Review: Scotiabank Gold Amex Card

by | Published Jun 16, 2022 | Edited Oct 31, 2022


The Scotiabank Gold American Express credit card is a unique card indeed. It is the first American Express card in Canada to be issued by a bank other than American Express (if this is confusing, remember that Amex is both a bank/issuer and a payment network).

What else makes the card unique is its strong earning rates for food, including grocery and restaurants, as well as entertainment purchases. Couple that with no foreign transaction fees and the flexible Scene+ Rewards program, and you’ve got a card worth consideration for your collection.

Let’s dive into our Scotiabank Gold Amex review and look at everything the card has to offer.

Welcome Bonus

When you sign up as a new cardholder for the Scotiabank Gold American Express card, you can get up to 45,000 Scene+ points as a welcome bonus.

As is becoming common with many rewards programs these days, the welcome bonus has a tiered structure:

  • 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

The first year annual fee for this card is quite often rebated as part of the welcome bonus, but not always. 

Scotiabank Gold American Express

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.

In 2022, we selected this card as the Best Credit Card for Grocery Purchases.

Check out our Scotiabank Gold American Express review for full details about this card.

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

Frugal Flyer Rebates offers the highest rebates on Scotiabank credit cards in Canada. Click here to learn more.

Benefits

Foreign Transaction Fee Waiver

Finding the best way to make purchases in foreign countries is an important part of traveling. Many countries take credit cards, however, almost all credit cards issued in Canada charge an additional 2.5% foreign transaction fee on all foreign currency transactions. This means that you will be spending an additional $2.50 per $100 spent on foreign currency purchases.

The reality is that credit cards with no foreign transaction fees are a rarity in Canada. However, with the Scotiabank Gold Amex card, you will pay no additional foreign transaction fees. Instead, you will pay only the exchange rate set by Amex for the currencies being converted. This also applies to any online shopping purchases you make in a foreign currency.

Not having to worry about the added foreign transaction fee when you are traveling is a strong benefit of the Scotia Gold American Express card.

Insurance Coverage

The Scotiabank Gold American Express card comes with a strong package of insurance coverage, on par with premium-level cards like World Elite and Visa Infinite. Importantly, it has a comprehensive travel insurance package that includes emergency medical coverage, trip cancellation/interruption, flight delay, lost/delayed baggage, and car rental insurance.

See the table below for more details on each insurance offering.

InsuranceDetails
Travel Emergency Medical InsuranceCoverage for 25 consecutive days of up to $1 million for each of you, your spouse, and your dependent children.
Trip Cancellation/Trip Interruption InsuranceCoverage of $1,500 per person for travel expenses (maximum $10,000 per trip). Must charge at least 75% of trip costs to the card.
Flight Delay InsuranceCoverage of $500 for flight delay of 4 hours or more. Must charge 75% of ticket cost to the card.
Delayed and Lost Baggage InsuranceCoverage of $1000 lost or stolen luggage. Must charge the full cost of the airplane, train, bus, or cruise ticket to the card.
Travel Accident InsuranceCovered against accidental loss of life or dismemberment. Must charge 75% of ticket cost to the card.
Rental Car Collision Loss & Damage InsuranceCoverage of damaged or stolen vehicle up to the full cost of vehicle. Must charge the full cost to the card, the rental period cannot exceed 48 days and the vehicle cannot cost over $65,000.
Hotel & Motel Burglary InsuranceCovered against theft of personal property if your room is broken into, up to $1,000. 
Purchase Security & Extended Warranty ProtectionInsured against theft, loss, or damage for 90 days from purchase date. The manufacturer’s warranty doubled, up to one year.

Refer to the Scotiabank Gold American Express certificate of insurance for complete details and conditions.

Amex Offers

If you are a holder of a credit card issued by American Express, you will likely be familiar with the lucrative Amex offers that appear on your dashboard from time to time, with rebates and deals on shopping, dining, travel, and more. 

With the Scotia Gold Amex, you will also get access to many of these offers.

American Express Connect offers for Scotiabank Amex credit cards

Unlike with Amex-issued cards where offers appear in your online account, you need to manually register offers on Amex Connect to be eligible. 

We’ve seen some phenomenal offers in the past through Amex, including the popular Shop Small promotion.

Earning Scotiabank Scene+ Reward Points

The quickest and most efficient way to earn Scotiabank Scene+ Rewards points is through credit card welcome bonuses, such as the 45,000 points offered on the Scotiabank Gold Amex card.

However, the Scotiabank Gold Amex offers some pretty spectacular bonus point categories to accelerate your points earnings on eligible purchases which makes it a great card to use regularly as a “daily driver”.

These categories include:

  • 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 on “eat in & eat out” purchases, including purchases at eligible grocery stores, restaurants, fast food, and drinking establishments (bars and clubs). This also includes food delivery and meal box subscription services.
  • 5 Scene+ Rewards points for every dollar spent on “watch & cheer” purchases, including eligible entertainment purchases, such as movies, theater purchases, and ticket agencies.
  • 3 Scene+ Rewards points for every dollar spent on “ride & drive” purchases, including eligible gas and daily transit purchases, such as rideshare services, buses, taxis, and more.
  • 3 Scene+ Rewards points for every dollar spent on “listen & stream” purchases, including eligible streaming services.

Most notable is the 5x bonus points on any grocery or restaurant purchases. This is the highest earning rate in this category in Canada, with only a couple of other cards offering the same bonus. As of October 1st, 2022, the earning rate on eligible purchases at Sobeys affiliated grocery stores will move to 6x bonus points, making it the best grocery credit card in Canada.

The 5x and 3x multipliers are only in effect for up to $50,000 in total spending between those two categories per calendar year. Any spend done in those two categories beyond $50,000 in a calendar year will earn 1 Scene+ Reward point per dollar spent.

