What’s In Your Wallet?

You know that Capital One slogan, what’s in your wallet?  Well, given that I’ve written many posts about loyalty cards and reward credit cards, I thought it would be fun to reveal the contents of my wallet (okay, I just wanted an excuse to clean out my wallet).  Here we go:

Debit cards

I’ve got three debit cards in my wallet; a TD Visa Debit access card, a TD Business access card, and an ING Direct debit card. That’s a lot of debit cards for someone who doesn’t use debit that often.

I’ve got a TD chequing account and carry the minimum balance ($1,500) and keep my transactions under 10 per month to waive the $3.95 account fee.  I keep this account open because my investments and mortgage are held at TD and I find it’s easier to move money around with a chequing account at a full service branch.  The business access card is for our online business and only gets used whenever someone sends us a cheque (rarely).

I’ve also got a Tangerine Thrive account because I love free banking and any debits that I make come from this account (did I mention no fees?).

Credit cards

I’ve got four credit cards in my wallet; a Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite card, a Capital One Aspire Travel World MasterCard, a True Earnings Costco American Express card, and a Capital One Aspire Cash World MasterCard (since discontinued to new customers).

I use a rewards credit card for all my purchases – and pay it off in full every month – but since I can’t find one credit card that works best for every single purchase I have to use a combination of cards in order to maximize my rewards.

I use the Scotia card for groceries, gas, and drug store purchases, as well as for recurring bill payments like cable and internet.  That’s because it pays 4 percent for groceries and gas spending, and 2 percent for drug store purchases and recurring bills.

I use the True Earnings card whenever we go to Costco (they only take American Express credit cards) and when we go out to eat because it pays 3 percent back for restaurant purchases.

I use the Capital One card for the rest of our spending.  I recently applied for the Aspire Travel card because of the juicy 35,000 welcome bonus and because I like the ability to redeem the points for travel purchases right on your credit card statement online.  You can get up to 2 percent back using this card.

Loyalty cards

I’ve got six loyalty cards in my wallet; a Costco executive membership card, a Safeway club card, a Save-On-Foods More rewards card, a Shoppers Optimum card, an Aeroplan card, and an Air Miles Gold card.

I’m a sucker for a good loyalty program and so I’ve signed up for a few of them where I shop the most.  I mentioned Costco and that’s where we do our main grocery shop (once per month).  The executive membership costs $110 and we got an $85 rebate last month, effectively reducing our annual membership to $25.

We do the rest of our shopping at Safeway, Save-On, and Shoppers.  We also shop at Superstore and I’ve recently downloaded their new loyalty card app called PC Plus (thank you for offering a mobile app instead of another card!).

I’ve got an Aeroplan card from when I worked in the hotel industry and travelled more frequently.  It’s basically useless now because I don’t fly very often and their other sponsors are limited.

I still use Air Miles at Safeway and at Shell gas stations.  I’d love to use the Air Miles cash feature more but the only participating sponsors in Alberta are Shell and Rona – and the Shell stations in Lethbridge are not equipped to handle Air Miles cash redemptions!).


None.  Seriously.  I don’t carry cash.  I do have a cheque from my wife’s Grandma – a Christmas present for the kids.


Of course I’ve got my driver’s license, birth certificate, social insurance card, Alberta Health card, and a ProServe liquor staff training certificate that expires in July 2014.  I also have my oldest daughter’s social insurance card for reasons I suspect are related to opening up her RESP.

Finally, I’ve got a Quizno’s frequency card (only two stamps to go!) and I’ve got two receipts from work-related purchases that I need to expense.

Final thoughts

Doing this exercise made me want to try one of those mobile apps for managing your rewards cards.  I’ve read about Key Ring, where you can add loyalty cards, gift cards, membership cards, and even your library card.  There’s also CardStar, which looks to be very similar.

I also came across this product called Coin, which is a credit card-sized device that holds up to eight credit, debit, gift, or membership cards, and lets you switch between them by pressing a circular button on its surface.  It’s a neat concept, but unfortunately it doesn’t appear to be available in Canada when it launches this summer.

Readers, what’s in your wallet?  Are you on board with the digital or mobile wallet?

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  1. igra on January 3, 2014 at 12:20 am

    I’ve removed the SIN cards from my wallet due to identity theft concerns.
    I also carry no cash on most days…

    • Robert on January 3, 2014 at 11:32 am

      I think the only person who should ever carry a SIN card is one who has not yet acquired other id. Actually, it is probably easier just to destroy it.

