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What is the best rewards card for me given my spending habits ?
April 13, 2014
10:08 pm
Putitonthecard
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Hello Everyonesf-smile,

I have had the TD first class infinite card and the TD Gold Elite card for over 4 years now. Never had so much as a late payment. I have decided to look and see if there are better cards for me.

Here are my monthly spending habits :

Groceries : $1,000
Gas : $ 500 - 900
Bills : $500
Everything else : $ 200

Probably less than 3,000 per month.

I am willing to consider any card regardless of issuing bank , interest rate, or even annual fee if it seems worth it. I am even open to a charge card because I never carry a balance more than a few weeks.

Please chime in and tell me what you would get if you were in my shoes .sf-confused

Thank you ,
Samantha

April 14, 2014
7:44 am
Loonie
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Are you saying that you put all of these expenses on the credit card, so that you put in total about 36,000/yr on the cards? Generally speaking, the more you put on the card, the more worthwhile it is to have a card with a fee.
Another consideration is, what kind of reward are you looking to get? Do you want travel, cashback, or something else?
Do you need or want the insurance policies that a lot of credit cards offer? If so, which ones? They can potentially save you a lot if you rely on them.
There are a lot of things to consider.

April 14, 2014
7:51 am
Putitonthecard
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I try to avoid using cash or debit. I try to do everything on the card(s) so that I can accumulate rewards. To me, the card that will offer the highest percentage return is the best one. The form of the rewards does not matter to me. I probably would not have much need for the insurance offerings. Travel rewards cards seem to offer the highest value from what I have seen.

Thank you !

April 14, 2014
8:38 am
GS1
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I primarily use two Mastercards, and like you seem to do, put EVERYTHING on the cards.

I use a Capital One Aspire Cash World Mastercard for most purchases, except as noted below. It is a no fee, 1.5% cash back card, with 1% of that coming as you earn it and the other 0.5% is paid out at the card's anniversary. The "points" go into a reward account and you need to decided when to do something about them. They will mail you a cheque or use the points to reduce your current balance. I move them monthly to reduce my balance. (I never carry a balance from statement to statement on any card.)

My second primary card is an MBNA Smart World Mastercard - no fee, first $400 of grocery and gas spending in the calendar month gets 2% back as points. When 5000 points are accumulated they mail you a $50 cheque. I use it from the 1st of the month till I hit the $400 of monthly spending.

I also have an Amex Air Miles card - used only at Costco and it collects Air Miles, an RBC Shoppers Optimum Mastercard - used only at Shoppers Drug Mart and it collects Shoppers Optimum points, an RBC Target Mastercard used only at Target and that gives me a 5% discount on all purchases there, a CIBC Dividend Visa Card that I use for anywhere that doesn't take Mastercard, it gives me UP TO 1% back but I never reach the spending limits needed.

I also have a CIBC Petro Canada Mastercard for when the price of gas makes their 2 cents per litre discount better than the 2% or 1.5% from the two primary cards, an Amazon Visa card, a Home Depot, Citibank, I think, Mastercard and likely one or two more - all these were opened to get some sort of amazing opening offer.

Greg
GS

April 14, 2014
8:45 am
Putitonthecard
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Hello Greg,

Thank you for taking the time to write a detailed response. It seems like you have credit cards figured out ! How do you get out of paying for the Capital One Aspire Cash World Mastercard ? I looked on their site and it says there is a 120 annual fee . What would you recommend for US purchases ? Is there a card that provides rewards for purchases in USD without charging a premium for conversion ?

Thanks again !

Samantha

April 14, 2014
9:21 am
jgclghrn
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Here is a link to a website that tries to compare various travel reward cards. It looks like the latest comparisons were posted last month. I hope it helps.

http://www.rewardscanada.ca/

April 14, 2014
9:23 am
Loonie
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I think Amazon and Marriott both have cards that are good for US purchase. You would need to check the details, as I don't own the cards. They are both offered by Chase bank.

Here is the link for the amazon one
http://www.amazon.ca/gp/cobran.....eting.html?

I am amazed at how many cards you have, GS! I didn't know it was possible!

April 14, 2014
9:37 am
Peter
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Here's a quick summary of the Canadian dollar credit cards that do not charge an extra US dollar conversion fee (although they still charge a spread on the exchange rate just like all cards):

https://www.highinterestsavings.ca/2012/07/canadian-credit-cards-that-waive-foreign-currency-transaction-fees/

April 14, 2014
10:41 am
AltaRed
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I primarily use a Capital One Aspire Cash World mastercard (got it last year when the promotions were the best) and a CIBC Dividend visa card - same as GS above. Total annual purchases on both circa $50k or so. I do not pay fees an either of those cards.

