What’s your favourite credit card?

September 29 2008 by Ellen Roseman

Frquent flyer points piling up? No way to use them all?

Maybe you’ll be better off with a cashback credit card. There’s a great variety of cards that send you a cheque each year or provide meaningful discounts on merchandise you plan to buy anyway.

I did a column last Sunday, which left out a few cards that readers really liked and wanted to share with others. (Biggest omission — Citibank.) Please nominate the cards you think provide great value.

I also found an interesting discussion a year ago at Million Dollar Journey of cashback credit cards and reward credit cards with no fee. His favourite is the MBNA Starwood Preferred Guest credit card, described here.

20 comments

  1. George

    Sep 29 2008

    I hope in your next column you include the Canadian Tire Vantage Gold card.

    You probably want to confirm my recollections, but if one spends over $1,000 per month, the following month you get 5 cents a litre off automatically at the pump (approx. 4%) at current rates.

    All one needs to do is remember how much one saves on gas and remember to stash it away. The calculations are complex but if one charges EVERYTHING at $1,000 a month and uses over 200 L/month (we live 30 km from our fave shopping areas), one can do better than 1.5% return.

    They also have a card that returns a flat 1% on all purchases, which we use once we pass the $1,000 point on the Vantage card.

  2. David

    Sep 29 2008

    You didn’t mention CIBC President’s Choice, which has the best rebate rate of all.

    There’s no annual fee and $2,000 in spending generates 20,000 points, which generates $20 in free food at Loblaws. So, that’s 1% back, with no levels to work towards, as with the other cards.

    The drawbacks: $2,000 is a minimum, since free food only comes in $20 batches. And you have to shop at Loblaws companies (sellers of cigarettes). We hold our nose on that point, and stick to their organic produce and products, as long as they remain competitive in price and quality to local stores.

  3. Doug

    Sep 29 2008

    I researched this myself a few years ago and chose Citi MasterCard cashback as the best no-cost, cashback card in Canada.

    http://www.citi.com/canada/homepage/english/index.jsp

    My Citi m/c is “Enrich” – it’s no-cost and pays 1% cashback FROM THE VERY FIRST DOLLAR, which the other cards don’t.

    I don’t know what the interest rate is, since i don’t care -I always pay on time; in fact, I have it debited automatically each month from my TD chequing to my Citi MasterCard.

    Note – there is a maximum of $25K spending, meaning a maximum $250 cashback.

    But the odd thing is, I was about to exceed this amount, so I phoned them to ask for a second card in order to maximize the benefits. I was told they could convert it to a platinum card, which has a $50K limit, meaning up to $500 cashback. Also no-cost. They switched me for free.

    Again, it was odd, because I could find no mention of it on their website. I’m guessing that it’s only offered to customers who phone and ask for a second card and have a good credit standing.

  4. Paul

    Sep 29 2008

    I have a Canadian and an American credit from HSBC MasterCard. They are both Premier accounts, no fee.

    I get 1% points on the American and 1% cash back on the Canadian.

  5. SP

    Sep 29 2008

    Your article was definitely informative but it seems you have missed out two important cash back credit cards.

    1. Citibank driver’s edge platinum MasterCard. This gives 2% of purchases without any minimum purchase limits. However, the maximum amount that can be accumulated per year is $1,500. The only rider is that this amount can be used only for the purchase or lease of a new or used car for anyone in the household.

    2. Canadian Tire Options MasterCard. This gives 1% of purchases in Canadian Tire money, which can be used to purchase anything in any Canadian Tire store. However, if the purchase is made in a Canadian Tire store, the cash back is 2%.

  6. MA

    Sep 29 2008

    Here’s another great tip that I used with my RBC cards.

    In summer, they have a sale. Usually they need 12,000 points for a $100 gift certificate or mortgage/line of credit payment certificate. But they give a 10% discount in the summer, so you can get a certificate for 10,800 points.

    Save your points during the years and redeem them during summer.

