Where is American Express accepted in Canada?

Where is American Express accepted in Canada?

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Updated: July 17, 2024

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American Express credit cards are consistently rated as some of the best credit cards in Canada. Still, despite this stellar reputation, these credit cards also have an unfair reputation of not being widely accepted across the country, which causes many Canadians to avoid them. So, where is American Express accepted in Canada?

American Express credit cards not being widely accepted is a common misconception.

The truth is that you can use American Express credit cards at thousands of merchants across Canada. Except for one or two that we’ll outline below, most retailers in Canada accept American Express credit cards. This availability, combined with the unique benefits of American Express credit cards, means you should think twice before ruling them out as a useful credit tool.

Canadian retailers that accept American Express credit cards

American Express has recently expanded its acceptance rate, and since, most major retailers accept American Express credit cards, including those listed below:

  • Clothing: Aldo, Ardenne, H&M, Hudson’s Bar, Marshalls, Mark’s, Sport Chek, Sunglass Hut, Winner
  • Department: Canadian Tire
  • Electronics: Apple, Best Buy, Canada Computers, Staples
  • Fuel: Esso, Petro-Can, Shell, Ultramar, Irving Oil, Fast Gas Plus, Co-Op Gas Bars, Race Trac, Bluewave Energy
  • Groceries: Safeway, Sobeys, Metro, Metro Plus, Longos, Whole Foods Market, 7-Eleven
  • Hardware: The Home Depot
  • Home DĂ©cor: Homesense, Hudson’s Bay, IKEA, Lowe’s, Marshall’s
  • Hotels & restaurants: Fairmont Resorts & Hotels, McDonald’s, Starbucks, Burger King, Oliver & Bonacini
  • HypermarketsWalmart
  • Online marketplaces: Amazon
  • Pharmacy: London Drugs, Jean Coutu, Rexall, Uniprix, Uniprix Sante, Uniprix Clinique

The lists above are just a small sampling of the thousands of retailers in Canada that accept American Express credit cards.

Get the Amex Cobalt: The best Amex card for shopping

Canadian retailers that don’t accept American Express cards

Unfortunately, the rumor that some retailers don’t accept American Express is not entirely unfounded. There are a few major retailers in Canada that don’t accept American Express credit cards. Many retailers don’t accept American Express because they have their own branded credit cards they’d prefer you to use. In addition, due to a higher fee Amex charges its retail partners (than Visa or Mastercard), many opt out of accepting an American Express credit card.

Costco only accepts Mastercard (not even Visa), and their store credit card is a Mastercard. By only accepting Mastercard, Costco increases the likelihood that you’ll sign up for their branded credit card. Loblaws, with the exception of Shoppers and Costco, are excellent examples of large retailers that don’t accept American Express credit cards. Loblaws wants to get you into their PC financial credit cards.

Other than these retailers, you should be able to use your American Express credit card everywhere you shop.

Why get an American Express credit card?

American Express is consistently ranked as one of the top credit card providers in Canada, and one of the reasons they are so popular is the perks and rewards they offer their loyal cardmembers. Here are two high-earning Amex credit cards to consider.

American Express Cobalt® Card

Apply now

5.0

15,000 pts

Welcome offer

Fair

Suggested credit score

Earn up to 15,000 Membership Rewards points

Pros

  • High earn rates (up to 5% return on spending!)

  • Flexible month-by-month fee structure

  • Free supplementary cards

  • 1:1 points transfer with selected hotels, airlines and frequent flyer programs

Cons

  • Accelerated earn rates only apply to purchases in Canada (not to purchases made abroad)

  • Amex has a more limited merchant acceptance rate than Visa and Mastercard

  • Slightly higher than average annual fee

Eligibility

Recommended Credit Score

Fair

Required Annual Personal Income

$0

Required Annual Household Income

$0

Pros

  • High earn rates (up to 5% return on spending!)

  • Flexible month-by-month fee structure

  • Free supplementary cards

  • 1:1 points transfer with selected hotels, airlines and frequent flyer programs

Cons

  • Accelerated earn rates only apply to purchases in Canada (not to purchases made abroad)

  • Amex has a more limited merchant acceptance rate than Visa and Mastercard

  • Slightly higher than average annual fee

Eligibility

Recommended Credit Score

Fair

Required Annual Personal Income

$0

Required Annual Household Income

$0

Earn 5 times the points on eligible eats and drinks in Canada, including groceries and food delivery. Spend cap applies.

5x

Earn 3 times the points on eligible streaming subscriptions in Canada.

3x

Get 2 times the points on eligible ride shares, transit & gas in Canada.

2x

Earn 1 additional point on eligible hotel and car rental bookings via American Express Travel Online

1x

Earn 1 point for every $1 in Card purchases everywhere else

1x

Get up to $100 USD hotel credit to use on amenities when charged to the room for a stay of 2 or more consecutive nights through The Hotel Collection from American Express Travel.

$100 USD

Purchase APR

21.99%

Cash Advance APR

21.99% - 2.75%

Annual Fee

$155.88

Foreign Transaction Fee

2.50%

The Platinum Card

Apply now

4.5

70,000 pts

Welcome offer

Excellent

Suggested credit score

Earn 70,000 Membership Rewards® points1*

Pros

  • Earn 5X Rewards Points for flights and on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel

  • Access to a wide range of luxury perks, including premium concierge service

  • Complimentary lounge membership providing access to over 1,200 airport lounges worldwide

  • Annual statement credits: $200 airline fee credit, $200 hotel credit, $240 digital entertainment credit

  • Special insurance coverages like trip cancellation/interruption, flight delay, lost or stolen baggage and rental car theft & damage.

