The American Express Cobalt® Card Review

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Excellent 741-900
Our Bottom Line:

The American Express Cobalt® Card is a winner for earning flexible, easy-to-redeem points on everyday spending. At 5 points per $1 spent on eligible food and drink, 3 points per $1 spent on streaming services,  2 points per $1 spent on gas, transit, and travel, and 1 point per $1 on everything else, the points will add up fast. Plus, get a head start with up to 50,000 points (worth approx. $500) in welcome bonuses. Although American Express cards aren’t as widely accepted as Visa or Mastercard, this card deserves a spot in your wallet as one of the top credit cards to use for groceries, restaurants, and food delivery purchases.

Intro APR Purchases N/A
Intro Term Purchases N/A
Intro APR Balance Transfers N/A
Intro Term Balance Transfers N/A
Balance Transfer APR N/A
Purchase APR 20.99%
Cash Advance APR 21.99%
Annual Fee $155.88 ($12.99 monthly fee)
  • $12.99 monthly fee
  • • In your first year as a new Cobalt Cardmember, you can earn 2,500 Membership Rewards® points for each monthly billing period in which you spend $500 in net purchases on your Card. This could add up to 30,000 points in a year. Plus, you’ll earn an additional 20,000 Membership Rewards® points when you spend $3,000 in the first three months of cardmembership.
  • • Rewards: Earn 5X the points for every $1 spent on eligible eats and drinks, 3X the points for every $1 spent on eligible streaming services, 2X the points for every $1 spent on eligible travel and transit including hotels, public transit, and gas, 1X the points for every $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Other perks: travel insurance, free supplementary cards, exclusive entertainment access
  • Minimum Income Eligibility Requirement: N/A
  • Recommended credit score: Fair to Good
  • Interest on Purchases: 20.99% | Interest on Cash Advances: 21.99%
  • This post was not sponsored. The views and opinions expressed in this review are purely my own
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About the American Express Cobalt® Card

The American Express Cobalt® Card earns a top spot as one of the best rewards credit cards in Canada, but its real claim to fame is the points-earning potential on food purchases. With this card, you’ll earn 5 Membership Rewards points per $1 spent on groceries, restaurants, cafes, and even food delivery services. That’s incredibly lucrative. You’ll also get 3 points per $1 spent on streaming services, 2 points per $1 spent on gas, transit, and travel like buses, taxicabs, or hotel stays, and 1 point per $1 spent on everything else.

To maximize the value of your points, you can use them for travel through the AMEX travel portal or via the Fixed Points Travel Program. Alternatively, you could redeem your points for a statement credit, gift cards, or merchandise, but at a lower value compared to travel. In other words, your points can get you pretty much anything — even purchases at Amazon.ca.

The American Express Cobalt® Card carries a sweet insurance bundle including up to $5 million in out of province/country emergency medical, $250,000 of travel accident coverage, flight and baggage delay, lost or stolen baggage, up to $500 in hotel burglary protection, and up to $85,000 in car rental theft and damage coverage. You also get new mobile device insurance that covers your devices up to $1,000. Cardholders get access to The Hotel Collection from American Express®, which gives you benefits like free room upgrades at over 600 participating hotels and resorts in over 30 countries worldwide. You also have American Express Invites which get you access to exclusive events, presale tickets, and special offers.

Card Features & Benefits

In addition to generous earn rates and one of the most flexible redemption processes around, the American Express Cobalt® Card carries better-than-average travel insurance and some valuable perks.

  • Excellent earn rates: Get 5 points per $1 spent on eligible food and drink, 3 points per $1 spent on streaming services, 2 points per $1 on spent gas and transit like buses or taxicabs, and 1 point per $1 spent on everything else.
  • A welcome offer that’s worth it: New cardholders can earn up to 50,000 bonus Membership Rewards points. Spend $500 per month for the first 12 months and you’ll earn 2,500 points per eligible month for a maximum of 30,000 points. Additionally, you’ll get 20,000 Membership Rewards® points when you spend $3,000 in the first three months of cardmembership.
  • Boosts in top spending categories: Boosted earn rates don’t mean much if they’re in categories you rarely use. Five points per dollar on food and drink includes grocery shopping, restaurants, cafes, bars, and food delivery. The 3 points per $1 covers streaming services such as Netflix and Disney+. The 2 points per $1 category covers public transit like the bus and subway and car hires like taxicabs, plus travel spends like hotel stays.
  • Flexible redemptions: American Express Membership Rewards points can be redeemed for virtually anything you want to spend them on. When you use them as a credit against your card, they go towards retail, restaurant purchases, entertainment, or bills. Book flights through the Fixed Points Travel Program, or travel at American Express Travel Online, and they get you closer to that getaway. Or, you can use them at Membershiprewards.ca for gift cards or merchandise. And if that’s not quite enough choice, you can even redeem them for purchases on Amazon.ca.
  • Up your hotel game: Cardholders get access to The Hotel Collection from American Express®, which means you can get a free room upgrade and a hotel credit of up to $100 USD for amenities like a spa visit, room service, or golf at over 600 participating hotels and resorts in over 30 countries worldwide.

Other Perks

  • Travel insurance: The American Express Cobalt® Card comes with some heavy-duty travel protections including up to $5 million in travel emergency medical, $250,000 of travel accident coverage, flight and baggage delay, lost or stolen baggage, up to $500 in hotel burglary protection, and up to $85,000 in car rental theft and damage coverage.
  • Mobile device insurance: Eligible devices purchases with your American Express Cobalt® Card are insured up to $1,000.
  • Installment program: If you want to make a big purchase and need to pay it off over time, you can make monthly installments for a fixed fee.
  • American Express Invites: With Front Of The Line® Advance Access and Front Of The Line® Reserved Tickets, the best tickets to the hottest events will be available to you during presale and the regular sale period.

