Update (2017-09-25 21:24): Matthew with Milesopedia posted that the “sign-up bonus” is 30,000 points paid over 2,500 point payments made in each month where you spend $500 or more. Frankly… meh. Putting $500 a month on dining/groceries is easy enough for me, but after you reach 30,000 points, there’s no more incentive bonus for spend. Further, reaching the cap will take a year, and the value of these possible non-airline transferable points may erode when SPG merges with Marriott.
It’s a cute and perhaps effective strategy that hurts our game of churning by rewarding consumer loyalty with spend, not just product acquisition. Which makes business sense, but sucks for us! 😛
Update (2017-09-25 19.53): User rodriarano on Reddit looked at the source of the application page, which shows offer terms for the card – posted below.
The application page for the new American Express Cobalt card is now live (this is not a referral). This is an exciting new card targeted for “millennials” (ugh), with an attractive design and unique benefits.
Note that there is no landing page associated with the application yet, the sign-up bonus is 30,000 Membership Rewards points, given in monthly increments of 2,500 when you spend $500 in that month.
I don’t know what the sign-up bonus is. There isn’t supposed to be one though.
According to research done by Prince of Travel (and confirmed by looking at the application source code), the card has the following benefits:
- For every month you spend $500 on the card, you’ll get 2,500 Membership Rewards points;
- 5X the points on
groceries and dining(“(i) restaurant, quick service restaurant, coffee shop and drinking establishments in Canada, (ii) stand-alone grocery stores in Canada, (iii) delivery of food and groceries in Canada as a primary business”);
- 2X the points on
travel and transit(“(i) stand-alone automobile gasoline stations in Canada, (ii) travel services or travel bookings including air, water, rail and road transport, lodging and tour operator sales, (iii) local commuter transportation in Canada including subway, streetcar, taxi, limousine and ride sharing services.”), and;
- 1X the points on other purchases.
The annual fee is $10 a month. This is a credit card, and you can usually only hold two credit cards with American Express, and unlimited charge cards.
Rumour also has it that these points may not be transferrable to airline partners, only hotel partners like SPG. Since Membership Rewards transfer 1:0.5 to SPG, that means you can get 2.5 SPG points per dollar for spend at grocery stores and dining, which is a phenomenal deal.
We don’t know whether these types of Membership Rewards points will transferable to airlines if you have another Membership Rewards card (ex. Platinum), or whether they can be converted to the USA under the Global Transfer program. We also don’t know if there will be referral program – Amex’s most recent card, the Aeroplan Reserve, does not have a referral program.
Sadly, the card has not adopted the benefit of no foreign exchange fees, which our American friends get the benefit of. I think this is a shame and ignorant of Canadian demographics and statistics – according to Quebec Tourism Intelligence Network, an organization that has an affiliation with UQAM, a Montreal-based university, noted that in 2015 surveys, there was a “92% growth in the number of Canadian leisure trips abroad over the past 15 years”. Canadians love their travel. Further, we’re getting older (on average) and baby-boomers are approaching retirement (source). This means more spare time to travel. We also have one of the most educated populations in the world – we’re number 3rd of all OECD countries. I’m guessing we have decent financial literacy. I think Canadian credit card users will care about the lack of foreign exchange fee waivers that they’ll find elsewhere with Chase cards they currently hold, the Rogers/Fido Mastercard, or the new HSBC credit card.
All-in-all, I think the benefits of this card are useful if you eat out a lot – the 5X benefit on groceries and dining would convert nicely into SPG points, if rumours are true.
Since there’s no landing page yet, we don’t know the exact details of the card, or whether there’s a sign-up bonus (rumor has it that there won’t be). Everything we know about the card is conjecture at this point, but I feel confident in Prince of Travel’s research. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can apply right now!
Information Added in Source Code
American Express CobaltTM Card . You can earn Membership Rewards points for eligible consumer purchases at American Express retails merchants as follows: 5 points for every $1 at or for (i) restaurant, quick service restaurant, coffee shop and drinking establishments in Canada, (ii) stand-alone grocery stores in Canada, (iii) delivery of food and groceries in Canada as a primary business; and 2 points for every $1 at or for (i) stand-alone automobile gasoline stations in Canada, (ii) travel services or travel bookings including air, water, rail and road transport, lodging and tour operator sales, (iii) local commuter transportation in Canada including subway, streetcar, taxi, limousine and ride sharing services. Purchases at merchants where these categories are not their primary business such as general merchandise retailers do not qualify. Merchants are typically assigned codes and categorized based on what they sell. Earn rate of 1 point for every $1 applies when the merchant code is not in an eligible category, using a payment account or service of a third party, a card reader attached to a mobile phone or online retailer that sells goods of other merchants or the merchant category is otherwise not identified. Provided your account is in good standing, points can be earned on eligible purchases less returns and other credits. Interest, fees and charges for travelers cheques and foreign currencies are not purchases and do not earn points. Points can be redeemed in the Membership Rewards Select Tier and are not eligible for transfer to programs that offer airline and frequent flyer redemptions.