The Credit Counselling Society team

The Credit Counselling Society is a non-profit agency that aims to help you out with your finances. If you’ve gotten yourself into overwhelming debt, lowered your credit rating, or simply want to become financially literate, the Credit Counselling Society should be your go-to place for help.

Their services include debt settlements, debt consolidation guidance, credit counselling, and bankruptcy guidance. They’ve been working with Canadians for 23 years now and have helped over 700,000 people so far.

So, What Is Credit Counseling?


Before we get into the real meat of what the Credit Counselling Society is, we’ll go over what credit counseling is as a whole. 

Credit counseling has the singular purpose of getting you out of any financial troubles that you might have gotten yourself into. Yes, it’s that simple. However, when we dig deeper, it gets more detailed, albeit just as simple. 

Why Would Anyone Need Credit Counseling? 

There could be any number of reasons why you might require the services of a credit counseling agency, and some of the most common ones are: 

Credit Counselors Can Be Free Too

Just as in the case of the Credit Counselling Society, a lot of credit counseling agencies are free. Some can be for-profit too, but you’re better off staying with agencies that prioritize your well being over making profits. Non-profits will not always be the place to go either, as you may be coerced into making voluntary donations. The best move is generally to consult an agency that is both reputable and non-profit so you can expect the best possible treatment from them. In this sense, the Credit Counselling Society is one of the best options for Canadians.

Introducing the Credit Counselling Society

The Credit Counselling Society has been around for just 23 years, having been established in 1996, but they’ve done some great work since then. They’ve been dedicated to helping Canadians stabilize their financial lives and have been committed to being an exemplary nonprofit organization since their debut.

What Can They Do For You? 

That’s probably what you want to know most about them. There are plenty of services that the Credit Counselling Society can provide for you, and here’s a short overview of them: 

Credit Counselling And Debt Solutions

If your credit score has dropped, you’ll just need some information and a workshop to get you back on your feet. There are even credit cards out there the purpose of which is to help you get back on your feet. This agency will help you through education and guide you towards a better score. Keep in mind that they won’t be actively participating in the process, but will rather guide you through it. 

Debt, on the other hand, is an issue that plagues millions of lives across the globe, and Canadian people are no exception. The Credit Counselling Society is able to help you form a budget that actually works on a realistic level. You’ll receive the necessary information you need in order to lead the right lifestyle which allows you to pay off your debts. You’ll also learn how to stay out of debt in the future. This means that your time spent with this agency will be invaluable. Your counselor will guide you and help you explore the options you have for getting out of your debt. 

Debt Consolidation

If you’ve gotten yourself into a large amount of debt and are consistently failing to pay your credit card dues, you might want to consider consolidating your debts. This works by getting a new loan to pay off all the old ones. Usually, this new loan has a lower interest rate or lower monthly payments, which will definitely work in your favor. This debt is often due to multiple credit cards; it can make sense to transfer your debt into a new credit card. An example is the BMO Mastercard, which has a great offer for balance transfers. 

The Credit Counselling Society helps you by providing you with professional advice on what your best options are. That, and how you can cope with the situation in a manner that could secure you for the future.  

Debt Settlements

Sometimes, debt can become too much to handle, and most people make a beeline for bankruptcy when that happens. However, another option is available in the form of debt settlement. It includes communicating with your creditors and negotiating with them. The hope is that they’ll allow you to pay off a lesser amount than the debt that you originally owed. This can be difficult to achieve on your own. An agency like the Credit Counselling Society can act as a third party to negotiate between you and your creditors. They’ve had a lot of success in the past. This is because they have the experience to know what sort of claims are legitimate.

Debt settlements aren’t always successful, but they’re a better alternative than bankruptcy at any rate. They also require a fixed amount to be paid to the creditor. This isn’t always a path forward for people already struggling with their finances. If, however, the settlement succeeds, you could see a drop of around 20-80% in the debt that you owe. In case of successful negotiations, you’ll have to pay the Counselling Society a fee for their efforts. Come on, they deserve it!

Bankruptcy

If you’ve already taken the step towards bankruptcy, the Credit Counselling Society will be more than happy to take you under their wing. They’ll help you get your credit score back on track. 

How Does The Credit Counselling Society Work? 

Credit counseling is completely confidential, which means that a simple visit isn’t going to do anything for your credit score. However, what the Credit Counseling Society offers is a private session in which they’ll answer any questions you have. They will define the options you have in your current situation. They will also help you set a budget for yourself. Following that, you’ll be able to gradually make your way to a financially stable lifestyle. You can expect all your information to stay private and confidential with this agency. Other than that, you’ll receive a warm environment that provides solutions without any judgment. 

Where Does Their Funding Come From? 

70% of the funds that the Credit Counselling Society gets are from creditors. It might not make sense as to why creditors would want to donate money to them at first. However, individuals who’re financially stable and able to pay off their credit cards on time are extremely valuable to credit granters. As such, it would make sense for them to pay an agency that makes sure that people stay out of debt and are able to generate profits for them. Another source of revenue for this agency is the donations they receive from their clients; along with the money generated through debt settlements. 

Why Should You Trust The Credit Counselling Society? 

Testimonials

Clients have shown an overwhelmingly positive amount of satisfaction with the Credit Counselling Society. Their opinions should give you a glimpse of what they’re all about: 

Absolutely great organization! They were very approachable, realistic, and kind in a trying time. Even though it’s been a while now since I’ve finished things up with them, their service is still stellar when I need help with getting copies of old documentation or questions about my report. I can’t recommend them enough. Such a humane, dignified way to handle the stress of financial issues.

Rosie Jones

I read about this program online and connected with them right away. I was very nervous to get started as I was feeling extremely anxious and embarrassed about my financial situation. When I met with my counselor I was immediately put at ease and validated in my situation. I felt completely comfortable talking about money and never once felt judged for where I was financially. It was so easy to get everything sorted out and get started with the program.

The financial workshops they offer are great and every month when I get my summary statements I feel such a sense of relief and accomplishment seeing how much debt has been paid off so far! that relief totally motivated me to stay firm in my budgeting every month and always stay on top of where my finances are. There is ALWAYS a way out of whatever crazy financial station you find yourself in!

Sarah Patterson

If you’d like to know more about this agency, you can always visit their website

Nest Wealth is one of Canada’s largest robo-advisors and it offers a wide range of accounts and portfolios for every type of investor, but specially for those who seek lower risk investing. With a fixed monthly fee that goes from $20 to $80, depending on your account size, instead of the standard account percentage fee, Nest Wealth is one of the most cost effective investment platforms available to Canadians today.

Customized portfolios, diversified asset allocation, consistent monitoring, automatic portfolio rebalancing and more, plus real human advisor support will all be at your fingertips and is only 10 minutes away.

JOIN NOW
Nest Wealth logo

In this post you’ll find:

What is Nest Wealth?

Nest Wealth is one of the first robo-advisors in Canada and it counts with two custodians, the NBIN (National Bank Independent Network), which is a subsidiary of the National Bank (one of the largest banks in Canada), and FCC (Fidelity Clearing Canada ULC). This means that when you open an account with Nest Wealth and put funds in it, your funds are held with these two custodians and are insured by CIPF (Canadian Investor Protection Fund), which covers individual accounts for up to $1,000,000.

Another great premise of Nest Wealth is that each account opened is unique and will be treated as such by the advisors who will be offering a custom portfolio built for you using Exchange-Traded Funds or ETFs.

Nest Wealth is ideal for you if…

So, how do you open an account in Nest Wealth?

Nest Wealth takes pride in making itself a robo-advisor with a really simple onboarding process. The whole sign-up process should take no more than 10 minutes.

Step 1 Gather your personal info

Gather your documents including SIN and electronic copies (photos/scan) of your driver’s license and a void cheque.

Step 2: Register

Visit Nest Wealth via this link. Introduce your details and upload the required documents.

Step 3: Wait for your documents to be reviewed

Now, you have to wait for your documents to be reviewed and then, they’ll open an account for you with their custodians who are either NBIN, which, as mentioned before, is a subsidiary of National Bank, or at FCC. This is where your funds will be held. Both custodians charge a flat rate per trade. NBIN charges $9.99 and FCC charges $7.99.

Step 4: Add Funds

Add funds to your account. You’ll finally be able to speak directly with a portfolio manager (online or by phone) to ensure all your questions are answered before your funds are put to work. To fund your account, you can do so in three ways:

What about fees?

Most people are initially interested in a robo-advisor like Nest Wealth for its lower fees. While most robo-advisors in Canada charge a percentage fee on your account balance, Nest Wealth charges a fixed amount. So, based on your portfolio size, Nest Wealth fees can go from $20 to $80 per month. Fees go from $20 per month on accounts of under $75,000. And $80 per month on accounts over $150,000.

These fees are hundreds of dollars less than what you would pay for a comparable portfolio of mutual funds. If you’re interested in seeing the fee difference, Nest Wealth has a mutual fund fee calculator available right on their homepage.

Robo-advisor Services

Personalized wealth management services have been available since long ago, but they were limited to people with huge portfolios, mostly due to the high cost and work involved. With today’s technology in the investment industry, even though a few different features are still available only to larger portfolios (such as tax-efficient asset allocation), all portfolios get a similar set of basic features:

Robo-advisor Performance

Research suggests that a diversified, risk-balanced, passive all-index fund portfolio, like the one you’ll get with Nest Wealth, is likely to outperform an actively managed mutual fund portfolio. With Nest Wealth, you get the best low-fees and the best performance. What this means to you is that choosing Nest Wealth over a portfolio of mutual funds could help you earn a good coin or help you save for your retirement.

