Which Credit Cards Offer an Annual Companion Flight?

November 25th, 2015 Posted in Credit Cards|Rewards Cards|Debts | No Comments »

Save Money with an Annual Companion Flight

There are many perks and features credit cards come with that a lot of people aren’t aware of. Today, I will talk about how you can travel for a lot less with the annual companion flight that comes with some credit cards.

There are currently two credit cards that offer an annual companion flight. What this means is that you buy one plane ticket at regular price and you get a companion ticket at a heavily-discounted price. Here are the two cards:

WestJet RBC World Elite MasterCard – Buy a ticket at regular price anywhere within Canada or U.S. (excludes Hawaii and Puerto Rico) where WestJet flies and get a companion round-trip with you for $99 (excluding taxes, fees and charges). Read my WestJet RBC World Elite review here. Annual fee = $99.

MBNA Alaska World Elite MasterCard – Buy a ticket at regular price anywhere within Canada, U.S. (including Alaska and Hawaii) or Mexico where Alaska Airlines flies and get a companion round-trip with you for from $121 USD. Annual fee = $75.

There are some other cards that offer an annual companion flight with a catch, such as you have to fly on rewards points or spend certain amounts. Example: American Express Air Miles Reserve Card, American Express AeroplanPlus Reserve Card, American Express AeroplanPlus Platinum Card, and RBC British Airways Visa Infinite.

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Real Estate in Phuket
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Real Estate In Phuket

November 23rd, 2015 Posted in Global Real Estate | No Comments »

Real Estate In Phuket







Buying Property in Phuket

One of the most beautiful regions of Thailand is Phuket. Sitting on Phuket Island, the third largest island in Thailand, the capital city of the Phuket Province is Phuket City, with 75,000 inhabitants. This region is highly sought after for real estate investment and for vacation homes for the simple fact that it lies close to the equator, giving an average temperature of 32C/90F, while only going down to an average low of 24C/75F. While the region is dry from December to March, it can be very wet in the monsoon time of year from April to November.

When you are looking to buy property within Phuket, you should look along the Hat Patong, which is the most-developed beach on the island. Situated in a three-kilometer long-bay, you can enjoy windsurfing, sailing, swimming or just sun-tanning during the day, while taking in the restaurants and thriving nightlife at night.

Phuket is currently going through a real estate boom with a great deal of development going on in the area of condos, homes for retired individuals, rental homes and luxury housing. With over 4,000,000 people visiting the island each year as part of their vacation, there are many who want to have a home they can go to while on this beautiful island.

If you are thinking of moving to Phuket, you should first be commended for deciding to live somewhere this beautiful. Choosing a place, whether it is a condo, villa, or house, will depend greatly on what you are looking for. If you want to live in a remote area, you can look in the Rawai area or the Naiharn area. However, if you want to be close to golf courses, hospitals, shopping areas and urban centers, then the Kathu area of the island is a good idea.

When people talk about the benefits that come from living in the Phuket province, or in Phuket City, it often revolves around the traditions, food and local life of this amazing area.

When you are looking for condos, villas, or homes within Phuket, there are some things to consider, including:

  1. Make sure you choose a reputable real estate company. This is true if you are buying over the phone, or from your current country. You want to make sure the company you go through is going to make sure that you get a home you not only want, but that you can afford as well.
  2. If you need to, get some legal advice on how to buy a home in Phuket.
  3. Do as much research as you can into Phuket because you want to live in an area that is conducive to your lifestyle. If you are young, you may want to be in an urban area where there is a night life. If you are looking for some place quiet, then a villa in a remote village may be a better choice. If you have children, a villa on a cliff may not be a good idea because of the dangers presented by the cliff.

The time is now to buy in Phuket. The financial crisis has made many luxury homes affordable on the island and they are starting to be snapped up by foreigners. In the past few years alone, the number of condos has doubled on the island and all these islands are also selling quickly. Most of the people interested in buying homes in Phuket are from the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and Scandinavia, so don’t let them snap up your home on Phuket Island.

