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If you’re looking for a premium travel card, American Express has some of the top contenders for you to consider.

They offer great extras such as Front of the Line and the Hotel Collection.

They also come with some of the most flexible rewards on the Canadian credit card market – American Express Membership Rewards.

And there are two Amex cards that stand out – the Cobalt and the Gold Rewards.

We’ll go over each card and help you decide which one might be best for you.

Related: Amex Cobalt Devaluation Coming: Does It Really Matter?

Summary of the Amex Cobalt And Amex Gold Rewards

American Express Cobalt Card American Express Gold Rewards
Who this card is best for General travellers Flyers
Most notable feature Accumulates the most points Transfer to 6 airline partners
Typical return on spending 3.76% 3.43%
Welcome bonus Up to 30,000 points (terms) 25,000 points (terms)
Annual fee $120, charged out as $10 per month $150
Front of the Line check transparent check transparent
Ability to transfer Hotel programs Airline & hotel programs
Hotel Collection check transparent check transparent
Insurance coverage 9 types included 10 types included
Card type Credit card Charge card
Apply Apply

American Express Cobalt at a glance

The is our top rated credit card in Canada overall, and in 5 other categories as well:

All for good reason.

Amex Membership Rewards

With this card, you’ll earn plenty of American Express Membership Rewards points for your purchases:

  • 5 points per $1 spent on groceries and restaurants,
  • 2 points per $1 spent on gas, travel & transit purchases, and
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all purchases.

Let’s say you typically spend around $2,000 monthly on your card. Based on our calculations, you’d be earning 51,600 points. That’s a lot of points.

And the best way to redeem them is by using the Fixed Points Travel program. This program uses a set number of points to fly a set distance. Maximize this chart and you can get a value of 1.75 cents (or more) for your points.

Here’s what the chart looks like for economy-class redemptions.

Fixed Points Travel Program Chart

Just note the points only cover the base airfare. You have to pay any taxes, fees, and carrier surcharges.

But that’s not the only great way you can use your points for travel. You can also simply charge ANY travel purchase to the card and use your points against the purchase. Each point is worth 1 cent when redeemed this way.

Or you can transfer your points to either Marriott Bonvoy or Hilton Honors. Get 6 Marriott points for every 5 Amex points you transfer, or at a 1:1 ratio for Hilton Honors.

There are many more ways to use your points, with options to redeem for merchandise, gift cards, Ticketmaster purchases, and even get statement credits.

However, redeeming for travel will give you the best value for your hard-earned points.

Welcome bonus

Like many Amex cards, the offers a great welcome bonus.

For each month you spend $500 in the first year, you’ll earn 2,500 bonus points, for a potential total of 30,000 points.

Travel insurance

Looking for some extra coverage while you travel? This card has you covered with 9 types of travel and purchase insurance.

Here’s the list of what this card offers:

Amex Front of the Line

With Amex Front of the Line, you can get early access to tickets for some of the hottest upcoming concerts. This way, you won’t have to scour the web for a ticket to an event you want to go to.

It’s a great feature found on most American Express cards.

Amex Hotel Collection

Looking for some upgrades or credits while staying at a hotel?

The Hotel Collection will give you up to a $100 credit and a free room upgrade at select properties. All you have to do is book your hotel through the Amex Hotel Collection and stay for a minimum of 2 nights.

This perk is available on select Amex cards, including both the Cobalt and Gold Rewards cards.

American Express Gold Rewards at a glance

When it comes to great credit cards, the is no slouch.

It was runner up for best overall credit card (as well as in several other categories), and won 2 other awards:

And, while you won’t earn as many points, the points are arguably more valuable.

Related: American Express Gold Rewards Card Review

Amex Membership Rewards

So what does this card earn?

  • 2 points per $1 spent on gas, groceries, drugstores, and travel, and
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

On a typical $2,000 per month spend, you’ll be earning 33,000 points. That’s 21,600 points less than the Cobalt Card for the same hypothetical spend.

But the Gold Rewards cards makes up for it in redemptions. Though it has basically all the same redemption options as the Cobalt Card, there’s one exception – transfers to airline partners.

You can transfer your points 1:1 to both Aeroplan and British Airways Executive Club. Or, transfer your points at a 4:3 ratio to Delta, Alitalia, Etihad & Cathay Pacific.

We value an Aeroplan mile at 2.5 cents each. Redeem for business class seats and you can get a 3.5 cents per point value without breaking a sweat. That’s considerably more than the 1.75 CPP evaluation of the Fixed Points Program.

If you want to use points for airline options, the makes a great, multipurpose airline card.

Welcome bonus

This card also has a great welcome bonus – and it’s easier to obtain: get 25,000 points after spending $1,500 in the first 3 months.

You’ll get your full welcome bonus 9 months sooner than with the Cobalt Card.

Travel insurance

The Gold Card is also a little better in insurance. In addition to the 9 categories the Cobalt offers, the Gold also gives you Trip interruption coverage for up to $1,500.

Here’s the full list of what insurance the card offers:

Type of card

One big difference between the cards is that the Gold Rewards card is a charge card.

What’s the difference between a charge and credit card?

There are 2 basic differences:

  • a charge card has no set credit limit, and
  • the balance has to be paid in full every month.

Even if you’re short $5 on your payment, Amex considers it a missed payment. And, Amex charge cards come with super high interest rates of 30%.

If you tend to carry a balance, a charge card is not for you.

Amex Front of the Line and Amex Hotel Collection

As with the Cobalt Card, the Gold Card also comes with Amex Front of the Line and Amex Hotel Collection.

Comparison: Amex Cobalt vs Amex Gold

For the longest time, the was the best credit card in Canada.

However, when the dropped, it quickly took over the throne of best credit card in Canada.

With that said, there’s still great value in the Gold Rewards card, especially if you’re a frequent flyer and can get some good value out of the associated airline programs.

See for yourself:

Which is the keeper?

For most people, the is going to be the better choice, seeing as it flat out earns more points.

If you redeem for any type of travel, you’ll get a far better return for your spending.

However, if you can consistently get great value from Aeroplan, the can be a better choice – just know that your return will pale in comparison to the Cobalt Card if you use any other redemption option.

Either way, you’re looking at two great cards to carry in your wallet.

Are you interested in getting either of these cards?

Which one are you more inclined to get?

Let us know in the comments section below.