You can get an estimate of your portfolio’s performance by putting your details into the Nest Wealth investment calculator. You will see that by investing 20 minutes of your time, you could get a pretty good rate of return if all those assumptions work out.

However, always keep in mind that, when it comes to investing, there are no guarantees, regardless of whether you use a robo-advisor or not.

Types of Accounts offered by Nest Wealth

RRSP (Registered Retirement Savings Plan)

This account holds savings and investments. One of its greatest perks is its twofold: contributions are tax-deductible. This means you’ll get a tax refund for your contributions, and investments grow inside your RRSP basket tax-free.

TFSA (Tax-Free Savings Account)

Works similarly to the RRSP. This means you can fill your TFSA basket with cash and investments like stocks, bonds, GICs, ETFs, mutual funds, and money market funds.

Spousal RRSP

Think of it as an investment account for your spouse’s retirement. You’ll be contributing with the money and receiving the tax deduction, they’ll make the withdrawals in retirement and pay the resulting income tax.

LIRA (Locked-In Retirement Account)

It is quite similar to the RRSP account, but with a few important differences. With this account, you cannot contribute to it or withdraw money from it. Like its name would suggest, that money is locked-in there until you retire and it is also tax-deductible.

RESP (Registered Education Savings Plan)

Nest Wealth offers a tax-sheltered education savings account that’s meant to help parents save for their children’s post-secondary education. With this account, you can start the RESP when your child is born and contribute until 31 years after the account was opened.

Spousal RRIF (Spousal Registered Retirement Income Fund)

This is a tax-effective tool to help you and your spouse generate income during your retirement. Like a Spousal Registered Retirement Savings Plan (Spousal RRSP), a Spousal RRIF is what your Spousal RRSP turns into once you retire by investing money and providing you with a steady source of income to fuel your lazy retirement days.

Joint Ownership Account

The main two types of Joint Ownership Accounts are: Joint Tenancy and Tenants in Common. Either of these allow two or more people to deposit cash which can then be used to buy stocks, bonds, ETFs, or other investments.

Corporate Account

This is an account that specializes in offering services for companies and offshore businesses.  What sets it apart from personal and investment bank accounts lies in the fact that it requires a deposit cash which you can then use to buy stocks, bonds, ETFs or other investments.

The Nest Wealth at Work Account

On March 27, 2018, Nest Wealth announced the introduction of “Nest Wealth at Work,” a group RRSP plan for small-to-medium-sized businesses and first of its kind in Canada.

This platform was built from the ground up for busy business owners and it is free for employers. No initiation, administration, setup or monthly fees needed, the whole process to roll it out is simple, fast and online.

Additionally, since the goal of any group saving plan is to better prepare the employees for their retirement, it lets employees save even more wealth because they’ll pay almost 2/3rds less than the average individual Canadian investor.

Portfolios Offered by Nest Wealth

Upon opening an account with Nest Wealth, they will build you a custom portfolio using seven ETFs that represent different asset classes and include international, US, and emerging market equities; government fixed income, real-return bonds, real estate, and cash.

These ETFs are used to build a diversified portfolio that will match the customer’s risk tolerance and investment/return objectives.

Here the 7 ETFs they use to design portfolios:

  1. Vanguard Canadian Short-term Bond Index ETF (VSB): MER of 0.11%
  2. BMO Aggregate Bond Index ETF (ZAG): MER 0.09%
  3. iShares Canadian Real Return Bond Index ETF (XRB): MER 0.39%
  4. iShares Core S&P/TSX Capped Composite Index ETF (XIC): MER 0.05%
  5. iShares Core S&P 500 Index ETF (CAD-Hedged) (XSP): MER 0.11%
  6. iShares MSCI EAFE ETF (IEFA): MER 0.08%
  7. Vanguard REIT ETF (VNQ): MER 0.12%

Account Benefits and Fees

Besides low-cost ETFs and a diversified portfolio, Nest Wealth offers these benefits:

Professional Financial Advice

Customers get personalized financial advice included in their account. This is pretty neat since it means you get financial advice matched exactly to your financial situation from a dedicated portfolio manager who you can call, text or email.

Automatic Re-balancing

If the customer’s portfolio asset allocation strays from its preferred targets, it will be automatically rebalanced to ensure it remains in line with their needs.

Investor Protection

The customer’s personal information remains secure because Nest Wealth uses bank-level encryption. Funds are kept separately in an account in the customer’s name at FCC or NBIN. Both custodians are members of the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) and the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF) so basically, assets are protected by the CIPF in the event of insolvency by the custodian for up to $1,000,000 of coverage.

Lower Fees

Nest Wealth offers a subscription-based pricing model. This means customers pay a fixed low-fee per month based on their account-size category. Fees are as follows:

So, unlike the “percentage of account fee” pricing model utilized by most robo-advisors, Nest Wealth’s pricing does not continue to rise linearly and indefinitely as the portfolio assets increase, which is a huge advantage of its unique model for you as an investor.

Another benefit of most robo-advisors is their low management fees. 2.23% is the average annual management expense ratio (MER) charged by equity mutual funds. However, Nest Wealth, like other robo-advisors, offers portfolio management at much lower fees.  Management fees on ETFs held in each portfolio are charged directly by the ETF providers and are an average of about 0.15% (which is low compared to the industry average).

In addition to the standard management fees, when trades are required to rebalance the customer’s portfolio, transaction fees may incur. These could add unwanted expenses and reduce your earnings. However, with Nest Wealth, these transaction fees are capped at a maximum of $100 per year.

Summarizing, here are this robo-advisor’s main pros and cons:

Pros Cons
Lots of choices for low-risk investors Investment options are lacking for those interested in high-risk portfolios  
Lower fees The fee schedule may be expensive for smaller investors
Fee schedule ideal for customers with big investments.  
No minimum investment required  

How does Nest Wealth compare to other Robo-advisors?

The fact that there is no minimum requirement is a great selling point for those getting started in investing. However, the fee system isn’t very attractive for those with small accounts since it is better structured for customers with larger amounts. Those with smaller investments may prefer a robo who takes an annual percentage, such as Wealthsimple or Justwealth, rather than one that charges a monthly rate.

Another big point for Nest Wealth is the fact that there are so many low-risk options. This is ideal for those who are at a later stage of life or simply prefer low-risk investments. However, those who prefer to have more high-risk options may, perhaps, be better off with another robo-advisor with more portfolio options such as Justwealth, Wealthsimple, or Questwealth Portfolios.

So there you have it, everything you need to know about Nest Wealth. Have you used Nest Wealth or any other robo-advisor before? Are you a low-risk or a higher risk investor? Leave a comment and tell us what you think about it? We’d love to hear from you!

PC Optimum (formerly, PC Plus) is one of the most popular reward programs in Canada. It allows you to redeem rewards equivalent to rebates up to 4.5% in your purchases at more than 4,500 retail stores across the country. The program offers even more rewards for PC Financial Mastercards cardholders. Find out whether PC Optimum is a good deal for you.

Canadians love their reward programs and have a long tradition of collecting points… just collecting, though, as many don’t redeem them. More than $16 billion worth of points remains unused in the Dominion. However, when Canadians finally decide to redeem those points, they prefer to save some money and choose small, everyday rewards, such as free groceries or movie tickets, rather than holding out for bigger returns. For this reason, one retail loyalty program consistently stands out among the most popular and useful: PC Optimum a.k.a. PC Plus.

PC Plus AKA PC Optimum Logo (CNW Group/Loblaw Companies Limited)

What is PC Plus, A.K.A. PC Optimum?

PC Optimum is a digital loyalty program launched as PC Plus in May 2013 by Loblaw Companies, Canada’s largest retail conglomerate.

In 2018, more than four years after acquiring Shoppers Drug Mart’s, PC Plus merged with its similar ‘Shoppers Optimum’ to form ‘PC Optimum’. Later that year, Esso gas stations, and the brand Mobil adopted the program. This created one of the most attractive consumer benefits packages in North America’s retail sector.

PC Plus + Shoppers Optimum = PC Optimum

In a nutshell, PC Optimum allows you to redeem rewards for a rebate of at least 1% in retail store purchases. However, there are many opportunities to greatly increase that potential.

In this article, we’ll explain to you how you can earn points and redeem them for products and rewards at more than 4,500 places across Canada. Let’s start with the basics.

How does PC Optimum Work?

Since its release as PC Plus, the program’s key feature has been its inclusive but personalized approach. You can both earn points and claim rewards in products that actually match your purchasing habits. The way this works is pretty easy to understand, so you can start earning and redeeming points quickly!

However, you must pay extra attention in order to make the most of the program’s benefits. Keep reading, and we’ll help you decide if PC Optimum is well suited to your needs.

Registering and Linking to the Stores

PC Optimum Card
PC Optimum Member’s Card

It’s PC Optimum, not PC Plus

In case you access PC Plus’ old site (pcplus.ca) for your registration, you’ll see a brief message explaining the changes and a button that will redirect you to the new PC Optimum site.

It’s worth noting that, despite the program’s name and features changed after the merge with Shoppers Optimum, many experienced users still refer to the program as PC Plus.

How to Earn PC Points

You can earn points for:

The number of points you can earn will be based on the purchase price before taxes and after discounts.

How Many Points Can I Earn?

Here are the points earn rates you can get within the PC Optimum program:

Promotional 20X flyer
Promotional offers can give a boost to your PC Optimum points

How Good Is this Deal?

At the very least, you’ll earn 1% of your purchased dollar value in PC points, but in reality, you can get many times that minimum.

You shouldn’t worry though. It is not necessary to go around chasing promotions, the system sends notifications whenever you can earn extra points. However, this varies a lot depending on the card used and whether or not the purchase was made at Loblaws-affiliated stores. Check the mobile app or the website to find out how many points you have.

