Car

5 Ways to Save Money on Airport Parking and Transit

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Travel costs can fly high - even on the very first day of your long-awaited vacation.

The one thing that’s often overlooked?

It’s the cost of going between house, airport and hotel.

Paying for parking at the airport adds up after a few days. And yes - it can be expensive. But then again…

I live on the opposite end of the city from the airport so a cab ride is heavy on the wallet as well. When I travel, this is one of the aspects of a trip that requires me to plan ahead.

One strategy I use is to try to stay at hotels that offer a complimentary airport shuttle when we arrive in our destination. But this solution may not be for everyone.

So what are other alternatives?

Consider these 5 ideas...

1) Car Rentals

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Do You Really Need Car Rental Insurance?

doyoureallyneedcarrentalinsurance.jpgThis article was written in partnership with LowestRates.

Car rental insurance is ridiculously expensive…

… taking both the liability insurance and car damage or replacement coverage can easily double the daily cost of a rental.

The question is: do you need those expensive car rental insurance extras?

The answer is often no - or at least you can find much cheaper alternatives to get the same coverage.

You have to be careful though, because laws and coverage specifics vary from place to place and policy to policy. If you find yourself in a foreign province or country without the correct coverage, you could be on the hook for huge sums of money.

Use this guide as a starting point, then double check with your insurer and the rental agency to make sure you’re covered.

Vastly Different Types of Coverage

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5 Best Ways To Redeem Your Air Miles

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Air Miles may have decided to cancel their their expiration policy - but that doesn't mean you should wait to redeem your miles.

Why?

Because Air Miles was banking on huge profits from being able to take millions of unredeemed miles off their books and keep that money for themselves. Now they can't...

... And who do you think is going to foot the bill?

You'd be right if you're thinking they are going to try and make their collectors pay for their misfortune in some other way! They even admitted that much in a financial disclosure to their investors as reported by The Globe and Mail.

It’s time to stop 'dreaming' about a glorious future redemption and get real about what you can actually get for your points today before they’re worth much less.

Want to get the BEST value for your Air Miles? Download the PDF version of this guide - and read it anywhere when you want.

Your Options For Redeeming Air Miles

A big change to the Air Miles program, Air Miles “Cash”, was announced back in 2011. At the same time, the clock on this new 5 year expiry policy started ticking that has now been abolished.

If you chose to switch your points to 100% Air Miles Cash at the time, then you’re pretty safe. Just go to a participating Air Miles sponsor in your area - maybe a gas station or grocery store - and get part, or all, of your purchase for free.

With Air Miles Cash, your miles can always be redeemed at a rate of 95 miles = $10. That gives each single mile a value of 10.5 cents. This is known as the cost per mile or CPM and is an easy way of comparing reward value.

You calculate CPM by taking the real cost in dollars of the reward you are buying and dividing it by number of Air Miles required to redeem for that reward. I’m going to be using CPM throughout the rest of the article.

If you chose to stick with Air Miles 'Dream', then you have a much more difficult decision ahead of you. You can choose between a variety of rewards including travel, merchandise, events & attractions, and even sweepstakes.

Inside each one of those categories is a confusing array of additional choices. The bad news is that the selection of high value rewards has really dwindled since Air Miles Cash was introduced.

My go-to reward was always the free movie certificates because they gave a 30 cent per mile value, nearly triple the cash rate. Years ago that reward disappeared so I switched to car washes which also had a high value. Not long after, that one was gone too - followed by the great selection of gift cards they used to offer.

The good news?

There’s a few things left worth redeeming for and I’m going to tell you what they are.

Top 5 Air Miles Dream Rewards

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6 Alternatives to Owning a Car

6_alternatives_to_owning_a_car.jpgThis is no stunning revelation. But vehicles cost a lot of money to maintain.

Things like insurance, fuel, parking, tires, maintenance and repairs can add up at an accelerated rate.

One way to keep your monthly costs low is to find an alternative to owning a vehicle.

When I was in university I owned a vehicle but only had it insured during the summer months. This meant I didn’t have to pay for vehicle costs for about 8 months of the year and was able to save big.

At that time I had no choice - I was a student with little to no income, so I had to cut costs where I could. Even today, after graduating, I still try to drive as little as possible as I know vehicles can be expensive, especially with the rising cost of fuel.

