Amex Cobalt vs. Scotia Gold Amex: Which Is the Better Rewards Card?
The American Express Cobalt® Card and the Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card are two of the most popular rewards cards in Canada. Despite the fact that they are both Amex credit cards, they’ve got some big differences. To help you decide which plastic makes the better pick, we’ve carefully analyzed each card’s top features.
In This Article:
Amex Cobalt vs. Scotia Gold Amex: At a Glance
|Card Name||American Express Cobalt® Card||Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card|
|Welcome Bonus||Up to 30,000 Membership Rewards® points in your first year (terms and conditions apply)||Earn up to $850* in value in the first 12 months, including up to 45,000 bonus Scene+ points and first year annual fee waived.¹ Offer ends April 30, 2023.|
|Rewards||5 points per $1 spent on eligible everyday purchases such as groceries, restaurants and food delivery (capped at $30,000 in annual spending); 3 points per $1 on streaming services; 2 points per $1 on travel, gas, and transit; 1 point per $1 on all other purchases||6X+ Scene points for each $1 CAD in Canada at Sobeys, Safeway, and more eligible grocers¹; 5X Scene+ points per $1 CAD on other eligible grocery store, dining and entertainment purchases; 3X Scene+ points per $1 CAD on gas, daily transit, and streaming services. Overall annual cap of $50,000 for 5 and 3-point earn rates. 1 point per $1 on everything else|
|Key Features||Transfer points to other travel programs; high point redemption values; nine different kinds of travel and shopping insurance; hotel credit, etc.||No foreign transaction fees; a good array of insurance coverage; bonus offers and exclusive entertainment access; discount Priority Pass membership|
|Annual Fee||$155.88 ($12.99 monthly fee)||$120|
|Full Review||Read more here||Read more here|
Who doesn’t love a good welcome bonus? New American Express Cobalt® cardholders get 2,500 bonus Membership Rewards® points for every month they charge a minimum of $500 to their card in the first year (for a total of up to 30,000 points).
New Scotiabank Gold American Express® cardholders can earn up to $850* in value in the first 12 months, including up to 45,000 bonus Scene+ points and first year annual fee waived.¹
- Earn 25,000 bonus Scene+ points by making at least $1,000 in everyday eligible purchases in your first 3 months.
- Plus, for a limited time, you are eligible to earn a 20,000 Scene+ point bonus when you spend at least $7,500 in everyday eligible purchases in your first year.
- Offer ends April 30, 2023.
Bottom Line: Both cards feature welcome bonuses with a first year spending minimum. With the American Express Cobalt® Card, you can earn up to 30,000 Membership Rewards Points in the first year. That is compared to the Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card where you earn up to 45,000 Scene+™ points bonus.
¹ Conditions Apply. Visit here for the Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card to learn more.
The American Express Cobalt® Card has an annual fee of $155.88 ($12.99 monthly fee).
The Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card has an annual fee of $120.
Bottom Line: Though the American Express Cobalt® Card fee is easier to manage because you can pay in monthly installments, its combined monthly fees add up to more in the course of a year than the annual fee charged by the Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card.
Earning Rewards Points
Big welcome bonuses are nice but the real long-term value of a rewards card comes down to its standard earn rates. The American Express Cobalt® Card is a big earner with one of the most generous rates for food in the country. Cardmembers get 5 credit card points for every $1 they spend at eligible grocery stores, restaurants, bars, cafes and even on food delivery services.
Despite the fact that the 5x earn rate category is subject to an overall maximum annual spending limit of $30,000 (that resets each year), it’s still an impressive reward rate. After you reach the max $30,000 limit, you’ll earn 1 point per $1 until the start of your yearly anniversary date, when spending goes back to 5 points per $1 spent.
Cardholders also get 3 points for every $1 spent on eligible streaming services and 2 points for every $1 they spend on travel and transit (which includes a wide range of travel purchases like ridesharing apps, taxis, hotel stays, flights and any eligible gas station). Finally, users get 1 point for every $1 on all other purchases.
The Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card has very comparable earn rates, though they’re not exactly the same. You’ll earn 6X Scene+ points for each $1 CAD charged to your account on all eligible purchases at Sobeys, IGA, Safeway, and more eligible grocers.¹ You’ll get 5x Scene+ points for every $1 CAD you spend on other eligible grocery, dining and entertainment purchases. Much like the American Express Cobalt® Card, the food category covers a lot of ground, including restaurants, grocery stores, and meal delivery services. Unlike the Cobalt card, you also enjoy the high 5x earn rate on entertainment purchases like movies and theatre tickets. You also earn 3X Scene+ points for every $1 spent on gas, eligible daily transit and even select streaming services.
For the 5 and 3-point earn rates there is a combined cap of $50,000 each year, but it resets annually and it is a pretty high threshold to meet. All other purchases on the card earn 1 Scene+ point per $1 spent.
