Author Topic: Canadians who are successful with credit card hacking click here.  (Read 14116 times)

FIRE_at_45

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I thought I would start a thread on credit cards.  I dug up a couple of old threads on cc's and learned a lot but times change so I'm not including those links unless I missed something relatively new?? 

Did I miss something or it much harder to make any traction here in Canada?  I thought so.  I haven't found any cc willing to pay me $400-500 just for signing up.  I guess there are a few that come close with air miles.  Maybe I'm not doing it right.

What's my goal?  I want to fly 3 people across Canada (75,000 Aeromiles) and I would also like to make a little bit of cash on the side.  Not sure if I am up for the work of 14 cc....I don't think we have that many good ones anyway. :)

Here are few helpful links to learn more yourself.  Please share yours. 

https://www.ratesupermarket.ca/

https://www.greatcanadianrebates.ca/

https://canadianfinanceblog.com/best-credit-cards/

Currently I have the CIBC Dividend which isn't bad.  There's Tangerine's cash back card if you want to get 4% for the first few months and then 2% thereafter.  Some tell me it's pretty good. 

The cashback one I am leaning towards is the BMO Cashback World Elite Mastercard.  It has a high annual fee that's waived the first year.  If you spend $3000 in the first 3 months the return is fairly good. 

On the Aeroplan miles side I like the TD VISA (25,000 Aeroplan miles) and the CIBC VISA (15,000 Aeroplan miles + 5000 more with some spending).  I figure if I combine these two cards with a little spending I will have 2 across Canada flights.  If I combine this with the cashback from another card I may actually pay for those 2 flights.  The TD card does charge $60 that first year, then $120. 

So right now I'm just trying to figure it out.  Please share your expertise.   

I signed up for my first card through Great Canadian Rebates and have a $50 cheque on the way.  Oh, sweet success!

« Last Edit: November 21, 2016, 09:31:51 PM by FIRE_at_45 »

Goldielocks

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« Reply #1 on: November 22, 2016, 01:48:21 AM »
I am in the process of switching from scotiabank momentum to MBNA World elite cash back.

I also looked at Tangerine and the MBNA Cash (?) card.  Both of which have zero annual fees for good cashback.
But, at our level of family spent the MBNA wins with a lot of cash to us, we don't have to wait for an annual amount in november (like scotiabank).

MBNA is bad for fees and penalties, though, so watch out.

Aeroplan with aircananda booking is back with fuel surcharges.  Some people transfer to other airlines with aeroplan, because of this.

FIRE_at_45

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« Reply #2 on: November 22, 2016, 07:30:07 AM »
I am in the process of switching from scotiabank momentum to MBNA World elite cash back.

I also looked at Tangerine and the MBNA Cash (?) card.  Both of which have zero annual fees for good cashback.
But, at our level of family spent the MBNA wins with a lot of cash to us, we don't have to wait for an annual amount in november (like scotiabank).

MBNA is bad for fees and penalties, though, so watch out.

Aeroplan with aircananda booking is back with fuel surcharges. Some people transfer to other airlines with aeroplan, because of this.

That's disappointing.  Is it more than the taxes previously?  I typically fly Van - TO and flights range from $450 (luck) - $850.  What percentage would you say they are charging?

I've had Aeroplan before so I know how hard it is to book tickets.  It's actually the reason I went to an Avion card.  I ended up having that one for over 2 years and accumulated the value of 2 flights for a single annual fee of $120.  The RBC Avion points are more flexible but they still ding you with a lot of taxes and charges. 

daverobev

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« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2016, 08:46:15 AM »
You should put your GCR link in your sig (see mine, heh) - you get referral cash when someone signs up through you and generates their own cashback.

Canada is nowhere if comparing to the US. The great signup offers just don't exist on the same scale, and in the same number, here. But there are still deals worth having.

1. Every so often, Scotia will do something great with the Gold Amex. It's a 4% card on gas/groc/rest/ents. Great card, but has a fee. If you can get FYF and $300 in points it's well worth doing. If you have a scotia STEP setup, you can put the card under that and the fee is less.

2. I can't get into Aeroplan. I did the TD thing and when I tried to book Canada-France the taxes came out to about as much as the fucking flight. I was pretty pissed off, honestly.

3. Proper American Express cards give a good signup bonus, generally. The gold card is good. And flexible. The SPG is good, too - the points are valuable, but there is no FYF. There is no churning with Amex now, though. IE, you get the bonus once, that's it.

4. You want to make sure you have a few 'keeper' cards. I love the Chase Amazon card. No forex fee, 1% everywhere, 2% at Amazon Canada. The Tangerine Mastercard is good (2% on categories you choose). If you can pass the income test, and shop at Loblaw-selling places (RCSS, No Frills, SDM, etc), the PCF World Elite is good (3% cashback at PC shops).

meghan88

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« Reply #4 on: November 22, 2016, 09:52:58 AM »
2. I can't get into Aeroplan. I did the TD thing and when I tried to book Canada-France the taxes came out to about as much as the fucking flight. I was pretty pissed off, honestly.

Air Canada sucks, and so does Aeroplan.  We fly Air France for so many reasons.  When we're able to fly on Air France points, it only costs about $300/ticket, which is still awful, but better than Air Canada.  And the food on Air France is soooo much better.

