Review: American Express Cobalt Card

Jane Switzer
by Jane Switzer October 4, 2017 / No Comments

The new American Express Cobalt Card makes a strong play for the millennial/young professional cohort (see: launch party featuring “influencers” and celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay), with the biggest points multipliers for dining and travel-related purchases. Every dollar spent on the card earns American Express Membership Rewards points redeemable for flights and hotels, gift cards, merchandise from retailers such as Amazon.ca or Ticketmaster.ca, or to cover eligible charges on your credit card statement.

This card’s biggest advantage is the flexibility in how the dining and travel categories are interpreted. You can be a home chef, or fast food fiend; a city dweller with a metropass, or a commuter who guzzles gas — basically, no one’s left behind:

  • 5 points per dollar on “eats and drinks”: Groceries, restaurants, bars, cafés, and food delivery.
  • 2 points per dollar on “travel and transit”: Public transportation (subway, streetcar, or bus fare), taxis (including Uber), hotels, or travel by air, rail, water, or road transport.
  • 1 point per dollar on everything else.

The card also offers the following bonus rewards:

  • Welcome bonus: Apply by Oct. 18, 2017, and get 10,000 Membership Rewards points when you make $3,000 in purchases in your first three months.
  • First-year bonus: Get 2,500 extra points for each month you spend at least $500 on the card — up to 30,000 points a year.

The brass tacks: The card’s interest rate is 19.99% for purchases, and 22.99% for cash advances. It has a $120 annual fee, charged at $10 monthly — a smart way to get subscription-friendly millennials to pony up a not-insignificant sum (premium rewards card fees typically range from from $89-$150). Charging $10 each month makes it seem more affordable, but it’s $120 annually nonetheless. There’s no additional cost for supplementary cards, and American Express cards are compatible with Apple Pay.

American Express Cobalt Card

  • Annual fee: $120 (charged at $10 monthly)
  • Earn 5 points per dollar on restaurants, coffee shops, bars, grocery stores, and food delivery
  • Earn 2 points per dollar on gas, taxis, public transportation and travel (air, water, rail, or road transport, plus hotels)
  • Earn 1 point per dollar on all other purchases

Joining the Amex family means access to American Express Invites, which includes ticket pre-sales and reserved seats for concerts, movie screenings, and culinary events, plus other special offers. It’s also easy to redeem for travel: Points can be used to cover taxes and fees to fly on any airline, with no blackout dates. The card has a suite of insurance including travel emergency medical and accident, flight delay, baggage loss and delay, and care rental collision/loss damage waiver. Amex Membership Rewards also convert to SPG Starpoints at a 2:1 ratio, so the 5X spending category on eats and drinks gives you 2.5 Starpoints per dollar.

Overall, this is a strong rewards card for people who want flexibility in how they’re rewarded for eating out and getting around. The rolling bonus structure, all-inclusive spending categories, and points redemption structure make this card stand out in the rewards arena.

Unfortunately for consumers, American Express is accepted at fewer places than Visa or MasterCard (there’s no master list of merchants, but here are some major retailers that do accept Amex). If you already have a no fee card with another provider, this is a strong contender for a supplementary card.

To see how the American Express Cobalt Card fits with your individual spending profile (and whether the annual fee is worth it), compare multiple credit cards side-by-side with our credit cards rewards calculator.

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