  7. PF

    Sep 29 2008

    We currently own CIBC Dividend cards with cashback, main card in my name and supplementary card in my wife’s.

    CIBC is constantly sending pre-approved letters for the CIBC Platinum Visa card, which are shredded.

    Today we received another letter, as well as a letter with a new Platinum Visa card inside in my wife’s name.

    She never applied for this card. Part of this letter states “your signature identifies you and confirms in writing your request for the card.” Are they allowed to do this?

    With the amount of credit card fraud going on, they are sending cards out to people that have not requested them. I am certain my wife is not the only one.

    Something smells with this sales pitch.

  8. JC

    Sep 29 2008

    Thought you might be interested in my daughter’s recent experience with CIBC Visa.

    She is a recent university graduate and very busy at her first full-time job. She threw her Visa bill on my kitchen counter lately and after glancing at it, I asked about a charge labelled Payment Protector Premium in the amount of $4.57.

    She found this charge on the previous month’s bill (after she went looking) as well, but had no clue what it was and knew she hadn’t authorized it.

    Three phone calls later, she found that it was an insurance product designed to pay her Visa bill should she become unemployed.

    She pointed out that she had not authorized this charge, nor did she want this insurance. After a hard sell about the product, the CIBC employee said that they did not give refunds, but as a “courtesy” and a “token of good will” they would remove the charges.

    This seems unethical to me. Not only did CIBC Visa put unauthorized charges on her bill, but she had to make a number of calls to find the insurance division, listen to a sales pitch and argue to get the charges withdrawn.

    I fear that a number of younger customers, like her, would miss the charge in the flurry of their lives.

    I also find it interesting that this product was not added to my card as I carry the exact same Visa card as my daughter does.

    Anyhow, warning your readers again about carefully reading their bills, as well as about this dubious CIBC practice, would be a great public service.

  9. Jerry Hung

    Sep 30 2008

    AMEX 2% Tiered Cashback: discontinued though, it beats 1% card after $6,250 spending a year

    Citi 1% Enrich Platinum: no fee, keep for MC-only stores

    TD Gold Elite (annual fee waived from Select Service), free auto club, 1% no-tier cashback

    TD Travel (annual fee waived too), ~1.5% yield, flexible for ANY travel redemption

    Those are my cards, VISA/MC/AMEX all covered.

    I use AMEX wherever I can, otherwise VISA

  10. Charles in Vancouver

    Sep 30 2008

    I go with the TD Rebate Rewards card which was indeed in the column. It’s a very simple cash-back card, and I think the simplest rewards VISA out there for low-spenders. My apartment, for whatever reason, accepts VISA (and no other cards) for rent payment; therefore it’s in my best interest to get the best value I could 🙂

  11. Million Dollar Journey

    Sep 30 2008

    Hi Ellen, thanks for the mention. As you mentioned, I have written about rewards based credit cards many times as I am a big fan of accumulating points/cash back. My favorite is still the spg mbna card, however close seconds are the Costco Amex 1.5% cash back and the Citibank 2% Drivers edge card.

  12. Sas

    Sep 30 2008

    Ellen, I have read your columns for a long time. Thanks for sticking up for us.

    My votes go to Citibank drivers edge with 2% rebate and and Costco Exec./ Amex (2% Costco rebate and up to 2% Amex rebate). In my experience, they give good value as long as there is no interest-bearing balance in the accounts.

  13. Andy

    Sep 30 2008

    I have a Travel Platinum card from TD. With my Plan 60 deal (the only material advantage of turning 60!), I don’t pay much and get travel points, which I cash in every so often.

    My favorite is my American Express Aeroplan Plus. It costs about $500 a year, but because it is my ticket to the Maple Leaf Lounges, I also can avoid the long lineups for economy and go directly to the Business Class agent(s)and breeze through airports. And now, I also get express security clearance as well. That, alone, is pretty much priceless!

  14. Mark

    Sep 30 2008

    American Express. I have the plain-jane version which offers me no frills in the form of rewards or rebates, but their customer service is unbeatable if you need them.

