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Thursday, 30 March 2017

Last Minute: St. Kitts/Nevis for $230CDN return on Air Canada Rouge

Yes, it's Rouge (eww) but it's direct from Toronto to St. Kitts/Nevis for $230CDN return for the dates of April 1-8.
Air B&B is a good place to find reasonable accommodations there.
Go to AirCanadaVacations.com and the price you'll see will be for two (the default).  Change it to one if you wish to see the $210 price!
Under "Vacation Search," choose "Flights."
Then place in the April 1-8th dates.
Book fast before the rates go up or they sell out!

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

What the Perfect Credit Card SHOULD Look Like

With Tangerine blowing it by taking away lucrative benefits beginning April 29th (see that post here), it got me thinking what it would take to make for a great credit card.  Speaking to an agent for a while at Tangerine this afternoon, I gave him several suggestions.  The Canadian credit card market is awash in mediocre offerings.  Whether it requires you to use the bank's travel agency to book a flight rather than a great deal that you can find online, cashback cards that don't give back enough, or aren't accepted everywhere, THIS is what should be part of the "perfect" credit card:

The perfect no annual fee credit card:
No annual fee--ever
A choice of points for travel that you can book yourself based on a dollar per point value (1%) or as 1% cashback.
A 9.99% rate on balances not paid in full
NO foreign exchange fee (if Chase Canada cards can offer it, anyone can)
A rotating spending threshold--that means you get a bonus for every time you spend a certain amount on the card.  For every $10K you spend on the card in a year, you get a bonus $25 or the equivalent in points.
A welcome bonus that is only available once every 24 months to reduce (not totally kill) churners (people who cancel and reapply for credit cards).
90 day coverage in case of lost, damaged or stolen purchases
Double the warranty up to a year

The perfect premium credit card
Everything offered above, but for $120 annual fee, waived the first year (and then you can downgrade if you REALLY want to)
1.5% cashback or for travel
2% cashback for travel related expenses--restaurants, gas, transportation, hotels/motels
A $50 bonus for every $10K spent on the card (equivalent to 0.5% more for a total of 1.5%)
An increase to 1.25% for every dollar spent over $10K in a calendar year
A concierge service such as that offered to AMEX platinum business/personal card holders that allows them to call and get assistance finding a hard to find item or service or just booking travel for them.

Let's see if any banks bite at my suggestions!

Tangerine blew it, for now...No Annual Fee card comparison

Tangerine began offering a Mastercard back in 2016.  I decided to get this card only last month, as I was looking for a no annual fee (AF) Mastercard that would be my go-to card, so that when I was not trying to hit a spending threshold on another card, or I was shopping somewhere that only Mastercard was accepted, I would have a card I could use at places such as No Frills or Costco.  The Capital One Costco cashback Mastercard is good for gas (2%), restaurants (3%) and 1% for everything else, but what drew me towards Tangerine was being able to choose 3 different categories of 2% and still get 1% on all other purchases, making this a superior card in cashback to the Cap 1 card.  It even offered only a 1.49% foreign exchange (forex) fee compared to many other out there that charge 2.5% or higher.

Well, the letter dated March 24th came right after a call I had placed to Tangerine credit card customer service, where I advised them on how to make their card even more lucrative, and instead of listening to my thoughts, they did the opposite.

Here's what the card's "changes" spell out to, effective April 29th, 2017 (one month's notice):
  • No longer will you get 1% cashback on all other purchases--it will only be 0.5%.
  • Their "competitive" forex fee is going up to 2.5%, a full percentage increase.
There is nothing positive that can be said about these changes--it's pure greed, and coming from Tangerine, which prides itself on no fee (or minimal fees), they should be holding their heads in shame.

There are three no annual fee cashback cards that are worth talking about comparing:

  • Capital One's Mastercard with 1% cashback on all "other" purchases, 2% on gas and 3% on restaurants
  • Tangerine's Mastercard (see details above)
  • Chase Canada's Amazon.ca card.  It offers a $20 gift card upon approval, 1% on all "other" purchases, 2% on Amazon.ca purchases, and NO foreign exchange fee.

If you don't mind carrying more than one Mastercard in your wallet, I would ONLY use the  Tangerine for your three 2% categories (you get to choose from a select list of categories--only two categories to select from the list if you don't have a savings account with them). The categories are: groceries, furniture, restaurants, hotels/motels, gas, recurring bill payments, drug stores, home improvements, entertainment, and public transportation/parking.

I would use the Cap 1 card for restaurants, gas (Tangerine offers gas as a category, but don't use it up with Tangerine--save it for the Cap 1 card) and everything that is NOT from your Tangerine 3 (or 2).

Use Amazon.ca for Amazon.ca purchases (not Amazon.com for 2% cashback--it doesn't qualify though you will be saving on the forex fees) and for all other forex purchases.

For normal people, I don't believe I'm suggesting this, but unless the 2% in 2-3 categories is REALLY lucrative, get the Cap 1 Costco Mastercard and close your wallet to any other no AF Mastercards.

Monday, 27 March 2017

YYZ to Fort Lauderdale for $212.95 CDN return

Sunwing is offering flights, but it seems to be limited to April 1st-9th for $53CDN more but 2nd-8th for $212.95 for their direct flight from Toronto to Fort Lauderdale. Sunwing only flies between the two cities on Saturdays and Sundays. Go to Sunwing's website to get this rate.  NOT available on FlightNetwork or Googleflights.  Book soon!

$15 OFF Uber/Lyft Ride through GoogleMaps App-UPDATE

Today, I attempted to see how far apart two places are by car using my GoogleMaps app.  It was between 2 US locations, and I was offered $15 off my first Uber or Lyft (competitor in the States) ride by booking it through Googlemaps.  In Canada, it's only $15 CDN off and only with Uber.  Some report it expired in February, but I still got the offer today.
You first need to try GoogleMaps for 2 US locations.  Then, the offer pops up.  Then, switch it over to two Canadian locations.  Even then, if it's not your first time using Uber, it still may only ask you to link all your private info of Uber, including your payment information, and then get stuck like it did for me.
No promo code seems to be required, though if you use "GOOGLE" as your promo code, it won't work if you've used Uber before, but through GoogleMaps it will work.  Check to see if the offer pops up when you use GoogleMaps for directions.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Last Days To Upgrade With Marriott

If you have recently been downgraded in your status with Marriott (platinum to gold or gold to silver), as of April 1st, the number of points necessary to get back to your original status is going UP!
CHECK YOUR STATUS WITH MARRIOTT if you expect to see gold or platinum showing up.
With SPG, while they'll match your status, one is unable to upgrade SPG status if lost by using points.
Before April 2017, if you had platinum status and are now dropped to gold, you can get back to platinum for 40K Marriott (13.33K SPG or around 27K AMEX points--first convert to SPG, then to Marriott).  After March 31st, it will cost you 60K Marriott points!  With platinum, you get more points for stays, an option of a snack or points for any stay (lame), United Silver status which allows you one free checked-in luggage on any Star Alliance flight (including of course, Air Canada) on top of whatever allowance you already may have.  I find this useful with short haul flights or even any flight within North America, including Puerto Rico, which allows for NO checked-in luggage AT ALL without paying for it.
Most importantly, it gives you free upgrades that tend not to be guaranteed until the day of check in, but gold status offers this as well.
For those who've lost your gold status, it will cost you 25K to get it back before April--but 35K Marriott points after March.
Lock in now (unless you have a credit card that offers SPG Gold status and you don't care about the extra perks of platinum)!