There are no limits for the number of points you can earn and they do not expire. However, those without PC Financial Mastercards might get their accounts closed if they don’t earn or spend any points at least once every two years.

Redeeming PC Points

Each PC point is valued at $0.001 in purchases or rewards. Once you’ve reached 10,000 points or more (the equivalent of at least $10) you can redeem them at participating stores. Keep in mind that, due to that minimum, you’ll probably need a second form of payment to cover the tax and any difference.

For redeeming your points in-store:

You can do this as often as you like.

Redeeming PC points Online

In case you want to redeem your points on the internet, your PC Optimum card number must be linked to your account in the online store (instructions above).

Note that you can also transfer or donate points, but these are not valid for tobacco, lottery tickets, alcohol, bottle deposits, gift cards, prepaid cards, wireless or long distance phone cards, transit tickets and passes, event tickets, post office transactions, passport photos, cashback, gifts that come with purchases, and some delivery charges.

Where Can I Redeem My PC Points?

You can redeem your points in affiliated stores and allies. Here’s a list:

Note that some merchants in the stores are not part of the program, but PC Financial cardholders earn points for all their purchases, anywhere.

PC Insiders

PC Insiders was released back in 2017 as a subscription-based program for PC Plus members. It costs $9.99 a month or $99 annually, plus tax. It continues to offer very interesting benefits for its members:

The latter translates into a 20% rebate that could go up to 45% for those of you who are regular customers at these stores.

PC Optimum Cards and PC Mastercards

You can get a PC Optimum card by registering at the program’s website. Yet Loblaws’ own financial services branch (federally chartered President’s Choice Bank) PC Financial’s Mastercard credit cards are a much better deal.

PC Financial Mastercard credit cards
PC Financial Mastercard line-up

After applying, and based on your annual household income, President’s Choice Financial will decide what’s the best option among three different cards: PC Financial Mastercard, PC Financial World Mastercard or PC Financial World Elite Mastercard.

These cards have no annual fee and all three offer a balance transfer interest rate of 0.97% for the first 6 months (a great way to help reduce your debt). Each credit card offers extra benefits with respect to the program’s Member card. Naturally, the higher tiers offer more points and perks. They can earn you up to 4.5X the points based on the dollar value of all purchases placed on the card through any retailer, not just Loblaw’s affiliates. This way, your rewards can grow much faster.

Earning Points with PC Financial Credit Cards

Store	PC Financial Mastercard	PC Financial World Mastercard
(Personal income > 60,000 CAD
or Household income > 100,000 CAD)	PC Financial World Elite Mastercard
(Personal income > 80,000 CAD
or Household income > 150,000 CAD)
Loblaws +
Subsidiaries
(per CAD)	10 pts
= 1% rate of return	20 pts
= 2% rate of return	30 pts
= 3% rate of return
Shoppers
(per CAD)	25 pts
= 2.5% rate of return	35 pts
= 3.5% rate of return	45 pts
= 4.5% rate of return
Esso/Mobil
(per litre)	Minimum 30 pts
= 3% rate of return	Minimum 30 pts
= 3% rate of return	Minimum 30 pts
= 3% rate of return
PC Travel
(per CAD)	20 pts
= 2% rate of return	20 pts
= 2% rate of return	30 pts
= 3% rate of return
Everywhere else
(per CAD)	10 pts
= 1% rate of return	10 pts
= 1% rate of return	10 pts
= 1% rate of return

Extra Benefits of PC Financial Credit Cards

PC Financial’s credit cards offer several additional interesting perks:

Benefits	Mastercard	World Mastercard	World Elite Mastercard
Emergency replacement card or cash advance	Y	Y	Y
Up to 4 free additional cards	Y	Y	Y
Free Extended Warranty doubling the manufacturer’s regular warranty for up to an additional year	Y	Y	Y
24/7 Concierge	Y	Y	Y
Travel emergency medical insurance	-	Y	Y
Car rental collision/loss damage waiver insurance	-	-	Y
Identity Theft Assistance Service	-	-	Y

What’s in it for Travelers?

If you are a frequent traveler, you can get some attractive benefits from your PC Financial credit cards:

These benefits, combined with PC Optimum’s and PC Insiders’ are a pretty decent deal, especially for those who move frequently within Canada and are regular customers of Loblaw Companies’ stores, including PC Travel.

It is clear though, that the top tier PC Financial World Elite Mastercard offers the program’s most attractive perk: Free 10-day out-of-country travel medical insurance for you, your spouse and your dependents (65 years old and younger). You’ll be covered up to $1,000,000 whether traveling by plane, train or car. Add to this free car rental insurance.

Drawbacks?

Given that PC Optimum relies on data from your account, it is worth mentioning that the system has been affected by a couple of glitches and ‘phishing’ attacks, especially after the PC Plus – Shopper Optimum merger.

It seems that around 10,000 users have lost points already earned or missed big bonuses during special events. So, check out your mobile app frequently and don’t respond to any messages requesting your PC ID information.

The Bottom Line

PC Plus’s network of affiliated stores is almost twice as big after the merger with Shoppers Optimum. In addition, the new PC Optimum also includes allies such as Esso gas stations, and the rewards it offers are juicier. This is an important upgrade.

For regular customers of Loblaw-affiliated stores, the potential points accumulation at the 2-3% level for PC Mastercards holders is really good. Others only get 1%, which is less than what other similar programs offer.

Frequent travelers who qualify for the higher-tier credit cards should take advantage of the travel insurance and use them at PC Travel for travel expenses, but also for grocery and pharmacy shopping at Loblaw-affiliated stores. For restaurants, hotels, etc. you can combine these credit cards with another no-fee cash back card that gives you 2% back on your purchases.

In conclusion, if you qualify for the top tier cards and/or are a regular client of Loblaws-affiliated stores, keep a PC Mastercard as a useful backup no-fee card, but have another one as your primary credit card.

There’s no doubt that the American Express Business Edge Card’s 42,000 MR points bonus is impressive. But today, we’re here to talk about why this is a card to keep for the long haul, i.e. a card that’ll help you grow your business year after year. Let’s take a look at the three most important long-term benefits that the Amex Business Edge Card has to offer.

Features And Benefits Of The American Express Business Edge Card

Before we dive into the details behind the long-term benefits of the Business Edge Card, here’s what Amex offers with this new card:

Bonus Points Welcome Bonus: 30,000 Membership Rewards (MR) points
Monthly Bonus: 1,000 bonus MR points every month you charge a minimum of $3,000 to your card. This could add up to 12,000 points in a year.
Points Earn Rate • 3x on Eats & Drinks
• 3x on Rides & Gas
• 3x on Office Supplies & Electronics
• 1x on everything else
Card Type Credit Card
Annual Interest Rate • 19.99% on purchases
• 22.99% on funds advances
Annual Fee $99
Supplementary Cards No annual fee
Eligibility• You are a Canadian resident and have a Canadian credit file
• You are the age of majority in the province or territory where you live

Long-Term Benefit #1: Exceptional Earn Rates

One of the highlights of the Business Edge Card are the earn rates it offers on an array of spending categories. This ensures you’ll always get a great earn rate every day you use your card.

3x On Eats & Drinks

Eats and drinks are something every business, big or small, spends on just about every day. American Express defines the category extremely liberally, so you’ll get 3 points per every $1 spent on everything from your morning coffee to what you serve at the company party. Depending on how you use your points, this 3x earn rate is worth a 3-6% return on those purchases (read below for more details).

With the Business Edge Card in hand, why would you ever hold back on eats and drinks?

3x On Rides & Gas

Whether it’s to move your employees around or to run a fleet of mobile service operators, the 3x points you’ll receive on taxis, rideshare, and other methods of transportation will earn you a serious return on your business spending. If you charge just $3,300 in transportation and gas charges to your card throughout the year – $64 per week – you’ll earn back your annual fee.

3x On Office Supplies & Electronics

Not running a business that requires a lot of transportation? No problem – even if your business is more digital than physical, the Business Edge Card has you covered. With 3x the points on office supplies and electronics, you’ll rack up the points with every dollar you spend in those categories, too.

The Cap On The 3x Earn Rates

The only downside of the 3x earn rates is that they’re capped at $25,000 in purchases in any of the three 3x earn rate categories mentioned above, or 75,000 earned points. After you hit that mark, your earn rate will drop down to 1x.

How Much Are MR Points Worth?

MR points don’t have a stated cash value (no loyalty points ever do, for that matter). Because of this, the final value you get depends on how you redeem them. There are 4 ways to use your MR points, each of which gets you a different valuation:

#1 Redeem your points for a statement credit

By far, the easiest way to use your MR points is to redeem them for a statement credit towards eligible purchases. You’ll receive a $10 credit for every 1,000 MR points you redeem.

Value: 1 cent per point

Flights and hotels are one of the best ways to use the points you earn with your American Express Business Edge Card.

#2 Book flights & hotels

You can redeem MR points for travel bookings including flights, hotel stays, resorts, vacation packages, cruises, and car rentals through American Express Travel. The value you’ll get will always depend on the destination, dates, carriers, etc., but in general, you’ll be able to get more value through booking travel than you will by redeeming them as a statement credit.

Value: 1 – 2 cents per point

#3 Use Points For Merchandise And Other Purchases

Amex has partnered with online giants like Amazon.ca, Apple.ca, and other online merchants and retailers to provide an additional way to use your points. Through those partnerships, they offer the possibility to pay for your online purchases with your MR points, as long as your account is linked to your Membership Rewards account and you have sufficient MR points to pay for the entire purchase.

This isn’t usually the best way to redeem MR points, as you’ll generally receive less than 1 cent per point.

