Looking to earn travel rewards faster? The Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® card is a quick route to getting you to the destination of your dreams.
This card has been renowned as one of the best travel credit cards as of recent. It even won the Best Card With Travel Perks award at our Best of Finance awards last year.
As part of the Scotia Rewards program, cardholders can earn four times the points on gas stations, grocery stores, dining and entertainment experiences, while earning one point per dollar on all other purchases wherever American Express is accepted. Points can be redeemed for travel, gift cards, merchandise, experiences, charitable donations, investments and more.
Cardholders get access to exclusive travel discounts on cruises, hotels, airfare, car rentals and even full vacation packages through the Scotia Rewards program, as well as special offers for events and experiences through American Express Invites®.
In order to qualify for the card you must:
- Be a Canadian resident or a permanent resident.
- Be the age of majority in your province or territory of residence.
- Not have filed for bankruptcy in the past seven years.
- Have an annual gross income of at least $12,000.
The card carries the standard interest rate of 19.99 per cent along with a 22.99 per cent rate on all balance transfers and cash advances. It also features a $99 annual fee, however, you don’t necessarily have to have a good credit history in Canada in order to qualify – making it an attractive choice for newcomers to Canada. All in all, it’s a well-rounded piece of plastic that just happens to be one of the best travel rewards credit card with a fee in Canada.
Sign-up Bonus: Good
For accounts opened prior to June 30, 2018, cardholders can earn 15,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points provided they charge $1,000 to the account within the first three months of card membership. That’s worth about $150 in Scotia Rewards when put towards travel, or experiences such as an adult Toronto CityPASS or a two-day hop-on hop-off bus tour in New York City. This can amount to much less if put towards gift cards and electronics.
But while the bonus points can be put towards something meaningful, the wait time to redeem the points can be a downer.
Once you’ve qualified for the offer (you’ve spent $1,000 in the first three months), the bonus points will appear as an adjustment on your billing statement within two cycles after the third billing cycle has passed. This essentially means it will take approximately three to five months after you get the card before you will see the points.
Also, here’s something to keep in mind – the sign-up bonus is only for new Scotiabank customers. That means if you currently bank with Scotiabank or had an account in the past but have since closed it, you are ineligible for the extra 15,000 points.
Earning Potential: Excellent
The Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® card earns:
- Four Scotia Reward points at eligible gas stations, grocery stores, dining and entertainment.
- One Scotia Reward point for every $1 spent on all other eligible purchases.
This essentially breaks down to $0.04 for purchases made at eligible gas stations, grocery stores, dining and entertainment and $0.01 for all other eligible purchases.
Moreover, you can earn Scotia Rewards points on purchases charged to your account by supplementary cardmembers. Each supplementary card comes with a $29 annual fee, so you and your partner, spouse, etc. can work towards your next trip.
But note that you can only earn four times the points on the first $50,000 you spend annually. After that, you will only earn one point per dollar spent at eligible gas stations, grocery stores, dining and entertainment. You cannot earn points on cash advances, Scotia Credit Card Cheques, Scotia Rewards dollars, returns, bill payments, casinos and gambling, or annual memberships.
So how does this card stack up to other travel rewards options? We crunched the numbers using our Best of Finance methodology to see how much you could earn over a 24-month period.
Assuming $1,119.58 is spent on the card monthly at eligible vendors in the following categories*:
- Pharmacy: $54.16
- Food: $665
- Gas**: $152.42
- Travel: $148
- Other: $100
Reward points earned over a 24-month period: 100,724.16
Monetary worth: $1007.24
Total (subtracting annual fee): $809.24
*Source: Statistics Canada
**Based on $1.00/litre gas prices
In comparison to other cards, the Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® card earns rewards at a much faster rate. This means you could essentially purchase a round trip ticket for a medium-haul flight after two years (or even a long-haul if you happen to stumble across a sale!).
Point Redemption: Great
Cardholders aren’t limited to black-out periods or booking with specific airlines when using this card. Bookings can be made through the Scotia Rewards Travel Service, which also comes with the benefit of the Best Price Guarantee on airfare. If you book a flight on the Scotia Rewards Travel Service site or with a Scotiabank Travel Rewards Representative and, within 24 hours, find a price for the exact same itinerary that’s at least $10 less, Scotia Rewards Travel Service will offer you a points credit equal to the price difference, per passenger.
Alternatively, you have the option to book your travel online or through a travel agency and redeem Scotia Rewards points to cover the cost of your trip.
The only downside is that you need to redeem a minimum of 5,000 points at a time. But if you receive the 15,000 bonus points, this may not even be a problem.
In addition, the Scotia Rewards Program also allows you to redeem your points for gift cards, merchandise from Apple, Best Buy or other brand names, a donation to charity, or even a credit towards your account so your balance is reduced.
The 5,000-point mark is more than enough for a $25 gift card to The Source, Sport Chek, Winners, HomeSense, Marshalls or any Cara restaurant, such as Harvey’s, Montana’s, Milestones and many more. You can also purchase some smaller electronics such as earbuds or a simple camera.
However, you get the best bang for your buck by putting your points towards travel and combining the perks from both Scotia Rewards and American Express to bring your costs down even more.
One thing is for sure, this particular card on the Scotia roster earns points faster than almost any other travel card on the market, however, it doesn’t have much to say for additional complimentary travel perks.
As a part of the American Express family, the Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® comes with special offers for music, theatre, dining, film, fashion and shopping experiences with American Express Invites®.
In addition, you can enjoy airport lounge access (Priority Pass™ membership), but only at a discounted rate. You also get 24/7 concierge offering complimentary personal assistance in planning your trip, accommodations, and reservations.
You can also take advantage of up to 25 per cent off base rates on Avis® or Budget rentals in Canada or the U.S. when you pay for your rental with the card.
Travel Insurance: Excellent
The Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® card comes with an extensive travel insurance package to cover you and provide support in case you run into an emergency while on vacation. Coverage includes:
- Out of province / out of country emergency medical insurance up to $1-million for first 25 consecutive days for those under 65; or the first 10 days for eligible persons over 65
- Travel accident insurance
- Trip cancellation and interruption insurance
- Flight delay insurance
- Delayed and lost baggage insurance
- Rental vehicle collision loss/damage insurance
- Hotel / Motel Burglary
Remember, coverage can be voided due to pre-existing conditions, and certain conditions and requirements apply.
*Blackout dates may apply
This post has been updated.