Clash of the Credit Cards!
American Express Cobalt™ Card vs.
Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card

Last Updated on March 16, 2022
First posted on March 16, 2022

Cobalt vs. eclipse

Here is the clash so many of you have been asking for! A battle of the true 5x points earners and two of the overall best cards in Canada! We have the Best Overall Credit Card Canada and Top Travel Rewards Card, the American Express Cobalt™ Card going up against the Top Travel Points Card with an annual fee and 6th place overall card, the Scotiabank Gold American Express Card

Click here to see all the other Rewards Canada clashes

In this match up we look at over half a dozen criteria to compare the cards against one another along with a head to head detailed table comparison.

Annual Fees

The annual fees for both these cards are no longer equal like they used to be - the American Express Cobalt Card charges $12.99 per month for an annual amount of $155.88. The Scotiabank Gold American Express card is lower with a $120 annual fee. Supplementary or additional cards have no charge with the Cobalt card while on the Scotia card each additional card is $29. On occasion Scotia does offer limited time first year free offers so be sure to keep an eye out for those. In this category Scotia has the slight edge in savings for those who have one card or one card + one additional card.

Welcome Bonus

For the standard sign up bonus there are some slight differences between the cards. The standard bonus on the Cobalt Card is 30,000 points but that is divvied up as 2,500 points per month in each month you spend at least $500 on the card in the first 12 months of having it. Miss a month of hitting $500 and you don't get the bonus that month. The standard bonus on the Scotiabank Gold American Express card is 20,000 points when you spend $1,000 on the card in the first three months of having it. This means you can achieve the Scotia welcome bonus sooner however it's value is less than what can be achieved on the Cobalt card. Also miss that $1,000 spend mark in the first three months and you get no bonus at all. Those are your standard sign up bonuses for these cards.

Currently the Scotia card has an increased welcome bonus - it is offering up to 45,000 points that is broken down into two parts. The first part awards 25,000 Scene+ points when you spend $1,000 on the card in the first three months and the second part awards an additional 20,000 points if you spend $7,500 in the first year of having the card. It is also offering the first year free.

Even though the Scotia Gold American Express Card has a limited time welcome bonus offering more points than the Cobalt Card, this category goes to the Cobalt Card for the actual value of the welcome bonus (see the chart below) and flexibility in those points. It is close, and I will stress if your only plan is to redeem points against a travel charge on your card the Scotia bonus is better, however if you want to keep your options open like utilizing Amex's Fixed Points for Travel or converting to Aeroplan or other programs the welcome bonus from the Cobalt Card can easily provide more value. Not to mention it will only take $6,000 in spending to get the entire Cobalt bonus versus the $7,500 for Scotia.

Rates

The Scotiabank Gold American Express Card has a slightly lower purchase interest rate when compared to the American Express Cobalt Card while the Cobalt Card has a slightly lower rate on cash advances. Since most people who do carry balances do so on purchases this category also goes to the Scotia card.

The Scotiabank Gold American Express card also features no foreign transaction fees. That's the pesky 2.5% rate that most cards in Canada charge you for conducting transactions in currencies outside of the Canadian dollar. If you make a lot of purchases outside of Canada (whether travelling, online shopping, importing goods for your business) being able to save 2.5% can be a big deal. Do note those foreign purchases made on the Scotia card will earn 1 point per dollar as the accelerated earn rates only work on Canadian dollar purchases.

This category goes to Scotia for the no foreign transaction fees and since most people who do carry balances do so on purchases which the Scotia card has a better rate.

Bonus Features & Benefits

Both cards don't offer a lot of bonus features or benefits like some other cards but those that they do offer are notable. As both are American Express cards they participate in Amex Offers. These are typically statement credits or bonus points that are offered throughout the year for using your card at select merchants. We've seen bonuses and credits for Amazon.ca, Chapters Indigo and many more. Rewards Canada has an entire guide to Amex Offers which you can check out here. With the Cobalt Card being Amex's own card and Scotia's being Scotia's there do tend be more offers available for the Cobalt Card. American Express also has Amex Invites which both cards are part of and that's Amex's exclusive access to concerts (Amex Front of the Line), shopping events and more. Due to the pandemic there hasn't been much happening with Amex Invites but you can bet that once life returns to something that looks normal we'll start seeing a lot of exclusive offers and events from the programs.

