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In the Ring: American Express Cobalt Credit Card vs. Scotiabank Gold American Express Card

July 5, 2021
13 mins
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Facing off, we have the American Express CobaltTM Credit Card and the Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® Card, two of Canada’s top rewards cards. Both offer flexible rewards programs and an excellent return on everyday spending. Cardholders can choose from seemingly endless redemption options, including travel and statement credits, and earn rewards quickly on essential purchases like groceries and daily transit.

These lifestyle cards are similar in many ways, particularly in several accelerated earning categories and perks, like travel insurance and shopping coverage. As a result, it can be tough to choose the best card.

We put the American Express CobaltTM Credit Card and the Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® Card “in the ring” to battle for the top spot in your wallet, breaking down the minor details to bring you the card with the best overall value — spoiler, it’s not only monetary.

Click on the categories, like “Annual fee” or “Earn rates,” to jump down to a specific section.

Cards

American Express CobaltTM Credit Card

Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® Card

Annual fee

$120 ($10 per month)

$120

Welcome bonus

Earn up to 30,000 Membership Rewards® points.

This offer is subject to change without notice.

Earn up to 50,000 Scotia Rewards points. Plus, pay no annual fee for the first year.

This offer expires on August 31, 2021.

Earn rates

  • 5X the points on eligible restaurant and food delivery purchases
  • 2X the points on eligible travel and transit
  • 1X the points on everything else
  • 5X the points on eligible grocery, restaurant, food delivery and entertainment purchases
  • 3X the points on eligible gas and daily transit purchases and select streaming services
  • 1X the points on everything else

Reward redemption

Redeem Membership Rewards® points for travel and statement credits.

Redeem Scotia Rewards points for travel and statement credits.

Perks

  • Cobalt Perks
  • American Express® Experiences
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Concierge services
  • American Express Invites®

Insurance coverage

Get nine types of travel insurance and shopping coverage.

Get 11 types of travel insurance and shopping coverage.

Recommended credit score

<660

660+

Interest rates

Purchases: 19.99%

Cash advances: 21.99%

Balance transfers: N/A

Purchases: 19.99%

Cash advances: 22.99%

Balance transfers: 22.99%

Income requirements

Personal: N/A

Household: N/A

Personal: $12,000

Household: N/A

First-year value*

$1,560

$1,024

*The RATESDOTCA Best of Finance methodology assumes the cardholder spends an average of $2,000 a month on their card to determine the first-year value. The calculation includes all welcome bonuses and promotional offers at the time of publishing.

Annual fee

Winner: American Express CobaltTM Credit Card

Cards

American Express CobaltTM Credit Card

Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® Card

Annual fee

$120 ($10 per month)

$120

Annual fee for additional cardholders

$0

$29

While an annual fee waiver can be beneficial in the first year, one card features a unique perk that lasts far longer. The American Express CobaltTM Credit Card charges a budget-friendly fee of $10 per month for membership instead of $120 annually. While both cards end up costing the same amount, the American Express CobaltTM Credit Card comes across as more accessible to Canadians from different financial circumstances.

It also offers free additional cards, meaning cardholders can earn rewards faster with an authorized user at no extra cost.

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Welcome bonus

Winner: Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® Card

Cards

American Express CobaltTM Credit Card

Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® Card

Welcome bonus

Earn up to 30,000 Membership Rewards® points in the first year. Earn 2,500 points for each monthly billing period in which you spend at least $500 on your card for 12 months. This offer is subject to change without notice.

Earn up to 50,000 Scotia Rewards points in the first year with the Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® Card. Earn 30,000 Scotia Rewards points when you spend at least $1,000 in the first three months and an additional 20,000 Scotia Rewards points when you spend at least $7,500 in the first 12 months. Plus, pay no annual fee for the first year. This offer expires on August 31, 2021.

For both offers, the cardholder has an entire year to qualify for the full welcome bonus.

However, the Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® Card will credit the 30,000 Scotia Rewards points to the account within two to three business days after the cardholder spends at least $1,000 in qualifying purchases. The additional 20,000 Scotia Rewards points are credited after the cardholder spends at least $7,500 in the first year. According to our Best of Finance methodology, it would take the average Canadian just under four months to achieve the bonus — far quicker than the American Express CobaltTM Credit Card.

