Lora Pope is an adventure travel blogger based out of Toronto, Canada. Raised on a rock in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, she has a deep love for nature and wildlife. Lora has traveled to over 50 countries and is working toward her goal of visiting every country in the world. On her blog, she shares her global adventures to inspire and help others travel adventurously.
In this post, Lora shares why she’s such a fan of the American Express Cobalt Card – and why it might be a good fit for you, too.
Over the last few years, I’ve saved thousands on travel by earning and using points from credit card spending. And when it comes to earning points and miles from credit cards, American Express offers some of the best value cards that Canadians can get.
When American Express released the Cobalt Card, I was excited to see how I could integrate it into my life and earn more points for travel. Considering the majority of my spending goes towards travel and food, it was clear that I would get amazing value out of the Cobalt Card. And I do!
How I Use My Cobalt Card
Food & Drinks
As someone who loves to eat, both at home and out, the Cobalt Card’s attractive earn rate on eats and drinks is a big deal for me: it gives me back 5 MR points per dollar spent on groceries and dining. Groceries are one of my biggest expenses while I’m home, so this is an easy way to rack up points. The points also apply to food delivery services like Uber and Foodora, and sometimes, after a busy day, I just don’t have the energy to cook, so it’s nice knowing I still earn points when I order in.
What’s even better is that the 5x points per dollar also applies to restaurants and bars in Canada. Toronto’s food scene is amazing, so the Cobalt Card is the perfect fit for when I go out with friends.
The 5x earn rate also applies to bars, which is another easy way for me to spend money. The craft beer scene across Canada has been booming in the last few years, especially in Toronto. And hey, at least I’m earning points while I’m drinking!
Tickets & Entertainment
As a bonus, Cobalt Cardholders get access to Front Of The Line ticket presales and exclusive reservations to some concerts, theatre productions, restaurants, and special events. This is a nice bonus of the Cobalt Card, and it’s helped me get presale tickets to concerts that often sell out quickly in Toronto.
The other earn rate worth mentioning on the Cobalt Card is the 2x points per dollar spent on gas, public transit, and travel purchases. I don’t own a vehicle, so I rarely spend money on gas unless I’m renting a car to escape the city. But the public transit category covers subways, streetcars, taxis, limousines, and ride-sharing services, which fits perfectly into my life in Toronto. If I’m not biking around the city, I’m taking the subway, train, or an Uber to get where I’m going.
Travel services and travel bookings include air, water, rail, and road transport, lodging and tour operator sales. Considering the majority of my income goes towards travel bookings, this card offers fantastic value. I use my Cobalt Card to book flights, trains, car rentals, and hotels wherever I’m traveling next, including a recent train ride across Canada.
As a bonus, I can get hotel credit if I use my Cobalt Card to book a minimum of two consecutive nights at certain hotels (there are 600+ participating hotels worldwide). The $100 USD hotel credit can be used on qualifying hotel amenities charged to the room, such as dining, spa, golf or other hotel facilities. This is a really nice bonus feature on the Cobalt Card, since I’d be using it to book these hotels anyway.
The Cobalt Card also comes with travel insurance for travel booked on the card. This includes insurance for emergency medical issues, lost, stolen, or damaged bags, baggage delays, car rental loss or damage, and hotel burglary. Having this insurance gives me peace of mind knowing that I’m covered should something happen.
For all other purchases, the Cobalt Card offers one point per $1 spent, which still adds up throughout the year.
Welcome Bonus Points
One of the most attractive features of the Cobalt Card is earning 2,500 bonus points for each month that you spend $500 for the entire first year. When you add up transit, food, drinking, and travel, it’s very easy to hit that mark each month. By the end of the year, the bonus points can add up to an extra 30,000 MR points, plus all of the regular points you earned on that spending.
Cobalt Cardholders also receive some nice special offers via e-mail. For example, last month I got an offer for 5x MR points per dollar spent on all purchases made on Amazon during Black Friday. Considering I was going to buy some gifts that day anyway, it was a nice incentive to use the card and earn more points.
Redeeming Your Points
Points earned on the Cobalt Card are slightly different than regular American Express MR points. Unlike the regular points, you cannot transfer them to other airline rewards programs.
However, there are still many ways to redeem them for travel, which is what I use all of my points for. You can redeem your points against travel purchases on the card, for flights via Amex Fixed Points Travel, or transfer the points to the Marriott Bonvoy hotel program.
The first option is to redeem your MR points against any travel purchases on the card. The redemption rate is 1 cent per point, which means that with the 30,000 bonus points, I could get $300 off any travel purchases made on the card. I don’t think this is the best use of the cards points, so I generally use one of the other options.
Fixed Points Travel Another way to redeem your points is through Amex Fixed Points Travel. This allows you to exchange your points for roundtrip flights departing from Canada at a value of 1.5-2 cents per point. Looking at the flight redemption chart, I could redeem my 30,000 bonus points for two roundtrip short-haul flights within Canada or the US. This is a perfect use of the cards’ bonus points. With just 15,000 points, I can take off to New York for a weekend.
Another attractive way to use your MR points is to transfer them to the Marriott Bonvoy program at a 1:1.2 ratio. This means that with the current annual signup bonus of 30,000 MR points, I could get 36,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. These points can then be redeemed for free hotel nights at Marriott Bonvoy properties all over the world. To give you an idea of the value of the points, 36,000 is the equivalent to four free nights at a Category 1 hotel, two free nights at a Category 3 hotel, or one free night at a Category 5 hotel. Which category you choose is totally up to you!
Editor’s Note: Here’s our post that shows you how to get serious value for your Marriott Bonvoy points.
Looking at the Cobalt Card’s rewards and incentives, it’s not hard to see that this card is geared at millennials.
But hey, I am one.
I’ll be the first to admit that the majority of my disposable income goes towards food and travel.
And the Cobalt Card compliments that lifestyle perfectly.
For more from Lora, follow her on Instagram.