Value: 0.7 cents per point

#4 Transfer Your MR Points To Other Loyalty Programs

If you’re more interested in building up your balance in other loyalty programs, you can transfer your MR points to the Marriott BonvoyTM or Hilton Honors loyalty programs, two of the biggest names in hotels and lodgings around the world. In this case, the final value depends on the transfer rate as well as on how you actually redeem your points in those loyalty programs, so the value is more ambiguous.

Value: 0.5 – 2 cents per point

The Bottom Line Of MR Points Value

In most cases, you’ll find your MR points are worth somewhere between 1 – 2 cents per point. If you were able to transfer these MR points to Aeroplan or Avios, you could get some amazing deals on flights to Asia or Europe that would increase the value to 2+ cents per point. But since you can’t make airline transfers with the Business Edge Card, we’ll settle on an average value of 1.5 cents per point.

Long-Term Benefit #2: Low Annual Fee

The Business Edge Card carries an annual fee of just $99 per year. That works out to less than $10/month, extremely good value given all of the other benefits and perks you get with the card.

Long-Term Benefit #3: Free Supplementary Cards

The last long-term benefit we’ll mention is the free supplementary cards, because it’s another special benefit most business credit cards don’t offer.

This unlocks the real, scalable magic of the Business Edge Card – earning points on all of your employees’ purchases on their supplementary cards – which can seriously accelerate the number of points you earn, and the number of rewards you can get with them.

Do The Benefits Justify The Annual Fee After The First Year?

As I showed you before, spending $64 per week in any of the six purchase categories that earn 3x, is enough to offset the low $99 annual fee – even if you only redeem those points as a statement credit. That’s a tiny amount compared to what even small businesses spend on those categories, so it’s safe to assume you’ll come out ahead with the Business Edge Card year after year.

Mastercard operates one of the largest commercial networks in the world. This allows the brand of the two circles to offer a wide array of perks to its cardholders. In addition, card issuers may include special characteristics and benefits, thus giving every Mastercard a unique profile and set of advantages. With so many options out there, picking one becomes quite a challenge. Keep reading and we’ll tell you what’s the best Mastercard in Canada.

Mastercard credit cards are almost universally accepted. That in itself is a good reason to apply for one, especially if you are a frequent traveler.

However, some might be surprised to know that, in reality, Mastercard only operates the network that connects their card with its issuer (a bank, credit union or retailer), a merchant and the merchant’s bank. The company also acts as a sort of broker for services offered to cardholders thanks to the company’s special access to such a variety of organizations.

Mastercard offers a wide array of benefits for cardholders: exclusivity deals with major retailers (like Costco or Walmart), protection for your purchases, extended warranties, ID theft protection and lost luggage protection, to name a few. Additionally, it can provide you with some pretty attractive perks, such as free lounge access, concierge services, travel insurance packages, and the Priceless Cities program, which gives cardholders access to events and experiences all over the world.

However, there are differences between the many credit cards using the Mastercard logo. This is due to the fact that the selection of features varies by individual card and issuer. Therefore, it’s important to understand the differences and compare prior to picking the one credit card that’s best suited for you.

In this post you’ll find:

Before our Mastercard Recommendations

Choosing the right Mastercard might feel like a daunting task. As usual, when making financial decisions, you should consider several key factors. No matter your level of sophistication, some information is fundamental before considering any credit card application or recommendation: individual goals, needs, lifestyle and credit profile.

Also, since some cards could be better suited for those who want cash back for their purchases, rewards from a variety of merchants, a low-interest rate on unpaid balances, no annual fee, etc., you should also have a general idea of what’s the kind of financial product that better suits your needs: a Standard, Balance Transfer, Rewards, Student, Charge, Secured, Subprime, Prepaid, Limited Purpose or Business credit card.

Assuming you have done your homework, we’ll help you understand and recognize the best among the variety of cards branded with the two interlocking circles.

One of Three Mastercard Options in Canada

Mastercard offers three basic types of credit cards in Canada, regardless of the issuer: Standard, World and World Elite.

The Standard Mastercard

Standard Mastercard Canada
Standard Mastercard

A Standard Mastercard is the plain type. They are meant to help you make everyday purchases, from groceries to online shopping, allow you to build credit and potentially earn some rewards in the process.

You’ll find different kinds of Standard Mastercards, from basic no-fee credit cards (e.g. the BMO Preferred Rate Mastercard) to rewards credit cards (PC Optimum Mastercard) or cashback credit cards (RBC Cash Back Mastercard).

At this basic level, a Standard Mastercard offers these protections to its customers:

The Upgrade: World Mastercard

In the second tier, you’ll find the World Mastercard. You can think of it as a rewards credit card that, in addition to the benefits of the Standard Mastercard, offers worldwide acceptance and services. These cards usually have higher requirements and fees, but those who use them responsibly and pay off the balance each month, earn greater rewards than with a Standard Mastercard.

World Mastercard
World Mastercard

A World Mastercard also offers several perks to decrease your worries as an international traveler. The Concierge Service will allow you to book travel accommodations, book flights and make reservations at restaurants. You’ll have insurance in case of an accident, trip cancellation or delay, baggage delay or loss and hotel burglary, as well as access to discounts and special treatment in restaurants, shipping services, gas stations and special events, with the Priceless Cities program.

The VIP Option: World Elite Mastercard

World Elite Mastercard
World Elite Mastercard

The World Elite Mastercard is at the top tier of Mastercard’s rewards credit cards. It takes the benefits (and requirements!) up another notch. It includes all the same special travel offers as the World Mastercard, with some added bonuses, including complimentary passes to Priority Pass airport lounges and identity theft protection through the Mastercard ID Theft Protection program.

Which is the Best Mastercard in Canada?

The following are our Mastercard choices according to the most common financial needs among Canadian users:

Best Standard Mastercard

This kind of card allows you to have a balance revolving around a certain amount and improve your credit score. It’s ideal for those who want an uncomplicated, economic credit card, and are not interested in earning rewards, foreign transactions or cash advances.

If you are a Canadian resident, consider applying for the MBNA True Line Gold Mastercard. It requires a fair-good credit score and an annual fee of $39, but its cost is quite low compared to other cards of this caliber.

MBNA True Line Gold Mastercard: The best standard Mastercard in Canada
MBNA True Line Gold Mastercard

At 8.99% (10.99% in Quebec), this card has the lowest regular purchase rate in Canada, very low compared to the standard 19.99% found on most cards. It also offers around-the-clock fraud prevention, 24/7 customer service and travel and purchase insurance coverage, so it is perfect for your everyday needs.

If that weren’t good enough, the card offers a pretty good balance transfer deal. You’ll get a 0% rate for the first 6 months on any debts transferred to MBNA within 90 days after receiving the card (an additional fee of 3% of the transferred amount or a minimum of $7.50 applies). After 6 months, the rate jumps to 8.99% (10.99% in Quebec), still very low compared to the standard.

So, this card also allows you to repay your balance without urgency and exorbitant compounding interest charges, thus saving hundreds or thousands of dollars during the 0% promotional period. Note that these conditions do not apply in Quebec.

Best Balance Transfer Mastercard

Balance transfer credit cards allow you to move your outstanding high-interest debt from other credit cards, personal loans or lines of credit to it at a lower or 0% interest rate. It is not only credit card debt you can transfer, but personal loans and lines of credit as well.

If you live in Canada, your best option is the MBNA True Line Mastercard. It requires no annual fee or minimum income level and offers a 0% balance transfer rate (0.99% in Quebec) for the first 12 months on any debts transferred to MBNA within 90 days after receiving the card (an additional fee of 3% of the transferred amount or a minimum of $7.50 applies).

MBNA True Line® Mastercard, The best Balance transfer Mastercard in Canada

After 12 months, the rate jumps to 12.99% (14.99% in Quebec). So, this card will give you a breath when planning your debt repayment strategy.

Notice that it’s not the same as the Gold version in the previous category’s selection. This card has a higher standard interest rate for regular purchases, 12.99% (14.99 in Quebec), which by the way, is still pretty good, and confirms that this card is a great option anyway.

Best Rewards Mastercard in Canada

Rewards cards will give you rewards on your credit card purchases. There are three basic types: cashback, points (you earn points and redeem them for rewards or cash), and travel (you earn free flights, hotel stays, and other travel perks). This can complicate decisions a little, as the choice depends on whether you need the card for travel or everyday spending.

Best Travel Mastercard

You know we suffer from Wanderlust, so our travel rewards choice in Canada is the BMO World Elite Mastercard, which requires a minimum income of $80,000 and an annual fee of $150 (waived for the first year).

BMO World Elite Mastercard, the best travel Mastercard in Canada
BMO World Elite Mastercard

This is the best travel rewards Mastercard in Canada for two reasons: First, frequent travelers will rack up points really quickly: 3 points for every dollar spent on travel, entertainment, and restaurants expenses (the equivalent of 2.4% in travel rewards); 2 points (1.4%) for everything else.

Second, you can redeem your points, on your agenda, for some top-notch travel perks. You’ll get 15% discount on Air Miles flights within North America, MasterCard Airport Experience airport lounge access and four complimentary passes per year ($140 value), a full suite of travel insurance benefits (protection in the case of medical emergencies, trip delays and interruptions, lost baggage, among others) and you can use your points for other travel-related redemptions like hotels, cruises, and even vacation packages (along with their associated taxes).

First-time BMO World Elite cardholders, can also take advantage of a welcome offer with a combined value of up to $400.

Best CashBack Mastercard

For cashback, we recommend the Tangerine Money-Back Mastercard, which is very accessible as it requires a Fair-Good credit score, a minimum personal income of only $12,000 and no annual fees, while it sets no limit on the amount of Money-Back Rewards you can earn. It’s not only the best cashback Mastercard, it’s also the best all-round cashback card in Canada today.