The Cobalt Card has additional benefit and that is Amex's refer a friend bonus. This is where cardmembers can refer other people to get the card and once they do you'll receive bonus points for the referral.

This category is close however with the Cobalt refer a friend bonus and potential to receive more Amex Offers it goes to the Cobalt Card.

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Points Earning & Redemption

 

Points earning is very similar on the two cards however differences arise on the redemption side. Both cards have multiple earn rates and are very well known for their 5x points earning on select categories. The American Express Cobalt Card earns 5x points on eats and drinks (dining, groceries, food delivery, coffee shops, convenience stores etc.) and the Scotiabank Gold American Express Card earns 5x points on grocery stores, dining and entertainment. The Scotia card also has a 6x points earning rate for purchases at their Scenre+ grocery partners where are  Sobeys, IGA, Safeway, Foodland, FreshCo, Voilà by Sobeys, Voilà by IGA, Voilà by Safeway, Chalo! FreshCo, Thrifty Foods, IGA West, Les Marchés Tradition, Rachelle Béry and Co-Op. Then the Cobalt Card earns 3 points per dollar on select streaming services, 2 points per dollar on travel, gas and transit purchases with no annual cap. The Scotia Card offers 3 points per dollar at gas stations, daily transit, and select streaming services. All other spending on both cards sees an earn rate of one point per dollar spent. The Cobalt Card places an annual cap of $30,000 on the 5x points earning while the Scotia card sees a higher combined $50,000 cap for its 5x and 3x points earning. There are no caps on the Cobalt's 3x and 2x points earning.

Recommended reading: American Express Cobalt Card Confirmed Multiplier Locations

We know from personal experience that the Cobalt card's multipliers work outside of Canada however this is not the case for Scotia. Their 5x and 3x points are strictly for purchases made in Canadian dollars and the reason Scotia did this is that they are taking a revenue hit by offering those purchase outside of Canada with No Foreign Transaction Fee. If you were to compare a dining purchase in the U.S. the Cobalt Card could earn 5 points per dollar but it will charge you a 2.5% foreign transaction fee so you'll end up with a minimum net gain of 2.5% while the Scotia Card will save you the FX fee your net gain will be a maximum of 1% as it will only earn 1 point per dollar. However for non dining or non accelerated category purchases the Scotia card stays at a 1% return while the Cobalt Card could end up being -1.5%.

Both of these cards offer multiple rewards redemption options but by far the most popular are for travel rewards. Both cards start off with having the very popular book your travel anywhere option. That option allows the cardholder to purchase travel with whomever they want (an airline, travel agency, cruise line, you name it) and then when the charge shows up on your account you simply redeem points against the charge to receive a statement credit. It is by far the most flexible type of travel rewards redemption option. For the Cobalt Card you need 1,000 points in your account to be able to make this type of redemption, those 1,000 points are worth $10  while Scotia only requires 100 points for $1. For the Cobalt Card this makes the rate of return on your spending 1% to 5% while Scotia is 1% to 6%. With Scotia you can also choose to book via Scene+ Travel (their in house travel agency) with the same rate of return but they allow you to redeem as little as 1 point for a 1 cent credit. That's the great thing about both of these cards, you don't need the full amount of points to make a redemption, you can redeem whatever points you have to help bring down the cost of your travel.

The travel redemption options don't end there however for the Cobalt Card. American Express also has a travel option called Fixed points for Travel. This is their reward chart option that you can use to book travel via American Express Travel. Think of it as your traditional frequent flyer program style chart where you redeem a fixed amount of points for travel to a certain area. For example you can redeem 60,000 points for a flight to Europe from Canada with a maximum value of $900 before fees and taxes. That means you could spend as little as $12,000 on the Cobalt Card for a $900 flight. The BMO card? That $12,000 in spending nets you $400 towards travel (at 0.667 cents). Ultimately the Fixed Points for Travel chart provides potential returns of 1.5% or more on the 1 point per dollar spent category to a high of 10% for the 5x points category if you redeem for the five popular route options on the chart (15,000 points for routes like Calgary-Vancouver, Toronto-Montreal etc.)