Pros and Cons

The American Express Cobalt® Card is designed to help you earn points pronto. The generous welcome bonus of up to 50,000 points will get you started and the 5 point-per-dollar earn rate on food and drink alone will ensure your account stays topped up. Perks like access to The Hotel Collection and American Express Invites are nice incentives. The card’s better-than-average travel insurance package rounds out the offer, making it an attractive option for those looking to pay $155.88 ($12.99 monthly fee) in annual fees.

One thing to be wary of with this card—and with every American Express card—is that it’s accepted at fewer retailers in Canada than Mastercard or Visa. This means that you won’t be able to cash in on those sweet Membership Rewards at some grocery stores, notably Costco and any of the Loblaws family of stores. In that case, you’ll want to add another credit card for groceries into your wallet so you don’t miss out on any chance to earn points.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer — 50,000 Membership Rewards points are worth up to approx. $300
  • Get rewarded big time for food purchases
  • Accessible — No minimum annual income requirement
  • Generous earn rates in top spending categories
  • Flexible rewards that never expire — Redeem points for gift cards, tickets, concerts, travel, hotel stays, or simply apply a credit to your statement
  • Includes up to $100 USD hotel credit — When booking a stay through The Hotel Collection, you can get up to a $100 USD hotel credit on qualifying hotel amenities charged to the room, such as dining, spa, golf or other hotel facilities.
  • Includes robust travel insurance coverage
  • Access to exclusive American Express Invites

Cons

  • No first-year fee waiver
  • Less widely accepted than Visa or Mastercard

How the American Express Cobalt® Card compares

The American Express Cobalt® Card occupies a crowded field for reward cards in its annual fee range. Its headline benefits are the good earn rates and flexible redemptions but there are other cards that boast similar selling points, like the BMO eclipse Visa Infinite* Card. Let’s break it down before rendering a verdict.

The American Express Cobalt® Card gives 5 Membership Rewards points for every $1 spent at eligible restaurants, bars, cafés, and on food delivery, 3 points per dollar on streaming services, 2 points per dollar on travel and transit, and 1 point per dollar on everything else. The BMO eclipse Visa Infinite* Card has a similar earning structure, offering 5 BMO Rewards points per $1 on groceries, dining, gas and transit and 1 point per dollar on everything else.

Like the American Express Cobalt® Card, the BMO eclipse Visa Infinite* Card offers a travel insurance package but it’s slightly inferior, lacking trip cancellation coverage. Both cards include up to $1,000 in new mobile device coverage. Additionally, both cards have proprietary membership perks so your decision between American Express Invites and Visa Infinite privileges may be a matter of personal preference. The American Express Cobalt® Card charges a $55.88 ($12.99 monthly fee) annual fee. The BMO eclipse Visa Infinite* Card charges a $120 annual fee. However, the BMO eclipse Visa Infinite* Card offers a first-year annual fee waiver as part of the welcome bonus.

Regarding welcome offers, American Express comes out ahead. The American Express Cobalt® Card lets you earn up to 50,000 Membership Rewards® points (worth $500) in the first year. The welcome bonus of 40,000 BMO Rewards points is worth less money (around $266) but new members also get a first-year fee waiver (worth $120 ).

 American Express Cobalt® CardBMO eclipse Visa Infinite* Card  
Welcome OfferUp to 50,000 Membership Rewards points
Up to 40,000 BMO Rewards points
Annual fee$155.88 ($12.99 monthly fee)$120 (first-year fee waiver)
Travel insuranceOut of province/country emergency medical insurance (for under age 65), $250,000 travel accident, flight delay, baggage delay, hotel burglary, lost or stolen baggage, and car rental theft and damage coverageUp to $5M in out-of-province or country emergency medical insurance, common carrier, and car rental collision/loss damage coverage
Mobile device insuranceYesYes
MembershipAmerican Express Invites with Front of the Line Advanced Access, Reserved Tickets, and E-Updates

 
Visa Infinite with perks like Visa Infinite Dining Services, Entertainment Access, Luxury Hotel Collection, Wine Country, Troon Golf Benefit, and 24/7 Concierge
Other perksUp to a $100 USD hotel credit on qualifying hotel amenities, complimentary room upgrade at check-in when booking a stay through The Hotel Collection$50 annual “lifestyle credit”; $1,000 in new mobile device insurance
More InfoVisit SiteVisit Site
*Based on card purchases of $12,000 annually on food purchases, $1,200 annually on gas, and $6,000 annually on everything else. Includes first-year welcome offer.

The Verdict

The American Express Cobalt® Card is a good choice for people looking for a rewards credit card to use for groceries, food and drink, transit, and travel—in other words, everyday purchases. The welcome offer alone is worth nearly four times the annual fee, and with regular billing of only $12.99 per month, it’s dead simple to pay. The ability to accumulate points fast, plus the flexibility of the reward program promises a satisfying and valuable experience. Plus, the card’s little extras—like travel insurance and hotel credits—will delight once travel is back on the roster.

There are some drawbacks to this card that become clear when you compare it with competitor cards. American Express cards are less widely accepted in Canada than Mastercard or Visa, an issue that could stunt your earning potential especially if you’re a frequent Costco or Loblaws shopper. That said, the American Express Cobalt® Card is an extremely popular choice for everyday spending which is why it has a place on our list of the best American Express cards.

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