Mr. Money Mustache, a Canadian-born engineer who retired at 30 and now lives in the United States, explains that vehicles are costly for most of us and advocates using a vehicle as little as possible.

6 Alternatives To Cut Your Costs

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The Best Bang For Your Esso Extra Points

thebestbangforyouressoextrapoints.jpgEsso Extra is a loyalty program offered by Esso, one of the largest gas retailers in Canada. It offers everyday rewards like car washes, gift cards and fuel to entice drivers to fill up at one of the 1,700 Imperial Oil branded gas stations.

The Esso Extra program is free to join and there are no annual membership fees. You can join online or become a member at any station with your name, a valid email and Canadian address. Once the Esso Extra card has been received, you will need to create an online account to register the card number. The online account is also used for redeeming rewards.

With the current price of regular running about $1.05/L, an average Canadian family that drives 20,000 KM/year in a vehicle with a combined city/hwy fuel economy of 9L/100 KM would pay $1,890 for a year’s worth of fuel. How many points would be accumulated and what would be the best way to use those points? Here’s what you need to know.

Earning Esso Extra Points

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Avoiding The Costly Upsell On Car Repairs

avoidingthecostlyupselloncarrepairs2.jpgI’ve written quite a few articles about saving money on cars and car repairs and even buy my own parts to save up to 90%, but I’m still far from a car expert. Just the other day I was booking an appointment to get my 2013 Santa Fe serviced, when it hit me that I may have succumbed to the upsell many times in the past.

When I called to make the appointment, the friendly lady on the line started giving me all kinds of recommendations. She informed me that my vehicle was due to have the brakes inspected and lubricated to prolong their life, that my tires should be checked for alignment to avoid tire wear, and one other thing that I can’t remember right now.

Luckily I had my wits about me, so I politely inquired about the cost of each of the services she offered me, the benefits of doing the service, and if it was necessary under the regular maintenance required for the warranty.

The brake service itself was $200 and as I started declining the services, she started offering me cheaper options ending with the $25 alignment test.

They Almost Had Me

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Getting The Most Out Of Your New Car Warranty

getthemostoutofyournewcarwarranty.jpgWhen shopping for a new vehicle, people tend to place a lot of emphasis on the warranty always looking for the best possible coverage. As such, car manufacturers compete heavily on warranty, especially foreign manufacturers.

The gold standard for new car warranties used to be 3 years bumper to bumper and after that you were on your own if something went wrong. Now it’s becoming increasingly common to see 4 and 5 year warranties, as is the case with Hyundai and Kia, and many luxury brands. Mitsubishi even goes so far to offer a 10 year powertrain warranty on some of their vehicles with a 5 year warranty on everything else. Here is a handy guide to new car warranties on Cars.com.

Related: How To Make Your New Car Last Forever

However, after having such a large influence over buying decisions, the warranty is often relegated to the back of the buyer’s mind as soon as the purchase is completed only to be thought of again if an obvious problem arises. As with a lot of things in life, it can really pay off to be proactive in your approach to your car warranty to maximize the value you get out of it and ensure the longest possible life out of your new vehicle.

Understand Your Warranty Fully

It’s pretty common for people not to understand their warranty fully, including the important exceptions it contains, and they are then surprised when they discover something they thought was covered isn’t. Bumper to bumper sounds promising doesn’t it?

The truth is there are still a lot of things that aren’t covered or have a shorter coverage period because they are considered to be subject to regular wear and tear. Typically things like brake pads, rotors, tires, cosmetic appearance, wipers, belts, batteries, hoses and certain electronic components have exclusions or exceptions because they are considered to be items that suffer from regular wear and tear.

You’ll want to review your warranty document carefully and jot down any notable exceptions that pop out at you.

Get Early Adjustments Made

During the first year almost anything and everything is covered under your warranty. If there is something you don’t like or are worried about with your new car, simply call the service department and get them to look at it. Have a small rattle that’s annoying you? Covered! Can’t figure out how to operate the fancy technology? They’d be happy to help!

Just be aware that some warranties will only allow you to come in for free adjustments once or a couple of times. If that is the case, make sure you make a comprehensive list of adjustments you’d like before you go in so that you don’t end up regretting it later after you’ve already used up that benefit.

