What’s In Your Wallet?

What's In Your Wallet?

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:

Debit cards

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.

Credit cards

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.

Loyalty cards

I don’t carry any loyalty cards in my physical wallet but my Apple Wallet contains the following loyalty cards:

  • Aeroplan
  • Air Miles
  • PC Optimum
  • Priority Pass
  • Marriott Bonvoy
  • Scene

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.

Final thoughts

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?

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  1. H. Saggau on May 30, 2021 at 12:55 pm

    I use the Tangerine World Elite MasterCard. I like getting my cash back paid out every month and have it deposited into an RRSP account. I pay off in full every month and no fees.
    I did use the BMO Cashback no fee card for the welcome bonus and have an American Express Cashback card as a third option.
    I don’t travel a lot and don’t feel the travel rewards add up that much anyways.

  2. GYM on May 30, 2021 at 2:40 pm

    I started getting into spending just the minimum amount to get the welcome bonus and then switching off. It’s getting a little ridiculous right now. We still have the PC Financial but haven’t gotten a letter to have the minimum spend… we don’t spend $15K on our PC financial credit card hmm.

  3. D. Cornelius on May 30, 2021 at 2:40 pm

    Interesting. I hadn’t heard about the PC Financial World EliteMasterCard downgrades but with an annual spend of only $10-12K for our groceries and Costco purchases, they may try to downgrade my card in the near future.
    (I will no longer spend energy tracking introductory and travel points. A simple cash-back Visa is the second credit card.)

    • Liza on May 31, 2021 at 1:22 pm

      thanks for this! do you spend enough to cover the annual fee for each of the cards?

  4. Tom on May 30, 2021 at 2:50 pm

    We’ve used the RBC Signature Rewards Visa for many years. Used our rewards for return trip to France and I could also used the accumulated value to apply to the CC or to an outstanding LoC. So we just let them add up.

  5. Greg on May 30, 2021 at 3:18 pm

    George Costanza wallet – funny that I’m watching Seinfeld as I am reading this.

  6. Rob on May 30, 2021 at 4:45 pm

    One only … CTFS Triangle M/C. Same for spouse but she also has Meridian Visa for flights/vacations as they provide free travel insurance.

  7. Dave G on May 30, 2021 at 5:00 pm

    Nexus card in my wallet? Can’t think of why that would be a good idea, unless I’m on my way to the border.

    • Robb Engen on May 30, 2021 at 5:47 pm

      Yes, I was surprised to find it in there. I think it was there from when we went to Maui in Feb 2020 and I likely thought to leave it since we were going to Italy in April 2020. Oops!

  8. Bob S on May 30, 2021 at 7:26 pm

    Just 4 cards in my wallet:
    -Driver’s license
    -Provincial health card.
    -debit card
    -Aerogold Visa. I was going to switch to Scotia Momentum Visa, but Aerogold had recently renewed, so I am contemplating keeping for a while.
    All loyalty cards on my phone, including my wife’s.
    I keep my Nexus and BMO USD Mastercard with my passport wallet for when I travel.
    My Priority Pass was up for renewal when pandemic hit, so I cancelled until some time in the future. I am surprised you kept yours.

    • Robb Engen on May 30, 2021 at 7:43 pm

      Hi Bob, my Priority Pass membership is included as a benefit for holding the Amex Platinum card. It’s a $699 annual fee, but you get a $200 annual travel voucher, the Priority Pass membership, Silver Elite status with Marriott, plus some other perks. Over the past year, with no travel, they’ve also offered $200 statement credits for online grocery orders, plus some other credit opportunities which made the card worth keeping.

  9. John on May 30, 2021 at 9:59 pm


    Do you pay your credit card bills by auto-payment, or do you pay each card company individually?

    • Robb Engen on May 31, 2021 at 9:47 am

      Hi John, I pay each one individually at the beginning of the month. I feel like if I went with auto-payment I’d be less inclined to comb through my statements for unusual charges.

  10. sara on May 31, 2021 at 6:16 am

    HSBC World MasterCard and Amex Business Platinum. Driver License my red cross card

  11. AD on May 31, 2021 at 8:01 am

    Hi Robb
    Good to know you won’t be straining your back with an overly large wallet 🙂
    Drivers license, health card, HSBC world elite mc, PC mc, CIBC aventura visa, RBC avion infinite visa and just recently TD aeroplan infinite visa.
    No debit card. No cash.