Tangerine Money-Back Mastercard. The best Cashback Mastercard in Canada.
Tangerine Money-Back Mastercard

With this card, you’ll earn 2% cash-back on purchases in two categories of your choice among groceries, gas, travel, etc.; and 0.5% on everything else. Those who opt to have their cash back rewards deposited into a Tangerine Savings Account can choose a third category earning 2% cashback. Additionally, with the Tangerine card, you’ll get Mastercard’s purchase protection and extended warranty.

The Tangerine Cash Back Mastercard also offers a 1.95% promotional balance transfer rate for 6 months (a 3% balance transfer fee applies to each of your balance transfer amounts). After the promotional rate period ends, the rate goes up to 19.95%.

Best Mastercard In Canada for Everyday Spending

As a rewards card, apply for President’s Choice Financial Mastercard. It has no annual fee and you need a good credit score, but this card will allow you to earn up to 4.5% in PC Optimum rewards for every $1 spent at Shoppers Drug Mart and Pharmaprix, 3% for every $1 spent on travel services at pctravel.ca or your monthly bill at PC mobile; and 1% for every $1 spent everywhere else.

PC Financial Mastercard. Best Mastercard in Canada for everyday spending
PC Financial Mastercard

Best Mastercard In Canada For Students

Student credit cards are ideal for first-time applicants. They were designed for college students, who often have little or no credit history.

Our pick in this category is the BMO CashBack Mastercard. It has no minimum income and annual fee requirements. Offers 5% cashback on everything for the first 3 months up to $2,000 in purchases and 1% after the welcome bonus ends. Plus, you can choose when to have your cashback paid out, after you accumulate a minimum of $50 in rewards.

BMO CashBack Mastercard. Best Cashback Mastercard in Canada.
BMO CashBack MasterCard

With this card, you’ll get Mastercard’s double warranty protection, up to one year; and up to 25% off base rates at eligible National Car Rental and Alamo Rent-A-Car locations.

Best Secured Mastercard

This type of card is an option for those who have no credit history or those who wish to repair a bad one without paying an exorbitant annual fee. They require a security deposit. The credit limit is usually equal to or a little bit higher than the amount of that deposit. Monthly payments are still expected.

If you’re in this of situation, you should consider applying for a Capital One Guaranteed Secured Mastercard. Capital One approves almost every applicant, provided they meet a few eligibility requirements and can place a $75 deposit. The credit limit can reach a maximum of $2500 as long as the deposit increases proportionally. Its annual interest rate is 19.8%. The card includes Mastercard’s Zero Liability feature which covers against unauthorized or fraudulent purchases and may give you extra purchase and travel benefits for unsecured cards.

Capital One Guaranteed Secured Mastercard

If you pay your bills responsibly, Capital One will make sure your credit score improves fast.

Best Subprime Mastercard

One difficult credit card product for applicants who have a bad credit history. This kind of card could also be a good option for immigrants. Although approval is often quick, they generally have high-interest rates and fees, so those in a complicated situation should consider them only when they can’t make a security deposit.

The Capital One Low Rate Gold Mastercard requires an annual fee of $79, but no minimum personal income. It offers a competitive purchase and balance transfer rate, 14.9%, yet it gives access to some of Mastercard’s perks, including price protection, travel benefits, and insurance.

Capital One Low Rate Gold Mastercard

This credit card gives applicants without credit scores high enough to qualify for most low-interest cards an opportunity to reduce their exposure to high interest. This should help them rebuild credit. Those who don’t qualify for the Gold or even the unsecured version of the card will still be approved for the alternative secured product with a security deposit from $75 and a $59 annual fee.

Best Prepaid Mastercard

Prepaid cards require the cardholder to load money onto the card before the card can be used. Purchases are withdrawn from the card’s balance. The spending limit does not renew until more money is loaded onto the card.

Prepaid cards do not have finance charges or minimum payments because the balance is withdrawn from a deposit you make (to the card, unlike debit accounts, which are linked to a checking account). These are not actually credit cards, and won’t help with your credit score.

Our recommendation is the BMO Prepaid Travel Mastercard, which requires an annual fee of $6.95 and allows you to spend a maximum of $10,000 balance. It can’t be used for recurring bill payments, some hotels and rental companies won’t accept it, foreign exchange rates will have an extra 2.5% charge and it offers no rewards, but it is very helpful to stay within budget.

BMO Prepaid Travel Mastercard

Best Business Mastercard

Business credit cards are designed specifically to provide business owners or even entrepreneurs and freelancers with an easy method of keeping business and personal transactions separate. It is worth noting that personal credit history is taken into account because an individual must be held accountable for the balance.

The BMO AIR MILES Business Mastercard is the best option we can recommend among Mastercards in this category, especially for small business owners. It offers a good combination of rewards, sign-up bonus and lots of insurance benefits. It does require some additional requisites from individuals and corporate customers though.

BMO AIR MILES Business Mastercard

The $120 annual fee is waived the first year and features a juicy welcome bonus: 3,000 AIR MILES – 1,000 miles after the first purchase, and another 2,000 after spending $5,000 within the first 3 months. After that period, you’ll earn 1 Air Mile for every $10 spent and 1 Air Mile for every $8 spent in Shell gas stations.

This card also gives you 6 % cash back on internet and phone bills and office supplies, and gas purchases during the first 4 months. After the promotional period, that rate goes down to 1.5%.

As a cardholder, you can apply for optional employee cards. The Liability Waiver Program will cover you in the event they misuse them.

The BMO AIR MILES Business Mastercard offers 13 different travel insurance benefits. Those include collision damage for rental cars, accidental death and dismemberment, baggage, trip cancellation and interruption, flight delay and common carrier insurance. In addition, you’ll have extended warranty, automatic rebates at participating retailers, pre-authorized payments and the standard Mastercard perks. All this and more make this, in our opinion, the best Mastercard in Canada for small businesses.

The Bottom Line

Credit cards are some of the most important financial instruments most of us have access to. They can have an impact on our future as they are our everyday credit-record-building instruments. Choosing the right one can be difficult due to the many options out there, but trust there is a Mastercard out there that is well-suited to your needs. In order to make the right pick, it is very important that you are aware of your real situation and have reasonable expectations. The choice for the best Mastercard in Canada actually depends on who’s making it.


Suppose you’re planning a trip to some far-out destination in the Middle-East looking for adventure, or maybe you just want to relax in a cozy beach far from Canada’s punishing winter. In either case, and with every possibility in between, it’s important that you consider having a travel insurance set up in case anything happens to you.

Whether it’s somebody stealing your luggage, having to cancel or reschedule your holidays because of an emergency or getting hit by a cab on your way to a museum, having the right travel insurance can save you (or even your family) a lot of worry and expenses.

But of course, with the variety of companies offering insurance for trips abroad, it can be difficult to compare and choose the right one that fits your traveling needs.

In this article, we’ll explain the key aspects you need to consider when choosing a policy. We’ll also review 20 of the most popular travel insurance providers in Canada, as well as some travel insurance benefits you can get from a couple of credit cards.

So, without further ado, let’s begin.

What we’ll talk about in this article:

What is travel insurance?

Travel insurance is simply insurance designed to specifically cover the costs associated with unforeseen events while traveling. Depending on the policy, it can cover medical expenses, lost or delayed luggage, trip cancellation or even legal fees in case of political unrest, among other things. There are also a variety of extra activities that can be covered with travel insurance depending on the provider and package you choose, such as hiking, skiing, bike riding, etc. And of course, there are also policies designed to cover longer stays abroad (for those taking a gap year to travel around the world for example), and multiple country destinations, if that be the case.

Ok, but do I really need travel insurance?

For some people, paying for something they might not use can really be a turn-off.

But you know what is a bigger turn-off?

Getting injured while hiking the Andes, having to pay for medical fees out of pocket and then having crippling financial debt for years to come.

Having a travel insurance is of the utmost importance because you never know what might happen. Even if you are cautious, there will always be many things out of your control that could change your trip for the worse, such as a flight being cancelled or a close relative getting ill.

Travel insurance helps alleviate or even transform these problems from holiday destroyers to minor nuisances. Also very importantly, some countries require you to have some kind of insurance to even travel there.

In short, it’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.

Key aspects to consider when selecting a travel insurance provider

  1. The essentials: You should always check the fine print for what a policy offers, but you should be especially wary of the medical, cancellation, repatriation and legal liability aspects. These will probably be the most useful, although it depends on your particular travel circumstance.
  2. Single article limit: If you travel with expensive stuff (e.g. a high-end laptop) you may want to search for a policy with sufficient coverage for a single item being lost.
  3. 24-hour helpline: Having round-the-clock assistance can be very, very useful in case of an emergency.
  4. Medical and age restrictions: Can they cover pre-existing conditions? And if they can, which ones and under which circumstances? If you’re a senior, also make sure that your age is covered within the policy.
  5. Special and high-risk activities: If you plan on doing some white-water rafting, hiking, mountain biking or the like, you should be extra sure that these activities are within your travel insurance plan policy.
  6. Length and destination : Perhaps a bit obvious, but always be sure to check that the full length of your trip and all the places you are planning to go to are covered.

Most popular insurance providers in Canada: Pros and Cons

Lucky for us, Canada has its fair share of travel insurance companies, that offer great benefits. Let’s see what each of them offer, and we’ll make our personal recommendations at the end.

#1 TuGo

Tugo, One of the best Travel Insurance Providers in Canada

Formerly underwriters to other insurance companies, TuGo has made a name for itself as one of Canada’s most popular travel insurance providers.

