Review of American Express AeroplanPlus Reserve and Platinum Cards

On October 1, 2016, American Express reduced their Aeroplan sign up-bonus by 10000 Aeroplan points on the American Express AeroplanPlus Reserve Card and the American Express AeroplanPlus Platinum Card.

These two cards have some of the highest annual credit card fees ($899; $499 respectively) in Canada. With this American Express Fall 2016 Incentive Reduction it begs the questions: are either of these cards still worth considering? And, what are you getting for such a high fee (other than less than a week ago)?

Boomer Traveller KISS (keep it simple and stupid) review: At a high level, both of these cards equally fill a small market niche primarily targeted towards frequent Air Canada economy-class flyers who do not have either an Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Pass, nor adequate Air Canada Altitude status to use Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounges (which have a near monopoly in Canada’s smaller domestic airports).

If you use the full suite of perks available, these cards are valuable way beyond the cost of their fees; however, in both cases:
• the price is high and the sign-up bonus low for what you are paying for;
• you have to sign up for many of the individual perks that come with the card (for the hefty sign-up fee you would think this would be done for you);
• there is no renewal incentive after the first year;
• the insurance travel coverage only applies if you book the trip using the card (e.g., it would not apply if you fully book your travel using reward points); and,
• Boomer Traveller’s biggest pet peeve: while cost of the emergency medical insurance is wrapped into your annual fee, only persons under the age of 65 are covered. Thus older Boomers who pay for this card are subsidizing everyone else. If older Boomers can not get the benefits from this insurance then they should not have to pay for it. Period.

Of the two cards, the
American Express AeroplanPlus Platinum Card
offers the overall better value.

High Level Card Comparison

Variable Compared American Express AeroplanPlus Reserve Card  American Express AeroplanPlus Platinum Card 
Annual Fee Worst Best
Perks Best Worst
Sign Up Bonus Value Worst Best
Aeroplan Rewards on $25,000 Spend Worst Best
Rewards on $100,000 spend Worst Best
Value of Insurance Equal Equal
Value of Lounge  Best Worst

 

Detailed Card Comparison

Benefits American Express AeroplanPlus Reserve Card (RC) American Express AeroplanPlus Platinum Card (PC) Comment
Card Fee $899 $499 No discount in first or second year
Supplementary Card Fee $299 $199 Very poor value for money.
Aeroplan Points Sign up bonus (after min. spend) 50,000 40,000 Only available to new card members; est. value=~$100-$300 per 10000 points; From a points:fee the PC better value
Min. Spend (first 3 months) $3,000 $1,000 PC better value
Aeroplan Earn 1.25 Aeroplan Miles per $1 in purchases; 2 Miles per $1 of eligible Air Canada purchases. 1.25 Aeroplan Miles per $1 in Card purchases max. $25,000/yr; 1.5 Aeroplan Miles per $1 over $25,000 annually. No point advantage in card renewal.
Type of Card Credit Card Charge Card  
Lounge Access: Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Yes Yes Good for frequent economy-class Air Canada flyers who do not yet have Elite status or an Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Pass; est. value <$375
Lounge Access: Priority Pass Yes Yes Good if you do significant economy international travel; est. value <$99
Annual Partner Ticket Short-haul or long-haul roundtrip Fixed Mileage Flight Reward when you redeem up to 25,000 Aeroplan Miles 15,000 Aeroplan Miles for a short-haul roundtrip Fixed Mileage Flight Reward  Est. value ~$250/$150 – $750/$450; From a points:fee the PC better value
$200 Travel Credit each anniversary Yes
First checked bag on flights operated by Air Canada/Star Alliance Up to 5 $25 per bag per trip; does not include oversized luggage
Apple Pay Yes Yes
Air Canada Priority Check-In; Pearson Airport perks Yes Yes
Referral bonus No Yes
Emergency Medical Insurance (out of province/country Yes Yes BOOMER WARNING: emergency medical expenses only apply to people under the age of 65; if you are over 65 and you get this card you are paying for an insurance that you will not be able to use
Other Insurance: Trip Cancellation, Trip interruption, Travel Accident, Travel Emergency Assistance, Flight Delay, Baggage Delay/Loss/Theft, Hotel Burglary, Car Rental Theft/Damage Yes Yes
Buyers Assurance Protection Plan Yes Yes
Purchase Protection Plan Yes Yes
American Express Invites Yes No
Front of the Line Yes
Reserved Seating Yes
American Express Concierge Yes No
Access to Aeroplan Priority Line Yes No
Hertz Gold Plus Rewards Membership Yes Yes
Leaders Club Membership Yes No
Churnable No No

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