Are ETFs For You?

December 6th, 2016 Posted in ETFs|Mutual Funds | No Comments »

One Distinctive Difference Between ETFs and Mutual Funds







One Distinctive Difference Between ETFs and Mutual Funds

There are currently 7 providers in Canada offering ETFs and more on the way. Since its journey began on the Toronto Stock Exchange in 1990 for the first time, ETFs have become a global phenomenon and are trading all major global exchanges around the world. On one side ETF markets are exploding around the globe, but on the other side mutual fund markets are shrinking.

Author/Copyright: Ahmed Dawn

Savvy investors are switching from mutual funds to ETFs due to their much lower cost and the flexibility of trading on a stock exchange just like a stock. If there is a major distinctive difference you want to point out between mutual funds and ETfs – it would be that mutual funds are sold, not bought, while ETFs are bought, not sold.

Most investors hold mutual funds because they were sold to them by their advisors. Mutual funds pay upfront and ongoing commissions to advisors when they sell these to their clients. However, as ETFs trade on exchanges just like stocks, advisors don’t get any compensation for recommending them to their clients. So there is no point selling something that does not make money, although the costs to hold ETFs are ridiculously lower than mutual funds.

The main reason investors refrain from buying ETFs over mutual funds is because a trading or brokerage account is required to buy ETFs, but advisors can sell mutual funds by opening a simple investment account at the financial institution they are associated with – and no brokerage or trading account is required.

Opening a trading account and buying ETFs may require more work and research, but the costs you will be saving over a lifetime is worth the hassle. All the information you need is available online for free to learn more on ETFs and to become a better investor. Visit the A Dawn Journal ETF Section to learn more about ETFs and I discussed how to open a trading account in my own book Invest Now in simple words.

Credit Card Bonus Rewards Points Shrinking

December 5th, 2016 Posted in Credit Cards|Rewards Cards|Debts | No Comments »

BMO World Elite MasterCard Bonus Rewards Points Shrinking

Several Credit Cards Change Bonus Rewards Points

In the past few weeks, I found out that several credit cards are changing their rewards points options. In my last article, I talked about Scotia Amex Gold Rewards. Today I will talk about two other credit cards that have instituted negative changes, unlike Scotia.

MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus MasterCard

This is a free rewards credit card that used to give 1000 bonus points every year on the anniversary date. However, MBNA recently sent a notification mentioning it will no longer provide any anniversary points starting January 1, 2017.

This does not come as a surprise to me, as I was expecting various cutbacks on points and features since TD Bank Group purchased MBNA. MBNA used to offer several cash back and rewards points credit cards with generous rewards and features. However, TD is terrible with its own rewards credits cards and it’s no wonder they will make all MBNA credit cards like their own (with reduced rewards and features). MBNA is no longer the choice for low-annual fee and no-fee credit cards since TD starting axing its benefits. There are other credit card companies that offer better deals for low annual fee and no-fee credit cards.

MBNA Rewards World Elite MasterCard

This card is no longer providing first year free. Before the $89 annual fee was waived for the first year.

BMO World Elite MasterCard

BMO was one of the few banks in Canada that allowed you to receive introductory bonus points on credit cards when you switch one account to another. For example, the BMO World Elite MasterCard gives 30,000 points (see below) if you apply and get approved. However, if you are already an existing different cardholder at BMO and switched to this card, you would still get 30,000 intro points. A couple of days ago I switched my BMO Air Miles World Elite MasterCard and as such I will receive 30,000 points. However, a BMO rep mentioned that starting January 1, 2017 these intro bonus points on switching one card to another will be discontinued. So if you are an existing cardholder and plan to get the BMO World Elite MasterCard, this is the time to do it.

BMO World Elite MasterCard is also reducing its 30,000 intro bonus points to 20,000 and increased minimum income requirement from $70,000 to $80,000.

When one door closes, another door opens. Always keep an eye open for new opportunities for credit card rewards and A Dawn Journal is here to provide you unbiased information because unlike most other sites, I do not promote any credit cards and I do not receive commissions from credit card companies.

