Amex Cobalt Review

Amex Cobalt Review
  • Annual Cost
  • Earn Rate
  • Perks and Rewards
  • Customer Service
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Amex Cobalt Review Summary:

The Amex Cobalt card is a premium American Express credit card with a generous earn rate, solid perks, and great travel insurance. The Amex Cobalt also features flexible points redemption, including one option that blows the competition out of the water. It’s featured on a wide range of “best of” lists, including our own ranking of Best Travel Credit Cards in Canada.

Our American Express Cobalt review lays out all the details of this highly popular card and then puts it head-to-head against a close competitor. We’ll also show you all of your points redemption options so that you can see how flexible the card is—and how to make the most efficient use out of your Amex Points.

Pros

  • Flexible points redemption
  • Points transfer option
  • Generous earn rates
  • Generous welcome bonus
  • Travel insurance
  • Good selection of perks

Cons

  • No airport lounge access
  • Amex not accepted everywhere
  • No trip cancellation/interruption insurance
  • No emergency medical coverage for travellers 65 and up

The American Express Cobalt card has topped “best of” lists on a range of financial sites. Our Amex Cobalt review shows you why and in fact, we have also named this card the best travel credit card and one of the best overall credit cards in Canada. We give you the numbers, explain what they mean, show you the best options for using your rewards, and compare the Amex Cobalt to another excellent American Express card to see which one is best for you.

American Express cards aren’t accepted everywhere, but a really good one is worth having for the introduction bonus alone. The Amex Cobalt can help you get where you want to go faster, especially if you’re an Aeroplan points collector! Let’s dig into the specifics and you’ll see what we mean:

American Express Cobalt Review: The Numbers

Annual Fee: $155.88 ($12.99/month), $0 per additional card.

Minimum Income: None.

Interest Rate: 20.99% on purchases, 21.99% on cash advances.

Earn Rate:

  • 5 points per dollar spent on groceries, restaurants, and delivery (up to a combined max spend of $30,000 annually)
  • 3 points per dollar spent on streaming subscriptions
  • 2 points per dollar spent on gas, travel, and daily transit
  • 1 point per dollar spent on everything else
  • 1 bonus point per dollar spent on American Express Online Travel

Travel Insurance Coverage:

  • Travel Emergency Medical coverage (up to $5 million for first 15 days if under 65)
  • Flight Delay insurance (up to $500 combined with baggage delay insurance)
  • Baggage Delay insurance (up to $500 combined with flight delay insurance)
  • Hotel Burglary insurance (up to $500 per occurrence)
  • Lost or Stolen Baggage insurance (up to $500 per trip)
  • Car Rental Theft and Damage insurance (up to $85,000)
  • Travel accident insurance (up to $250,000)

Perks:

  • Mobile device insurance ($1000)
  • The Hotel Collection: One free room upgrade plus up to $100 hotel credit (to use for amenities and services when charged to the room) at over 600 participating hotels
  • Cobalt perks program (Special bonuses and rewards offered periodically)
  • American Express Experiences (Front of line concert tickets, entertainment, dining, retail experiences, and more)
  • Extended Warranty (up to one additional year)
  • Purchase protection plan (up to $1000 for 90 days after purchase)

Amex Cobalt Welcome Bonus

As of September 2021, new cardholders can receive a welcome bonus of up to 50,000 Membership Rewards Points:

  • 20,000 points when you spend a total of $3,000 in the first 3 months
  • 2,500 points for each monthly billing period in the first year in which you spend $500 (up to 30,000 points, for a total possible welcome bonus of 50,000 points)

American Express Cobalt: Points Redemption Options

The Amex Cobalt card is a flexible card that gives cardholders multiple ways to redeem their points. Options include:

  • Fixed rate travel booking: A set number of points can be redeemed to cover the base fare of an airline ticket up to a maximum set fare price (points cannot be redeemed for taxes, fees, and surcharges). It’s possible to work the chart to your advantage and save money on tickets, but you need to do some math to make sure it’s worth it.
  • Flexible rate travel booking: Book any ticket you want on any airline and pay for it with your card, then apply your points to the purchase at a rate of 1 cent per point.
  • Pay with points: You can make any purchase and apply your points after the fact.
  • Hotel loyalty program transfer: You can transfer your points to either Marriott or Hilton’s loyalty programs. If you choose Hilton, your points will transfer at a rate of 1:1, but if you choose Marriott, you get 6 Bonvoy points for every 5 American Express Membership Rewards points.  
  • Airline loyalty program transfer: You can transfer your points to participating airline loyalty programs at a rate of 1:1 (new as of August 16, 2021). This is far and away the best value for your points.

The new airline transfer option makes this card, which was already excellent, even better. An earn rate of 5 Aeroplan points per dollar spent is unheard of, but that’s what you get if you buy groceries with your Amex Cobalt card and transfer your points to your Aeroplan account.

We were already huge fans of this card (even without this option, it won a special category in our Best Travel Cards list), but now it’s cemented its place at the top of the pack.

Amex Cobalt Card vs. Scotiabank Gold Amex Card

For our Amex Cobalt Card review, we put it head-to-head against a similar card from Scotiabank – the Scotiabank Gold Amex. Both cards are extremely well-reviewed and offer similar earn rates and benefits. Let’s see how they measure up:

Amex CobaltScotiabank Gold Amex
Fee$155.88 ($12.99 / month)$120 (first year rebated)
Interest rate20.99% / 21.99%19.99% / 22.99%
Minimum IncomeNone$12,000 personal
Welcome bonusUp to 50,000 Membership Rewards PointsUp to 50,000 Scotia Rewards points
Earn rate*5 points/$1 spent on groceries, restaurants, and delivery
*3 points/$1 spent on streaming subscriptions
*2 points/$1 spent on gas, travel, and daily transit
*1 point/$1 spent on everything else
*1 bonus point per $1 spent on Amex Online Travel
*5 points/$1 spent on groceries, restaurants, delivery, and eligible entertainment like movie theatres
*3 points/$1 spent on gas, daily transit, and streaming subscriptions
*1 point/$1 spent on everything else
PerksMobile device insurance ($1000)
The Hotel Collection  
Cobalt perks program
American Express Experiences
Extended Warranty
Purchase protection plan
No foreign transaction fees
Airport lounge access
Complimentary concierge service
Amex offers, front of the line, and invites
Scotia Rewards Travel Service
Save up to 25% on Avis and Budget car rentals
Extended Warranty
Purchase protection plan
Travel Insurance*Travel Emergency Medical coverage (up to $5 million for first 15 days if under 65)
*Flight Delay insurance (up to $500 combined with baggage delay insurance)
*Baggage Delay insurance (up to $500 combined with flight delay insurance)
*Hotel Burglary insurance (up to $500 per occurrence)
*Lost or Stolen Baggage insurance (up to $500 per trip)
*Travel accident insurance (up to $250,000)
*Car Rental Theft and Damage insurance (up to $85,000)
*Travel Emergency Medical (up to $1 for up to 25 days if under 65 and up to 3 if 65+)
*Trip Cancellation insurance ($1,500 each to a $10,000 max)
*Trip interruption insurance ($1,500 each to a $10,000 max)
*Flight Delay insurance (up to $500 per trip)
*Baggage Delay insurance (up to $1,000 per trip)
*Hotel Burglary Insurance (up to $1,000 per burglary occurrence)
*Lost or Stolen Baggage insurance (up to $1,000 per trip)
*Travel Accident insurance (up to $500,000 per person)
*Car Rental Theft and Damage insurance (up to $65,000)

These cards are fairly similar at first glance. Both have similar interest rates and currently offer 50,000 points as a welcome bonus. The Amex Cobalt has a slightly higher fee, but also has no minimum income requirement.

The earn rates are nearly identical… except that Scotiabank gives cardholders 1 more point per dollar spent on gas and daily transit, while Cobalt gives cardholders an extra point per dollar spent on travel.