A while ago I gave my Aeroplan points to my sister because I knew I'd never use 'em.  She booked Montreal to Toronto on points (twice) and it still cost her over $160 for each trip, for one person.  What a rip-off!  A good seat sale on Westjet or even Porter is cheaper than that.

Anyway, to the OP, we like the TD Infinite Visa (not the Aeroplan one).  We use all points when booking travel through TD Expedia and we deduct about $800/year in travel costs.  There's no fee on the card if we keep a minimum bank balance.

Goldielocks

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« Reply #5 on: November 22, 2016, 02:27:20 PM »
I am in the process of switching from scotiabank momentum to MBNA World elite cash back.

I also looked at Tangerine and the MBNA Cash (?) card.  Both of which have zero annual fees for good cashback.
But, at our level of family spent the MBNA wins with a lot of cash to us, we don't have to wait for an annual amount in november (like scotiabank).

MBNA is bad for fees and penalties, though, so watch out.

Aeroplan with aircananda booking is back with fuel surcharges. Some people transfer to other airlines with aeroplan, because of this.

That's disappointing.  Is it more than the taxes previously?  I typically fly Van - TO and flights range from $450 (luck) - $850.  What percentage would you say they are charging?

I've had Aeroplan before so I know how hard it is to book tickets.  It's actually the reason I went to an Avion card.  I ended up having that one for over 2 years and accumulated the value of 2 flights for a single annual fee of $120.  The RBC Avion points are more flexible but they still ding you with a lot of taxes and charges.

I just checked..  for a January flight YVR - Toronto, on the standard 25k miles, the surcharge is $174 per ticket.   For me, with a family of 4, that ends up being nearly $750 for a trip and uses 100k airmiles.   When you can book a trip using the normal scale...... Alternatives with direct flights start at 53k airmiles each ticket plus $64..

Cash basis for the same flight, (work travel) I usually budget $650 estimated...  so 27%?

FIRE_at_45

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« Reply #6 on: November 22, 2016, 07:40:41 PM »
@goldielocks that sounds about right.  I basically figure on a $500 ticket I'm paying $150 from past experience with Aeroplan.  It takes the sting out for sure.  I am in the Aeroplan sucks camp as well but I don't see many options for Canadians like our US friends. 

Still I'm going to pursue the goal I set out and get to TO for mostly free.  Well, maybe $450 for 3 anyway.

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« Reply #7 on: November 22, 2016, 08:33:24 PM »
I have been researching this lately as well and am in the Aeroplan sucks camp.  I have been a member since 1996 and cannot count the number of times they have expired a lot of miles.  I did a few flight comparison bookings and found that the miles saved me about 20% of the cost of a normal ticket.  For that I would rather use the TD Infinite Visa that gives me $$ I can spend on Expedia, much more efficient than Aeroplan.

Has anyone considered accumulating points on other plans that flight from YYZ or your location airport?  What about British Airways?  Probably not useful for flights in Canada but if you are looking for European travel that might makes sense.

FIRE_at_45

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« Reply #8 on: November 22, 2016, 09:44:29 PM »
I haven't but that's because my main goal is to visit my family in Ontario on the cheap or cheaper.  I can't get there on the other airlines.   

I had that same problem with Aeroplan with my ex's account.  It had 23,000 miles and they just cancelled them. 

This time I'll just make sure to use my card at Shell or wherever every few months so I stay active. 

Goldielocks

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« Reply #9 on: November 23, 2016, 06:26:32 PM »
There is a loophole, supposedly you can exchange aeroplan for Luftansa or United, then book with them for low surcharge, possibly on codeshare or non direct flights. Bonus if you get a US cc with United miles bonus or something like that. I did not look too closely.

Instead I max out on cash back cards and collect hotel reward points. Hotel rewards can be nice and easy to redeem. Catch is if you do not stay at that hotel.

FIRE_at_45

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« Reply #10 on: November 23, 2016, 07:53:08 PM »
There is a loophole, supposedly you can exchange aeroplan for Luftansa or United, then book with them for low surcharge, possibly on codeshare or non direct flights. Bonus if you get a US cc with United miles bonus or something like that. I did not look too closely.

Instead I max out on cash back cards and collect hotel reward points. Hotel rewards can be nice and easy to redeem. Catch is if you do not stay at that hotel.

Interesting.  United might work for me when I want to hit California! 

I think I'll do a combination of the travel cards and then have the cash back one as my go-to card long term.  I don't think it will take long before I've used up the options here in Canada. 

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« Reply #11 on: November 24, 2016, 01:16:38 PM »
I've reached my upper limit on number of credit cards I'm comfortable with right now, but I like to believe what I have isn't bad, but travel hacking = definitely hard to do in Canada. For travel, I focus on two cards:

1) TD First Class Visa Infinite - They gave me 20,000 points at sign-up, which is $100 on TD for Expedia. The return is basically 1.5% cashback towards Expedia purchases, and 4.5% cashback towards Expedia purchases if you make a booking through their site. It used to be really good because you could push a request for redeeming toward any travel purchase at that rate, which was really broad (Parking, theatre tickets, VIA rail, gas on occasion), but have since reduced the return rate for anytime redmption.
 
2) Chase Amazon.ca VISA card, as others referenced. No foreign transaction fee, the exchange rates are great and you get 1% cashback on everything, 2% on Amazon.ca

Behind these two travel cards, I have Tangerine Cashback MC, MBNA Cashback MC, Scene VISA (I go to the movies a lot...). Personally, best value so far for me has been Tangerine and TD's First Class card on pretty much 80% of my daily shopping.