And we still have one more travel redemption option for the Cobalt Card. That's it option to convert points to airline programs like Air Canada Aeroplan and British Airways Executive Club plus hotel programs like Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors. The last one doesn't provide a huge amount of value so usually stick to the Marriott Bonvoy conversion option on the hotel side of things. You can convert the Membership Rewards Select points earned on the Cobalt Card to Air Canada and British Airways at a 1:1 ratio and Marriott Bonvoy at a rate of 1,000 Membership Rewards points to 1,200 Bonvoy Points. Thus you can consider the earn on the Cobalt Card as 1 to 5 Aeroplan points or Avios and 1.2 to 6 Bonvoy points per dollar spent. We value Aeroplan points and Avios at no less than 1.5 cents each and Bonvoy points at a minimum of 1 cent a piece so your return at a minimum is 1.5 to 7.5% on your spending. We say minimum as typically you can get higher value out of each where that return on spending easily eclipses 10%. One final note as well - Marriott Bonvoy points can be transferred to over 40 airline programs from around the world including Aeroplan, Alaska Airlines, United MileagePlus and many more so that's just one more tick in the win box for the Cobalt Card.

Recommended reading: Loyalty Lesson: Is a 30% return on credit card spending possible? Yes, it sure is!

Both cards also offer cash back redemption options. The American Express Cobalt Card allows cardmembers to redeem 1,000 points for a $10 credit towards any non-travel purchase made on the card. That works out to a 1 to 5% return on your card spending. The Scotiabank Gold American Express Card has a tiered cash back redemption option (see the chart below) which works out to approximately a 0.67% to 3.5% return on your spending.

After the travel and cash back you have numerous other redemption options with these cards including gift cards and merchandise plus with the Scotia card being part of Scene+ you can redeem points for movies and at their dining partners.

While on paper the Scotia card may seem to earn more points thanks to its $50,000 cap you have to remember it is across all its accelerated spend categories whereas the Cobalt Card is only for the 5x eats and drinks, there is no cap on other accelerated categories. Think about it this way, when you spend on your Scotia card at a gas station or on transit you are effectively taking away some potential 5x points earning if you are someone who can reach or exceed that $50,000 solely on 5x purchases. It is a rarity, but there are some of you where this is the case and it needs to be taken into consideration. Then you have the redemption side of things - both cards are equal for the book any travel and redeem points against the charge option but that's it after that if you add in Cobalt's Fixed Points for Travel, conversion to airline and hotel partners and the better cash back redemption rate the Cobalt widens the gap in this category, this category goes to the American Express Cobalt Card.

Insurance

Both cards offer a variety of travel insurance and other insurance coverage but one card does stand out in this category. The Scotiabank Gold American Express Card offers a more comprehensive and overall better suite of travel insurance that includes trip cancellation and interruption insurance, both of which the Cobalt Card does not have. The Scotia Card's Out of Province Emergency Medical Insurance also provides 10 more days than the Cobalt for those under 65 and also provides 3 days of coverage for those over 65. The only coverage that the Cobalt Card does better with is car rental CDW with a higher MSRP and it also provides mobile device insurance. Overall the insurance category goes to the Scotiabank Gold American Express Card

Conclusion

Scotia revamped their Gold American Express Card several years ago to challenge the Cobalt Card and that they did. Did it takeover from the Cobalt Card, no, in fact we rank the Scotiabank Gold American Express Card as the sixth best card in Canada versus Cobalt being number one but I think what this shows us is just how close all of the top ranked cards are. Honestly, you wouldn't be disappointed in having either card - it comes down to your spending habits and how you like to be rewarded. The Cobalt Card gives the holder of the card so many redemption options and those options hold their point value across them that it really is a no worry card. You can get it, earn points and not worry so much as to how and when you need to redeem. With Scotia that is less so but it does have the key travel redemption option which is making your own bookings and redeeming points against that charge afterwards. In fact, if you know you are only going to ever redeem points for travel you book yourself and would never use the Cobalt Card's Fixed Points for Travel, convert to partners or cash back redemption options then you would want to consider going for the Scotiabank Gold American Express card. However it is all those other redemption avenues combined with the strong earn rates and point value that make it the Cobalt Card the best card in Canada and also the overall winner of this clash.

The winner of this clash is: American Express Cobalt Card

Key factors in the Amex Cobalt's win:






International Loyalty Programs

 The Cards Head to Head


Here is a direct side by side comparison of the two cards in this clash!


