October 10, 2013

Convenience is king when it comes to what's in Canadians' wallets, finds American Express study

MARKHAM--Canadian credit card holders claim keen loyalty to credit card rewards programs and agree it's one of the most valuable features of their card, yet many are unsure how their card program works, or even how or why they applied for their card in the first place.

According to a recent survey from American Express Canada, 89 per cent of Canadians carry at least one credit card in their wallet and just over half (52%) of credit card holders carry between two and three on a regular basis. Over half (59%) have used their primary credit card for over seven years—a significant amount of time considering the limited thought consumers put into the card selection itself. The reason? The majority of those surveyed (60%) admit to initially applying for a credit card through their bank while only 15 per cent say they researched their options.

While it appears consumers aren't putting much research into selecting what card best suits their needs, many (68%) state credit card rewards programs are important to them. Unfortunately, just over a quarter (27%) admit to not even understanding what their rewards program offers them and a further 11 per cent feel confused or overwhelmed by all of the choices, different programs, and affiliated cards available today.

"It's incredibly important for Canadians to do a little research upfront to ensure they choose the credit card that actually fits their spending habits and lifestyle rather than a default card provided to the masses," says Brian Kelly, rewards expert and founder of ThePointsGuy.com. "There are other factors to also keep in mind when selecting a card such as flexibility on how points can be earned, redeemed, and transferred — all valuable considerations when it comes to making your spending work for you."

Despite Canadians' passivity towards the type of rewards programs they belong to, they do know what they value in a card. Over half of consumers (57%) rank discounted or redeeming for travel as a preferred perk in a rewards program along with redeeming for products (66%) and cash back (79%). In addition to rewards, about three-quarters of Canadians (74%) cite world-wide customer service and travel insurance coverage (61%) as other important factors in a card.

"There are currently a lot of changes in the industry that are prompting more people to evaluate the cards they are using, perhaps for the first time in years," says Brett Mooney, Vice President of Consumer Acquisition and Experience at American Express Canada. "At American Express we are investing heavily in our award-winning Gold Rewards Card to remind Canadians that there are alternative choices in the market that can better suit their needs. Our Gold Rewards Card provides choice, freedom and value by allowing Cardmembers to transfer to frequent flyer programs or redeem their points for travel anywhere in the world without any restrictions or black-outs."

American Express offers the Gold Rewards Card at no annual fee for the first year of Cardmembership, a $150 value, and to further entice consumers, a welcome bonus of 25,000 Points when Cardmembers spend $500 in the first three months - which is enough for a round trip economy flight to almost anywhere in North America.

To learn more, visit www.amex.ca.

Additional key survey findings include:

•64% of rewards card holders say their rewards program saves them money
•53% of rewards card holders say they are keen rewards points collectors
•55% of rewards card holders say they are very loyal to their rewards programs
•44% of rewards card holders say they choose to shop at particular stores based on where they can earn rewards points

American Express in Canada operates as Amex Bank of Canada and Amex Canada Inc. Both are wholly owned subsidiaries of the New York based American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc., the largest operating unit of the American Express Company. Amex Bank of Canada is the issuer of American Express charge and credit cards, with outstanding products like the American Express® Gold Rewards Card, the American Express® Platinum Card, and the American Express® AeroplanPlus® Gold Card. Amex Canada Inc. operates the Corporate Travel and Travellers Cheques divisions in Canada. American Express opened its first offices in Toronto and Hamilton in 1853 and now employs 3,700 Canadians coast-to-coast. For more information, visit AmericanExpress.ca or connect with us at Facebook.com/AmericanExpressCanada and YouTube.com/AmericanExpressCAD.

From October 2nd to October 3rd 2013 an online survey was conducted among 1,343 randomly selected Canadian adults who are Angus Reid Forum panelists and who have at least one Credit Card. The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is +/- 2.7%, 19 times out of 20. The results have been statistically weighted according to education, age, gender and region (and in Quebec language) Census data to ensure a sample representative of the entire adult population of Canada. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.



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