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« Reply #12 on: November 24, 2016, 02:01:41 PM »
following!  Also a canadian here

So far i did the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite, the CIBC Gold Aeroplan business, and with dumping all purchases on here i hit the 80k aeroplan mark

Now i'm going for the Tangerine card.  I bank already with them and the foreign transaction fee makes sense for the next while

Look up greedyrates.ca if you want to see some other options

Not sure what i will focus on next.  the easy and good Aeroplan ones are done.  i'm hoping the 80k will be enough for next year for what we are hoping to do

And if you don't know about it, the Westjet RBC card is amazing.  sign up is $250 bonus, with a $99 fee.  you get 1% of all purchases back towards card credit.  you also get companion passes and free checked bags.  that one is worth a lot right there now everyone charges for checked bags

I know a family both spouses got the Westjet RBC card, and then used the rebate and the companion pass to plan to take both kids on the trip coming up for a lot less than usual!

FIRE_at_45

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« Reply #13 on: November 24, 2016, 10:02:41 PM »
I was looking at the Westjet one with the companion passes.  I agree that it seems enticing.  I think after reading for hours all the different cards I got a little confused...hence starting this thread. 

Thank you all for the tips. 

dess1313

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« Reply #14 on: November 25, 2016, 12:16:12 AM »
I get the aeroplan sucks part of it.  but you can also use it to rebate a  hotel or vacation a little bit.  haven't looked into that too much yet.  a lot of the rewards are expensive.  I tried to book to asia, and what awuful routes/layovers/triple layovers they gave me.  That was the one reason i started collecting aeroplan in the first place was to do this one trip and it wasn't worth while using it.  hoping to do some domestic flights instead later

Also airmiles isn't much better.  we just did some booking with it because my BF had a bunch that were about to expire, and WHAT A PAIN!!!  there is so much you can't book online and must book via phone agent.  only a 3 WEEK wait to actually book something.  and not even know how much it will cost until you talk to them and get details. 

you can how ever use the airmiles to back door book a west jet vacation package of anything, its just a pain trying to deal with them via phone.  7500 airmiles was equivalent to $1000 usd i think in the end but it takes frigging forever to get that many airmiles even with the few bonuses out there.  american express has a nice card for a quick boost if you are close

Thats why i'm going cash back for a little bit until i get sorted.  I also need another permanent long term history card because i eventually want to shut down my one oldest card for something more useful.  I know not to do it right away.  going to build up some extra history first on these others and see where i am in a year card wise

Lews Therin

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« Reply #15 on: November 25, 2016, 12:58:15 AM »
In order to use Aeroplan points without getting hit by huge surcharges (Looking at you air Canada) you have to google the list of companies that don't charge surcharges and plan your trip around the different flight offers.

I went from 500-600$ round trip cost to Barcelona from Quebec City with Air Canada-Luftansa to 120(ish) with United airlines. There are also detailed guides on how to use the aeroplan (and other carrier) websites in order to find the flights that have the lowest surcharges.

Lews Therin

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« Reply #16 on: November 25, 2016, 01:00:30 AM »
Redflagdeals is another Website you can use to track specials for both items and credit cards.

They usually pick out the best credit cards offers with an associated website that offers a giftcard if you pass through their portal.

FIRE_at_45

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« Reply #17 on: December 03, 2016, 08:22:54 PM »
Update:

I received my new TD Aeroplan card.  I plan to use this card to accumulate 30,000 miles.  Get 15,000 for first purchase then 10,000 after remaining active for the first 90 days.

I got stuck with the $60 annual fee (50% of $120 normal annual fee).  I called before activating and tried to argue to have the fee waived.  No success on the first call.  Tried again.  Also, no success.  They said the promotion just ended so now it is $120 if you sign up.  I asked if the $0 comes out as a promotion do I get the $60 back?  I got a definite maybe on that one. 

I signed up for this card through Great Canadian Rebates so I get a $50 cheque back so I am out $10 for hopefully 30,000 Aeroplan miles. 

Next up I will likely do the CIBC Aeroplan one.

Next up is the AMEX Gold Rewards.  25,000 Aeroplan miles for signing up and no annual fee.   
« Last Edit: December 03, 2016, 08:48:00 PM by FIRE_at_45 »

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« Reply #18 on: December 04, 2016, 06:18:58 AM »
2. I can't get into Aeroplan. I did the TD thing and when I tried to book Canada-France the taxes came out to about as much as the fucking flight. I was pretty pissed off, honestly.

Air Canada sucks, and so does Aeroplan.  We fly Air France for so many reasons.  When we're able to fly on Air France points, it only costs about $300/ticket, which is still awful, but better than Air Canada.  And the food on Air France is soooo much better.

A while ago I gave my Aeroplan points to my sister because I knew I'd never use 'em.  She booked Montreal to Toronto on points (twice) and it still cost her over $160 for each trip, for one person.  What a rip-off!  A good seat sale on Westjet or even Porter is cheaper than that.

Anyway, to the OP, we like the TD Infinite Visa (not the Aeroplan one).  We use all points when booking travel through TD Expedia and we deduct about $800/year in travel costs.  There's no fee on the card if we keep a minimum bank balance.

You can use Aeroplan points for merchandise, such as Costco gift cards.