Real Estate In Palm Island Dubai

December 2nd, 2016 Posted in Global Real Estate | No Comments »

Properties In Dubai Palm Islands







Properties In Dubai Palm Islands

The Palm Islands in Dubai are artificial, man-made islands in the Persian Gulf and one of the most ambitious and talked about modern-day real estate projects. It is considered as the 8th wonder of the world and visible from space like the Great Wall of China. The Palm Island project is made of three Palm islands (Palm Jumeriah, Palm Jabel Ali, and Palm Deira) and there are varieties of apartments, villas, and houses available for real estate investors to explore.

Author/Copyright: Ahmed Dawn

The Palm Islands were the idea of Sheik Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the king of Dubai. State-owned property developer Nakheel Properties is behind the development of this artificial archipelago with the help of Belgian and Dutch construction companies. It is estimated that nearly 53 million pounds of sand and 12 million pounds of rock were used to construct these islands from the ocean floor.

The Palm Islands have 60 hotels, 4000 beachside villas, 1000 water homes, 5000 shoreline apartments with other facilities such as shopping malls, marinas, water parks, sport facilities, a ski resort, and so on. Residents can access these islands via bridges, boats, or monorail system.

Apartments in the Palm Islands can range from 1 bedroom to 4 or more bedrooms. Each apartment can have a view of the landscaped gardens or the Persian Gulf sea view. Price range can be from lower $300 thousands to over $2 million dollars US. A villa can cost from less than 1 million US$ to 10 and above million US$ depending on location and what type of view it offers. The amenities available in one of the apartments or villas make you feel like are living in an upscale ocean resort – not in a residential unit.

Although residential property prices have slumped in Dubai right after the financial crisis in 2009, there have been steady upward trends in prices since then. Villa and apartment prices have gone up 20 and 7 percent annually since then. Many new projects have been announced in 2012. Multibillion dollar project Mohammed Bin Rashid City is one of the new projects to raise investors’ curiosity across the globe. It is expected to feature the largest mall in the world – with a park which is 30 percent bigger than Hyde Park in London.

Looking forward in 2013, Dubai’s property is expected to be one of the strongest performers due to its increased demand. Professionals relocating from Asian and western countries are expected to rise and push up the demand for luxury homes. Barring any drastic slowdown in global economy, we should see more high-end projects to keep up with its demand in the future years.

Is Travel Credit Card Scotiabank Gold American Express Now A Cash Back Credit Card As Well?

November 26th, 2016 Posted in Credit Cards|Rewards Cards|Debts | No Comments »

Scotiabank Gold Amex Credit Card Offers New Feature

Scotiabank Gold Amex Credit Card Offers New Feature

Scotiabank Gold American Express travel credit card is known for its mega proprietary points offer on selected categories, beating any other cards. For example, 4 points for every $1 spent at eligible gas, grocery, dining, and entertainment purchases in Canada. You can read my full review here: The ScotiaBank Gold American Express Card Review. However, a recent change made on Scotia Rewards Program, starting November 6, 2016, makes Scotiabank Gold Amex Credit Card as a Cash Back credit card as well.

Author/Copyright: Ahmed Dawn

In the past, Scotiabank Gold Amex card members were only allowed to redeem points for travel purchases, as it’s a travel rewards credit card. But to make the use of this credit card more flexible and attractive, Scotiabank is now allowing you to redeem points for statement credit on any purchases. This change of feature makes this card basically a travel credit card that works as a Cash Back credit card as well.

However, this change puts Scotiabank Gold Amex card in direct competition with Scotia’s own cash back credit card, the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite Card, which offers 4 percent on gas + grocery and 2 percent on pharmacy + recurring bills. Read my review on this card here Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite Card review if you need to decide which one to choose.

There is another travel credit card, the MBNA World Elite Rewards MasterCard, which offers a flat 2 points per dollar on all spending and allows you to redeem points for cash back.

I consider this cash back option offered by Scotiabank Gold Amex travel credit card as a positive change, as it provides greater flexibility for customers.

