AMERICAN EXPRESS COBALT CREDIT CARD REVIEW [UPDATED 2019]
With a low introductory interest rate and plenty of ways to earn points, the American Express Cobalt is one of the best merchandise rewards credit cards on the market today.
The American Express Cobalt credit card is distinguished by the diversity of ways in which you can earn bonus reward points and the flexibility you have to redeem the points you’ve earned for rewards ranging from restaurants and retail shopping outlets to movie theatres and travel.
American Express seems to go out of its way with this credit card to pile on the ways in which cardholders can earn reward points. However, the rewards come with strings attached in terms of an annual fee and hefty interest rates charged after a six-month introductory period ends.
- Ability to earn up to 30,000 bonus reward points in the first year
- Lower introductory interest rate of 7.99% for six months
- Reward points can be redeemed for travel, movies, restaurants, and merchandise
- An annual fee of $120
- Interest rate on purchases jumps to 19.99% after the first six months
- Need to spend at least $500 a month, every month for a year to get the sign-up bonus
The rewards accumulation starts with the ability to earn up to 30,000 bonus points during the first year you are a Cobalt cardmember.
American Express says that you can earn 2,500 rewards points each month if you spend $500 in purchases on your card that month. This could add up to 30,000 points in a year. That’s a lot of rewards points.
But keep in mind that you’ll have to spend at least $6,000 with this credit card to get them. That’s a decent amount of money and it will have interest applied to it right away. The good news is that American Express offers a low introductory interest rate of 7.99% on purchases charged to the Cobalt credit card for the first six months. So you will have half a year of lower than normal interest charges.
But many comparable credit cards offer 0% interest for 12 to 18 months. Eight percent interest for six months isn’t that much of a bargain.
In addition to the sign-up bonus, you can also earn five rewards points for every $1 spent with the Cobalt card on purchases at eligible restaurants, bars, cafés, and food delivery services in Canada.
Plus, you can earn two points for every $1 spent with the credit card on select transit, travel, and gas purchases made within Canada. Cardholders earn one rewards point for every dollar spent on all other purchases. These incentives mean that it won’t take long for rewards points to begin piling up in your account. The ability to earn a lot of rewards points quickly is truly the main feature of the Cobalt credit card.
ANNUAL AND TRANSACTION FEES
In terms of an annual fee, American Express says cardholders pay $10 a month to own and use the Cobalt credit card. That translates into $120 a year and is a higher annual fee than many similar rewards-based credit cards – many of which have no annual fee ever.
If you’re someone who balks at paying any type of annual fee, then this may not be the credit card for you.
The good news is that there are no transaction fees charged on foreign purchases made with the Cobalt card.
As mentioned, the Cobalt card does come with an introductory interest rate of 7.99% for six months – which is ok but not nearly as great as 0% interest for a year or longer.
After the first six months, the annual percentage rate (APR) on this credit card is 19.99%, which is about the industry average for Canadian-issued credit cards. You’ll pay higher APR of 22.99% on cash advances taken out against the Cobalt card.
Miss a payment on this credit card though and the interest rates charged jump to 23.99% on purchases and 26.99% on cash advances. Given these higher potential rates, you’ll want to keep your Cobalt account in good standing with American Express.
As with most credit cards issued in Canada, the Cobalt from American Express does come with some approval requirements attached to it, including:
- You’re a Canadian resident and have a Canadian credit file
- You’re at least 18 years old
- You don’t already have a Cobalt credit card
- You will not qualify for the 30,000 bonus rewards points by taking out a second Cobalt card from American Express
If you don’t meet these basic requirements, there is no point in applying for the Cobalt credit card as American Express will reject your application.
The Cobalt credit card does come with some added bells and whistles that are available with most American Express cards.
- Special offers on sports and entertainment events
- Room upgrades at participating hotels
- Credits that can be used at hotel spas and restaurants
- Emergency medical insurance as well as insurance against lost or stolen baggage
- Emergency card replacement and fraud protection
WHO SHOULD NOT GET THIS CARD
If you dislike paying annual or monthly fees, want rock-bottom interest rates and don’t care much about earning rewards that can be used to purchase rock concert tickets and shop online, then the Cobalt credit card from American Express is not likely to appeal to you.
People who want a credit card for its utility only and want it to cost them as little as possible to own a credit card should look elsewhere.
ALTERNATIVE CARD: BMO PREFERRED RATE MASTERCARD
A comparable credit card is the BMO Preferred Rate Mastercard. It offers comparatively low fees and interest when stacked up against the Cobalt credit card from American Express.
With the Preferred Rate Mastercard, you’ll get a 3.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers for the first nine months, as well as pay an annual fee of only $20. And you’ll pay an interest rate of only 11.9% on both purchases and cash advances.
If you’re a price conscious cardholder, then the Preferred Rate Mastercard may be just the credit card you’re looking for. Though you won’t earn any rewards points with this credit card.
The Cobalt credit card from American Express Capital is a solid credit card for people who love stockpiling rewards points and want to be able to use them where and how they want.
But with an annual fee of $120 and an interest rate of 19.99%, this credit card is not for budget-minded people who always keep an eye on the bottom line. Other comparable credit cards offer no annual fee and lower interest rates.