American Express Cobalt vs. Scotiabank Gold American Express: Which is Best?

scotia-gold-vs-amex-cobalt-head-to-head

Canadian households are spending more on groceries than ever, and it only makes sense to use a credit card for these purchases that generate the best return on spend. When it comes to earning miles and points on these purchases, there are two cards that stand above all others: the American Express Cobalt card and the Scotiabank Gold American Express card.

Simply put, both of these credit cards are fantastic for both grocery and dining purchases and Canadians could easily find a place for both of them in their wallets. However, if you are only interested in one new card, it is worth considering the different earning structures, annual fees, benefits, and more to find the right card for your needs.

With that in mind, let’s jump into our comparison of the American Express Cobalt card vs. the Scotiabank Gold American Express card to find out which is best.

Card Overviews

The core features of any credit card are the welcome bonus, earning rates, annual fee, and income requirements.

Welcome Bonuses

The American Express Cobalt card offers a welcome bonus of 15,000 Membership Rewards, earned through the following structure:

  • Earn 1,250 Membership Rewards for each monthly billing period in which you spend $750 for the first cardholder year (up to 15,000 Membership Rewards total)
American Express Cobalt Card

The American Express Cobalt card earns Membership Rewards points and gives cardholders the opportunity to earn 5x Membership Rewards on eligible restaurant, food delivery, and grocery store purchases.

In 2024, we selected this card to receive the award Best Credit Card for Grocery Purchases.

Check out our American Express Cobalt card review for more details.

BONUS
15,000 Membership Rewards
MINSPEND
$9,000
NET VALUE
$174+
ANNUAL FEE
$156
FOREX FEES
Yes
EXPIRY

The Scotiabank Gold American Express card offers a welcome bonus of 45,000 Scene+ Rewards points, earned through the following structure:

  • Earn 25,000 Scene+ Rewards points upon spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
  • Earn 20,000 Scene+ Rewards points upon spending $7,500 in the first year
  • Plus: You can earn an additional $75 FlyerFunds Rebate on the Scotiabank Gold American Express card when you apply through Frugal Flyer Rebates!
Apply Now Learn More Earn $75 in FlyerFunds upon approval.
Scotiabank Gold American Express Card

The Scotiabank Gold American Express card earns Scene+ Rewards points and gives cardholders the opportunity to earn 5x Scene+ points on grocery, restaurant, and entertainment purchases. This card charges no foreign exchange fees.

Check out our Scotiabank Gold American Express card review for more details.

BONUS
45,000 Scene+
MINSPEND
$7,500
NET VALUE
$450+
ANNUAL FEE
$120 (FYF)
FOREX FEES
No
EXPIRY
Oct 31, 2024

The Scotiabank Gold American Express offers the better welcome bonus at this point in time as a total of $7,500 spent for 40,000 Scene+ Rewards points far outweighs spending $9,000 over the span of a year to earn only 15,000 Membership Rewards points. 

If you are interested in accruing a large chunk of Membership Rewards points via a welcome bonus, there are much better options available such as the American Express Platinum card or American Express Business Platinum card.

Earning Rates

The American Express Cobalt card has a wide variety of bonus earning categories and earns a maximum of 5 Membership points per dollar spent:

  • 5 Membership Rewards points for every dollar spent on eligible food and drink purchases in Canada (including restaurants, food delivery, and grocery stores).
    • A monthly spending cap of $2,500 applies and cardholders who spend above this threshold will earn 1 point per dollar
  • 3 Membership Rewards points for every dollar spent on eligible streaming subscription services in Canada.
  • 2 Membership Rewards points for every dollar spent on eligible ride shares, transit, and gas in Canada.
  • 1 Membership Rewards point for every dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • 1 additional point on eligible hotel and car rental bookings via American Express Travel Online

The Scotiabank Gold American Express card has four separate earning categories and earns a maximum of 6 Scene+ Rewards points per dollar spent:

  • 6 Scene+ Rewards points for every dollar spent at Sobeys, IGA, Safeway, Foodland, FreshCo, Voilà by Sobeys, Voilà by IGA, Voilà by Safeway, Chalo! FreshCo, Thrifty Foods, IGA West, Les Marchés Tradition, Rachelle Béry and Co-Op.
  • 5 Scene+ Rewards points for every dollar spent at eligible grocery stores, restaurants, fast food, drinking establishments, food delivery services, food box subscriptions, and eligible entertainment purchases (including movies, theatre, and ticket agencies).
  • 3 Scene+ Rewards points for every dollar spent on eligible gas, daily transit services, rideshare services, and select streaming services.
  • 1 Scene+ Rewards point for every dollar spent on all other purchases.

