Why I Love the American Express Cobalt Canada Card

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The American Express Cobalt Canada credit card is in the running to be the best travel credit card in Canada.

The Amex Cobalt card is designed with millennials in mind. You get huge bonus points in the categories (like grocery and food delivery services) that millennials use constantly, so you quickly rack up the points. The annual fee and minimum spend are calculated monthly, so even if you have a small budget, you can get those sweet, sweet bonus points without breaking the bank. All in all, there is nothing to dislike about the American Express Cobalt Canada credit card.

It is without a doubt a keeper card, and you keep getting value out of it year after year!

If you’re a millennial looking to earn travel points, the Amex Cobalt Canada should be at the top of your list.

Highlights

There is a lot to love about this card!

The Amex Cobalt is a great starter card. It is easy to use, and you earn points at a pretty quick rate.

The top highlights of the card include:

  • Up to 30,000 MR Select points as a sign-up bonus
  • The card fee is charged monthly rather than annually
  • 5x points on eligible restaurant, food delivery service, and groceries purchases at Canadian locations
  • 2x points on eligible gas and transportation purchases in Canada
  • 2x points on eligible travel purchases including hotels and flights
  • $100USD hotel credit to be used on amenities such as dining and spa treatments
American Express Cobalt Canada Card

Pros and Cons of the American Express Cobalt Canada

Pros

  • The card fee is charged monthly rather than annually
  • Generous points earning on food and transportation
  • Point redemption and transfers are easy to use even as a beginner

Cons

  • You have to spend $500/month to get the full 30,000 sign-up bonus
  • Hard to earn a lot of points outside of food and transportation
  • Not every vendor accepts American Express

Points

In 2021, American Express changed the rules around earning and spending points with the AMEX Cobalt Canada, and it was a game changer.

You used to only be able to earn and spend MR Select points. MR Select points were only able to be transferred to hotel rewards programs.

In 2021, they changed it, so you earn the same MR points that you earn with other AMEX travel cards.

These points can be transferred not only to hotel programs but also to flight programs.

It was an absolute game changer, and the American Express Cobalt Canada became even more valuable than it already was.

Sign-Up Bonus

One of the biggest selling features of the Amex Cobalt Canada card is the sign-up bonus.

You earn up to 30,000 MR Select points in your first year of holding the card!

That’s an estimated value of about $300!

That’s a very generous sign-up bonus- especially when you compare it to the cost of holding the card!

The American Express Cobalt Canada is quite unique and a leader in the credit card space. One of the most innovative features of the card is that you get your sign-up bonus monthly rather than up front after meeting a specific minimum spend in the first three months as is the case with most credit cards.

You earn 2,500 MR Select points each month you spend $500 in the first 12 months. If you meet the $500 spending threshold every month in the first year, you earn 30,000 MR Select points.

The sign-up bonus on the American Express Cobalt Canada card is pretty hard to beat and is one of the best in travel credit card space!

Hotel Room

Earning Points

Outside of the sign-up bonus, one of the most important things to consider when applying for a new travel credit card is the points earning.

It is incredibly important to analyze the points earning on a credit card. The better the points earning on categories you spend a lot of money in, the more beneficial the card is for you.

Lucky for you, the earning categories on the American Express Cobalt Canada card are incredible and make it easy for you to earn a lot of points without changing your spending habits!

The points earning on the Amex Cobalt are:

  • 5x points on eligible grocery, restaurant, and food delivery services purchases. The bonus points are only awarded on purchases made in Canada and aren’t awarded on purchases made outside of Canada. You earn 1 points per $1 in these categories outside of Canada.
  • 2x points on eligible gas and transportation purchases. This includes bus passes, rail passes, and cabs! Just like the food category, the bonus points only apply to purchases in Canada, and, unfortunately, you don’t earn 2x points when filing up your rental car with gas while on an Icelandic road trip.
  • 2x points on eligible travel purchases. This includes flights and hotels no matter what country the purchase is made in!
  • 1x points on all other purchases. Whether it is university tuition, rent, concerts, movies, or anything else under the sun, you earn 1 point per $1 spent on every other purchase that doesn’t fall within the bonus point categories.

