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 has one of the best earning rates, a decent welcome bonus, and no foreign transaction fees. If you spend a lot on your credit card and like to travel, this card is a solid choice and a popular card for points enthusiasts.

Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card

  • $120 annual fee – First year free
  • 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 6 Scene+ points per $1 spent at Empire owned supermarkets
  • Earn 5 Scene+ points per $1 spent on grocery, dining, and entertainment
  • Earn 3 Scene+ points per $1 spent on gas, and daily transit purchases
  • Earn 1 Scene+ point on all other purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees

Welcome bonus and earn rate

Although the welcome bonus of the Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card often changes, it’s typically worth between 40,000 – 50,000 Scene+ points. The recent offers have had two parts. You’d get 20,000 – 25,000 Scene+ points after spending $1,000 in the first three months of cardmembership, and the rest after spending $7,500 in the first 12 months. The annual fee of $120 is sometimes waived for the first year as part of the welcome bonus.

As for the earning rate, you’ll get 6 Scene+ points per $1 spent at Empire owned grocery stores (Sobeys, IGA, Safeway, Foodland, FreshCo, Voilà by Sobeys, Voilà by IGA, Voilà by Safeway, Chalo! FreshCo, Thrifty Foods, IGA West, Les Marchés Tradition, Rachelle Béry and Co-Op), 5 points on other grocery stores, dining, and entertainment purchases, 3 points on gas and daily transit, and 1 point on 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.

Benefits and perks

It’s time to go over the benefits of this Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card review. Admittedly, you don’t get as many perks as other travel credit cards, but when you combine the high earning rate with the insurance provided, you’ll quickly see why many people favour this card.

No foreign transaction fees

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. For example, if you spent $4,000 on foreign transactions, you’d save $100 with this card.

Mobile device insurance

When you purchase a mobile device (cell phone or tablet) with your card, you’re covered for up to $1,000 in the case of loss, theft, or damage. This mobile insurance benefit is decent, but note that depreciation does apply when you make a claim. If you’re on a subsidized plan, you need to charge the entire amount of your monthly bill to your card for the insurance to apply.

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 must charge at least 75% of your travel purchases to your card.

You’ll also want to take a close look at the days covered. If you’re 64 or under, you’re covered for 25 days, but if you’re 65+, you’re only covered for three 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 – 90 days
  • Extended warranty – Up to one additional year

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 needed. 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.

American Express experiences

Anyone who holds an American Express credit card gets access to American Express experiences, which is a highly underrated perk. The things you can look forward to include:

  • Offers – You’ll get cash back offers on dining, shopping, and more throughout the year.
  • Front of the line – American Express has partnerships with many concerts, theatre products, restaurants, and live shows where cardholders get exclusive access to presale tickets.
  • Invites – From advance movie screenings to live events, American Express Invites get you into exclusive experiences.

Concierge service

Cardholders get access to the American Express concierge. With this service, you can have someone help you make restaurant reservations or help you find tickets to special events. While this benefit may sound great, it’s not like they can make miracles happen. If the Taylor Swift concert is sold out, the concierge won’t be able to find tickets at retail cost.

How to redeem your points

The Scotiabank Gold American Express Card earns you Scene+ points, one of the best bank travel rewards programs. Not only can you use points on different types of travel, but you can also use your points on groceries, entertainment, restaurants, and more.

The base redemption rate is 1,000 points = $10 off travel booked through the Scotiabank travel portal, purchases made at Empire-owned grocery stores, Cineplex, and select restaurants.

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 benefits will apply.

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 costs. Note that there is a 5,000 points minimum redemption when using the Apply Points for Travel option.

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

Scotiabank Gold American Express eligibility

  • Must be a Canadian citizen or are a permanent resident.
  • Must be at least the age of majority in your province or territory.
  • Must not have declared bankruptcy in the past seven years.
  • Your home address matches your credit report home address

Since this is an American Express credit card, there’s no formal minimum income requirement. That said, American Express will examine your credit score as one factor to determine your approval. As a general rule, you’ll want your credit score to beat at least 700 since that would be a good standing.

