The Best Way to Earn Amex Membership Rewards Points

Here are a few of the best strategies to rack up the most points with the american express gold rewards card: This assumes that you are using the amex points to convert into aeroplan points at a ration of 1:1 (which is absolutely the best thing to do with them)

  • Buy gift cards at shoppers drugmart
    • works especially well if you buy giftcards for places that don’t take amex
    • works well for any place that doesn’t give you double points (as shoppers does give you double points)
    • you also get to collect shoppers optimum points
  • Swipe your aeroplan card before pumping gas at esso
    • get 2 amex points for ever $1 spent, plus 1 aeroplan for every $3 spent
  • Buy Gift Cards at Canadian Tire (only good if you buy a lot of stuff at canadian tire..)
    • Cash back in Canadian tire money, plus 1 amex point per $1 spent
    • One Option: Buy Canadian Tire Gas Station gift cards

Check out our list of retailers that take american express for more ideas

Best Canadian Points Credit Card as of April 2011

As of April 14th 2011 the best points credit card in canada (in our opinion) is the American Express Gold Rewards Card (check it out here)

Basically it allows you to earn points faster than almost any other card and all the points can be converted to Aeroplan points at a rate of 1 to 1 (so long as you convert a multiple of 1000 points)

Until the release of this card, the CIBC Aerogold card was number 1. The Amex gold rewards card offers you all the same points earning potential of the Aerogold, and far more. For example, Aerogold lets you earn 1.5 points for each dollar spent at grocery stores, drug stores and on gas (as well as 1 point for every dollar spent elsewhere. The Amex on the other hand lets you earn 2 points for every dollar spent at grocery stores, drug stores and on gas! Additionally, the amex gives you 2 points for every dollar spent on travel – this includes hotels, flights, rental cars and even all inclusive vacation packages (I recently booked one on and received double the points.)

The Amex is $150 per year, instead of $120 with the Aerogold BUT Amex waives the fee for the first year. Also, both cards normally charge you $50 per year for a supplementary card (usually for your spouse) but amex gives you one supplementary card for free (not just one year free, but free forever)

Check out our list of the best places to earn amex points and best strategy for earning amex and aeroplan points

Which Stores Take Amex – List of Stores that take American Express

Here is an on going list of the best stores that take American Express in Canada. This list was last update April 14 2011. This list points out the merchants where you can earn more american express and aeroplan points. If you are looking to earn aeroplan points you should take a look at our best canadian points credit card article (it’s an amex)

Please list other stores in the comments section and they will be added to the list.

  • Costco
  • Wal-mart
  • Shoppers Drugmart (double points with Amex Gold Card) (also collect Shoppers Optimum points)
  • Sobeys (can convert Club Sobeys points to amex points)
  • Metro
  • Canadian Tire (also collect canadian tire money)
  • 407 ETR
  • CinePlex
  • The Keg
  • TTC (metro pass)
  • Go Transit (passes)
  • Amazon
  • Chapters & (also take aeroplan on
  • Starbucks
  • McDonalds (only certain locations)
  • Canadian Government/Passport Offices
  • eBay (also takes aeropan)
  • The Bay
  • Sears

Here are a few stores that do not take Amex

  1. Loblaws
  2. Great Canadian Super store
  3. No Frills

Canadian Bank Numbers

Looking for the Bank Number for your Canadian bank? If you need the transit number (also called branch number) of your bank use the branch locator on their website. If you need the account number of your bank account you should be able to find it easily in your online banking where they list your accounts.

