Credit card comparison sites can be useful for finding and sorting through dozens of credit cards to determine which ones might be right for you. Sites like RateSupermarket, RateHub, and GreedyRates rank cards using factors such as whether you want to pay an annual fee or not, if you prefer cash back or travel rewards, whether you pay your balance in full or not, and whether your card is for business or personal use (to name a few).
GreedyRates digs a bit deeper and asks you to estimate your monthly credit card spending in key categories such as groceries, gas, dining, and travel. It also asks how long you plan to keep the card, an interesting variable since many rewards cards pay juicy sign-up bonuses in year one but then fail to deliver meaningful rewards in subsequent years.
Unfortunately, these sites’ rankings can be biased – often displaying cards which pay them the highest referral fee ahead of other cards which may be a better fit for you.
Our own partners at creditcardGenius use a comprehensive and unbiased algorithm to rank a growing database of 159 Canadian credit cards, tracking 50+ features for each. They list cards from every major financial institution, even if they don’t pay a referral fee, so you know you’re getting an objective look at all your options.
What Credit Card Comparison Sites Are Missing
By using a credit card comparison site you’ll get a decent look at the best cards on the market as well as any current sign-up bonuses available. You might even get a slightly tailored recommendation based on your rewards preferences and spending inputs.
However, what these comparison sites lack is a truly personalized credit card recommendation. That’s because they’re all missing these factors:
1.) The Costco Effect
Ok, so you spend $800 per month on groceries for your family of four. But if most of that spending occurs at Costco or No Frills, for example, then any Visa or American Express recommendations are completely useless to you as an everyday rewards card.
That’s right, the Costco effect is real. So if you’re like me and do the bulk of your household grocery shopping at the warehouse giant, then you’ll have to ignore good cash back credit cards like the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite card, or the SimplyCash Preferred Card from American Express. They’re no good to you at Costco, which only takes MasterCard.
2.) No foreign exchange fees
Most credit card issuers charge an insidious 2.5% conversion fee on your foreign purchases. If you’re the type of person that travels regularly across the border or abroad, or shops online in foreign currency, you’re going to want a card that avoids those fees.
Credit card comparison sites won’t factor in your foreign currency spending and therefore won’t show you when a card like the Rogers Fido MasterCard, which charges the typical foreign transaction fee but also pays 4% cash back on purchases made in foreign currency, actually outperforms a top cash back or travel rewards card.
3.) Additional perks that add value
How do you measure the other value-added perks that credit cards offer, such as a robust and comprehensive insurance package, or strong purchase protection and extended warranty coverage?
And what about other perks that can be measured, such as VIP airport lounge access and a free Priority Pass membership, offered by BMO World Elite MasterCard? Or the annual round-trip companion flight for $99, offered by the WestJet RBC World Elite MasterCard?
WestJet, along with some Aeroplan cards, offer a complimentary checked bag on flights booked with your card. Other credit cards offer priority check-in and boarding.
The WestJet RBC World Elite MasterCard and BMO World Elite MasterCard typically rank poorly when compared with other, more straight-forward, travel rewards cards. But for some, that companion voucher, or VIP airport lounge access, might be worthwhile.
I love to use credit card comparison sites to find and sort through the plethora of rewards cards in Canada. The key is that I use these sites as preliminary research and then, when I zero-in on a couple of cards that I like, I do my own research to see how they’d fit with my lifestyle and spending patterns.
The rewards credit card landscape is constantly changing and so it’s important to shop around and do your research to see whether your current credit card is still meeting your needs, or if something else in the market has emerged and is worth exploring. Take recommendations from credit card comparison sites with a grain of salt and make sure they match up with how you like to spend and earn rewards.
I recently signed up for the BMO World Elite MasterCard. Not only is it a great travel rewards card on its own merit, right now for a limited time, BMO has sweetened the deal for new sign-ups with a scintillating offer. Apply for the BMO World Elite MasterCard before April 30, 2018 and you’ll get:
- $150 annual fee waived in the first year
- 35,000 welcome points after you spend $3,000 in your first three months
35,000 welcome points is worth
$350 $250* in free travel – an unheard of welcome bonus on the Canadian market, especially when you consider the annual fee is waived in the first year. That’s $500 $400 in value!
