Clash of the Credit Cards!
American Express® Green Card vs.
CIBC Aeroplan® Visa* Card

First posted on October 12, 2021

Cobalt vs. eclipse

Welcome to another Rewards Canada Clash! This time in our Clash of the Credit Cards we have two no annual fee credit cards that earn Air Canada Aeroplan points go against each other! Those cards are the American Express® Green Card and the CIBC Aeroplan® Visa* Card

Past clashes:

In this match up we look at over half a dozen criteria to compare the cards against one another along with a head to head detailed table comparison. This match up was made possible when American Express changed things up in August of 2021 by allowing cards like the American Express Cobalt Card and the American Express Green Card convert their points directly to Aeroplan instead of having to go through Marriott Bonvoy first.

Annual Fees / Sign Up Bonus

The first part of this category is easy - there are no annual fees on these cards, zero, zip,nada.

The income requirements for these cards differ slightly but aren't hugely different. American Express, does not have any set out income requirement but approval is based upon your credit rating and income does likely play a part - there's just no set minimum. The CIBC card does have a $15,000 annual income requirement.

When it comes to Aeroplan points the standard sign up bonus from both cards is the same. The American Express Green Card offers 10,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $1,000 on the card in the first three months. Those 10,000 Membership Rewards points can be converted 1:1 to Aeroplan so essentially you have 10,000 Aeroplan points. The standard bonus on the CIBC Aeroplan Visa Card is 10,000 Aeroplan points which are awarded on your first purchase. So here we have both cards offering the same welcome bonus when it comes to the number of Aeroplan points you earn. The Green card does requires some spending while the CIBC card you could spend as little as $1 and be done with it. So who wins this category - well that's a tough one but I would give the slight edge to the American Express Green Card since the points can be used for more redemption options than just Aeroplan. I'm thinking flexibility here even though this feature focuses on Aeroplan points.

Rates

There is a very slight difference in the interest rates charged on these cards. The CIBC Card is 20.99% on purchases and 22.99% on cash advances while the American Express card is 20.99% and 21.99% respectively. While neither is great here this category goes to the American Express Green Card Card for its 1% better cash advance rate.

Bonus Features & Benefits

As these are no annual fee cards there isn't very much to cover in this category as they typically forego benefits for not charging fee.

The CIBC Aeroplan Visa Card has one benefit to it and that is the coveted discounted pricing on Aeroplan flight rewards. When the new Aeroplan program launched in November of 2020 one of the new benefits that came into effect was discounted flight reward pricing for those who have Air Canada Elite status and also for those who have an Aeroplan co-brand credit card. Members can avail of either or both discounts if they happen to have a co-brand card and elite status. The bigger discount comes from having a credit card and the elite status adds a couple more percentage points to that discount.

The American Express Green Card's benefits are the ones that are automatically added to any and all American Express cards. Those are Amex Experiences (includes Front of the Line) and Amex offers. Amex Experiences provides such things like pre-sale ticket offers for concerts and entertainment events, special movie screenings and more. While Amex Offers provides offers to earn statement credits and/or bonus points when using your card with select retailers.

Recommended reading: Rewards Canada's Guide to American Express Canada 'Amex Offers'

Since the focus is on Aeroplan this category has to go to the CIBC for providing that discount on Aeroplan flight rewards.

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Points Earning & Redemption

There are definitely some differences in the cards here for this round! The American Express Green Card is easy - you earn 1 Membership Rewards points for every $1 in eligible spending. That equates to 1 Aeroplan per dollar spent. The CIBC Aeroplan Visa card earns 1 Aeroplan point per dollar spent on Air Canada purchases as well as gas station and grocery store purchases. All other spending on the CIBC card comes at a rate of 1 Aeroplan point for every $1.50 spent or the equivalent of 0.67 Aeroplan points per dollar. As you can see outside of the three categories where the CIBC card earns 1 point per dollar it's earn rate is much lower than that of the American Express Green Card.

We won't go into huge detail into the actual redemption process as that falls into simply redeeming points for flights with Aeroplan and it is the same for both cards if you are looking to redeem for Aeroplan flights. I would recommend reading A guide to the new Air Canada Aeroplan program flight reward redemption process to learn more on how to redeem. We will however touch upon a couple of key points these cards have on the redemption side.

As already mentioned in the benefits section, the CIBC Aeroplan Visa Card receives preferred pricing on Aeroplan flight rewards. The question you may ask is how much does the preferred pricing save a member? Well there isn't a set amount as it can vary on the flights you are redeeming for but in our research it can be as high as 15%. The American Express Green Card on the other hand does not get that discount but it offers multiple redemption avenues to consider even if your primary goal is to be with Aeroplan. The American Express Green Card has a travel option called Fixed points for Travel. This is their reward chart option that you can use to book travel via American Express Travel. Think of it as your traditional frequent flyer program style chart where you redeem a fixed amount of points for travel to a certain area. For example you can redeem 60,000 points for a flight to Europe from Canada with a maximum value of $900 before fees and taxes. Then you also have the Use Points for Purchases redemption option where you can redeem points at a rate of 1,000 points to $10 for any purchase you make on the card. And of course you have the conversion options - Aeroplan obviously, since it is the topic of this clash but you also have British Airways Executive Club, Air France KLM Flying Blue, Marriott Bonvoy and a host of other programs you can convert your points to.