Pros:

Cons:

2# Travelcuts

Travelcuts is one of the most affordable Travel Insurance Providers in Canada

Travelcuts has over 40 years of experience servicing Canadians and is a great option for adventurers and backpackers.

Pros:

Cons:

#3 World Nomads

World Nomads is one of the best Adventure Travel Insurance Providers in Canada

One of the most known travel insurers in the planet, World Nomads focuses on offering services tailored to adventurous and mostly young travelers who are looking for long and variety filled trips.

Pros:

Cons:

#4 RSA

Underwriters to many group insurance policies like the ones that come with Amex Credit Cards, RSA also offers its own set of travel insurance

RSA is one of the biggest travel and health insurance providers in Canada, they sell their policies under the name Medi-Select Advantage. They offer great advantages focused on snowbirds.

Pros:

Cons:

#5 Tour+Med

TourMed, a relatively new Travel Insurance Providers in Canada

A relative newcomer to the travel insurance game, Tour+Med gives a lot of advantages to its customers.

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#6 BCAA (British Columbia Automobile Association)

BCAA One of the best Travel Insurance Canada within British Columbia

The BCAA offers a guide range of services, including of course travel insurance. Members get a discount on insurance, but you don’t need to be one to get insured with them. The key word for their policies is flexibility.

Pros:

Cons:

#7 Air Canada Travel Insurance

Apart from flights, Air Canada also provides some of the best travel insurance Canada has to offer

The largest full-service airline in Canada offers pretty decent coverage.

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Cons:

#8 Alberta Motor Association (AMA)

BCAA One of the best Travel Insurance Canada within Alberta

The AMA offers very basic coverage with a cap of 5 million dollars on medical insurance.

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#9 Allianz

BCAA One of the biggest and the best Travel Insurance in Canada and around the world

Allianz is one of the world’s  main providers of travel insurance and covers up to 5 million dollars in emergency medical insurance.

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Cons:

#10 American Express Travel Insurance

Amex offers many insurance benefits with its different cards, but it also offers standalone travel insurance

Mostly known for their credit card services worldwide, American Express also offers stand-alone travel insurance policies for Canadians.

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Cons:

#11 Blue Cross

Blue Cross is one of the best Travel Insurance Canada for seniors

Blue Cross is one of the biggest Canadian travel insurances companies. It is sub-divided into seven independent providers for different Canadian regions each with somewhat different plans for their respective residents, so be sure to check out the specific policies for your region.

Pros:

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#12 Travel Guard

Travel Guard is a global provider of insurance services that aims to cover a wide variety of Canadians with their travel insurance plans.

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#13 Bank of Montreal (BMO) Insurance

One of the most popular and trusted banks in Canada, the Bank of Montreal mainly offers single trip policies. Multi-trip policies are available, but only by affiliating to one of their credit cards.

Pros:

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#14 CARP

Formerly known as the Canadian Association of Retired Persons, this non-profit offers travel insurance to members and non-members alike.

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#15 GMS

Group Medical Service is one of the biggest travel insurance companies in Canada, they offer insurance to both individuals and groups.

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#16 HSBC

Image result for HSBC logo

The HSBC bank also offers travel insurance, who knew, and a good one at that.

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#17 Manulife

Manulife is another one of the big names when it comes to travel insurance in Canada, they also underwrite many other providers, including CARP.

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#18 Medipac

Medipac is a distinguished provider of travel medical insurance and is particularly popular with seniors. It has alliances with the Canadian Snowbird Association and the Royal Canadian Legion.

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#19 RBC

The Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) is one of the largest banks in the country and it also offers travel insurance. RBC clients get extra perks, but you don’t need to be one to get insured with them.

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#20 Scotiabank Scotialife

An international financial services powerhouse, Scotiabank also offers Canadians insurance for their traveling needs.

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Cons:

Credit Card Travel Insurance

Along with the main insurance providers, some credit cards also offer travel insurance to its customers, as a benefit to some of their most popular cards. A couple of examples of this would be the BMO ® World Elite® Mastercard ® and the Scotiabank Gold American Express® cards.  Let’s do a brief pros and cons overview and see how they generally compare to the main insurance providers listed above.

Pros:  

Cons:

If you’re interested in this topic, you may also want to check our review of the American Express Travel Insurance here.

What are the best options?

As with everything, choosing the right travel insurance plan really depends on what you are going for. Each traveler has different needs that need to be examined in order for them to choose their best personal option.

That being said, overall, TuGo, RSA, Tour+Med, Travelcuts and World Nomads offer some of the best travel insurance policies for Canadians. TuGo offers great coverage in general, RSA and Tour+Med have great plans for seniors, while Travelcuts and World Nomads offer some of the best options to young passionate nomads.

What other travel insurance providers do you think we missed? What have your experiences been like with the ones we mentioned in this article?

Please write us in the comments

One single bank with personalized cards to be customized to your preferences. Be it cash back, $0 annual fee, travel perks or secured cards – MBNA has a wide range of rewards to cater to your specific needs. Read on for our review of the top 6 benefits this bank has to offer, and decide if MBNA offers what you are looking for.

MBNA Rewards: What You Need To Know

Maryland Bank, National Association (MBNA) has a wide range of cards that enthusiastically seems to cater to as many demographics as possible. The key idea is to offer each customer a card that is personalized to best suit their preferences.

As diverse as the MBNA card range is, all MBNA cards somehow linked to the MBNA Rewards loyalty program, of which we provide our review in the following post. 

In this review, you will find:

MBNA Rewards 

The MBNA rewards program, which allowed travel redemptions, was fairly decent in the past. However, ever since Toronto-Dominion (TD) Bank Group acquired MBNA Credit Card, the redemption valuation dropped significantly. Regardless of this, MBNA Rewards still offers good value to its members.

Here is a breakdown of the top-six benefits the MBNA Rewards program offers:

Benefit #1: MBNA Rewards Travel Cards

The best options reap travel rewards with MBNA cards are to sign up to the following 5 cards:

  1. MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus® Mastercard®
  2. MBNA Rewards World Elite® Mastercard®
  3. Alaska Airlines® Platinum Plus® Mastercard®
  4. Alaska Airlines® World Elite® Mastercard®
  5. Best Western® Rewards Mastercard®

It’s important to note here that part of MBNA’s effort to personalize their cards is to allocate specific loyalty terms to their respective cards. For instance, MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus Mastercard and MBNA Rewards World Elite Mastercard earn and redeem ‘MBNA Rewards points’. The Alaska Airlines Mastercards, on the other hand, earn and redeem ‘bonus miles’. Likewise, Best Western Rewards Mastercard earns and redeems ‘Best Western Rewards points’.

The following table summarizes the key features of these five MBNA cards


MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus® Mastercard® MBNA Rewards World Elite® Mastercard® Alaska Airlines® Platinum Plus® Mastercard® Alaska Airlines® World Elite® Mastercard® Best Western® Rewards Mastercard®
Annual Fee $0 $120 $75 $99 $0
Interest Rate (purchases) 19.99% 19.99% 19.99% 19.99% 19.99%
Interest Rate (balance transfers & access cheques) 22.99% 22.99% 22.99% 22.99% 22.99%
Interest Rate (cash advances) 24.99% 24.99% 22.99% 22.99% 22.99%
Welcome Offer Earn 4X points per $1 on gas, groceries & restaurants purchases for the first 90 days. Earn 10,000 bonus points Earn up to 30,000 bonus MBNA Rewards Points for travel, cash back and more. Earn  20,000 bonus miles Earn 30,000 bonus miles Earn 20,000 Best Western Rewards points
How To Qualify for the Welcome OfferWithin the first 90 days,

5000 points if $500 in eligible purchases is made

5000 points by requesting for paperless statements via mbna.ca
Within the first 90 days,

20,000 points if $2000 in eligible purchases is made

10,000 points  by requesting for paperless statements via mbna.ca

Spend $1,000 or more on eligible purchases in the first 90 days

Spend $1,000 or more on eligible purchases in the first 90 days 

Make a one night’s stay purchase minimum on your card. 
Point/Mile Earn Rates
for specific categories
Earn 2x points per $1 for eligible gas, groceries & restaurants after the first 90 days.   Subject to annual cap of $5000  for each category
N/A
Earn 3 Miles per $1 you spend on tickets, vacation packages, and cargo services from Alaska Airlines Earn 3 Miles per $1 you spend on tickets, vacation packages, and cargo services from Alaska Airlines Earn 5 points for every dollar spent on eligible purchases at a Best Western Property
Point/Mile Earn Rates
for all other eligible purchases
Earn 1x point per $1 Earn 2 points per $1 Earn 1 Mile per $1 Earn 1 Mile per $1 Earn 1 point per $1
Travel Redemption 100 points per $1   including any of the taxes or other costs for which you are responsible 100 points per $1   including any of the taxes or other costs for which you are responsibleBuy one round trip and get Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare from $121 USD ($99 plus taxes and fees from $22) each year on the anniversary of the account openingBuy one round trip and get Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare from $121 USD ($99 plus taxes and fees from $22) each year on the anniversary of the account opening Use your Best Western Rewards points in many ways — hotel stays dining, gift cards and more.
Purchase Assurance Yes. Up to $60,000. Yes. Up to $60,000. Yes. Up to $60,000. Yes. Up to $60,000. Yes. Up to $60,000.
Extended Warranty Benefits Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.
Price Protection No Yes. Up to $500. No Yes. Up to $500. No
Qualification to Apply Open to Canadian residents.  
No minimum personal or household income required
Open to Canadian residents.
Personal annual income must be greater than $80,000, or your household annual income must be $150,000 or greater
Open to Canadian residents.  
No minimum personal or household income required
Open to Canadian residents.
Personal annual income must be greater than $80,000, or your household annual income must be $150,000 or greater
Open to Canadian residents.
No minimum personal or household income required

MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus MasterCard and MBNA Rewards World Elite MasterCard are general travel cards that allow you to redeem travel perks at 100 points per $1 via the MBNA Rewards section. The upside is the points can be used for different major Canadian airlines and the points have no expiry date. The downside to the MBNA Rewards program is that the points aren’t transferable to other loyalty programs and you will need to use at least 10,000 MBNA Rewards points at the MBNA Rewards site to avoid getting charged with a booking fee of $29. 

