Scotiabank Gold American Express Review

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In this Scotiabank Gold American Express review, you’ll find out why it’s one of the best travel credit cards in Canada. The card comes with an excellent earn rate, a good sign up bonus, and it has no foreign transaction fees. Basically, if you spend a lot on your credit card and you like to travel, this card is a solid choice. Admittedly, American Express cards aren’t accepted everywhere, that’s why you need to read my Scotiabank Gold American Express review to find if the perks included make up for it.

Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card

  • $120 annual fee
  • 25,000 Scene+™ points when you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months
  • 20,000 Scene+ points when you spend $7,500 in the first year
  • Earn 5X Scene+ points per $1 spent on grocery, dining, and entertainment
  • Earn 3X Scene+ points per $1 spent on gas, and daily transit purchases
  • Earn 1X Scene+ point on all other purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees

First off, this card has an annual fee of $120, but that’s offset by the welcome bonus which is typically worth between 40,000 – 50,000 Scene+ points. Since 1,000 Scene+ points are worth $10 in travel, your welcome bonus is typically worth between $400 – $500 in travel.

With the Scotiabank Gold Amex (referral link), you’ll earn 5X Scene+ points per dollar spent on purchases made on grocery, dining, and entertainment purchases, 3X Scene+ points for every $1 spent on gas, and daily transit, and 1X Scene+ point for all other purchases.  That’s some pretty generous multipliers but they have an annual spending cap of $50,000. That means for every dollar you spend over $50,000 in the 5X or 3X categories, you’ll only earn 1 point per dollar spent.

As an added bonus, this card has no foreign transaction fees which saves you 2.5% whenever you make a purchase in a foreign currency. That may not sound like a lot, but it certainly adds up. You don’t earn additional points when making purchases in a foreign currency. You’d earn the base rate of 1 point per $1 spent regardless of what you’re spending money on.

The additional travel benefits included are limited. You get concierge access, which sounds nice on paper, but you’ll likely never use it. You also get a preferred discount on the Priority Pass membership. While that discount is nice, you might as well get one of the best credit cards with airport lounge access if that’s a benefit you want.

Since this is an American Express credit card, you still get access to American Express Invites which gives you exclusive access to concerts, dining, shopping and more. You also get Amex Front Of The Line access that allows you to buy tickets to movies, theatre shows, restaurants, and special events before the public.

Scotiabank Gold American Express insurance

The Scotiabank Gold American Express Card has one of the better insurance packages available. You get a comprehensive travel insurance package that includes travel medical and extended coverage. In addition, you get the standard purchase insurance.

Travel insurance

  • Travel emergency medical – $1,000,000/25 days if 64 and under, 3 days for 65+
  • Trip cancellation – $1,500 per insured person/$10,000 total
  • Trip interruption – $1,500 per insured person/$10,000 total
  • Flight delay – $500 per insured person, per trip/4 hours
  • Delayed & lost luggage – Up to $1,000 per trip/4 hours
  • Hotel/motel burglary – Up to $1,000 per occurrence
  • Rental car collision loss/damage – $65,000/48 days
  • Travel accident – $500,000

The Scotiabank Gold American Express travel insurance is not bad and pretty comparable to some of the best credit cards with travel insurance, but there are a few things I want to point out.

Like all travel medical insurance that comes with your credit card, you get that benefit no matter what. However, for your other travel insurance to be valid, you need to charge at least 75% of your travel purchases to your card. This isn’t as bad as the 100% that some cards require, but the BMO World Elite Mastercard states that you can charge any travel purchase amount to your card and you’d still be covered. 

You’ll also want to take a close look at the days covered. 25 days is great if you’re 64 or under, but if you’re 65+, you’re only covered for 3 days which is pathetic. I understand that this is a common practice for most credit cards, but I still think it’s disappointing that’s all you get.

Purchase insurance

  • Purchase security
  • Extended warranty

My Scotiabank Gold American Express review wouldn’t be complete without covering all the types of insurance included. Although purchase security is pretty standard, it’s a great type of insurance when you need it. If one of your purchases gets lost, stolen, or damaged within the first 90 days of the purchase, you can get it fixed or replaced. As for the extended warranty, your manufacturer’s warranty is doubled up to one additional year.

How Scene+ works

The best thing about the Scene+ is how flexible and easy it is to understand.  This flexibility is part of the reason why Scotiabank ranks high on my list of the best bank travel rewards programs.

The base redemption rate is 1,000 points = $10 in travel.

Since you earn 5 points per dollar spent on gas, grocery, dining, and entertainment purchases, you’re effectively getting a 5% return for those categories.

Your travel can be booked online via Scotia’s travel booking portal which has a wide selection of flights and hotels. Alternatively, one of the best benefits of the Scotiabank Gold Amex card, and one you don’t find on many cards is the Apply Points to Travel option that lets you use your points to offset any travel purchase you booked on your own.