This is a beautiful island that is quickly becoming the go-to destination for many individuals in the Western World who are tired of the snow, cold and day-to-day grind.

Now, it should be noted that under Thailand’s laws, it is forbidden for a foreigner to own land within the Kingdom of Thailand. Now, you are allowed to buy a condo under your own name if the condo is a freehold title. If the condo is not a freehold title, then you can lease it for 30 years, with an extension of 30 years on top of that.

If you want to get cheap property within Phuket, you can look at two places; auction and banks. If you are planning to buy a property at auction, you need to get research done on the title before you do. You need to have a friend based in Thai ask the right sorts of questions for you if you do this and you need to be able to move quickly as someone else may take your property from you. Most newspapers within Phuket will have auction notices so all you need is someone in Phuket to let you know about possible properties. Let them know what you want to spend and what you are looking for and your Thai friend can make things much easier for you when you are shopping for a home in Phuket. Buying through auction can save you a lot of money but again make sure you research the property and have a lawyer ensure there are no problems with the property and to ensure that the title is completely free and clear.

If you decide to go through a bank, look for property that has gone through repossession. Banks will sell at a discount because they do not want to go to auction, where they will lose more money. You can find many properties through banks on the internet in Phuket, which have gone through foreclosure. Although, if you can’t read Thai, you may have some trouble so a Thai friend again comes in handy. Having a Thai friend can also aid you in seeing the hoe and because banks will often hold special open houses when your Thai friend can check out the home for you.

To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the realestateexpedition.com website (however, I will still hold the domain). I will gradually move all articles from this site to A Dawn Journal. This article originally published on the above website on May 8, 2010.

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CI Financial & TD Bank Are Slow to Realize ETF Potential

November 19th, 2015 Posted in ETFs|Mutual Funds | No Comments »

BMO's Farsighted ETF Vision

BMO’s Farsighted ETF Vision

Canada’s second largest publicly-traded fund company CI Financial likes to see itself as an industry pioneer that consistently anticipates and responds to the changing needs of the marketplace. Remember the CI Pacific fund, Segregated Funds, and Sector Funds concepts that CI revolutionized? However, CI missed the boat on ETF funds, as did TD Bank, because they finally realized that the ETF arena is where money will be pouring in for the next several decades, and where another player BMO is already reaping benefits from its farsighted vision that made BMO enter the ETF arena in 2009.

CI enters the ETF arena by acquiring First Asset Investment Management, which has $3 billion in assets under management and $1.6 billion of that is in active ETFs. BMO’s ETF assets under management are already staying high at nearly $24 billion, making it Canada’s second largest ETF provider after iShares.

And TD? It will be entering the ETF arena as the 3rd bank player (after BMO and RBC) in early 2016. TD hasn’t revealed much detail yet about its ETFs, but it was widely expected that, like CI, TD would have had no choice but to enter the ETF marketplace. However, the difference between CI and TD is that TD already attempted to enter the ETF marketplace in the past (in 2001), but failed to keep up its pace due to unexpected low trading volumes.

Things have changed since then. The Canadian ETF sector has come a long way and is currently sitting with $87 billion under management with 12 players. The growth potential of ETF industry cannot be ignored anymore and CI and TD made the right delayed call to enter the marketplace. Here is a simple example of how BMO rapidly increased its AUM by acting ahead of everyone else.

BMO ETF AUM (Asset Under Management)

2009 – Start

2010 September – $1 billion

2011 April – $2 billion

2011 September – $3 billion

2012 January – $4 billion

2012 March – $5 billion

2012 August – $7 billion

2013 March – $10 billion

2015 November – Nearly 24 billion

So what does it mean to have more players for Canadian investors? More competition, wider selections, more choices, broader distribution channels, and yes, lower costs. As the ETF sector is maturing and going through tremendous growth in Canada, expect to see more players putting their feet in in the days to come.

