American Express Cobalt Review

The American Express Cobalt Card is one of the best travel credit cards in Canada and people don’t even realize it. With the ability earn up to 5% in points and some excellent transfer partners, this card deserves the hype it has been getting.

One could argue that the Amerx Cobalt Card is aimed at younger people (aka. millennials), but when you look at the features and benefits, you’ll quickly realize that this card is great for a variety of people. Read my American Express Cobalt review now to find out what makes it one of the best American Express credit cards in Canada.

American express cobalt review

American Express Cobalt Benefits

  • $10 Monthly fee ($120 Annually)
  • 2,500 monthly welcome points after charging $500 in purchases per month for a total of 30,000 points in the first year
  • Earn 5 points per $1 spent on eats and drinks (Groceries, restaurants, bars, cafés, and food delivery)
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on travel (flights, hotels, trains, public transportation, taxis/Uber)
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Comprehensive travel insurance package included
  • Front Of The Line by American Express Invites access
  • Free supplementary cards

At first glance, the monthly award bonus of 2,500 points on a $500 spend seems a bit excessive since you’ll have to spend $6,000 in the first year to get the full bonus, but it makes sense for both the business and consumers.

For American Express, they don’t need to worry about customers cancelling the card immediately after getting the bonus points which is a common thing for credit card churners. As for consumers, since you pay a monthly fee instead of an annual fee, you can test out the card and cancel it whenever you like if it doesn’t line up to your spending and reward patterns.

The 5 points earned per dollar spent on food and drinks is the highest you’ll get for that category from any credit card in Canada. The 2 points earned per dollar spent on travel is nice since it includes public transportation and taxis/Uber).

Although the travel insurance package does not include trip cancellation/interruption, it does include the major things such as Emergency Medical, Lost or Stolen Baggage, Flight Delay, Car Rental Theft and Damage Insurance, Travel Accident, and Hotel/Motel Burglary Insurance

How does American Express Memberships Rewards work?

One thing to note right away is that with the Cobalt card is that you earn Membership Rewards Select (MRS) points as opposed to regular Membership Rewards points that some other Amex cards get you.

1,000 points = $10 travel credit or $7 for a non travel credit.

Clearly claiming your points for travel gives you the best return since you would get 5% back on food and eats purchases and 2% on travel purchases.

With MRS points, you don’t have the ability to transfer to American Express airline partners, but you can use them towards the Fixed Points Travel Program which offers some good value.

One often overlooked feature of MRS points is the fact that you can transfer them to hotel partners.

Currently, you can convert to SPG at a 2:1 ratio or to Hilton Honors at a 1:1 ratio which makes this the best credit card for either program (I’ll explain below).

Also note that with SPG points, you can convert them to various airlines at a 1:1 ratio. In addition, SPG often runs promos where if you transfer 20,000 points to an airline partner, you get 5,000 bonus points which makes your transfer ratio 1:1.25.

SPG and Marriott Rewards are merging come August so the points and transfer structure will change, but I don’t imagine there will be much of a devaluation.

How the American Express Cobalt card compares to others

To be honest, there’s no other credit card that truly compared to the Amex Cobalt card (referral link). The 5% earn ratio on food and drinks is the highest earn possible.

That being said, you could compare the Cobalt card to the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express. With the SPG card, you earn 1 SPG point per dollar spent on all purchases and 2 points per $1 spent at SPG and Marriott properties.

Well, if you recall, the American Express Cobalt card has a 2:1 transfer ratio to SPG. That means for every $1 you spend on food and eats, you’re earning 2.5 SPG points which is more than what the SPG card offers.

Hilton doesn’t have a credit card partner in Canada so you could technically make your Cobalt card a Hilton Honors card by transferring all your points.

Final thoughts

My American Express Cobalt review is positive. It’s easily one of the best travel credit cards in Canada when you take advantage of their hotel transfer partners and the Fixed Points Travel Program. If you spend a lot on food and eats, then you need to apply for this card now.

Apply Now for the American Express Cobalt card

 

Best Credit Cards Canada


By |2018-10-16T15:36:39+00:00June 12th, 2018|Credit cards, Personal Finance, Travel|

11 Comments

  1. Owen @ PlanEasy.ca June 13, 2018 at 8:47 am - Reply

    Next year we want to take a trip out east, so this might be a good option to save some money on the flights. Last year we signed up for the WestJet Mastercard and we just booked two return flights to Vancouver for less than $175 per person each way. In total the flights came to $683 with taxes and fees.

