The American Express Cobalt Card ranks as the best Canadian credit card for everyday spending. This lifestyle-oriented card is one that every Canadian should have in their wallet for a multitude of reasons.
With outstanding earning rate multipliers, a low cost, and plenty of top notch transfer partners, it’s no wonder that the Cobalt Card has established itself as a top contender in the Canadian market since its debut in 2017.
If you’ve yet to sign up, let’s look at six reasons why the American Express Cobalt Card should be the next credit card in your portfolio.
- Earn a total of 30,000 MR points upon spending $500 in each of the first 12 months
- Earn 5x MR points on groceries, restaurants, bars, and food delivery
- Earn 3x MR points on eligible streaming services
- Earn 2x MR points on gas, transit, and travel purchases
- Transfer MR points to Aeroplan, Avios, or Marriott Bonvoy
- Enjoy the exclusive benefits of being an American Express cardholder
- Bonus MR points for referring family and friends
- Monthly fee: $12.99
1. Earn 5x Points on Eats and Drinks
The American Express Cobalt Card offers an outstanding 5x Membership Rewards (MR) points for every dollar spent at restaurants, bars, cafés, food delivery services, and even grocery stores in Canada.
At our valuation of 2.2 cents per point, this works out to an unbelievable 11% back per dollar spent at these specific locations. No other Canadian credit card with flexible points currencies has this kind of earn rate, and it’s very satisfying to get 5x points on daily essentials like groceries and dining out.
You’ll earn this 5x multiplier on up to $30,000 spent per year, so if you can max it out, that’s a whopping 150,000 MR points in your account.
What’s more, the 5x rate can even be earned when you buy gift cards at grocery stores. This opens the door to effectively earn 5x the points on a whole host of expenses, which is only limited to the gift cards you can find.
In addition to this generous 5x earn rate, you’ll earn 3x MR points per dollar spent on a plethora of streaming subscriptions in Canada, including Netflix, Disney+, Crave, Spotify, Apple Music, and more.
You’ll also earn 2x MR points per dollar spent on gas and travel purchases in Canada, including rideshare services such as Uber.
2. 30,000 Membership Rewards Points Welcome Bonus
In addition to the 5x earning rate on food and drinks, there’s a nice welcome bonus to sweeten the deal on the Cobalt Card too, which comes with a unique structure.
Instead of a one-time bonus, you’ll receive 2,500 MR points for each month in the first year as a cardholder in which you spend $500, netting you to a total of 30,000 MR points for the welcome bonus.
Membership Rewards points have a ton of power, as they give you a lot of options. We value MR points at 2.2 cents per point, so the 2,500 MR points equals $55 in value per month, easily offsetting the $12.99 monthly fee for the first year.
While there are other cards with higher welcome bonuses, those often come at a higher cost and with less competitive earn rates for everyday spending. Indeed, with the Cobalt Card, you’ll be sure to watch your points balance grow quickly with the monthly bonuses and your daily spending combined.
One thing to keep in mind is that we’ve seen the Cobalt Card’s welcome bonus go as high as 50,000 MR points before. It may be worth waiting for a higher bonus to return if you aren’t in a rush to apply, but you’d have to weigh this against the 5x earnings on food and drinks you’re forgoing in the meantime.
3. Earn Membership Rewards Points
The ability to earn “regular” American Express Membership Rewards points was an amazing upgrade to the Cobalt Card that took place in the summer of 2021.
Prior to that, cardholders could only earn MR Select points, which were not nearly as valuable, as these points couldn’t be transferred to airline partners.
Regular Amex MR points can be transferred to quite a few more loyalty programs, which leads us to the fourth reason why you should apply for the American Express Cobalt Card.
4. Airline & Hotel Transfer Partners
American Express allows you to transfer Membership Rewards points to six different airline loyalty programs and two hotel loyalty programs. Amongst them are some of the most popular frequent traveller programs out there.