    I had a serious case of fraud from an eBay purchase a few years back and they facilitated my getting my money back almost effortlessly.

    On the flip side, when I had a similar (albeit much smaller) fraud occur a few years later on my TD Visa card, they treated me like I was a criminal, telling me I needed to jump through countless hoops and file countless forms to even be considered for a “chance” to get my money back after “review of my case”, which I was advised could take months.

    Amex, on the other hand, was there for me when I needed them and as such cemented my loyalty.

  15. Big Cajun Man

    Oct 2 2008

    I still like my President’s Choice Mastercard, because I end up buying groceries with the points which is great. The card is also free, so I like that part too. I don’t carry balances on the card, so I don’t care about interest rates.

  16. Bets

    Oct 4 2008

    I have two – Amex Air Miles (not gold – no fee) and PC M/C. You can double dip when grocery shopping.

    I also have an HBC card * HBC Points (not m/c), in which points are automatically converted to Air Miles. More double dipping.

    I do most of my Christmas shopping & splurge items (an ice cream maker!) with the accumulated points.

    When I can’t use my Amex, I use my PC m/c – I generally accumulate enough points to buy all the super special items for our annual New Year’s party, plus groceries at our yearly cottage rental.

    I have points (non credit card) everywhere I can (today is 20X points days at Shoppers Drug Mart). I watch the flyers and stock up on the items we use every day, which are on sale on big points days.

    Just be sure to pay in full every month or the rewards are not “free”.

  17. Lisa

    Jan 1 2009

    I was going to do TD Gold Select VISA; they advertise ‘All Gold with No annual Fee’, and indeed you get purchase security protection, extended warranties, and collision/loss damage insurance on car rentals. No rewards points, but I rent cars often so it’s nice for me.

    However, instead I’m using the TD CanadaTrust Infinite. I was adverse to going with a fee card. It’s the standard $120 /yr for primary card; however, the TDCanadaTrust employee talked me into it based on the following: I also switched my chequing account to their ‘Select Service’. This chequing account waives the annual fee for the Infinite Visa. The $25 monthly fee for the account is also waived is I maintain a balance of $5000, so I’m missing out investment gains from that money.

    I like having a buffer in my chequing account anyways though, so it works out for me.

    The banking account offers a lot of perks too. Unlimited interac, and bank transactions, withdrawals, etc. Free certified cheques, small safety deposit box, and no commission fees for travellers cheques.

    You can also opt for a Gold Select or Platinum Visa with annual fee waived if you have this type of chequing account, but I like the infinite travel rewards. I can redeem my points for hotels, airfare, car rentals, and I can do this retroactively or beforehand. If I do it beforehand and do it through the TD Travel Rewards Centre, then I get even more points, and they are always very helpful and efficient. With this in mind, it works out better than the 1% cashback Gold card for me in the end. I also have travel medical insurance (whether or not I book the travel with the card) for 8-day long trips; nice for going to the States every now and then.

  18. Doug

    Feb 22 2009

    Despite problems with the website, I still like the BMO Mosaik. The interest rate is high (unless you pay to have a lower one), but…

    1. Air miles. I’ve already gotten a free flight.

    2. Car rental insurance for $29/yr recently saved me $4,000 when I had a fender-bender.

  19. Doug

    Feb 22 2009

    Just to add, credit cards still kind of suck in Canada. Rates on US cards are much, much lower.

    (My partner has a 0% balance transfer card for two years through Citi. I could not find something similar here).

  20. Shawn

    Nov 1 2010

    I like my TD Gold Select Visa. No perks, no annual fee. Good back-up card.

    I sometimes carry a balance, so I wanted a card where I can have a low interest rate as well. I went with MBNA Canada. They have a variety of decent cards.

    I now have the Shoppers Optimum MasterCard from MBNA and simply asked for a lower interest rate and I got it: 9.99% forever, no annual fee and Shoppers Optimum Points on all purchases and extra points for shopping at Shoppers Drug Mart.

    Best card for me as I shop at Shoppers Drug Mart frequently.