I get the same question from readers on a weekly basis: what is the best credit card in Canada? Well, the answer is, unfortunately, none. There is no single best credit card. Some cards are better for foreign exchange purchases, while others are best for dining.
I’m going to take the liberty to re-word the question: what is the best credit card for the average person for everyday purchases? Doesn’t roll off the tongue well, I know. Get over it.
So, what is this mysterious card? I’d argue the SPG Credit Card by American Express card is one of the best credit cards in Canada, and certainly the best for the average person for everyday purchases. Why?
20,000 SPG Sign-Up Bonus
With this card, you get 20,000 SPG points after spending $500 in the first three months of having the card. How much is that worth? Well, 20,000 SPG points converts into 25,000 points in dozens of points programs, including Aeroplan, Alaska Airlines, and a number of other programs that may offer special value (*cough* Brussels Airlines business class for almost nothing through Etihad! *cough* (that was a long cough!)) .
Although I’m not terribly into the notion of valuing points, because their value will vary depending on personal preferences and use, The Points Guy assigns a value of 2.7 cents per point, by far the most valuable point out there. Under this rather arbitrary calculus, the sign-up bonus is worth $USD 540 ($CAD 717). Note that the annual fee is not waived. The card costs $120, meaning your sign-up bonus is potentially worth, after deducting the annual fee, $CAD 597.
SPG Points Are Awesome
Again, as stated above, 20,000 SPG points converts into dozens of program into 25,000 points. What’s great about SPG points is the flexibility – while Aeroplan might be the best program for a certain redemption, you could be better off going to Alaska, or to American, etc. Collecting SPG points allows for flexibility, and ultimately, gives you the best deal because you can convert your points into whatever program has a “sweet spot” for your particular need.
Further, hotel redemptions with SPG points can offer phenomenal value. For example, the Westin Toronto Airport often goes for $200 a night, but for ~ 3,000-4,000 SPG points a night, you can stay for free! Further, on category 3 or higher hotels, you get your fifth night free.
Since the SPG-Marriott merger, you are able to convert your SPG to Marriott points at a 1:3 ratio, and vice-versa. This means that SPG points are by far the most diverse points out there.
SPG points can also be given to other members of your household, meaning that if you and your partner get this card, you can have a total of 40,000 points in one account. This would be enough for five nights (four paid night, fifth free) at the Palacio Del Inka, A Luxury Collection, Cusco, a phenomenal hotel near Machu Pichu.
Best Return on Spending
With the SPG card, you get one SPG point per dollar spent. If you believe the 2.7 cents/point calculation, that’s a 2.7% return on spending, by far the highest in Canada. Further, considering the poor value of the Canadian dollar, you’re actually earning SPG points from spend at a significantly higher rate than Americans – they have to spend the equivalent of ~ 1.25 dollars for one point, whereas we only spend 1.0 dollar! It’s always nice to be smug against Americans 😉