You can probably already tell, but the best way to maximize your points earning with the Amex Cobalt is to use it every time you purchase food!

You’ll earn points at a staggering rate and be reaping the travel benefits in no time!

Underrated cities in Europe you need to visit ASAP!

Redeeming Points

Now it is time to talk about the fun stuff and how you use the MR points you earn with the American Express Cobalt Canada card to travel the world for free!

As mentioned earlier, there are two ways you can redeem your MR points. You can book travel directly through the American Express portal or transfer your MR points to a partner program and redeem them through their portal.

You get the best value for your points when you transfer them to a partner program.

It gives you more flexibility and control of the value you get per point, and you have more redemption options.

On the other hand, I would be lying if I didn’t acknowledge that it was easier to redeem your points directly through the American Express portal rather than transferring them to another program.

It all comes down to personal choice though. Do what’s best for you and your travel needs.

If you’re going to transfer your points to a transfer program, all the information is below!

Fancy Hotel

AIRLINE PARTNER PROGRAMS (IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER)

AirlineTransfer RatioEstimated Transfer Time
Air Canada (Aeroplan Points)1000:100030 minutes
Alitalia (MilleMiglia)1000:7505 business days
British Airways (Avios)1000:1005 business days
Cathay Pacific (Asia Miles)1000:7505 business days
Delta (SkyMiles)1000:75030 minutes
Etihad (Etihad Guest Miles)1000:7503 business days

HOTEL PARTNER PROGRAMS (IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER)

HotelTransfer RatioEstimated Transfer Times
Hilton1000:10005 business days
Marriott2:35 business days

Rules for Transferring Points to Partner Programs

There are two rules to be aware of when transferring MR points to partner programs:

  • All transfers are final, and you can’t get your points back once you’ve clicked the button to transfer them to another program.
  • There is a small fee for transferring points to Delta. It never exceeds $100 and is normally worth the additional fee with the added value you get from transferring points to the Delta program.

Best Use of MR Select Points

This probably isn’t a popular opinion. In fact, I know it isn’t a popular opinion, and I’ll be shamed in the travel hacking community for it.

BUT!

The best use of your points is whatever works best for you and your travel needs!

There is no shortage of information on the internet about how to maximize every point to get the most value out of it.

This is all well and good, but if it doesn’t suit your travel style or isn’t a place you want to go, then what’s the point?!

You’ll sit on your points, not use them, and let them go to waste.

That’s one of the worst things you can do with your MR Select points!

That being said, there are ways to use your MR points to maximize your points if you don’t have any specific travel plans you’re saving your points up for.

But, again, I want to emphasize that it is better to use your points for anything even if it isn’t technically the best use of your points from a sheer numbers perspective.

You don’t want those points to go unused and lose their value. Or worse expire!

Best travel credit cards in Canada

Worst Use of MR Select Points

I bet you’re expecting me to say there is no bad use of your MR points, but I’m not going to tell you that.

There are bad uses for your MR points.

The least value you get for your MR points is when you use them for a statement credit or use them to purchase merchandise or gift cards.

You should only use these options as a last resort when either you’re struggling so much financially that you can’t afford to pay your bills or your points are going to expire before you can use them for travel.

But, again, using your points for anything is better than not using your points at all.

We don’t like wasted and forgotten points here!

Luggage and passport

America Express Cobalt Canada Annual Fee

The Amex Cobalt Canada is incredibly accessible, and that is one of the reasons I love this card as much as I do!

A lot of people can’t afford a $100+ annual fee all at once, and the American Express Cobalt Canada card takes that worry away and makes it easier for the average person to get the card.