Gerard

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« Reply #19 on: December 04, 2016, 09:43:15 AM »
A few thoughts:

*The Amex gold card that gives American Express points can be a good deal. Often free to sign up, and Amex points transfer 1:1 to Aeroplan, and you get two points per dollar spent for travel purchases. Plus, they give you points for referrals. If you and a spouse are signing up, make sure one of you signs up first and refers the other one. Amex has a platinum card which comes with many other benefits (50K signup points, lounge access, annual partner ticket) but has a $500 signup fee, so is probably only worth it if you fly a lot.

*Like any plan, aeroplan has its good and bad redemption options. Hotels and gift cards are bad... you'd be better off using the Tangerine cash-back card instead.

*Also bad: short-haul flights on competitive routes (Toronto-Montreal is a stunningly awful use of points). A really really good use of points: long-haul North American return tickets, especially to less competitive destinations, with a free stopover. Say, Newfoundland-San Francisco-Vancouver/Toronto-Newfoundland. Cash ticket is about $1000, but it's only $190 and 25,000 aeroplan points.

*To avoid massive fee gouging, don't use aeroplan points for overseas tickets on Air Canada or Lufthansa (among others). Go with United or Swiss or Turkish (among others) instead. Full listing at http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/air-canada-aeroplan/1343338-carriers-little-no-fuel-surcharges-award-travel.html

*Don't give your points to someone else; aeroplan now charges a fee for this. If you want someone to fly on your points, just book the ticket yourself.

*Remember that cash fares for most airline tickets in Canada are near all-time lows right now, thanks to cheap oil, so any redemption will look comparatively less appealing than it would in other situations. When you can fly to Asia for $700, it's hard to justify burning up points.

Take-away message: Any Canadian with good credit who's new to this should be able to score 70,000 points in sign-up bonuses (Amex, TD, CIBC), and with a little work find some pretty decent trips to spend them on. Not American-level generosity, but $1400 worth of points for a couple of hours' work is not so bad.

FIRE_at_45

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« Reply #20 on: December 04, 2016, 10:22:34 AM »
Thanks Gerald, that is a great summary and exactly what I plan on doing. 

I realize the Aeroplan booking is a pain in the ass and they charge high fees but I want to subsidize a few trips so this is a great way to do it. 

My typical flight it Vancouver-Toronto which runs between $550 - $800.  Last year I was able to book it for $450 in the summer which was very lucky.  I cannot expect to get that deal every time. 

MMMdude

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« Reply #21 on: December 04, 2016, 12:43:08 PM »
I'm a big churner and typically our two vacations per year are largely paid for by these travel rewards.

The ones I typically churn twice per year or more are:
Amex Gold, SPG Amex, Amex Bus (like someone noted it's once per lifetime now..boo)
Scotia Amex Travel
Best Western Rewards
BMO AirMiles
Capital One World Elite Mastercard
Marriott Rewards Visa
TD Aero Visa Infinite
TD Travel Rewards (can't remember the exact name of this)
CIBC Aerogold
MBNA Alaska (useful if you live on the West coast)

There are a couple good resources online
FlyerTalk MilesBuzz forum (look for the Canada specific one)
RedFlag Deals search for 'jerryhung $200' in Google and there is an onging thread re cards with signup bonuses over $200

MMMdude

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« Reply #22 on: December 04, 2016, 12:51:07 PM »
And as for Aeroplan sucking for flights - for the most part yes, however there are alot of resources online to figure out how to maximize the points for overseas travel.  I typically use my Aeroplan points for hotel stays or flights within North America which admittedly don't have the best points per reward ratio but I don't care as the biggest value for me is using the points in a timely manner rather than extracting 100% value.

Also, even if you use the AP points for gift cards it is pretty easy to get 100K AP points per year which is easily $800 value in gift cards....if your spouse does it too, then you are looking at double

K-ice

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« Reply #23 on: December 04, 2016, 12:55:19 PM »
Following.

Tickets to Europe cost me $900 each last year.
Prairies to "Eastern Europe".

That was a good deal. Usually $1200+

This year I used points and it cost $700 per ticket.

Sometimes I can't believe the fees are so high and all those points were really only worth $200.

MMMdude

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« Reply #24 on: December 04, 2016, 01:27:58 PM »
Following.

Tickets to Europe cost me $900 each last year.
Prairies to "Eastern Europe".

That was a good deal. Usually $1200+

This year I used points and it cost $700 per ticket.

Sometimes I can't believe the fees are so high and all those points were really only worth $200.

From what I understand, the trick is to fly on non Canadian airlines  that codeshare with Air Canada.  Now on their website you can't find that stuff, you have to actually call in and pay the $25 booking fee to get access to those flights I believe.  Someone else should be able to chime in on how it's actually done.

This is one reason i like the Alaska Airlines card - it allows flights to Europe via Iceland Air and are readily available on their site.  Europe for about $50 bucks in taxes with stopover in Iceland - yes please.  Not overly useful if you are in Eastern Canada though

FIRE_at_45

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« Reply #25 on: December 04, 2016, 04:09:33 PM »
I'm a big churner and typically our two vacations per year are largely paid for by these travel rewards.