With the Alaska Airline cards, let’s assume you spend $1,000 on any other eligible purchases. Along with your welcome offer, you can redeem:

If you are a regular at Best Western hotels and lodgings, then the Best Western Rewards Mastercard would be an amazing choice to use, especially considering it comes with no annual fee.

Benefit #2: MBNA Rewards Sports Credit Cards

Are you an avid sports enthusiast? MBNA has 7 credit cards that reward you as a sports fan. Here is the list of sports cards you can apply for:

MBNA sports credit cards

What are the perks of applying to these cards?

Actual scenarios have shown cardholders receiving sweet sports merchandise. For example, a Toronto Maple Leaf MBNA Rewards Mastercard holder received season tickets. There are terms and conditions that apply. All you need to be is a Canadian resident of age and you might just get yourself a credit card of your favorite sports team. What’s more, with no annual fee imposed. There’s nothing to lose!

Benefit #3: Many MBNA Cards Come With A $0 Annual Fee

Looking for more credit cards with $0 annual fees? MBNA does have a variety of options for you to choose from: 

MBNA Rewards offers many no fee credit cards
Card Name Interest Rate (purchases) Interest Rate (balance transfers & access cheques) Interest Rate (cash advances)
MBNA True Line®  Mastercard® 12.99% 12.99% 24.99%
MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus® Mastercard® 19.99% 22.99% 24.99%
MBNA Smart Cash Platinum Plus® Mastercard® 19.99% 22.99% 24.99%
Best Western® Rewards Mastercard® 19.99% 22.99% 22.99%
Harley-Davidson® Mastercard® 19.99% 22.99% 22.99%
Amazon.ca Rewards Mastercard 19.99% 22.99% 22.99%
Nordstorm Rewards Visa 19.99% 22.99% 22.99%
Melaleuca Mastercard® 19.99% 22.99% 22.99%
The Royal Canadian Legion® MBNA Rewards Mastercard® 19.99% 22.99% 24.99%

The top rated cards would be the MBNA True Line Mastercard with its low interest rates

MBNA True Line Mastercard

and the MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus Mastercard with its high point earn rate at 4x for gas and groceries during the first 90 days followed by 2x thereafter. 

MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus Mastercard

For more details on each card, you can click on the links on each card name in the table above.

Benefit #4: MBNA CashBack Rewards

MBNA has two credit cards that are exclusively for cashback benefits which are the MBNA Smart Cash Platinum Plus Mastercard and the MBNA Smart Cash World Mastercard

MBNA Smart Cash Platinum Plus Mastercard
MBNA Smart Cash World Mastercard

Here is a summary of the differences between both cards:


MBNA Smart Cash Platinum Plus® Mastercard® MBNA Smart Cash World® Mastercard®
Annual Fee $0 $39
Interest Rate (purchases) 19.99% 19.99%
Interest Rate (balance transfers & access cheques) 22.99% 22.99%
Interest Rate (cash advances) 24.99% 24.99%
Welcome Offer Earn 5% cashback on gas and groceries for the first 6 months
Cap limit — until total spending reaches $500 monthly
Earn 5% cashback on gas and groceries for the first 6 months
Cap limit — until total spending reaches $500 monthly
Cashback for gas and groceries Earn 2% cashback on gas and groceries after the first 6 months

Cap limit — until total spending reaches $500 monthly
Earn 2% cashback on gas and groceries after the first 6 months

Cap limit — until total spending reaches $500 monthly
Cashback for all other purchases Earn 0.5% cashback on all other eligible Purchases Earn 1% on all other eligible Purchases
Purchase Assurance Yes.
Covers against theft of or damage to covered personal property items purchased by you. If such an item is stolen or damaged, it will be repaired, replaced or you will be reimbursed the purchase price (not including taxes)
Yes.
Covers against theft of or damage to covered personal property items purchased by you. If such an item is stolen or damaged, it will be repaired, replaced or you will be reimbursed the purchase price (not including taxes)
Extended Warranty Benefits Yes.
Includes extended product warranty on eligible Purchases for an additional year
Yes.
Includes extended product warranty on eligible Purchases for an additional year
Car Rental Vehicle Benefits No Yes
Accidental Death & Dismemberment Benefits No Yes
Car Rental Vehicle Collision Damage Waiver Benefits No Yes

The distinct difference between Smart Cash Platinum Plus Mastercard and Smart Cash World Mastercard is as per below:

Let’s do the math to assess if it’s better to consider the Smart Cash Platinum Plus with $0 annual fee or Smart Cash World Mastercard with $39 annual fee. 

If you are a new cardholder, you will be eligible for the welcome bonus that gives you 5% cashback for gas and grocery purchases for 6 months. The spending cap per month to enjoy the 5% cashback is $500. After the $500 spending limit for gas and groceries is reached in one month, you will enjoy 2% cashback until the next month begins. 

As for other types of purchases, you will enjoy 0.5% cashback as a MBNA Smart Cash Platinum Plus Mastercard holder and 1% cashback as a MBNA Smart Cash World Mastercard holder. 

Purchase Type Total spent in a month via the card Cashback earned on MBNA Smart Cash Platinum Plus MasterCard Cashback earned on MBNA Smart Cash World MasterCard
Gas and Groceries $500 $25 $25
Gas and Groceries (after the max cap of $500 reached) $100 $0.50 $1
All other purchases  $250 $1.25 $2.50
Total $850 $28.25 $29.50

Within a month of purchases, you will enjoy an average of $29.50 cashback if you spend $850 on your MBNA Smart Cash World MasterCard.  This means your net spending is $820.50 giving you savings of 3.47% per month. Your annual fee is just $39. You would make your money back within the first two months. 

Let’s take a look at your savings with the regular 2% cashback on gas and groceries. The cashback rate on all other purchases is still the same. 

Purchase Type Total spent in a month via the card Cashback earned on MBNA Smart Cash Platinum Plus MasterCard Cashback earned on MBNA Smart Cash World MasterCard
Gas and Groceries $500 $10 $10
Gas and Groceries (after the max cap of $500 reached) $100 $0.50 $1
All other purchases  $250 $1.25 $2.50
Total $850 $13.25 $14.50

You would be taking back an average of $14.50 cash back if you spend the same $850 with the MBNA Smart Cash World Mastercard. With the MBNA Smart Cash Platinum Plus Mastercard, you would be getting an average or $13.25. 

Based on both scenarios (with and without the welcome offer), the cashback justifies the $39 annual fee. However, in comparison between both MBNA Smart Cash Platinum Plus Mastercard and MBNA Smart Cash World MasterCard, the difference in cashback is not a huge gap. It’s a matter of $1.50-$2.00. 

As such, it is a better idea to just make do with the MBNA Smart Cash Platinum Plus Mastercard and enjoy the $0 annual fee. Take note that this is true as long as you are not in any particular need of insurance coverage. If you are, then the MBNA Smart Cash World Mastercard is a better option, since it does come with a more elaborate insurance and security coverage for your purchases. 

Benefit #5: MBNA Rewards’ Balance Transfer Offer

The MBNA True Line Mastercard range is your go-to card for low balance transfer interest rates. The ongoing welcome promo gives you 0% annual interest rate on any balance transferred, in accordance with your approved credit limit, for a period that depends on the card you choose to apply for. 

MBNA Rewards 0% interest balance transfer offer

Here is a breakdown on both the MBNA True Line Mastercard and the MBNA True Line Gold Mastercard:


MBNA True Line®  Mastercard® MBNA True Line® Gold Mastercard®
Annual Fee $0 $39
Interest Rate (purchases) 12.99% 8.99%
Interest Rate (balance transfers & access cheques) 12.99% 8.99%
Interest Rate (cash advances) 24.99% 24.99%
Welcome Offer Save on interest with a 0% promotional annual interest rate on balance transfers for the first 12 months, for transfers completed within 90 days of account opening
3% balance transfer fee applies (minimum fee of $7.50)
Save on interest with a 0% promotional annual interest rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months, for transfers completed within 90 days of account opening
3% balance transfer fee applies (minimum fee of $7.50)
Purchase Assurance No Yes. Up to $60,000.
Coverage on most items purchased with your MBNA credit card for the first 90 days from the date of purchase.
Extended Warranty Benefits No Yes.
Doubles the written warranties for up to one additional year on most new purchases made with your MBNA credit card
Qualification to Apply Open to Canadian residents who are of the age of majority in your province/territory of residence.  No minimum personal or household income required Open to Canadian residents who are of the age of majority in your province/territory of residence.  No minimum personal or household income required

Benefit #6: MBNA Security

If there is unauthorized use of your MBNA credit card, PIN number or account number for purchases, you will be protected from the costs of this use. This is done with the Zero Liability Policy which covers both Mastercard and Visa credit cards.

The Zero Liability Policy negates consumer liability for such fraudulent transactions. However, it is key that you have taken adequate measures to prevent potential loss or theft as a consumer. Only then will the MBNA security feature – Zero Liability Policy – kick in and work for you. 

Other than that, MBNA has enforced the standard precautions below to ensure the safety of your transactions with MBNA cards:

The Verdict

The MBNA card range is diverse and customizable to suit varied preferences. However, there are other cards available with greater deals and far more exciting redemption plans. The top-rated cards in the MBNA Rewards program are the MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus Mastercard, which comes with a $0 annual fee. However, the points earn rate is best at the promo period which is only for 90 days, with a 4x points earn rate capped at $5,000 spending per annum.

