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.

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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 purchases.

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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 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 that you can have on your Credit Card at anytime, including purchases, interest charges and fees. 

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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?

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. 

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Understanding interest on purchases?

Interest is applied to your closing balance at the end of each day and then totalled up to calculate your monthly statement balance.

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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.

Understanding Credit Cards – 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: 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 to the payment due date if every month we receive payment in full by the due date. 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.
  • Repayments: When your statement arrives, you’ll need to choose how you want to make repayments. You can choose to repay the entire closing balance on or before the Payment Due Date shown on your statement, in which case you’ll avoid paying interest. You also have the option of paying the minimum payment, however you will be charged interest on the unpaid balance.
  • Closing balance: The amount you owe at the end of a statement period.
  • Credit Card limit: A Credit Card limit is set when you’re approved for a Credit Card and is the maximum amount of credit you can use on your Card. All Credit Cards have a maximum and a minimum Credit limit.
  • Annual fee: An annual Credit Card fee is a fee paid once per year to a financial services provider, in return for access to benefits and services on the Credit Card product you hold. 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 in return for richer rewards, features and benefits.
  • Balance transfer: A balance transfer is when you move an existing Credit Card balance onto another Credit Card. If you have a high interest Credit Card balance you’d like to pay off, a balance transfer to another Credit Card with a lower interest rate can help you keep on top of your payments.
  • Membership Rewards: If you choose a Membership Rewards points earning Card, you’ll earn Membership Rewards points every time you use your Card through the American Express Membership Rewards loyalty program. Membership Rewards points that can be redeemed for your next travel adventure, a new outfit, concert tickets and more of the things you love.

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 everyday. 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.

AIR MILES Credit Cards


Get all the convenience and security of an American Express Card while earning AIR MILES® reward miles.

Aeroplan Cards


Get all the convenience and security of an American Express® Card while earning Aeroplan®* Miles.

Platinum Cards


Looking for something special? Then consider one of our Platinum Cards to experience a level of membership that complements and enhances your lifestyle.

Cash Back Credit Cards


Get all the convenience and security of an American Express Card while earning cash back on all your eligible purchases with the card.

No Annual Fee Credit Cards


Want a Credit Card that meets your needs without having to pay an annual fee?

Fraud and Shopping Protection

At American Express, your security and protection are our priority. Our technology has been designed to give you peace of mind when using your Card

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 whether it's by phone, text or email. No matter what you require we're ready to help in whatever wat we can.