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The Five Credit Cards You Have to Have in Canada

There are some amazing credit card offers out there, namely for their sign-up bonus. Every Canadian should have these cards in their wallet (or least somewhere in the house).

American Express Platinum <-

This is probably my favourite card. While the annual fee is $699, your sign-up bonus is 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $1,000 in three months, enough for a round-trip ticket to Europe when converted into 60,000 Aeroplan points. You also get a $200 travel credit per calendar year. That means if you get this card right now before the end of 2016, you’ll get a $200 credit now, and another credit on January 1, 2017. This makes your first year fee more like $299, especially since it’s easy to convert that travel credit into cash.

You also get a full Priority Pass that allows you and one guest to access hundreds of airport lounges around the world; you’ll get access to the amazing Centurion Lounges in the US, Mexico, Brazil, and India, and access to Plaza Premium lounges throughout Canada, including Toronto and Vancouver. You also get the best insurance coverage of any card in the country, complimentary SPG Gold status (which can be matched to Marriott Gold!), and a number of other benefits. If you only pick one card on this list, get this one.

Scotiabank Gold AMEX <-

This card is great for the current limited time promotion. If you apply by January 31, 2017, you’ll get 20,000 points (worth $200) after spending $750 in three months. During the promotion, the annual fee is waived for the first year. This is a no-brainer… who doesn’t like a free $200? It also comes with some fantastic insurance benefits for your everyday spending (though I’d still use the SPG card for that).

American Express SPG (Personal) <-

Here’s another winner: 20,000 SPG points after spending $500 in three months. 20,000 SPG points convert into 25,000 frequent flyer miles in over 20 programs. What’s nice about SPG points is their flexibility, making them one of the most valuable currencies available. With the SPG – Marriott merger coming in 2018, this might be the last year you can get this card. There is a $120 annual fee, which is not waived in the first year. However, you get one SPG point per dollar spent, and considering an SPG point is worth more than two cents, it’s the best card on this list for your everyday spending.

Chase Marriott VISA  <-

With this card, you get 50,000 Marriott points (convertible into ~16,000 SPG points) for no fee in the first year, and a free category 1-4 free night certificate (a free night certificate used to be offered, but I don’t see that language on the offer anymore). This card is also a keeper after the first year – it offers no foreign exchange fees on foreign currency purchases, saving you the typical 2.5% surcharge standard on other cards.

American Express Gold <-

This card is a must. There is no annual fee for the first year, and after spending $1,500 in three months, you’ll get 25,000 American Express Membership Rewards points. These points convert 1:1 into Aeroplan and British Airways Avios, which is enough for a round-trip flight anywhere in North America.


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  1. Three out of five is not bad I think. I just haven’t had the Scotiabank Amex, although you make a valid point about $200, and the Platinum Amex is on my radar for next year. But above all, the SPG Amex is still the one that I prefer. I wish the Gold had better transfer opportunities like it does in the US.

  2. What do you recommend for everyday spend for either VISA or MASTERCARD? Is the RBC Avion the best bet? Want to keep the annual fee at $150 or below.

  3. Chase Marriott: are you sure there is a free category 1-4 free night certificate? I couldn’t find anything about it when I clicked on your link. There is an anniversary certificate, but it’s different.

  4. I had an Amex card 4 years ago. Cancelled because they upped the annual fee to $699 from $500 I think. I was thinking I might get it because of the great 60,000 sign up miles, but I don’t think I am eligible for the sign up miles. So the lounge access and mere 1.25 points may not be such a good deal. Even at what $500 a year?

    1. While there’s a once a lifetime rule, right now, it doesn’t seem to be enforced. I’d recommend getting the card, quickly meeting the spend. If you don’t get the bonus, then cancel the card and get a fee rebate.

      1. In order to get the bonus sign up, please allowed up to 8 weeks. Are you sure that they will rebate you after opening the account for that long?

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