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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here: Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
American Express is giving Canadians a new credit card option — and it’s pretty appealing. The issuer released its new American Express Cobalt Card, which, unlike its American consumer card counterparts, focuses on monthly earning and perks rather than those that are annual.
The card comes with a bonus of 40,000 points, but you won’t get all those points at once. You’ll earn 2,500 points for each monthly billing period in which you spend $500 in purchases — up to 30,000 per year. In addition, you’ll earn 10,000 points when you apply by January 1, 2018, and spend $3,000 within your first three months of becoming a cardholder.
As for earning on everyday spend, you’ll get 5x points on purchases at eligible bars, restaurants, grocery stores and food delivery in Canada, 2x points on eligible transit and gas purchases in Canada and other eligible travel purchases, as well as 1x points on everything else. The Cobalt Card comes with a monthly fee of $10, or a total of $120 annually.
Points that you earn can be redeemed through the Amex Fixed Points Travel Program as opposed to offering cardholders transfer partners for your points directly to airlines. You can find the program’s full award chart — both business and economy — here, but as an example, you can fly on a short-haul route from Toronto to New York in economy for 15,000 points round-trip, as long as the maximum base ticket price is less than $300.
You can, however, transfer points to hotels, such as SPG. The points transfer to SPG at a 2:1 ratio, effectively making the 5x food category worth 2.5x when transferred to the program. This is a better rate then you’d earn on the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, which only earns 1x Starpoints on dining purchases. You could use your points as statement credits toward travel purchases charged to your card or for purchases made on ticketmaster.ca.
Ultimately, this is a really nice offer from Amex for its Canadian customers — and an unusual one, given its monthly focus. In order to be eligible to get the card, you must be a Canadian resident and have a Canadian credit file, so unfortunately, US residents are not eligible to take advantage of the card’s generous earning structure, perks and sign-up bonus.