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Here is a list of all the Canadian Bank Numbers:

  • Bank of Montreal / BMO Bank Number – 001
  • ScotiaBank Bank of Nova Scotia – 002
  • RBC Royal Bank of Canada – 003
  • TD Canada Trust / Toronto Dominion / TD Bank Umber – 004
  • National Bank of Canada Bank Number – 005
  • Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce / CIBC Bank Number – 010
  • President’s Choice Financial / PC Financial Bank Number – 010
  • HSBC Bank Number – 016
  • Bank of Canada Bank Number – 177
  • Citibank Canada Bank Number – 260
  • Citizens Bank of Canada Bank Number – 309
  • ING Bank of Canada / ING Direct Bank Number – 614

030 Canadian Western Bank

039 Laurentian Bank of Canada

117 Government of Canada (Not listed as a member of the Canadian Payments Association)

127 Canada Post (money orders)

177 Bank of Canada (Canadian central bank)

219 ATB Financial

241 Bank of America Canada

260 Citibank Canada

270 JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. (Toronto Branch)

290 UBS Bank (Canada)

308 Bank of China (Canada)

309 Citizens Bank of Canada (Canada)

326 President’s Choice Financial (no longer assigned, now shares 010 code with CIBC)

338 Canadian Tire Bank

340 ICICI Bank Canada

509 Canada Trust (prior to the merger of TD & Canada Trust)

540 Manulife Bank

614 ING Direct Canada

809 [Central 1 [Credit Union] – BC Region]

815 Caisses Desjardins du Québec

819 Caisses populaires Desjardins du Manitoba

828 [Central 1 [Credit Union] – ON Region]

829 Caisses populaires Desjardins de l’Ontario

837 Meridian Credit Union (formerly Hepco)

839 Credit Union Heritage (Nova Scotia)

865 Caisses populaires Desjardins acadiennes

879 Credit Union Central of Manitoba

889 Credit Union Central of Saskatchewan

899 Credit Union Central Alberta

How to Take Advantage of Balance Transfers

This post explains how to take full advantage of the low balance transfer rates offered by many credit card companies. To figure out exactly how much money you can save/make by doing this, take 5 minutes to figure out the average interest rate you are paying on your debt. Once you know what you are paying now, you can get a better idea of how much you can save by dropping your debt interest rates massively by taking advantage of promotional balance transfer rates.

Getting the Cash out of Your Credit Card

If you look around on the Internet you will find that most promotional balance transfers apply not only to transferring balances, but also to checks written from your credit card (sometimes called convenience checks.) You can use these checks to transfer money from your credit card into your checking account – once it’s there, you can do whatever you want with it – maybe pay off your car loan using this new money that you are only paying 2% on. Better yet, you can use the money to invest in low risk securities.

Often times the best balance transfer cards do not come with the luxury of letting you write checks from the card at the promotional rate – you can get convenience checks with all credit cards, but often you will have to pay the full interest rate of close to 20% on money extracted via these checks. You can easily deal with this by getting 2 cards, one with the lowest interest check rates you can find and one with the best overall balance transfer rate. Simply write checks out of the first account and then pay that account off using the ultra low interest balance transfer card.

Examples of Profiting from Balance Transfers

Profit by Saving Money on Debt

Say you purchased a car for $12,000 and intend to pay it off over 5 years. If you were to use a traditional car loan at 8% interest, you would end up paying $2,599 in interest by the end of the 5 years. If, on the other hand, you decided to pay for this car using a promotional balance transfer rate of 3% (which is quite easy to find) you would pay just $937 by the end of the fifth year – a savings of $1,662! To pull this off requires a little work, since promotional rates typically last around 12 months, you need to be ready to sign up for the next card with a new promotional rate at the end of each year. In the event that you cannot find one – you simply go get the car loan – this is not ideal, but at least you would have benefited from the low rate for the first year. Typically you can find promotional rates of well under 3% – saving you even more money. Be careful! these credit cards typically only require you to make very small payments during your promotional period, make sure you don’t forget to keep making the payments that will allow you to have the car paid off in 5 years!

Profit by Earning Interest on Your Balance Transfer

Say you apply for the MBNA Platinum Plus MasterCard and get the promotional rate of 0% for 15 months with a credit limit of $10,000. Write yourself a convenience check and transfer the full $10,000 to your High Interest Savings Account at 2% interest annually (ING Direct TFSA for example.) If you leave the money in there for the 15 months you will make $252.94.