The ones I typically churn twice per year or more are:
Amex Gold, SPG Amex, Amex Bus (like someone noted it's once per lifetime now..boo)
Scotia Amex Travel
Best Western Rewards
BMO AirMiles
Capital One World Elite Mastercard
Marriott Rewards Visa
TD Aero Visa Infinite
TD Travel Rewards (can't remember the exact name of this)
CIBC Aerogold
MBNA Alaska (useful if you live on the West coast)

There are a couple good resources online
FlyerTalk MilesBuzz forum (look for the Canada specific one)
RedFlag Deals search for 'jerryhung $200' in Google and there is an onging thread re cards with signup bonuses over $200

Wow, you are pretty badass!  So, when it comes to the churning how long do you have to wait until you can go back to the same card?


MMMdude

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« Reply #26 on: December 04, 2016, 09:52:19 PM »
I'm a big churner and typically our two vacations per year are largely paid for by these travel rewards.

The ones I typically churn twice per year or more are:
Amex Gold, SPG Amex, Amex Bus (like someone noted it's once per lifetime now..boo)
Scotia Amex Travel
Best Western Rewards
BMO AirMiles
Capital One World Elite Mastercard
Marriott Rewards Visa
TD Aero Visa Infinite
TD Travel Rewards (can't remember the exact name of this)
CIBC Aerogold
MBNA Alaska (useful if you live on the West coast)

There are a couple good resources online
FlyerTalk MilesBuzz forum (look for the Canada specific one)
RedFlag Deals search for 'jerryhung $200' in Google and there is an onging thread re cards with signup bonuses over $200

Wow, you are pretty badass!  So, when it comes to the churning how long do you have to wait until you can go back to the same card?

Rule of thumb is six months, however some of them are more lax.  TD for example doesn't seem to care. Hell, CIBC even allows multiple cards to get the bonus (just tell them card A is for personal, card B is for business, Card C is for whatever).  Some were abusing MBNA Alaska - you could apply for up to 10 at one....they closed that loophole in the last few months.  At some point it is borderline fraud - I don't get into any shenanigans myself.

Oh another good resource is 'reddit credit card churn canada' thread.

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« Reply #27 on: December 06, 2016, 08:58:36 PM »
Just signed up for the Amazon.ca card to save $20 at checkout.  No annual fee.  2% on Amazon and 1% on everything else.  Not better then other cashback cards.  Will call and cut up when it arrives. 

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« Reply #28 on: December 07, 2016, 06:41:37 AM »
Just signed up for the Amazon.ca card to save $20 at checkout.  No annual fee.  2% on Amazon and 1% on everything else.  Not better then other cashback cards.  Will call and cut up when it arrives.

The Amazon VISA card is good on no foreign exchange fee on international transactions (2.5% on pretty much every other card out there), so there's that if you do travel!

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« Reply #29 on: December 07, 2016, 07:12:12 AM »
Just signed up for the Amazon.ca card to save $20 at checkout.  No annual fee.  2% on Amazon and 1% on everything else.  Not better then other cashback cards.  Will call and cut up when it arrives.

This card is the absolute best default card in the country. Assuming you ever go out of the country.

Next in line is probably the PCF 3% mastercard if you shop at PC shops, and the Tangerine one. If I could only have two credit cards, the Amazon one would probably be one of them!

*Edit* Well, the Chase card failed me today - wouldn't allow booking on the French railway site. Had to use a Mastercard which works with the SecurePass (I think) form of security. Sigh.

On the plus side... booked some flights and trains :)
« Last Edit: December 07, 2016, 02:25:34 PM by daverobev »

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« Reply #30 on: December 07, 2016, 09:11:11 AM »
DH is dual citizen so we have CCs in both US and Canada. US is certainly more lucrative but the Cdn game is worth playing. I usually consider it worth my time if I get $150-$200 worth of value. (In comparison, for US credit cards I need $200-600 of value in the bonus)

I started many years ago with the Capital One World Aspire. I don't know what the current bonus is but back then it was $120 annual fee for a bonus worth $300. I quickly learned that even after a lot of reading, I don't always understand the intricacies of redemption. I made it work - but not for my original redemption plans. Still, I felt it was worth it and even kept the card for 2-3 years until I couldn't convince DH to keep paying the annual fees (we discovered the fun of churning).

A couple of years ago, I got the Marriott CC and thought that was pretty worth it. It's one I recommend to newbie friends because it is a very tangible value and its relatively easy to redeem and understand.

I like the Starwood CC but the annual fee kills. I did suck it up and pay the annual fee this year because I was working on earning points for a specific redemption. I do like that I can actually get hotels in places I want to stay for the base 3,000 points (not often the case with IHG, Marriott, or Hilton).

Last year, I worked on Airmiles for the first time in years. I was planning a trip to Disneyland in California and there are few other options for discounted tickets. I ended up earning enough points to get 2 tickets (worth about US$600) with about 4-5 CC applications between my husband and I. Since we were going to buy the tix regardless, I felt it was a great redemption. It was pretty easy to amass the 4700 airmiles needed since there are so many airmiles CCs.

I kept the BMO Airmiles CC afterwards (no annual fee) and used it as my main spending card. Since I also applied for other cards in between, I would guess I only spent about $10k or so over the past year on the card (so not much). When convenient, I also worked the Rexall airmiles promos (only for household supplies I would buy anyway that were on sale). Just with that, I was somehow able to earn enough airmiles for another Disney ticket for an impromptu weekend trip to Orlando this year (about US $300). I had originally planned to use it for flights but when I actually looked, I felt the taxes/fees were out of my price range. Plus, you CANNOT fly out of the US - flights MUST originate in Canada. I live close to the border and much prefer to fly from the US so I didn't like this.

