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. 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.
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. 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 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
When this card was announced, many people didn’t like the idea that you had to spend a minimum amount every month to get your sign up bonus, but a few cards have since adopted a similar bonus. With the Amex Cobalt, you get 2,5000 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 which is still a generous bonus.
This style of sign up 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 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), while the 1 point earned per $1 spent on other categories is pretty standard.
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?
As mentioned, with the Amex Cobalt card, you earn American Express MR-S points which have a slightly lower value than regular Membership Rewards points. The regular redemption rate is 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.
To book your travel, 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.
With MR-S points, you still get access to the American Express Fixed Points Travel program which can be incredibly valuable. As the name implies, it’s a program that’s based on a fixed number of points depending on the destination you’re flying to. The advantage of this program is that you can get better value out of your points.
The only drawback with MR-S points is that you don’t have the ability to transfer to American Express airline partners (you do with regular Membership Rewards points), but you can transfer them to hotel partners. The transfer ratio to Marriott Bonvoy is 1:1.2 and 1:1 for Hilton Honors.
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. American Express recently changed its policy so there’s a cap on the 5 points per $1 spent on food and drinks on the first $30K, but that should be enough for most people.
The Scotiabank Gold American Express does put up a good fight 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. That being said, the MR points earned from the Platinum card are more flexible since you can transfer them to Aeroplan.
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.
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.