Scotiabank Gold American Express Card Review

Hyder Owainati
by Hyder Owainati August 28, 2019 / No Comments

Click here to quickly view the card’s pros and cons (+)

Scotiabank Gold American Express – Quick Review

The Pros

  • One of the best rewards cards for food-related spending, the Scotiabank Gold American Express will earn you 5 Scotia Rewards points per dollar at grocery stores, restaurants, cafes, and bars.
  • You’ll get 3 points per dollar on all your daily transit-related purchases including gas, public transit, taxis, and ride-share services like Uber. You’ll also earn 3 points on streaming services like Netflix and Spotify. Aside from its strong earn rate, the fact cardholders can earn bonus points on Ubers and transit is a huge advantage and a perk not offered by most other cards.
  • This card’s current welcome offer includes a 20,000 point bonus ($200 value) after $1,000 is spent on the card.
  • This card is a great choice for anyone looking for a simple points program. 1 Scotia Rewards point equals $0.01 (a straight 1%) when redeemed for travel.
  • Along with its simplicity, the Scotia Rewards program is super flexible. You can redeem points for travel from any airline with no blackout dates. You can even use points retroactively for any flight tickets you purchased up to 12 months ago.
  • The Scotiabank Gold American Express doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. So, unlike most other cards, you won’t get hit with an additional 2.5% charge when making purchases in a non-Canadian currency.
  • The card’s robust travel insurance benefits include $1,000,000 in travel medical emergency insurance for a period of 25 days, as well as rental car insurance, hotel burglary insurance, and more.
  • Cardholders can take advantage of American Express Invites, AMEX Front of the Line, and AMEX Offers to buy pre-sale tickets to concerts and entertainment events, book unique getaways, and gain access to special shopping deals.
  • By tapping Scotia Rewards’ full-service travel agency, you can get special discounts on hotel stays, cruises, rental cars, and more.

The Cons

  • As an American Express Card, the Scotiabank Gold AMEX isn’t as widely accepted by retailers when compared to Mastercard or Visa Cards (that’s why we recommend also carrying another no fee card as a back-up in cases when AMEX isn’t accepted).
  • Secondary cardholders aren’t free, and it’ll cost a $29 annual fee to add each authorized user.
  • Since travel is not one of the card’s bonus categories, you’ll earn the standard of just 1 point per dollar (a return of 1%) on your flight and hotel-related spending.
  • While the Scotiabank Gold AMEX’s lack of foreign transaction fees means you’ll save while spending abroad, all international purchases will earn you 1 point. So, you won’t rack up bonus points on food and transit abroad like you can when using the card in Canada.
  • Travel Insurance for seniors is lacklustre, as cardholders aged 65 years or older will only receive 3 days of coverage (in comparison, cardholders below 65 years old receive 25 days of coverage).

Scotiabank Gold American Express

  • Annual fee: $120
  • Earn 5 Scotia Rewards points per dollar spent on groceries, restaurants, cafes, and entertainment
  • Earn 3 points per dollar spent on gas, public transit, ride share services, taxis, and streaming services
  • Earn 1 point per dollar spent on everything else
  • Welcome Offer: Up to 20,000 bonus points (value: $200)
  • No foreign transaction fees

Are you looking for a travel credit card that offers a ton of rewards and perks? Do you want to avoid complicated loyalty programs, and does the idea of point transfers or miles calculators make your head spin? Then, the Scotiabank Gold American Express might be the right card for you.

The Scotiabank Gold American Express Card topped our list of the best travel credit cards in Canada for 2020, and its huge appeal comes down to its lucrative rewards, simplicity, and perks.

This card lets you quickly rack up rewards on your normal, everyday spending – offering some of the most points per dollar on groceries, dining, gas, and daily transit in the credit card market. Scotiabank’s easy to understand rewards program lets you book travel on your schedule at a flat rate of 1 point = 1% with no blackout dates or airline restrictions.

