Amex Platinum vs. Amex Cobalt: Comparison & Review (Oct 2022)

August 25, 2022
Blog
Amex Cobalt vs Amex Platinum Canada

The Platinum Card and Cobalt Card are two of Canada's favourite American Express credit cards. But the question is: which of them is right for you?

Here's the answer: if you're comfortable spending $699 for the Platinum Card, its 80,000 points welcome bonus, $200 annual travel credit and other perks will almost certainly save you $1,500 or more in your first year alone. But if the idea of paying $699 for a credit card just isn't something you can get behind, the Cobalt Card‘s best-in-class earn rates make it a great option, too.

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American Express' Platinum Card and Cobalt Card are its two most popular cards in Canada, the former for its exceptional welcome bonus and the latter for how its high rewards on everyday purchases. From a high level, the Platinum Card is ideal for semi-frequent or frequent travelers who travel internationally 1+ times per year, while the Cobalt Card is great for purchases at restaurants, the grocery store, and everywhere else you visit day-to-day.

Here's the summary of this post: if you can stomach the $699 annual fee, you should absolutely get the Platinum Card, both because it offers exceptional benefits and because its welcome bonus is worth $1,600 – $2,400. Since you found your way to this comparison, though, let's get into the nitty-gritty details to help you decide whether the Platinum Card or the Cobalt Card is right for your specific needs.

The Benefits: Amex Platinum vs. Amex Cobalt

Benefits American Express Platinum Card American Express Cobalt Card
Fee $699 annually $12.99 monthly
($155.88 annually)
Welcome Bonus 80,000 MR points
by spending $7,000 within the first 3 months
2,500 MR points monthly (up to 30,000 MR points) 
by spending at least $500 monthly with the Amex Cobalt Card
Travel Credit $200 annually  $100 hotel credit annually
Foreign Transaction Fees 2.5% for purchases and ATM usage 2.5% for purchases and ATM usage
Eat & Drink Bonus (per $1 spent) 3x
on eligible dining and takeout purchases (unlimited)
5x 
limited to the first $30,000 spent annually
Travel Bonus (per $1 spent) 2x 2x 
incl. local commuting expenses
Any Other Purchase Bonus (per $1 spent) 1x 1x
Airport Travel Lounge Access  (Priority Pass Prestige) Yes 
(for 1,200+ lounges globally)
No
Travel Insurance Yes
(incl. trip cancellation/interruption)
Yes 
(excl. trip cancellation/interruption)
Hotel Elite Statuses Yes 
for selected hotel chains
No
Shopping Protection Yes Yes
Front of the Line (advanced access/tickets to concerts) Yes Yes
Supplementary Card Up to 9 cards total; each $175 (Platinum) and $50 (Gold) annually Up to 9 cards total, free of charge

Massive Welcome Bonus and Membership Rewards Points

Membership Rewards (MR) points are the currency of American Express' loyalty program. You can redeem your MR points for flights via the Amex travel website, or transfer them out of the Amex system to other airlines or hotels. If you aren't traveling, you can also redeem your points for a credit against the balance of your card.

The Platinum Card currently offers an impressive 80,000 MR points welcome bonus. At 2-3 cents per point, 80,000 points = $1,600 – $2,400, and that's before adding on the $200 travel credit and the other benefits the Platinum Card has to offer.

One of the major perks of the Cobalt Card is that you only have to pay $12.99 per month, rather than a lump sum annual fee upfront. The welcome bonus of 2,500 MR points is earned on a monthly basis for a total of 30,000 MR points in the first year.

Amex Cobalt Points
Value
Welcome Bonus   30,000 1 cent per point for eligible travel purchases $300
Hotel Credit

$100
TOTAL

$400

The Amex Cobalt has an excellent benefit of hotel credit up to $100 annually that, along with the welcome bonus, gives you over 3x the profit from the 12-month fee paid. 

This is purely just utilizing the welcome bonus and travel/hotel credit given by Amex. What else can you redeem with these points?

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Benefits and Point Redemption with Amex Platinum & Amex Cobalt

Here is where we get to the really good stuff: redeeming your points. 

