Credit Cards

The Best Credit Cards In Canada 2016

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Can there really be one single BEST credit card?

Honestly, nailing that down is pretty hard because everyone's preferences are different. Credit cards offer so many types of rewards, features, insurance, and perks that comparing them against each in an apples to apples way seems nearly impossible...

But, I was foolish enough to try.

5 years ago I made my first attempt at ranking Canadian credit cards. That first attempt was good but not great - I held back from naming THE best card. I continued to track more cards and improve the system year over year. Thousands of hours have been invested...

Today, 124 cards of all types are tracked and ranked using 40+ unique ranking factors to determine which are really best. Finally, there can be one true champion that is best for most Canadians.

Of course, the decision of whether the winner meets your needs is all yours ... but you won't find a better starting point than this. (Not sure what to pick? Take this short quiz and find out.) Keep reading » about The Best Credit Cards In Canada 2016

Which Aeroplan Credit Card is REALLY Best?

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Aeroplan is the most popular airline rewards program in Canada and any serious collector should have a matching credit card to earn the most miles. Figuring out which Aeroplan credit card is best though isn't an easy task.

I've done all the work for you by comparing each card across 40+ different ranking factors including Aeroplan mile earning rates, sign up bonuses, annual fees, bonus spending categories, 15 types of insurance coverage, exclusive Air Canada benefits, and a long list of other perks that these cards offer.

After the dust settles, each card is left with a single unbiased score out of 5 proving which card really is top dog. A single easy number to help you make the right decision.

Aeroplan Credit Cards Compared and Ranked for 2016

You might think this is just a comparison between Aeroplan branded American Express and CIBC cards. You'd be wrong. TD recently launched 3 brand new Aeroplan branded choices into the fray and cards that earn points that can be easily converted to Aeroplan miles shouldn't be left out either. In all 14 different Aeroplan credit cards have been compared and ranked in the table below from best to worst. Keep reading » about Which Aeroplan Credit Card is REALLY Best?

Which AIR MILES Credit Card Is Best For 2016?

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Two out of every three Canadians collects AIR MILES and, if you want to maximize your rewards, having an AIR MILES credit card just makes sense!

But why settle for any old card, when you could be earning a lot more miles and experiencing a lot more perks by getting the best one?

Figuring out which one is best is easier said than done though ... that's why I analyze every single detail of these cards and then rank them using a comprehensive system I personally developed over the last five years.

No more comparing feature by feature trying to weigh the pros and the cons - you can rest assured that the top card on my list is the best fit for most Canadians. My rankings are also continually updated so you can be sure you aren't getting stale information.

AIR MILES Credit Cards Compared And Ranked

The cards in the table are ordered from best to worst. Please note that the table scrolls horizontally by using the slider at the bottom.

  Credit Card
Apply BMO AIR MILES World Elite MasterCard
Apply American Express AIR MILES Platinum Credit Card
(low min. income!)
Apply BMO AIR MILES World MasterCard
Apply Hudson's Bay MasterCard
Apply BMO Sobeys AIR MILES MasterCard
Apply American Express AIR MILES Reserve Credit Card
Apply American Express AIR MILES Credit Card
Apply BMO AIR MILES MasterCard
Score Miles Per $100 Spent Bonus Miles Annual Fee First Year Free? Extra Cards $25,000 Spend Score $100,000 Spend Score Insurance Score Perks Score
5.0 10.0 1,000
2,000*
$120 No $50 4.6 5.0 5.0 2.9
3.3 8.0 2,000 $65 No Free 4.6 3.2 1.0 2.8
3.0 6.9 0 $99 No $35 3.4 1.4 4.2 1.6
2.6 6.3 0 $0 Yes Free 5.0 1.7 0.0 2.2
2.4 5.5 400
500*
$0 Yes Free 4.6 0.8 0.8 2.2
2.2 8.0 2,400 $299 No $50 0.0 0.4 2.7 5.0
2.1 5.2 500 $0 Yes Free 4.4 0.4 0.2 2.4
2.0 4.8 0
500*
$0 Yes Free 4.2 0.0 0.8 1.9
* Limited time promotion ending soon.
Keep reading » about Which AIR MILES Credit Card Is Best For 2016?

New Tangerine Credit Card Best For Earning Cash Back

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If you're looking for a no-fee cash back credit card that gives you the most overall cash back, you can STOP looking - you've found it!

The just-launched Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card gives you 1% cash back on all your everyday purchases with no caps or limits. Where it really leaps ahead of the pack is the 2% cash back it gives you on up to 3 bonus spending categories of your choosing. No other card on the market offers this feature, which allows you to select categories that match the places where you spend the most money.

Are you a big foodie and spend a lot at restaurants and the grocery store? Just choose Grocery and Restaurants as 2 of your bonus categories and you'll instantly double your cash back on those purchases. Have lots of medical expenses or love Shoppers Drug Mart like I do? Select Drug Store as a bonus category and you'll be rewarded handsomely.