Plus, with the BMO World Elite MasterCard, you’ll earn 3 BMO Rewards points for every $1 spent on travel, dining, and entertainment purchases (up to $50,000 annually), and 2 points for every dollar spent elsewhere.
* A reader pointed out that as of January 15, 2018 BMO increased the number of points needed to redeem for $1 in travel rewards from 100 to 140 (a 40 percent increase). In a corresponding move, BMO increased the number of points earned on travel, dining, and entertainment spending from 2 to 3 points (a 50 percent increase).
The benefits don’t stop there. You’ll also get VIP airport lounge access (over $200 USD/year value) with the Priority Pass membership and four free VIP lounge visits per membership year.
Note that because this is a World Elite MasterCard, individuals will need to have a minimum income of $80,000 or household income of $150,000 to be eligible. You’ll also get extended warranty protection, doubling the manufacturer’s warranty for up to one-year, plus 90-day purchase protection against theft or damage, and world class travel and medical protection.
BMO World Elite MasterCard
With an earn rate this high (3 points on travel, dining, and entertainment, 2 points on everything else) it’s easy to accumulate points quickly with the BMO World Elite MasterCard.
Let’s say you put $2,000 worth of purchases on your card each month. With the 35,000 point welcome bonus you’d earn about 87,800 points in the first year. That’s worth $878 in free travel.
Redeeming points through the BMO Rewards platform is straightforward. Redeem points to book any flight, any hotel, any ship, anytime. Or, you can choose from a catalog of products, gift cards, and experiences (at a much lesser value for your points), contribute to a BMO Investment Account or make a charitable donation.
Your best bang for your rewards buck is to redeem your points for travel. You can search for flights, hotels, vacation packages, or cruises all within the BMO platform and find competitive pricing with no blackouts or restrictions.
For example, a quick search for hotels in Calgary turned up a one-night stay at the Marriott downtown for 18,000 points including all taxes and fees.
Sweetest Credit Card Offer in Canada
If you recall, my four rules for credit card churning is that in order for me to sign up, the new credit card has to have:
- First year free
- Net benefit of $250 or more
- No significant changes to spending
- The ability to convert the points into something useful
Let’s tackle each of these rules and make sure the BMO World Elite MasterCard ticks all the boxes.
1. New sign-ups get the $150 annual fee waived in the first year. Check.
2. New sign-ups get 35,000 welcome points when they spend $3,000 in the first three months. Check.
3. Spending $3,000 in three months works out to $1,000 per month. Since MasterCard can be used at Costco and No Frills (my two significant outlets for grocery and gas spending) I’ll have no trouble reaching the early spend bonus by simply replacing my main Capital One MasterCard with the BMO World Elite MasterCard for the first three months. Check.
4. The BMO Rewards platform allows for easy redemption for flights and hotels – my go-to travel rewards – and so I’ll have no trouble converting my 35,000+ BMO Rewards points into free travel without any annoying fees or restrictions. Check.
The Canadian rewards credit card market has never been as lucrative as its American counterpart. That said, you could still find enough attractive sign-up offers throughout the year to earn big time travel rewards.
The problem with most offers is, you either get first year free and a smaller welcome bonus, OR, you get a huge welcome bonus but still have to pay the annual fee.
This BMO World Elite MasterCard offer is the first time in recent memory that a credit card issuer has introduced this juicy of a welcome bonus (
$350 $250 in travel reward) AND waived the annual fee in the first year. And when you factor in the free Priority Pass membership that gives you over $200 USD/year in VIP airport lounge access, we’re talking about an incredible $550+ $450+ in free value.
For me, it was a no-brainer to sign up for this card. If you’re looking for a new everyday travel rewards card, or want to jump on this offer simply to earn more points like I did, then make sure to sign up before April 30, 2018.