Last year I also got the TD Infinite Visa (not Aeroplan) and I liked it well enough. Annual Fee waived (have to watch for that promo) and enough points for up to $200 redemption on Expedia. Unfortunately for me, I could not make that Expedia redemption work for any of my vacation plans. I had originally gotten the card planning to book a flight - but it ended up being cheaper/more convenient to book my flight using my flight miles. So I ended up with about $170 x 2 (DH and I both applied) in value for the book any way redemption. I did feel it was worth it as I used it for an Ontario Parks campground reservation and an AirBnb stay. The leftover $30 or so I was able to redeem for restaurant meals! Now THAT blew my mind (since it is so rare, yet so essential when traveling). It can also be used for show tickets, cabs, rental cars, bus tickets, campground reservations, etc. The redemption for AirBnB and food ended up being easy  - a quick phone call and they happily applied my points to my purchase. (For restaurants, etc - you have to be in a city different from your home city for it to qualify). Considering that it is rare enough to find reward points for Airbnb/campground/meals redemptions, I was very pleased.

We also just got the PCF 3% mastercard and we'll see how it goes. DH is happy about the dining gift card that was the bonus for applying. We'll use it for a meal or two out this month. I'm not as crazy about cashback cards though. I know cash is king - but mentally, we do better with travel rewards cards. Cash just disappears into our general bank account and doesn't inspire us to travel as much. And I like any excuse to travel :)

I'd like to try Aeroplan next since it is easy to get lots of aeroplan miles. But I am nervous about learning a new miles system and redemption may not end up being worth all the effort in the end - the taxes/fees might end up wiping out most of the value.

Wow - this got long. If there's one thing I've learned - it is to consider your redemptions BEFORE you apply for the card. I've also become OK with less-than-worthy redemptions and rather than looking for value-for-money, I look for value-to-me. I don't value luxury travel highly (5 star hotels are nice, but I'm content in 2 star places) so spending $200 to get a $1000/night hotel is not worth it to me. But spending $40 to get a $100/night hotel is a reasonable redemption to me.
« Last Edit: December 07, 2016, 09:18:25 AM by elaine amj »

elaine amj

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« Reply #31 on: December 07, 2016, 09:22:26 AM »

Rule of thumb is six months, however some of them are more lax.  TD for example doesn't seem to care. Hell, CIBC even allows multiple cards to get the bonus (just tell them card A is for personal, card B is for business, Card C is for whatever).  Some were abusing MBNA Alaska - you could apply for up to 10 at one....they closed that loophole in the last few months.  At some point it is borderline fraud - I don't get into any shenanigans myself.

Oh another good resource is 'reddit credit card churn canada' thread.

Hmm...I haven't got into serious churning - I mostly keep my cards for 11 months and wait 2-3 years before reapplying. I am going to have to give this a shot - maybe start with the reward programs I know and am used to like TD Infinite and Marriott. I am planning that next year, we will be mostly camping and the TD Infinite would be awesome for that (campground redemption and food!).

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« Reply #32 on: December 07, 2016, 10:34:37 AM »

Rule of thumb is six months, however some of them are more lax.  TD for example doesn't seem to care. Hell, CIBC even allows multiple cards to get the bonus (just tell them card A is for personal, card B is for business, Card C is for whatever).  Some were abusing MBNA Alaska - you could apply for up to 10 at one....they closed that loophole in the last few months.  At some point it is borderline fraud - I don't get into any shenanigans myself.

Oh another good resource is 'reddit credit card churn canada' thread.

Hmm...I haven't got into serious churning - I mostly keep my cards for 11 months and wait 2-3 years before reapplying. I am going to have to give this a shot - maybe start with the reward programs I know and am used to like TD Infinite and Marriott. I am planning that next year, we will be mostly camping and the TD Infinite would be awesome for that (campground redemption and food!).

*Edit* to put this outside the quotes!

I'm considering re-applying for the Marriott one myself. Got to book some flights, actually, which is a major headache.

*Second edit* and here's why I'm probably NOT going to bother with the Marriott card - they are so expensive (the hotels). I just booked a night in any old hotel, Paris for ~$70. The Marriott hotels are like 30k points = (theoretical) $30k of spending. I know that's not apples to apples but still - if you're not going to stay in 'swanky' hotels normally, the Marriott card is poor. Even 50k points... well, in theory I suppose it's $500, but it's $500 on a luxury watch when a $70 one will do just as well...
« Last Edit: December 07, 2016, 02:28:49 PM by daverobev »

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« Reply #33 on: December 07, 2016, 11:15:57 AM »
Great overview elaine AMJ.

If you do look at Aeroplan, look into how to sell off or transfer your points to other redemption airlines..  most people think that is the best way to use them.

For cashback redemption, the MBNA card is pretty good.  $89 fee is waived first year, and you redeem your cash back in increments of $25 as they build up.   In contrast the Scotia Bank card had a higher fee $130 for two cards, not waived, and applies the cash back in the third week of November (to encourage you to shop, but also traps you into keeping the card and fee another year).

MBNA has a flat 2% on everything, and Scotia has 4% groceries, 2% Rx and repeats, and 1% on all else.   I was surprised how much non-grocery I can put onto a credit card, now with 2 teenagers and the insurance companies, charities, utilities and some school tuition being accepted on cc's.   I think property taxes and mortgage are the primary hold outs for no cc's here.   