You can even select Recurring Bill Payments as a bonus category, meaning almost any bill that gets charged automatically to your card on a monthly basis will earn double the money.

Being free to choose the categories you want is much better than being pigeon holed into the typical gas and grocery bonuses that you get with other no fee cash back cards - if you're lucky!

Quick Facts

Annual fee $0
Interest rate 19.95%
Min. income No set minimum
Reward type Cash Back
Reward 1% on ALL purchases with no limits
2% on up to 3 bonus categories of your choosing
HTS reward return 1.3% of spending for a typical person after annual fee deducted
Sign-up bonus None
Apply Click here

Positives:

Keep reading » about New Tangerine Credit Card Best For Earning Cash Back

Capital One Trying To Appease Disgruntled Costco Members

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Capital One’s recent credit card launch into Costco stores was really successful … maybe too successful actually!

Since day one they had an influx of new customers signing up for the Capital One Platinum MasterCard exclusively for Costco Members and it turns out that the volume was a little more than they were prepared to handle.

Shortly after the card was launched, we published a generally favourable review of the card’s features. Not long after, negative comments from disgruntled customers started pouring in quantities never before seen on HTSM.

That’s why when I was at the Canadian Personal Finance Bloggers Conference in October, I decided to approach Laurel Ostfield, the Director of Communications for Capital One Canada when I learned she happened to be attending the conference.

Laurel took the time to go through the reader comments with me one by one and informed me that they were already aware of many of the issues and had been working to resolve them as quickly as they could. She agreed to coordinate an interview for me with a representative of the Costco MasterCard within a few weeks of the conference.

She delivered on that promise and I recently spoke with both her and Simon Maycock (Vice President of Partnerships), who is responsible for the Costco credit card rollout.

I came prepared and went to bat for all the frustrated Costco customers who left those angry comments on the review. In response, Simon and Laurel were equally ready to demonstrate that they were not only taking each and every complaint seriously but they were taking real action to fix the problems.

Related: The Best Cash Back Credit Cards In Canada

What Was Everyone Complaining About Anyway?

Keep reading » about Capital One Trying To Appease Disgruntled Costco Members

Saving Money On Currency Conversion

savingmoneyoncurrencyconversion.jpgTravel can be expensive and one of the extra costs is currency conversion. When you pay for purchases in a foreign currency there is almost always an extra cost involved. If you are travelling for a long time or spend a lot of money when travelling, your costs can be significant. Whenever I travel I always try to think ahead about how I can save costs on converting my money. I tend to avoid converting cash at the big banks because they are usually more money and I avoid converting currency at an airport because it’s the most expensive option.

Cheapest Exchange Options

Here is a quick guide to the cheapest ways to convert cash (beginning with the cheapest and ending with the most expensive option). Keep reading » about Saving Money On Currency Conversion

The Simply Cash Card From American Express Is Very Underrated!

simplycashcardfromamericanexpress.jpgCanadians love their cash back credit cards, be it the Smart Cash, the Momentum, the Aspire, or one of the other cash back offerings from The Big Five Banks. However, there is one card that often gets overlooked when it comes to cash back credit cards, and it is the Simply Cash Card from American Express.

It might be flying under the radar because Amex isn’t known for cash back - most of their cards offer travel rewards. Or, it could be that the market leading 1.25% cash back on ALL purchases is just too simple for most people... it isn’t a round number after all, and that could also be a put off. More realistically, it could be because one particular store they shop at doesn’t accept Amex cards, but my experience has been that most stores will gladly take it. Even Tim Hortons, the last big cash-only hold out in Canada, now takes American Express.

Ultimately, I don’t know why more people aren’t choosing this card, but I hope to help change that with this review because it is definitely a card worth considering. It is especially good if you make a lot of everyday purchases that don’t fall into the bonus spending categories of other cards (which are often very limited anyway, as is the case with the Smart Cash).

Heck, since the card has no annual fee, I’m not sure why more people don’t just apply for it to get the massive 5% cash back on gas and grocery purchases for 6 months. If you spend $800 per month on those, that’s a cool $240 you just earned!

Quick Facts

Annual fee $0
Interest rate 19.75%
Min. income $15,000
Reward type Cash Back
Reward 1.25% on ALL purchases with no limits
HTS reward return 1.25% of spending for a typical person after annual fee deducted
Sign-up bonus 5% cash back on gas & groceries for 6 months - $250 maximum.
Apply Click here

Positives:

Keep reading » about The Simply Cash Card From American Express Is Very Underrated!

Erase Your Debt Fast By Lowering Interest Rates

eraseyourdebtfastbyloweringinterestrates.jpgIt's a fact, many Canadians are deeply in debt!

Not just mortgage debt either, but consumer debt like credit cards, car loans, payday loans, and lines of credit. According to The Globe And Mail, non-mortgage debt is on the rise again coming in at an average of $21,428 per person!

