Traditionally, I would recommend a Chase credit card (either Amazon or Marriott) for all foreign exchange purchases, as previously, they were the only credit cards in Canada that don’t carry a forex surcharge, typically 2.5% of the amount charged. With those cards, you get an approximate 1% rate of return, with no annual fee on the Amazon card, and an annual fee on the Marriott that is offset with an annual hotel voucher. Now, the new Rogers Bank Mastercard may be better than either of these Chase cards for foreign exchange spending…
The Rogers Bank Mastercard [not a referral] (yes, that Rogers) has: an annual fee of $29 (waived for the first year, and if you set up automatic payments on your Rogers/Fido account, it is waived in perpetuity); a “$35” sign-up bonus; %1.75 “cash-back” on all purchases, and; no foreign exchange fee. Now, the reason I put “$35” and “cash-back” in quotations is because these are not true cash-back rewards, rather, they essentially apply as a credit for Rogers/Fido services (including your monthly phone bill). If you have a Rogers/Fido account, this card is better than any Chase credit card as the rate of return is higher. However, if you don’t have a Rogers/Fido account, nor do you intend on getting one, this card is essentially useless.
A couple things to note about this card:
First, unlike the Chase credit cards which uses the Visa spot rate on a direct foreign currency to Canadian dollar conversion, this card will first convert the foreign currency on the Mastercard spot rate to USD, and then again on the Mastercard spot rate to CAD. This is kind of significant because while Rogers Bank won’t charge you a forex fee, Mastercard (and Visa) have a slight commission on the actual forex value. I don’t know the exact percentage, but it’s minuscule, and certainly doesn’t offset the .75% Δ on the rate of return between Chase and Rogers Bank.
Second, it may just be me, but I got a pittance credit limit. They gave me $500. I can’t do anything with that, so for now, it’s just going to pay my Rogers cellphone bill (which by the way, I get an excellent rate using my Ontario Bar Association discount plan). Hopefully they’ll raise my credit limit at some point, and that it is unusually low. For travel, most people will need a substantially higher limit.
Last, I know it doesn’t really matter, but this card looks fantastic. It’s shiny. It’s clean. I hate that it says Rogers (the company that everyone loves to hate), but otherwise, I think it’s one of the nicest looking cards in Canada.
So to recap: for foreign purchases, if you get a significant enough credit limit, and you have a Rogers/Fido account, I would replace your Chase Amazon/Marriott card with the Rogers Bank Mastercard.