To give you a better idea of how many total points you can earn, here’s how the cards stack up with one another based on an average monthly spend of $1,725.
|Monthly Spending||Points with American Express Cobalt® Card||Points with Scotiabank® Gold American Express® Card|
|Groceries||$350||5 points per $1 = 1,750||5 points per $1 = 1,750|
|Restaurants||$200||5 points per $1 = 1,000||5 points per $1 = 1,000|
|Gas & transport||$200||2 points per $1 = 400||3 points per $1 = 600|
|Travel||$150||2 points per $1 = 300||1 point per $1 = 150|
|Streaming||$75||3 points per $1 = 225||3 points per $1 = 225|
|Entertainment||$50||1 point per $1 = 50||5 points per $1 = 250|
|Everything else||$700||1 point per $1 = 700||1 point per $1 = 700|
|Total||$1,725||4,425 points/month||4,675 points/month|
Bottom Line: The Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card just edges out the Cobalt in this spending simulation overall. But that could easily flip for someone who spends a bit more on flights, hotels and rental cars, where the American Express Cobalt® Card has the higher earn rate.
Winner: It’s a draw.
Redeeming Rewards Points
It’s all well and good to earn a bunch of points, but the points should then be easy to redeem, and they should have a high real-world value. The American Express Cobalt® Card earns Membership Rewards® points, which are prized for their flexibility. You can redeem points for a wide array of things like flights, merchandise, statement credits and more. You can even redeem your points on Amazon.ca. Points have a high value when redeemed for any eligible purchase on a card statement (where 1 point = $0.01). You can transfer points 1:1 to popular loyalty programs like Aeroplan and Avios, which is a major boon for those who fly frequently with Air Canada or British Airways.
The Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card earns Scene+ points, which are also quite flexible and can be redeemed for a host of items like travel, gift cards, merchandise, statement credits and more. But while Scene+ points have good value when redeemed against any travel purchase on your statement (1 point = $0.01), they are worth significantly less when you use them to cover any purchase outside travel (1 point = approx. $0.0067–$0.007). Furthermore, you can’t use points to shop directly on Amazon.ca.
Note: As of December 31, 2021, Scotia Rewards and SCENE have merged into Scene+.
Bottom Line: Both cards have flexible points, but the Cobalt card offers far better value for its points, and its transfer options are much better as well.
Winner: American Express Cobalt® Card
For a premium card to be worth its annual fee it’s got to be loaded with lots of benefits. The American Express Cobalt® Card has an enticing array of extras. The most notable benefit is the suite of insurance, which includes:
- Out-of-province/country medical insurance
- Flight delay insurance
- Baggage delay insurance
- Lost/stolen baggage insurance
- Hotel burglary insurance
- Car rental theft and damage insurance
- Travel accident insurance
- Purchase protection plan
- Buyer’s assurance plan
Other nice benefits include entertainment access to special events and experiences, travel perks like access to the Hotel Collection from American Express, a $100 hotel credit and complimentary room upgrades when available.
The card also features a new and very worthwhile perk called Plan It™, which is the American Express® Installment Program. The program lets you pay a portion of your statement balance off in monthly installments for a fixed monthly fee (akin to what you would pay in interest). This feature can make paying off your balance much more manageable.
The Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card also has lots of juicy extras; one of the most exciting features is that the card doesn’t charge a foreign exchange fee on your non-Canadian purchases. This is a rare perk among Canadian credit cards and could save you 2.5% on all your foreign purchases online and in person. (Check out our review of the best credit cards with no foreign transaction fees if this is a key benefit you’re seeking.)
The card also includes a strong insurance package, featuring:
- Travel emergency medical insurance
- Trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance
- Flight delay insurance
- Delayed and lost baggage insurance
- Travel accident insurance
- Rental car collision loss/damage insurance
- Hotel/motel burglary insurance
- Purchase security
- Extended warranty protection
With either American Express card, cardholders can take advantage of AMEX special offers, Front of The Line/American Express Invites and exclusive access to events. However, the Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card also comes with 24/7 concierge service and a discount on Priority Pass membership (though it doesn’t include any free lounge visits).
Bottom Line: Both cards feature similar insurance and entertainment offerings. The Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card comes out ahead, however, because it doesn’t charge a foreign exchange fee, offering a savings of 2.5% on all foreign purchases made at home and abroad.
Eligibility Requirements and Interest Rates
The American Express Cobalt® Card has an annual interest rate of 20.99% on purchases and 21.99% on any cash advance. While there is no specified minimum income needed, you do have to be a Canadian resident with a Canadian credit file and have reached the age of majority in your province or territory to apply.
The Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card requires applicants to be the age of majority and a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada. You must also have not declared bankruptcy in the past 7 years and have a minimum annual personal income of $12,000. The card has an APR of 20.99% and 22.99% for cash advances.
Bottom Line: The American Express Cobalt® Card is technically a bit easier to qualify for because it has no minimum income required, though the Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card’s minimum income requirement is quite low at any rate.
Winner: American Express Cobalt® Card
Though the American Express Cobalt® Card offers some great perks including high value for your points and appealing transfer options to other travel rewards programs, my personal favourite of the two is the Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card for a number of reasons.
I’m all about spending less to earn more. With a lower threshold for earning the full welcome bonus, higher average monthly earned rewards points, and the waived forex fees (which has saved me a lot of money when travelling), the Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card comes out on top. Read our full Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card review to see if this card is right for you.
However, both cards are solid choices overall. If you fly a lot with Air Canada or British Airways, or if you like the flexibility of using your rewards points to pay off your card balance, then the American Express Cobalt® Card is a great pick and will give you a slightly higher return. You can learn more about this card and its features in our full review.
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