Canadian Bank cards and points

This series goes over all the credit cards and point systems each of our banks has for us Canadians.  With everyone and their dog trying to start their own loyalty reward system, even banks don’t want to be left behind so each one of them started their own point system.

Naturally, not all points are created equal and some are easier to earn than others.  One thing in common is that all the rewards are geared towards travel.  While they can be used for other things like merchandise or statement credits, you get the most bang for your buck by redeeming it for travel.

This series aims to show you the ins and out of each system so you can make up your mind if a certain system is worthwhile to start collecting.

Each bank’s point system is as follow:

Royal Bank of Canada: RBC Rewards

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Toronto Dominion Bank: TD Points

canadiantraveltips-first class travel

Commerce Bank: Aventura Points

canadiantraveltips-aventura

HSBC: HSBC Reward Points

canadiantraveltips-hsbc premier


Unfortunately I don’t have Scotia,  BMO or National Bank travel cards at the moment.

Scotia
I had the Scotia amex card back in 2017 when it was first year free and 30k welcome bonus.  Points were fixed value (100 pts = $1 for travel expenses), so it was worth $300.  In addition, it gave 4 points per dollar (4% return) on gas, groceries, dining and entertainment), making it one of the highest return cards out there for these categories.  All other purchases are 1% return.

Recently, Scotia launched their premium travel credit card to match the other banks.  The most notable thing is they give you 6 lounge passes every year and is a no FX fee card (normally, credit cards charge a ~2.5% fee if you are buying in anything other than CAD).  Returns are 2% for grocery/dining/transit and 1% otherwise.

However, given that the annual fee of $139 (50$ cashback from GCR) cannot be waived, and I already have unlimited lounge passes from Amex plat and no FX from my HSBC world elite, I felt no need to get this card.  You do however get $250 worth of points on 1k minimum spend.

BMO
Truth be told, I’ve never had a BMO card (which is ironic because I’ve worked for BMO for close to 5 years in total now).

BMO’s world elite travel card recently devalued their points (now worth 2.14% return on travel and restaurants and 1.43% on other spending). The deal breaker is it’s pretty hard to get good redemptions as you have to use their BMO online portal which apparently doesn’t offer the best price in a lot of cases.

You can price match with a lower price found online but you have to call in.  I spoke with a couple co-workers who have this card and it sounds like a painful experience to get the Agent to match online offers.  Sometimes you have to argue that the online offer is the offering the same product as the one in the BMO portal, while other times the agent simply cannot find the product in their own system so you can’t book it at all.

However, they do give you 4 lounge pass, so when there are free first year offers promotions (one recently ended in June 2018) it might be worth looking into especially if you don’t have lounge access from another credit card.

National Bank
As for National Bank, surprisingly I have heard good things about their world elite card.  It is the only card to offer up to 60 days travel insurance and while the annual fee is $150, they give back $100 in baggage fees, $50 in seat selection and $100 in airport parking.  It also offers unlimited access to their lounge at Montreal Airport.

On the earnings side, if you spend less than 40k on this card annually, you are looking at roughly 1.5% cashback, which isn’t bad but certainly not amazing.  From an earnings perspective, I’d rather just go with a straight 2% cashback (MBNA Rewards World Elite).

If you manage to use all these benefits, then this card is a great card to keep around.