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Two Common Rewards the American Express Gold Rewards Card Is Not Giving You

November 15th, 2015 Posted in Credit Cards|Rewards Cards|Debts | No Comments »

What’s The Amex Gold Rewards Card Missing?

Although the American Express Gold Rewards Card is a premium travel rewards card with a hefty $150 annual fee, it’s missing two common benefits that are a must for a travel rewards card. Most other premium travel credit cards that have an annual fee of $99 to $120 will provide you these important benefits.

These two benefits are:

– Trip Cancellation Insurance and

– Concierge Service

You should not go on a trip without these two, as they will be lifesavers in case you have to cancel your trip or require assistance before or during with concierge service help.

Trip Cancellation Insurance reimburses you in case a trip has to be cancelled due to covered causes like illness, death, and much more. Concierge Service is like having your own personal assistant and can help you in various scenarios in your own country or foreign lands where you don’t know anyone.

Features like these (and many others like those discussed here) aren’t provided by the American Express Gold Rewards Card, but you will find these features in many other travel rewards credit cards that have a lower annual fee than Amex gold.

Before making your rewards credit cards selections, do thorough research and visit the A Dawn Journal Credit Card Section for more tips. Here are some articles you can start with.

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Will Changing the One-Child Policy Work?

November 12th, 2015 Posted in Canada|Global Economy | No Comments »

China Terminates One-Child Policy

China Terminates One-Child Policy

China has decided to end its decades-long one-child policy. I wrote a piece on China’s One-Child Policy in the past, which is available here. The one-child policy first started nationwide in 1979 to slow population growth. It is estimated that the one-child policy prevented roughly 400 million births in China.

Although the Chinese government didn’t explain this move, it’s widely believed that a drop in workforce and a growing elderly population are the main reasons behind it. Currently, the population in China is 1.35 billion, with 30% over the age of 50. The workforce is made of 64% women and women in the workforce did well in the corporate world because they were required to stay home less due to the previous one-child policy.

Over the long run, there may be a drop in the women’s workforce, as many will choose to stay home to have more than one kid. However, as having one child has become a social norm, there is a possibility that many families will not choose to have more than one kid. And also there is the question of how many families are ready to give up financial stability over having more kids.

There are also concerns that businesses will make it harder for women to stay off work or reluctant to hire them in the first place, knowing women could take off for giving birth repeatedly.

Although there are several factors that will work together to make this new policy work (or not), the most important part is how women in China respond to this change. And we will have to wait to see the outcome, possibly in a few years.

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Is Your Job More Secure, Or Less?

November 8th, 2015 Posted in Canada|Global Economy | No Comments »

Is Your Job More Secure  Or Less






Canadians Feel They Have More Job Security Than Before

Nearly half of Canada’s current workforce feels more secure in their roles than they did one year ago, according to findings released this week. Although this does not technically constitute a majority, the numbers are in favour of the proposition that Canadians feel they have more job security than before, with 38 percent feeling that they were less secure compared to 46% who feel more secure. It is a sign that people are still divided on the subject of the economy and employment, but that optimism is continuing to creep upward in the light of positive noises at home and abroad. As we wait to see how the recovery continues, it would be chutzpah to suggest that the findings of the recent Harris-Decima poll proved that we were out of the woods, but good news is good news.

The positive feeling is more pronounced among people working in the public sector, of whom 53% said they felt more secure in their employment compared to 42% who felt more secure in the private sector. This is natural, as the companies which are going bankrupt and the plants and offices which are being closed down tend to be private sector entities. With a national unemployment rate of 8.6% expected to rise in the weeks to come, private sector workers still nurse understandable doubts that their jobs are safe. However, the prevailing opinion is that most companies with substantive cuts to make have already made the bulk of those cuts and have now downsized to a reasonable level.