The Scotiabank Gold American Express Card also comes with a big sign-up bonus (valued at up to $200) that can help fast-track your travel plans, no foreign transaction fees, and a full suite of travel insurance benefits that’ll keep you covered when flying within Canada’s borders and overseas. While it does have a $120 annual fee, when considering all the above, it can offer a lot more value than it costs to carry.

For a closer look at what this card offers, read our full review of the Scotiabank Gold American Express below.


Bonus categories and point values

The Scotiabank Gold AMEX is one of the highest-earning rewards cards in the country, with a points structure that gives you:

Scotiabank Gold American Express

  • 5 Scotia Rewards points per dollar spent on groceries, restaurants, cafes, and entertainment
  • 3 points per dollar spent on gas, public transit, and streaming services
  • 1 point per dollar spent on everything else
  • Welcome offer: up to 20,000 bonus points
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Annual fee: $120

Since 5,000 Scotia Rewards points equal to $50 (or 1%) when redeemed for travel, that adds up to the equivalent of between 5% and 3% back per dollar on bonus categories and 1% on everything else. Plus, since Scotia Rewards point values are fixed, your rewards won’t change in value based on where and when you fly – always making it easy to determine the value of your points.

Few credit cards in comparison deliver so much value for as many bonus categories, especially for less-conventional purchases like ride shares and streaming services, which is why the Scotiabank Gold American Express consistently ranks among the best travel credit cards in Canada.

The one drawback of the Scotiabank Gold American Express’ earn rate is that it doesn’t offer bonus points on travel, so you’ll earn the standard 1 point for every dollar you spend on flight tickets and hotels. However, since it offers so many points in multiple other categories, this does little to ding the value this credit card delivers.

Welcome offer

Many travel credit cards come with welcome offers that provide new cardholders a way to quickly stockpile points; and luckily, the Scotiabank Gold American Express is no exception.

If you’re approved for this card by July 1, 2020, you can earn 20,000 bonus points (a value of $200) provided you spend $1,000 on the card in your first three months. That spending minimum is pretty easy to hit, especially when considering that some other rewards cards require you to spend up to three times that much in order to unlock their points bonuses.

While the Scotiabank Gold AMEX’s welcome offer doesn’t also include an annual fee waiver for the first year, considering the points bonus adds up to $200, it’s not much of a drawback.

Flexible redemption options

When it comes to redeeming points for travel, few loyalty programs offer as much flexibility as Scotia Rewards.

Using this program, you can book your travel with any airline or hotel either online or over the phone through the Scotia Rewards full-service travel agency.

If you’ve racked up enough points, you can redeem them for the cost of your whole trip including taxes and fees. Another noteworthy benefit – you can start redeeming for rewards through Scotia Rewards full-service agency as soon as you’ve accrued just 5,000 points ($50), so you won’t have to build up a giant stockpile of points before you can actually put them to good use.

You also don’t have to use the Scotia Rewards travel agency to redeem your rewards, as Scotia Points can be applied retroactively to purchases made up to 12 months earlier from a third-party airline or travel agency.

On a side note, you can also redeem your points for statement credits, merchandise or gift cards. But, all three options offer less value for your points compared to travel redemptions. For example, when using points to pay off your credit bill, you can redeem 62,500 points for $500 in statement credits. If you were redeeming for travel, those same 62,500 points would add up to $625. That’s a big difference. That’s why we suggest avoiding those less lucrative redemption options and stick to using Scotia Rewards points for what they’re made for: flights, hotel stays, and car rentals.

No foreign transaction fees

The Scotiabank Gold American Express is one of the few dozen or so credit cards in Canada with no foreign transaction fees. That means, unlike most other cards, you won’t get hit with an additional 2.5% fee when making purchases in a non-Canadian currency.