How the Scotiabank Gold American Express compares

Scotiabank Gold American Express vs. American Express Cobalt Card

The American Express Cobalt Card is very similar to the Scotiabank Gold American Express 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. Although the Scotiabank Gold American Express Card has a higher earning rate, American Express Membership Rewards points can be worth more since you can transfer them to Aeroplan and Marriott Bonvoy.

The Cobalt Card is likely the better choice if you want to maximize your points. That’s because American Express Membership Rewards points can be transferred to Aeroplan at a 1:1 ratio. Since one Aeroplan point can easily have a value of 2 cents, your earning rate is potentially higher with the Cobalt Card. That said, the Scotiabank Gold American Express has no foreign transaction fees and better travel insurance.

Scotiabank Gold American Express vs. Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card

Another card worth comparing is the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card. The Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card has a lower earning rate compared to the Scotiabank Gold American Express at 3 Scene+ points per $1 spent on Empire owned grocery stores and 2 Scene+ points on eligible grocery stores, dining, entertainment, and daily transit purchases. Both cards come with no foreign transaction fees.

You would pick the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card for the included airport lounge access. You get a Visa Airport Companion Program membership and six free annual passes per year. Those passes are worth $32 USD each. Although the Scotiabank Gold American Express advertises that you get airport lounge access, you only get a discount on a Priority Pass membership. Plus, you still need to pay for each individual visit.

Final thoughts

My Scotiabank Gold American Express review is positive. Although the card may not offer the most generous signup bonus, it’s a great choice for people in the following situations:

  • You shop a lot at Empire-owned grocery stores – At 6 Scene+ points per $1 spent at Empire-owned grocery stores, no other card earns you as many points.
  • You want a card with no FX fees – Since this card doesn’t charge foreign exchange fees, you’ll save 2.5% on all foreign transactions.
  • You want flexible travel rewards – Scene+ allows you to use your points on travel booked through the Scene+ travel portal or on travel purchases charged directly to your card.
  • You want good insurance – You get an excellent travel and mobile device insurance package.

The Scotiabank Gold American Express Card is one of the best travel credit cards in Canada. It offers solid travel insurance, one of the best earning rates, and you get access to American Express Experiences. With an annual fee of $120, this card is a winner.

Minimum application requirements:

  • You’re a Canadian citizen or are a permanent resident
  • You have a minimum annual personal gross income of $12,000
  • 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

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


  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


      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


      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.

    • 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


      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


          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


      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


      Those lists aren’t publicly available.

  14. chid og on July 12, 2023 at 11:54 PM

    Thank you for your post. Quick question, do you have an idea of the discount amount gotten from the priority pass. like how much discount and also for purchase done on delta airline charge in CAD, how can i redeem my travel points, will i get the 1x for the purchase using the card?

    • Barry Choi on July 13, 2023 at 6:40 AM

      Hey Chid,

      I don’t know what the exact discount, but it would only apply to the membership. You’d still have to pay for individual visits. That’s why getting a credit card with free lounge access is better. Assuming you purchase the Delta flight with your card and then redeem your points after the fact, you should still earn points on the purchase.

  15. Yuliana on January 22, 2024 at 1:27 AM

    Hi Barry,

    Do we earn only 1 point on travel purchases with the Scotiagold amex but 2x points with Amex Cobalt? And which card out of the 3 is best for earning points outside of Canada?

    • Barry Choi on January 22, 2024 at 8:22 AM

      Hey Yuliana,

      I would use the Cobalt for any restaurants, grocery stores, and transit when outside of Canada. The res

      • Yuliana on January 22, 2024 at 1:38 PM

        hmm I think your response cut off?

        • Barry Choi on January 22, 2024 at 2:15 PM


          It should have finished with “The rest of your purchases should be charged to your Scotia Gold American Express”

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