Scotiabank Gold American Express
Best offer is available via Great Canadian Rebates until July 21, 2019

  • Signup bonus: 15,000 Scotia Rewards points
  • Minimum spending: $1,000 in the first three months
  • Annual fee:
    • $99
    • Offset by $80 cash back from Great Canadian Rebates until May 24, 2019
    • Nets to $19 for the first year
  • Earning rate:
    • 4 Scotia Rewards points per dollar spent on gas, groceries, dining, and entertainment
    • 1 Scotia Rewards point per dollar spent on all other purchases
  • Insurance: Strong

The Bonuses

The Scotia Gold Amex is offering 15,000 Scotia Rewards points after spending $1,000 in the first three months. The annual fee of $99 is not waived, although you can use $80 cash back to offset it by applying via Great Canadian Rebates, reducing your out-of-pocket expense to $49.

(The cash back offer is valid until July 21, 2019, after which it will likely revert to the normal offer of $50 cash back.)

There are offers of higher bonuses on this card, as well as first-year fee waivers, that come and go. For example, in late 2017, you could earn 35,000 Scotia Rewards points on this card while enjoying a fee waiver! If you're interested in this card, I'd recommend waiting a little bit to see if there are any better offers around the corner.

Earning Rewards

The Scotia Gold Amex has historically been a great choice for everyday spending. That’s because you’ll earn 4 Scotia Rewards points per dollar spent at gas stations, grocery stores, food and drink, and entertainment venues. That’s pretty much equivalent to 4% cash back on these categories, which is a fantastic proposition.

Remember that you can buy gift cards for other retailers at gas stations and grocery stores, meaning that you could potentially earn 4% back on the majority of your purchases if you leverage the power of gift cards.

The only credit card in Canada that would give these bonus categories a run for their money would be the American Express Cobalt Card, whose 5x multiplier applies to groceries and dining only, excluding gas and entertainment.

The other side of the comparison is that the Cobalt currently has no limit on the amount of spending that counts for the 5x multiplier, whereas the Scotia Gold Amex limits your 4x earning potential to the first $50,000 of spending in the eligible categories per calendar year.

On all other spending, you’ll earn 1 Scotia Rewards points per dollar spent. This means that if you’d like to use the Scotia Gold Amex on your daily spending, it’s best to combine it with another high-powered card like the American Express Platinum Card, and to use either card when it’s more advantageous to do so (i.e., depending on whether you’re spending in the bonus categories or not).

Using Scotia Rewards Points

In my opinion, Scotia Rewards points are one of the best fixed value points programs in Canada. 100 Scotia Rewards points are worth $1 towards the cost of travel, so your signup bonus of 15,000 points equates to an instant $150 credit towards any travel expense.

What makes Scotia’s program stand out? The answer lies in how easy and flexible it is to use their points. Many other fixed-value points programs, like BMO Rewards or CIBC Aventura, force you to book your travel through their in-house travel agencies if you want to use them to offset the cost of travel. This means that you’re effectively limited to using your points for flights, hotels, car rentals, and vacations.

Things like taxes and fees on award tickets, Airbnbs, and train tickets are therefore off the table. And to add insult to injury, sometimes the cost of booking travel through the banks’ in-house agencies is significantly higher than if you just booked on Expedia or something. That’s effectively robbing unsuspecting customers of the value of their points.

Not so with Scotiabank. You simply charge any travel expense to your card, whether in-person or online, and you can then use your points to offset that expense up to 12 months after the date of the transaction. It’s really the gold standard for how a fixed points program should work, which is unfortunately an area in which many of Canada’s other big banks drop the ball.

This also means that you can comfortably pay for travel expenses as soon as you receive the card, take your time to meet the spending requirement (if you haven’t already), wait for the points to post, and then apply the points to your original travel outlay.

Throw in the fact that you can use the age-old “refundable hotel trick” to turn your Scotia Rewards points into a pure statement credit, and this card is an absolute winner in the realm of fixed points travel cards.

Insurance Coverage

The insurance on the Scotiabank Gold American Express is as strong as you'd expect for a premium travel credit card. Coverage includes:

  • The essential emergency medical insurance of up to $1 million for you, your spouse, and dependent children on unexpected medical illness or injury when travelling out-of-province

  • Trip cancellation and interruption insurance of up to $2,500 per person

  • Flight delay insurance for delays of more than four hours, up to $500 per person

  • Rental car collision or damage insurance, which can help you save on the insurance fees usually charged by car rental companies

On the purchase protection side, in addition to a 90-day protection period against damage, loss, or theft for most new items, you also get a 60-day price protection service that allows you to claim back the difference if the price of your new purchase drops within 60 days. Super useful!

Is This an American Express Card?

A point of clarification. There is often confusion as to whether or not this card is an American Express card, and that confusion stems from the fact that unlike Visa or MasterCard, American Express is both a card network and a card issuer.

Amex issues its own credit cards and charge cards around the world – like the Platinum Card or Cobalt Card here in Canada – and all of these cards run on the American Express card network.

But other financial institutions can also choose to issue cards on the Amex network, and that’s exactly what’s happening with this card. It’s issued by Scotiabank, but you’ll still use it as an American Express card, meaning that the dreaded words of “Visa or MasterCard only” will sadly continue to rankle.

Apply Now

Follow the link below to apply for the Scotiabank Gold American Express via Great Canadian Rebates, where you can earn $50 cash back upon approval. You need a minimum annual income of $12,000 to be eligible for this card.

Any questions? Contact me.