Amex Gold vs Cobalt: The Ultimate Showdown

Amex Gold vs Cobalt: The Ultimate Showdown

Finding the perfect match for your financial needs can be daunting in the world of credit cards. The American Express Gold Rewards Card and the Amex Cobalt Card are among the top contenders for Canadian cardholders. Both cards offer the opportunity to earn flexible American Express Membership Rewards points and provide valuable travel and shopping benefits. However, there are distinct differences between these premium Amex cards, making one a better fit depending on your spending habits and preferences.

For avid travellers, the American Express Gold Rewards Card shines with its substantial welcome bonuses, airline perks, and redemption flexibility. On the other hand, the Amex Cobalt Card takes the lead in catering to everyday spending, generously rewarding dining, groceries, and entertainment expenses, making it the go-to choice for hassle-free rewards on your routine expenditures.

This comprehensive guide dissects the Gold Rewards and Cobalt cards across key categories, covering welcome bonuses, annual fees, FX fees, eligibility, additional cardholders, earning rates, redemption values, travel benefits, and insurance coverage. Whether you’re a frequent traveller who enjoys dining out or a family focused on groceries and streaming subscriptions, one of these cards is likely an excellent fit for your lifestyle.

Amex Cobalt Vs. Gold Overview

The Amex Cobalt and Gold, are some of the best American Express Cards in Canada. However, they offer different benefits. The Amex Gold offers more benefits for frequent travellers, whereas the Cobalt provides a high potential to earn points on everyday spending. 

The Gold Rewards Card is optimal for frequent travellers who can fully leverage its lounge access, airline fee credits, and other travel-related benefits. Nevertheless, it does come with a relatively higher annual fee. On the flip side, the Cobalt Card is tailor-made for individuals whose spending habits revolve around groceries, dining, and streaming services, as it excels in accumulating bonus points within these categories. Moreover, it maintains a more budget-friendly fee structure split into monthly payments. Here is an overview of the two cards:

CategoriesAmex Gold CardAmex Cobalt Card
Welcome BonusUp to 60,000 points ($600 value)Up to 30,000 points ($300 value)
Credit Score Requirement700+700+
Points Earning Rates1x to 2x1x to 5x
Fee$250 Annually$12.99 Monthly
Insurance Coverage9 types, including trip cancellation/interruption7 types, lower coverage amounts
Travel BenefitsMore benefits like 4 free lounge access passes, a $100 travel credit, Hertz Gold Plus membership, a free Nexus application, and hotel benefits.Some hotel benefits
Foreign Transaction Fee2.5%2.5%
Additional Cards$50 per card$0 per card

Welcome Bonuses

The welcome bonus is often the first thing many consider when comparing credit cards in Canada. This is the amount of points or cash back you can earn by meeting certain spending requirements within a specified time frame. The Gold Rewards and Cobalt Card offer lucrative welcome deals for new cardholders. Notably, the Gold card offers a better welcome bonus. However, you’ll need to spend more to benefit. For those with modest spending habits, the Cobalt card presents a better choice. 

Amex Gold Welcome Bonus

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New card members can earn up to 60,000 Membership Rewards points with the Amex Gold card. This translates to a maximum value of $600 when redeemed for travel. Although the Gold card presents a higher welcome bonus, you’ll need to spend more to receive it. 

The core welcome bonus provides 5,000 points every month you spend at least $1,000. Given the ceiling of 60,000 points, you’ll have the first year to receive the total bonus. The Gold is better if you can comfortably hit spending requirements. Furthermore, you can only qualify for the welcome bonus if you’re not an existing Gold cardholder or have previously received the bonus. 

Amex Cobalt Card Welcome Bonus

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The Cobalt card offers a lower but more attainable welcome bonus. The 30,000 points bonus provides up to $300 in value. During the first 12 months, you’ll receive 2,500 points for every month you exceed $500 in spending. Although the overall payout is lower, it’s more achievable for consumers with decreased budgets. 


To be eligible for the American Express Gold Rewards Card or Cobalt Card, you must be a Canadian resident with a Canadian credit file. You must also be of legal adult age in your province or territory to apply. Although neither card states a minimum personal income requirement, you’ll need a good credit score for approval.

Credit scores are important in the approval process for credit cards like the Amex Gold and Cobalt. You’ll want to aim for a score of 700 or higher for the Amex Gold Rewards and Cobalt Card. Card approval rates generally favour applicants in the Good to Very Good range of credit scores, while those with Fair or lower scores may face potential declines. A higher score directly correlates with improved approval odds. You can use a tool like Credit Keeper if you are uncertain of your score.

If you get declined for the Amex Gold or Cobalt Card due to credit score reasons, it’s best to wait at least six months before reapplying. Frequently applying to credit cards can negatively impact your score. In the meantime, you can improve your credit score by paying bills on time and lowering your credit balances.

