As much as I’d love to get more out of my credit cards like some of the credit card churners and rewards hunters out there, sometimes I feel like I just can’t be bothered with all the research and time that’s involved.
I mean, it’s only been in the last few years that I’ve gotten credit cards with annual fees attached to them. Before that, I just couldn’t stomach paying to use a credit card when I knew how much those credit card companies were already making. And honestly, I didn’t earn enough money or spend enough on my credit cards to make getting premium cards worth it.
Reviewing Your Credit Cards Regularly Is a Must
But a lot has changed since then. Now that I’m self-employed, I don’t just have personal expenses, I’ve also got a hefty amount of business expenses. I’m talking 5-figures in business expenses! Just think of all the points I could earn by putting those expenses on the right credit card!
So, my days of just carrying on with my average credit cards are over. I’m taking the time this month to do a full review of all my credit cards and comparing them to what else is out there to see if I need to switch any of them out. And this is something I think everyone should do regularly, just like reviewing your chequing and savings accounts to see if there are better options for earning more interest and paying lower fees. It always pays to shop around!
Thankfully, when it comes to researching what credit cards are available in Canada, there are handy websites like Rate Supermarket that already compile the important data and categorize everything so it’s easy to go through.
My Current Credit Card Situation
Currently I have three different credit cards, all of which I know probably aren’t the best out there.
First, there’s my oldest card that I’ve had since I was 19. I don’t use it that much anymore because it doesn’t have the best reward system, but since it has 12 years of credit history on it, I just keep it around for emergencies when I’m travelling.
My second credit card is for all my regular personal expenses and my third card is strictly for my business expenses. Both of these cards have annual fees around $50/year.
How They Stack Up to the Competition
Rate Supermarket actually has a list of their Best Credit Cards of 2017, so I started my credit card comparison there. Sadly, none of my current cards made the cut (not even close!). But, based on their list, I’ve already spotted three credit cards that have definitely piqued my interest.
Best Card for Groceries
President’s Choice Financial Mastercard
First off all, there are three different PC Financial Mastercards (World Elite, World, and the regular card), but the crazy thing is none of them have an annual fee. But, you’re only eligible for the more premium cards depending on your individual or household income. And the more premium the card, the better the rewards you get.
This one definitely interests me because Loblaws is a 10-minute walk from my house and that’s where I do the majority of my grocery shopping. I do have a PC points card, but I know I could be racking up even more points with this credit card on top of it. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that when you apply through RateSupermarket.ca and activate your card, you’ll get a $100 e-gift card in addition to the PC Financial® Mastercard® welcome offer of up to 20,000 PC points.
Best Cash Back Rewards Card
Scotia Momentum VISA Infinite
I liked this one because it waives the annual fee for the first year, and because it’s a cash back card. I also like that I would get 2% back on recurring payments, since most of my business expenses are subscriptions.
Best Travel Perks Card
Scotiabank Gold American Express
One thing (besides food) that I spend a good portion of my budget on is travel. I travel to Vancouver to visit family twice per year, and my husband and I always go on at least one vacation each year to someplace different. This year we flew to the Maritimes and drove around Nova Scotia, PEI and New Brunswick. Last year we went to Paris. The year coming up, my fingers are crossed for somewhere hot with white sandy beaches.
If I was to have this credit card, not only would the first year’s annual fee be waived, I’d also get 25,000 bonus points if I was to spend $1,000 in everyday purchases in the first 3 months. I also like that this card provides cardholders with baggage insurance, flight delay insurance, rental vehicle insurance (which has definitely come in handy in past trips) and travel medical insurance just to name a few extra benefits.
Things to Remember When Choosing a New Credit Card
Now that I have a better idea of what else is out there, I’m also keeping these handy tips in mind before making any decisions on what I want to do.
Take Advantage of Bonuses
Never sign up for a new credit card without seeing if there is some sort of bonus! Sometimes these bonuses can be worth hundreds of dollars, so it’s worth looking around before applying for a new card.
For instance, as I previously mentioned the President’s Choice Financial Mastercard has a bonus of 20,000 PC points plus a $100 e-gift card to Starbucks, Cineplex, iTunes or The Ultimate Dining Card (good for 10+ restaurant brands). Those 20,000 PC points are worth $20, so that’s a bonus equivalent to $120!
Try to Get Your First Year’s Annual Fee Waived
This is something I always try to do. These companies want your business. They’ll do almost anything in their power to get your business. So, there’s a very good chance that they’ll waive your first year’s annual fee to get it.
I’ve almost always been successful, so in my opinion it’s always worth that extra phone call to check and see.
Make a Plan for Your Rewards
No matter if you get cash back or reward points from your card, the best way to optimize those benefits is to make a plan for them. For instance, I generally like to save up my cash back or points for right before Christmas because I know it can be an expensive time of year and I can use the extra help.
But maybe you want to save up your points for a trip or a flight back home for the holidays. No matter what it is, make a plan and note it down somewhere in your Budget Spreadsheet so you don’t forget.