American Express Cobalt card is at the top of my list of the best travel credit cards in Canada.
With millennials and pretty much everyone in mind, this card offers a juicy 5% rewards rate on food and drink purchases; 3% on streaming subscriptions; 2% on travel, and 1% for all your other spending.
It doesn’t stop there. AMEX Cobalt cardholders get 1,250 Membership Rewards points every month they charge up to $750 to their card for a total of 15,000 bonus MR points in the first year. These are enough points for a $150 statement credit when you redeem points toward travel purchases.
American Express Cobalt Overview
American Express Cobalt Card
Best for travel rewards and perks
Annual fee: $155.88 (in monthly payments of $12.99)
Rewards: Earn up to 5X points on high-spend categories.
Welcome offer: Earn as many as 15,000 bonus Membership Rewards points in the first year.
Interest rates: 20.99% on purchases and 21.99% on cash advances.
Minimum income requirement: No minimum income or credit limit requirements.
Recommended credit score:
On Amex’s website
This review of the American Express Cobalt Card covers its many features and rewards, what your points are worth, the card’s limitations, and why you should consider having it in your wallet.
American Express Cobalt Benefits
1. Bonus Points: Earn up to 15,000 bonus points in the first 12 months. 1,250 Membership Rewards points are credited to your account every month you spend $750 in purchases on your card ($150 value).
2. Rewards on Everyday Spending: Earn 5 points for every $1 spent on grocery purchases, restaurants, bars, and food delivery (on up to $30,000 annual spend); earn 3 points for every $1 spent on streaming subscriptions; earn 2 points for every $1 spent on gas, travel and public transit (includes subway, taxi, Uber, streetcar, etc.); and earn 1 point per $1 spent on everything else.
3. Comprehensive Travel Insurance including:
- Out of Province/Country Emergency Medical Insurance with coverage up to $5 million and 15 consecutive days for cardholders under 65 years.
- Travel accident insurance of up to $250,000.
- Flight and baggage delay insurance up to $500.
- Hotel/motel burglary insurance.
- Lost or stolen baggage insurance.
- Car rental theft and damage insurance for rentals up to 48 days and MSRP of $85,000.
4. Purchase protection and extended warranty.
5. Access to Cobalt Perks and Front of the Line by American Express Invites.
The 5% earn rate on food and drinks and 2% back on gas, travel, and transportation are the main highlights of this card. Until the recent overhaul of the Scotiabank Gold American Express card, the 5x points offered by the American Express Cobalt were the highest for the food and drinks category of spending.
The bonus 15,000 Membership Rewards points are easy to claim in your first year as it only requires a $750 monthly spending on your card.
While it comes with a $155.88 annual price tag ($12.99 per month), the American Express Cobalt Card’s high earn rate, bonus points, and comprehensive travel insurance package more than cover its fees.
Not to be forgotten is the Cobalt Perks Program, which gives Cobalt card members various opportunities to earn more points all year round.
For example, here are some of the perks offered through the program recently:
- Earn 2,000 bonus points for fueling up.
- Spend $35 on Amazon.ca and get 1,000 points; earn 5x the points on up to $500 spent at Amazon.ca.
- Get a $15 statement credit on purchases of $1,000 or more at The Keg, and many more.
Finally, supplementary cards are free.
How To Redeem American Express Membership Rewards Points
You can spend points earned from the American Express Cobalt card in the following ways:
1. As a Statement Credit towards purchases charged to your card. For travel purchases, 1,000 points = $10 statement credit (1 point is equal to 1 cent). Your bonus 15,000 points are worth $150 in statement credit towards travel purchases.
For other purchases other than travel, 1,000 points get you $7 in statement credit (i.e. 1 point = 0.70 cents).
2. Redeem for flights through Amex’s Fixed Points Travel Program. The image below shows that 15,000 points get you a free short-haul flight within Canada at a maximum value of $300 or up to 2 cents per point. For longer flights, the value of your points drops to between 1.50 to 1.75 cents per point.
3. Transfer your points to other loyalty programs and airline partners for travel or hotel stays:
- Aeroplan: 1000 MR points = 1000 Aeroplan Miles (1:1)
- Alitalia MilleMiglia: 1000 MR points = 750 MilleMiglia Miles (1:0.75)
- British Airways Executive Club: 1000 MR points = 1000 Avios (1:1)
- Delta SkyMiles: 1000 MR points = 750 SkyMiles (1:0.75)
- Etihad Guest: 1000 MR points = 750 Etihad Guest Miles (1:0.75)
- Hilton Honors: 1000 MR points = 1000 Hilton Honors (1:1)
- Marriott Bonvoy: 1000 MR points = 6 Marriott Bonvoy points
Using the 1:1 Aeroplan Miles conversion rate, each of your Cobalt MR points are worth up to 2.5 cents per Aeroplan Mile.
4. Shop at Amazon.ca and get $7 per 1,000 points, i.e. 0.70 cents per point.
5. Purchase gift cards and merchandise through the Amex store at membershiprewards.ca at 0.70 cents to 0.80 cents per point.
Downsides of the American Express Cobalt Card
The American Express Cobalt Card comes with a $155.88 annual fee that is paid at $12.99 per month. Given its premium perks, this fee is at par with what you can expect to pay for a few other premium credit cards in Canada. Some cardholders may find the $12.99 monthly fee easier to swallow than shelling out $155.88 at once.
The bonus points are spread out over 12 months at 1,250 points monthly. This is a pain if you are a credit card churner who wants to earn the bonus points and bail.
Lastly, there is a maximum spending cap of $30,000 in purchases eligible for the 5% earn rate on food and drinks. This is not a big deal as the average Canadian household will likely not spend more than that within a year.
However, for comparison’s sake, the Scotiabank Gold American Express offers a similar 5% earn rate and has a higher spend threshold at $50,000.
Scotiabank Gold American Express
Rewards: Earn 5x Scene+ points/$1 on restaurants, food delivery, and grocery (up to 6x at some stores); 3x points/$1 in gas & travel; 1x points/$1 everything else.
Welcome offer: Get up to 40,000 points ($400 value).
Interest rates: 20.99% on purchases; 22.99% on cash advances.
Annual fee: $120
Is The American Express Cobalt Card For You?
The American Express Cobalt ranks as one of the best credit cards in Canada. With a 5% earn rate on grocery, restaurants, bars, and food delivery purchases, you can easily rack up significant cashback rewards in no time.
Add in the comprehensive travel insurance, low-income requirement, and ease of redemption, and the Amex Cobalt is definitely worth checking out.
For a card that offers similar benefits plus rare no-foreign purchase transaction fees, you can also read our review of the Scotiabank Gold American Express Card.
American Express Cobalt Card Review
This review of the American Express Cobalt Card covers its many features and rewards, what your points are worth, the card’s limitations and why you should consider having it in your wallet.