The travel benefits for the Platinum Card are rather impressive where you can further boost your point value. Once in a while, American Express offers a 30% transfer bonus when you transfer the 80,000 MR points to British Airways Avios or Aeroplan miles. You are now at 143,000 Avios points if you transfer your 80,000 MR points welcome bonus.

Even though the Amex Cobalt's MR points are not directly transferable to other airlines (unlike the MR points you earn on the Platinum Card and Amex's other business cards), you can still utilize the Fixed Points Travel system by American Express. The great thing about the system is the points are fixed regardless of the airline ticket fare to redeem at any given time of redemption. 

Click to learn more about buying flights with the Platinum Card and the Cobalt Card.

Insurance Coverage

The travel insurance coverage is extensive for both cards but it does have a slight advantage towards the Amex Platinum. However, it still is amazing for an Amex Cobalt Cardholder. 

POLICIES / BENEFITS Amex Platinum Amex Cobalt
Out of Province/Country Emergency Medical Insurance Up to $5,000,000 
for you, your spouse, any dependent children, any additional cardmember, for any number of trips with a maximum duration of 15 days.
Up to $5,000,000 
for you, your spouse, any dependent children, any additional cardmember, for any number of trips with a maximum duration of 15 days.
Travel Accident Insurance Up tp $500,000 
for you, your spouse and children in the case of accidental death or dismemberment while traveling
Up to $250,000
for you, your spouse and children in the case of accidental death or dismemberment while traveling
Flight Delay Insurance Baggage Delay Insurance (2 separate policies) Up to $500 coverage 
(aggregate maximum between both policies; Flight & Baggage Delay Insurance)
Up to $500 
(aggregate maximum between both policies; Flight & Baggage Delay Insurance)
Hotel/Motel Burglary Insurance Up to $500 
Up to $500 
Lost or Stolen Baggage Insurance Up to $500 Up to $500
Car Rental Theft and Damage Insurance Up to $85,000 of coverage without paying a single dime
Waive the vehicle rental company’s own insurance policy
Up to $85,000 of coverage without paying a single dime
Waive the vehicle rental company’s own insurance policy
Trip Cancellation Insurance15+ Up to $2,500 per insured person, per trip, up to a maximum of $5,000 for all insured persons combined.
No
Trip Interruption Insurance Up to $2,500 per insured person, per trip, up to a maximum of $6,000 for all insured persons combined. No
StandbyMDSM Travel Medical Concierge19 Provide 24/7 access to physician telephone consultations, arrangement of house call visits, and referral to medical facilities. No
Travel Emergency Assistance18 Access to out-of-town worldwide emergency medical assistance services and legal referrals by telephone, 24/7/365. No

Shopping Experience – Does my card protect me well?

This is a summary of the shopping protection provided by American Express for both cards. 


AMEX PLATINUM AMEX COBALT
Purchase Protection® Plan Up to $1,000 Up to $1,000
Buyer’s Assurance® Protection Plan†16 Up to $10,000 Doubles the manufacturer’s warranty for up to one extra year, on any purchase paid in full with your Amex Cobalt Card
Fraud Protection Guarantee24 You won't be held responsible for any fraudulent charges, as long as you've taken reasonable care to protect your account details and PIN. You won't be held responsible for any fraudulent charges, as long as you've taken reasonable care to protect your account details and PIN.
No Pre-Set Spending Limit on Purchases The Platinum Card® has no pre-set spending limit In accordance to the approved Cobalt credit limit given to you.

Earning Points with Amex Platinum & Amex Cobalt

The key to selecting a suitable card will be to assess how your lifestyle can easily earn these amazing MR points.


Amex Platinum Amex Cobalt
Dining
3x unlimited 5x limited to first $30,000 spent annually
Travel 2x  2x
Other Card Purchases 1x 1x
Refer A Friend 15,000 points 5,000 points

There isn't any limit when it comes to the Amex Platinum. All it takes is for you to get started with charging your expenses to your card to build your points. 