Profit by Investing Your Balance Transfer Funds

Obviously you can take this to the next level and invest in something with a higher return like a 5 year GIC – but you had better be ready to hunt hard for very low interest balance transfer rates as it comes time for you to shift things around. In the event you have cannot find a low enough rate, you would be forced to pull your GIC, forfeit the interest earned, and pay off the card – not the end of the world, but not ideal

Of course you can always take things to the next level and use the cash from the balance transfer to invest in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, real estate, etc, but as always, be careful. If you lose the cash in the market, you will either have to find a way to pay off the card with other money of yours or be ready to find another ultra low interest rate card/account to pass the debt onto.

Reduce Your Debt | The Simple Trick to Dropping Your Interest Rate to 1%

This post explains how to get the absolute lowest interest rates on your debt. Be careful, if you don’t have self-control, you might be tempted to rack up more debt after you implement this plan. Obviously we take no responsibility from anything that might happen to you as a result of following this advice. Here it is!

Balance Transfer Rates

The lowest debt interest you can get is almost ALWAYS in the form of promotional balance transfer rates on credit cards. When you first sign up for a new credit card, the card company will often offer you a Promotional Balance Transfer Rate. These rates typically last for 6 months to a year and usually fall into the range of 1% to 6%. At the time of this writing, MBNA Canada happens to be offering a balance transfer rate of 0% interest for 15 months (with the fine print it ends up being 1%). This is an incredible offer and could probably help almost everyone in paying off some of his or her consumer debt. PC Financial also offers low interest on balance transfers at about 1.9% for the first 6 months (not bad either.) Capital One will usually give you 5.9% for around 3 years.

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How Balance Transfers Work

Balance transfers simply let you pay off one credit card with another. If you are carrying high interest debt on one card, you can transfer the debt to another card at a much lower rate (i.e. 2%) You new card company loves when you transfer them debt and is willing to give you a great rate because they think that after your low interest period (of say 6 months) is over, you will have to start paying them the usual high rates of about 20%. You have to be smarter than that, by the time your low interest rate disappears, you should try to have your debt paid off – if you still have some left, you should be ready to transfer it to a new card at an equally low rate. I have a friend in the banking industry who tells us stories about rich clients (million plus net worth) who still float $50,000 in low or no interest balance transfers. He says they simply don’t care to pay it back because it doesn’t cost them anything to keep it – and often times they can use that money to get a far better return than the 2 or 0% they pay on the debt.

How to Get Access to Balance Transfer Opportunities

As mentioned above, the usual way to get access to a promotional balance transfer rate is to just sign up for a new credit card that is offering a promotional rate to new customers signing up. A second method of getting a low balance transfer rate is by threatening to cancel one of the cards you already have. If you have a card with no balance on it (or a balance that you can easily pay off) call your credit card company and tell them you want to close the account unless they offer you a promotional balance transfer rate. They do not want to lose you as a customer, and as we mentioned before, it is often in their favor to offer you the rates since they don’t think you can pay off the balance before the rate goes back to 20%. Remember, you should try to pay off the balance on the card before you threaten to cancel – if you have a $5000 balance with this company, they probably will not believe you when you say you’d like to close the account.

How to Really Take Advantage of Balance Transfers

Now that you understand balance transfers, check out our article on how to really take advantage of them: Take Full Advantage of Balance Transfers

The Lowest Balance Transfer Rate Credit Card as of July 25 2010

Currently the absolute lowest balance transfer rate you can get on a Canadian credit card is 0% for 15 months. As it turns out it’s actually 1% for the 15 months because you have to pay 1% on transferred amount at the time you transfer it. You can transfer money out via convenience check or just call them up and have them transfer it to your checking account – or you can do the usual and call them to have them transfer the cash to another one of your credit cards (so long as the other card isn’t an MBNA one)

This is one of the best rates we have ever seen for balance transfers and one of the longest grace periods available. Additionally, the rate applies not only to balance transfers, but also to the Credit Card Convenience Cheques. Realistically there is no reason not to take the cash from the card and invest it in a savings account. Realistically most of us have high interest debt that we should shift to a card like this and pay off within the 15 month grace period.