With the Scotiabank Gold American Express card, the 5x and 3x Scene+ bonus points multipliers are applicable on all purchases up to a combined total of $50,000 during a calendar year. Upon reaching the $50,000 threshold, all future purchases will earn 1 Scene+ point per dollar spent.

The competition between these two credit cards is close as they are both absolute powerhouses when it comes to earning all dining and grocery purchases, and are frankly two of the best credit cards for dining out in Canada and two of the best credit cards for grocery purchases in Canada.

In our eyes, the American Express Cobalt card edges out as the winner, as Membership Rewards points are significantly more valuable (thanks to being a transferable currency) than Scene+ Rewards points which are anchored to 1 cent per point. Either way, you won’t be disappointed when it comes to using either of these cards as they are both best-in-class.

Annual Fees

The American Express Cobalt card has a monthly fee of $12.99 which works out to an annual fee of $155.88, whereas the Scotiabank Gold American Express card has a lower annual fee of $120.

The Scotiabank Gold American Express card is the winner in this category as a result of the cheaper annual fee and the fact that welcome offers often include a first year annual fee waiver, further reducing the effective cost of keeping the card in your wallet.

Income Requirements

The minimum income requirements for both of these cards are very low making them accessible to all Canadians.

The American Express Cobalt card has no stated minimum income requirements, whereas the Scotiabank Gold American Express card has a minimum annual personal income or household income of only $12,000.

Benefits & Insurance Coverages

Both the American Express Cobalt card and the Scotiabank Gold American Express card come with a number of benefits and insurance coverages.

No Foreign Transaction Fees

The Scotiabank Gold American Express offers no foreign transaction fees when making a purchase in currencies other than Canadian dollars. 

Using a card with this perk results in saving 2.5% on all purchases in foreign currencies as opposed to using a card that doesn’t offer this benefit, and I would recommend always bringing a card with this benefit on your international travels. This is a rare credit card benefit in Canada with only a handful of options that offer this perk, and coincidentally, the Scotiabank Gold American Express card is one of the two best credit cards with no foreign exchange fees in Canada.

The American Express Cobalt card does not offer this benefit, making the Scotiabank Gold American Express card a clear and uncontested winner in this category.

Amex Offers

Amex Offers are a useful tool to receive additional benefits from a credit card in the form of cash back or extra points when spending at certain retailers. As the name specifies, American Express Offers are available on cards issued within the American Express network, meaning that both of these cards can benefit from this feature.

American Express Cobalt cardholders can log into their American Express online account to view card-specific offers available to them. On the other hand, Scotiabank Gold American Express cardholders can view and register for any current Amex Offers here

While the value of this benefit can be tough to measure since it is dependent on what offers are available and where you shop, it is a nice perk that has resulted in being able to save a few hundred dollars over the years on purchases that I was going to make anyway.

Insurance Coverages

The American Express Cobalt card and the Scotiabank Gold American Express card offer several insurance coverages, mainly focused on travel. 

The American Express Cobalt card offers the following insurance coverages:

  • Emergency medical insurance (up to $5,000,000 for the first 15 days of the trip)
  • Travel accident insurance
  • Rental car theft and damage coverage (up to MSRP of $85,000)
  • Lost or stolen baggage coverage
  • Baggage delay insurance (Up to $500 on delays of six hours or more)
  • Flight delay insurance
  • Hotel burglary coverage
  • Purchase protection
  • Buyer assurance protection
  • Mobile device insurance

The Scotiabank Gold American Express card offers the following insurance coverages:

  • Travel emergency medical insurance (up to $1,000,000 for the first 25 days of the trip)
  • Trip cancellation & trip interruption insurance (up to $1,500 per person, max of $10,000 per trip)
  • Travel accident insurance
  • Car rental theft and damage insurance (up to MSRP of $65,000)
  • Lost luggage benefit
  • Stolen baggage insurance
  • Flight delay insurance
  • Delayed luggage benefit (up to $1,000 per group on delays of four hours or more)
  • Hotel burglary insurance
  • Purchase security
  • Extended warranty protection

There isn’t a clear winner in this category since the coverage amounts and coverages vary. If insurance coverage is an important benefit to you, I would recommend determining what sort of coverage is required for your travel and personal needs before selecting a card.