Amex Cobalt Exclusive Benefits

With the Cobalt card, it literally is a daily spending card. For food and drinks, you can earn 5x compared to Amex Platinum's 3x. Having said that, American Express is flexible with the definition of Food and Drinks:

“Restaurants, quick service restaurants, coffee shops and drinking establishments in Canada, stand-alone grocery stores in Canada, delivery of food and groceries in Canada…”

Even with travel, only the Cobalt Card allows 2x point earnings with travel purchases that include local commute, and gas stations in Canada. Again, American Express is flexible on the definition of local commute

“…subway, streetcar, taxi, limousine and ride sharing services…as long as it’s the merchant’s primary business”

Be it Uber, bus, train or any other public transportation – you can earn double the points per $1 spent! 

Get FREE Additional Cobalt Cards

To maximize your earning rates, you can apply for supplementary cards for your family up until 9 cards – free of charge. 

Usually supplementary cards cost around $50 per card. So with 9 cards free of charge, you save up to $450, and still earn the points combined with all 10 cards. 

Amex Platinum Exclusive Benefits 

#1 Worldwide Airport Lounge Access (Priority Pass)

If you have not experienced airport lounge during your flight travel experience, you are really missing out. I really was. We all can agree the waiting time between check ins and flight take offs generally made flight travel a snooze fest. Then, I had the chance to have access to the airport lounge when I was traveling from Singapore Changi Airport and flight travel would never be the same again. It truly changes the entire experience. Now I can’t imagine not having airport lounge access during my flight travels. 

Amex Platinum offers a Priority Pass Prestige membership which gives you access to 1,200 airport lounges globally free of charge. This membership has a value of $429/year. 

The main bar at one of the many beautiful lounges at London's Heathrow Airport (LHR)

So what's inside these lounges that makes them such a great experience? 

Usually, airport lounges have free Wi-Fi, serve free fine food (some full meals or finger food and assorted snacks), beverages (many include alcohol drinks). Some lounges have amenities like massage chairs, nap rooms, showers, libraries, game rooms, and printing facilities. If you are traveling with kids, some airport lounges provide safe playrooms for them to utilize before a flight. All that energy gets used only for them to get a good snooze on the flight making it a smooth journey for you.

An ultra-modern lounge at El Dorado International Airport in Bogota, Colombia (BOG)

If you're traveling from Toronto Pearson International Airport, you are eligible to utilize the Pearson Priority Security Lane (even during peak hours) with the Amex Platinum. You are eligible for a complimentary valet service as well! How sweet is that when you are in a hurry!

#2 Hotel Elite Statuses – immediate hotel status upgrade!

With Amex Platinum, you get to upgrade the paid hotel bookings/reservations status for free at selected chains. The benefits varies at different hotels – exclusive discounts, early check-in and late check-out, complimentary breakfasts and more. You dont have to meet the usual criterias to enjoy these benefits. Being a Amex Platinum cardholder is all that this requires! 

Amex Platinum benefits include: 

  • American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts program
  • Hilton Honors Gold Status
  • Shangri-La Golden Circle Jade membership
  • Marriott BonvoyTM Gold Elite status
  • Radisson RewardsTM Gold Status

Are the Amex Cobalt and Amex Platinum cards worth their annual fee? 

One of the great things about the Cobalt Card is its affordability: with just a $12.99 monthly fee, there are no lump sums to be afraid of, and you don't need to think about renewing your card each year. If you spend just $240 in food and drinks on this card each month, you'll have already paid off the monthly fee.

The Platinum Card's $699 annual fee is obviously much higher, but the value you get from it is higher, too. With a welcome bonus worth $1,600 – $2,400—plus all the other benefits that come along with it—there's no doubt in my mind that the Platinum Card offers excellent value for money.

You shouldn't be alarmed by the Platinum Card's $699 annual fee, because it comes with plenty of worthwhile rewards and benefits that outweigh the annual fee. Even in the worst-case scenario, you end up making money after a year of holding the Platinum Card. I’ll show you how below.

In Summary

Hopefully this post has helped you see the distinct differences between the American Express Cobalt Card and its premium counterpart, the Platinum Card. Both offer great value, but they come at very different price points, and cater to unique types of users.

If you're just looking for a card you can use day-to-day and earn great rewards on, the Cobalt Card should be enough for you. But if you want to really want to step up your travels and get a ton of value from your card, the Platinum Card is certainly a better fit.

Be sure to apply while these current offers last.

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