Not only that, but cardholders also get the luxury of meeting the spending requirements as a combined total over several months rather than meeting a monthly minimum.

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Earn rates

Winner: Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® Card

Cards

American Express CobaltTM Credit Card

Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® Card

Earn rates

  • Earn 5X the points for every $1 spent at eligible stand-alone grocery stores, restaurants, and food delivery in Canada.
  • Earn 2X the points for every $1 spent on eligible travel and transit purchases.
  • Earn 1X the points for every $1 spent on everything else.
  • Earn 5X the Scotia Rewards points for every $1 spent on eligible grocery, dining, food delivery, food subscription and entertainment purchases.
  • Earn 3X the Scotia Rewards points for every $1 spent on eligible gas and daily transit purchases and select streaming services.
  • Earn 1X the Scotia Rewards points for every $1 spent on everything else.

The American Express CobaltTM Credit Card offers 5X the points for every $1 spent at restaurants, coffee shops, stand-alone grocery stores in Canada and food delivery, up to $30,000 in net purchases annually. After, earn 1X the points in these categories. This spending cap is generous, bearing in mind the average Canadian is unlikely to have such a considerable food budget.

However, the Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® Card ups the ante. Not only does this card offer more accelerated reward categories, but it also has a more significant spending cap. After the first $50,000 in net purchases in the first and second accelerated categories (5X the points and 3X the points), earn 1X the points for every $1 spent.

Once again, according to our Best of Finance methodology, the average Canadian would spend about half that amount on their credit card each year (roughly $24,000). Nevertheless, the Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® Card rewards cardholders for more merchant codes than its competitor, such as movie theatres, ticket agencies, streaming services.

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Reward redemption

Winner: American Express CobaltTM Credit Card

Cards

American Express CobaltTM Credit Card

Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® Card

Reward redemption

Earn flexible Membership Rewards® points, redeemable for travel or statement credits.

Maximize rewards with the Fixed Points Travel Program.

Convert Membership Rewards® points to Aeroplan, Hilton Honors, Marriott BonvoyTM and other popular programs.

Earn flexible Scotia Rewards points, redeemable for travel or statement credits.

Convert Scotia Rewards points to SCENE points.

Membership Rewards® and Scotia Rewards are two of the most flexible loyalty programs in the country. Redeem points for travel, statement credits, merchandise, donations, gift cards and experiences; the options are nearly limitless.

The Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® Card allows cardholders to redeem points for travel in 5,000-point increments for flights, vacation packages, and travel-related purchases up to 12 months after the transaction date. One Scotia Rewards point is equal to $0.01 toward travel. Statement credits, however, are worth far less, with the highest value around $0.008.

The American Express CobaltTM Credit Card lets cardholders redeem points for travel in 1,000-point increments. Only eligible purchases posted to the account within three months will display online, up to 150 most recent transactions. If a cardholder wishes to redeem points toward purchases posted to their account within the last 12 months, they can call the number on the back of their card. Redeem 1,000 Membership Rewards® points for a $10 value, $0.01 per point — equal to Scotia Rewards points.

However, in terms of statement credits, 1,000 Membership Rewards® points equalled $7 ($0.007 per point) before May 31, 2021. On that date, American Express announced that eligible cards could now redeem 1,000 points for a $10 statement credit, a value equal to that of travel.

Related read: American Express Membership Rewards Gets a Major Upgrade

That means the American Express CobaltTM Credit Card beats the Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® Card for statement credits and matches the travel value. But there are still two big differences that can decide the winner of this category: point conversions and travel programs.

The American Express CobaltTM Credit Card allows members to convert points to partner loyalty programs like Aeroplan and Marriott BonvoyTM, whereas Scotia Rewards only offers conversion to SCENE points. Not all programs provide a one-to-one point conversion, although this feature is still beneficial for travellers.

Lastly, cardholders can access the Fixed Points Travel Program with the American Express CobaltTM Credit Card. Redeem a fixed number of points to cover a maximum base ticket price on return flights. In some instances, customers can redeem points for double the usual travel value, that’s $0.02 per point, for select routes. With that said, the American Express CobaltTM Credit Card is the clear winner here.