I also have an Amex rewards card for Costco purchases and a USD Wells Fargo Visa rewards card for my US purchases and/or International travel that prices stuff prefentially in USD (no fee paid here either).

April 14, 2014
10:48 am
Putitonthecard
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How do you get away from paying the fee on the Capital One Aspire Cash World Mastercard ? I just called them and they told me that there is no way of getting out of paying the annual fee .

Thanks,
Samantha

April 14, 2014
12:48 pm
Rick
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Depends on where you do most of your shopping and what kind of rewards you would use. I also charge EVERYTHING and pay the cards off every month. I have the Amazon Visa for all my US purchases. I shop a lot over the border, and also have it linked to my on-line payment service and to my US on-line memberships. The exchange rate is about 1% higher than the posted daily exchange rate, but still much cheaper than the other cards that charge a premium of 2.5% plus exchange for converting your money. They also take a few days to post the charge, so you pay the rate for the day it's posted instead of the day you charge it. You can see your pending transactions on their web site almost immediately though. They will give you a one time 30 or 35 (I forget exactly) dollar credit to use on Amazon.ca (NOT .com) and when your accumulated purchases total 2000.00, they apply a $20.00 credit to your account... so 1 point per dollar spent (double points on Amazon.ca). Basically a 1% exchange rate bonus. For my Canadian Purchases, I have a BoM Mosaik M/C with air miles. We cash them every year for gift certificates or rewards as Christmas presents for the kids. We don't find much savings on air travel with Air Miles as taxes aren't included when you book a flight using them, and it can take a while to accumulate any significant miles. Taking advantage of merchant bonuses really helps. I also have an American Express Air Miles card as Amex is the only card Costco takes, and they have bonus air miles promotions occasionally. Couple seasons ago they gave me 1000 air miles for charging $3000.00 between Oct and December. Put my car insurance, usual air miles shopping and some Christmas purchases on it and reached 3000 in no time. Unfortunately, They didn't offer that promo this last season. Also, with select Air Miles merchants, Amex will give you 1 air mile for every 15 dollars spent instead of 20. One thing I didn't appreciate about Amex...when I got my credit report, it seems they do a soft check every month. Finally the wife has a Scotia Bank Scene Visa. 1 point for every dollar and every 1000 point gets a free admission to a Cineplex Odeon theater (we see a LOT of movies). I find Scotia bank a little behind the times as you have to go get one of their debit cards, even though we don't bank there, to access your account on line. They are the only one I have ever used that actually round your purchases UP to the nearest dollar before awarding the points. Basically...decide what kind of rewards you would actually use and go with the one that would get you points fastest.
sf-cool

April 14, 2014
5:42 pm
CharlieFox
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The Cap1 Apsire Travel MC cards got downgraded late 2013/early 2014. They got rid of the World version and removed the 0.25% bonus on the Platinum version. So now it's just a flat 1% with annual fee. Still worthwhile if the benefits suits you.

MBNA has a 2% cb card. The Rewards Platinum or World versions. Both 2%, both has fees, both with extra benefits. The difference is the World version has concierge service.

If you dont want forex fees, the Chase Amazon.ca, Chase Sears, and Chase Meriott will accomplish that. I believe the Amazon.ca and Sears one is no annual fee also.

I currently use the Amazon.ca as my main one as was declinced for the Cap1 Apsire World MC (1.5% cb) and also the MBNA RTP (2% cb). The Amazon.ca gives me 1% cb, but it's still better than my old TD Rebates Rewards.

Like Loonie said, you'll have to research and do the math yourself. Only you yourself know your situation. We can really only give card suggestions for our situations.

April 14, 2014
8:56 pm
GS1
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Loonie said

[snip]

I am amazed at how many cards you have, GS! I didn't know it was possible!

I forgot I also have a PC Financial Mastercard. sf-smile

I got really pissed at them a few years ago and told them to cancel the card. I figured it was good and dead and last year an email arrived telling me my statement was available online. I went and looked and sure enough there it was. Last time I used it was December of 2009. I don't have the physical card but the account is open.

I have specific uses for all the cards I hold with the possible exception of the Amazon Visa and the Home Depot Mastercard. Both of those were applied for to get the opening bonus.

