American Express Essential Credit Card

Andrew Reyes
A credit card being swiped through a payment terminal.
  • Annual percentage rate (APR): 12.99% to 26.99%;
  • Purchase intro APR: None;
  • Rewards: None;
  • Annual fee: None;
  • Late fee: N/A;
  • Credit score: Very good to excellent (740 to 850).
  • Compare cards here.

Table of Contents


  • No annual fee: Most American Express cards come with an annual fee in the $100 range or higher, with the premium cards, such as the Platinum or Reserve level averaging $500 to $900 per year. If you’d like to take advantage of Amex’s excellent customer service and cardholder insurance coverages, the Essential Credit Card allows you entry-level access for no annual fee.
  • Low interest: Besides saving on an annual fee, the low APR of 12.99% gives you the flexibility to carry a balance and pay your card in monthly installments without spending too much in interest.
  • Free additional cards: Request a card for a spouse or child away at college for no additional cost. This could come in handy if you’re interested in helping a loved one build credit or to ensure that they have a card they can use in case of an emergency.


  • No rewards: Cards that provide the option to earn points or rewards make it possible for cardholders to leverage their card spending for free travel, merchandise, or cash back. Unfortunately, the Amex Canada Essential Credit Card doesn’t have a rewards program.
  • No sign-up bonus: There isn’t much incentive to apply for an Essential Amex. The card issuer doesn’t provide any welcome or sign-up bonuses, such as an introductory balance transfer offer, cash back, or bonus points.
  • High penalty interest rate: If you miss payments, Amex doesn’t typically charge you a late fee. Instead, the company bumps up the APR on your balance due, costing you more on repaying your balance. The biggest selling point of the Amex Essential Credit Card is the low interest rate. But if you’re late on your payments, expect to see the APR jump up to 23.99% and/or 26.99%.

What Can You Expect From the American Express Canada Essential Card?

The American Express Essential Credit Card doesn’t come with many bells and whistles you need to learn about. It’s a fairly simple card product without any worries about rewards earnings, spending categories, or other features many credit cards come with. Nevertheless, there are several notable features you should know about.

Flexible Payment Terms

Most Amex cards are charge cards, meaning they don’t have a preset spending limit and must be paid in full each month. The Essential Credit Card gives you the option to pay the statement balance in full to avoid any interest charges or to pay the balance month to month.

Insurance Coverage

Once you’re an Essential cardholder, travel and purchases made with the card are protected with several types of coverages:

  • Buyer’s Assurance Protection: Extends a manufacturer’s warranty up to an additional year;
  • Purchase Protection: Protects your recent purchases against damages or theft;
  • Travel Accident Insurance: Coverage of up to $100,000 against accidental death or dismemberment.

Amex Canada Mobile App

Pay your bills, monitor your spending, and download statements from the Amex Canada mobile app. It provides a faster and easier way to stay on top of your account.

Special Access to Concerts and Events

As an American Express cardholder, you’ll have access to American Express Invites and Front Of The Line, which give you the option to buy tickets or entries before the non-card-holding public for concerts, theater, shopping, and dining experiences.

Who Should Get the American Express Canada Essential Card?

If you’re a cost-conscious resident of Canada and don’t see the need to pay for credit, the American Express Canada Essential Card is ideal for you. The no-frills Amex comes with no annual fee and a low interest rate of 12.99%, even for cash advances.

You’ll miss out on exciting perks, such as welcome bonuses and rewards points for free travel and merchandise, but you’ll save money on the cost of having a credit card. The low interest rate gives you the flexibility to pay your card in full each month or in installments.

The American Express Essential Credit Card may be no-frills, but it does have value. You’ll still have access to Amex customer service and a variety of insurance and cardholder coverages including Purchase Protection, Buyer’s Assurance Protection, and $100,000 Travel Accident Insurance.

Compare other low interest credit cards and learn more here.

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