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Compare: American Express Cobalt vs. Scotiabank Gold American Express

This piece was originally published on September 8, 2021, and was updated on October  26, 2022.

 

Today we’re comparing two of Canada’s best travel credit cards to find out which offers the best overall value.

One one side is the Scotiabank Gold American Express – a card which features a powerful rewards scheme and great travel perks. On the other is the American Express Cobalt and it’s industry-leading points program.

So, without further ado, let’s dive in:

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AMEX Cobalt

Scotiabank Gold AMEX

Annual Fee

  • $155.88 (paid monthly at $12.99) 
  • $120 

Sign-Up Bonus

  • Earn up to 30,000 Membership Rewards  points in your first year
  • Earn up to 40,000 bonus Scene+ points in your first year 
  • No annual fee in the first year

Rewards

  • 5x points per $1 spent on groceries, restaurants or food delivery
  • 3x points per $1 spent on streaming services
  • 2x points per $1 spent on gas, transit and travel
  • 1x points per $1 spent on everything else
  • 6x points per $1 spent at Sobeys, Safeway, FreshCo, Foodland and more
  • 5x points per $1 spent on groceries, restaurants, food delivery and food subscriptions
  • 5x points per $1 spent on entertainment purchases including movies, theatres, and ticket agencies
  • 3x points per $1 spent on gas and daily transit
  • 3x points per $1 spent on streaming services
  • 1x points on everything else

Point Values

  • 1 point = $0.01 (or 1%) when redeemed for travel, or:
  • 1 point = up to 1.75% through AMEX’s Fixed Points Travel Program
  • 1 point = $0.01 (or 1%) when redeemed for travel

APR

  • 20.99% on purchases
  • 21.99% on cash advances
  • 20.99% on purchases
  • 22.99% on cash advances

Special Features

  • Transfer points to popular frequent flyer/loyalty programs
  • American Express invites & Front of the Line
  • No fee for supplementary cards
  • Redeem points for travel or merchandise through Membership Rewards Program
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • American Express invites & Front of the Line
  • Book/redeem flights through Scotia Rewards Travel Service
  • 24/7 concierge
  • VIP airport lounge access

Insurance

  • Travel emergency medical: up to $5,000,000 for up to 15 days
  • Travel accident: $250,000
  • Trip interruption:  N/A
  • Trip cancellation: N/A
  • Flight delay: up to $400 
  • Baggage delay: up to $500 when delayed by 6 hours or more
  • Lost or stolen baggage: up to $500 per trip
  • Hotel and motel burglary: up to $500
  • Rental car theft or damage: $85,000 for 48 consecutive days or less 
  • Mobile device: up to $1,000
  • Travel emergency medical: up to $1,000,000 for up to 25 days
  • Travel accident: $500,000 
  • Trip interruption: $1,500 per person
  • Trip cancellation: $1,500 per person
  • Flight delay: up to $500 per person 
  • Baggage delay: up to $1,000 when delayed by more than 4 hour 
  • Lost or stolen baggage:  up to $1,000 per trip
  • Hotel and motel burglary: up to $1,000
  • Rental car theft or damage: up to $56,000 for 48 days or less
  • Mobile device: up to $1,000



Annual Fee

Winner: Scotiabank Gold American Express

 

While Scotiabank’s Gold American Express card keeps its monthly fee at an average $120, the American Express Cobalt will cost you a bit more per year at $155.88. That being said, the Cobalt’s fee is paid monthly at $12.99, which may make a difference to some customers who prefer to pay smaller amounts incrementally than one lump sum per year.

To offset the higher fee, however, the American Express Cobalt charges no annual fee for any supplementary cards, making it cheap and easy for a family member or spouse to use it as a joint credit card. That means double the points without any additional costs. The Scotiabank Gold AMEX, however, does charge an annual fee of $29 for any additional cards on the account.

All in all, if you’re looking to have a joint account, the Cobalt’s no-fee supplementary cards could make it the better option and balance out it’s higher annual fee. For those who plan on being the only user of their card, however, the Scotiabank Gold’s lower fee is the clear choice here.

 

Bonuses and Rewards

Winner: Scotiabank Gold American Express

 

When it comes to sign-up incentives, the AMEX Cobalt offers an introductory bonus of 50,000 points. The Scotiabank Gold AMEX, however, goes even further by offering 40,000 bonus Scene+ points plus no annual fee for the first year.

The reward systems of these two cards are at times similar, but certain differences are apparent. For example, the American Express Cobalt offers:

  • 5x points per $1 spent on groceries, restaurants or food delivery
  • 3x points per $1 spent on streaming services
  • 2x points per $1 spent on gas, transit and travel
  • 1x points per $1 spent on everything else

 

The Scotiabank Gold American Express offers:

  • 6x points per $1 spent at Sobeys, Safeway, FreshCo, Foodland and more
  • 5x points per $1 spent on groceries, restaurants, food delivery and food subscriptions
  • 5x points per $1 spent on entertainment purchases including movies, theatres, and ticket agencies
  • 3x points per $1 spent on gas and daily transit
  • 3x points per $1 spent on streaming services
  • 1x points on everything else

While comparable in the areas of restaurants/food, streaming services, and outside categories, the Scotiabank Gold AMEX takes the lead here with their extra point per dollar on transit purchases and their five points per dollar on non-streaming entertainment purchases such as movies and live events. 

