Credit Cards

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

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Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite Review

scotiamomentumvisainfinitereview.jpg

Right now this card is considered the top cash-back card in the country – and for good reason. With 4% cash back on gas and groceries, the rewards can really add up quickly. A typical family that spends $25,000 annually ($2,083 per month) on the card would earn in the vicinity of $506 in cash back during the first year alone!

Quick Facts

Annual Fee $99
Interest Rate 19.99%
Min. Income $60,000 personal, $100,000 household
Reward Type Cash Back
Reward 4% gas and groceries, 2% drugstore and recurring bills, 1% everything else
Reward Return 1-4% of spending
Sign Up Bonus First year free (limited time)
Apply Click here

Positives:

  • Highest percentage cash back for gas and groceries of all cash back cards.
  • 2% cash back for recurring bills – the opportunity to move all monthly payments onto the card to maximize the cash back.
  • High annual limits in the gas and groceries cash back category (maximum spend of $25,000 per year).
  • 5% cash back on first $3,000 in purchases (limited time).
  • A very good insurance package for a cash back credit card, including travel insurance.
  • 20% discount on Avis car rentals.

Negatives:

  • High annual fee of $99 compared to some other cards along with a $30 fee for each additional card.
  • High minimum personal or household incomes needed to qualify. They may be somewhat flexible on this depending on your credit history.

Insurance Package:

  • Extended warranty - up to one year.
  • Purchase protection - 90 days.
  • Travel accident - $500,000.
  • Emergency medical - 15 days.
  • Trip interruption - $2,000.
  • Flight delay - $500.
  • Baggage delay - $500.
  • Lost or stolen baggage - $500.
  • Rental car collision insurance.

Cash Back Analysis

Keep reading » about Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite Review

BMO Air Miles World MasterCard Review

bmoairmilesworldmastercardreview.jpgThis card is a good choice for anyone with a high annual spend that wants to collect Air Miles at a faster rate than the regular BMO Air Miles MasterCard, and also flies often to take advantage of the 25% discount on the number of required Air Miles for each flight.

Quick Facts

Annual Fee $99
Interest Rate 19.90%
Min. Income $60,000 personal, $100,000 household
Reward Type Travel Points
Reward 1 mile per $15 spent, 25% bonus at Shell, 100% bonus at Avis and National car rental
Reward Return 0.7-1.25% of spending (depending on how you value Air Miles)
Sign Up Bonus None
Apply Click here

Positives:

  • Exclusive 25% discount when redeeming Air Miles for flights.
  • The highest earning rate of all BMO Air Miles cards.
  • 25% bonus (Air Miles) at Shell locations, 100% bonus (Air Miles) at National and Alamo Car Rental and 25% off regular rental rates.
  • No limit to the amount of Air Miles rewarded.
  • Easy to use, straight forward online account access through BMO.
  • Some extended warranty and travel benefits available.

Negatives:

  • $99 annual fee is high for the accrual rate you get.
  • High minimum personal ($60,000) or household ($100,000) incomes needed to qualify. They may be somewhat flexible on this depending on your credit history.
  • Few good opportunities to earn bonus miles above and beyond the regular rate.
  • The platinum Air Miles card from American Express has similar earning rates and perks for a lower annual fee.
  • No sign up bonus except during promotions.

Insurance Package:

  • Extended warranty - up to one year
  • Purchase protection - 90 days
  • Travel & car insurance coverage

Air Miles Rewards Analysis

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Capital One Costco Platinum MasterCard Review

capitalonecostcoplatinummastercardreview.jpgThe Capital One Costco Platinum MasterCard is a strong no annual fee cash back credit card that is geared towards Costco members who eat at restaurants regularly and spend a significant amount each month on fuel.

Its main strengths are that it is one of the few credit cards that gives significantly higher rewards on restaurant purchases and that it integrates your Costco membership and credit card into a single card so you can lighten your wallet. It’s also among the few cards that offers price protection/matching if you find a lower price on any product you’ve purchased using the card.

Quick Facts

Annual Fee $0
Interest Rate 19.75%
Min. Income No minimum
Reward Type Cash Back
Reward 3% restaurants, 2% gas, 1% everything else
Reward Return 0.5%-3% of spending
Sign Up Bonus Double cash back for the first 3 months
Apply Click here

Positives:

  • No annual fee for both primary and secondary cards.
  • 3% cash back on restaurants, 2% on gas, and up to 1% on everything else.
  • No limit to the amount of cash back you can earn.
  • Doubles as your Costco card with your picture on the back.
  • Price protection for items purchased using the card that decrease in price within 60 days (up to $100 per item and $500 per year).
  • Extended warranty coverage on purchases (up to two years) and purchase protection against theft or damage (up to 120 days).

Negatives:

  • Have to be a Costco member to qualify for this card, which costs $55 annually.
  • Although this is a Costco-branded card, there is no additional incentive to shop at Costco.
  • The ‘everything else’ spending category is tiered – you receive 0.50% on the first $3,000 and 1% on everything beyond that. This essentially works out to a hidden annual fee of $15 when compared to other no-fee 1% cash back cards.
  • The ‘cash back’ comes once per year by snail mail as a rebate. The rebate must be redeemed at a Costco store where it can be converted to either actual cash or Costco store credit.
  • There are much better no fee cash back credit cards out there.

Insurance Package:

  • Extended warranty - up to two years.
  • Purchase protection - 120 days.
  • Travel accident insurance - up to $250,000.
  • Car rental coverage - collision / loss damage waiver (LDW).
  • Baggage delay insurance - $300.

Cash Back Analysis

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FREE $100 Gift Card Is BACK!

free100giftcardisback.gifEvery time one of these awesome FREE $100 Gift Card promotions comes up from RateSupermarket.ca, I try to write a post about it because it is such a good deal … and for a limited time IT’S BACK!

