One of the smartest ways to save while you spend is to use rewards credit cards. Here’s a trick that will allow you to earn even more with your rewards credit cards. If you charge your purchases on two cards, instead of one, you could earn 20% to 50% more in rewards in the scenarios shown below.
To determine how this strategy can help you, we compared 5 spending scenarios, using our proprietary credit card comparison calculator to review over 80 Canadian cards. We evaluated the rewards credit cards over a 3 year term, because some rewards credit cards offer significant welcome bonuses, with more limited rewards in later years. We also took into account the value of each reward – miles, points or cashback. Because some credit cards are exceptionally strong for different types of spenders, they may appear in multiple categories.
The Modern Family
You belong to an average Canadian family. You’re married and have two children and you spend about $730 a month on groceries and $350 on gas at the pump, according to Statistics Canada. On a credit card budget of $2,550 per month, you’re also spending on utilities, restaurants, clothes, travel and entertainment – kids aren’t cheap!
Your Rewards Credit Cards
Charge your monthly gas, grocery, restaurant and entertainment expenses to the Scotiabank Gold Amex card to earn 4% cashback. You can redeem your cashback against any travel expenses on your credit card statement. If you prefer Visa to American Express, use the Scotiabank Momentum Infinite Visa card, which gives you 4% cashback on gas and groceries and 2% cashback at pharmacies.
Use the WestJet World Elite MasterCard to get 1.5% cashback in WestJet dollars on all other spend. More than just rewards on spend, use the WestJet MasterCard to get a $99 round-trip companion ticket EVERY year to anywhere in North America and use it to get your first checked bag free for you and up to 8 members of your family!
$3,888 over three years (including welcome bonuses and annual fees).
The Jet Setter
You work, you play and you do a lot of it away. Racking-up lots of miles in the air and plenty of hotel nights, you want to earn enough points for as many free trips as you can. Sixty five percent of your credit card spend is on travel related purchases including flights, hotels, car rentals, and restaurants. You charge $4,000 per month.
Your Rewards Credit Cards
Use the American Express Gold Rewards card to make all your travel related purchases, earning 2 points per dollar spent (2%). You will have the choice to apply those points against any travel related purchase on your credit card statement, giving you the flexibility to book any airline or hotel through any site, deal or offer at any time.
Alternatively, you can convert your Amex points to Aeroplan or Avios 1:1 at no extra cost – giving you maximum flexibility to take advantage of deals when available. At 2 Aeroplan miles per dollar spent on travel, it also makes the Amex Gold Rewards card the highest earning Aeroplan card in Canada.
Use the Scotiabank Gold American Express Card to earn 4% on gas, groceries, restaurant and entertainment spend. You can then apply those earnings to any travel expense on your credit card statement.
$3,654 over 3 years (including welcome bonuses and annual fees)
Like the average Canadian, you earn about $50,000 a year. Budgets are stretched and every penny counts. You may or may not have a spouse who helps contribute to your household budget. Most of your purchases go towards every day spending like gas, groceries, and utilities. You spend about $880 a month on your credit card.
Use the Tangerine cash back card to get 2% cashback in any 2 categories of your choice from a total of 10. There are some common and not so common categories like gas, groceries, restaurants, recurring bills, pharmacies, public transportation, home renovations, etc… If you open up a free savings account with them, you can choose from any 3 categories of your choice.
Then use the Rogers Platinum card to get 1.75% cashback on all other purchases, which you can redeem as a statement credit once a year if you’re not a Rogers customer, or against any Rogers bill, at any time, if you are a Rogers customer.
$612 over three years
You don’t have a full time job so money is tight. You’re looking to stretch your budget as far as it can take you, while building a solid credit history. You spend about $300 a month on food, gas, travel, utilities, clothing and entertainment.
Charge your groceries on the no-fee RBC Cash Back MasterCard and get 2% cashback, with no annual fee. While not a student card per se, RBC will approve those who apply as students, with no income or credit history.
Use the no-fee BMO SPC CashBack MasterCard to get 1% cashback on ALL other spend. The BMO SPC MasterCard will automatically enroll you in the SPC program for free (savings of $10 per year), and give you 10%-15% discounts at over 120 of Canada’s most popular merchants like Aldo, American Eagle Outfitters, Forever 21, Urban Outfitters, Old Navy, Taco Bell, Pizza Pizza, etc… You will also get exclusive access to concerts, fashion, movies, sports and more through BMO Extra Deals.
$232 over three years, plus 10%-15% discounts at over 120 merchants through the SPC program
The Empty Nester
Retirement is knocking on the door, and you’re earning more than ever. Most of your income goes toward entertainment, restaurants, groceries and utilities, although you also spend on travel, clothing, pharmacy items and home improvement. You charge about $2,800 per month.
Your Rewards Credit Cards:
Use the Scotia Gold to give you 4% cash back on groceries, gas, restaurants and entertainment (movies, plays, concerts, sporting events, etc…) expenses, which you can then apply to any travel purchases made with your credit card. For other purchases you’ll only get 1% back. So charge everything else to the MBNA Rewards World Elite MasterCard, which gives you 2% cash back on everything, which can be redeemed as a statement credit or as a direct deposit into your checking account!
$2,775 over three years (including welcome bonuses and annual fees).
With so many good Canadian credit cards in the market right now, “stacking” multiple credit cards is the most efficient way to earn rewards from your credit card spend.
If you’d like to spruce up your rewards even further, you can apply for credit card offers with really attractive welcome bonus offers from time to time as well. Doing so, especially with annual fee waivers and low minimum spend requirements, will kick start your rewards earnings into overdrive. Think about it, you can spend $20,000 to get 25,000 miles for a free flight, or you can simply apply for a new card with a limited time promo to do so.