Find Technical Service Bulletins (TSBs) For Your Vehicle

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Which Rust Proofing Service Is Best?

whichrustproofingserviceisbest.jpgIf you visit the southern USA, you will see all kinds of late model vehicles on the streets that look like they were just driven off the lot. Unless you garage your vehicle in the winter and only drive it during the summer months, you won’t see that here - snow, salt, and rust make sure of that!

Using good rust protection can prevent thousands of dollars in costly repairs and stop the metal body from wearing out long before the engine and other parts are ready to call it quits.

Want the best rust proofing there is? Download the PDF version of this comparison article.

That’s not just my own anecdotal evidence talking either, of which I have plenty. The Canadian Army has actually commissioned several studies on the benefits of rust proofing their vehicles and equipment. They’ve concluded that rust proofing definitely inhibits rust but the real kicker is that not all rust protection products are created equal, far from it.

My Personal Experience With Rust

My first experience with rust was when I still a young lad and I was standing next to my grandmother’s new-looking first generation Ford Escort hatchback that was more than a decade old. My father carefully explained to me that the reason the car was in such good shape was because it had been Rust Checked every year since it was new. He pointed out all the Rust Check stickers lined up side by side on the back hatch window that proved it.

That lesson stuck with me and I’ve used Rust Check on my vehicles ever since I was a teenager in an uncharacteristic example of brand loyalty on my part.

My First Car (Used)

My very first car was a used 1996 Pontiac Sunfire GT that was a gorgeous metallic blue. Even though it was just a Sunfire, I really loved that car! The lines were pretty, the stock wheels were sharp, and the interiour glowed a very cool looking red in the dark. I took really good care of my new baby and Rust Checked her every year religiously.

I never had much in the way of problems with rust up until I sold it in 2005. I did have one big rust spot form around the opening to the gas tank because I was a bit sloppy when gassing up and let little bits of gas spill on to the nearby paint. Over time the gas ate away at the paint and allowed it to rust. That kind of thing can’t be prevented with Rust Check because it’s the paint’s job to protect all painted surfaces. I shouldn’t have been so careless.

I had that one rust spot fixed and the car still looked practically new when I sold it at almost 10 years old.

Related: How To Make Your New Car Last Forever

My Second Car (New)

Having just scored my dream job at a local software company working for peanuts, I made the classic mistake of feeling like I “deserved” my first brand new car to celebrate. Looking back, that probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do at the time but I graduated without debt and had some savings, so there you have it!

My choice? A brand new 2005 Mazda 3 GS in Carbon Gray Mica with a manual transmission. That car drove like a dream and is the easiest shifting manual I’ve had the pleasure of driving. Zoom zoom!

Rust Check? You betcha!

Rust problems? Actually yes…

The year was 2010, my 3 year bumper to bumper warranty had expired but I happened to notice the car also had a 5 year corrosion warranty. Just before my 5 years was up, I spotted what looked like a barely noticeable paint chip along the wheel well and that’s just what I thought it was, a paint chip. Paint chips obviously aren’t covered by the warranty, but I took it to the dealer anyway knowing my warranty would expire soon.

Related: 11 Tips For Getting The Best New Car Price

To my great surprise, they offered to get it professionally repaired free of charge lickity split, which I later found out was because the rust was due to a known manufacturer’s defect. The wheel well was actually completely rusted out but it was all hidden underneath the paint. That may not seem like a win for Rust Check, but now that I was aware of the problem I saw many other 2005 Mazda 3s that had massive rust spots in several places including much bigger problems with the wheel wells, so mine was clearly rusting significantly slower even given the defect.

When I finally sold the Mazda 3 in 2013, the buyers had their mechanic inspect it and he said it was one of the best looking 2005 vehicles he’d ever seen. I think that is proof enough that the car held up comparatively well over time.

What Rust Protection Is Best?

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How To Make Your New Car Last Forever

howtomakeyournewcarlastforever.jpgUp here in the frozen north, the land of salt and snow, it is hard to keep a vehicle on the road for more than 10 years before it becomes a bucket of useless rust and a fountain of endless repair bills!