  2. BetCrooks on January 3, 2014 at 7:46 am

    Please tell me this is a “figurative” wallet and the cards you seldom if ever need (birth certificate; SIN card; child’s SIN card; business debit; Aeroplan card) are actually stored somewhere safe like a safe deposit box etc. Why risk having to replace 5 more cards when you get pickpocketed or lose your wallet skiing?

    It’s a good habit to carry some cash. As anyone in Toronto can tell you, stores without power will still sell you food but they can’t take plastic.

    Not to mention how happy my kids were when we went to the movies a year ago and the plastic machines had all crashed: there must have been 200 people who couldn’t get in or were driving off in search of an ATM. We just paid cash (no line) and got the best seats despite being almost late.

  3. Echo on January 3, 2014 at 8:04 am

    Good point about the SIN cards and birth certificate. Not sure why I’d keep my business debit card and Aeroplan card in a safe, even if they are seldom used. What are your reasons behind that, Bet? I shudder at the thought of someone on the loose with my Aeroplan card, racking up points 🙂

    • BetCrooks on January 6, 2014 at 4:58 pm

      Any id that gets stolen or lost has to be replaced with all the usual hassle. Do you really want to try to get Aeroplan to give you a new card and transfer your points? It might even be possible for a thief to coax someone else to let them use your Aeroplan card as id. Since there’s no photo it could be useful. I don’t think they can redeem your points fortunately, but they often can with points cards for simpler things like groceries and gas stations where you just pop the card into a machine and it gives you a discount (Club Sobeys comes to mind)

      I’d hate to have to replace a bank card, too. So if I’m not using it, it stays somewhere safe till I need it.


  4. David Metzak on January 3, 2014 at 9:36 am

    In case one’s wallet or purse gets lost or stolen, at least once a year one should make a photocopy of all the contents. When traveling, one should keep a copy of this document with you (but obviously not in your wallet or purse.

    • Echo on January 3, 2014 at 9:56 am

      @David – Great idea!

      • Dougie G on January 4, 2014 at 5:32 pm

        Before travelling, we always scan our important documents (passports, birth certificates, drivers licences, credit cards, etc) and email ourselves a copy. If you need to go to an embassy to have it replaced, it is easy to access.

        • igra on January 7, 2014 at 2:54 pm

          email is inherently insecure… It is much safer to use a password manager to store that information. LastPass and KeePass come to mind.

  5. Koala on January 3, 2014 at 10:40 am

    You can remove the Costco card, the Amex works for membership, or at least the new ones do.

    I have too many cards in my wallet, I have trouble getting some out.

    • Echo on January 3, 2014 at 11:07 am

      @Koala – you are right, thanks for the reminder!

  6. CM on January 3, 2014 at 11:04 am

    I bought a simple wallet/money clip so I don’t walk around with a ton of plastic.

    2 vehicle ownerships
    1 insurance slip
    1 license

    1 library card
    1 dvd rental card

    1 visa card (with an intential limit of 1500 for gas, online purchases and incase of theft or loss)(I have also written on te card with sharpie “DEBT FREE!”)
    1 airmiles card (which I don’t use anymore and should remove)
    2 different banking convenience cards
    1 health card


    • Robert on January 3, 2014 at 11:37 am

      I like some of your ideas.

      In Ontario, the insurance and vehicle ownerships belong in the vehicle (unless it’s a motorcycle).

      Airmiles was never a great scheme, but for some reason my number sticks in my head and I recite it when needed.

      • KC on January 3, 2014 at 2:40 pm

        One problem with leaving ownership in vehicle. If your car gets stolen or raided, you have nothing to call your insurance company with nor ownership to give to the police for their records. A copy of both of these is okay to leave in the car while leaving the originals at home.

  7. Robert on January 3, 2014 at 11:25 am

    1 credit card
    1 debit card
    museum card
    esso points card
    CAA card
    Shoppers and Sobeys point cards
    Health card and drivers licence
    $85 cash

    This is unusually full for me. Usually leave the esso card in the car and grab the store and museum cards when going to those places

    My wallet does not fold, can fit in a shirt pocket or anywhere with no obvious bulge

    I do not like being burdened nor worried about days of recovery after a theft

  8. Miriam Kearney on January 3, 2014 at 12:45 pm

    3 debit cards
    2 credit cards
    health card
    health benefits card
    drivers license
    $20 emergency cash (folded and hidden)

    I rarely go to the ATM machine as I put everything I purchase on a rewards card and don’t need cash (I pay it off each month). I could probably leave the debit cards at home – my banking life is complicated by 3 banks + ING due to complex business life but am simplifying. Now that CIBC lets me deposit by taking a picture of my cheque. I may never go to a bank again! Been a long time since I paid bank fees because I’m over 60 and my husband was over 60 10 years before me.