    All credit cards on your recommendation and ordered through this website (hopefully you get a few cents or something?)

    I have been a rewards travel junkie since the airmiles program first started in November 1998 and we used it very extensively as at that point I was flying 3 kids back and forth from Ontario to BC for university for 4 years each. Now airmiles is not so great in terms of flight availability and I don’t know if it’s just me or have the points redemption levels increased significantly? Plus they no longer give airmiles at the LCBO!
    I have been using the aventura and avion visas to get our 4th university student child back and forth from Calgary to Toronto at Christmas when it’s nearly impossible to book airmiles or aeroplan. Now I will be able to use aeroplan and will likely ditch those two.
    I didn’t really start churning credit cards until I became a reader of your blog and boy have I learned a lot. Thanks so much.
    I’m also loving the new Aeroplan.
    Yesterday I just booked a (not revenge but much needed) trip in August for 4 from Toronto to Victoria on Aeroplan for amazingly low points, all direct flights at convenient times. I couldn’t believe how easy it was to book them.
    I had previously applied for 2 separate TD aeroplan cards/accounts for myself and my husband with the nice welcome bonuses and then we both enrolled in the family sharing plan to combine our points – a simple process.
    The taxes and fees were only $62 each instead of $165 each under the old aeroplan and I will also be attempting to use my hsbc mc which I got for that same 100k bonus to pay for the taxes which would be great if it works. I’ll let you know if it does. I also plan on using that card for a rental car in Victoria as I now have $672 travel credit on it – and I’ve only been using it since January of this year! It’s so sweet to travel for free free.
    Thanks for this blog Robb. I open and read every post because they’re so informative.

    • Robb Engen on May 31, 2021 at 9:55 am

      Thanks so much for the kind words. Wow, you’ve been at this for longer than I have! I used to collect Air Miles regularly but always converted them to gas certificates back in the day (before the change to Cash Miles / Dream Miles. Never redeemed Air Miles for flights, but you’re right that the program used to be much more lucrative.

      Aeroplan is excellent value for our family of four, and with the new program you no longer pay the hefty fuel surcharges on Air Canada flights so it’s easier to fly direct. We re-booked our trip to Italy for April 2022, business class seats on the way to Rome, economy on the way back.

      As for HSBC, I recently redeemed my 100k+ points for an Airbnb charge. I imagine you can offset any travel related charge, including fees and taxes on an Aeroplan redemption. That’s a good idea. You should also be able to use the $100 travel enhancement.

  12. Rick M on May 31, 2021 at 9:16 am

    I certainly understand the desire to maximize the benefits of your credit cards and to get something for nothing. But I also realize that Dire Straits had some insight with their song “Money for Nothing” and you don’t get something for nothing. There is always a cost involved, perhaps you are lucky enough not to bear the brunt of the cost because you are able to pay off your credit card on time every month, but the credit card companies are still in the business of making a profit and will increase penalties or take other actions to recover the “money/points” you got for “free” Aside from this there is a personal cost for everyone with multiple credit cards. Managing your credit cards, paying on time, deciding which card is best to use for a given purchase etc. takes time and effort. The more card you have the more time it takes. If you have 4 cards how much time does it take to make sure they are paid on time, there is money in your account to pay them, review and track your expenses? How much is your time worth? Is your time best spent managing your credit cards or visiting with family and friends? I used to only use one credit card for all purchases and found it was much easier to keep track of than what it does now with my Costco, Home Depot, Rogers and TD visa bank & credit cards. At a rate of $40/hour it can easily add up to hundreds if not thousands of dollars per year plus lost opportunities to use my time on more important activities.

    • Robb Engen on May 31, 2021 at 10:08 am

      Hi Rick, you bring up a valid point. Credit card churning / maxing out rewards on spending certainly takes time and can get you into trouble if you’re not careful. I’m always sure to only use the cards for purchases I’m going to make anyway, rather than letting the allure of points lead to more spending.

      I view it as a bit of a hobby (maybe obsession?). It would be great if I had one card that paid 2% back on everything and gave me some travel perks, but those cards don’t exist anymore so I need to get more creative.

      As for churning, it takes five minutes to apply for a new card. Another two minutes to activate the card when it arrives. And a few more minutes to make one purchase and pay off the card in full. Some of these cards can be worth $250+ in travel rewards for those 10-15 minutes of effort – not a bad return.