The perks vary more significantly, with the Amex Cobalt offering mobile device insurance and hotel upgrades while the Scotiabank Gold Amex offers lounge access and a discount on car rentals.

The winner here is really going to depend on your personal tastes, although the lack of foreign transaction fees for the Scotiabank Gold Amex is appealing if you’re planning to travel outside of Canada.

The Amex Cobalt offers more emergency medical coverage, but for a shorter time period and only for travellers under 65. However, the Scotiabank Gold Amex offers some coverage for travellers ages 65+ and has more types of insurance with more coverage across the board. This category goes to the Scotiabank Gold Amex.

These are both excellent cards, with the Scotiabank Gold taking the lead in some areas. However, if you’re a member of an eligible airline loyalty program, like Aeroplan, the Amex Cobalt card is the clear winner—and here’s why:  

Scotiabank’s points are worth 1 cent per point across the board. Meanwhile, the Amex Cobalt will let cardholders transfer their points to a host of airline loyalty programs at a 1:1 ratio. That means, for example, that you can earn up to 50,000 Aeroplan points with your welcome bonus alone.

If travel is your goal and if you have a membership in a participating airline loyalty program, this redemption feature makes the American Express Cobalt card far and away your best choice with the highest value offerings not only out of these two cards, but out of any Aeroplan card.

American Express Cobalt Comparison: Some Things to Consider

Before you make a final decision on a new credit card (or ideally before you even start your search), it helps to have an idea of what your preferences and priorities are. For example:

  • What kind of credit card are you looking for? Are travel rewards a priority for you?
  • Are you already a member of an airline loyalty program (or are you planning to become one)? The American Express Cobalt is particularly value-packed for people who transfer their points to a loyalty program like Aeroplan—but if you’re attached to, say, Air Miles, and don’t want to change that, this may not be as good a card for you.
  • Is airport lounge access a priority? The Amex Cobalt doesn’t include this as a perk, so you may want to look elsewhere.
  • Are you over 65? Is included insurance important to you? Many cards, including this one, don’t cover travellers aged 65 and over.
  • Do you spend significantly on groceries and/or dining out each month? With the Amex Cobalt’s accelerated earn rate, you’ll rake in more rewards with this card.

If you want to dig into some other travel cards and don’t know where to start, our list of the Best Travel Credit Cards in Canada is a great jumping off point and will give you a range of cards to look at. If Aeroplan is your airline loyalty program of choice, you can check out a selection of our favourites in our list of the Best Aeroplan Cards in Canada (but trust us, the Amex Cobalt is an excellent one).

If you’re starting to think that maybe a travel card isn’t your #1 priority, consider our list of the Best No-Fee Cashback Cards in Canada or a reward card review like the MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus card. There are lots of options out there, no matter what your preferences and spending habits are!

Amex Cobalt Review: Frequently Asked Questions

How to Apply For The Amex Cobalt

Personal Requirements: You can apply for this card if you are a Canadian resident who has reached the age of majority in your province/territory of residence.

Required Minimum Income: None

Predicted Credit Score Requirement: 760-900 (Good to Excellent)

American Express Cobalt Review: Our Final Verdict

It’s no secret that we love the Amex Cobalt card—we don’t give just any card its own category in our Best Travel Credit Cards in Canada round-up. We appreciate its bonus earning categories, its perks and insurance, plus the fact that it has premium benefits without a premium income requirement (always a plus).

This was already an excellent card before American Express made changes to it in August 2021. 

But now? 

Now it’s a spectacular card with stunning earn rates for anyone who collects Aeroplan points (among other airline loyalty programs). Use this card for your daily spending, transfer your points to Aeroplan, and watch the totals stack up.

The final verdict for our Amex Cobalt review: absolutely add this card to your list. It’s a winner – especially for those that might not meet the minimum income requirements for some of the ultra-premium credit cards out there.

Meg

Meg Goodmanson is a writer, editor, virtual assistant, credit card expert, and lifelong learner-of-things. A self-proclaimed nerd, Meg’s favourite thing is collecting information and presenting it in an interesting and helpful way—especially if it helps her travel for free!
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