This is valuable when you want to book directly with an airline or a hotel chain as you will earn loyalty points and your status will apply if you book directly with them. This also means you can book with no date or award availability restrictions.

The Apply Points to Travel option also adds flexibility as you can redeem your points for travel spending that you might not be able to book on a travel portal. Trailer parks, campgrounds, passenger railways or bus tickets are all eligible categories for which you can use the Apply Points to Travel option to offset the cost. Note that there is a 5,000 point minimum redemption when using the Apply Points for Travel option

You can also use your Scene+ for a variety of other rewards:

  • 14,400 points = $100 Esso or Amazon gift card
  • 14,000 points = $100 statement credit
  • 62,5000 points = $500 statement credit

The value of the gift card and statement credits are much lower than using them for travel rewards so I would advise avoiding this option.

How the Scotiabank Gold American Express compares to others

The Scotiabank Gold American Express has one main competitor in the Amex Cobalt Card. With the Cobalt card, you earn 5 points per $ 1 spent on grocery and dining, 2 points on travel (gas, flights, hotels, etc.), and 1 point for everything else. When deciding between the two, you should look at the categories where you spend the most money.

One major difference between the card is the no foreign transaction fees that the Scotiabank Gold Amex has. Since the Cobalt card doesn’t have that feature, you’re paying 2.5% more whenever you make a purchase in a foreign currency. This may not matter for many people, but it’s something to consider.

The American Express Cobalt Card has a better sign up bonus since it’s worth $300 or more depending on how you use your American Express Membership Rewards points. That said, you need to spend a lot more to get the bonus.

Final thoughts

My Scotiabank Gold American Express review is positive. Although the card may not offer the most generous signup bonus of all travel credit cards, this card is definitely one of the best travel credit cards in Canada. The Scotiabank Gold American Express card offers solid travel insurance, a great earn rate, and the ability to book on your own travel for a decent annual fee of $120.

Minimum application requirements:

  • You’re a Canadian citizen or are a permanent resident
  • You have a minimum annual personal gross income of $60,000
  • You haven’t declared bankruptcy in the past 7 years
  • You’re at least the age of majority in your province or territory
  • Your home address matches your credit report home address
Scotiabank Gold American Express Review

About Barry Choi

Barry Choi is a Toronto-based personal finance and travel expert who frequently makes media appearances. His blog Money We Have is one of Canada’s most trusted sources when it comes to money and travel. You can find him on Twitter:@barrychoi

25 Comments

  1. Anna on July 17, 2018 at 7:28 PM

    Hey Barry, is it true you can transfer Scotia points to Scene points 1:1? If so, 1,000 Scene points worth $13.50 …1 freegeneral admission, an even better value 🙂

  2. Anna on July 17, 2018 at 7:29 PM

    Hey Barry, is it true you can transfer Scotia points to Scene points 1:1? If so, 1,000 Scene points worth $13.50 …1 free general admission, an even better value 🙂

    • Barry Choi on July 17, 2018 at 7:44 PM

      Anna,

      I’m not 100% sure if the transfer ratio is 1:1. If it is, then you’re right, using your points for movie tickets is a better value

  3. Anna on July 17, 2018 at 8:04 PM

    Hmm I just read somewhere:

    You can get 770 SCENE points using 1,000 Scotia Rewards Points.

    If that’s correct, still good value with Free General Night Out Package for 2 … includes 2 gen admission tix, 2 reg drinks and 1 reg popcorn, via redeeming 2,500 Scene points 🙂

    • Oli on October 14, 2020 at 11:26 AM

      Anna,

      SR = Scotia Rewards.
      SP = Scene Points.

      1000 SR = 770 SP — (Ratio 1:0.77)
      1000 SP = 950 SR — (Ratio 1:0.95)

      If you have a scene visa, it will give you a more favourable conversion rate, but given the ability to earn more on certain categories will be a better overall choice.

  4. Ralph on February 18, 2019 at 8:09 PM

    looking for the details of “comprehensive travel insurance”.

  5. […] sets the Scotiabank Gold Amex apart from the other cards on this list is the high earn rate. You get 5 points per $1 spent on […]

  6. Pylin on August 16, 2019 at 7:50 PM

    hmm with these changes, do you think it’s still worth it to have both this card and the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card also? (besides the fact that not all retailers accept AMEX…I got the Visa card for this reason and that it didn’t have a foreign transaction fee. also I don’t need the Visa Infinite card’s 6 free Priority Passes anymore as I’m getting that unlimited through another mean). Thanks Barry!

    • Barry Choi on August 16, 2019 at 7:57 PM

      Hey Pylin,

      I think you already answered your own question. If you don’t need the 6 passes and you now get no forex with the Scotiabank Gold Amex, it seems like a good idea to cancel your Passport card. Yes, not all places take Amex, but unless you do the majority of your spending at that merchant, then it likely doesn’t matter.

