American Express Canada launched the AMEX Cobalt card in 2017. Since then, it’s developed a good reputation and is regarded as one of the better rewards credit cards in Canada.
Cardholders can earn extra points for travel expenses, food, and streaming, in addition to taking advantage of a range of other perks and benefits provided by American Express.
Wondering if it’s the right card for you?
Well, you’re in the right place.
Below, I’ll give you my complete AMEX Cobalt review, outline the pros and cons of the card, explain how to earn points, and explain who this card is best for.
Reward Credit Card
Earn 5X points on food and drinks, take advantage of travel benefits, and earn an additional 30,000 points during your first year as a sign-up bonus.
- Earn 5x points on food and beverage purchases (including groceries)
- Earn 3x points on streaming purchases
- Earn 2x points on travel expenses
- Earn 1x points on all other purchases
- Take advantage of exclusive American Express cardholder perks
- Travel insurance coverage included
- You can transfer points to frequent flyer programs
- There’s a $12.99 monthly fee
- American Express cards charge merchants (and you) higher card processing fees
AMEX Cobalt Card: Overview
Compared to some of the other travel credit cards I’ve reviewed, the American Express Cobalt card really stands out.
To start with, you only need a ‘fair’ credit score (575 – 669) to apply, which makes it a relatively accessible card. American Express cards are known for their excellent perks and point systems. While these often entail higher card processing fees, I’d argue that the processing fees are well worth the benefits.
The AMEX Cobalt card is an incredible card for frequent travellers, as it offers generous points for dining, hospitality, travel expenses, ride sharing (Uber or Lyft), fuel, and more.
Additionally, the 5x point rewards for food and beverage expenses also apply to groceries. So, even if you don’t travel often, the AMEX Cobalt card is still great for everyday essentials.
Like many other cards, the American Express Cobalt card does charge fees, and cardholders will have to pay interest on purchases and cash advances. Here’s a brief outline of the fees and interest rates that apply to the AMEX Cobalt card:
- Fee: $12.99 per month ($155.88 annually)
- Purchase APR: 20.99%
- Cash advance APR: 21.99%
While these rates may not be the best on the market, they’re pretty fair considering the value that you’re getting out of the card and are similar to the rates charged by other beginner cards I’ve reviewed.
Note – The 21.99% cash advance APR is applicable if you make your monthly payments on time. If you fail to make your scheduled payments or fall behind, you may be charged additional interest and late fees. This is why I always recommend creating a budget to ensure all your bills are paid on time!
Overall, the American Express Cobalt card doesn’t have a high barrier to entry.
Compared to some of the more exclusive cards offered by American Express Canada (such as the AMEX Centurion card) or American Express’ invitation-only cards (like the AMEX Black card), you don’t need much to get approved for an AMEX Cobalt card.
Here are the current requirements:
- A fair FICO credit score (between 575 and 669)
- Applicant must be a Canadian resident
Other credit factors may affect your eligibility for the card as well, including:
- Your payment history
- The amount of installment debt you have
- The number of other cards you have
Additionally, you should be aware of the American Express “2-in-90 rule”, which states that you can only be approved for two AMEX cards every ninety days. So, if you’ve recently applied for other AMEX cards, then you may want to wait a few months before applying.
Other than building your credit, the whole point of applying for a credit card is to earn points, cashback, and take advantage of other cardholder perks. Thankfully, the AMEX Cobalt card offers a number of different ways to earn extra points, including:
- Eating out
- Eating in (food delivery)
- Streaming purchases
Additionally, you’ll earn 1 point for every dollar you spend in every other expense category, no matter how obscure the purchase may seem. Here’s a quick breakdown of how to earn extra points with the AMEX Cobalt card.
If you’re a foodie, then you’ll love the Cobalt card’s 5x point rewards on all food and beverage purchases. Whenever you pay for a meal or drinks at a restaurant, fast-food joint, cocktail bar, or nightclub, you’ll earn 5 points for every dollar you spend.
This doesn’t just apply to eating out, either.
You’ll also be able to earn 5 points for every dollar spent on meal delivery (DoorDash, SkipTheDishes, etc.) or purchasing groceries.
