There is no doubt that American Express has gradually been increasing its market presence in Canada steadily over the last 10 years. With the introduction of many new cards in the marketplace, it has gradually become one of the top (if not the best) credit card issuers in the country. While some of the other traditional banks have lagged behind on making new and innovative products or launching exciting co-branded partnerships, Amex has leveraged their massive presence in the US to bring Canadians some truly excellent value in their card product line.
As an avid Amex fan and cardholder, the question I’ve been wondering is – what’s next for Amex? What’s the next card they will launch in the Canadian market? Below I’ve outlined some speculative theories on what I think Amex could be planning to launch in Canada over the next few years:
Airline Co-Branded Card
This is the most obvious choice, a partnership between Amex and say Air Canada would be huge for both companies. With all the disruption of COVID-19 this may not come to fruition for a number of years, but we’d love to see American Express in partnership with Air Canada.
Another potential partnership that could make sense is Amex and Westjet, but RBC currently has that contract exclusively locked up for a number of years. We suspect though that when it comes up for renewal, Amex will be chomping at the bit to get in on a deal with one of the top airlines in Canada.
A less likely option would be with Porter, and honestly I can’t see this happening because I think the market for users is too small, but it’s possible Porter benefits could be included as a perk in another type of card they develop.
When is comes to hotel branded Amex cards in Canada, currently the lineup only includes the Bonvoy product suite in partnership with Marriott’s Bonvoy program. This is an awesome card and actually my favourite in Canada at the moment, but we’d love to see some expanded partnerships with Amex and other hotel groups.
There are two options that I think could make sense for American Express. The first would be to launch a card with the Accor Group which includes Fairmont, Raffles, SLS and other luxury brands. Launching a co-branded card with them for Canadians would be very popular as Fairmont has some of the most iconic and beautiful hotels in the country. Accor also has a huge international presence across numerous brands so I could see this making a lot of sense for business travellers and high-end vacationers.
The second option that I could see happening is a partnership with Hilton and the HHonors program, since Canadians lost the only card that used to allow them to earn points there. You can still transfer Amex membership rewards points to the HHonors program with your American Express Cobalt, Gold or Platinum card, but there still isn’t a dedicated Hilton card in the market.
Looking at these two options, if I were to choose I think an Accor group card makes the most sense. It’s never been done before in Canada, their Fairmont brand has a deep connection to the country, and the overall portfolio includes enough locations that it could satisfy even the most demanding cardholders travel itineraries. I think this could be one of the most exciting partnerships Amex could do for the Canadian market and I hope they are actively looking into it (I’m sure they are!).
Lifestyle Rewards Cards
Another segment where I think Amex is going to continue to focus is on the lifestyle rewards category, which is what I’d call the Amex Cobalt Card which is massively successful. I think the approach of monthly rather than annual fees and point multipliers on things like dining out and groceries will continue to be very popular amongst cardholders.
Interestingly the launch of cards like Cobalt was a marked shift from the mentality of the Amex of older days, which focused almost exclusively on wealthy individuals and businesses and was extremely selective in who obtained their cards. With the shift to Cobalt-esque cards, I believe Amex has realized there is another huge market that they can corner by developing diversified card products that appeal to a younger (and potentially less wealthy) audience.
The company did a really good job with the Cobalt card, so I think it’s going to be hard to top that with another product launch anytime soon in the lifestyle category. The only thing that I believe could be a large enough market/interest group would be something around the foodie movement, if they could get enough restaurants on board and say Open Table. Some kind of card that allowed for earning points that could be redeemed at restaurants, preferential dining, guaranteed reservations and so on I believe could have some legs in the Canadian market as a potential idea.
Overall, I’m looking forward to what Amex has in store for the Canadian credit card market. They’ve proven themselves to be one of the most innovative companies and have continually delivered new and interesting partnerships. Let us know what you think about the current Amex product line or anything you’d like to see in the comment section below.
Hailey covers all things related to Canadian credit cards and loyalty programs for our readers. A native of Calgary, Hailey travels frequently for business and is a points enthusiast who maximizes her credit card spends to ensure lots of free vacations and business class flights!