Anyway, that makes the MBNA worth it for my in-canada purchases, as long as you never trigger exchange, late or over limit fees.

The other reward card that makes sense to us is the SCENE card, for free movies / discounts, for the reason you mentioned -- identify how you will use the rewards, first!

Question -- TD Infinite -- does it work out to more than 2% when you apply it to camping fees?  That could be interesting...

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« Reply #34 on: December 07, 2016, 12:18:53 PM »
Question -- TD Infinite -- does it work out to more than 2% when you apply it to camping fees?  That could be interesting...

I only used it for the bonus - didn't seem worth it otherwise. They claim a 1.5% return on regular purchases - but that is when you redeem through Expedia Travel. The redemption rate is less when you redeem for campgrounds/restaurants/hotels booked elsewhere, etc. It ended up being worth it to me as I couldn't find anything on Expedia Travel for the price range I wanted. Also, there are precious few reward points that let you redeem for campgrounds.

I have been focusing almost entirely on bonuses in the last couple of years and rarely pay attention to regular earn rates any more. This means I typically bounce to a new card every 2-3 months putting my efforts into meeting min spends.

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« Reply #35 on: December 12, 2016, 09:24:37 PM »
The 3rd cc arrived today in the mail.  I have to adjust my mindset because I've always looked at cc's like they are trouble.  We've all heard of the person balancing 13 cards and swimming in debt.  Not me.

I agree with elaine that you really have to think about your goals of the churning.  Mine are travel and cash.

One that hasn't made the list is the RBC Avion.  I had this one for 2 years and it was decent.  They waived the first year and through the course of the second year with a $120 fee I racked up enough points for about $700 in travel.  One word of caution though.  I you don't book your travel and try to downgrade to a lesser version with no annual fee they cut your points in half.  That was a big disappointment because I had the points but no trip but then got stuck with the fee.  One thing to note though on all cards (I think) is that you can cancel midstream and get credited back the prorated amount of the time.  Maybe someone could verify from their experience?  At the end of my experience with RBC they paid out my points with useful cash cards - Esso gas card was my favourite.   

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« Reply #36 on: December 14, 2016, 09:40:38 PM »

Rule of thumb is six months, however some of them are more lax.  TD for example doesn't seem to care. Hell, CIBC even allows multiple cards to get the bonus (just tell them card A is for personal, card B is for business, Card C is for whatever).  Some were abusing MBNA Alaska - you could apply for up to 10 at one....they closed that loophole in the last few months.  At some point it is borderline fraud - I don't get into any shenanigans myself.

Oh another good resource is 'reddit credit card churn canada' thread.

Hmm...I haven't got into serious churning - I mostly keep my cards for 11 months and wait 2-3 years before reapplying. I am going to have to give this a shot - maybe start with the reward programs I know and am used to like TD Infinite and Marriott. I am planning that next year, we will be mostly camping and the TD Infinite would be awesome for that (campground redemption and food!).

*Edit* to put this outside the quotes!

I'm considering re-applying for the Marriott one myself. Got to book some flights, actually, which is a major headache.

*Second edit* and here's why I'm probably NOT going to bother with the Marriott card - they are so expensive (the hotels). I just booked a night in any old hotel, Paris for ~$70. The Marriott hotels are like 30k points = (theoretical) $30k of spending. I know that's not apples to apples but still - if you're not going to stay in 'swanky' hotels normally, the Marriott card is poor. Even 50k points... well, in theory I suppose it's $500, but it's $500 on a luxury watch when a $70 one will do just as well...

One thing to keep in mind is that Marriott and Starwood are merging.  The 50K link will convert to 16,667 SPG points good for three nights in a $400 per night hotel type thing....but yes you are correct Marriott is not as good as Starwood hotels in major centers....Marriott i find is better in mid tier to smaller cities though.  Presumably most people though are traveling to places like New York, not Des Moines Iowa or whatever.

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« Reply #37 on: December 15, 2016, 09:33:27 AM »

One thing to keep in mind is that Marriott and Starwood are merging.  The 50K link will convert to 16,667 SPG points good for three nights in a $400 per night hotel type thing....but yes you are correct Marriott is not as good as Starwood hotels in major centers....Marriott i find is better in mid tier to smaller cities though.  Presumably most people though are traveling to places like New York, not Des Moines Iowa or whatever.

WOW - where are you getting those deals? That's awesome! I find 3k SPG points gets me a Four Points by Sheraton near an airport and it takes 10KSPG points to get nice Sheratons/Westins in high demand locations. Haven't found anything that meets my travel needs anywhere in between yet.

That said, Marriott is no better. i'm not too fussy where I stay (2.5 stars suits me) but I usually end up redeeming Marriotts for about 20-30k points/night. I transferred all my SPG to American Airlines and my Marriott were redeemed for nights & flights (LOVED this as I got a Southwest Companion Pass out of this). I do find the programs useful as I can merge points earned by both DH and I.
« Last Edit: December 15, 2016, 11:05:53 AM by elaine amj »

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« Reply #38 on: December 15, 2016, 10:21:45 PM »

One thing to keep in mind is that Marriott and Starwood are merging.  The 50K link will convert to 16,667 SPG points good for three nights in a $400 per night hotel type thing....but yes you are correct Marriott is not as good as Starwood hotels in major centers....Marriott i find is better in mid tier to smaller cities though.  Presumably most people though are traveling to places like New York, not Des Moines Iowa or whatever.

