How to Maximize Points on the Amex Cobalt and Scotia Gold Amex!

The Amex Cobalt and Scotiabank Gold Amex are the only cards in Canada that offer 5x the points on dining and grocery spend, which equates to 5% cash back if redeemed for a travel credit. That's the highest ongoing spend bonus in Canada!

If that wasn't good enough, starting October 1, 2022, the Scotia Gold Amex will offer 6x the points on Sobeys, Safeway, IGA, FreshCo, etc. brand grocery stores. That's even higher than the Amex Cobalt!

Both the Amex Cobalt and Scotiabank Gold Amex have annual limits on the 5x category. The Amex Cobalt offers 5x up to $30,000 a year, whereas the Scotiabank Gold Amex offers 5x up to $50,000 a year.

But wait. What if you don't spend $2,500+ a month on food and groceries? What if you shop at Costco or some other place that doesn't take Amex? No worries - this post is all about clever ways to maximize that 5x bonus and get more out of your card.

1. Shop at grocery stores that take Amex

A complaint we hear often about Amex is that not a lot of places take it. That said, a lot of major Canadian grocery chains do accept Amex. This includes Sobeys, Metro, Food Basics and Longo's just to name a few. As long as the price is less than 5% higher at one of these places, you come out ahead shopping at an Amex-accepting store.

Note that Walmart does accept Amex, but it unfortunately doesn't code as a grocery store on Amex's system.

2. Order through Instacart for grocery stores that don't accept Amex

If you shop at Loblaws, Costco or other supermarket chains that don't take Amex, a workaround is to order your groceries through Instacart, which does take Amex! Instacart counts under the "eats and drinks" category so you'll get 5x the points even if they don't accept Amex.

3. Buy prepaid MasterCard/Visa gift cards at Amex-accepting grocery stores

For those of us that shop or eat at places that take Visa or MasterCard but not Amex, a way around it is to buy a prepaid MasterCard or Visa gift card at a grocery store that does accept Amex. A Joker MasterCard costs $7.95 for a value of $200-500, which works out to 1.6% if you get a $500 one. That's still less than the 5% cash back you'd get on a Cobalt or Scotia Gold Amex!

4. Buy gift cards at Amex-accepting grocery stores

Do you shop on Amazon? If you used your Cobalt or Scotia Amex on, it would code as a 1x multiplier purchase. But if you buy an Amazon gift card at Sobeys and use the gift card to pay for your purchase, it codes as a 5x multiplier purchase. This applies to any gift cards to places you normally shop at, and are offered by these Amex-accepting grocery chains.

5. Use food delivery/takeout apps at restaurants that don't take Amex

If you live in an area full of restaurants that don't take Amex, sometimes those same restaurants are available on Uber Eats or Ritual where you can pay using an Amex card. The food delivery apps such as Uber Eats, Door Dash, etc. will often include a 10-15% markup, but Ritual is generally the same price as the menu.

6. Use your card at restaurants when abroad

If you're traveling in Europe or the U.S., a lot of restaurants do accept Amex and will show up in the "eats and drinks" category. The Scotia Gold Amex also doesn't charge the 2.5% foreign currency fee, so you're actually getting 7.5% of value (5% bonus + 2.5% fee) compared to the Amex Cobalt (5% bonus - 2.5% fee)!

As you might be able to tell, the theme of these tips are to take advantage of grocery stores or apps that accept Amex, in order to shop at places that either don't accept Amex or don't provide the 5x multiplier. Happy spending!