5 ATM Tips to Save You From Scammers

November 20th, 2016 Posted in Life|Money Smart Tips | No Comments »

5 ATM Tips to Save You From Scammers







Beware of No-Name ATMs

Technology is improving security features on your ATM cards and bank machines. And con artists or scammers are upgrading their skills to keep up with the technology. Using some simple tips and common sense can go a long way to save your money from the con artists. Here are a few tips today:

– Be extremely careful using no-name ATM machines. No-name machines are owned by private businesses or individuals, not any financial institutions. Always use precautions when using these stand-alone machines. Not only you are paying additional ATM fees, but also you are taking additional risks of getting scammed using these machines.

Author/Copyright: Ahmed Dawn

– Scammers use high tech devices such as hidden cameras, scanning devices, and card readers to copy your debit or credit card information and then they make clone cards to empty out your bank or credit card accounts. If you notice or feel something unusual such as slot is too tight for your card, visible attachment to the machine, signs sticking on the wall asking you to use one particular machine, someone standing nearby the machine and pretending to read a newspaper, or anything that does not make sense, leave that spot right away and go to different location.

– Cover your keypad so any person behind you or any video camera cannot see your password input on keypad.

– Your card should enter through the slot smoothly. If you struggle to enter your card or notice anything unusual on the slot, do not use that ATM. If the ATM eats your card, call your bank immediately.

– Always be vigilant, take precautions, and use your common sense. For example, if you see an ATM that is not well-lit, or an ATM in a bad neighbourhood, or anything suspicious, do not use that ATM.

Donald Trump Global Economy Effects In Brief

November 17th, 2016 Posted in Canada|Global Economy | No Comments »

Donald Trump and Global Economy

Donald Trump and Global Economy

The global economy was already on a rough ride due to low consumer confidence and business, weak investments and depressed commodity markets, rising debt and low interest rates, and much more. And now, to add more to the rough ride, the surprise victory of Donald Trump is another integer in the equation. Here are some of the concerns that can derail the global economy further in the Trump era.

Author/Copyright: Ahmed Dawn


Imposing a 45 percent tariff on Chinese imported goods. This will make everything more expensive for consumers (goods made in USA also use Chinese materials) and China might retaliate with similar tariff on US imports. In the end, everyone in the globe will be a loser.


Mexico has the most to lose if Trump does what he said he would do. Dismantling NAFTA, slapping a 35 percent tariff, rounding up illegal immigrants, and possibly more will have economic impacts on Mexico and in the US as well.


Canada actually can both gain and lose from Trump’s presidency. Cancelling or renegotiating the TTIP and NAFTA agreements are both negatives. However, approving the Keystone XL Pipeline would allow shipment of bitumen from Alberta to the U.S. and would be definitely a plus.

Trump has argued that by neglecting national debt by cutting taxes for the wealthy, cutting regulations, and reducing imports he can make the GDP grow 4 percent (from 2 percent currently). However, analysts disagree. Many believe that adopting Trump’s proposals on trades, taxes, immigration and government spending would destroy millions of jobs and the U.S. economy will be isolated and diminished.

Also, US dollars are still the main reserve currency in the world and only the US Federal Reserve is responsible for the supply. If Trump tries to influence the Fed’s policies and interest rates, it will create havoc both in the U.S. and global economy.

Which Credit Cards Give the Most Rewards Points or Cash Back?

November 11th, 2016 Posted in Credit Cards|Rewards Cards|Debts | No Comments »

How to Get the Most Credit Cards Rewards Points

How to Get the Most Credit Cards Rewards Points

Today, I will talk about maximum rewards points offered by annual fee credit cards in Canada. Keep in mind that I am not looking at introductory bonus points, insurance benefits or other perks offered by these cards. The cards that offer the most rewards may not be the best credit cards when it comes to extra benefits. For example, the American Express Gold Rewards Credit Card is one of the best cards in terms of rewards, but in terms of benefits it’s one of the worst cards. Why? Read my Amex Gold Review here.

Author/Copyright: Ahmed Dawn

Best Proprietary Points Credit Card – The Scotia Bank American Express Gold Card offers the most proprietary rewards points (4 points per dollar) on 4 categories (grocery, gas, entertainment, restaurants). However, it offers a poor 1 point per dollar on all other spending.

There are three other credit cards that offer a flat 2 points per dollar on all spending across the board. These cards are: BMO World Elite MasterCard, MBNA Rewards World Elite MasterCard, and Capital One Aspire Travel World Elite MasterCard.

