How Credit Cards Work

Boost your card knowledge with a better understanding of the differences between credit and charge cards.

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What is a Credit Card?

A Credit Card gives you the choice to pay for your purchases in full or to carry a balance and make minimum monthly payments.

Customer making a payment

What is a Charge Card?

Charge Cards differ from Credit Cards as the balance must be paid in full each month.
Charge Cards give you the financial flexibility of a no pre-set spending limit on purchases. Your purchases are approved based on a variety of factors, including your credit record, account history and personal resources.    

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How to apply for a Card?

To apply for a personal Card in Canada you need to meet certain eligibility criteria. To save time you click below for all the information you’ll need to apply for an American Express® Card.

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Credit Card Annual Fees

Some American Express® Credit Cards charge an annual fee. The amount will vary depending on the Card you apply for.

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What is Credit Limit?

A credit limit is the maximum amount which can be outstanding at any time on your
account (including use by supplementary cardmembers).     

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What are minimum payments?

You will need to pay at least the minimum payment requested by the payment due date shown on your statement. 

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What is a credit score?

Your credit score is a three-digit number that is calculated based on information in your credit report. It shows a lender how well you manage credit and how risky it may be to lend you money.

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Understanding how we calculate interest on purchases on our Cards

Interest is calculated each day during a billing period on the daily closing balance of charges on which interest is payable at the daily rate. The interest charges for each day are added together and the total interest for the billing period is then charged to your account and will appear on your statement on the last day of the billing period identified as “interest”.

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Using your card abroad

American Express® Cards are accepted around the world so you can use your Card to make purchases overseas wherever American Express is accepted.

Understanding American Express Credit Cards – Useful Terms

  • Statement period: The period in which the transactions reported on your statement relate to. The number of days in each statement period varies and will be 28, 29, 30 or 31 depending on the number of days in the calendar month in which the billing period ends (which is the closing date on your statement).
  • Interest: When you use your Credit Card, you will be charged interest unless you repay the full closing balance by the Payment Due Date shown on your statement. Interest will be expressed as an annual percentage rate.
  • Interest grace period: Interest will not be charged on purchases and you will have an interest grace period for purchases of 21 days from the closing date on your statement. Except for Quebec residents, even if we receive payment in FULL of the new balance shown on your most recent statement, you will still be charged interest on all previously billed and unpaid purchases (if any) up until the date that we receive payment in FULL of that statement. Payment in full means payment of the total new balance shown on your statement which is made up of all charges to your account (including purchases, funds advances, balance transfers and Amex cheques, fees and other charges) up to the closing date.If we do not receive payment in full by the payment due date, the grace period on your next statement will be extended to up to 25 days. The specific due date will be shown on your statement. Interest will be charged on any previous balances during this period. The grace period will revert to 21 days on the next statement after we receive payment in full.If the due date falls on a weekend or Canadian federal or applicable provincial holiday, if we receive payment in full by the next business day, you will still have an interest grace period for purchases as set out in this section.
  • Credit limit: A Credit Card limit is set when you’re approved for a Credit Card and is the maximum amount which can be outstanding at any time on your account (including use by any supplementary cardmembers).
  • Annual fee: An annual Credit Card fee is a fee paid once per year. Not all Credit Cards have an annual fee and American Express offers a range of no annual fee Cards. An annual fee is however charged on some Cards that provide richer rewards, features and benefits.
  • Membership Rewards®: If you choose a Card that earns Membership Rewards points, you can simply charge your everyday purchases or business expenses to your Card and your points will add up quickly. Your points give you access to a wide range of exciting rewards. You can enjoy a selection of top-brand merchandise, redeem points for statement credits, shop with points at or, redeem points for your next travel adventure, and so much more!

Where is American Express Accepted?

You can use your American Express Card for purchases big and small, including many of the places you love to shop at every day. American Express Cards are warmly accepted at thousands of Merchants across Canada.

Explore our Types of Cards

Travel Rewards Cards


Enjoy all the benefits, convenience and security of an American Express® Card - with the added bonus of earning points for travel when you use your Card.

Fraud and Shopping Protection

At American Express, your security and protection are our priority. 

Contactless Payments

Contactless is the quick, easy and secure way to make payments - simply touch your American Express Card on the reader, wait for the beep and you're done. What's more, with Amex Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay and Apple PayTM you can even pay with your phone.

World Class Customer Service

We're available to our customers 24/7. No matter what you require we're ready to help in whatever way we can.