    If you’re willing to do a bit of work then these credit card deals can save you a ton of money!

    • Barry Choi June 13, 2018 at 2:03 pm - Reply

      There are quite a few credit cards that can earn you free flights. Another option is the RBC Avion card which is offering 25,000 points after the first purchase.

      There’s also a CIBC trick where if you sign up for all three Aventura cards, you’ll have $850 in travel credits on a spend of $3,000

      • Owen @ PlanEasy.ca June 20, 2018 at 9:08 am - Reply

        Nice! I’m going to check out those CIBC cards. We want to travel to the east cost next year so that could be a good way to cover the flights. Thank you!

  2. Alex Thompson July 19, 2018 at 2:24 pm - Reply

    I have a couple of AMEX cards, a Canadian based card and two US based cards. I notice that my Canadian card does not have AMEX OFFERS as my US cards do. With my US cards, I can click on targeted offers that show up on my AMEX home page for each card. These targeted offers add up to significant savings as well as points accumulation. I asked AMEX Canada why Canadian card holders don’t have access to Canadian targeted offers but didn’t receive an answer. I receive targeted offers from my CIBC Aeroplan Infinite Privilege Visa so I have ended up using that card a lot more than my AMEX Canadian Gold.

    Why so few targeted offers for Canadian AMEX even though I have all my marketing options ticked to “yes”? I’d prefer to use my AMEX Gold because it has 2x earning whereas the CIBC card has 1.25-1.5, mind you, with the targeted offers and Aeroplan shopping portal, my earn rate is 2x or slightly greater.

    Thanks!

    • Barry Choi July 19, 2018 at 2:27 pm - Reply

      Alex,

      Interesting points about the targeted offers in the U.S. As you’ve stated, many credit card companies already do it in Canada so it is a bit surprising that Amex doesn’t offer any. Maybe they don’t since they’re not the merchant?

  3. Alex Thompson July 19, 2018 at 3:20 pm - Reply

    Hi Barry,

    I tried to send you a screen shot, but it didn’t work. Here are just a few of the 97 AMEX OFFERS that appear on my AMEX Home Page, under my recent transactions. AMEX OFFERS and the ability to transfer my AMEX rewards to various airline programs for flights are the main reasons I stick with AMEX when I am out of Canada. I asked AMEX Canada where the OFFERS were hiding when I log in, and they didn’t understand what I was talking about. Why doesn’t AMEX offer similar saving and earning opportunities here in Canada?

    Get 3X Membership Rewards® Points
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    Spend $100 or more, get $20 back
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    Spend $40 or more, get $10 back
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    • Barry Choi July 19, 2018 at 3:24 pm - Reply

      My guess is that there’s more competition in the US when it comes to credit cards so they’re likely more active when it comes to promotions.

      The same thing could be said about why the US has higher signup bonuses.

  4. Alex Thompson July 19, 2018 at 3:34 pm - Reply

    I was thinking along the same line, and my AMEX US did come with a 50K sign up bonus. However, the AMEX OFFERS are a huge perk that I would think Canadian AMEX would be interested in offering since most of their cards are not aligned with Airmiles or Aeroplan which have their own bonus offer programs. Anyway, I’ve been pleasantly surprised with all of the CIBC Infinite Privilege Aeroplan targeted offers which no one at CIBC explained to me when I applied for the card. There was even one month where CIBC offered 15x points which ended up earning me a short haul ticket in one month. Thanks for your answers.

  5. […] not bad for travel purchases, but for dining, it’s a bit low. For example, the Amex Cobalt card gives you a 5% return on dining and the Scotiabank Gold American Express gives you a 4% return. […]

  6. JH November 20, 2018 at 10:04 pm - Reply

    This is a good points card and accepted at all of the restaurants I frequented with the extra points awarded. However, in dealing with AMEX you will find a few irregularities: First they offer a very small credit limit, in my case $2000 when I make over $500k. Because the limit is so small you may go over it very easily; they will not stop you or alert you and continue to have merchants accept your card. This results in a Overlimit Charge. I have been an AMEX card holder since 2004 having previously had a Platinum Card which I didn’t use enough to justify. So I put a few more bucks on the cobalt card in order to take advantage of the points, this resulted in another charge called a Credit Balance Inactivity Fee. Not impressed, think Ill just use my Canadian Tire MasterCard, at least it’s easy to understand, good for gas and less bullshit.

    • Barry Choi November 21, 2018 at 8:05 am - Reply

      JH,

      I think it depends on the card you apply for. Amex has a few charge cards where there is no limit.

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