Best Airline Loyalty Points Credit Card – Both the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite and the CIBC Aerogold Visa Infinite offer 1.5 miles on 4 categories (grocery, gas, pharmacy, and at purchases excluding vacation). However, these cards offer a poor 1 mile per dollar on all other spending.

Best Hotel Loyalty Points Credit Card – The Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) American Express Credit Card offers 1 Starpoint per dollar across the board on all categories. Although there are other hotel credit cards that offer more points per dollar, Starpoint is the most valuable hotel currency on the market (currently 1 Starpoint valued at 2.5 cents or more), and for that reason the SPG Amex credit card provides most value for every dollar spent.

Best Cash Back Credit Card – The Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite Card offers the most cash back return (4 percent on gas + grocery and 2 percent on pharmacy + recurring bills). However, it offers a poor 1 percent on all other spending.

The BMO CashBack World Elite MasterCard offers a flat 1.75 percent return on all spending across the board. Another no fee credit card worth mentioning is Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card. It offers 2 percent cash back in 2 categories of your choice and 1 percent on everything else.

Best Hybrid Points Credit Card – The American Express Gold Rewards Credit Card offers 2 points on gas, grocery, drugstore, and travel purchases and 1 point on everything else. These points can be converted to airline (Aeroplan, Avios, etc.) or hotel points (Hilton, SPG, etc.) or can be used as statement credit. The 2 points per dollar earning opportunity makes this card the highest Aeroplan (or other airline points) earner credit card in Canada.

Bonus Credit Card Points Tip – Although The Scotia Bank American Express Gold Card and MBNA World Elite Rewards MasterCard are proprietary points travel credit cards, its ability to redeem points for cash back (MBNA) and statement credit on any purchases (Scotia) make these cash back credit cards as well.

Last Word – Don’t pick any credit cards based on only rewards points they offer. There are many other elements to it, such as what types of insurance coverage provided, who is the insurance provider, if any concierge service is available, if the card provides anniversary bonus, and so on.

A Dawn Journal has lots of articles on credit card tips and unlike many other sites, I do not receive money, participate in any affiliate program, or promote any credit cards. So my opinions are honest and unbiased. Always do your research and make informed decisions before making your credit card selections.

Real Estate In Chile

November 6th, 2016 Posted in Global Real Estate | No Comments »

Real Estate In Chile

Chile Real Estate

Is it possible to buy property in a South American country where foreigners are protected by the same rights as citizens? Where the police force is known for its honesty and does not accept bribes? A country with the highest GDP per capita in that region, a member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), A+ Sovereign Credit Rating, and one of the lowest risk countries in the world for foreign investments? If you are looking for such a country for real estate investments in South America, look no further than Chile.

Author/Copyright: Ahmed Dawn

In order to buy property in Chile, you don’t need to be a resident or even visit the country. Chile has the most developed real estate market in South America. The property market has remained fairly stable during the global economic crisis and has shown growth momentum. Although Chile is the world’s longest and narrowest country, stretching more than 4000 kilometers, the population and real estate volumes concentrate in the center region known as The Central Valley – where the capital, Santiago, is located. Thirty percent of the population lives in Santiago and it is the most visited spot by tourists. Also, Frutillar and Puerto Varas have become the fastest growing real estate markets in Chile and southern Chile.

Like anywhere else, you should be aware of some rules and regulations when buying property in Chile. Real estate agents are not regulated in Chile and it is advisable to hire a lawyer to perform real estate transactions in Chile. A title search must be conducted by a qualified attorney. Based on the title search, have the attorney draft a buy/sell agreement. Once completed, this agreement has to be signed in front of a CHILEAN Notary Public and then property has to be registered with the regional registry. You will also need a Chilean taxpayer ID number (RUT) to complete the whole process.

There are many investment or legal firms available to make your real estate expedition in Chile a breeze. Always do your research to find a firm that is reputable and meets your needs.

20+ Credit Cards and 800+ Credit Score? Is It Possible?

