GreedyRates Awards 2021: Do You Have These Essential Personal Finance Tools?
Our personal finance awards may seem a little less glamorous than, say, the Oscars; but when did curling up in front of your TV to watch celebs in ball gowns ever help you save money, pay off your mortgage, or earn rewards? Especially with the budget constraints and work challenges brought on by the pandemic, 2021 can do with less red carpet interviews and more with smart financial planning tools.
Here at GreedyRates, we’ve been busy behind the scenes crunching numbers, adding up potential savings, and testing countless budgeting and money-saving apps to bring you the best of the best and the cream of the crop, so don’t worry if you haven’t kept up with the most exciting products this year.
Here is our list of the financial products in 2020 that really shone and can help bring in some financial success in 2021.
In This Article:
Credit Cards: The Winners
Best Cash Back Credit Card: Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card
The Tangerine Money-Back credit card is our top choice for cash back credit cards due to its unparalleled value that it offers to consumers. With no annual fee and cash back on spending categories, this is a great option for someone who wants to dip their toe into using cash-back cards and remains a good contender for cash-back veterans.
We love that there are no limits on how much cash back you can earn on purchases made on your card and you can customize your chosen purchase categories to earn higher cash back rates.
Best Travel Credit Card: TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card
For the second year in a row, the TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card makes our list for the best travel rewards credit card with good reason. With a significant welcome bonus in 2020 and a high earn rate for Aeroplan points per dollar spent, this is a strong option if you want to fly more.
Aside from the card’s great earning potential, travellers also love the comprehensive insurance this card provides. The TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite has gone beyond most other travel credit cards by offering more coverage than its competitors.
Best Credit Card for Building Credit: Refresh Financial Secured Card
We get it. Not everyone can apply for top-tier cards, especially if you have a less-than-desirable credit score. Enter: the Refresh Financial Secured Card. Even if you have a bad credit score or no credit at all, you can still apply for this card. Applicants will need to provide a qualifying security deposit to get approved.
Refresh helps you build your credit score by teaching you how to become more financially aware. When you’re a member, they report your payments to major credit bureaus, which helps you steadily build up your credit score as you use the card. They also offer a free online financial management course.
Best Balance Transfer Credit Card: Scotiabank Value® Visa* card
The Scotiabank Value® Visa* card‘s offer of an extremely low promotional balance transfer rate is what adds it to our list! It carries an annual fee, but the post promotional balance transfer rate remains low – providing cardholders with some relief for their credit card debt.
If you or a family member need an additional credit card, you can qualify for a supplemental card with Scotiabank. Additionally, if you travel often, you also get good discounts on car rentals.
Best Rewards Credit Card: MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus® Mastercard®
With no annual fees, the MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus card is the best option out there for Canadians who want to earn the highest rate of reward points. This card has even higher rates on your most frequent purchases at places like grocery stores, gas stations, and restaurants, as well as a standard rate on everything else.
When it comes time to redeem your points, you’ll get to choose what type of rewards you’d like. You can select cash back on a statement, merchandise, gift cards, or travel rewards on things like airfare, hotels, and more. You’ll also get a hefty sign-up points bonus, making this card a great option for those who want to begin earning rewards right away without paying an annual fee.
Apply for the MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus® Mastercard® or learn more by reading our complete review.
Best Prepaid Credit Card: KOHO
If you already have a traditional credit card, or you’re just looking for a card that helps you balance your budget, then KOHO is the way to go. This prepaid card made our winner’s list thanks to the handy budgeting app that shows you how your money is being spent, a bank account that earns interest, and the prepaid loadable credit card that helps you take control of your spending AND earns you cash back.
Unlike the other cards on this list, KOHO works more as a full suite of banking products. You earn interest on the funds in your KOHO bank account and additional cashback on all your purchases using the prepaid card. There is also a suite of neat features to help you save, track, and monitor your spending and budget properly.
Loans: The Winner
Best Personal Loans: LoanConnect
If you’ve run into roadblocks while applying for bank loans in the past, LoanConnect is probably your best alternative. LoanConnect works more as an all-encompassing loan search engine where you can browse available loans and compare rates. We love this tool since you can apply pretty quickly and you have a much better chance at being approved for a personal loan than you would at a bank.
LoanConnect really deserves your attention in 2021 for a few reasons: you don’t need a minimum credit score to start applying, it’s available across the whole country, and there are many different types of loans available.
Banking Accounts: The Winners
Best Chequing Account: Scotiabank Preferred Package
Scotiabank has a few great options for chequing accounts that differ in fees and features based on your needs and spending habits. The one we love the most this year is the Preferred Package, which also happens to be their most popular chequing account. With this account, you get unlimited debit transactions and Interac e-Transfer transactions.