  • Provides extended warranty (2 years) and purchase protection (120 days).

Cons

  • High annual fee of $799, one of the heftiest among Canadian cards

  • The rewards system can be complicated, especially for users not familiar with maximizing credit card points

  • Requires good to excellent credit for eligibility

Eligibility

Recommended Credit Score

Excellent

Pros

  • Earn 5X Rewards Points for flights and on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel

  • Access to a wide range of luxury perks, including premium concierge service

  • Complimentary lounge membership providing access to over 1,200 airport lounges worldwide

  • Annual statement credits: $200 airline fee credit, $200 hotel credit, $240 digital entertainment credit

  • Special insurance coverages like trip cancellation/interruption, flight delay, lost or stolen baggage and rental car theft & damage.

  • Provides extended warranty (2 years) and purchase protection (120 days).

Cons

  • High annual fee of $799, one of the heftiest among Canadian cards

  • The rewards system can be complicated, especially for users not familiar with maximizing credit card points

  • Requires good to excellent credit for eligibility

Eligibility

Recommended Credit Score

Excellent

Earn 2 points for every $1 in Card purchases on eligible dining and food delivery in Canada

2x

points for every $1 in Card purchases on eligible travel

2x

point for every $1 in all other Card purchases

1x

Purchase APR

21.99%

Annual Fee

$799

Foreign Transaction Fee

2.50%

American Express insurance coverage

Many American Express credit cards offer a comprehensive suite of insurance coverage. Book your vacation with peace of mind knowing that American Express offers trip interruption and delay insurance, emergency medical insurance, and baggage loss and baggage delay insurance.

If you purchase merchandise such as electronics with your American Express credit card, you’ll likely qualify for purchase assurance, which insures your valuables against damage and theft for several months. Your purchase may also qualify for an extended warranty, which extends the manufacturer’s warranty up to one year.

Finally, if you rent a car, some American Express credit cards offer car rental collision and damage waivers, insuring your vehicle automatically so you don’t have to opt for expensive additional insurance.

American Express Rewards

Amex offers several excellent rewards credit cards that allow you to earn points on everyday purchases. You can redeem these points for free flights, hotels, or even merchandise and gift cards. One example of American Express’s most popular rewards credit card is the American Express Cobalt® Card. This credit card lets you earn 5x the points on eligible eats and drinks in Canada, including groceries and food delivery, 3x the points on eligible streaming subscriptions in Canada, 2X the points for every $1 spent on eligible transit & gas purchases in Canada and eligible travel purchases, and 1X the points on all other purchases. It also comes with a very lucrative welcome offer: In your first year as a new Cobalt® Cardmember, you can earn 1,250 Membership Rewards® points for each monthly billing period in which you spend $750 in net purchases on your Card. This could add up to 15,000 points in a year. That’s up to $150 towards a weekend getaway or concert tickets. Conditions apply.

American Express offers a variety of rewards credit cards for different income levels and spending profiles, so no matter what your daily spending habits, there is a credit card that will suit your needs.

Exclusive perks

American Express offers a variety of exclusive perks to their cardmembers, depending on which credit card you choose. If you enjoy attending exclusive concerts and events, the Front of the Line by American Express Invites will help you secure tickets to in-demand concerts, even if you miss early ticket sales.

If you travel frequently, some American Express credit cards offer great benefits at airports across the country. These benefits could include free airport lounge access, valet services, priority security line access to skip those long security lines, and priority check-in.

Compare the best Amex cards in Canada

Using your American Express credit card with small businesses

While most major retailers in Canada accept American Express credit cards, not all small businesses do. American Express is committed to growing its network of small businesses that accept their credit cards, but there is still a chance you’ll find yourself at one of the few retailers that don’t.

Fortunately, you don’t have to avoid all mom-and-pop stores in your area. To help you determine whether a local retailer will accept your credit card, American Express has built a handy online map that is searchable by location – perfect for when you’re on the hunt for that perfect gift for a loved one.

What should I do if my Amex wasn’t accepted?

If you do run into a situation where you can’t use your American Express credit card, it’s a good idea to have a backup credit card in your wallet. If you’re an avid Costco shopper, a backup Mastercard may be a good idea to maximize your rewards earning at that major retailer.

No matter what the situation, if you find yourself in a position where you can’t use your credit card, American Express wants to know. They’ve created an easy-to-use feedback form to help determine where American Express credit cards are not accepted.

The bottom line

The reputation American Express credit cards have for being unusable with many retailers is mostly unfounded. Most major retailers accept American Express credit cards, and more and more local retailers are being added to their network every day, small businesses included.

For any shopping necessity, it’s definitely a great idea to have an Amex card fill one of your card slots in your wallet. Use your American Express card to get major bonuses and rewards during the biggest shopping season of the year.

Related articles:

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.

  • Which stores in Canada accept Amex?

    +

    More and more stores in Canada now accept Amex in Canada, including Canadian Tire, Home Depot and Walmart. View more stores that accept Amex in Canada.

  • Sources

    +

    American Express, full list of partners: https://www.americanexpress.com/ca/en/rewards-generic/index.html?linknav=CA-Acq-CreditKnowHub-CardAcceptance-WhereAmexAccepted-ClickHere

Jordann Brown is a freelance personal finance writer whose areas of expertise include debt management, homeownership and budgeting. She is based in Halifax and has written for publications including The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, and CBC.

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