For those of you who are new here, it all started back in 2012 when they were offering a free $100 gift card to popular Canadian retailers for signing up for the MBNA Smart Cash MasterCard. Then they did it again in April and May of 2014, first with the Smart Cash again and then with the Scotiabank Momentum Visa Infinite.

Each time I wondered if the deal would come back because it is such an amazing no-strings-attached deal:

  • You don’t pay an annual fee (at least in the first year).
  • You get the $100 gift card quickly (within the first couple of months).
  • You get any sign up bonuses the card offers on top of the gift card.
  • You are under no obligation to keep the card after the first year (cancel anytime).
  • You get to keep all of the bonuses, even if you decide to cancel.

So we’re basically talking free money here and credit cards that have great perks if you decide to keep them to boot! One of the offers this time actually gives you $300 in free stuff when you combine the $100 gift card with the $200 sign up bonus.

This Could Be Your Last Chance

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Getting Off The Credit Card Mouse Wheel

gettingoffthecreditcardmousewheel.jpgCredit cards are a handy tool for making purchases quickly and easily. They're also nice to have so we don't have to carry large amounts of cash around with us. The downside to this convenience is when it gets to be too easy to use the card and the balance grows to an amount that can't be paid off every month.

In order to avoid paying the outrageous interest charges on credit cards, it's widely accepted that we should pay off the balance every month. That's where the convenience of credit cards becomes a burden, and in some cases, a nightmare.

The Wheel Starts Turning

When we get to a point where the balance on the credit card gets to be too high to pay off each month, that's when the trouble starts. In our minds, we still know that we have to pay off the card each month to avoid paying interest, so we try. We throw every available dollar at the credit card, and at first we feel good that we have put as much money as possible on the card, telling ourselves that next month we'll pay off the rest.

But then reality hits.

While the intention was good, there's an old expression that the road to the land of fire and brimstone is paved with good intentions. Sometime before the end of the month we find that there's not enough money left to make it to the end of the month, and that's when we find ourselves on the credit card mouse wheel. That cycle of dipping back into the credit card and taking back some or all of what we paid to begin with.

Here are three ways that can be used to regain control of your finances and get off that wheel: Keep reading » about Getting Off The Credit Card Mouse Wheel

BMO Air Miles Mastercard Review

Class Standard
Type MasterCard
Issuer Bank of Montreal
Annual Fee $0
Interest Rate 19.90%
Min. Income N/A
Reward Type Points
Reward 1 mile / $20 spent
Reward Return 0.5% to 0.75% of spending
Sign Up Bonus 400 500 miles (limited time)
Grace Period 21 days
Apply Sign Up!
The BMO Air Miles Mastercard is a good choice for anyone with low to moderate annual spending on their credit card that wants to collect Air Miles without paying an annual fee.

Positives:

  • No annual fee (no fee for additional cards).
  • 25% bonus (Air Miles) at Shell locations, 50% bonus (Air Miles) at National and Alamo Car Rental.
  • No limit to the amount of Air Miles rewarded.
  • Easy to use, straight forward online account access through BMO.
  • No minimum annual income requirement, great way for those with low credit scores to build their credit history.
  • Extended warranty coverage on purchases (up to one year) and purchase protection against theft or damage (up to 90 days).

Negatives:

Keep reading » about BMO Air Miles Mastercard Review

Best Deal EVER On The Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite 4% Cash Back Credit Card

Best deal on the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite 4% cash back credit card

The Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite has been one of the best cash back credit card available to Canadians for the past couple of years after the MBNA Smart Cash was slightly devalued, but there were two big things stopping many Canadians, including myself, from applying for one.

  1. The $99 annual fee.
  2. No sign up bonus for applying, so why switch?

Starting in 2014 Scotiabank has been having regular promotions that really make applying for this card worthwhile. At first it was the annual fee waived for the first year and a $100 gift card if you applied through RateSupermarket. The current 2017 offer is also worth a look:

  • $99 annual fee waived for the first year.
  • $75 gift card available through RateSupermarket.

To get the latest deal, use the link below.

Link: $75 gift card + First Year Free

Why It's One Of The Best Cash Back Cards In Canada

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My Simple Strategy for Maximizing Air Miles

My simple strategy for maximizing Air MilesThere are a wide variety of sponsors that allow you to earn Air Miles, but each one rewards you with varying amounts of miles based on their own one-of-a-kind rewards structure. It can all get very confusing very quickly.

If you want to know all the ways you can earn, redeem and maximize Air Miles, then Stephen has already written a complete guide, which may just overwhelm you. However, I have found that we can earn a decent amount of Air Miles quickly and easily simply by shopping at a select few high earning sponsors as well as using a good Air Miles credit card.

I think it’s important for each individual to craft their own unique strategy based on what works for them taking into account your available time and energy to put into it. Settle on something repeatable that gives you maximum rewards per amount of time invested.

Maximizing Air Miles at Participating Sponsors

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The Platinum Card: Get 100,000 Aeroplan Miles FAST

The Platinum Card: get 100,000 Aeroplan miles fastLast week I told you how I got a $400 DSLR camera essentially free, which is a deal I think anyone would jump on given the chance. Today I’m doing an about face by breaking the news that I just signed up for a credit card with a $700 annual fee! Have I gone stark raving mad?

For a guy that professes to like saving money, that doesn’t seem like a very sensible thing to do now does it? Well, bear with me because while this strategy definitely isn’t for everyone, it does make a lot of sense.

Why Would I Ever Spend $700 On A Credit Card?

Keep reading » about The Platinum Card: Get 100,000 Aeroplan Miles FAST

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