Basics

American Express Cobalt™ Card
American Express Cobalt™ Card
BMO eclipse Visa Infinite* Card
Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card
Card Type Hybrid Travel Points
Annual Fee $12.99 per month ($155.88/year) $120
Limited Time Annual Fee Offer N/A First year annual fee waiver
Additional Card Fee $0 $29
Interest Rate 20.99%
Purchase †

21.99%
Cash Advance †
19.99%
Purchase

22.99%
Cash Advance
Foreign Transaction Fee 2.5% 0%
Income Requirements Not applicable Minimum Income $12,000

Points Earning

American Express Cobalt™ Card
American Express Cobalt™ Card
BMO eclipse Visa Infinite* Card
Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card
Standard Welcome Bonus 30,000 points 20,000 points
Welcome Bonus Value* $300 $200
Limited Time Welcome Bonus N/A 45,000
Limited Time Welcome Bonus Value* N/A $450
Renewal or Additional Bonus 5,000 bonus points for approved referrals to the card (up to 75,000 points annually) N/A
Travel Purchases 2 points per dollar spent 1 point per dollar spent
Grocery Purchases 5 points per dollar spent^ 6 points per dollar at Sobeys, Safeway, etc.
5 points per dollar spent at all other grocery stores (in Canada only) ^
Dining Purchases 5 points per dollar spent^ 5 points per dollar spent (in Canada only)^
Entertainment Purchases 1 point per dollar spent 5 points per dollar spent (in Canada only)^
Gas & Transit Purchases 2 points per dollar spent 3 points per dollar spent (in Canada only) ^
Streaming Services Purchases 3 points per dollar spent (in Canada only) 3 point per dollar spent (in Canada only)
All Other Purchases 1 point per dollar spent 1 point per dollar spent
^ Annual cap on bonus category spending $30,000 $50,000
Value of points per $1 spent* 1 to 5 cents 1 to 6 cents
*Valuations are based upon redeeming the points for the any travel redemption - see the next section for cash back and other redemption options

Redemption/Exchange Options

American Express Cobalt™ Card
American Express Cobalt™ Card
BMO eclipse Visa Infinite* Card
Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card
Miles/Points deposited to Membership Rewards Scene+
Travel Redemption Value 1,000 points = $10
for any travel booked with any travel provider
or
a 1.5% to 10% return for travel booked via Amex's Fixed Points for Travel program
1,000 points = $10
(minimum redemption is 100 points)
Exchange Options Convert points to:
6 airline programs and 2 hotel programs
None
Cash Back Redemption option 1,000 points = $10 statement credit 3,000 points = $20 statement credit
4,500 points = $30 statement credit
7,500 points = $50 statement credit
11,000 points = $75 statement credit
14,500 points = $100 statement credit
21,500 points = $150 statement credit
43,000 points = $300 statement credit
71,500 points = $500 statement credit
Value of points for cash back redemptions 1 % to 5% 0.67% to 4.2%

Benefits

American Express Cobalt™ Card
American Express Cobalt™ Card
BMO eclipse Visa Infinite* Card
Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card
Annual credit No No
Amex Offers Yes Yes

Insurance

American Express Cobalt™ Card
American Express Cobalt™ Card
BMO eclipse Visa Infinite* Card
Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card
Common Carrier Travel Accident Insurance $250,000 $500,000
Flight Delay Insurance 4 hours
$500 in total
4 hours
$500 in total
Delayed Baggage Insurance 6 hours
$500 in total
4 hours
$1,000 in total
Lost / Stolen Baggage Insurance Yes
$500 in total
Yes
$1,000 in total
Damaged Baggage Insurance Yes
$500 in total
None
Trip Cancellation Insurance None $1,500 per person
(up to $10,000 per trip)
Trip Interruption Insurance None $1,500 per person
(up to $10,000 per trip)
Travel Medical Insurance up to 64 years old 15 Days 25 Days
Travel Medical Insurance 65+ None 3 Days
Auto Rental/Loss Damage Insurance 48 Days
Up to $85,000 MSRP
48 Days
Up to $65,000 MSRP
Hotel / Motel Burglary Insurance Yes
Up to $500
Yes
Up to $1,000
Purchase Protection 90 Days
up to $1,000 per occurrence
90 Days
Up to $60,000 lifetime
Price Protection No No
Extended Warranty Plan Yes
Up to 1 extra year
Yes
Up to 1 extra year
Mobile Device Insurance Yes
Up to $1,000
None
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