The Canadian credit card market isn’t as hot as the American one, but we have it quite good compared to the rest of the world. Manufactured spend is the same – a lot better in the US. However, there are also a couple of excellent cashback cards available.
Personally, I value traditional loyalty programs more than cashback, because my travel style involves premium class flights and luxury hotels. These generally have very high retail prices, so I use points to get them at 90%+ off.
My wallet contains cards like the American Express Platinum Card, TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite, and the Starwood American Express. These credit card all have some of the best signup offers to date. For more details, check out these posts:
- Earn up to 20,000 Aeroplan Miles with the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite!
- Starwood American Express: Get up to 20,000 SPG Points (25,000 Aeroplan)!
- Incredible offer for the American Express Platinum Card!
However, if you’re willing to put in the time with cashback cards, it’s quite lucrative.
Getting 3-4% back on nearly… everything
There are two or three credit cards you should pick up to make this work:
Confused? Let me explain.
Tangerine Credit Card for 4% cashback
Tangerine released their no-annual fee cashback credit card last year. Until 12am Eastern tonight, the card offers 4% cashback on up to three categories if your cashback is deposited in your savings account.
If you don’t already have a savings account with Tangerine, you can earn up to $50 for opening one and depositing $100. You must have a Tangerine Savings Account.
Additional Reading: Sign up for a Tangerine Checking and Savings Account and earn up to $150!
Tangerine offers 4% cashback on any of the following categories.
The categories I would select are Home Improvement or Furniture, Recurring Bill Payments, and Public Transportation/Parking. This is because these are categories that no other cards in Canada offer a bonus on.
Scotiabank Momentum Visa Infinite/Gold American Express
Scotiabank is one of the issuers in Canada that offer up to 4% back on select categories as long as you hold the card.
The Scotiabank Gold American Express earns 4 points/$ on eligible gas, groceries, dining, and entertainment expenses. Until January 31, the card offers 20,000 points, worth $200 in travel, as well as a first year annual fee waiver.
You can use Scotia Rewards to book travel at 1 cent apiece. Their travel center now offers a best price guarantee, so if you book tickets through Expedia, Orbitz, or other online websites, the points are as good as cash.
If you want cashback instead, I would recommend the Scotiabank Momentum Visa Infinite, which gives you 4% cashback on gas and grocery purchases. Until January 31, the first year annual fee is waived on this card as well.
Depending on how much you spend on dining and entertainment, it might be worth getting this card because Visa is more widely accepted than American Express.
Getting 3%+ Back on Everything – With Manufactured Spend
Congratulations on getting to this part of the post – I know I’ve thrown a lot of details at you! Hypothetically, let’s say you’ve applied and have been approved for the Tangerine Money-Back MasterCard and Scotiabank Gold American Express. This means you’re earning a 4% return on the following categories:
- Scotiabank Gold American Express: Gas, Groceries, Dining, and Entertainment
- Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card: Home Improvement, Recurring Bill Payments, and Public Transportation/Parking
That should cover the majority of your monthly expenditures. But what about the purchases which aren’t part of these categories?
There’s been a lot of buzz about manufactured spend in Canada, although not many people have really written about it. To provide a brief explanation, I consider manufactured spend (MS) as when you attempt to quickly put spend on your credit to earn points rapidly (whether it’s to earn points everyday or to meet minimum spend).
With this definition, prepaying your telecom bill by $1000 even though your monthly bill is less than $100 is considered MS. That’s the “beginner range” of MS – there are certainly more advanced variants which I will not disclose online. The best ways of MS’ing are spread by word of mouth offline.
Additional Reading: Garuda First Class for 90% off Ticketed!
Vanilla Reloads … in Canada – MS Tip #1
In the US, Vanilla Reloads were the rage a few years ago when you could purchase them with a credit card that earned 5x points at Office Depot. That’s long gone, but in Canada, they are still available to be purchased with a credit card. The idea is to use your Scotiabank Gold American Express or your Momentum Visa Infinite Card to purchase at an establishment where you are earning 4x the points or cashback.
Vanilla Reloads are able to be loaded to certain prepaid cards. You can then spend them like a debit card on purchases. The idea is that by utilizing the prepaid card on purchases you normally wouldn’t get a bonus category on with your credit card, you can thus earn a 4% return (minus the fee for the reload pack) on all your spending.
Keep in mind you don’t necessarily need to use Vanilla Reloads – it’s just an example I’m bringing up. There are quite a few variants on the different prepaid cards available. However, on top of that, you may be able to stack other rewards programs (like fuel points) on top of your purchase – not to mention that often times there are promotions which reduce/waive the fees for reload packs!
Note that you’re not earning any points when spending with your prepaid card – you’re earning them when you load the funds onto the prepaid card with your Scotiabank cards. I’m still a little vague here, so if you want more details, please send me an email.
The method I just mentioned might be terrifically complicated – in that case, you just want to pick up one or two credit cards for everyday spending – like the American Express Gold Rewards Card that recently increased their welcome bonus to 30,000 Membership Rewards points, or the MBNA Alaska Airlines MasterCard which offers 25,000 Alaska miles as a signup bonus.
Additional Reading: American Express Gold Rewards Card Bonus Increased to 30,000 Points!
But, to summarize:
- You earn a 4% return on Groceries, Gas, Entertainment, Dining, Home Improvement, Public Transport/Parking, and Recurring Bill Payments with the Scotiabank Gold American Express and Tangerine Money-Back MasterCard.
I assume that’s the majority of your monthly purchases. For those other categories:
- You utilize your credit cards to purchase reload packs for a prepaid debit card at an establishment that will give you 4x the points/cashback, and use the prepaid card to make purchases on everything else to earn 4% (minus fees).
That’s how you maximize your rewards and credit cards to the fullest extent! 🙂
Apply for the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card today! Offer ends tomorrow, January 21.