MR points can be transferred to Aeroplan points at a 1:1 ratio in increments of 100 points, starting at 1,000 MR points.
Aeroplan points are the most valuable type of airline points for Canadians to earn, as they can easily unlock discounted travel in economy class, business class, and First Class to destinations all over the world.
As a member of Star Alliance, in addition to booking Air Canada flights, you can also use Aeroplan points to book flights with other Star Alliance members, such as United Airlines, Lufthansa, All Nippon Airways, Thai Airways, Turkish Airlines, and many more.
British Airways Avios
British Airways Avios is another great option for transferring American Express MR points, as there are quite a few sweet spots for short-haul flights across different places in the world, including Europe, Asia, and Australia.
Similar to Aeroplan, MR points can be transferred to British Airways Avios at a ratio of 1:1 in increments of 100, and with a minimum of 1,000 MR points.
With the recent partnership between British Airways and Qatar Airways, you can also now transfer Avios between the two programs instantly, allowing you to book Qatar Airways Qsuites to the Middle East for just 70,000 Avios one-way.
Marriott is the world’s largest hotel chain, with an impressive global footprint of over 7,500 hotels. Membership Rewards points can be converted into Marriott Bonvoy points at a rate of 5:6, meaning that you’ll get 1,200 Bonvoy points for every 1,000 MR points you transfer.
While it’s usually more advisable to transfer Membership Reward points to Aeroplan or Avios, there’s still a lot of value to be found in the Marriott Bonvoy program.
This is especially the case if you’re travelling in places like Asia or the Middle East, where Marriott Bonvoy Elite status goes a long way towards elevating your travel experience.
5. Access to Amex Offers
Holding an American Express card comes with many additional benefits, such as access to Amex Offers.
While offers come and go, there are some juicy ones that pop up from time to time. The offers are best suited to anyone who’d be spending money at the participating retailers anyway.
For example, if you were planning to buy a pair of pants at Lululemon and noticed a recent Amex Offer for Lululemon in your account, the credit is essentially a discount off of the sticker price.
Similarly, if you were going to book a flight with United Airlines and received the recent Amex Offer for $250 off a $500 purchase, you’d be benefiting from a discount of up to 50% through the offer.
Some of the other more popular Amex Offers we’ve seen recently are the annual Shop Small promotion and the recurring Marriott offer.
In order to take advantage of these and other offers that pop up, you’ll have to navigate to the Amex Offers section online after logging in, or simply logging into your account.
The offers definitely add up over time, and can easily offset the monthly fee with a single purchase.
6. Insurance Coverage
The American Express Cobalt Card wraps things up with a solid list of insurance provisions for a card in its price range.
Simply by being a Cobalt cardholder, you’ll automatically receive emergency medical insurance for 15 days, up to a maximum of $5,000,000, if you’re under the age of 65.
Furthermore, if you use your Cobalt Card to pay for your travel expenses, you’ll be eligible to receive many more types of travel insurance coverage, which includes:
- Lost or stolen baggage insurance, up to a maximum of $500 per trip
- $250,000 travel accident insurance
- Flight and baggage delay insurance, up to a maximum of $500
- Hotel burglary insurance, up to a maximum of $500
- Car rental theft and damage insurance
Trip cancellation and interruption insurance is a noteworthy omission that you’d find on other credit cards in a similar fee range, so that’s something to weigh up if those types of travel insurance are meaningful to you.
Purchase protection, extended warranty, and mobile device insurance round out the coverage types.
The American Express Cobalt Card is the best all-round Canadian credit card when it comes to everyday spending.
The Membership Rewards points earned through its welcome bonus and generous category spending multipliers, when transferred to one of American Express’s airline or hotel partners, can go a long way towards fuelling your next trip.
Any Canadian household can reliably earn a handful of high-value travel redemptions year after year simply by using the Cobalt Card to pay for their grocery and dining expenses – and you can’t really ask for more from a credit card than that!