Amex Platinum vs. Amex Cobalt: Comparison & Review

May 14, 2020
Blog
Amex Cobalt vs. Platinum" class="img-responsive wp-image-731235 wp-post-image" alt="Amex Cobalt vs. Platinum" />
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Updated March 4, 2020

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

If you fly internationally 3+ times per year, the Platinum Card’s airport lounge access and $200 annual travel credit will take your travels to new heights. If you don’t, though, we believe the Cobalt Card is the better choice for you. With its 30,000 points welcome bonus, best-in-class earn rates, and extremely low monthly fee, the Cobalt Card rewards you around every turn.

The usual question we ask ourselves when we select a credit card is ‘What’s the catch?’. As much as any credit card’s benefits are highlighted, it basically boils down to  ‘How much do I need to pay?’ and ‘What are the hidden charges?’ 

To generally summarize the difference between both these cards: The Amex Platinum caters to avid travellers whereas the Amex Cobalt Card to millennials for their daily spending. That doesn’t mean that if you don’t fall in either demographies, the cards are not meant for you. There is a lot more to both these cards than just travel benefits. 

This review will breakdown the differences between both the Amex Platinum and Amex Cobalt cards to determine which card is better suited for your lifestyle. 

The Benefits: Amex Platinum vs. Amex Cobalt

Benefits American Express Platinum Card American Express Cobalt Card
Fee $699 annually $10 monthly
($120 annually)
Points Type Membership Rewards (MR) points Membership Rewards Select points
Welcome Bonus 25,000 MR points
by spending $2,000 within the first 3 months
2,500 MR Select points monthly  (30,000 MR Select points annually)
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
unlimited
5x 
limited to the first $30,000 spent annually
Travel Bonus (per $1 spent) 2x 2x 
incl. local commute
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

Are they worth the annual fee? 

The great thing about the Cobalt Card is its affordability: with just a $10 monthly fee, there’s no large annual fee to be afraid of, and you can cancel the card at any time.

And what about the Platinum Card?

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.

Now let’s dive into the benefits. 

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 offers a 25,000 MR points welcome bonus provided you spend $2,000 within the first three months of use.

Here’s how much you’ll get if you redeem these points for a statement credit:

Platinum Card Points Value
Welcome Bonus   25,000 $500 – $750
Travel Credit
$200
TOTAL
$700 – $950

At 2-3 cents per point, 25,000 points = $500 – $750. With the travel credit of $200 for 2020, this brings the total to $700 – $950. You are already at a serious surplus! And this is just utilizing two benefits of the Platinum Card. We are just at the tip of the iceberg considering the other perks the Platinum Card has to offer.

One of the major perks of the Cobalt Card is that you only have to pay $10 per month, rather than a lump sum annual fee upfront. The welcome bonus of 2,500 MR select points is earned on a monthly basis.

Let’s assume you use this card the whole year (12 months) which gives a total welcome bonus of 30,000 MR points.

AMEX COBALT Points
Value
Welcome Bonus   30,000 1 cent per point for eligible travel purchases
*0.7 cent per point for other purchases
$300
Hotel Credit

$100
TOTAL

$400

The Amex Cobalt has an excellent benefit of hotel credit up to $100 dollars 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?

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 Amex Platinum 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 25,000 MR points to British Airways Avios or Aeroplan miles. You are now at 32,500 Avios points if you transfer your 25,000 MR points welcome bonus.

BENEFITS AMEX PLATINUM AMEX COBALT
Statement Credit 1,000 points per $10 (any purchases) 1,000 points = $10 (travel) 1,000 points = $7 (any other purchases)
Point Transfer to Other Airlines
Yes Not applicable for Cobalt as it’s under the MR Select point system.
Point Transfer to Other Hotel ProgramsYesYes
Using the statement credit system shown above, you can use these points for the redemptions below:
Fixed Points Travel Program Applicable for MR points Applicable for MR Select points
Travel via Amex Travel Online Applicable for MR points Applicable for MR Select points
Purchases on amazon.ca Applicable for MR points Applicable for MR Select points
Purchases on ticketmaster.ca Applicable for MR points Applicable for MR Select points

Even though the Amex Cobalt’s MR Select points are not directly transferable to other airlines unlike Amex Platinum MR points, 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 tp $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 tp $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 /MR select points.


AMEX PLATINUM AMEX COBALT
Dining
3x unlimited 5x limited to first $30,000 spent annually
Travel 2x  (+1x for selected hotel/car rental bookings) 2x
Other Card Purchases 1x 1x
Refer Your Friend 15,000 points 5,000 points
limited to 75,00 points annually

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! 

How else can I get MR select points?

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 FOC, 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

In Summary

If you fly internationally frequently, the airport lounge access and $200 annual travel credit that comes with the Platinum Card is a big deal. Its travel insurance and hotel elite statuses will ensure you’re safe and comfortable on the road, too, so even with its $699 annual fee the Platinum Card might be the right choice.

But if you’re looking for a card that offers top-notch value with a more modest fee, the Cobalt Card is definitely the better fit for you. With its impressive welcome bonus, exceptional earn rates, and just a $10 monthly fee, we’ve chosen the Cobalt Card as Canada’s best credit card of 2020—and we’re quite certain you’ll agree.

Get your Cobalt Card while the current offer lasts.