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 redtag.ca 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
  • NCIX.com
  • The Keg
  • TTC (metro pass)
  • Go Transit (passes)
  • Amazon
  • Chapters & Chapters.ca (also take aeroplan on chapters.ca)
  • 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

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: http://www.mbna.ca/popular_cardList.html