Credit Card Battle: Scotiabank Gold American Express vs. American Express Cobalt

Jordann Brown
by Jordann Brown December 19, 2018 / No Comments

We’re back with another battle of the credit cards, and this time we’re comparing two of the country’s top overall rewards cards.

In one corner we’ve got the Scotiabank Gold American Express – which offers a powerful rewards scheme. In the other corner is the American Express Cobalt, a credit card with a welcome offer that is strong enough to turn anyone’s head. Let’s jump right into the battle by comparing two of Canada’s best travel credit cards side by side:

Scotiabank Gold American Express

American Express Cobalt Card

Annual fee $99 $120
Sign-up bonus 15,000 points when you spend $1,000 in 3 months 2,500 bonus points every month you spend $500 or more in the 1st year
Rewards 4 points per $1 on gas, groceries, entertainment, and restaurants 1, 1 point per $1 on everything else1 5 points per $1 on restaurants and groceries, 2 points per $1 on travel and gas, 1 point per $1 on everything else
Annual income requirement

$12,000 per year

Any amount

Interest rate 19.99% 19.99%
Special features
  • 24/7 concierge
  • Discounted access to airport lounges
  • 24/7 concierge
  • American Express Invites – advanced screenings of blockbusters
  • Front of the Line – advance tickets to concerts
  • Free supplementary cards
Insurance benefits
  • Travel emergency medical and accident
  • Trip cancellation, interruption, and delay
  • Baggage loss and delay
  • Car rental collision/damage waiver
  • Zero liability
  • Purchase assurance
  • Extended warranty
  • Travel emergency medical and accident
  • Flight delay
  • Flight cancellation
  • Baggage loss and delay
  • Car rental collision/damage waiver
  • Zero liability, extended warranty, purchase assurance

1Up to $50,000 in spending, 1 point per dollar spent after that.

Both of these credit cards are from American Express, and they each offer strong travel rewards for high volume spenders, but there are differences between the two that may help you decide which one is the right choice for you.

  • Annual fees: The Scotiabank Gold American Express has an annual fee of $99. The American Express Cobalt, on the other hand, has a slightly higher annual fee of $120.

    With that being said, the American Express Cobalt does offer free supplementary credit cards, which means you and your partner or family member can both use this credit card to rack up points without having to pay a second fee. The Scotiabank Gold American Express does charge $30 for each supplementary card. So, if you plan to pick up an additional card under your name, the American Express Cobalt could work out to be the more cost-effective option.

  • Rewards scheme: When you spend with the Scotiabank Gold American Express, you’ll earn 4 points per $1 spent on gas, groceries, entertainment, and restaurants, up to a maximum of $50,000 in spending. After that, you’ll earn 1 point per $1 in those categories. You’ll also earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

    While the Scotiabank Gold American Express’ rewards scheme is strong, the American Express Cobalt Card’s is better for those who spend big on food, flights and public transit. When you charge purchases to the American Express Cobalt, you’ll earn 5 points per $1 spent on restaurants and groceries, 2 points per $1 on travel (including airfare, taxis and Ubers), and 1 point per $1 on everything else. The American Express Cobalt only offers 2 points on gas compared to 4 points from the Scotiabank Gold American Express, so that’s an important consideration if you own a car.

  • Travel insurance and side perks: Points and fees aside, both these credit cards offer robust travel insurance benefits – with the Scotiabank Gold American Express coming out slightly on top in terms of medical coverage period (25 days compared to the Cobalt’s 15 days), lost and delayed baggage insurance and hotel burglary coverage. In contrast, the Cobalt provides better credit card rental car insurance and covers a higher medical coverage amount of up to $5,000,000.

    The Scotiabank Gold American Express also stands out for offering discounted rates to airport lounges, while the Cobalt provides cardholders with special access to events and concerts through tbe American Express Invites service. Both these credit cards provide concierge services.

While both these choices rank among the best credit cards in Canada, let’s put them head to head in this monthly spending scenario to see which credit card is the better choice for you.

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

  • Earn 4 Scotia Rewards points per dollar on gas, groceries, entertainment, and restaurants; 1 point per dollar on everything else
  • Earn 15,000 bonus points (value: up to $150) when you make $1,000 in everyday purchases in the first 3 months for accounts opened before February 28, 2019
  • Discounted membership to Priority Pass airport lounges
  • Annual fee: $99

In addition to offering points on a per dollar basis, the Scotiabank Gold American Express also has an excellent sign-up bonus. As a new cardholder, you’ll also 15,000 bonus points if you spend $1,000 within the first three months. This sign-up bonuses combined with the annual spending rewards results in first-year rewards of $499 and $349 in subsequent years.

Monthly spending $1,550
First-year rewards $599
Subsequent years $349

American Express Cobalt Card

  • 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
  • Welcome Offer: 2,500 points every month you spend $500 in your 1st year (total value of $300)
  • Annual fee: $120 (charged at $10 monthly)

The American Express Cobalt has strong sign-up bonuses, even better than the Scotiabank credit card above, which is important because it also has a higher annual fee to offset. When you sign up for an American Express Cobalt, you’ll earn 2,500 points for each monthly billing period you spend over $500. This spending bonus continues for the entire first year of card ownership, meaning you could earn up to 30,000 bonus points ($300 value). We know that one point is about equal to $0.01, so in the spending scenario above, that results in rewards earnings of $634 in the first year and $334 in subsequent years.

Monthly spending $1,550
First-year rewards $634
Subsequent years $334

The bottom line

This battle for the best rewards credit card is a close one. The American Express Cobalt lets you earn more in the first year, but in subsequent years, the Scotiabank Gold American Express is the winner. In battles this close, it’s important to consider the extra perks of a credit card, and the Scotiabank credit card does offer some extra insurance coverage, which is why we are declaring it the official winner.

That said, these results are only for the spending profile we outlined above. The only way to know which credit card is right for you is to enter your information into Ratehub.ca’s credit card calculator and let it compare which credit card would most reward your unique spending habits.

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