November 3rd, 2016 Posted in Credit Cards|Rewards Cards|Debts | No Comments »

The Secrets of My Credit Score

The Secrets of My Credit Score

The people I know and the employees at my banks almost have a fit when I tell them I have around 20 credit cards and a very high credit score, like above 800. For most people, more credit cards are associated with more debt and a lower credit score. More debt (for some people) I can agree with, but lower credit score? I could not disagree more.

Author/Copyright: Ahmed Dawn

The general misconception about having more credit cards is that they lower your credit score. This assumption could not have been possibly further dispersed from the truth. Having a lot of credit cards is OK, as long you are paying your bills on time and keeping your Utilization Ration below 30 percent. However, 30 percent ratio is considered the highest limit you can go to keep a good credit score. Lower is better. For example, FICO and Experian data show that those who have the best credit score, such as 800 or higher, utilize only 7 to 8 percent of their credit. Your utilization ratio represents what percentage of your available credit you are using and makes up 30 percent of your credit score.

Now, how about having too many credit cards? Having too many credit cards and maintaining them properly actually gives you an advantage to achieve a higher credit score. It’s shooting up your available credit limit (meaning making your utilization ratio lower) and showing positive on your credit report because lenders view you as someone who can be trusted with credit (because you are maintaining them positively by not racking up balances and keeping them active paying on time). After all, payment history makes up 35 percent of your credit score. So when you score perfect both on payment history (35%) and utilization ratio (30%), you already have an advantage towards scoring higher on the overall credit score. The other 15 percent (length of credit), 10 percent (types of credit), and 10 percent (inquiries) will easily follow.

One of the maximum credit card holders with an almost perfect score recorded by Guinness World Record was Walter Cavanagh of California, who has 1497 credit cards and a staggering $1.7 million line of credit. Other examples: The Points Guy Brian Kelly has 30 credit cards and 805 credit score. Ben Schlappig of One Mile At A Time has 20+ credit cards and 837 credit score.

The point is, there is nothing wrong with having too many credit cards as long as you know how to manage money and credit cards. However, I must warn that it requires a lot of discipline and work and this is not for everyone. You have to be extremely detail-oriented and extremely excellent in handling credit cards and money. If you are one payment late your credit score will take a nosedive.

Everyone has different purposes of achieving a higher credit score. My purpose is the satisfaction that comes from a higher score and also to utilize the various perks that come from having lots of different credit cards. I will talk about these more in my next book, Credit Card Hacks: What Credit Card Companies Don’t Want You to Know. Stay tuned.

What To Buy and What Not To Buy At Dollar Stores

October 30th, 2016 Posted in Life|Money Smart Tips | No Comments »


Dollar Store Tips

How to Shop at Dollar Stores

I still remember that day when I first found out that I was paying ten times or more for the same item at a regular retail store than a dollar store. It was a plastic shower curtain. I bought it somewhere for $10, and then accidentally I found out that the dollar store located next to the other store had the same item for $1. Since then, whenever I need to buy something and I doubt that there is a possibility that this product will be available at a dollar store, and it is not on my not-to-buy-at-dollar-store list, I check at a dollar store first. Today, I will go over some items I consider buying and some items I would never buy at dollar stores.

Author/Copyright: Ahmed Dawn

What Not to Buy

Do not buy any food items, drinks, soap, can food and vegetables, shampoos, baby food, toothpaste, shaving products, lotions, razor, sanitary pads, pregnancy test tools, vitamins, pills, school supplies, pens, perfumes, and so on. You should be very cautious about buying anything you eat, drink, or put on your skin from dollar stores. The quality of these products usually is very low and you don’t want to jeopardize your health in the short or long term to save a few bucks. There is no way to know what they put in these in factories in China.

What to Buy

You can buy items like cleaning products, decoration products, kitchen products, disposable items, greeting cards, small tools, craft items, and so on. You will have a good idea of what types of items can be bought at dollar stores after going through what I mentioned. Items that have no direct relation to your health, consumptions, contact with skin, etc. can be bought at dollar stores.

What to Try

There are some items at dollar stores that you can try to check if these are worth buying later on. Some of these items are toys, educational supplies, pet toys, and so on.
Dollar stores give you the opportunity to save some money. However, money can be totally wasted too if you don’t shop smartly at dollar stores.

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