Earning Points

One significant factor to consider when comparing the Amex Gold and Cobalt cards is their points earning rates. Both cards allow you to accumulate points for every dollar spent, but the Amex Cobalt Card takes the lead in this aspect. It offers an impressive 2x – 5x points on categories aligning with common household spending, including dining, groceries, and streaming services.

In contrast, the Amex Gold Card earns up to 2x points per dollar spent. However, it doesn’t quite match the industry-leading rates offered by some premium cards, particularly in the travel category. Additionally, the 2x earn rate for groceries and gas on the Gold Card is on par with several no-fee cards in the market.

Overall, the Amex Cobalt Card stands out for its accelerated earning potential. It is an excellent choice for those who frequently make everyday purchases in categories with high bonus rates. Meanwhile, the Amex Gold Card offers up to 2x points on everyday spending. However, it may not be the best option for individuals seeking top-tier rewards on travel expenses or looking for market-leading earning potential in other spending categories. Your choice between these cards should align with your spending habits and priorities.

CategoriesAmex Gold Rewards CardAmex Cobalt Card
Travel Purchases2x points2x points
Groceries2x points5x points
Gas Stations2x points1x points
Drug Stores2x points1x points
Dining1x points5x points
Streaming Services1x points3x points
Transit1x points2x points
All Other Purchases1x points1x points
Amex Travel Bookings+1 point+1 point

Redeeming Points

Once you’ve earned a good stash of Amex Membership Rewards points with the Gold or Cobalt cards, you’ll want to get maximum value when redeeming them. The redemption options are very similar between the two cards. Both cards allow users to extract strong value from Membership Rewards points through transfers, travel, and more. Note that different redemption categories offer different point valuations. For example, travel-related redemptions generally maximize your points.

Fee Structures

The Cobalt and Gold Rewards cards have different fee structures. Cobalt cardholders pay a monthly fee, whereas you’ll pay a lump-sum annual fee for the Gold. Although the Amex Cobalt offers a more affordable fee structure, the Gold has a trick up its sleeve. 

Gold Card $250 Annual Fee

The Gold Rewards Card charges a $250 annual fee. This fee is automatically charged each year on your account renewal date. The fee is higher than many other rewards cards. It also comes with an annual travel credit of $100 that can be used for any type of travel booked through American Express. This effectively reduces the annual fee to $150 if you use the credit annually.

Cobalt Card $12.99 Monthly Fee

The Cobalt Card has a $155.88 annual fee, which is charged monthly at $12.99. This fee is lower than the annual Gold Rewards Card by almost $100. Being charged monthly makes it easier to budget for your card payments. This also gives you more flexibility to cancel your card at any time.

Insurance Coverage

Insurance coverage is another factor when comparing the Amex Gold and Cobalt cards. This refers to the level of protection your card provides. It can offer security in case of unforeseen events or emergencies.

The Amex Gold Rewards Card has nine types of insurance coverage. In comparison, the Amex Cobalt Card offers seven types of insurance. The primary difference is that the Amex Gold card offers trip cancellation and interruption insurance, whereas the Cobalt does not. The Amex Gold also outpaces the Cobalt in areas such as travel accident insurance, offering double the coverage. In all other categories, they have similar offerings.

Insurance CoverageAmex Gold Rewards CardAmex Cobalt Card
Travel emergency medical insuranceCovers up to $5 million for 15 days under 65 years of ageCovers up to $5 million for 15 days under 65 years of age
Trip cancellation insuranceCovers up to $1,500 per person, $3,000 per tripN/A
Trip interruption insuranceCovers up to $1,500 per person, $6,000 per tripN/A
Flight delay insuranceCovers up to $500Covers up to $500
Baggage delay insuranceCovers up to $500Covers up to $500
Hotel burglary insuranceCovers up to $500Covers up to $500
Lost/stolen baggage insuranceCovers up to $500Covers up to $500
Travel accident insuranceCovers up to $500,000Covers up to $250,000
Car rental insuranceCovers up to $85,000 for up to 48 daysCovers up to $85,000 for up to 48 days

Travel and Benefits

The travel benefits are another aspect to compare between the Amex Gold and Cobalt cards. This is the number of perks and features you can enjoy when travelling with your card. The Amex Gold Rewards Card has more travel benefits than the Amex Cobalt Card. This is especially noticeable if you travel internationally and frequently. However, the Cobalt card still offers some hotel benefits that can enhance your stay at participating properties.

