The American Express Essential™ Credit Card is classified by Amex as a "credit card" rather than a charge card (which has higher interest rates). The card comes with a 12.99% interest rate on purchases and 12.99% on cash advances.

Purchase interest rates can increase to 24.99%-26.99% Variable if multiple payment dates are missed. Be sure to read through the card’s other relevant interest rates before you apply.

American Express Essential™ Credit Card fees

Features Cost
Annual fee $25
Additional card fee $0 each
Late fee See AMEX
Foreign transaction fee 2.5%
Funds advanced $2.75 each
Dishonoured payment $45 each
Statement reprint $3 per statement
Overlimit $29 when you exceed your credit limit and at the end of each subsequent billing period if you remain overlimit (except for Quebec residents)
Balance transfer/Amex cheque Up to 3% of the amount of each balance transfer and Amex cheque, if offered, unless reduced for a specific offer.
Installment program A monthly fee of up to 1.2% (subject to change), calculated on each balance moved to the installment program and charged each month while the balance to which it relates, or a portion of such balance, remains in the installment program.

Eligibility requirements

Eligibility for the American Express Essential™ Credit Card requires Canadian residency, a Canadian credit file, and age of majority in the province or territory where you live.

Is the American Express Essential™ Credit Card worth it?

For those who are having difficulty paying off their purchase balance and want a tool that doesn’t make it so painful, there are few better options than the one offered by American Express with their American Express Essential™ Credit Card. A low regular rate gives cardholders a break from the high-interest charges that amass on purchases and cash advances. Alongside some valuable features from American Express, like extended warranties and other purchase assurances, a low annual fee helps bolster the benefits of this card and make it an effective savings tool for cardholders of all varieties.

American Express is not responsible for maintaining or monitoring the accuracy of information on this website. For full details and current product information click the Apply now link. Conditions apply. Editorial Team

The Editorial Team is a group of passionate financial experts, seasoned journalists, and content creators who are deeply committed to providing unbiased, relevant, and accurate financial information. With years of combined industry experience, our team is dedicated to maintaining the highest journalistic standards and delivering informative and engaging content. From personal finance and investing to retirement planning and business finance, we cover a broad range of topics to suit the financial needs of our diverse readership. You can trust the Editorial Team to empower you with the knowledge and tools necessary to make wise financial decisions.


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