You are charged $12 every month you hold the card for a total annual fee of $144 if you hold the card for an entire year.

It is significantly easier for someone to budget for a $12 charge every month than a $100+ charge the month after they receive the card.

The other amazing upside to having the fee charged monthly rather than annually is that you only pay for what you use. If you try the card for a few months and don’t like it, you’re only out $12 per month rather than the full $144 like you would if it were a traditional annual fee.

The flexibility of the American Express Cobalt Canada is unbeatable, and I wouldn’t be surprised if more and more cards moved to this model in the future.

Qualifications

Unlike most credit card providers in Canada, American Express doesn’t have a minimum income requirement to qualify for their cards.

We love this because it makes accessing credit cards easier for people in lower-earning jobs.

Just because someone is underpaid doesn’t mean they don’t deserve to have a great credit card that helps them travel for free.

We appreciate that American Express credit cards are accessible to everybody and are based on other qualifications rather than simply income.

You need to meet the following criteria to be eligible for the Amex Cobalt Canada:

  • Be the age of majority in your home province
  • Be a Canadian resident
  • Have a Canadian credit file

And that’s it!

A word of caution though.

Just because you meet the qualification requirements doesn’t mean you will be approved for the American Express Cobalt Canada card.

America Express likes you have a pretty good credit score in order to be approved.

I recommend you have at least a 650 credit score and the higher or better.

Who the American Express Cobalt Canada Card is Best For

The Amex Cobalt Canada card is very versatile, and it is a great addition to basically everybody’s wallet.

I think the card is best for millennials who are on a tighter budget because you pay the annual fee monthly and have a smaller monthly minimum spend rather than a large minimum spend to meet within the first three months of holding the card.

The Amex Cobalt Canada is really good for everybody no matter your travel style. MR points are so easy to use and work for any kind of travel, so it is hard to go wrong with the Amex Cobalt Canada card.

Most people spend a lot of money on food, so anybody and everybody can earn a lot of points pretty quickly.

All in all, I think every Canadian travel hacker or average Canadian traveller can benefit from having the American Express Cobalt Canada in their wallet.

Who the American Express Cobalt Canada is Not For

It is a bit difficult to identify who the Amex Cobalt Canada isn’t for, but there are a few categories of people who may want to think harder before getting this card.

Here are the two types of people who may not want to get this card:

  • Credit card minimalists: Not every vendor accepts American Express credit cards. If you only want to hold one or two credits may not want to have the Amex Cobalt in their wallet, so they don’t run into an issue with not having a credit card in their wallet they can pay with if someone doesn’t accept American Express.
  • Digital nomads or full-time travellers: Since you have to make purchases at Canadian businesses to earn the bonus points, if you don’t spend a lot of time in Canada, this isn’t the card for you. You simply won’t get the most out of the card, and there are other options that may work better for you and your lifestyle.
Couple Travel Hacking

Alternative Credit Cards

Conclusion

There is a reason why I everybody praises the American Express Cobalt Canada card!

It is a well-rounded card that appeals to basically everybody no matter where you want to travel or how often you travel.

There are basically no barriers to entry, and almost everybody meets the posted qualifications.

On top of how accessible the card is to lower-income earning people, the sign-up bonus and points earning categories are unbeatable.

I challenge you to find another Canadian travel credit card that offers 5x on food delivery services, restaurants, and groceries.

I’ll wait while you search for it and then come back and tell me in the comments that it doesn’t exist. 😉

There really isn’t anything to complain about with this card.

It is a great card for travel hacking beginners and for more experienced travel hackers.

The American Express Cobalt Canada is at the top of my list for credit cards I recommend to everybody in my life (and on the internet) who are interested in travel hacking as a Canadian.

I could gush about it all day long!

Why I Love the American Express Cobalt Canada CardWhy I Love the American Express Cobalt Canada CardWhy I Love the American Express Cobalt Canada Card

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