Rewards

Best No Fee Travel Credit Cards in Canada 2017

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Finding a no fee travel credit card is kind of like finding life on Mars - it's hard and definitely takes some time...

The reason for that is annual fees are necessary to supply the increased rewards, insurance coverage, and perks that travel cards typically have.

While life on Mars is still being debated, fortunately Canadian no fee travel cards already have some life - but they may soon be on life support. There is an underserved need for this type of card though, especially if points and miles are brand new to you. Learning the ropes of travel rewards without the risk of high fees is valuable.

Once you've figured it all out though, then you'll want to graduate to a top tier travel credit card that racks up the rewards faster and gives way better perks.

Best Travel Credit Cards With No Annual Fee

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Best Travel Credit Cards in Canada 2017

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Incredible reward value, comprehensive travel insurance coverage, one-of-a-kind perks, and jet-setting worry free across the globe. Those are the promises of top travel rewards credit cards.

It all sounds very dreamy - until you start trying to compare their complicated rewards programs and features side by side to decide which one is right for you.

I've removed all the hassle from finding the best card by comparing every travel card available on the Canadian market for you.

My comprehensive scoring system developed over the past 6 years uses more than 50 factors to rank cards from best to worst. You need only look at one simple score to know which card will give you the best overall value.

And, you'll be flying off to your next vacation hotspot much sooner than you think!

With the #1 ranked card, you can pocket $1,781 worth of Aeroplan reward flights in the first year if you spend $2,083 per month on the card on stuff you would be buying anyway. That number factors in points earned both from spending and the 25,000 point sign up bonus you automatically qualify for.

The best part?

It's all at no cost to you because the $150 annual fee is waived for the first year.

2017 Travel Credit Card Rankings

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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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Best No Fee Cash Back Credit Cards in Canada 2017

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Canadian banks love to gouge us with fees - even raising them while raking in record profits for themselves...

It's no wonder pretty much everyone hates fees!

I'm right there with you, I normally go out of my way to avoid fees too. I've been taking advantage of no-fee virtual banking basically since it began in Canada. I hopped right from a free student account into a no-fee President's Choice Financial account and have stuck with it ever since.

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

When dealing with cash back credit cards, simple math can show you if higher cash back rewards will cover the cost of a premium card's annual fee. If so, then it's absolutely worth it to pay the fee. Not only will you end up with more money in your jeans, but you'll also benefit from better insurance coverage and perks.

Even still, there are  many people who want to completely avoid fees out of principal. Fees suck and you may even be worried that paying the fee will pressure you to overspend. If that's you, then this no fee cash back card analysis is just what you need.

Best Cash Back Credit Cards With No Annual Fee

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Best Cash Back Credit Cards in Canada 2017

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You could be earning up to 3x the cash back by choosing the best cash back credit card compared to just walking into your bank and taking whatever one they offer you.

For example, if your family spends a reasonable $25,000 annually on credit, you would net $125 in cash after fees with the worst cards. The top ranked card on my list would earn you $411 every year - big difference, eh?

But, there's more than just max cash to consider...

You also need to think about annual fees, sign up bonuses, increased cash on purchases like gas and groceries, insurance coverage, and other perks. Not to mention subtle details like how the cash back is paid to you (statement credit, cheque, direct deposit), caps and tiers on your earnings, and how often the cash is paid out.

I've taken all these things into account - and more - with my unbiased ranking system. You won't find that anywhere else.

2017 Cash Back Credit Card Rankings

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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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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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How To Score Cheap Movie Tickets

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I don't know about you, but I love going to the cinema to watch a movie!

It's a great way to get out of the house and enjoy a night out with family or friends. There's just something about the experience that makes it so much better than watching a movie at home, even if it is MUCH more expensive.

With the price of a single admission approaching $15 per ticket in some cities, it can cost a fortune to go out to the movies with your spouse especially if you include the insane cost of movie food. Add on a babysitter and you could be getting close to $75 or more for one night at the movies!

Fortunately, there are a lot of creative ways to score cheap movie tickets and I've put together a pretty comprehensive list:

Discount Movie Passes

There are actually a ton of ways you can advance purchase discount movie passes that makes getting cheap movie tickets a breeze. You can find these cheap movie passes at various retail stores, through certain membership programs, or sometimes even through your employer. Here are a few specific examples:

Costco Cineplex Movie Packages

One of the quickest and easiest ways to get discount movie passes is at Costco. They "Great Escape" Cineplex package for adults costs $26.99 when bought directly at the warehouse. You get 2 regular adult admissions, 1 regular popcorn, and 2 regular fountain drinks all for that one price. Keep in mind, it is $3 extra per person to upgrade to 3D. Depending on how you value the tickets and the refreshments, you could be getting a value of up to $45 there.

Costco also offers kids packages for about $10 which gives you an under 13 regular admission ticket and a kids pack from the concession stand (popcorn, soft drink, and small candy).

It’s worth noting that Costco.ca often has these same or similar packages at a slightly increased price so you can buy them even if you aren’t a Costco member - but they do go out of stock often. If you aren't a member, try convincing your friends who are to pick a few passes for you.

Virgin Mobile BOGO

Virgin offers buy one get one free (BOGO) movie passes to its customers several times a year. This is great if you are already a "member" or know somebody who is. The good news is that you can become a member cheaply when you buy a prepaid SIM card (about $5). Once you have that, you can insert it in any unlocked phone and use it to claim your BOGO code.

The downside is that your SIM card will expire in 120 days from when your balance reaches $0. The minimum top up is $15 and that lasts for 30 days. So you can wait 119 days after buying the SIM, top up for $15, then you should have 150 days before it is set to expire again. Keep topping up every 149 days to keep it active.

CAA

Being a CAA member can have its perks and one of them does happen to be cheap movie tickets! CAA offers a discount on individual Cineplex movie tickets and sometimes packages as well. The packages aren’t quite as cheap as they are at Costco, but still a reasonable deal if you can’t take advantage of the Costco deal. They also offer single admission passes at $9.83 each, which is something you can’t buy at Costco which is great for those people who don’t want over-priced food at the movies or don’t want to spend the extra money to get it.

Employee Discount Programs

Many larger employers offer employee discount programs for their employees to take advantage of. Typically the discounts given are of marginal value at best, but many such programs do offer decent discounts on movie tickets. For example, a previous employer of mine offered us single admission movie tickets for $2.50 off the regular price. Check with your employer to see if they offer a similar program!

Redeem Points For Movie Passes

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Intro To Points And Miles For Travel Hacker Wannabes

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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

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

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