American Express Cobalt Card Review

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Please note that the offer for the American Express Cobalt Card may have changed since the publication for the post. For the current offer, please visit the application page for the card.

The newest credit card in Canada is the American Express Cobalt Card, launched just last month. Most American Express cards have great rewards, but this card takes it to a new level, with 5 points per dollar on dining and groceries.

American Express Cobalt Card

American Express Cobalt Card

[Post updated Feb 2019]

Improved Offer for the American Express Cobalt Card

The current bonus for the American Express Cobalt Card is 30,000 American Express MR points. You earn 2,500 bonus points per month when you spend $500 in that month. Tallying up the monthly bonus yields 30,000 points the first year.

However, you can almost double the points you earn with grocery and dining transactions, which earn 5 points per dollar. If you spend $1,000 on Groceries and Dining per month, the bonus is as follows:

  • Months 1-2: Spend $1,000 ($12,000 total) - Total Bonus: 90,500
    • 12,000 Points (1,000 x 12) – Base Earn
    • 30,000 (2,500 x 12) – Welcome Bonus
    • 48,000 (12,000 x 4) – Category Bonus

The total points you earn in this scenario is a whopping 90,000 American Express MR points. The is absolutely phenomenal – which equals 7.5 points per dollar spent. While you may not spend $1000 on groceries, it is very easy to “increase” that amount. The trick is gift cards. At my local store, you can buy gift cards for any store – gas, electronics, retail, office supplies, you name it. You will still get 5x points since the transaction will show up as in the groceries category.

Earning with the AMEX Cobalt Card

The best part about the American Express Cobalt Card is the bonus points you can earn for select transactions. First, you earn 5x points on Groceries, Dining, and Food Delivery Services. This is equal to a 5%+ return. If you spend only $1,000 a month on this category, you earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points. Furthermore, you earn 2x points on Transit, Gas and Travel, equal to a 2%+ return. In comparison, most other credit cards earn at most 1-2 points for these transactions.

American Express Cobalt Bonus Categories

American Express Cobalt Bonus Categories

This is the only credit card in Canada with a bonus multipler on Food Delivery and Transit. The closest other card with these bonuses is the Scotiabank Gold American Express, which earns only 4x points on groceries and dining, with a $50,000 calendar year cap. The Cobalt Card becomes much more attractive relative to the Scotiabank Gold if you are spending more than $25,000 in bonus categories a year. The Cobalt card has no cap or annual limit on the bonus points you can earn. This is game changing and is a major reason to keep the card beyond the first year.

Unfortunately, all other spend is at one point per dollar, making it more worthwhile to use the American Express Platinum/Business Platinum Card or the MBNA Rewards World Elite that earn, respectively, 1.25 Membership Rewards points and 2% Cashback per dollar. Personally, I’ll only be using this card for purchases on dining and groceries. As I already have the Business Platinum Card, I will be using that for other everyday purchases that don’t earn a bonus with the Cobalt Card. I wouldn’t recommend using this card for non-bonused purchases.

American Express MR Select Tier

The American Express Cobalt Card earns Membership Rewards Select points. These are only slightly different from regular AMEX points earned from the Gold or Platinum cards. The primary difference is that the points earned from the Cobalt Card cannot transfer into airlines. These are Aeroplan (1:1), BA Avios (1:1.25 – Transfer Bonus), Asia Miles (1:0.75), Delta Skymiles (1:0.75), Etihad Guest (1:0.75). However, there are still three excellent redemptions that can be made with MR Select points.

1. Transfer to Hotels

Points with the Cobalt Card can be transferred to two hotels programs Hilton HHonors (1:1), and Starwood Preferred Guest (2:1). Hilton is poor value, so Starwood is the best option here. Starwood also transfers at a 1:3 ratio. With the 5x bonus on Groceries and Dining, you earn 2.5 SPG points or 7.5 Marriott points. I value Starwood points at 2.25 USD cents apiece, so you are getting a 7.1%+ return.

Westin Whistler - A Starwood Property

Westin Whistler – A Starwood Property

Additional Reading: Best SPG Redemptions

2. Fixed Points Travel Program

The American Express Fixed Points Travel Program was released last year. It lets you use a set amount of miles for a flight, which is determined by a zone-based chart. There is a maximum ticket price that the points will cover, but you can buy a ticket that exceeds the amount if by paying the difference.

American Express Fixed Points Travel Rewards Chart - Economy

American Express Fixed Points Travel Rewards Chart – Economy

Notice that the maximum price is the base fare price; this excludes airport taxes and other fees. Take for example, my flight to PointsU Calgary, which is in two weeks. A round-trip flight costs 15,000 points, with a maximum base ticket price of $300. The flights cost $431.

a screenshot of a flight schedule
The base fare is $346.
a white grid with black text
In this case, I pay $131, $46 being the fare difference and the rest being taxes and fees. My AMEX points cover $300 of the base fare, which is 2 cpm. Given you earn 5x points on bonus categories, you can get up to a 10% return!

3. Travel Purchases

With MR Select points, you can offset travel charges on the card at a rate of 10,000 points for $100, a 1 cpm value. This isn’t great, but is a good option if there are no other ways to use your points. You can also use points to erase other charges, but that is at a poorer value of 0.7 cpm.

a screenshot of a computer

With the 5x bonus on groceries and dining, you still earn a 5% return redeeming your points this way.

