Credit Cards

Canadian Rewards Programs: Are You Loyal?

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Rewards programs are meant to create loyalty…

Repeat customers and repeat business are the name of the game.

But my experience has been that it doesn’t pay to be loyal. Shopping around for both the best prices AND the best rewards bonuses and perks is 100% the way to go...

IF you’re willing to invest the time.

A quick check shows that I am currently a member of at least 30 rewards programs. I don’t use them all on a regular basis - I have my favourites just like anyone. (Don’t miss my top 5 below.)

Then, there’s other times when rewards programs just aren’t worth it.

But, I do try to keep my eyes open for amazing opportunities in any one of those 30+ programs. If they make me an offer I can’t refuse - then I’ll take it!

That said, it’s hard to know what’s out there and targeted specifically at Canadians. I’ve put together a pretty comprehensive list below - please add any I missed in the comments!

Cash Rewards For Shopping Online

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Free Gift Card Offers (Up To $100 To Popular Stores)

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I've been touting free gift card offers on this site for a long time now: see here, here, and here. Most of them have been a free $100 gift card to Amazon.ca or another popular Canadian store in return for applying for an awesome credit card that earns you even more free money in cash back or travel rewards.

These credit cards usually also come with no annual fee (at least for the first year) and sometimes a hefty points sign up bonus to boot. Then, after the first year, there is no obligation to continue with the card if you decide it isn't for you. It's really a fantastic deal and one I've taken advantage of several times myself.

Since this has become a pretty regular thing, I thought I should make a permanent page that lists legitimate free gift card offers that I am aware of and will continue to update at the beginning of every month.

Proof That It Works

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Your Free Money - 14 Ways To Claim It Now

yourfreemoney-14waystoclaimitnow.jpgIs free money too good to be true?

If someone comes up to you and offers you free money, no strings attached - what would you do?

I know. You’d probably keep walking in the other direction…But here’s the thing:

There is actually a ton of free money available to most Canadians just waiting to be taken advantage of.

But first - let’s answer a couple of questions...

Where does (legit) free money come from?

It could come from the government, your employer, a business looking for new customers - or simply by choosing to give your bank less money (because they have enough of it for goodness sake!).

What do I require from you to get access to all this money?

The willingness to spend a little time and take ACTION. You need to get organized and follow through on making some simple changes to your life. Then, watch the free money and savings start rolling in.

If that sounds good to you - then let’s get started.

A Note About Claiming Your Free Money

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Intro To Points And Miles For Travel Hacker Wannabes

introtopointsandmilesfortravelhackerwannabes.jpgTravel hacking is like some sort of mystical promised land flowing with milk and honey…

It portrays a life spent floating in first class suites in the sky, free gourmet food and drinks galore, and unlimited hotel upgrades to fancy hotel rooms complete with turn down service and a chocolate on your pillow every night - all practically free - *sigh*...

The truth is, achieving all of that is a lot of work and requires jumping through all kinds of hoops. Many beginners get put off by the crazy language barrier (hello acronyms!), the insane points strategies, and the attention to detail it takes to pull it all off.

The upside is you CAN start small and work your way up.

This guide will ease you into the points and miles game. You'll learn to earn miles faster and redeem them smarter so you can jet off on your next vacation much sooner than you ever thought possible. Keep reading » about Intro To Points And Miles For Travel Hacker Wannabes

12 Easy Ways To Increase Your Credit Score

12easywaystoincreaseyourcreditscore.jpgCredit scores are important - really important actually - but most people don’t even know what theirs is. Don’t let that be you…

Even if you don’t know your score, there are some basic things you can do to keep it healthy.

But, why should you even care?

Credit scores are increasingly being used for more than just loan applications - that’s why. I’m talking employers, landlords, and service companies.

Can you imagine missing out on a high paying job, the apartment you love, or even utilities and services like your cell phone because you didn’t take care of your score? Keep reading » about 12 Easy Ways To Increase Your Credit Score

How To Get Your Free Credit Score And Report in Canada

howtogetyourfreecreditscoreandreportincanada.jpgChecking your credit score for free has long been possible in the USA, but here in Canada you always had to fork over roughly $20 to either Equifax or Transunion to see your score.

There was, and still is, a clever way around this that I will tell you about later - but the big news is that you can now get free instant access to your credit score!

Unsurprisingly, there are a few small strings attached - but I think you will find them quite reasonable. I know I did when I decided to get my own score for free a couple of weeks ago.

Before I get into the free scores, I want explain what credit scores are and why you should know yours. But, if you just want get your score ASAP, here you go:

Get Your Free Credit Score Now

What Are Credit Scores And Credit Reports?

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How To Get A Credit Card Annual Fee Refund

howtogetacreditcardannualfeerefund.jpgHave you ever considered signing up for a credit card but decided against it because of the annual fee?

I use two main cards right now for almost all spending and they both have annual fees - Scotiabank Momentum Visa Infinite ($99) and the Capital One Aspire Travel World Mastercard ($120). When I got these cards I considered the annual fees and still decided having them would pay off.

The Scotiabank card pays 4% cash back on gas and grocery purchases, and you’d need to spend over $200 per month on gas and groceries alone for the card to be worth it. I easily meet this threshold and last year I earned about $500 with this one card.

The Capital One card has an annual fee of $120 but when I applied for it also came with an annual bonus (no longer available) of 10,000 reward miles worth $100 - that means the annual fee is essentially $20. Not bad for a card that pays 2% back on all spending with no category restrictions.

Annual fees need to be taken into account when determining which card is right for you, but there is also the possibility of having your annual fee waived or refunded.

How To Get Your Annual Fee Refunded

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10 Best No Fee Cash Back Credit Cards in Canada for 2016

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It's pretty much universal - everyone hates fees!

I go out of my way to avoid fees whenever possible. For instance, I haven't paid any bank fees for nearly my entire life. I hopped right from a free student account into a no-fee President's Choice Financial account and haven't looked back.

But, there are actually some times when it makes sense to pay a fee.

As you can see from my all-inclusive cash back credit card rankings, most of the top ranked cards have an annual cost. The light bulb moment happens when you do the math and realize that any money you pay in fees quickly gets refunded to you and more through increased cash back earnings. As long as you funnel all your spending through your credit card and pay it off every month, you can earn at least 50% more than a no fee card will net you.

That said, there are still many people who still want to completely avoid fees. Fees suck and you may even be worried that paying the fee will pressure you to overspend. If so, then the following list of top no fee cash back cards is just the thing for you.

Canadian No Fee Cash Back Credit Card Rankings for 2016

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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

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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