If you include mortgages, then the numbers get bigger, MUCH bigger. We're talking $1,529,000,000,000 (1.53 trillion) spread across all Canadians, which works out to 1.63 dollars for every dollar of disposable income earned. That means someone who takes home $50,000 in income after taxes would have $81,500 in debt.

If you're in debt, I hope you're working hard to get out of it as fast as you can!

Avoiding debt isn't always possible because of unfortunate circumstances, but it really isn't a burden you want to carry with you for long either. You see, once debt rises to a high enough level, it becomes crippling and the interest payments make it almost impossible to make any progress on the principle amount owed. Some people will recommend cutting your expenses to the bone, others will suggest a second job, while still others will say to pay yourself first.

These are all good suggestions, but I think the best place to start is cutting and juggling your interest rates as much as possible so you immediately have more cash flow to pay down your loans much faster.

First - A Warning

Some of the methods I'm going to speak about here can make it seem like you all of a sudden have extra money and breathing room, which can prompt some individuals to increase spending and run up even more debt. That's exactly what you want to avoid!

If you don't have the discipline to handle more available credit, then many of these strategies are not for you. You might be better served by that second job or cutting up all your plastic and trying a debt snowball.

How To Reduce Your Loan Interest Rates

Keep reading » about Erase Your Debt Fast By Lowering Interest Rates

How To Make A Credit Card Extended Warranty Claim

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You might not know it, but many credit cards come with a lot of additional perks and insurance coverage these days in addition to the rewards we have all become accustomed to. Many people can’t be bothered to look into the fine print about their coverage, but It really pays to pay attention to these things.

How much does it pay exactly?

Well, for me, I was able to make a successful claim for $363.78 to repair my relatively new washer and dryer set (full details on that story down below)!

Not bad eh? But, how did I do it?

1) Make Sure Your Policy Covers The Item In Question

Most insurance policies have limitations, but after reading the fine print of dozens of policies myself, they are usually pretty reasonable. Before buying a product and counting on extra warranty coverage from your credit card, first make sure that the item is indeed covered under the warranty.

What you are looking for is extended warranty coverage details that should be included in the information package they sent you with your credit card. If not, the details may be available through your bank’s website or you can call the number on the back of your card and request they send them to you.

Related: How To Get A Better Insurance Rate

What you will mostly likely find is that the coverage extends your manufacturer’s warranty by doubling it up to an additional year. This means that if a product has 3 months of warranty coverage, it will double to 6 months. If it has 1 year of coverage, it will double to two years. If it has 3 years of coverage, you will get 1 extra year making it 4 years total.

Common exclusions are for extremely expensive items like motorized vehicles of any kind, jewellery, items that wear out due to regular wear and tear (think tires and brakes), and items that come with an original manufacturer’s warranty of 5 years or more.

In the latter case, sometimes you can still get the extra time tacked on but you usually need to register the product with your credit card company (or their insurance underwriter) first. Some cards also have a dollar limit over which you also have to register the product to be eligible, but most don’t.

2) Pay For Your Purchase With Your Credit Card

Keep reading » about How To Make A Credit Card Extended Warranty Claim

Lost Luggage: How To Minimize Your Losses

lostluggagehowtominimizeyourlosses.jpgI travel a few times a year (some trips for business, some for pleasure) and have been lucky with my luggage - it's only been lost twice in the past 5 years and both times the airline was able to quickly recover the luggage.

Others aren't so lucky. They wait for their bag to arrive and when it doesn't show, they are sent to airline customer service to go through the long process of claims and paperwork related to finding the bag. Each year about 2% of lost bags aren't recovered, and it's important to know what to do if it happens to you.

Reporting Lost Baggage

Most airlines have a customer service area in major airports (located near where the bags come out in the arrivals level) that deals specifically with baggage issues. If your bag doesn't arrive your first step is to go here. It's important you report the lost bag immediately - if not, the airline won't be responsible for it.

If you had connecting flights with a different airline, the airline that you last flew on is responsible for your bags. For example, if you flew Westjet to Toronto and then American Airlines to Florida, then American Airlines would be responsible for your baggage.

Related: Top Aeroplan Credit Cards Compared

Once at customer service you'll be asked for your baggage claim ticket that was originally given when your bags were checked while checking in for your flight. It's a small barcode that has all the tracking information for your bag. The airline can still look up your bag's information without it, but it takes longer to search the system and isn't as accurate.

A customer service rep will then ask you for the details on your bag. Important details on you baggage are the approximate size, colour, contents, identifying marks (such as a ribbon), where your trip started and what connections you had (if any).

This information is entered into the system and delayed baggage form is given to you with a unique reference number and a toll-free number you can call to find out the status of your bag. At this point your bag isn't technically lost - it is "delayed" and you'll need to give the airline a chance to find it first before claiming it as a lost bag.

Delayed Baggage Compensation

Keep reading » about Lost Luggage: How To Minimize Your Losses

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