The holidays are fast approaching, and whether you’re gearing up for Black Friday, holiday dinners or winter travel, GreedyRates is focused on getting you the most bang for your buck from your credit cards.
Some of you may be happy with the cards in your wallet, others on the hunt for an upgrade. Regardless, make sure you’re squeezing every last drop of value from your plastic. Credit cards offer lots of benefits to consumers, but complacency can lead to tons of dollars being left on the table. Here are just a few tips to help you squeeze a few extra dollars out of your credit cards.
Explore Travel Credit Card Sign-up Bonuses
There’s no better time of year to get credit card sign-up bonuses in Canada than now. Top welcome bonuses often waive the first year annual fee and offer enough points or miles for free return airfare to any destination in continental North America. Here are just a few promos to consider:
- TD Aeroplan Infinite Visa: 100% first year fee rebate, up to 25,000 Aeroplan miles, until March 5, 2017
- American Express Gold Rewards: No fee first year, 25,000 ($250) point welcome bonus
- Scotia Amex Gold: No fee first year, $200 travel credit, until Jan 31, 2017
- Marriott Rewards Visa: No fee first year, 4 free night bonus, no foreign transaction fees
- BMO Air Miles World Elite MasterCard: 2,000 Air Miles
Some credit card bonuses have a minimum spend requirement within a certain period of time to be eligible for the bonus. Because many of us spend more during the holidays than any other time of year, it’s a great time to apply for a credit card with a rich bonus, that has a minimum spend requirement.
Get Prepared For Foreign Travel
If you plan on travelling outside the country, your credit card can be a great help from earning perks, to saving dollars and getting free insurance.
Every time you use your credit card to make a foreign purchase, most issuers charge a foreign transaction fee of 2.5%, on top of the foreign exchange rate. Consider using a card that either eliminates the foreign transaction fee altogether, or off-sets it with increased rewards, like the Rogers Platinum MasterCard, which offers 4% cashback on foreign purchases.
Family travel can cost an arm and a leg. Consider a credit card like the RBC WestJet World Elite MasterCard that offers free first check baggage for you and up to 8 of your travelling companions! At $30~ a bag each way that’s big value.
If you’re travelling outside the country, travel insurance is a must. Even if you’re driving over the border, did you know your credit card’s travel medical insurance will cover you, your spouse and your dependents in the event you need medical attention?
Plan B: 0% Interest Rates
Whether you went over budget or you needed a little credit to take the family on the trip of a lifetime, we’re not here to judge. We’re here to help.
If you foresee yourself carrying a little debt to get yourself through the holidays, prepare in advance. Get yourself a credit card with a 0% balance transfer offer now, so that in a few months time you’ll have your low interest solution in hand.
A balance transfer card will give you the opportunity to transfer all your credit card balances to a 0% option at the end of the holidays. Paying 0% will let you carry your debt interest free, giving you time to pay down your balance at no cost.
The best balance transfer credit cards will offer 0% for at least 12 months, and a low 1% balance transfer fee.
Get Rewarded For Holiday Spending
If you’re going to spend, you might as well get rewarded for it. The holidays are a great opportunity to rack up points, miles and cash back. While travel is likely the largest holiday expense, for those staying put, grocery bills can still pile up as you entertain guests and family alike. Choose your credit card strategically.
If you’re going to fly, see if you can get one of many travel rewards credit cards that gives you extra points for travel purchases. For example the TD Aeroplan Infinite card offers 1.5 miles per dollar spent on aircanada.com purchases, instead of the standard 1 mile.
If Costco is going to be your one stop shop for gifts and groceries alike, explore a MasterCard that earns the most at Costco like the MBNA Rewards World Elite MasterCard which get you 2% on all purchases, and no annual fee in the first year.
Whether you’re shopping on line, going on vacation or even buying something from a brick and mortar shop, credit cards offer significant advantages over cash and debit.
First, if you lose your credit cards while on holidays, or they get stolen, you’re not liable for any fraudulent charges that follow. Lose your cash while on holiday and it’s gone for good.
Second, credit cards offer really powerful and unique protections neither cash nor debit offer. For example, many credit cards offer free extended warranty coverage. Others offer purchase protection, which protects your purchase from theft or damage for up to 90 days after purchase. Perhaps most unique of all, and most relevant to the holidays, some cards offer price protection – buy something with your card and find the same product at a lower price within 60 days and the difference will be refunded!