I’m a self-proclaimed rewards card junkie and always try to optimize my purchases to get the most points or cash back on regular spending. I watch for juicy credit card welcome bonuses and time my new credit applications around big annual purchases like our home or auto insurance so I can easily meet any minimum spend requirements.
I focus on a few travel rewards programs that I know I’ll use regularly, such as Aeroplan, WestJet Dollars, Marriott Bonvoy, and American Express Membership Rewards. I find these programs give me the best bang for my buck when I redeem points for travel.
But my spending has changed significantly over the past 15 months.
First, I cancelled my long-time everyday spending card – the Capital One Aspire Travel World MasterCard – shortly after the company devalued the earn rate from 2% to 1.5% and stopped offering 10,000 annual bonus miles.
Second, with our 2020 trips cancelled and the bulk of our spending now coming from groceries and take-out, I switched to using the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite Card to maximize cash back on our food spending.
Third, the PC Financial World EliteMasterCard added a new minimum spend requirement of $15,000 to maintain eligibility. We didn’t meet this criteria, so I cancelled the card. That was my go-to card for No Frills and Shoppers Drug Mart spending.
Finally, we stopped going to Costco regularly to avoid the long lines and lax enforcement of public health measures. That meant no longer needing to carry a MasterCard at all (or a Costco card for that matter). I felt my wallet getting lighter.
With all of these changes, I thought it would be fun to give readers a glimpse inside my wallet to see which cards I’m carrying now and how I still plan to maximize my rewards going forward.
Here’s a look inside my wallet:
I carry one debit card and that’s for our joint chequing account at TD Bank. I also have a business chequing account at TD, and a no-fee chequing account at Tangerine, but don’t carry the debit cards since all of those transactions are done online.
Years ago I threatened to close my TD chequing account and move to Tangerine to save on bank fees. The customer service rep made me an offer I couldn’t refuse by converting my chequing account to a student account, which had no monthly fees at all and came with 25 transactions per month.
I haven’t paid bank fees for five years, but I just received a letter from TD describing a bunch of fee increases (effective June 1) and that it will be auditing student accounts to make sure the account holder is in fact a student. I suspect my days of free banking at TD are over.
I have four credit cards in my wallet, including the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite card, the American Express Cobalt Card, the HSBC World Elite MasterCard, and the American Express Business Platinum Card.
It goes without saying that I use a rewards credit card for all my purchases – and pay them 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 and recurring bill payments like cable and internet. That’s because it pays 4% back on groceries and recurring bills. I get cash back once per year in November.
I use the Amex Cobalt card for groceries as well, plus liquor store spending. This card pays 5x points on ‘eats and drinks’, plus a 2,500 Membership Rewards bonus for every month you spend $500 (for the first 12 months only). I transfer these Membership Rewards points to Marriott Bonvoy at a transfer rate of 5:6.
I use the HSBC World Elite MasterCard for all other spending. I applied for this card in late 2020 to take advantage of an incredible 100,000 point welcome bonus. I like the card and will consider keeping it as an everyday MasterCard if nothing better comes along. Points can be redeemed against any travel purchase, plus you get a $100 travel enhancement credit.
Finally, I use the American Express Business Platinum for all of our business expenses. This card currently has an unbelievable 100,000 Membership Rewards bonus if you can spend $10,000 in three months. I typically convert these Membership Rewards points to Aeroplan.
Those are the cards in my wallet, but I do have several other credit cards lying around the house. These include the Amex Platinum Card, the WestJet RBC World Elite MasterCard, the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite card, and the CIBC Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card.
With the exception of the Amex Platinum Card, which I’m holding as a luxury card that gets us hotel benefits and airport lounge access, these cards are highly “churnable” and come with excellent welcome bonuses. The Aeroplan cards in particular are worth a look as the cards come with no annual fee for the first year, a 20,000 point welcome bonus, plus a Buddy Pass.
I don’t carry any loyalty cards in my physical wallet but my Apple Wallet contains the following loyalty cards:
- Air Miles
- PC Optimum
- Priority Pass
- Marriott Bonvoy
Thankfully I can access these cards on my phone so I don’t end up with a George Costanza sized wallet.
I don’t use cash very much to begin with, and during the pandemic most businesses encouraged customers to pay with debit or credit anyway.
That’s why I literally have the exact same $20, $10, and two $5 dollar bills in my wallet today that I had in March 2020.
Of course I also have my driver’s license, a NEXUS card, my Alberta Health card, and a couple of business cards in my wallet. I also have a library card.
Finally, there’s a loyalty card from my barber shop that I haven’t used in 15 months. Special thanks to my wife for keeping my hair trim over the past year.
My wallet is starting to fill up again after more than a year of using just one or two cash back cards.
It’s a bit of a pain to constantly switch up rewards credit cards and find new loyalty programs. But travel and cash back rewards can be highly lucrative if you put in some research and find the cards and programs that work for you.
It’s okay to start dreaming about travel again as we near the end of the pandemic and restrictions start to ease. Use up those travel credits that you received when trips were cancelled last year. Start collecting travel points so you can supplement your travel budget during your next trip (revenge travel, anyone?).
Readers, what’s in your wallet? Do you have the same $20 bill from last March?