Scotiabank Gold American Express Card Review
A perennial standout among Canadian travel rewards cards thanks to its accelerated earn rates, Scotiabank’s Gold American Express card is especially prized among travellers for its flexible rewards program that lets you book and redeem your points for travel anywhere with no restrictions.
Though the card’s annual fee was raised from $99 to $120 in 2019, it shouldn’t be hard to easily make that back in earned rewards points and savings on foreign transaction fees, particularly for those that travel abroad frequently. Here’s a look at the new and (mostly) improved Scotiabank Gold American Express card.
Foreign Transaction Fees
Scotia Gold Amex cardholders were formerly charged a fee of 2.5% on any purchase they made in a non-Canadian currency, but no longer. The revamped card joins the rare club of Canadian credit cards that do not charge foreign transaction fees, providing major savings on international travel, as well as online shopping for websites that don’t offer sales in CAD.
The card offers a sign-up bonus of 25,000 points to those that spend $1,000 on the card within the first 3 months, a low spending threshold that most cardholders won’t have trouble meeting. An additional 5,000 points can be earned by cardholders that make at least $10,000 in eligible purchases in their first year with the card (also a relatively easy spending threshold).
Sign-up bonus aside, the rewards structure is as follows:
- 5 Scotia Rewards points for every $1 spent on grocery, dining and entertainment purchases (one of the highest earn rates in Canada in these categories).
- 3 points for every $1 spent on gas, as well as daily transit and select streaming services. The latter two categories are new additions to the card as of August 2019.
- All other purchases net 1 point per dollar.
Aside from redeeming for travel, points can also be redeemed via the Scotia Rewards portal for a variety of merchandise, gift cards and statement credits. Be warned: though you can redeem your Scotia Rewards for a wide variety of items and experiences, each has a different redemption rate and not all are good bargains (like most credit card reward programs in Canada).
You get the most value for your Rewards Points (1 point = .01) when you redeem them for travel. You can either book your trip through the Scotia Rewards Travel Service, for all-inclusive vacations, flights, rental cars and more; or, better yet, you are free to book your own eligible travel (including flights, rental cars, baggage fees and more) then redeem your points to cover your travel expenses once they appear on your card. There are no blackout dates and the redemption can includes taxes. Just be sure to redeem your points within 12 months of the purchase date, and for a minimum of 5,000 points.
The Scotia Gold Amex offers a wide spectrum of travel insurance coverage, including:
- Travel emergency medical insurance: Generous coverage of 25 consecutive days for those under age 65. If you’re 65 and over, however, coverage is only for 3 days.
- Trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance: eligible for coverage when you charge at least 75% of your trip costs to your card (note that you’ll only be covered $1,500 per person for eligible expenses).
- You’ll also get: flight delay insurance, delayed and lost baggage insurance, travel accident insurance, rental car collision loss/damage insurance and hotel burglary insurance. Check Scotia’s website to ensure you’re aware of maximum dollar amounts and exclusions.
Aside from its primary travel benefits listed above, the card also has a package of additional benefits including:
- Purchase security and extended warranty protection
- Complimentary concierge service
- Discounted Priority Pass membership. While certainly not as good as actually getting free passes to airport lounges, the card gives you a discounted membership of $65 USD (35% off the regular membership price) to Priority Pass. A membership means you pay a rate of $32 USD per lounge visit.
- American Express Invites. Get exclusive invites to events like movie previews, concerts, dining, fashion and shopping experiences.
- Rental car discounts: Save up to 25% off base car rental rates at AVIS and Budget in Canada and the U.S.
Who’s the Card For?
Though the card is a solid all-around travel rewards card—particularly for those that spend a lot on groceries, entertainment and dining—it’s ideal for consummate travellers who could most benefit from not paying foreign transaction fees and redeeming points flexibly to cover travel expenses.