So, even if you’re on the more frugal side and try to avoid eating out, you’ll still be able to cash in on points earned for stocking your fridge, allowing you to save even more on groceries.
Most Canadians subscribe to at least one type of streaming service. Whether you’re into sports streaming, Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc., you’ll be able to triple your points for every dollar spent on your streaming subscriptions.
This is great if you plan on renting movies online or purchasing pay-per-view events like football matches or fights. However, it’s also a good way to earn some points for paying your streaming bills. Just change your account billing from your bank account to the Cobalt card to start earning more points.
For every dollar spent on travel expenses, you’ll be able to earn double the points. Travel expenses include, but are not limited to:
- Airplane tickets
- Train tickets
- Ferry rides
- Guided tours
These points can really add up if you’re using your card for more expensive trips, paying for airline tickets, hotel rooms, or buying gas on a cross-country road trip.
If you already have an American Express card, then the Cobalt card’s point system works just like any of the company’s other cards. However, if you’re new to American Express, the point system can be a bit confusing, as it’s different from a typical cashback percentage card.
Here’s how it works:
- You earn 1 point for every $1 you spend
- You’ll be able to double, triple, or quintuple your points for the expense categories I mentioned above (food, streaming, travel)
- 1,000 points are equivalent to $10 worth of credit
- Points can be applied to any eligible purchase made with the card and used to reimburse your card’s balance.
For example, let’s just say that I have a $500 balance on my Cobalt card and have accumulated 5,000 points. I can redeem my points for $50 worth of credit, reducing my card balance to $450.
Additionally, American Express points may have increased value if they’re used towards certain eligible travel expenses within the American Express affiliate network.
Now that you know how rates and points work with the Cobalt card let’s take a few minutes to go over some of the other perks and benefits of the card.
If you use your Cobalt card to finance or purchase an eligible smartphone device, then it may be insured for free under American Express.
Typically, phone companies like Rogers or TELUS charge their customers an additional monthly fee (which can be anywhere from $8 to $20) to purchase accidental damage insurance on their phones.
If you travel frequently via air, then you may already be enrolled in a frequent flyer program through one or more airlines. The good news is that American Express allows you to transfer your card’s points to a number of popular frequent flyer programs so that they can be combined with your existing travel points.
The AMEX Cobalt card is easily one of the most versatile cards I’ve reviewed. Most cards only allow you to earn additional points for one or two select categories, while the Cobalt card allows you to earn bonus points for food, travel, and streaming expenses.
This means that it’s just as good for your everyday lifestyle as it is for travelling.
All Cobalt card holders are automatically given access to the Cobalt Perks Program. This program may give cardholders exclusive access to events, discounts while travelling, and more.
American Express is affiliated with over 600 major hotels in over 30 different countries. When you use your card to pay for your room, you may be automatically offered the opportunity to upgrade your room for free, giving you a more luxurious experience.
Additionally, you may receive up to $100 worth of free credit that can be used on hotel amenities, such as:
- Room service
- Spa treatments
- Personal training
- … and more
For the most part, the AMEX Cobalt card is a great credit card. However, there are a few notable drawbacks that you should be aware of before applying.
One of the trade-offs of having access to additional perks and points is that you’ll need to pay a monthly fee of $12.99 to use this card. If you’re smart about how you use the card, though, you should easily be able to cover this cost by maximizing your points and using them to reimburse purchases.
That being said, it could negatively affect you in the future. If you eventually decide to make another card your primary credit card and store your Cobalt card in a safe, you’ll still have to pay the monthly fee, even if you rarely use the card.
American Express cards offer a greater number of benefits, perks, and discounts to cardholders than other major credit card companies. Because of this, American Express charges higher card processing fees to merchants.
These processing fees are almost always passed on to consumers, which means that retail purchases could cost you a little bit extra.
If you have a fair credit score (I recommend that you have at least a 660 credit score to maximize your chances of approval), then the AMEX Cobalt card is definitely worth applying for. If you use the card to buy groceries, eat out, and travel expenses, you’ll easily be able to cover the $12.99 monthly fee.
Additionally, I really appreciate the special perks, discounts, and hospitality benefits that you’ll be able to take advantage of as a Cobalt card holder.