Amex GoldI received a reader tip last week about a new promotion that the American Express Business Gold card is having, it’s almost too good to be true.

They are offering a 25,000 welcome points along with waiving the $180 annual fee for the first year.  What’s the big deal?  The 25k points are transferable 1:1 to Aeroplan which equates to a free flight anywhere in North America!  So basically, a free vacation for nothing out of your pocket courtesy of American Express.

What’s the catch?  In order to receive the bonus, the card holder must spend at least $1,000 on the AMEX in the first 3 months.  For most of us with regular bills, spending $333/month on a credit card is pretty easy to achieve.

The Rewards

  • 25,000 welcome bonus points! (after spending $1k in first 3 months)
  • Transfer points to Aeroplan.  Instantly. 1 point = 1 Aeroplan Mile.
  • Earn 1 point for every $1 of spending with no spending caps.
  • Earn up to 40,000 bonus points every year when you reach spending milestones.
  • Transfer points to Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles, Continental Airlines, or Delta Air Lines and access their 27 airline partners.
  • Or book virtually any trip or vacation package. Pay all or part with points. No blackouts.
  • More reward choices. Like The Home Depot, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, Sony, Apple.

Comprehensive Insurance Package

  • Disability plan for Small Business.
  • $100,000 travel accident insurance.
  • Car rental theft and damage insurance.
  • Flight and Baggage Delay Insurance.
  • Hotel/Motel Burglary Insurance.
  • Travel Emergency Assistance.

The Downside

  • American Express isn’t as widely accepted as other credit cards.  However, great for Costco shoppers like myself.
  • The $180 annual fee after the first year (waived in the first year).
  • Missing the extended warranty and purchase insurance that I expect from credit cards.

Interested in this Card?

If you’re interested in this freebie/deal, you can apply for the American Express Business Gold card online here.

Final Thoughts

A free flight anywhere in North American for simply signing up for a credit card seems like a great deal to me, especially with nothing out of pocket.  If after the first year the $180 annual fee doesn’t justify the rewards, then simply call them up and negotiate a better price for staying loyal with them.

What are your thoughts?  Would you sign up for a credit card deal like this one for the welcome bonus?

You can find more details about the American Express Business Gold card here.


  1. lindahfx on March 10, 2009 at 8:55 am

    Do you have to use it for business purposes only?

  2. dcsales on March 10, 2009 at 9:23 am

    do you have to keep the card after the first year?

  3. FrugalTrader on March 10, 2009 at 9:33 am

    lindahfx, I don’t believe that the card requires that you use it for business “only”. But it’s probably best to double check with them.

    dcsales, like any credit card, I don’t believe there is no requirement to keep the card after the first year.

  4. Jason on March 10, 2009 at 10:47 am

    This offer sounds great, but as posted above – Do you have to be in business to qualify?

    Also, the article mentions possibly negotiating with AE on the 180$ annual fee. Has anyone tried this with any other card / any success? I currently have an Avion Visa – $1=1POINT, 15000 points and up to get credit towards flights. This card has an annual fee of $120, I pay the balance off every month and have received 2 free (not including taxes) round trips from ONT to NS in the past 3 years. My annual fee is charged to my account in May – any chance if I called they would possibly lower my annual fee?

  5. FrugalTrader on March 10, 2009 at 10:51 am

    Jason, my experience is that everything is negotiable. I find that companies are especially receptive to negotiation if you’ve been a good customer and gently mention to them that you’re considering switching to a competitor.

  6. Kathy on March 10, 2009 at 11:01 am

    As for the question of if you must be a business owner, the answer in the terms and conditions states that Yes, you must only use this card for the business which you have stated it to be used for.

  7. mojo30 on March 10, 2009 at 11:36 am

    Read the fine print, they are going to want their $180 somehow.

  8. Tom on March 10, 2009 at 11:55 am

    When we decided to get rid of our CIBC Aeroplan Gold card ($120 annual fee), I know that based on our spending ($2000/month), they were making at LEAST 1% (if not closer to 2%), or $240 off of us being a customer, just by the merchant fees that they were pulling in. I told them this, and that I wanted the annual fee waived or I was going to cancel the card then and there. They hmm’d and hum’d about it for a while, and after speaking to ‘supervisors’, they agreed to give a one-time credit of $60 toward’s the current year’s fees. Not good enough I told them, and I cancelled the card. I always found getting flights to popular destinations from Toronto difficult anyways, so I wasn’t getting much benefit from all these non-existant flights I could take (unless I upgrade to a higher redemption level with more available seats, in which case Aeroplan becomes even less desireable). Nevermind that, you still have to pay taxes, which these days are often more than the cost of the flight!