So who's the winner in the earning and redeeming category? The American Express Green card for several reasons - even though it does not have the preferred Aeroplan reward flight pricing like the CIBC card it's base earn rate for most categories (1 points vs. 0.67 points) more than makes up for that potential 15% discount. Add in the additional redemption options and the Green Card takes this category hands down. I'll note however (and I do make the same note again below) ideally you should get yourself both of these cards since they both don't have annual fees - that way you can earn more with the Green Card but then get the discount for having the CIBC card. You get the best of both worlds.

Insurance

Much like the benefits category there isn't a lot of insurance coverage due to these cards not charging an annual fee but one card does better than the other here. The CIBC Aeroplan Visa Card offers Common Carrier Accident Insurance, Car Rental Collision Loss/Damage Insurance (and good CDW coverage of up to 48 days!) as well as Purchase Security and Extended Warranty benefits. The American Express Green Card only offers Purchase Security and Extended Warranty. The CIBC card definitely takes this round by providing a better more insurance coverage, namely that excellent car rental benefit!

Conclusion

Having no annual fee options to earn Aeroplan points is a great way to be introduced to the program for those who are just starting out in the points and miles world. They are also great options for those who have a Premium or Ultra Premium Aeroplan card and want to supplement their earning with a no fee card from a different issuer. There is one card that does stand out as the winner though thanks to its overall better earn rates and redemption options and that's the American Express Green Card.

The winner of this clash is: American Express Green Card

 






International Loyalty Programs

 The Cards Head to Head


Here is a direct side by side comparison of the two cards in this clash!


Basics

Amex Green Card
American Express® Green Card
CIBC Aeroplan Visa Card
CIBC Aeroplan® Visa* Card
Card Type Hybrid Airline
Annual Fee $0 $0
Additional Card Fee $0 $0
Interest Rate 20.99%
Purchase †

21.99%
Cash Advance †
20.99%
Purchase

22.99%
Cash Advance
Foreign Transaction Fee 2.5% 2.5%
Income Requirements Not applicable Minimum Income $15,000

Points Earning

Amex Green Card
American Express® Green Card
CIBC Aeroplan Visa Card
CIBC Aeroplan® Visa* Card
Standard Welcome Bonus 10,000 points 10,000 points
Welcome Bonus Value* $150 $150
Limited Time Welcome Bonus N/A N/A
Limited Time Welcome Bonus Value* $0 $0
Travel Purchases 1 point per dollar spent 1 point per dollar spent with Air Canada
Grocery Purchases 1 point per dollar spent 1 point per dollar spent
Gas Purchases 1 point per dollar spent 1 point per dollar spent
All Other Purchases 1 point per dollar spent 1 point per $1.50 spent
^ Annual cap on bonus category spending N/A N/A
Value of points per $1 spent* 1.5 cents and higher 1 cent and higher
*Valuations are based upon a minimum valuation of 1.5 cents per point for Aeroplan, in all likelihood most Aeroplan redemptions will have more value than that

Redemption/Exchange Options

Amex Green Card
American Express® Green Card
CIBC Aeroplan Visa Card
CIBC Aeroplan® Visa* Card
Miles/Points deposited to Membership Rewards Air Canada Aeroplan
Travel Redemption Value 1,000 points = $10
for any travel booked with any travel provider
or
up to a 1.5% to 10% return for travel booked via Amex's Fixed Points for Travel program
or
1.5 cents or more when converting to Aeroplan and redeeming for Award flights
1.5 cents per point or more
Exchange Options Convert points to:
6 airline programs and 2 hotel programs
N/A
Cash Back Redemption option 1,000 points = $10 statement credit Can redeem for Gift Cards
Value of points for cash back redemptions 1% N/A

Benefits

Amex Green Card
American Express® Green Card
CIBC Aeroplan Visa Card
CIBC Aeroplan® Visa* Card
Preferred Pricing on Aeroplan Flight Rewards No Yes

Insurance

Amex Green Card
American Express® Green Card
CIBC Aeroplan Visa Card
CIBC Aeroplan® Visa* Card
Common Carrier Travel Accident Insurance None $100,000
Flight Delay Insurance None None
Delayed Baggage Insurance None None
Lost / Stolen Baggage Insurance None None
Damaged Baggage Insurance None None
Trip Cancellation Insurance None None
Trip Interruption Insurance None None
Travel Medical Insurance up to 64 years old None None
Travel Medical Insurance 65+ None None
Auto Rental/Loss Damage Insurance None Up to 48 days
Up to $65,000 MSRP
Hotel / Motel Burglary Insurance None None
Purchase Protection 90 Days
up to $1,000 per occurrence
90 Days
Up to $60,000 lifetime
Price Protection None None
Extended Warranty Plan Yes
Up to 1 extra year
Yes
Up to 1 year
Max $60,000 in a lifetime
Mobile Device Insurance None None
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