Of the 1,009 people surveyed, some 33% said that they felt job security was the top perk in a job – nearly exactly a third of the group. Almost as many (31%) said that work/life balance was the most important thing in any job. Taking these two groups together it could be said that almost two-thirds of the Canadians surveyed felt that comfort and confidence played a big part in their reasons for doing their job. With 15% citing a secure pension and 12% a generous salary, those feeling that remuneration was the important part of a job was just over a quarter. Whether everyone responding was being entirely honest with the researcher and themselves is a question for another day, however it would appear that a sense of uncertainty in the last couple of years has caused people to reassess priorities.

Other interesting results to emerge from the survey had much to do with the divisions between public and private sector workers. When asked whether government workers were overpaid, 64% of the private sector said they were while only 39% of public sector workers agreed. The reasons for this strength of feeling among the private sector may well be that they resent their taxes being spent on workers who they very much (83%) feel do an excessive amount of “paper pushing”. 72% of public sector workers agreed that their jobs involved a lot of administrative work, but did not feel in such great numbers that it should mean they have to take a pay cut.

To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the Canadapersonalfinancewebsite.com website (however, I will still hold the domain). I will gradually move all articles from this site to A Dawn Journal. This article originally published on the above website on Sep 9, 2009.

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How to Pick Travel Rewards Credit Cards

November 5th, 2015 Posted in Credit Cards|Rewards Cards|Debts | No Comments »

Picking Travel Rewards Credit Cards

Last week I talked about How to Pick Rewards Credit Cards. Today, I will go into further detail for those who are interested in picking travel credit cards.

Before I start, I would like to clarify that this is NOT an article about any particular travel credit cards to pick. I cannot tell you what frequent-flier credit cards, hotel credit cards, proprietary credit cards, or hybrid rewards credit cards you should be using. It’s up to you to decide what cards suit your needs and lifestyle. However, I do have resources in the A Dawn Journal credit card section that you can use to come up with the best options. And don’t just use one site or one top credit card rating article to research. Spend a good amount of time and use various sites before making your decisions.

What I am going to discuss today is what features and options you need to be aware of before committing to any travel rewards cards. It might look simple on the surface, but there many things you need to be aware of and credit card companies will not provide you this information in black and white, unless you know what to look for and how to look for it.

Travel Rewards Credit Cards for Initial Sign-Up Bonuses

When you want travel credit cards solely for the hefty initial sign-up bonuses for free flights, free hotel nights, and so on, you don’t need to worry about what features the cards are missing because it’s likely you will cancel these cards in a year before the annual fee kicks in. Don’t forget to meet all the requirements for free flights or nights; usually certain amounts have to be spent in 3 months.

Travel Rewards Credit Cards for Ongoing Benefits

If you are holding on to travel credit cards for the benefits they are providing year after year and not using them for daily transactions, you don’t need to worry about missing any features because you use these cards for only one benefit.

Example: I don’t mind keeping the Marriott Rewards Visa Card and paying the $120 annual fee (although I don’t charge anything on this) because this card gives me a free night at Marriott every year, which I value more than $120. Another example: I don’t use my WestJet World Elite MasterCard, but I don’t mind paying the $99 annual fee because it gives me a companion flight (and free checked baggage) anywhere in Canada and the US for $100 every year, which I value at about $500 to $700.

Travel Rewards Credit Cards for Daily Transactions

Regardless of what kinds of travel cards you use, make sure you are getting maximum returns on each dollar and never settle for any credit cards that only give you 1 point (1% return) per dollar. For example, some credit cards will give you 4 points (or 4% return) on grocery, gas, and pharmacy purchases, but will only give you 1 point on all other purchases, including travel. Example: Scotiabank Gold American Express Card.

So what you can do is use one credit card for grocery shopping and another credit card (that gives you more than 1 point) on everything else. Example: BMO World Elite MasterCard gives 2 points on everything. If you do not want more than one card for daily transactions, pick one card that provides 2 (or more) points for everything. So avoid any cards that offer only one point for daily uses.