WOW - where are you getting those deals? That's awesome! I find 3k SPG points gets me a Four Points by Sheraton near an airport and it takes 10KSPG points to get nice Sheratons/Westins in high demand locations. Haven't found anything that meets my travel needs anywhere in between yet.

That said, Marriott is no better. i'm not too fussy where I stay (2.5 stars suits me) but I usually end up redeeming Marriotts for about 20-30k points/night. I transferred all my SPG to American Airlines and my Marriott were redeemed for nights & flights (LOVED this as I got a Southwest Companion Pass out of this). I do find the programs useful as I can merge points earned by both DH and I.

I'm Canadian so my $400 is really more like your $300.  The redemption definitely changes based on dates at least for SPG it does as far as i can tell.  Also I assume like zero people actually pay the rack rate on the hotel's websites compared to expedia, trivago, etc

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« Reply #39 on: March 05, 2017, 11:59:44 AM »
Best card for Aeroplan Points

Well, I think I've collected the 25,000 points from the TD card.  I'm just waiting for the last 10,000 to drop in my account.  Is anyone up-to-speed on the next best one right now? 


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« Reply #40 on: March 06, 2017, 08:21:17 AM »
There are quite a few AMEX options for aeroplan cards.

Amex Gold is at FYF and 25000 pts for 1500$ in three months. Easy enough if you buy gift cards.

Check on Red Flag deals for more details (Or GCR)
« Last Edit: March 06, 2017, 08:25:04 AM by Canadian Ben »

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« Reply #41 on: March 06, 2017, 09:48:29 AM »
There are quite a few AMEX options for aeroplan cards.

Amex Gold is at FYF and 25000 pts for 1500$ in three months. Easy enough if you buy gift cards.

Check on Red Flag deals for more details (Or GCR)

Thanks, I will check the particulars on that one.


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« Reply #42 on: March 06, 2017, 02:17:11 PM »
Curious about Aeroplan in general. I haven't used it before and so far, air miles has only been good for attraction tickets - flight taxes have been so high it's practically pointless for me.

Can anyone tell me what redemptions they've particularly liked with Aeroplan? And any pitfalls you've encountered?

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« Reply #43 on: March 06, 2017, 04:49:30 PM »
Curious about Aeroplan in general. I haven't used it before and so far, air miles has only been good for attraction tickets - flight taxes have been so high it's practically pointless for me.

Can anyone tell me what redemptions they've particularly liked with Aeroplan? And any pitfalls you've encountered?

Here's a flight I want to book.  It says $160 (+25,000 Aeroplan points) in taxes for this flight but $544 to buy a ticket.  So that's still a savings of $384 for opening up one credit card and complying with the minimum purchases.



Note: I'll soon have the 25,000 miles so I would not pay for any miles...that's ridiculous. 

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« Reply #44 on: March 06, 2017, 09:19:35 PM »
Curious about Aeroplan in general. I haven't used it before and so far, air miles has only been good for attraction tickets - flight taxes have been so high it's practically pointless for me.

Can anyone tell me what redemptions they've particularly liked with Aeroplan? And any pitfalls you've encountered?

Here's a flight I want to book.  It says $160 (+25,000 Aeroplan points) in taxes for this flight but $544 to buy a ticket.  So that's still a savings of $384 for opening up one credit card and complying with the minimum purchases.



Note: I'll soon have the 25,000 miles so I would not pay for any miles...that's ridiculous.

Thanks! This helps. I am way too used to airmiles in the US where I only have to pay $5.60 in taxes each way. And also used to only spending about $200 - 400 max for a roundtrip flight (I usually only to fly to places with cheaper flights). I haven't explored much of Canada yet because I tend to freak out at Canadian flight prices in general.

Its good to know that I can expect to pay about $160 in taxes and fees. It helps me adjust my expectations.

I have both the East Coast and the West Coast on my bucket list!


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« Reply #45 on: March 07, 2017, 06:08:53 AM »
You can get the fees quite a bit lower if you can find flights that aren't with Air Canada

If you find airlines such as AA, you can cut those fees down to almost nothing.

If you google the airlines that don't add fees with aeroplan, you'll see the difference.

(the Aeroplan search function is very crappy at choosing different options of flights though)

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« Reply #46 on: March 07, 2017, 07:28:46 AM »
You can get the fees quite a bit lower if you can find flights that aren't with Air Canada

If you find airlines such as AA, you can cut those fees down to almost nothing.

If you google the airlines that don't add fees with aeroplan, you'll see the difference.

(the Aeroplan search function is very crappy at choosing different options of flights though)

Thanks, I've heard that and its helpful for flying to the US.

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« Reply #47 on: March 07, 2017, 07:30:49 AM »
Or Europe, or anywhere Other than Canada to Canada! (or if you are willing to detour through US, it also works Canada-US-Canada)

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« Reply #48 on: March 07, 2017, 07:40:48 AM »
Or Europe, or anywhere Other than Canada to Canada! (or if you are willing to detour through US, it also works Canada-US-Canada)

That's a good point I hadn't considered.  I'll check that out.

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« Reply #49 on: March 07, 2017, 07:47:37 AM »
Here's a good explanation on aeroplane miles...

https://www.howtosavemoney.ca/Rewards/Airline/Aeroplan