With this week’s multiple news events from American Express we got to say that the issuer is attacking the Canadian credit card market from all angles again. If any card company has it in them to make cards more rewarding it’s American Express and they showed it by flexing their muscles this week. While the two pieces of news cover a wide gamut of American Express cards that makes all of them better, they really make Canada’s Top Travel Rewards Credit Card stand out even more. That card is the American Express Cobalt™ Card – it has already been the best travel card since 2017 and it just got even better this week. The first piece of news was American Express enhancing their Use Points for Purchases redemption rate (essentially cash back) making this card one of if not the best cash back cards in Canada and then revealing their next limited time conversion bonus to their hotel partners.
Use Points for Purchases (Cash Back)
We start off with the first piece of permanent news – American Express revealed that all Use Points for Purchases will now be 1,000 for $10. Prior to the announcement on May 31 that rate was exclusive to travel purchases while all other purchases were 1,000 points for $7. Now that all other purchases have been bumped up to the rate of 1,000 points for $10 you are effectively getting 1 cent per point if you redeem for any purchase. Couple this with the Cobalt Card’s 5x points earning on eats and drinks and you now have a card that awards 5% cash back. This matches the earn rate that was just introduced last month on BMO’s CashBack World Elite Mastercard which offers 5% back on groceries on the first $500 spent in that category during each statement period.The big difference is Cobalt isn’t just groceries, its coffee shops, bars, food delivery and more. On top of that, Cobalt caps the 5 points per dollar at $30,000 spend annually where as the BMO card is $6,000 annually or less if you don’t hit that $500 per month with that card. So now the Cobalt Card destroys the BMO card in the 5% cash back category and virtually all other travel or cash back cards in the market with this sort of category bonus.
30% transfer bonus to hotels
The other news is strictly a limited time offer – but it is one we do typically see once per year but this year American Express made it even more attractive. That offer is a 30% bonus when you convert American Express Membership Rewards points during the month of June to their hotel partners which are Hilton and Marriott. The last time we saw the offer it was 25%. The Hilton transfer isn’t great unless you utilize that program intensively however the Marriott transfer is a key factor of the Cobalt Card’s overall strength. This 30% bonus means the regular conversion rate of 1 Membership Rewards point to 1.2 Marriott Bonvoy points is now 1 to 1.56. Taking the Cobalt Card’s 5x points earn rate means you can would receive 7.8 Marriott Bonvoy points per dollar spent. We have written many pieces on how you can receive outsized value from the Marriott Bonvoy program combined with the Cobalt card – in fact it was only a few months ago we posted the article Yes, you can achieve a return of 20% or higher on your credit card spending which showed how the Cobalt Card combined with Marriott Bonvoy could provide a 20.4% return. That 20.4% return wasn’t including any transfer bonuses like this! So if we take that article’s 3.4 cents (C$) per point return and multiply it by this new transfer bonus amount of 7.8 points per dollar spent you now have a 26.52% return. Simply an unheard of return from any and I mean any other travel rewards or cash back credit card in Canada. Even if you take our minimum valuation of 1 cent per point for Marriott Bonvoy points it means you have up to a 7.8% return with this promotion. You could still get the card right now and have some points by June 30 to convert! It may not be a lot but it would be something. Also don’t forget that American Express has their Fixed Points for Travel
redemption option as well which provides up to a 10% return on flights
with the Cobalt Card. Again, Cobalt is destroying the competition in the travel rewards category
More on the Cobalt Card and Membership Rewards:
- American Express Cobalt Card Resources on Rewards Canada
- American Express Cobalt™ Card Confirmed Multiplier Locations
- Why the American Express Cobalt Card is the best card to get for your future travel plans
- A closer look at the Membership Rewards Fixed Points Travel program
Wrapping it up
There have been reasons why the Rewards Canada family runs two Cobalt Card accounts and this week’s news further solidifies those reasons. One of our Cobalt accounts has well over 600,000 points in it which would covert to over 850,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. You can bet we’ll be converting some of those points this month, just have to determine how many, it may be all of them to be honest with you as we have flights covered with other cards and programs! The other Cobalt account doesn’t have a huge amount of points, although they are all 5x points earned so those will most likely be used towards any purchase for that 5% return. There are just so many options, possibilities and value with this card that everyone in Canada should have it in their wallet. With this card you don’t limit yourself to one type of reward like cash back or travel – you get both without losing base value and you get to decide how best to reward yourself.
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