The Card is the MBNA Platinum Plus card – check it out here:

Get What You want From Canadian Satellite Providers | Lower Cost Bell, Telus, Shaw

The cost of Television in Canada is outrageous thanks to limited competition in the majority of Provinces markets. That, coupled with the fact that TV service provider’s customer service is completely intolerable, make them impossible to deal with. This guide will show you how to go on the offensive against these monopolies to bring your bill down.

  • First, figure out what it is you really want. New hardware, low monthly bills, or a one time large bill reduction.
  • Next give your television provider a call. The person who first picks up the phone will not be able to give you what you want and neither will their manager. No matter how upset you are with the TV company, yelling at these people is just a waste of breath. Simply, and politely let the customer service representative know what you want (Eg. My bill is too high, My PVR is broken and I want a new one but dont want to pay anything for it, Promotion X is available to new customers and I want it)
  • The customer service representative will tell you, more or less, that this is impossible. At this point tell them that you would like to cancel your services / speak to the retentions department. Don’t worry if your in a long term contract, most larger tv companies require 30 days notice for you to cancel an account so it therefore takes 30 days from the day that you call in to cancel for any cancellation order to go through. This is ussually incredibly annoying for the consumer as it is rarely communicated upon purchase, but we can use it to our advantage in this case. If your conversation with retentions ends in you canceling the account you can call back in anytime before the 30 days are up and cancel the cancellation order.
  • The Customer Service rep will put you on hold and explain the situation to the retentions representative before passing you over to them. If you are in a long term contract the first thing the retentions rep will do is to try to scare you away from canceling by citing early termination penalties. Don’t budge, remember the 30 notice rule, and tell them that you still would like to cancel your account.
  • The retentions rep will give you an opening offer. If the offer fits your goal in mind then by all means take it but, depending on how long you’ve been with the company, how much your monthly rate is, and payment history, there is probably a better offer available. It’s advisable to deny this opening offer.
  • Continue negotiating with the retentions rep until you either get what you want, or end up putting in your 30 days notice to cancel the account.
  • If your account is put on the 30 days notice just call back in and cancel it with the customer service rep and try cancelling again tomorrow!

From experience some things are pretty easy to get the first time you ask for them, they are:

  • 30% off for 6 months of programming
  • 50% off a new reciever
  • Free installation of a rented reciever plus 12 months free rental charges
  • 3 months free programming

Try it out and let us know how it goes by posting a comment!

How to Avoid Paying Bank Fees


This is a guest post from our friends over at – a community for the money conscious, hoping to save and spend more efficiently, their team of financial professionals provide the ins and outs of Financial Institutions. Think of them as a tell-all for Banks, Lending Institutions, Credit Companies, and Investment Firms for the beginner spender to the advanced investor.

When was the last time you reviewed your bank statement? Did you notice all those extra dollars you ended up paying at the end of the month? Bank fees are a big reason why people don’t bank at the major financial institutions in Canada and instead choose no-fee accounts offered by ING and PC Financial. These big bank alternatives are great in a lot of situations, except when you need to actually speak to an expert or get a cheque certified. Bank fees at full service banks can be avoided by using the right tricks as well as some careful money management.

After reading this article you can expect to have all of the following bank fees waved:

  • Monthly Service Fee
  • Cheque Order (Especially because 90% of cheque orders are for 12 post-dated rent cheques)
  • Certified Cheques, Money Orders/Drafts
  • Statements, Account Confirmation Letters
  • Platinum, Gold and Travel Credit Card Annual Fees
  • Those nice little Safety Deposit Boxes Annual Fees

How do you get all those things free? Every major bank has a “platinum” chequing   account that will give you all the above free – it typically carries a monthly fee of around $25 unless you keep a minimum balance of around $5000. If you can keep $5000 in a chequing account do it! Everything is now free and its a great place to save a portion of your emergency fund. What that $5000 is earning in a savings account vs. what you are paying in monthly service fees makes it worth it alone.