      Back in my employee days when our wages were frozen for five years, credit card rewards put $2,000 or so into my pocket every year and helped us afford a vacation or even a quick weekend away.

      I would never ask my readers to go to the lengths I do to maximize credit card rewards, but I would suggest finding a good everyday rewards card and then maybe find two cards per year to apply for when the welcome bonus is attractive and there’s no annual fee (then make a note to cancel the card before the fee comes due). It’s a great way to supplement the travel budget.

  13. Gary on June 2, 2021 at 7:50 am

    After reading your detailed post and your readers replies my head is swirling. I carry “Rogers World Elite MC, CIBC Dividend and PC World MC. All have no fees. I also have a reward card for Pioneer gas stations which saves us a lot on fuel. I think I should hire an expert in rewards cards to figure out what’s best for my spending habits. LOL. Thanks for the post Robb.

  14. Steve Oliver on June 2, 2021 at 8:01 am

    Nice overview of what works well Robb.

    I have the TD All Inclusive Chequing Account with my wife. No fee but we must maintain a $ 5,000 a month balance. So I cannot use that money to earn say 1% somewhere so I see my net fee at about $ 50 a year. You might agree. The All Inclusive Account provies the TD Visa Travel Card, or Aeroplan card, or cash back card for free. I use the cash back right now as I have enough Aeroplan miles at about 100,000 points for my wife and I. We get 3% back on groceries and a few others. 1% on everything else. I get the cash monthly and just apply it to the monthly bill which we pay in full as well.

    Ill likely switch to Aeroplan next time they offer 5,000 free miles and keep it for the minimum period and then switch out of the other card before we incur an annual fee.

  15. Steve Oliver on June 2, 2021 at 8:05 am

    Hi Robb or anyone else. How do I get my credit cards onto my Samsung Phone.

    Do I just photo it. Seems like it would be slow fore me to have to look up my points cards and credit cards on a photo and I suspect I would have to photo both sides.

    How does it work at the cash out? Manual and with a teller? What do I show them? Do they scan my photo or is there a hidden app on my phone that supports what Robb does with his Apple Wallet?

    Thanks in advance.

    • MelH on June 5, 2021 at 11:12 am

      I use Google Pay to do this on my Samsung Phone.

  16. Matt on June 8, 2021 at 5:31 am

    Any concerns about the impact on your credit rating when you churn through cards? I always assumed (perhaps incorrectly) that constant opening and closing of credit cards was bad for a credit rating (and that keeping your oldest credit card to show a long tenure of credit, was good).

    Keep up the great work on the financial advice!

    • Robb Engen on June 8, 2021 at 11:50 am

      Hi Matt, it’s true that your credit score can take a dip whenever you apply for a new card (typically about 10 points). At one point I got a bit carried away and applied for 13 cards over a one-year period and my score dropped by more than 100 points! (https://rewardscardscanada.com/what-happened-to-my-credit-score/)

      It came back fairly quickly, but I wouldn’t recommend applying for too many cards in a short period of time – especially if you plan on applying for a mortgage, line of credit, or car loan in the near future.

      You should also try to keep one everyday card (that you don’t churn) and use it to build up a long history of good credit habits.

  17. Maria on June 11, 2021 at 7:32 am

    Hi Robb,
    I am so surprised to find out that you can cancel credit cards with awesome welcome bonuses before the 12-month period hits with annual fee.
    You use their benefits yet you incur no charges, like a hit and run. It seems credit card companies are losing tons, are they not in the business of making money?

    • Robb Engen on June 11, 2021 at 11:03 am

      Hi Maria, there is a very small group of active credit card churners who take advantage of these welcome bonuses and then cancel their cards without incurring any interest or annual fees.

      Credit card issuers basically accept that a small chunk of revenue is lost to this group while exploiting many more thousands of people who pay 19.99% interest on their unpaid balances. Meanwhile, they also collect a small transaction fee every time you swipe your card at a merchant, so they do collect some revenue even from the churners.

  18. Jimbo on June 11, 2021 at 8:18 am

    Since it seems a lot of people here have PC Optimum, has anyone been using the new PC bank account? Now that it’s been open awhile, does it operate smoothly? They give you a bunch of points to open it and then points every month when paying bills. If the points every month for bills actually works, then I think I would open an account. I don’t want the debit card or anything else that comes with the account. Thanks in advance!

  19. Greg on July 16, 2021 at 6:37 pm

    Many cards have salary requirements. How does that work for retired people who have money, but no salary?

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