Other great features include an interest rate boost on your MomentumPLUS Savings Account, preferred rates on select GICs and first year annual fee waiver (up to $139) on select credit cards. The account carries a monthly fee, but the fee is waived if you maintain a minimum balance. Plus, you can earn points on all your transactions in the form of either SCENETM points or Scotia Rewards®
Best Savings Account: The Savings Plus Account
EQ Bank is a digital bank that offers its customers excellent rates without any everyday banking fees. The Savings Plus Account is a great option as it has consistently offered Canadians a chance to earn high interest and without hidden fees, even throughout the instability of the 2020 market. This savings account offers free day-to-day transactions without the need for a minimum balance and offers low transfer and exchange rates for international transfers, making it a really flexible choice.
Just because EQ Bank is a digital bank without any physical branches doesn’t mean they skimp on customer service. Agents are available through multiple channels 7 days a week, making their service even more accessible than traditional banks with limited hours.
Investing: The Winners
Best Robo Advisors: Wealthsimple
Crowned the winner in this category for two years running, Wealthsimple isn’t only the largest robo advisor in Canada, but it’s also the best. Clients love Wealthsimple for being able to invest with low fees.
Customers enjoyed the Overflow tool the most this year. You set the minimum balance you want to maintain in your bank account and Wealthsimple will transfer anything over that amount to your investment account. This robo advisor is our winner because it makes investing incredibly easy and accessible for the average person who might not be super knowledgeable about investing in the stock market.
Best Online Broker: Questrade
Questrade wins the distinction of being Canada’s largest independent brokerage. Thousands of Canadians use Questrade every year, which speaks highly of its reliability. It’s easy to use and is popular for its free ETF purchases and its low commission rates, which helps Canadians save more of their money. There’s a wide variety of investment types, so you can invest in everything from mutual funds to precious metals.
Beyond its low fees, Questrade is also very simple to use. You don’t need to be regularly checking your Questrade account, but if you want to, it’s quickly available from wherever you are.
Apps: The Winner
Best Personal Finance App: Ampli
Ampli wins best personal finance app for 2021 because of how easy it is to earn cash back on everyday purchases. The app offers you a percentage of your purchases as cash back that can be deposited directly into your bank account. The best part is that Ampli has no start-up fees of any kind, so this app purely earns you money.
Ampli customers don’t only save money through the app. If you link a card to the app, you can begin earning cash back when you shop online and in-store at eligible retailers. Ampli also features contests that are open to users each month, offering more chances to earn cash back.
Mortgages: The Winner
Best Digital Mortgage Broker: Breezeful
Breezeful is this year’s winner because they help Canadians get approved for a mortgage online quickly and fully digitally. Whether you’re looking to apply for a new mortgage or refinance an existing one, Breezeful is there to help pair you up with an expert to walk you through each step.
Being 100% digital means you can complete your mortgage anytime, anyplace. Using bespoke technology, Breezeful searches multiple mortgage providers and compares rates to match you up with the one that is best suited based on your needs.
Insurance: The Winner
Best Life Insurance Broker: PolicyMe
When it comes to shopping around for life insurance, PolicyMe is the obvious winner. PolicyMe prides itself on offering Canadians transparent information that is tailored to each customer’s needs. You can shop quotes from the top life insurance providers in Canada and compare them in order to find the best one, completely online.
Of course, if you need help, PolicyMe also has licensed advisors ready to assist you.
We love PolicyMe since it’s free to use, easy to navigate, and gives you the most comprehensive options when it comes to life insurance so that you can make an informed decision.
Most Innovative Product: The Winner
Crypto Investing: Wealthsimple Crypto
Wealthsimple Crypto came onto the scene with a huge bang, and we can’t wait to see where it goes in 2021. Wealthsimple Crypto follows the same concept as their robo-advisor, in that it makes investing in cryptocurrencies simple and quick for the average person. It allows customers to buy and sell currencies like Bitcoin and Etherium easily through the Wealthsimple Trade app.
Like its trading tool, Wealthsimple Crypto also doesn’t have any fees or account minimum, so you can start by dabbling in crypto trading, or go all in when you’re ready. No need to worry about security, your crypto coins are held by Gemini Trust Company LLC, so you can rest easy knowing your currency is safe.
That’s a Wrap on this Year’s Awards
See, I told you that personal finance awards could be more fruitful than events like the Oscars! Now’s the time to look more into our list of winners so that you can decide which essentials you plan on testing out in 2021. Just because 2020 was a rough year doesn’t mean that 2021 must start off on the wrong foot (financially, at least; we can’t make any pandemic promises). If you haven’t yet thought up a resolution for this upcoming year, we suggest making it the year you start being more financially-savvy.
Want to Learn More About the Future of Finance?
We’ve recently conducted an in-depth study of the last decade of spending trends, including how COVID has affected it all. We used expert sources such as official government statistics and private surveys along with banking reports and media analyses to bring you the most accurate picture about spending in Canada over the last 10 years and how that will affect our spending future.