Also, make sure the cards you are picking for day-to-day needs give you a hefty sign-up bonus as well.

Travel Rewards Credit Cards for Travel Purchases

You have to be extra careful when you are using credit cards to buy plane tickets or hotels, as your trip should have full insurance coverage. Here is my list of coverage that I must have for my trip and I will only use a credit card that provides all these.

– Emergency Medical Insurance

– Travel Accident Insurance

– Trip Cancellation Insurance

– Trip Interruption Insurance

– Flight Delay Insurance

– Lost Luggage

– Hotel/Motel Burglary

– Auto Rental Theft and Collision/Loss Damage Insurance

I don’t mind if I don’t have Lost Luggage and Hotel/Motel Burglary insurance, but everything else is a must for my trip.

Another thing you need to be aware of is your card’s insurance provider. Stick to a credit card where the insurance provider is a reputable one and there are not many complaints when it comes to obtaining insurance benefits. Lots of credit cards offer a full suite of insurances, but the providers make it very difficult to claim and collect benefits when the time comes to do so. I discussed more on this here.

Travel Rewards Cards that Come With Personal Assistant

Do not settle for a travel credit card that does not provide you concierge service. Visa Infinite cards come with Visa’s own concierge service. Other cards usually provide concierge service through a third party or the card company’s own concierge service team.

Concierge service is a free service that is like having your own personal assistant at your disposal 24/7. Concierge service can do basically anything you can think of that you might need help with. Some of them are:

– finding and booking air, hotel, cruise, and restaurant reservations

– finding that hard-to-find concert ticket

– research for you something you need to find out

– help you when you are lost or in trouble in a foreign country

– sending flowers to someone on your behalf

– and much more

I use concierge service vigorously. In the last 6 months I used them to make me a list of all hotels with rates facing ocean in Myrtle Beach, providing me with a report on Las Vegas (what to see + do), and I even called them when I was in Niagara Falls to find me the closest movie theatre. The point is that this is a unique feature your credit card offers and you should take advantage of it.

Currently 3 of my credit cards offer concierge services from 3 different providers. However, Visa’s concierge is very reputable and possibly the best on earth. This is simply their wide coverage across the globe and they know how to deal with a situation in any country. I would not mind paying a $120 annual fee on one credit card just to have Visa concierge, if I don’t use that card for anything else.

How About Annual Fees

If you are looking for all the benefits and features a credit card offers, the fees are indispensable. A no-fee card is not going to offer you anything we talked about so far. So the way you approach fees is that you need to make sure your benefits surpass the total of all the fees you are paying.

My total spending on fees from all credit cards comes to about $700 – $800 annually. However, my benefits exceed well beyond $800. So this $800 is not actually a spending, but it’s an investment that provides me more returns.

Last Word

Before making your selections on your travel credit cards, spend time researching all the features and benefits. It’s likely you will not find everything you need in one card. But the good thing is you can have as many cards as you like. And there is nothing wrong with paying fees on premium credit cards as long as you can justify the fees for the features, services, and benefits you are receiving from your cards.

Bonus Tip – Same banks have several travel rewards credit cards providing different types of rewards. If you are on good terms with your banks, they will gladly transfer your account from one type to another type without hesitation. This serves you both ways because you don’t need to apply for the other credit card you want from your bank (which saves you one hard credit check) and still can get the sign-up bonus. I always have had success doing this with my banks. You have a better chance if you ask your bank after 2-3 years of using one card. If you ask them every year, there is a good chance they will decline.