  9. sylvia on January 3, 2014 at 1:04 pm

    could you analyze whether or not the new TD Visa Infinity card is worth its annual fee?

    • Echo on January 3, 2014 at 1:48 pm

      @sylvia – are you talking about the new TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite card, or the TD First Class Visa Infinite?

      The answer depends on how much you spend on the card and how you intend to redeem the rewards. The Aeroplan program is notoriously restrictive on flight redemptions, however recent changes to the program claim to give you more and better options.

      Here’s a calculator you can use to determine how many points you’d earn with the card – https://www.tdaeroplan.com/rewardcalculator

  10. KC on January 3, 2014 at 2:46 pm

    1 debit card
    1 business debit card (will be gone at end of month)
    1 PC MC card for my everyday transactions to get the points
    1 CIBC Visa card – big limit – was necessary for emergency roadside repairs – used for emergencies only
    Health Card
    4 business cards
    Air Miles
    Pizza Pizza Loyalty Card
    Local Coffee Shop Loyalty Card
    $40 cash in small bills – always

  11. Miriam Kearney on January 3, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    I forgot to say that I leave a credit card and petro points discount card in the glove compartment that is used for gas purchases only – it gets 2 cents off the price at PetroCanada and the discount card which I ‘buy’ with points gets me another 5 cents off gas there. The ownership/insurance id stays in the owners manual in the car but I do have a photocopy of the owners certificate in my files.

  12. Rosemary Wells on January 3, 2014 at 4:33 pm

    Okay, here goes…..currently in my wallet……not a purse but a wallet….
    American Express Air miles card
    Aeroplan Card
    BMO MasterCard and debit card – my BMO LOC credit card stays at home as does TD, Scotiabank….well you get the picture…..only use Amex and BMO regularly
    Air miles card
    Gift cards – Brick, VISA, Dollarama, Canyon Creek, Canadian Tire, Langdon Hall x2
    Business cards for 2 jobs
    List of personal medications
    Harley Owners Membership Card
    Petsmart Loyalty Card
    CARP Membership Card
    Assorted business cards from other folk
    Drivers license
    health card
    Medical plan cards x2 – Sunlife, Great west Life
    ING Debit card
    ESSO Loyalty Card
    Petropoints Loyalty Card
    $40 Cdn
    $150 US
    About $5 in coinage
    Receipts, little notes, a candy or two, a pen

    Lots packed into this little wallet.

    • Licketysplit on February 5, 2014 at 9:00 pm

      do you really need all that stuff in your wallet? is it a comfort thing? do you carry any debt because of all this stuff you have in your purse?

      • Rosemary Wells on February 6, 2014 at 7:26 am

        Ha! Licetysplit, not purse…….contents of my wallet! You are right. I need to do a purge!

  13. CanadianDaniel on January 3, 2014 at 5:43 pm

    You’re not alone, Robb. A MasterCard study released this past December put Canada as the third-most cashless country (behind France and Belgium) for spending in 2011.

    I take your point about collecting rewards.

    What I’d like to know is: Do you think that you spend more because of tap-and-go convenience and the ability to shop online with plastic? Psychologically do you feel more secure with a wallet filled with cards rather than dollar bills?

  14. CM on January 4, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    When I was a child a smart man once told me,”The more keys you have on your keychain, the more headaches you have.” I thought my Father was crazy being the smart ass kid I was. At some point, around 30ish I realized a lot of the things he said to me were true.

    I follow his advice when it comes to what’s in my wallet as well.

    I have never had a debit card fail because I use cash and I always know how much I can spend because I am carrying it. I can’t count the number of times I have had to wait in a lineup due to someones debit card failing.

    I don’t really participate in any rewards programs anymore. When I was 20, I had a Zeller’s card and we know what happened to all my points! Reward me with lower prices. Someone once said running and staffing a rewards program costs the company more money which in turn gets passed onto the consumer so they, the consumer can save a few bucks here and there.

