A Look At The Retooled Scotiabank Gold American Express Card

Scotiabank Gold American Express Card

The Scotiabank Gold American Express card is getting a refresh as of August 1, 2019 and the changes should push this card into the conversation for top travel rewards credit card in Canada. What’s that? A card refresh that actually enhances rewards and adds more value for cardholders? Shocking!

Here’s the summary of positive changes coming to the Scotiabank Gold American Express Card:

  • 5x Scotia Rewards points for every dollar spent on groceries, at restaurants and pubs, and on popular food delivery and subscription services
  • 5x Scotia Rewards points for every dollar spent on entertainment including at movies, theatre, and ticket agencies.
  • 3x Scotia Rewards points for every dollar spent on daily transit, including ride-share, buses, taxis, and subway.
  • 3x Scotia Rewards points for every dollar spent on eligible select streaming services.

The Scotiabank Gold American Express card will also now join the Scotia Passport Visa Infinite in the category of no FX fee cards. Cardholders will no longer pay the 2.5 percent foreign transaction fee on any foreign currency purchases including online shopping or when travelling abroad.

Now for the bad news. The earn rate on gas spending got downgraded during the refresh. Gas is lumped into the “Ride & Drive” category, along with daily transit, and will now pay 3x points instead of 4x points. Not a huge deal, but a downgrade nonetheless.

The annual fee for primary cardholders will also be increased from $99 to $120 as of August 1st. For existing Scotiabank Gold American Express cardholders the new annual fee will take effect on your next anniversary date on or after August 1st, 2019.

Finally, coverage for trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance is being reduced from $2,500 to $1,500. Travel medical insurance is also being reduced for eligible persons age 65 and over – with coverage changing from 10 days down to 3 days. Price protection service will also be discontinued.

Retooled Scotiabank Gold American Express Card

I mentioned this refresh puts the Scotiabank Gold American Express card into the conversation for top travel rewards credit card in Canada. The rewards multipliers on groceries, dining, and entertainment are best in class – 5x points!

The sweetener for this card is the no foreign exchange fees, which puts it into a very select category of a handful of credit cards in Canada that don’t charge 2.5 percent on foreign currency transactions.

Related: How we plan to spend money overseas

The card has typically come with a decent welcome bonus (15,000 to 20,000 points) and at times waived the annual fee in the first year, so we’ll see if Scotia continues to offer that for new applicants post August 1st.

Scotiabank Gold American Express vs. American Express Cobalt Card

The comparison that now comes to mind for the Scotiabank Gold American Express card is the other card to offer 5x points on groceries and dining – the American Express Cobalt card. Both offer tantalizing earn rates on other key spending categories.

With Cobalt you get 5 points for every $1 spent at eligible restaurants, bars, grocery stores and food delivery in Canada. Get 2 points for every $1 spent on eligible transit & gas purchases in Canada and eligible travel purchases. Get 1 point for every $1 in Card purchases everywhere else.

The Scotiabank Gold American Express card stacks up favourably against the American Express Cobalt card when it comes to earn rates on key categories – only falling behind in the travel category.

  Amex Cobalt Scotiabank Gold Amex
Annual fee $120 ($10 per month) $120
Foreign currency conversion 2.5% 0%
Rewards per $1 spent    
Grocery stores 5x 5x
Dining 5x 5x
Entertainment 1x 5x
Gas stations 2x 3x
Daily transit 2x 3x
Travel 2x 1x
Streaming services 1x 3x
Everything else 1x 1x

Summary of changes

In summary, the Scotiabank Gold American Express Card gets a significant boost with plus changes to earning points on groceries, dining, entertainment, transit, and streaming services, plus the added benefit of no FX fees. The downside is a $21 increase to its annual fee, a slight reduction in earnings for gas spending, and a downgrade to its insurance offerings.

Depending what Scotia plans to do with its welcome bonus and first year annual fee, this card should be on every frequent traveller’s radar when the changes take effect August 1st, 2019


  1. Sharon C Reine on June 7, 2019 at 12:42 pm

    I received no welcome bonus or forgiveness of my 1st yr fee w my recent application approval. Had originally planned to replace my regular Gold Amex w this but now will only keep for this year and cancel. For the additional $30 I get better travel insc coverage & replacement coverage.

  2. Jen on June 8, 2019 at 11:24 am

    I will cancel mine also – as a senior I liked the 10 day coverage as opposed to 3

  3. […] on Rewards Cards Canada I looked at the retooled Scotiabank American Express Gold Rewards card – the new earn rates put this card squarely in the top travel rewards card […]

  4. Harold on June 10, 2019 at 1:45 pm

    I will also be cancelling mine because of the reduced insurance coverage and the increased fee. Don’t drive a lot and don’t go to restaurants a lot so increased points don’t mean much to me. Many no-charge credit cards like PC Mastercard and Costco card will give me good benefits without the charge. Not a good plan Scotiabank Amex – I think may holders will cancel their card.

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