2.5% on its own may not sound like much, but the savings potential can really add up when considering the number of purchases you make while abroad on vacation or on business, especially when factoring for costlier expenses like hotel bookings. The kicker: you’ll also earn an additional 1 point on top of the foreign transaction waiver. This perk will come in particularly handy when travelling south of the border, where American Express is almost universally accepted.

It’s worth noting that all foreign purchases will earn you 1 point – so you won’t rack up bonus points on food and transit while abroad like you do when using the card in Canada. All things considered though, the foreign transaction fee waiver means you’ll come out ahead when using your card internationally.

Annual fee, interest rates and income requirements

The Scotiabank Gold American Express Card has a $120 annual fee and a $29 supplementary card fee, which is pretty much the standard charged by most competing travel credit cards on the market. And again, considering its rich earn rate, this card can deliver far more value than it costs to carry.

While there’s no first-year annual fee waiver offer, this card does come with a $200 point welcome bonus (provided certain spending minimums are hit) that offsets its fee for the first year by over two-fold.

In terms of income requirements, you’ll need to earn a minimum annual income of $12,000 to be eligible as opposed to the standard $60,000 required by most other premium rewards cards. That being said, your income combined with your credit score will be factored in your approval process.

Lastly, the card has a 19.99% APR on purchases that’ll only kick in when you don’t pay off your balance in full, and 22.99% APR on both balance transfers and cash advances.

Additional perks (insurance benefits and travel perks)

Travel insurance

Not only can the Scotiabank Gold American Express send you to your dream destination but it also provides you with some of the most robust travel insurance coverage for a credit card.

This card’s comprehensive benefits include $1,000,000 in out of province emergency medical insurance for up to 25 consecutive days for those under 65 years old. For seniors 65 or older, this card also offers complimentary coverage but for only 3 days.

Other standout features include $500,000 in travel accident insurance, $1,000 in lost and/or delayed baggage coverage that comes into effect after four hours as well as $1,000 in hotel burglary insurance for stays booked in Canada and the US.

Here’s an overview of the card’s insurance benefits:

Travel medical emergency $1,000,000 | 25 days (under 65) or 3 days (over 65)
Travel accident $500,000
Car rental insurance $65,000
Trip cancellation $1,500 per person | $10,000 per trip
Trip interruption and delay $1,500 per person | $10,000 per trip
Flight delay $500 per person (4+ hour delay)
Lost baggage $1,000 per trip
Delayed baggage $1,000 per person (4+ hour delay)
Hotel/motel burglary $1,000 per person

Travel perks

When tapping into Scotia Rewards full-service travel agency, you won’t only be able to redeem points for free flights but can also take advantage of additional travel benefits including:

  • Special offers on travel packages, car rental, and more.
  • Best price guarantee – on travel booked up to 24 hours after making your booking.

American Express Benefits

The Scotiabank Gold American Express also opens up the door to a number of American Express exclusive entertainment benefits, including:

  • AMEX Front of the Line: which lets you snag pre-sale tickets to some of the biggest music and entertainment events including concerts and theatre productions.
  • American Express Invites: giving you access to special discounts and events like movie screenings and entertainment packages.
  • AMEX Offers: the digital equivalent of a coupon flyer that offers limited-time offers on select items from major retailers.


This credit card is issued by American Express, and while AMEX is accepted by over 70,000 merchants in Canada, there’s no denying the fact it’s not as universally accepted as Mastercard or Visa.

With that in mind, you’ll want to make sure the places where you shop frequently also accept American Express before applying so you can maximize your rewards points. You’ll also want to consider carrying a second no fee credit card as a back-up to use at places that don’t accept AMEX.

The last word

The Scotiabank Gold American Express Card consistently ranks among the best credit cards in Canada, and for good reason. Not only can it send you to your dream destination but it provides you with travel emergency medical insurance for up to 25 days, no foreign transaction fees, early to access concerts and events, a significant welcome offer, and access to a simple and easy-to-understand rewards system.

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