If you can’t afford to keep $5000 in you chequing account then you’ve got a little work to do, if you are a new customer to the bank you NEED to ask for this account for a 3 month trial period and take advantage of everything free, especially if you don’t plan on leaving $5000 in it.  This means order a book of cheques ($30 value), sign up for a platinum visa ($120 value), and open a safety deposit box ($60-$150 value). The same goes for existing customers who receive a free trial period of a platinum account. Now lets say your trial period is up, and you can’t keep the minimum $5000 balance to waive the monthly fee, all you’ll need to do is have your account changed to a basic one and you’ll keep avoiding fees. And at least for a year a new platinum visa, safety deposit box and book of cheques – FREE!

Relationships are key in banking!  Keep in touch with your advisors, even if they’re not. If you have an existing relationship with a financial advisor or bank teller they should be your primary point of contact in all banking matters.  Managers I would avoid because they’ll ask to many questions. At the end of the day if you have a questions, ask! That’s what the bank branch is there for.

In banking you need to take a look at the big picture, something most people fail to do. The $6 dollars a month in interest you’re making in that “high-interest” Savings account the bank representative forced you to open (which by the way is illegal in Canadian banking) vs. the $8 a month you pay for a Chequing account is a prime example of a negative return on your money. Stepping back, taking a look at the big picture and looking into where your money is really going will put more money in your pocket and send you in the right direction towards financial freedom.


TIP: Banks hate losing customers, and love new customers – use this to your advantage.

Maximize Your Student Loan

This article explains both how to maximize the amount of money you get for your student loan as well as the best way to deal with any cash you receive that you might not need for your tuition or living expenses. It also explains the rules around when you are required to list your parents’ financial details on your loan application.

Most student loans (or school loans) do not have to be paid back until at least 6 months after a student graduates. Additionally, student loans typically accrue no interest until 6 months after graduation. in Ontario, the OSAP loan works in this way.

In years 1 through 3 of university or college, a student must input their parents’ financial information when filling out a loan application. For many students, this singly annoying fact is enough to deter them from applying. Once a student reaches their fourth year of study however, they are no longer required to give any information about their parents’ financial situation. This is where you have the most control over maximizing your student loan. Every student in their fourth year of a University or College program should absolutely apply for a student loan. Even if you do not require the money, you should take it and invest it in some form of guaranteed investment instrument (such as a high interest savings account, government savings bonds or GICs.) Once you reach your fourth year of study, you have about 14 months before you have to start paying the money back, so investing in riskier securities (such as stocks or options) is not recommended.

In order to get the most money possible for your student loan, you basically just have to make yourself look as poor as possible. There are 2 aspects to your financial status – how much money you’ve earned or plan to earn and how much money you have saved/invested. Obviously if you have $25,000 in your investment account, the government will feel no need to give you an interest free loan – you can clearly pay for school out of your own pocket. If you are in a situation where your current savings or investments make it look like you do not need financial assistance, find a way to change that! There are a few ways you could do this (make sure not to break the law!) First of all, you could just go and spend all your savings – probably not the best plan, but it would definitely increase the amount of loan money you would be eligible for. You could also temporarily loan/donate the money to someone else (be careful that you approach this in a legal way.) You could open a foreign account and temporarily transfer the money into it. You could move the money into a Registered Savings Plan (less emphasis is given to money in registered instruments when the government makes their loan calculations.) In order to maximize your loan amount you also have to make it appear that you are not making too much money. There are two aspects to this: the amount of money you earned in the period prior to the school term you are about to enter and the amount of money you are going to make during your study time. There isn’t ouch you can do about the amount of money you made last year, but you can definitely optimize the amount you plan to make. It’s pretty simple, do not plan to make any money during your study term until after you have completed you loan application and received your loan money.

These ware the most basic of methods for getting the most cash out of your student loan. Keep in mind that the money has to be paid back eventually, so don’t go too crazy. But let’s be serious, this is interest-free money – you should get as much as you possibly can.