Update: The 5x earning rate is going to be even sweeter with the new Scene+ partnership with Empire (Sobeys, Safeway, FreshCo, IGA). You will be able to double-dip on purchases at these chains with both your Scotiabank Scene+ credit card and Scene+ loyalty card.

Redeeming Scotiabank Scene+ Reward Points

Scene+ Rewards, previously known as the Scotia Rewards program, is the program that is tied to many of Scotiabank’s credit products, including the Scotiabank Gold American Express card.

Scene+ Rewards points can be redeemed in a variety of methods, including for travel, a statement credit, movie tickets at Cineplex theaters, shopping, dining, entertainment, and gift cards.

scene points redemption options

The best way to get the most value out of your Scene+ Rewards points is to redeem them for travel. Thankfully, the Scene+ program allows members to redeem these points for flexible travel purchases, meaning that you can redeem points against a flight, hotel, rental car, and other travel expenses that you have booked separately on your Scotia Gold American Express card.

When redeeming for travel, the actual cash value of Scene+ points is 1 cent per point. This means that, for example, 10,000 Scene+ points are worth $100 when redeemed for travel. And with the refundable hotel trick, you shouldn’t ever be redeeming Scene+ for less than 1 cent per point 😉

Who is the Scotiabank Gold Amex Card Best For?

There are three main aspects that I would consider evaluating when determining if the Scotiabank Gold American Express card is right for you:

  • How much do you value flexibility in redeeming miles and points?
  • What is your typical monthly spend on groceries and restaurants?
  • Do you often make purchases in foreign currencies (online or in-person)?

These three elements are where the Scotiabank Gold Amex card really shines

Personally, I love the flexibility that comes with redeeming Scene+ Rewards points for travel purchases and the no foreign transaction fees. For those aspects alone, this card is absolutely worth it for me.

If any of the above statements resonate with you, we highly recommend adding the Scotiabank Gold American Express card to your wallet. If you are going to apply, why not earn an additional $100 through Frugal Flyer Rebates?

Comparable Credit Cards to the Scotiabank Gold Amex

One of the Scotia Gold Amex’s strongest perks is its earning rate on grocery and restaurant purchases, which equates to a 5% return if redeemed for travel. The only credit cards that come close to this are the American Express Cobalt card, which earns 5 Membership Rewards points on grocery and restaurant purchases, or alternatively the Simplii Financial Cash Back Visa card, which earns 4% back on restaurants only.

As we’ve mentioned, there aren’t a lot of competitive credit cards that offer no foreign currency exchange fees in Canada. An option for a Mastercard would be the Brim Financial World Elite, or alternatively the HSBC World Elite Mastercard

HSBC World Elite

The HSBC World Elite Mastercard earns HSBC Rewards points and offers cardholders benefits including an annual $100 travel enhancement credit* and free Boingo Wifi membership.

Check out our HSBC World Elite review for more details about this card.

BONUS
80,000 HSBC Rewards
MINSPEND
$6,000
NET VALUE
$400+
ANNUAL FEE
$149 (FYF)
FOREX FEES
No

And if you’re looking for other cards that earn Scene+ rewards, the following cards are the best options from Scotiabank:

Credit Card Welcome Bonus Net Value
Scotiabank Platinum American Express 70,000 Scene+ $301 Apply
Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite 30,000 Scene+ $150 Apply
Scotiabank American Express 12,000 Scene+ $120 Apply
Scotiabank Scene Visa 10,000 Scene+ $100 Apply

Conclusion 

The Scotiabank American Express Gold credit card makes its mark in the Canadian credit card market with its strong earning rates, no foreign exchange fees, and easy-to-redeem rewards program.

Both of us currently hold this card and we are able to get some excellent value out of it; we think you will be able to as well. If you are interested in seeing what other Scotiabank credit cards Frugal Flyer is offering rebates on, click here.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How much are Scene+ Rewards points worth?

    The value of a Scene+ rewards point depends on what it is redeemed for. Generally, the best value you can get is approximately 1 cent per point, or 100 points = $1, when redeemed for travel purchases. You can also redeem Scene+ at Cineplex for movies that ends up being a bit more than 1 cent per point depending on the movie type (for example 3D movies are closer to 1.3 cents per point).  

  2. What credit score is required to be approved for the Scotiabank Gold American Express card?

    To be approved for the Scotia Gold Amex card, you’ll want to have a good to excellent credit score (700-800+) as reported by Equifax, the bureau which Scotiabank pulls data from. 

  3. Is the Scotiabank Gold American Express card worth it?

    The Scotiabank Gold American Express card is definitely worthwhile as a long-standing standout among Canadian travel rewards cards thanks to its accelerated earning rate on food and groceries, coupled with no foreign transaction fees.

  4. How long does it take to get a hold of a Scene+ customer service agent?


    For real, it is sometimes a really long time. Hopefully, they improve on this.

Reed Sutton

Reed Sutton

Founder at Frugal Flyer
Reed is addicted to the science (and art) of earning and redeeming travel points, and frequently pairs his trips with his other hobby: photography. Through Frugal Flyer, Reed aims to distill some of the complex and esoteric points strategies into digestible information. Furthermore, he hopes to use his technical expertise to develop invaluable applications and tools for the travel community.
Hugh Campbell

Hugh Campbell

Senior Editor at Frugal Flyer
Hugh has been involved in the miles and points game since 2015 but has scaled up his knowledge and points-earning potential in recent years. In 2019, Hugh stepped things up when he met Reed in addition to a few other miles and points fanatics (err degenerate churners) and has since been able to capitalize on the various expertise that each member brings to the group.

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