    I also think that when you say to yourself, “Look at all the points I am getting for this” means you are focusing more on the points and not that if you truly need it or not.

    I’ve lost my wallet twice. Once it was returned and once it fell out of my pocket while on a motorcycle. Three lessons learned: a) buy a wallet with a chain for bike riding b) there are honest people in the world still, thankfully and c) the stress of having to cancel or reissue everything is not worth it. I will never keep any card or document in any vehicle.

    If I need more cash I go to my banks atm as often as I need to. All the fees are waived if I keep a balance in the account. Last year, I received all the fees back which translates into a return (or savings depending on your point of view) of 7.3 percent on my money.

    Lately, CIBC is charging me two dollars for a passbook. I need to sit and figure a way to get my money back. I don’t want to do it online because it is faster to use a passbook than go online. The banks say doing it online saves time, money and paper. It saves them, not me. I would still have to print my off my accounts and paper and toner for my printer are more expensive than their ink and their passbooks. Still thinking….

    Remember, nothing is free and there will be costs elsewhere. Send that email and when you do need a stamp, it’s going to cost you three dollars, if there still is a Canada Post.


  15. CM on January 4, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    Plastic or cash…that is the question. Plastic or plastic (mylar) cash here in Ontario is the question.

    Think of a major event, whether its man-made or Mother Nature.
    Depending on the severity of that event, you plastic will be worthless if there is no electricity or banks. Your cash might be better but that too depends on the event. If there is a bank collapse and all your cash is in a bank, you might become penniless over night.

    Obviously we don’t want to think that could happen but in history it has.

    Thinking the banks will never collapse is a great way of not worrying but I am sure people thought that way about other banks, Nortel and The Stock Market prior to its crash.

    Think of the simplest headache. Your car breaks down. The tow truck driver will take cash. I doubt he will take debit at the side of the road.

    Worst case scenerio….he’ll gladly take that gold ring instead of cash if all you have is debit cards in your pocket.

    Debit cards are convenient but you pay for that convenience by user fees.


  16. Money Saving on January 7, 2014 at 2:06 pm

    I have two credit cards and my insurance card. I haven’t had a debit card in 15+ years and rarely carry any cash 🙂

  17. Stephen @ HowToSaveMoney.ca on January 20, 2014 at 11:48 am

    I’m in the same boat as you with the rewards cards Robb. I think I have WAY more than you though … at least 30+. I’ve never actually counted. However, I don’t carry them all in my wallet at any given time. Usually just 3-4.

    I am currently trying out Key Ring on my Samsung Galaxy S3 and I’m quite disappointed with it. The app is actually very slick and does a great job from the software perspective.

    Where it falls down is that most scanners are unable to scan the bar code on smartphone screens. All the places I have tried so far have failed. In addition when you take a picture of the bar code, it seems to often read too many numbers in some cases because of wonky bar codes so even if the scanner does read the screen right, the number might show up as invalid. Unless you know exactly how bar codes work and what to look for, then it’s a guessing game as to if the number will work.

    I actually got it to work with my PC Plus card at Superstore the other day amazingly enough. However, the full screen bar code reproduction didn’t work. I had to swipe to the actual picture I took of the back of the card and have them scan that instead. That actually worked.

    You’d also think that just having the number as a backup would be good enough if it doesn’t scan, but it isn’t. A lot of places won’t take just the number. I know for sure that my Shopper’s Drug Mart wont. They say you need the actual card and can’t/won’t just punch in the number.

    It would be so SWEET if it just worked reliably. It will only get better over time I’m sure but it isn’t really ready for prime time yet unless you’re willing to take a mental inventory of what works and what doesn’t and only eliminate those cards from your wallet.

  18. Licketysplit on February 5, 2014 at 8:56 pm

    I only carry one credit card, the Canadian Tire Options. That is it. I refuse to go shopping for a variety of cards that offer a variety of bonus points, programs etc because quite simply it’s a good way to get into debt just to earn some measly points. I use my ATM card twice monthly – when I get paid so I can pay for most of my purchases with cash and I review my receipts to keep my spending under control. I fail to see the point in having so many cards in my wallet. It would be very confusing trying to remember which card to use for what perks and quite frankly it’s a heavy, unnecessary financial burden for most people. It’s not good advice to be advocating carrying so much debt in your wallet.

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