American Express Cobalt Card – Other Benefits

Just like other premium competitors, the Cobalt Card also comes with travel and shopping protections. This includes insurance for flight delays, lost baggage, car rentals, and more, as well as purchase protection and extended warranty. See the full list of coverage here. Overall, the American Express Cobalt Card is one of the best cards out there to reward purchases on groceries and dining, with 5x points per dollar.

This card has the best bonus categories all-around, and the monthly fee of $10 is very innovative. It’s bold for a credit card issuer to go back to the drawing board and create such a stunning new product. I’m excited to get the card soon, and hope other financial issuers make an attempt to match the new competition.

Apply for the American Express Cobalt Card today, and earn up to 30,000 Points!

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  1. […] While this bonus might pale compared to the 75,000 points offer with the American Express Business Platinum Card, it’s not a comparison. You can get both those cards at once, so I see this spending promotion as icing on top of any signup offers that you are getting. The current signup offer for the Cobalt Card is 40,000 points. You earn 5,000 points after spending $500 for the first six months, and an additional 10,000 points after $3,000 in your first three months. For more details, check out my review of the card. […]

  2. […] While this bonus might pale compared to the 75,000 points offer with the American Express Business Platinum Card, it’s not a comparison. You can get both those cards at once, so I see this spending promotion as icing on top of any signup offers that you are getting. The current signup offer for the Cobalt Card is 40,000 points. You earn 5,000 points after spending $500 for the first six months, and an additional 10,000 points after $3,000 in your first three months. For more details, check out my review of the card. […]


  1. How many American Express cards am I allowed and is this considered a charge card or credit card? I have spg, gold and biz spg. Will they also let me have this card if I qualify or will I have to give up another card? Thanks

  2. I got this card exclusively to use for groceries and the first year bonus because the SPG earn rate is better than my SPG Amex. Very happy with the points accumulation so far but there is a big problem.

    Data point: If you have an Amex SPG of any kind that one card is linked to your SPG account. Amex’s system will not let you link a Membership Rewards earning card to an SPG account if you have either SPG card. I tried to add it to my Biz Plat as a test and got the same error. I was able to successfully add my Hilton #, but when I try to add in my SPG number I get the same constant error. Amex’s only solution was to temporarily remove my SPG card and sub in the Cobalt, do the transfer, and then switch it back. The only other solution I can think of is to create an account for my girlfriend under my address and pool the points. Any thoughts?

      • I tried twice to set up new SPG accounts – once on my own and once on the phone with SPG and having explained to them why I needed a 2nd account. The first attempt failed after a day or so as they’re system ended up merging with my primary SPG account 🙁 The second time I called in and explained, they set up new account and didn’t merge – sadly within a day or so it merged as well. A call to them (AMEX) and they suggested that when I want to transfer points that I just call in and they will transfer manually, I haven’t done this yet.

  3. Thank you for mentioning that these points earned are not the same as the points earned on the Gold Rewards cards and do not transfer to airline points. That really is a game changer for me as I was enthused up to that point.

    Given the incredible difficulty experienced is actually using an AMEX card in Europe for anything other than gas or hotels I am keeping the number of AMEX cards to a minimum.

  4. The way they’re doing the annual fee is definitely interesting. Amex has sort of been doing that in Mexico, but they split it across 3 statements, so they do tell you that the fee is $1200 MXN or whatever, split up in 3 months, and that does lessen the impact somewhat.

  5. Best review of this card I’ve seen so far. Thanks for breaking down the earning potential as well beyond just what is stated on their site.

  6. “The primary difference is that the points earned from the Cobalt Card cannot transfer into airlines.”

    Is this accurate? When I search for all cards and filter by Membership Rewards, the Cobalt card still shows up! There is no mention of the Select program. If what you say is true I feel that the value of the card is significantly diminished for me. That would be too bad, it is one good looking piece of plastic!

      • Bummer! The fixed points program isn’t bad but isn’t the best value for points.

        For people who consider conversion to airline programs important, would you recommend this or the SPG card? With the Cobalt there is higher earning potential for points, but if I were to transfer to SPG and the convert to an airline program, I feel with the transfer ratio it would get me the same number of points as the SPG card without all the bonuses! I’d love your input.

  7. Sounds like it is definitely worth it for the first year. If I understand correctly, one would get 12 X 2,500 = 30,000 points for a $500 monthly spend for the second year. Is this correct? What are your thoughts re the second year? Worth keeping?

    Thanks for all you do!

  8. I got my first statement on Dec 28, and there are quite a few mistakes in the bonus spends (mostly liquor/food not categorized correctly). What is the best way to deal with the issue, as the 10x the points makes a big difference. I didn’t see anything on the statement as to how to deal with the discrepancy. Thanks so much!

  9. So today is the last day to apply for the welcome bonus – 3 months in how do you feel about the card? Same enthusiasm from when it was first released?

  10. It’s worth noting that you can still convert to airlines through SPG (I think??), which means the MR select points aren’t as bad as you’d think!

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