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Wednesday, 20 July 2016

The Best Options To Scoring Your Vacation Goals

Read the story below the pics that have the links embedded to apply.
American Express® Gold Rewards Card
The AMEX Gold Rewards personal card is the easiest way to achieving your vacation goals.  It comes with 25,000 Membership Rewards with the link above after hitting the spending threshold (only $1500 in 3 months). It used to be $500 but they upped it (grrrr).  Despite what AMEX Canada's policy is as of 2016, they ARE still giving the welcome bonus to those who've received it before. This is true for all the AMEX cards, but apparently, it was supposed to be changed on personal AMEX cards to one per lifetime per card type. You may have to wait 8-10 weeks to see it post after you hit the spending threshold.

AMEX points can be switched 1:1 with Aeroplan instantaneously or with British Airways Avios (part of the One World Alliance including American Airlines).  A conversion to Avios can score you a conversion bonus, lately around 25%, so for example, 10K AMEX points would be 12,500 Avios points, but be sure the deal is on--I'll let you know the next time it comes around!  Avios' cancellation policy is very generous compared to Aeroplan  (24 hours notice as opposed to 33 days) and lower charges in taxes.   You can also pool Avios points together in a household account (Aeroplan doesn't allow for that). AMEX cards offer you the option to diversify, so you can look for flights on both systems, not just with Aeroplan.  It can be used through TripFlex to pay for any travel expense at a cashback level of 1%, but it's not the best use of these points.
60,000 Membership Rewards with the link above after hitting the spending threshold (ONLY $1K in 3 months).  It has a steep $699 annual fee that is NOT waived but it comes with great benefits, including 1.25 points per every dollar spent, a $200 annual airline credit, that you can use this year and then in January to get $400 off of that annual fee (in a sense), Centurion (AMEX) unlimited lounge access for you and your family (at Pearson and other airports that have Centurion lounges, including LaGuardia), and so much more!

40,000 not 30,000 Membership Rewards with the link above after spending $5K in 3 months.  ANNUAL FEE WAIVED the first year ($250 savings). You get 2 points per dollar spent from 3 suppliers of your choice from a list that includes Petro Canada, 407ETR and Best Buy. Click here to see the list of suppliers.  You get 1 point otherwise.  Even officially, AMEX still allows applicants to get the welcome bonus more than once in a lifetime.  If you don't have an official business registered with Revenue Canada, no problem.  When applying, choose "self-proprietor" and that will suffice, so if you have some small business on the side (for example, selling things on EBay or Amazon), or any kind of business at all, you qualify!
The Business Platinum CardTM from American Express®
75,000 not 40,000 Membership Rewards with the link above after spending $5K in 3 months.  This is the HIGHEST bonus AMEX Canada offers for any of their cards, and the beauty is that the annual fee is only $499 and you still get 1.25 AMEX points per dollar!  It also offers you lounge access but only for the primary card holder (unlike the personal platinum).
During a conversation with an AMEX rep, I learned some interesting inside information about changes coming to AMEX Canada.  Anyone who travels in the US or online to US websites can see that AMEX is accepted pretty much everywhere in the States, but everyone here in Canada knows it’s a washout.  After losing 8% of their profits when Costco divorced AMEX when Capital One offered them a better deal, not charging a per transaction fee, only the regular 2% (or so)  Mastercard charges.
Well, in the States, Costco will now be accepted at Sam’s Club Warehouses–not exclusively like they had with Costco, but nonetheless, it will help them stay competitive, but what about here in Canada?
Over the next few months apparently, AMEX will be changing how it offers the card to its merchants.  Somehow, they will offer merchants something that amounts to a lower percentage so that small businesses can afford to offer the AMEX card at about the same levels of charges as Mastercard and Visa, without compromising on its profit like it.  As it was explained to me, it will allow merchants to be non-official merchants, so that they can offer AMEX without the higher fees that AMEX normally charges merchants.  It’s confusing and unclear but these changes are coming over the next few months.  I heard this last year, and it still hasn't happened, but it's gotta be in the cards or they won't stay competitive with M/C and Visa.
What that means for us is a more competitive card!  Whether it’s the AMEX Gold or Platinum Rewards Personal or Business card, they will be accepted at a LOT more places–and with AMEX Membership Rewards points, you’re much better off at switching the points to Aeroplan (instantly) or to Avios (within about 2 days).  That way, you can decide, based on availability and where the routing will cost you the least in fuel surcharges, which point system you wish to switch your points into. 
Now just might be the time to get an AMEX card!  If you have a business card with AMEX, you can put pressure on AMEX to truly bring these changes to fruition.  By cancelling your AMEX Business Gold and telling them why (not accepted at Costco and too many other merchants), they may offer you 7K Membership Rewards (MR) points to stay and pay the annual fee when it comes up, but you’d be better off cancelling the card, and if the changes go through, reapplying using the link above, and getting the welcome bonus of 40K Membership Rewards points after spending $5K in 3 months. 
They’ll also waive the annual fee the first year for the gold cards (personal and business).    Remember, you can apply for the card if you have ANY business–self-proprietors without a tax number are accepted, even if you have a business that is on the side–you include ALL your income when answering the question about your business.
Go over the  benefits carefully.  Remember, the Platinum Business has a $399 annual fee while the personal version has a $699 fee, but the benefits, especially for the personal card, are what you’re paying for, especially if you travel a lot.  For example, access to lounges including free lounge access to the AMEX Centurion lounges, including the one at Pearson.
For more info, search through the search box on my website for more info on the different cards!

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