    I was just surprised that they wouldn’t waive the fee even for someone who they’re otherwise making a lot of money off of. Perhaps there are enough people willing to shell out $120/year that they don’t care. I’m now on an MBNA no-fee 1% cash back card and haven’t looked back since.

  9. CanadianFinance on March 10, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    Tom, I believe most (if not all) of the transaction fees are profit for Visa. CIBC would profit on your interest paid, or at least in your case, your annual fee.

    FT, thanks for the info, I might give this card a try for 3-11 months and then decide if it’s worth keeping!

  10. Ms Save Money on March 10, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    Yup true. I never had an American Express until I became a Costco Member.

  11. Ray on March 10, 2009 at 2:21 pm

    AMEX was offering some customer up to $300 to cancel their accounts now offering this? I think the management is a little confused.

    Tom: CanadianFinance is rigth, the banks dnt make money on the transaction fees, those go straight to Visa or Mastercard, banks make their profits on the interest.

  12. Tom on March 10, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    CF/Ray – ahh that makes sense then. In that case, it seems like I was a cash cow for Visa but not for CIBC, since I always paid off my balance. I guess that’s why CIBC wanted my annual fee so badly :)

  13. Kelly on March 10, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    I am wary of signing up for a cards I’m not going to use, just to get the sign-up bonus. It all goes on your credit report, whether you use it or not. Then, if you’re applying for credit you really are going to use, they could deny you, b/c you already have too much credit. Especially these days.

  14. Michael on March 10, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    I prefer my AirMiles AMEX still. I don’t do much flying and would rather collect points and claim for everyday things like gas, groceries, and pharmacy items.

  15. OH on March 11, 2009 at 12:25 am

    I have the CIBC Aeroplan card ($120 annual fee). Approaching my second year I was able to negotiate with the rep to discount this fee by $75 (so, $45 annual fee) or I would cancel the card. Letting you know, as someone already said, ALMOST anything is negotiable.

    Good luck!

  16. CanadianFinance on March 11, 2009 at 12:44 am

    Tom, I’m sure banks want my business even less… not only do I pay off the balance in full but I don’t have an annual fee. There are a few good credit cards that have all the extras but no annual fee, some of which FT has reviewed on this site!

  17. Sarlock on March 11, 2009 at 3:54 am

    I’m using the CIBC Aerogold Infinite card. 15k points to sign up, 1:1 on purchases, extra 50% for purchases at gas stations, groceries and drug stores. It is working well for us. I put a ton of our business expenses through it, does wonders for the point accumulation.

    I’d go with the AMEX, but it is limited in places that will accept it, so I went with the Visa instead.

  18. Kathryn on March 11, 2009 at 11:32 am

    It goes against two of my personal polices.

    1) I never pay a year fee for a credit card .. no matter what the perks are.

    2) I never sign up for anything where the monthly rate is reduced “for a limited time” as the incentive.

    FT ~ I’m curious though (and you don’t have to answer this question) but did you sign up for it? You mentioned a reader sent it in but I couldn’t help but wonder if you thought it was worth it.

  19. FrugalTrader on March 11, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    Kathryn, I have the same policies as you, however, this one is tempting! I haven’t pulled the trigger on this one yet as I’m not an Aeroplan collector. However, it is enticing as it gives enough aeroplan points for a free flight right away.

  20. canabiz on March 12, 2009 at 10:58 pm

    I already have AMEX Airmiles so no I won’t apply for this one and besides we typically only flight to Asia/Europe and we try to drive/bus/ride the train to other North American spots to truly appreciate and enjoy the beauty of this continent so this one doesn’t really help us.

    I also do not like to pay annual fee for credit cards. The banks already make a ton of money off the interest, there’s no need to give them more.

  21. LuLu on March 19, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    I signed up for American Express Business Gold in January. You *DO NOT* need to be a business owner. You can use your own name as your business name (self proprietary). One drawback is that it’s a charge card, not a credit card. That means you have to pay the balance in full every month, or the interest is ridiculously high.

  22. FrugalTrader on March 19, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    LuLu, thanks for the clarification. It’s debatable whether or not being a chargecard is a drawback. Personally, I think that forcing someone to pay off the balance every month is a good thing!

  23. cannon_fodder on March 19, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    When my CIBC Aerogold was up for renewal last summer I negotiated with them to reduce the annual fee by $75 to $45 just like mentioned above.

  24. cannon_fodder on March 19, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    Actually, the 25,000 points doesn’t really get you a free flight. You have to pay for taxes and surcharges which will probably be in the $150 to $250 range.

    Of course, that’s assuming that you can even find a flight available for only 25,000 points. Aeroplan has been criticized for making it tougher and tougher to get flights at the lowest point levels.