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Perks

Winner: Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® Card

Cards

American Express CobaltTM Credit Card

Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® Card

Perks

  • Cobalt Perks
  • American Express® Experiences
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Concierge services
  • American Express Invites®

There is also a clear winner in this category. Since the Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® Card is co-branded, it features the best of both worlds — travel perks through the Scotia Rewards Travel Service and exclusive access to curated events and special offers via American Express Invites®.

The American Express CobaltTM Credit Card provides exclusive offers through both the Cobalt perks program and American Express® Experiences; however, it doesn’t quite stand up next to concierge services and no foreign transaction fees. The extra perks on the Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® Card can save cardholders valuable time and money.

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Insurance coverage

Winner: Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® Card

Cards

American Express CobaltTM Credit Card

Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® Card

Insurance coverage*

  • Purchase protection: 90 days
  • Extended warranty: 1 year
  • Travel accident: $250,000
  • Emergency medical term: 15 days
  • Flight delay: $500
  • Baggage delay: $500
  • Lost or stolen baggage: $500
  • Hotel burglary: $500
  • Rental car theft and damage

 

  • Purchase protection: 90 days
  • Extended warranty: 1 Year
  • Travel accident: $500,000
  • Emergency medical Term: 25 days
  • Flight delay: $500
  • Baggage delay: $1,000
  • Lost or stolen baggage: $1,000
  • Hotel burglary: $1,000
  • Rental car theft and damage
  • Trip cancellation: $1,500
  • Trip interruption: $1,500

*Insurance coverage is subject to change. Refer to your insurance certificate or contact your credit card issuer for full terms and conditions.

In terms of shopping coverage, both cards are dead even, offering 90 days of purchase protection and a one-year extended warranty on eligible purchases. The Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® Card pulls ahead in travel insurance, providing two extra coverages — trip cancellation insurance and trip interruption insurance — as well as double the travel accident benefits, baggage delay, lost or stolen baggage, and hotel burglary insurance. Plus, cardholders get 10 more days of emergency medical coverage.

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Recommended credit score

Winner: American Express CobaltTM Credit Card

The American Express CobaltTM Credit Card only requires a fair credit score to be eligible, which is almost unheard of for a top-tier rewards credit card. While the Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® Card only requires a good credit score, the American Express CobaltTM Credit Card is more accessible, once again.

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Interest rates

Winner: Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® Card

Cards

American Express CobaltTM Credit Card

Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® Card

Interest rates

Purchases: 19.99%

Cash advances: 21.99%

Balance transfers: N/A

Purchases: 19.99%

Cash advances: 22.99%

Balance transfers: 22.99%

At first glance, the American Express CobaltTM Credit Card looks to have a fractionally lower interest rate for cash advances; however, it does not offer a balance transfer feature. Therefore, the Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® Card takes this category.

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Income requirements

Winner: American Express CobaltTM Credit Card

Cards

American Express CobaltTM Credit Card

Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® Card

Income requirements

Personal: N/A

Household: N/A

Personal: $12,000

Household: N/A

With no income requirements, the American Express CobaltTM Credit Card wins this one. It is as simple as that. However, the Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® Card only requires a minimum personal income of $12,000, far less than any World Elite Mastercard or similar cards with robust travel insurance coverage.

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First-year value

Winner: American Express CobaltTM Credit Card

*Based on the RATESDOTCA Best of Finance methodology.

If a cardholder were to spend an average of $2,000 a month on their credit card, spread across several everyday spending categories like groceries and gas, their rewards would look something like this:

Spending categories

American Express CobaltTM Credit Card

Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® Card

Groceries

$500 x 5

$500 x 5

Gas

$250 x 2

$250 x 3

Drugstore

$150 x 1

$150 x 1

Travel

$200 x 2

$200 x 1

Restaurants

$250 x 5

$250 x 5

Entertainment

$150 x 1

$150 x 5

Recurring bills

$300 x 1

$300 x 1

Retail store

$100 x 1

$100 x 1

Local transit

$50 x 2

$50 x 3

Other

$50 x 1

$50 x 1

Rewards earned monthly:

$96.25

$62

First-year value (rewards + welcome bonus - annual fee):

$1,560

$1,244

Annual rewards (rewards - annual fee):

$1,035

$624

According to our Best of Finance methodology, the average Canadian would earn a whopping $1,560 using the American Express CobaltTM Credit Card in the first year. While the Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® Card also offers a healthy first-year value at $1,244, it provides significantly fewer annual rewards in the following years than its competitor when there is no welcome bonus.

