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How credit cards work

How credit cards work

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

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. You can use it to pay for purchases online, over the phone or in person. You can even use it to pay for goods and services in other countries. There are other advantages to having a Credit Card – many offer benefits such as rewards and insurance related coverages.

Discover our Credit Cards

What is a Charge Card?

Charge Cards differ from Credit Cards as they give you the financial flexibility of no pre-set spending limit for purchases1, and you must pay the balance in full each month. No pre-set spending limit doesn’t mean unlimited spending. Purchases are approved based on several factors including your current spending patterns, payment history, credit record, and financial resources. Proof of resources and security may be required.

Discover our Charge Cards

 
Discover American Express Card types

Different types of Cards exist so that you can choose the one that best suits your individual needs and the way you spend:

  • Travel Rewards Cards and Frequent Flyer Cards - If you’re a jet-setter, this type of Card will earn you travel rewards for making everyday purchases on your Card.
  • Cashback Credit Cards – Enjoy cash back on every day purchases, from shopping at the supermarket to paying your bills.
  • Platinum Cards — Incredible rewards and luxurious benefits for those who appreciate the finer things in life.
  • No Annual Fee Cards – For those who’d like to experience benefits with a no annual fee.
  • Low Rate Credit Cards — Enjoy more financial flexibility with a low interest rate on purchases.
  • AirMiles Credit Cards – You can earn AIR MILES®* Reward miles on all purchases you charge to your Card.
  • Aeroplan Cards – You can earn Aeroplan®** Miles on purchases you charge to your Card.
Explore our Types of Cards
 
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.

Find out how to apply for a Card

Understanding interest on purchases

It is important to remember that if you have a Credit Card and you don’t pay off your balance in full by the due date shown on your statement, you will be charged interest on all purchases shown on that month’s statement and interest will applied to your account. The amount of interest you may be charged is impacted by:

  • Whether you pay your Credit Card balance in full or make a minimum payment.
  • The amount you spend and the interest rate on your purchases.

When you receive your statements, the details of your purchases and the amount of interest you have been charged will be clearly displayed.

Learn more about Card Interest

Credit Card Annual Fees

Some American Express® Cards charge an annual fee – The amount will vary depending on the Card you apply for, along with the benefits and features available to you on that card.

Learn more about Credit Card Fees

What is Credit Limit?

When you open your Credit Card Account you are assigned a Credit Limit which is the maximum amount that can be outstanding at any time on your account. Every Credit Card comes with a Credit limit.

Learn more about Credit Limits

Minimum Payments

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

By paying off more than the minimum payment each month by the due date, you will pay less interest. To avoid paying interest, you should make a practice of paying your entire balance prior to your statement due date.

Learn more about Credit Card Repayment

What is Credit Score?

Your credit score is one of your most important financial tools. Understanding your credit score can help you plan for the future and is a strong indicator of your likelihood of being approved for a credit card.

Learn more about Credit Score

Where is American Express Accepted?

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

Find out where American Express is accepted

Using your Card Abroad

American Express® Cards are accepted around the world, so you can have peace of mind when using your Card to make purchases overseas.

Find out how to use your Card Abroad

Useful terms

Statement period

The period in which the transactions reported on your statement relate to. Generally, your statement period will be every 30 days, the actual dates can vary slightly from month to month.

Interest

Each time you or any supplementary Cardmember charges purchases, funds advances, balance transfer and Amex cheques to your account, we make a loan to you.

Interest grace period for purchases

Interest will not be charged on purchases and you have an interest grace period for purchases of 21 days from the closing date on your statement to the payment due date if every month we receive payment in full by the due date.

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.

Some of our Featured Cards
 

Credit Cards Explained

Has talk of interest, annual fees, rates and percentages left you feeling confused?

Our simple Credit and Charge Card guides are a great place to start.

Where is American Express accepted

Learn More

How to apply for a Card

Learn More

What Card fees am I expected to pay

Learn More

What is Card Interest

Learn More

How to pay off your Card

Learn More

What is Credit Limit

Learn More

What is Credit Score

Learn More

What is a Charge Card

Learn More

Using your Card Abroad

Learn More
 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is ‘Credit Limit’?

When you open your Credit Card Account you are given a Credit Limit which is the maximum amount that can be outstanding at any time on your account. Every Credit Card comes with a Credit limit. The Credit limit and the amount of credit available on the account will be shown as of the closing date on your statement.

For the most up to date information on the credit limit and the available credit on your Card account, you can log on to ‘Online Services’ to access information on your Card account. You may also call American Express Customer Service at 1-800-869-3016 to inquire about the available credit limit on your Card account.

What is a Charge Card?

The main difference of Charge Card from a Credit Card is that a Charge requires that the balance must always be paid in full each month.

What is my minimum payment on my American Express Credit Card?

The minimum payment due is the payment required to avoid your account going past due. The Minimum payment due is displayed on the Account Summary page within Online Services' and is also displayed on your statement. For more details on payments, please refer to your Cardmember Agreement.

How do we calculate interest on purchases?

Any interest on a purchase is charged from and including the day it is made (also referred to as the transaction date on your statement), or from and including the first day of the billing period in which the purchase is first charged to your account, if that is later, until the day we receive payment in full. For additional details please refer to your Cardmember Agreement and disclosure statement.

 

American Express Benefits

FRAUD AND SHOPPING PROTECTION

Your security and protection are our priority. Our technology has been designed to give you peace of mind when using your card

Learn More about Fraud Protection

WORLD CLASS CUSTOMER SERVICE

Access to our customer service is available 24/7 by phone, text or email.

Learn More about Customer Service

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 and Apple PayTM you can even pay with your phone.

Learn more about Contactless Payments

Explore Our Credit Cards

American Express Offers a range of Credit Cards with different rewards and benefits tailored to your lifestyle and interests.

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