Credit Cards

The Best Use Of Petro Points

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Petro-Canada offers the Petro-Points loyalty program. Members can collect points and exchange them for fuel, car repair and store purchases at any of the 1,500 Suncor branded gas stations.

There is no annual membership fee associated with the Petro-Points program. Sign up at a station to receive a card immediately. Signing up online gives the option to print a temporary card until one arrives in the mail. In each instance, an online account will need to be created and the card number registered. Rewards are redeemed using the online account.

Here’s everything you need to know about collecting Petro-points with Petro-Canada.

Earning Petro-Points

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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

Review: SimplyCash Preferred From American Express

simplycashpreferredcardfromamericanexpress.jpgI recently reviewed the regular Simply Cash Card from American Express, which is one of the most underrated no-fee cash back credit cards in Canada. This card, the Preferred edition, is like the big brother to no-fee card in that it has higher cash back and more perks, but comes with an annual fee of $79 to account for them.

You’ll get 1.5% cash back on ALL purchases, which is a really good rate, and the annual fee is less than all of its main competitors. Everything else with $79 or less earns less cash back or has a tiered cash back system, which typically also means less overall cash back. Unfortunately, there are a few competitors with slightly higher annual fees in the $90-$120 range that offer more cash back.

However, this card definitely fills a nice niche that you will begin to appreciate as you peruse the pros and cons below. The sign up bonus that is effectively worth $400 is also nothing to sneeze at because none of the other cash back cards come close to this - they typically come in at around $100, if a bonus is offered at all.

Quick Facts

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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:

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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

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How To Make A Credit Card Extended Warranty Claim

how_to_make_a_credit_card_extended_warranty_claim.jpgYou 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

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Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite Review

scotiamomentumvisainfinitereview.jpgRight 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 $625 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.
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).
  • First year annual fee of $99 waived for new applicants (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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