As always, ensure you read the terms and conditions of the insurance coverage, especially when using it for travel as many coverages require you to charge the entire cost of the trip to the card (which means that award redemptions may not be eligible). If you are traveling on redemptions, consider looking into the best credit cards that offer travel insurance on award flights.

Redeeming Points

The American Express Cobalt card earns Membership Rewards whereas the Scotiabank Gold American Express card earns Scene+ Rewards points, making the redemption options very different between these two cards and the greater value will lie in the type of redemption you are most interested in.

American Express Membership Rewards (MR)

American Express Membership Rewards points are one of the most valuable miles and points currencies in Canada as a result of American Express Canada’s list of transfer partners. Whether you are looking to redeem for business class flights or luxury hotel stays, Membership Rewards can help you make that possible through transferring to Air Canada Aeroplan, British Airways Avios, Marriott Bonvoy, and more.

Air Canada Signature Class

Since the best use for American Express Membership Rewards is to transfer them to another program, it can be difficult to accurately state the value per point. However, if you are looking for flight or hotel redemptions, Membership Rewards are the better choice out of both currencies.

Scene+ Rewards Points

Scene+ Rewards points are more straightforward to use, as the value of a Scene+ Rewards point is always 1 cent regardless of redemption method. Our favorite method is to use them for “Book Any Way” travel redemptions, but they can just as easily be redeemed towards grocery and liquor purchases at eligible retailers.

Since Scene+ Rewards points can be applied toward any travel purchases made on the card, there are some excellent use cases such as redeeming Scene+ Rewards for Disney tickets to reduce other non-hotel and flight costs associated with travel.

Comparison Summary

If you are interested in a high-level comparison summary of these two cards, the table below captures the most important details:

American Express Cobalt CardScotiabank Gold American Express Card
Welcome Bonus15,000 Membership Rewards45,000 Scene+ Points
Welcome Bonus Details

Earn 1,250 Membership Rewards for each monthly billing period in which you spend $750 for the first cardholder year (up to 15,000 Membership Rewards total)

  • Earn 25,000 Scene+ points upon spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
  • Earn 20,000 Scene+ points upon spending $7,500 in the first year
Earning Rates5x at grocery stores & dining
3x on streaming services
2x at rideshare, gas, transit
1x elsewhere
5-6x at grocery stores
5x at dining, entertainment
3x at gas, transit
1x elsewhere
Annual Fee$156$120
Income RequirementNo income requirementsPersonal: $12,000 annual
Foreign Exchange Fee2.5%0%
Amex Offers

Conclusion

Both the American Express Cobalt card and the Scotiabank Gold American Express card offer excellent value to cardholders and many members of the Frugal Flyer team have both of these cards in their wallets. Since the earning rates are very similar, the defining choice might be the miles and points currency that is earned or even the fact that one card offers the rare no foreign transaction fees benefit.

It’s tough to choose a clear winner, but I ultimately prefer the Scotiabank Gold American Express card for the higher capped spending limit on bonus categories, no foreign exchange fees, and the ability to redeem for random travel purchases through the “Book Any Way” redemption option.

Josh Bandura

Josh Bandura

Co-Founder at Frugal Flyer
Josh has been involved in the miles and points game since 2015 but has scaled up his knowledge and points earning potential in recent years. With a consistent attitude of "min-maxing" in many aspects of his life, Josh has transferred this mindset over to the miles and points game. Always looking for the next big opportunity, he aims to share content on a variety of topics including his travels, miles and points, and most importantly, how to get the most out of your credit cards

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