Greg

April 14, 2014
9:08 pm
GS1
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Putitonthecard said

[snip]

What would you recommend for US purchases ? Is there a card that provides rewards for purchases in USD without charging a premium for conversion ?

Thanks again !

Samantha

Samantha:

I have two US$ cards -- one US based and one Canadian based. I buy US$ and hold it in my ING US$ account for when I need to pay either card down.

The US based card is from RBC Bank (Georgia) and the Canadian based one is what someone here called BMO Mosaik, but the Mosaik name is long gone. I use the RBC card ONLY when the BMO card won't work -- such as to top up my US Tracfone which needs a US based card to work. Everything else goes on the BMO card. I pay them $49 per year to get 1% back and most years come out ahead by a few dollars.

I also pay them $329 per year for 31 days of unlimited out of province travel insurance. This is cheaper than the additional coverage I get for my longer trips. Travel insurance is a real nightmare when one really reads the policy. I have a good friend who just settled a lawsuit and it only cost $15k for the lawyer to fight a $100k bill.

Greg

April 14, 2014
10:40 pm
Loonie
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Your ability to zoom through all these institutions amazes me, Greg!

A couple of q's: For the RBC (Georgia) card, don't you have to be an American resident or citizen? The app calls for zip code, not postal code, but doesn't specify beyond that as far as I have noticed, but all other US cards I have ever looked at left me ineligible on account of not being an American.
Also, when you go to pay your US$ credit cards out of your ING US$ account, how do you go about this so as to avoid converting back and forth to Cdn $? Other options I have looked into seem to require this annoying (and expensive) 2-step process. The ING US$ account is not a chequing account, so I presume you don't write a cheque.

thanks

April 15, 2014
9:27 am
GS1
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Loonie:

My RBC Bank (Georgia) card is part of the Cross Border Banking package (free almost) from RBC. I say almost free as their Checking account incurs a $2.95 per month fee. I hold my nose each month and pay it. I have their checking account with a debit card (the only debit card I use) that comes in handy at Costco in the US as I don't want to use my Canadian$ Amex card in the US. I also have their previously mentioned US$ Visa card as well as a $2000 line of credit to cover overdrafts on the checking account. I set that up when RBC Bank had branches in the US and the account person I was dealing with got "bonus points" when customers added products. I liked him and it cost me nothing.

I asked them to increase it from $2k to $4k last year and they agreed to increase it, but only to $3.5k and sent me 5 pounds of paper to fill out. I still have it here collecting dust. (The banks really need to look at their customer's banking as a whole rather than as individual silos. One could generate $20,000 of profit for the bank in one area and then be nickeled and dimed to death in another.)

TD has a similar package with a higher fee - but it could be waived with a minimum balance if I recall correctly.

I've been an RBC customer for 50+ years and now have all my primary banking with them, and don't mind most of their practices, so don't want to change. I pay no fees with them other than trading fees at Direct Investing and the smelly $2.95 US$ checking account fee that really irks me.

To pay my BMO US$ Mastercard balance I have it set to automatically be paid from my US$ BMO chequeing account. When I need to pay it I initiate a transfer from ING US$ account to BMO US$ account and that flows the money. At times I have needed to transfer money from my RBC US based US$ account or my RBC DI US$ trading account to my RBC Canadian based US$ account and from there I need ING to pull it to ING and then push it to BMO. When that happens I need an extra 7 days to let it settle in ING. (It's OK -- I have it all figured out!)

Greg

April 15, 2014
9:58 am
Loonie
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Thanks for the info, Greg. I did not know that such things were possible, especially direct transfer of US $ from bank account to pay cc bill.116

April 15, 2014
3:05 pm
GS1
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Loonie:

Remember, it is a US$ bank account paying a US$ credit card.

Greg

April 15, 2014
4:28 pm
Loonie
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Yes, I see that. When I tried to arrange this some years back, they said it couldn't be done, and I would have to exchange into Cdn funds first, then back to US. I think that was at TD. I guess things have improved since then. Thx.

April 15, 2014
6:26 pm
kanaka
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According to BMO when you have a BMO US dollar chequing account and a US dollar MasterCard you can pay the US dollar MasterCard bill from your US dollar checking account as a transfer. Not a bad option but keep in mind you cannot post date the transfer of funds. You can also convert Canadian dollars from your BMO savings or chequing account instantly to your US dollar account at the current exchange rate. Both options do NOT have the normal 2% handling fee as you would find on most Canadian dollar credit cards used for American dollar purchase. There is a fee for the US dollar BMO MasterCard but is waived based on a annual usage of at least $1000.

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