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Toronto Real Estate – A World Class City Is Still Surprisingly Affordable

October 31st, 2015 Posted in Global Real Estate | No Comments »

Real Estate in Toronto







Real Estate in Toronto

In a study done in 2010 by the Economist to find the most liveable cities in the world, Toronto ranked in at number four, joining Calgary and Vancouver as the three Canadian cities in the top 10. Toronto joined places like Sidney, Australia and Vienna as places where it is great to live. However, unlike most of the cities on the list, Toronto is not far out of the reach of many individuals. Vancouver is one of the most expensive places in the world to live, but Toronto still has real estate, in prime places like downtown and North York, that is affordable. This means that you can live in a world class city, without having to go into deep debt in order to pay for your new home.

Buying a condo in New York or Paris will cost you a small fortune, but you can get the same type of condo, with an amazing view, in a world-class city like Toronto, for as much as you would pay for a home in the country. That is amazing to think about because you can live in what many consider to be the premier city of Canada (although Vancouver is close on the list) for a decent price.

As of January 2010, Toronto had an average home price of $409,000, only $18,000 more than Calgary but a whopping $229,000 below the highest priced city in Canada; Vancouver.

In terms of the entire world, Toronto has a comparable amount of services, culture and population to many of the greatest cities on the planet, but it ranks 31st in terms of the most expensive cities to live in. So, you have a city that ranks fourth in terms of being the best place on Earth to live, but 31st in terms of price. That is an amazing combination that you should take advantage of if you are going to move anywhere in Canada.

One big plus for Toronto is its surging real estate market. Toronto has out-performed nearly every Canadian city, and most of the American cities, in terms of real estate market recovery. Since April 2008, the average home sales have gone up over 100 percent a month for several months in a row. This not only shows that Toronto is a popular place to live, but that it is weathering the storm of the economic crisis that swept around the world quite nicely.

In terms of neighbourhoods, where you live will depend on how much you end up paying. The most popular neighbourhood in Toronto is Riverdale, which comes with an average home price of just $480,000, quite reasonable for where you are within the city. Riverdale is considered to be one of the trendiest and most artful neighbourhoods in all of Toronto. This just shows how you can get a home in one of the best, if not the best neighbourhood in Toronto, without having to pay more than $500,000. Riverdale itself features several art galleries, film studios and some beautiful homes that are built in the style of Georgian and Victorian architectural style.

Now, if you want to live in what may be the most beautiful part of Toronto, as well as one of the hottest areas for real estate, then you could think about The Beaches. Sitting on the shores of Lake Ontario, you get a lake view property in within the limits of Canada’s biggest city. That is pretty amazing, especially considering that the property price within this area is only around $571,921, more expensive than Riverdale but very reasonable considering the high-class style of this neighbourhood. The beaches has a very colourful history with its residents, which have included from time to time Academy-award winning director Norman Jewison, pianist Glenn Gould, Miley Cyrus, John Candy, Keanu Reeves, Kiefer and Donald Sutherland, as well as Alex Trebek. It is like living in an affordable Beverly Hills within a beautiful city.

The most expensive area of Toronto to live is Leaside, which is where many local celebrities live, and the home prices in this area fall around $650,000. That may seem expensive but it is important to remember that this high price is only slightly higher than the average price of homes in Vancouver. Try buying prime real estate in Paris, London or New York for only $650,000. You will be lucky to get a condo in a rough neighbourhood for that price anywhere but Toronto!

Toronto is a beautiful city to live in. In Toronto, what many call the Center of the Universe, you can live in a world class city for prices that you will not find anywhere. Hong Kong, Tokyo, New York, Vancouver, London, or Paris would never be affordable to the tune of $650,000 in the best neighbourhood in the city. The argument may be made that it’s cheap because it is not a good place to live, but then explain how Toronto can rank fourth in the world for the best places to live? A young family can buy a home in the best neighbourhoods of Toronto, while at the same time being in an area where there are plenty of services, cultural hotspots and more.

