Being a Canadian federal employee entitles you to a lot of benefits, some of which are rather unexpected. One of these benefits is the American Express AIR MILES credit card. When you are employed by the Canadian federal government, you are immediately issued with an American Express AIR MILES credit card which you are supposed to use for all your travel when you are on government business. Issuance of this credit card to you on behalf of the Canadian government will not in any way, neither positively nor negatively, affect your personal credit rating.
The American Express AIR MILES credit card, which is a product of AMEX Bank of Canada, is issued only to Canadian citizens and its design concept was targeted towards those frequently traveling on Canadian Airlines. The Canadian federal government is the owner of Canadian Airlines, which also has tie-up arrangements with other airlines operating in Canada, two US airlines (American Airlines and Northwest Airlines), the German airline, Lufthansa, and the Dutch airline, KLM.
The important guideline is that employees must pay for their travel expenses only by means of their individual American Express AIR MILES credit card. This is the reason why each card is issued in the name of the individual employee. This directive does not, however, imply that employees may travel indiscriminately; the parameters for using the American Express AIR MILES credit card are very strict and consistently applied.
You may not pay for personal purchases with the American Express AIR MILES credit card and if you’re found doing this you will face serious administrative charges. Just as important, any travel booking to be paid for with your American Express AIR MILES credit card must have prior approval from the authorized management personnel in your government office. Unauthorized travel using the American Express AIR MILES credit card will have serious consequences.
Payments for all travel expenses paid for with the American Express AIR MILES credit card will not be for your account, provided that you have obtained prior approval for the travel activity in the prescribed manner. Once you receive your billing statement, you are supposed to request for reimbursement of the corresponding amount. The reimbursement should then be used to pay off the entire balance on your American Express AIR MILES credit card immediately. It is absolutely intolerable for you to miss payments or to carry balances.
Does this arrangement reduce paperwork? Theoretically, the fact that each employee carries an individual American Express AIR MILES credit card should result in tons of paperwork being eliminated. In practice, this has not been the case. The traditional procedures for getting prior trip approvals, booking travel arrangements, and then submitting the needed paperwork to support requests for reimbursement continue to be in effect. What has been removed is the necessity to have somebody, either the government or you the employee, to advance the money to cover travel expenses.
Though there is no real reduction in paperwork, federal employees are still better off. The use of American Express AIR MILES credit card allows even administrative staff to stay in five-star hotels and go around the country many times during the year. And, with your American Express AIR MILES credit card you will have access to all other services that the card issuer provides to cardholders, government employees or not.