Point Values

Winner: American Express Cobalt

 

This is a category where the American Express Cobalt certainly has an edge. Both cards offer a basic travel point value of 1 percent ($0.01), but the extra value earned through Amex’s Fixed Points Travel Program is what sets it apart.

Points redeemed with a Scotiabank Gold Amex can be used to book travel arrangements through their Scene Rewards full-service agency or the Scotiabank app as a statement credit. You can also use points to pay any taxes and fees.

The American Express Cobalt, however, offers you a few different ways to redeem your points:

  • Through their Fixed Points Travel Program, which allows you to see exactly how many points you’ll need for flights to specific destinations, making last-minute travel plans easier. You’ll also receive a higher point value through the program: up to 1.75 percent versus the traditional 1 percent.
  • Transferring your American Express Membership Select points to Bonvoy points
  • Using their standard flat rate of 1 percent ($0.01) for any flight on the airline of your choice

 

While the Fixed Points Travel Program has much to offer, it does require a bit of detective work. Point values are prone to fluctuation, affecting which flights will give you the most bang for your buck. It also only applies to round-trip flights out of Canada, so those looking to take advantage of it’s higher value while travelling through Europe, for example, will be sorely out of luck.

That being said, it still gives the American Express Cobalt a huge advantage when it comes to point value, landing it the win in this category.

 

Special Features

Winner: Scotiabank Gold American Express

 

Both cards offer some great perks, but the Scotiabank Gold has a slight edge over it’s Cobalt competitor thanks to fancy travel benefits such as round-the-clock concierge service and access to VIP airport lounges.

The American Express Cobalt, for its part, offers the ability to transfer points to popular frequent flyer/loyalty programs such as Aeroplan, Avios, and Marriott Bonvoy for discounts on flights and hotels. Card users can also redeem points for travel or merchandise through their Membership Rewards Program and gain early-bird access to popular ticketed events through American Express Front of the Line, but there currently isn’t much else in the way of fun perks. 

With the Scotiabank Gold American Express, customers can redeem travel points through the Scene Rewards Travel Service as well as benefit from Amex’s Front of the Line program, but there are a few extra perks for travellers that set it apart. Most notably, users of the Scotiabank Gold card don’t pay foreign transaction fees - a big help when using the card abroad. Add to that the aforementioned access to 24/7 concierge and VIP airport lounges, and you’ve got a lot of great reasons to take this card with you anytime you travel.

 

Travel Insurance

Winner: Scotiabank Gold American Express

 

Rest assured you’ll be well taken care of while travelling abroad with either one of these cards, but the Scotiabank Gold American Express provides insurance coverage that’s a little more extensive. 

For example, in the event of a medical emergency while travelling, the Scotiabank Gold provides coverage up to $1,000,000 for the first 25 days of your trip, while the Cobalt’s coverage only lasts for 15 days. It’s worth noting that the Cobalt’s coverage amount is much higher at $5,000,000, but an argument could be made that the Gold’s length of coverage is more valuable to the average traveller. 

Similarly, the Scotiabank Gold’s travel accident insurance has you covered for up to $1,000,000 per incident when you charge at least 75% of your carrier tickets (plane, train, etc.) to the card, while the Cobalt’s coverage isn’t quite as generous, offering only $250,000 providing you charge the entirety of your carrier tickets to the card. 

The Scotiabank Gold also offers trip cancellation/interruption insurance of up to $1500 per person for travel expenses, something which doesn’t factor into the Cobalt’s insurance coverage at all.

There are certain areas where the American Express Cobalt comes out on top, though, such as it’s excellent coverage in case of car rental theft or damage. In this event, Cobalt users would receive up to $85,000 in the first 48 days provided they charged their rental car to the card. The Scotiabank Gold’s offer has similar terms, but only offers coverage of up to $65,000.

All in all, however, while both cards offer extensive travel insurance coverage, the Scotiabank Gold wins out here for going the extra mile. 

Find your perfect credit card in under 60 seconds - No SIN required

  1. Tell us a bit about yourself

    Answer some questions so we can personalize our recommendations - this won't impact your credit score

  2. Check your eligibility

    We confirm your eligibility with our partner, TransUnion. This will be a ‘soft credit check’ which you can see but lenders cannot

  3. Find your perfect matches

    We show you the cards you’re most likely to want and most likely to get

let's get started

Spending Scenario

While each card features excellent rewards, we decided to compare them directly in a spending scenario to see which one earns a better value.

Category

Amount

Groceries

$240

Gas

$180

Restaurants

$250

Bills

$200

Travel

$100

Entertainment

$60

Pharmacy

$20

Everything else

$500

Total Monthly Spend

$1,550




 

Scotiabank Gold American Express: 

Monthly spending

$1,550

First-year rewards (with sign-up bonus)

99,320 points

Subsequent years

69,320 points



 

American Express Cobalt:

Monthly spending

$1,550

First-year rewards (with sign-up bonus)

95,480

Subsequent years

65,480 points

 

The bottom line

While both cards are among the best options for travellers and rewards-seekers alike, the Scotiabank Gold American Express comes slightly ahead in our comparison due to its more impressive welcome offer, lower annual fee, extensive points program and generous insurance coverage. 

That being said, the American Express Cobalt still wins out when it comes to point value due to its excellent Fixed Points Travel Program, so if earning points on travel is your highest priority, it may still be the best choice.

Let us know how you feel about each card and how they stack up in the comments section below.

 

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