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 to earn up to 5% in points on select categories and some excellent points transfer partners, this card is one of the most popular cards in Canada. There’s just one thing I need to mention right away. With the Amex Cobalt card, you earn MR-S points which are slightly less valuable than the regular American Express Membership Rewards points. This isn’t a huge deal, but it’s something to be aware of which I’ll go into more detail below.
When you look at how the earn rate is calculated and the subscription-based monthly fee, you could argue that American Express Canada designed the Amex Cobalt for 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 especially for those who do a lot of spending on their credit cards. Read my AmexCobalt review now to find out what makes it one of the best American Express credit cards in Canada.
Amex Cobalt benefits
- $10 Monthly fee
- 2,500 monthly MR-S 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
- American Express Invites access
- Free supplementary cards
Unlike most credit cards, the American Express Cobalt has a monthly fee instead of an annual fee. Since the monthly fee is $10, that works out to $120 which is similar to many other credit cards. This may seem like a gimmick, but it’s meant to be a subscription style of credit card which basically allows users to try out the card. They would then be able to cancel at any time without having to worry about losing the money they paid for the annual fee.
The welcome bonus with the Amex Cobalt follows a similar monthly structure. With the Amex Cobalt, you get 2,5000 MR-S points every month, for the first twelve months as long as you spend a minimum of $500 each month. In the end, you would have spent $6,000 in the first year to get the full bonus of 30,000 MR-S points which is quite good.
This style of sign up bonus was likely introduced by American Express so they don’t get as many credit card churners, but I also feel like it made good business sense since the Amex Cobalt gives such a high rate of return on multiple categories. More importantly, since the annual fee is actually monthly, the card almost feels like a subscription service which you can cancel if you don’t feel like you’re getting enough use out of it.
The 5 points earned per dollar spent on food and drinks is one of the highest you’ll get for that category from a credit card in Canada. The 2 points earned per dollar spent on travel is nice since it includes public transportation and taxis/Uber), while the 1 point earned per $1 spent on other categories is pretty standard.
As you can imagine, this earn rate is great for people who do a lot of spending but there’s a combined spending cap of $30,000 for each multiplier every year. Once you reach a spend of $30,000, you’d earn 1 point per $1 spent. For example, you’d earn 5 points per $1 spent on grocery stores, restaurants and food delivery up to a combined total of $30,000 which works to 150,000 points. Any spending above that amount gives you 1 point per $1 spent
Although the travel insurance package does not include trip cancellation/interruption, it does include major things such as emergency medical, lost or stolen baggage, flight delay, car rental theft and damage, travel accident and hotel/motel burglary insurance.
How does American Express Memberships Rewards work?
As mentioned, with the Amex Cobalt Card, you earn American Express MR-S points which have a slightly lower value than regular American Express Membership Rewards points. The main difference between the two points programs is that you can’t transfer your MR-S points directly to any airline partners whereas you can with regular MR points. That said, you could transfer your points to Marriott Bonvoy and then to one of their partner airlines, but that devalues your points.
The regular redemption rate of MR-S is 1,000 points = $10 travel credit. You can also use your points to redeem flights on the American Express Fixed Points Travel program which can be incredibly valuable. For example, you can claim 40,000 points for a return flight to anywhere within North America (except Hawaii and Alaska) as long as the base ticket price doesn’t exceed $700. If you maximize this value, your points would be worth nearly 2 cents each which is double the regular redemption rate.
If you do decide to book travel on your own, you can go through the American Express travel portal or you can just pay for your travel purchases with your Amex Cobalt card and then have points applied as a statement credit. Both ways count as travel so you’re getting the full value for your points.
Another popular use for the Amex Cobalt MR-S points is to transfer them to a hotel partner such as Marriott Bonvoy. The ratio is 1:1.2 so 10,000 MR-S points are worth 12,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. Marriott Bonvoy points can give you good value but it depends on the category of the hotel, the season and what the regular nightly rate is.
Here’s another trick that’s not often talked about since it’s not the best value. With American Express Membership Rewards Points, you can redeem 3,125 points for a $25 prepaid American Express Card. This redemption also applies to MR-S points, so that means when you use your Amex Cobalt Card on groceries where you earn 5 points per $1 spent, you can get 4% back in “cash back” if you redeem your points for a prepaid American Express Card.
For those looking to earn hotel points quickly, you could apply for the Amex Cobalt Card and the American Express Business Edge Card. Both earn you MR-S points, so you can convert them to Marriott Bonvoy points. You could then apply for the Marriott Bonvoy Amex and you’d have more than 125,000 Marriott Bonvoy points after meeting the minimum spend.
How the American Express Cobalt card compares to others
The Scotiabank Gold American Express is often compared to the Amex Cobalt Card since you’ll earn 5 points per $1 spent on grocery, dining, and entertainment purchases; and 3 points per $1 spent on gas, public transportation, rideshares and eligible streaming service purchases, but Scotia Rewards isn’t nearly as impressive as MR-S. Heck, Scotia Rewards ranks near the bottom on my list of the best bank travel rewards programs in Canada whereas American Express Membership Rewards ranks #1.
Some people like to compare this card to the American Express Platinum Card, but that’s more focused on travel experiences and benefits so I don’t think it makes much sense to compare the two. A better comparison is the American Express Gold Rewards Card which earns you regular MR points. If you use a referral link, you can earn up to 31,000 MR points when you spend $1,500 in the first three months of card membership. That’s a significantly lower minimum spend requirement compared to the Amex Cobalt Card, but the earn rate is lower with the Gold Rewards Card at 2 points per $1 spent on grocery, gas, pharmacy, and travel; and 1 point per $1 spent on everything else.
If you’re looking for a business version of the Amex card, you’re out of luck. However, American Express Canada did recently release the American Express Business Edge Card which does have high multipliers (but lower than the Amex Cobalt) on some categories. This card is one of the best business credit cards in Canada since it has the highest earn rate on eats & drinks when it comes to a business credit card.
My Amex 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.