If you are going to buy a home in Toronto, look to some of the neighbourhoods that we have mentioned here. They are the best neighbourhoods in the city, yet highly affordable. They feature everything you could want, including some amazing people who call the neighbourhoods home. Not to mention the beautiful homes, the history and the views you get in these neighbourhoods are a bargain at the price you are paying. Anywhere else in the world and you would be paying over $1 million for the homes you get in Toronto for half of that.

To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the realestateexpedition.com website (however, I will still hold the domain). I will gradually move all articles from this site to A Dawn Journal. This article originally published on the above website on Apr 24, 2010.

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How to Pick Rewards Credit Cards

October 29th, 2015 Posted in Credit Cards|Rewards Cards|Debts | No Comments »

Understand Different Kinds of Rewards

Long gone are those days when credit cards were a luxury, not a necessity. We live in a time now where credit cards are intertwined from waking up to going to sleep at night – at every stage of modern lives. And why not? The protection, benefits, and rewards credit cards offer you are hard to ignore. If we are to use credit cards on a daily basis anyway, why not take advantage of it by maximizing our credit card rewards?

To get the most out of your credit cards, you need to understand how different kinds of rewards work. Today, I will go over the rewards basics you need to know before making your rewards selections. One important note I would like to point out is that this article is not about How to Pick Travel Rewards Credit Cards. I will write a separate article on travel rewards cards, as you need to understand first how different kinds of rewards work before moving to picking a travel rewards credit card.

Three Types of Rewards Cards

There might be 100s of different rewards credit cards, but if you break them down into categories, all of them will fall within these three categories:

Cash-Back Rewards Credit Cards

Travel Rewards Credit Cards

Other Rewards Credit Cards

Let’s decipher these three one by one.

Cash-Back Rewards Credit Cards

As simple as it sounds, you will receive cash back for each dollar you spend on your credit card. Credit card companies will give you direct cash amount or points (that represents cash amount) for your spending. The rate of return is usually 1 to 2 percent. However, there are credit cards that offer 3 to 4 percent cash back on selected categories such as grocery, drug store purchases, etc. Example: Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite card.

Cash-Back rewards are easy to understand and unlike travel rewards cards, you don’t need to master the ins and outs of various airline or hotel loyalty programs. Pick Cash-Back rewards if you don’t travel or don’t want to deal with travel rewards. However, keep in mind that Cash-Back rewards do not offer the most value you can get out of your credit cards like travel rewards credit cards do and one type of travel rewards card does offer simple rewards that are easy to understand (and can still provide more value than cash rewards) – which I will discuss below.

Travel Rewards Credit Cards

The travel rewards category is where you can get maximum return for your dollars that you spend on credit cards, but it can be quite complicated based on what kind of travel rewards you are dealing with. Let’s talk about the simplest travel rewards cards first.

Proprietary Rewards PointsThese cards offer points (that offer fixed value, usually 1 cent =1 point) which can be redeemed through the credit card company for any flights, hotels, or travel-related matters. The beauty of proprietary rewards points is that you don’t need to spend time mastering various loyalty programs. However, your returns are usually the lowest among other types of travel rewards because you are always getting a fixed value for each point. Still, proprietary rewards points are a good option for those who want to avoid cash-back rewards cards and want a simple travel rewards credit card. Example: BMO World Elite MasterCard.

Cobranded or Loyalty Program Rewards Points – Credit cards that offer these kinds of rewards points are hotel travel credit cards, airline travel credit cards, etc. These types of cards can be cobranded with specific hotels, airlines, or their loyalty or frequent-flier programs. As these cards offer a variety of programs you can pick from, this is where you can make the most money. If you are knowledgeable about the loyalty program rewards credit cards offering, your return can be easily 2-4 percent. If you are extremely knowledgeable about the loyalty program rewards points, you can make lucrative returns such 4 to 8 percent return on your credit card spending. Example: TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card, Starwood Preferred Guest Card.