  7. Mariano on September 7, 2019 at 3:57 PM

    The only thing down with this card is that the rewards points are not giving when you purchase outside Canada, I am a flight attendant, I did use it after August 1st because of the foreign fees removal but I do jor accumulate points, so my Visa infinite passport is the one now, no foreign fees and 2% rewards points on restaurants and supermarkets.
    Thanks
    Mariano

    • PJ on December 21, 2019 at 9:16 AM

      Yes Mariano, you’re right, they mentioned that on their website. You’ll earn 1 point per a dollar spending when you’re outside of Canada. I have both cards. Getting privilege of access to lounges, getting better points when you’re outside of the country, and use it at some retailers, which are not taking AMEX such as Loblaws. Put other expenses on Scotia Gold AMEX. Having Scotia Passport Debit card for using at places where only taking Debit. You’ll see how fast the points will be accumulated.

  8. sheldon rotman on December 20, 2019 at 7:01 AM

    Scotiagold American Express has changed to compete with the AMEX COBALT CARD. Beware they have stopped giving you 5X on foreign restaurants and grocery stores. I do a lot of travelling and I am getting 1X on places they use to give 4X. They are also using call centers on the other side of the world. Try to get any of this fixed is a waste of your time. Very disappointing for a Canadian bank who should employ Canadian workers.

    • Barry Choi on December 20, 2019 at 7:40 AM

      Sheldon,

      It seems like many credit cards are not offering extra rewards on foreign transactions anymore. The Home Trust Preferred Visa will no longer give 1% on purchases made in a foreign currency as of Jan. 1, 2020. It’s a pretty disappointing trend.

  9. Andrew on January 12, 2020 at 5:09 PM

    Bear in mind that before you would have been paying the 2.5% F/X fee if you used the card for foreign transactions, so your actual return from dining would have been roughly 4% – 2.5% = 1.5%. Now it is 1%.

    If you travel, consider that if you book a hotel for USD$200 (CAD$ 260), you can now charge it to the card (which allows you to apply points against the cost) and get the travel benefits without the CAD$6.50 F/X charge. If you then spend CAD$ 130 on a meal, again you save $3.25 on F/X fees. Your hotel and meal will give you 3.9 points at 1%. So you are up $3.90

    In the old scenario, you’d get 5.2 points for the meal plus 2 points for the hotel, for a total of 7.2 points. But you’d lose on the F/X, so your total return would be $7.20 – 6.50 – 3.25 = -$2.55

    Unless you are a gourmet that stays in cheap hotels, or you don’t have to pay for your accommodation when travelling, you may find the new system works out for the better.

  10. Anis shariff on February 4, 2020 at 10:45 PM

    Let me see what f I have this correctly. If I have 52350 points, I can apply it to travel for $523 for future travel on any airline or any card, or I may apply it to past travel that was not booked through Amex gold?

    • Barry Choi on February 5, 2020 at 11:55 AM

      Hi Anis,

      You can apply tour 52,350 for points for $523 in travel purchases made through the Scotia Rewards Travel portal or travel that was charged to your Scotiabank Gold Amex

      • JILLIAN NAPEN on March 8, 2020 at 9:32 PM

        Just wan to comment I purchased my flight through the air Canada website recently… and it’s not showing up as a valid flight purchase that i can use my points for. I will attempt to call the call centre and get to convert for me… but it does day in fine print that it needs to recognize the purchases you make as valid travel purchases based on back end codes. Apparently this means no easy redemption of points after booking with air canada! Might cancel my card over this… not recognizing a flight booked direct through air canada as valid!

        • Barry Choi on March 8, 2020 at 11:09 PM

          Jillin,

          That’s really weird, I’ve never heard of this issue before. I wonder if Air Canada changed something by mistake.

  11. carol lomanto on March 2, 2020 at 2:52 PM

    If i am understanding correctly, there is no Foreign fee charged if i use my Amex Gold card in USA, but i will not receive any points for those purchases. i also have your US Visa, so why do i need both, or do we collect points with the US VISA?

    • Barry Choi on March 2, 2020 at 2:54 PM

      Carol,

      I don’t work for Scotiabank, but you’re correct about the Amex Gold Card. The US Visa requires you to pay in USD to avoid forex fees. So unless you have a steady stream of USD, using the Scotiabank Gold Amex might actually be the better option.

  12. James on October 16, 2021 at 8:47 PM

    The only thing down with this card is that the rewards points are not giving when you purchase outside Canada.

  13. Dui on January 5, 2022 at 1:02 AM

    Where can I find the merchants falling under various categories and codes?

    • Barry Choi on January 5, 2022 at 6:09 AM

      Dui,

      Those lists aren’t publicly available.

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