There was a lot of excitement when the Canadian American Express Cobalt Card was released back in September 2017. I think that I am long overdue to write a post. However, both PointsNerd and Canadian Kilometers already wrote some very comprehensive posts regarding the features of the credit card.
What I am going to do is continue a theme that I started in 2017, which is to compare it to the closet US version of the card, the American Express EveryDay Preferred Credit Card.
As usual, let’s start with the features of both credit cards to get the ball rolling. Note that both cards allow you to earn American Express Membership Reward points.
American Express Cobalt Card
- $10 monthly fee
- Earn 40,000 sign up bonus points (if you apply before January 30, 2018)
- Earn 5,000 bonus points for each approved referral (up to 75,000 points per calendar year)
- Earn 5 points for every $1 spent on groceries, dining, and food delivery services
- Earn 2 points for every $1 spent on gas, travel, transit (including subway, streetcar, taxi, limousine and ride sharing services)
- Earn 1 point for every $1 spent on all other purchases
American Express EveryDay Preferred Credit Card
- $95 annual fee
- Earn 15,000 American Express Membership Reward sign up bonus points (after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months)
- Earn 10,000 bonus points for each approved referral (up to 55,000 points per calendar year)
- Earn 50% extra bonus points after making 30 or more purchases per billing cycle
- Earn 3 points for every $1 spent at US supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year in purchases)
- Earn 2 points for every $1 spent gas purchases
- Earn 1 point for every $1 spent on all other purchases (as well as after the $6,000 spending on 3 points per dollar listed above)
With the exchange rate, $95 USD and $120 ($10 x 12 months) CAD is relatively the same. However, having the ability to only pay $10 per month is a much better option, because you do not have to pay the entire annual fee up front.
Sign Up Bonus
The Cobalt is currently offering a higher than normal sign up bonus. Normally, you need to spend $500 per billing cycle to earn 2,500 bonus points during the first 12 months of having the card. That gives you the first 30,000 sign up bonus points in the first year, which is the regular bonus. The additional 10,000 points is after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months, but you would need to sign up for the card before January 31, 2018.
For the EveryDay card, we have seen 20,000 or 30,000 sign up bonus promotions. However, the regular bonus is only 15,000 compared to Canada’s 30,000.
What makes the Canadian card extremely lucrative is that there is no annual cap limit on the multiplier bonuses, unlike the US version. The earning ratios are higher in the Canadian version, but do not under-estimate the bonus 50% after making 30 or more purchases per billing cycle. That can really help boost your account in a hurry and puts it more line with the Canadian ratios.
However, the Canadian one has more categories and does not have the 30 minimum purchases per monthly cycle.
Unfortunately, this is where the Canadian card suffers. They do not allow transferring points to airline frequent flyer programs. You can only transfer to the two hotel partners, which are Hilton HHonors (1:1 ratio), and Starwood Preferred Guest (2:1 ratio). What does make the Canadian version amazing is that you can earn 5 points per dollar on specific categories, which transfers to SPG at a 5:2.5 ratio, which is the highest Starpoints credit card earning opportunity.
Note that, you can transfer your Membership Reward points from Gold/Platinum to Cobalt (in case you happen to be cancelling one of them), but you cannot do the reverse and transfer from Cobalt to Gold/Platinum.
While the US version is a regular Membership Rewards card, so you have all the transfer partner options available to you.
Most of the other features are fairly similar between the two, such as the ability to use Membership Rewards Pay with Points (US) and American Express Fixed Rewards Program (Canada). Overall, as you can see, the Canadian version is actually ultra competitive. I am extremely happy to see American Express Canada take such a bold move.
If you are looking for a game changer in Canada, this is it, so long as they build up a strong client base to challenge the other credit card companies.