Hybrid Rewards Points – This is a combination of the two types of travel rewards discussed above. Credit cards offering hybrid points offer tremendous flexibility because you can use these rewards points to offset your travel costs through credit card company or you can transfer your points to various other hotel or flight points if you require. So these types of credit cards can work for both novice and expert users. Keep in mind that you will get more value for your dollar when you transfer to loyalty programs, rather than using points to offset travel expenses through a credit card company. Example: American Express Gold Rewards Card.

Other Rewards Credit Cards

Coffee shop and supermarket cards, gas station and automaker cards, and any other bizarre credit cards you can possibly think of that do not fall under cash and travel category fall under the other rewards category. These credit cards are only good when you want to shop and use your rewards at specific stores or for specific reasons. The rewards are not that great and options and features are limited for these types of cards. Example: Tim Hortons Double Double Visa Card.


So now you know the basics of different types of rewards credit cards. I will summarize everything in brief.

Cash-Back Rewards: Easy and simple to understand, but returns may not be that great. Go with this if you don’t travel and want hassle-free rewards from credit cards.

Travel Rewards: Can be complicated, but offers excellent returns. Go with this if you travel and want to get maximum rewards out of your credit cards.

Other Rewards: If you want to stick to specific stores or products and don’t mind whatever returns you get, this is for you.

What’s Next

After reading this article, if you would like to know more on Travel Rewards Credit Cards, you can read my next article How to Pick a Travel Rewards Credit Card. I will elaborate further on how to pick travel credit cards. I am still working on this article and will provide a link once completed.

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Brand Names Not Worth The Money?

October 26th, 2015 Posted in Economy|Mortgage 101 | No Comments »

brand names not worth the money








Is Brand Name Losing Its Cool?

That brand names cost more than own-brand or budget ranges is not news to anyone. That this discrepancy can sometimes be quite marked is no more of a shock to anyone who is paying attention. And yet there still seems to be a thirst for the big names among shoppers. However it seems that in the new world which has been born out of the global financial crisis, the numbers of people voting with their wallets and choosing the cheaper option are increasing. Are we finally coming to terms with the idea that all those brand names amount to very little in terms of tangible quality? Or are people simply deciding to tighten their belts temporarily?

Go to any supermarket today and you will see that people are spending longer in the aisles looking for the extra few cents’ saving than ever before. These same people two years ago may well have instantly picked up the recognisable brand name and dropped it in their trolley without so much as looking. What is going on? Obviously we are in a recession, but this time it feels very different. Almost without noticing, we have suddenly become thrifty. It seems strange to say it, but it has almost become cool to be careful.

It must be said that there are some cases where compromising on quality for the sake of price is less well-advised than in others. We can all think of a few ourselves, but suffice it to say that thrifty shopping can become a false economy when we buy the cheapest line possible and end up throwing it out because it was inedible or made us need to go to the bathroom non-stop for a day. Such a strategy is almost doomed to fail and can sour a person on the whole concept of economising. However, there are cases where dropping from top-of-the-range to mid-range constitutes very little difference.

It is no myth that in blind taste tests we will often see a mid-price item out-performing its more illustrious rivals. Perhaps more often the big name will win out, but this is to be expected. After all, reputations are built over time. The better ingredients cost more, and in cases where the mid price item is more or less copied from the bigger name, they can never get it absolutely right. As a result, the consumer will often pay for the name.

If, however, you are making a concerted effort to leave aside the added expense of buying brand names all the time, it cannot have escaped your attention that sometimes the supposed “lesser brands” can be a bargain. Sometimes too, there is so little difference between the big brand and the little one in terms of taste that it is only social conditioning making us buy the big names. It may not be for everyone, but next time you are at the supermarket throwing in the brands you have always bought, why not go downmarket? You might find that sometimes the bargain buys are very much to your taste.

To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the Canadapersonalfinancewebsite.com website (however, I will still hold the domain). I will gradually move all articles from this site to A Dawn Journal. This article originally published on the above website on Aug 25, 2009.

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