Amex Gold Rewards CardAmex Cobalt Card
$100 Annual Travel CreditYesNo
Airport Lounge AccessYesNo
Hotel Collection Discounts + $100 CreditYesYes
Hertz Gold Plus Rewards StatusYesNo
$50 Nexus Application CreditYesNo

$100 annual travel credit

The American Express Gold Rewards Card offers cardholders a valuable perk. It comes in the form of a $100 CAD Annual Travel Credit. You can use this credit once per year through American Express Travel Online. It applies to any travel booking totalling $100 or more when charged to the Gold Rewards Card. Unfortunately, this benefit is unavailable to those with the Amex Cobalt Card.

Airport lounge access

The American Express Gold Rewards Card provides access to airport lounges through Priority Pass and Plaza Premium programs. With Priority Pass, you can enroll to access their network of airport lounges worldwide, though each visit has a usage fee billed to your card.

Notably, the Gold Rewards Card does not provide access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection, which includes Centurion Lounges. This feature is exclusive to the American Express Platinum Card. However, the Gold card provides four complimentary visits per year to Plaza Premium lounges in Canada, with fees applying after that. In contrast, the Cobalt Card excludes airport lounge access benefits.

Hotel discounts + $100 credit

Both cards provide access to The Hotel Collection from American Express Travel. This feature offers discounted rates and on-property credits for card members at participating upscale hotels. You’ll also receive a credit of $1 for every $1 spent on the hotel room, up to $100 USD, to use towards dining, spa or other hotel amenities. You can also receive a one-category room upgrade if available upon check-in. Both the Cobalt and Gold Rewards cards include these features.

Hertz Gold Plus Rewards

Hertz Gold Plus Rewards offers members the coveted 5-star status within Hertz President’s Circle, granting them the privilege of bypassing rental counters and selecting cars from the executive collection. Additionally, members can enjoy complimentary upgrades at specific locations. While the American Express Gold Rewards Card is eligible for this program, the Amex Cobalt Card does not qualify.

$50 Nexus application credit

American Express Gold Rewards Cardmembers can use a $50 CAD statement credit every four years. They can claim this credit when they charge the application or renewal fee for the NEXUS program to their Gold Card. This benefit is exclusive to Gold Rewards Cardholders and unavailable for Amex Cobalt Cardholders. It’s important to note that only one statement credit is allowed per account during a four-year period. This applies regardless of whether the NEXUS fee is charged on the primary or supplementary card.

Foreign Transaction Fees

Neither card has an upper hand when it comes to foreign transaction fees. The Amex Gold and Cobalt levy a 2.5% fee on international purchases. Moreover, it’s worth noting that American Express cards are generally less accepted abroad. While they have a global presence, American Express cards are not as universally recognized by merchants in certain regions, particularly in more remote areas. Although these cards offer enticing rewards and benefits, having a backup payment method when travelling abroad is advisable to ensure you’re not caught off guard by limited acceptance.

Additional Cards

The Amex Gold Rewards Card and Amex Cobalt Card offer the option to add supplementary cards, allowing cardholders to share benefits and rewards with family members. However, supplementary cards for the Amex Cobalt Card come at no additional cost, whereas the Amex Gold imposes a $50 fee per supplementary card per year. This makes the Cobalt Card more budget-friendly for those looking to extend perks to others than the pricier Gold Card.

Both cards allow primary cardholders to set spending limits and monitor usage on supplementary cards. Supplementary cardholders’ points are added to the primary cardholder’s rewards balance. An interesting difference is that the Amex Gold Card is made of metal, while the Cobalt Card is plastic – potentially explaining the Gold’s higher fee for extra users.

Which Card is Best for You?

In closing, both the Amex Gold Rewards Card and the Amex Cobalt Card offer stellar rewards potential and valuable benefits for cardholders seeking premium travel and shopping perks. The Gold Card shines for frequent travellers who can maximize airline credits, airport lounge access, and hotel discounts. Meanwhile, the Cobalt Card caters to everyday spenders focused on groceries, dining, and entertainment.

Ultimately, assessing your spending categories, travel habits, and financial goals will determine which card serves you best long-term. The Amex Gold Rewards Card makes sense if you frequently fly, and stay at hotels and can justify the higher $250 annual fee. But for budget-focused households maximizing bonus categories like groceries and streaming, the Amex Cobalt Card’s lower monthly fee and accelerated earning rates are likely the smarter choice.

Lucas, a Toronto native, holds an Honours Bachelor of Business Administration degree obtained from Wilfrid Laurier University. With a diverse professional background encompassing both startup ventures and established financial institutions, Lucas has cultivated a wealth of experience in his field. Additionally, his passion for exploring the world has taken him to an impressive 28 countries across Europe, North America, Asia, and Central America. Lucas's journey began as a content writer, where he delved into the intricate world of crypto/blockchain technologies, crafting insightful pieces to educate and inform readers. Building upon this foundation, he transitioned into the realm of consumer finance content writing.