I often hear about people selling or scrapping their vehicles because they become too expensive to maintain, so they upgrade to something newer and cut their losses. Doing this may sometimes be the best choice, but I think there is a way to lower repair bills and keep cars on the road longer. Yes, even in Canada!

Consider Buying New And Keeping Longer

It has long been the rhetoric of personal finance gurus that you should always buy used because new cars depreciate up to 20% instantly as soon as you drive it off the lot and standard depreciation is about 15 to 20% per year. As a car gets older, 15 to 20% of the then current value of the vehicle gets to be less and less, which is why it is oft-recommended that you should buy used to save money on depreciation.

However, I’ve noticed the rhetoric is starting to change as more and more personal finance pundits are starting to buy brand new vehicles over a used one. This topic could be debated until the sun stops shining and there probably still wouldn’t be a resolution, because both sides would have valid points. Personally, after thinking I would land on the “always buy used” side, I’ve actually ended up in the buy new camp.

Reasons To Buy New Over Used

  • Knowing the vehicle’s history. The biggest reason for me buying new is I know exactly how the car has been driven and cared for. There’s a much lower chance of getting a lemon or a mistreated vehicle and, if you do get a lemon, at least you have the warranty to back you up. People who buy new vehicles every 4 years may not think about doing things to extend the life of their vehicle because they know they will unload it before problems arise - so buyer beware.
  • New prices are falling. Prices of new vehicles have gone down so the spread between new and used isn’t as attractive as it used to be. It’s crazy that brand new vehicles can be purchased for less than $10,000 these days.
  • Worry free driving. With a new car you get years of worry free driving where you usually have both warranty coverage and free roadside assistance should anything happen.
  • Low interest rates. To attract buyers, car companies offer insanely low interest rates and offering to pay cash doesn’t usually sweeten the deal much, believe me I’ve tried. If you can’t pay for the car upfront, then you’ll definitely get a better interest rate buying new. Even if you have the money to pay it all (a good idea), it can make sense to enjoy your 0% interest loan and invest or earn high interest on your cash in the meantime.
  • Keep it longer. If you buy new and take care of it, then you should be able to keep your vehicle for 10 to 15 years and by the end you are really starting to benefit from lower depreciation and cost savings, just like if you had purchased used, but you got to enjoy a significant amount of “new time” as well.
  • Less hassle. By keeping a car longer, you don’t have to go through the hassle of making such a major purchase nearly as often. Less time researching, finding a buyer, fixing it up for sale, having to buy new winter tires because your old ones no longer fit, and so on. Not to mention actually selling a vehicle is a time consuming and often depressing process while you try to find a qualified buyer unless you choose to trade it in at a dealer and lose a bunch of money that way.
  • Fewer fees and taxes. Granted, buying a new car comes with quite a few fees and a hefty tax bill, you’ll have to pay them less often. Every time you buy or sell something, you usually encounter taxes and fees. Sales tax, advertising fees, detailing costs, inspection - they all add up!

Keep Your New Car On The Road Longer, For Less

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Don't Pump All Your Money Away: Ways To Save On Gas

Save On GasHow does this sound?

You've just finished fueling up your car and you're tallying all the savings you've managed to achieve on your $80 gas purchase. First, you saved $16 through paying for your gas with 20% discounted gift cards. Then, you saved another $1.60 through buying those gift cards with your 2% cash back credit card. Next, you saved another $1.80 by filling up on 3¢/litre off supreme Thursday. Finally, you earned $2.00 in rewards "money" that you can use for future gasoline purchases.

That's a grand total of $21.40 saved, or a 26.75% savings on your gas bill! Sound too good to be true? Well it isn't - or at least it wasn't - because I've done it many times myself at Canadian Tire a few years back. If you want to know how I did it, I'll continue the story at the bottom of the article. But for now, these are the ways you can save big money on gas today!

1) Get A Credit Card With A Gas Bonus

It's no secret I'm a big advocate of responsibly using credit cards to reap all kinds of rewards and buying gas with your credit card is one of the best ways to reap those rewards even quicker. Why? Because many cards offer bonus rewards for buying it, that's why!

With bonuses like 4% cash back or up to a 10¢/litre discount, having the right credit card can make a big difference.

Full Details: Best Credit Cards For Gas Discounts

2) Rewards Programs

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