A few short years after American Express launched the best overall credit card in Canada, the American Express Cobalt Card, they instituted a $30,000 annual cap on its 5x points earning. This cap was put into place to curb excessive gaming of the points earning on the card. Now, in an effort to further keep gaming in check they are moving from the $30,000 annual cap to a $2,500 per month spending cap for the 5x points eats and drinks accelerated earn rates.
The new $2,500 per month cap
This change in the cap will take place as of August 15, 2023 and in effect does not change the amount of points you can earn annually. The $2,500 per month cap still works out to $30,000 annually meaning you can earn up to 150,000 points per year from the 5x points category alone.
For most Canadians this move to $2,500 per month should not affect them and Amex has told us that it will not affect the majority of Cobalt cardholders. With the average Canadian spending between $1,200 and $1,600 month on groceries per month that does fall below the $2,500 per month limit and leaves room for restaurants, coffee shops etc.
Still for some, who do organically spend more than that per month this is an unfortunate change to the card. Personally in the Rewards Canada family we do sometimes spend more than that per month, and that is organic spend, we don’t go out buying prepaid Visa or Mastercards at grocery stores (which I feel this is who is being targeted with this latest move). Luckily, however we do run with two Cobalt accounts and have done so since 2017 when the card was launched. So when we hit $2,500 in spending on my wife’s account we’ll just move over to my Cobalt Card.
The people I do feel for are those salespeople who take a lot of clients out for lunch or dinner and use their Cobalt Card for it. Those meals can add up fast and you may eat up (pardon the pun) your $2,500 monthly cap quite quickly!
How does this compare to other cards?
When it comes to spending caps, there are some cards that are monthly and others that are annual like the Cobalt Card used to be. The two most notable cards with monthly spending caps are the BMO CashBack World Elite Mastercard and the National Bank of Canada World Elite Mastercard. The BMO card offers 5% cash back on groceries (the equivalent of the Cobalt’s cashback option) and has that capped at $500 per month. The NBC card also has a $2,500 monthly cap however that cap is on monthly gross spending so its 5 points per dollar on groceries and dining is affected by all other spend on the card. I’m glad Amex didn’t go the route of NBC with this latest adjustment to the spending cap.
I recommend reading our Loyalty Lesson: Credit Card Spending Caps Explained as we provide a lot more detail in that feature. Or you can watch our video on this topic here:
What about the other multipliers?
The other multipliers of 3x points on streaming services and 2x points on gas, transit, travel are not affected and remain with no spending caps in place.
Wrapping it up
For the majority of Cobalt cardholders this adjustment to how the 5x points spending cap is applied will be a non-issue. However, for some it will definitely affect them. There are those of you (including ourselves sometimes) who do spend more than $2,500 per month on the card (and do so organically) who will need to take this into account. There are high spenders for dining (whether you’re someone taking clients out or you are someone who enjoys high priced fine dining) who this will affect and it can even affect those traveling who are using their card for dining since the 5x points works outside of Canada (see our Confirmed Cobalt Multipliers list here) and putting three restaurant meals a day on the card for a family of four or more quickly adds up!
In the end though this change does not affect the card overall and we here at Rewards Canada still consider the number one card in Canada.
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