  25. LuLu on March 19, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    cannon_fodder, agreed with you. For a flight from Toronto-New York (JFK), it’s 15,000 pts + C$149 tax. You could have spent $320 (tax included) for other airline (and collect points). So the 15,000 pts is worth $171. Not a very sweet deal to me.

    Last Christmas (2008), I redeemed my 75,000 Aeroplan points + $410 (fuel charge + tax) for Asia. I could have bought via Continential ticket for $1,000. So my 75,000 was even worth less (75,000 = $590), and I lost the opportunity to collect Continential points.

  26. Daniel Morel on March 27, 2009 at 10:47 pm

    Can you get merchandise with your points? Or only flights?

  27. LuLu on March 27, 2009 at 11:32 pm

    Merchandise as well. There’s a reward page, and you do the transfer yourself.

  28. Jason on March 31, 2009 at 8:49 pm

    Do credit card companies place restrictions on what you can and can not use them for. I am asking in regard to accumulating points. IE Major Purchases such as cars or mortgage payments. (wouldn’t spend more than I could afford to cover for any given payment)

    • FrugalTrader on March 31, 2009 at 9:22 pm

      Jason, I think the only restrictions are with the merchant and not the credit card companies. If it were up to CC companies, they would have you use their cards on everything.

  29. LuLu on April 1, 2009 at 12:22 am

    Exactly Jason. As FT said, the more you spend, the happier the CC company feels. This AMEX Business Gold (I have it) is a charge-card, meaning there’s no limit how much you spend per month, but you have to pay the balance in full every month. Otherwise the interest charge is huge (I think it’s 29.9%)

  30. wags_in_the_peg on April 3, 2009 at 10:19 am

    well i applied and got myself and wife a card. i have never paid a fee for a card before so i may cancel when it comes up. ($230 bcuz of the xtra card). I received the card yesterday, we put a lot on our card (presently we use a PC Mastercard), and am looking forward to collecting MIles for some free flights. They are transferable to Delta so that is all good for me. I have already transfered my Y membership, daughters Y daycare, phone bill and hopefully alot more soon. When it comes to renewal time, I’ll judge to see how many miles i collected and see if it is worth renewing (after some negotiation of course)

  31. Jono on May 29, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    I just called up CIBC Aerogold and told them I was going to bail.

    They gave me 5k bonus points, one time only. Better than nothing.

  32. whadoiknow on May 31, 2009 at 5:40 pm

    25,000 points equals a free flight? Maybe if you don’t mind flying to tampa through pittsburgh, charlotte and staying overnight. As a long time Aeroplan customer, I can tell you one thing. The only flights 25,000 points gets you these days are the high traffic, multiple flights a day routes. And even then it’s often for the undesirable times (ie long weekend, flying back at 7am on the holiday). Stick to Montreal, Chicago, New York etc and you may find 25,000 points will get you there. Oh…and a couple hundred bucks a ticket in fees. Do I sound like someone using a remotely connected topic to vent about Air Canada? Yes, yes I do. And I’m ok with it.

  33. Dave on December 7, 2009 at 3:43 am

    i have had both CIBC Aeroplan and AMEX..I rotate every year to get the signup bonus. In 5 years we have had 3 trips to Europe and are going business class next fall. I always pay my account in full and pay no interest. The total cost per ticket to Nice to Victoria is $500.00. This plus my annual $120.00 is a cheap business class ticket. If you want to get a seat you have to book months in advance..Next spring I will cancel my CIBC card and get the AMEX card which is free for a year plus 25,000 miles towards my next trip.

  34. Pete on January 30, 2010 at 2:21 pm


    That is exactly what I do. Why would anyone pay for a renewal without getting the free aeroplan miles.

  35. Tracy on February 3, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    RBC Avion Platinum people! If you are going to pay for a card it better be this one! $120 annual fee, all the perks, 1 RBC point per $1. Wait for the special offers to convert to BA miles at a rate of 1.5%… 23,500 RBC points converted to BA Miles is enough for an east coast Canada round trip flight to Hawaii. So if you spend around $23,500 a year you’d get a $1,500 flight in return. No blackouts, can even travel and get flights in the high seasons. I go at the busiest times of the year and have never had a problem with getting seats. I’ve been to Hawaii 3 times since I got this card. Takes me about a year for a round ticket flight to Hawaii, but my mother has this card as well and it only takes her 4 months. lol

  36. KT on February 9, 2010 at 9:44 pm

    Read the site and I see card requires $3000.00 purchase in first 3 months.
    Did I miss something?

  37. FrugalTrader on February 9, 2010 at 10:10 pm

    KT, I believe what they mean is that you need to spend at least $3k total on the card in 3 months. Not a big deal for regular credit card users.

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