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Which credit card should you choose?

It is no surprise that the American Express CobaltTM Credit Card and the Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® Card exit the ring with five wins each. Both cards feature flexible rewards and top-of-the-line perks and benefits. But it is not a draw by any means.

The average Canadian should find our winning card to be not only obtainable but also rewarding. Coming in first is the American Express CobaltTM Credit Card, offering a substantial first-year value of $1,560 and significant annual rewards. Get travel insurance and endless redemption options for a budget-friendly fee of $10 a month. This lifestyle card earns quickly and offers excellent value.

The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$875
+ Annual rewards
$1155
- Annual fee
$156
Total first year value
$1874
American Express CobaltTM Credit Card

card image
Welcome bonus
$875
AMEX Rewards points
Annual rewards
$1155
AMEX Rewards points
Annual fees:
$156
Interest rates:
20.99% on purchases • 21.99% on cash advances
2021 Winner – Best Overall Rewards Credit Card, Best Credit Card for Young Professionals, and Best Credit Card for Earning Travel Points.
Particularly great for individuals who live in the city, eat out often or order in.
Details at a glance Collapse details
Welcome bonus
$875
Annual rewards
$1155
The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$875
+ Annual rewards
$1155
- Annual fee
$156
Total first year value
$1874
Annual fees:
$156
Interest rates:
20.99% on purchases
21.99% on cash advances
2021 Winner – Best Overall Rewards Credit Card, Best Credit Card for Young Professionals, and Best Credit Card for Earning Travel Points.
Particularly great for individuals who live in the city, eat out often or order in.
Details at a glance Collapse details

But don’t count the Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® Card out. Suppose you have a good credit score and the wiggle room to spend $120 annually on this card. In that case, you’ll have access to a comprehensive list of travel insurance and shopping coverage, exclusive discounts and offers, and travel enhancements like no foreign transaction fees.

This card is an outstanding travel companion and provides ample savings year-over-year.

The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$500
+ Annual rewards
$744
- Annual fee (First Year Waived)
0
Total first year value
$1244
Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® Card

card image
Welcome bonus
$500
Scotia Rewards points
Annual rewards
$744
Scotia Rewards points
Annual fees:
$120 (First Year Waived)
Interest rates:
19.99% on purchases • 22.99% on cash advances
2021 Winner – Best Credit Card With No Foreign Transaction Fees for Long Stay Travellers, and Best Credit Card for Staying Home and Ordering In
Strong travel perks and 0% foreign transaction fees compliment great reward value reemable for Travel or Cashback (statement credit)
Details at a glance Collapse details
Welcome bonus
$500
Annual rewards
$744
The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$500
+ Annual rewards
$744
- Annual fee (First Year Waived)
0
Total first year value
$1244
Annual fees:
$120 (First Year Waived)
Interest rates:
19.99% on purchases
0.00% on cash advances
2021 Winner – Best Credit Card With No Foreign Transaction Fees for Long Stay Travellers, and Best Credit Card for Staying Home and Ordering In
Strong travel perks and 0% foreign transaction fees compliment great reward value reemable for Travel or Cashback (statement credit)
Details at a glance Collapse details

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Rates, product information and reward estimates are subject to change at any time and do not constitute financial advice. This post was not sponsored. RATESDOTCA may receive a referral fee from our partners or affiliate links featured on the site; however, our editorial choices are objective and free from bias. The opinions expressed in this article are purely those of RATESDOTCA; thus, the credit card issuers and partners are not responsible for any editorials or reviews that may appear. Please visit the associated website for complete and current terms and conditions on any product or service mentioned. The information in this article is accurate as of the date of this posting, July 5, 2021. Read our full disclaimer.

Hayley Vesh

Hayley Vesh is a creative, resourceful, and knowledgeable content producer who is passionate about financial literacy, storytelling, and generating ideas. She writes about credit cards, savings, debt management, and personal finance. In her spare time, Hayley can be found wandering in the woods, hunting for second-hand treasures, or curled up with a steeped tea and a good podcast.

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