If you’re looking for a better option, the American Express Cobalt Card comes with a monthly fee of $10 ($120 annually), it can be canceled at any time and it comes with a 5x points earn rate with no cap.

An interesting card range to note with MBNA is the sports range, which is an exciting alternative if you are a full-blown sports fan. These cards come with a $0 annual fee, which means that your only worry will be to be disciplined while holding on to one of these credit cards. If so, then you are good to go and earn yourself exciting sports merchandise from your favorite player or even earn fabulous deals to watch your sports team games.  

Robo Advisors are AI operated software programs that invest money for you. They usually invest in Exchange Traded Funds, or ETFs, which offer less risk and a more predictable return on your investment. There are numerous robo advisors in Canada that include Wealthsimple, Nest Wealth, Wealthbar, Modern Advisor, RBC InvestEase, and more. Each of these computer aided investors comes with its own set of fees and investment portfolios, and in this post you’ll learn to make sense of it all and choose the perfect one for your future.

Whether you’re into the low-cost investing and the do-it-yourself wave or if you’re into automating as much of any task as you can, like getting a a Roomba robot to clean your house, then chances are you’ve heard about Robo advisors. But, what are they exactly? And how do you choose the right one? Keep reading to find out.

What Are Robo Advisors?

Robo-advisors (also known as Robo Advisors) are digital platforms that provide you with automated, algorithm-driven financial planning services with minimum human supervision. Their services go from automatic rebalancing to tax optimization, and although you can do this without needing human intervention, many providers also offer to have human advisors available to answer your questions.

How Do Robo Advisors Work?

What robo-advisors do is to automatically select investments and build a diversified portfolio tailored to you and your financial needs and preferences. Once your funds are invested, on an ongoing basis, this software will automatically make changes to the investments to align your portfolio to a target allocation. Some Robo-advisors are known for even making tax-loss harvesting, which is the process of making trades automatically to help you reduce your tax bill.

Something important to mention is that most robo-advisors will divide their investment portfolios by risk. Therefore, you can choose anything from a conservative portfolio to an aggressive one, and then you’re provided with a collection of investments, in specific proportions, that are tailored to meet your requirements.

How Much Do Robo Advisors cost?

As you may have already guessed, each robo-advisor has a reasonable service fee that can be either a fixed monthly fee or a percentage of assets. Keep in mind that with a robo-advisor, you are paying a service fee and you’re also paying the expenses of the investments used.

For robo-advisors that charge a fixed monthly fee, that fee can typically range from about $15 per month to $200 per month depending on your portfolio size.

On the other hand, with a percentage of assets structure, fees will range for about 0.15% to 0.50% of your account size per year. If you had a $100,000 investment account, a 0.50% fee would equate to $500 a year.

Benefits Of Robo-Investing In Canada

Here are some of the main benefits of using a robo-advisor:

Robo Advisors Vs. Human Advisors Vs. Self-Directed Investing In Canada

The choice between a human advisor and a robo-advisor depends on your needs and wants. Say you have a complicated tax situation or a high net worth; in that case, it might be worth getting a human financial advisor.

Sure, their fees are higher, but they will create you a full financial plan that will be valuable despite the fees. For example, they will offer you human, empathetic guidance through a divorce or your plans of home ownership, going from “yes, you should buy that boat this summer” to “no, you shouldn’t sell your vinyl collection!”.

Now, if what you’re looking is a way of investing while paying lower fees without having to do tons of research and portfolio maintenance, then a robo-advisor is the better choice for you. Some robo-advisors will offer you a hybrid approach by giving you access to a financial advisor as well as a personalized investment portfolio.

This works especially well if you want to save money on fees but still need the support from an advisor.

Finally, if what you crave is to be very involved in the process of investing, then a self-directed approach (known as stock picking) could be your best choice. Though you should know that stock picking is very risky and studies have shown that many people who pick individual stocks fail to outperform the market.

Get To Know The Most Popular Robo Advisors In Canada

Wealthsimple

Best Canadian Robo Advisors: Wealthsimple

You can guess by its name that Wealthsimple has a straightforward approach to investing.  With no minimum investment amount, this robo-advisor is accessible to all and generates returns passively from broad-based ETFs with a low average Management Expense Ratio (MER) of around 0.20%.

Its pricing has only two levels: Wealthsimple Basic at 0.50% (on your first $99,999) and Wealthsimple Black at 0.40% (above $100,000).

Users of Wealthsimple will receive tax-loss harvesting, VIP airline lounge access, as well as special goal-based planning capabilities that focus closely on personal preferences. Users also get an automated Smart Savings account that charges just 0.25%, and over 10 other portfolio options.

The accounts offered by Wealthsimple are:

You can read our full review on Wealthsimple here.

Best Canadian Robo Advisors: Nest Wealth

Nest Wealth

This robo-advisor is known for its popularity amongst the retirement age crowd since it is more beneficial for those who prefer investing relatively higher sums of money with their robo-advisor even though its model doesn’t impose any minimum investment limit. That said, you should avoid keeping a low-investment account because in that case, fees will be disproportionately larger.

Nest Wealth users can choose from an array of customized portfolios, generally investing in broad-based ETFs with a low average Management Expense Ratio (MER) of around 0.15%.

All trades are made automatically, and the algorithm won’t vary your portfolio’s asset allocation to time with the market. Prices for the service depend on the level of investment, starting at $20 per month for $0-75,000, $40 per month for a portfolio of $75,000-150,000, and $80 per month for $150,000-500,000. Furthermore, each rebalancing can cost $9.99 up to a maximum of $100 yearly.

Types of Accounts:

Best Canadian Robo Advisors: Wealthbar

Wealthbar

This robo-advisors’s methodology for investment emphasizes managing volatility and cash flow while remaining largely passive. Like other advisors, the minimum investment is $1,000. Anything less than $5,000 has no management fee and amounts less than $1,000 are held in cash. Regarding Management fees, this robo-advisor trades ETFs with an average MER of between 0.26% and 0.32%, while private investment portfolios managed by WealthBar have MERs between 0.83% and 1.22%.

Types of accounts

Best Canadian Robo Advisors: ModernAdvisor

ModernAdvisor

Much like other robo-advisors, ModernAdvisor uses low-cost ETFs to design customized portfolios and categorize them based on risk to suit the investors with different investment goals. Its portfolios are diversified and hold assets that are optimally allocated using a Nobel Prize-winning strategy known as the Modern Portfolio Theory.

However, ModernAdvisor follows a hybrid strategy that mixes both ‘passive’ and ‘active’ investing. So, a passive investing strategy buys the market and aims to generate market returns, while an active investing aims to beat the market and continuously looks for opportunities to do so.

Best Canadian Robo Advisors: RBC InvestEase

RBC InvestEase

RBC InvestEase is an online investment management service whose goal is to simplify your investing with the added expertise of real advisors while leaving all the investing work to them. They also provide you with investment plans based on your needs and answers to their simple questionnaire.

Once you’re done with that questionnaire, they’ll invest your money in a portfolio of carefully selected ETFs on your behalf and then, accredited advisors will keep an eye on them to help you stay on track.

We actually have a whole post dedicated to InvestEase! Check it out.

RBC InvestEase offers you full transparency without any surprises. The annual management fee after the promotional period is only 0.5% per year on your investment balance, plus MERs charged by the ETF manager. Best of all, there’s only a minimum account requirement of $100 for you to get started.

Best Canadian Robo Advisors: BMO Smartfolio

BMO Smartfolio

The BMO Smartfolio was one the first robo-advisors to be made by a bank, which is something that seems to be slowly becoming a trend. With the BMO Smartfolio you need $1,000 of minimum investment amount and fees range from 0.4% to 0.7%.

This robo-advisor offers a team of dedicated advisors that will help you select from award-winning ETFs to build a portfolio tailored to your preferences and risk tolerance. The MER of the ETFs held within your portfolio is most likely to be weighted at an average of 0.20% to 0.35% of the value of your SmartFolio account.

Smartfolio uses a unique investment approach that combines “smart beta” ETFs and a team of advisors making adjustments where needed. This works much like a robo-advisor but with real human advisors rebalancing your portfolio roughly four times per year, to assure you stay on top of your asset allocation.

Best Canadian Robo Advisors: Justwealth

Justwealth

When you sign up for Justwealth, you get a manager who oversees managing your investments along with additional services such as financial planning and portfolio reviews for an added cost. This robo advisor offers a massive selection of about 70 different portfolios derived from more than 40 ETFs.  They even claim that they have the biggest collection of portfolios out of any robo advisor in Canada! Investors can open a variety of account types, and the fee structure is straightforward:

Best Canadian Robo Advisors: Questrade Portfolio IQ

Questrade Portfolio IQ

Questrade is offering the revamped version of their former Portfolio IQ.  Questrade Portfolios brings an active hybrid management approach combining technology with human financial experts to create five different types of ETF portfolios—Aggressive, Growth, Balanced, Income and Conservative—for investors that seek a more automated approach to investing. Each of these portfolios can be put into different types of accounts, including TFSAs, RRSPs, cash and more.

This roboadvisor has two main structures and its management fee is 0.25% on accounts with $0-$100K and 0.20% on accounts of more than $100K. The MERs for the ETFs go from 0.17%-0.22%. Its socially responsible investing portfolio’s MERs range from 0.21%-0.35% putting them among the lowest fees available for robo-investing in Canada.

They don’t charge any transfer fees or charges to open or close an account. However, you do need a minimum balance of $1,000 to be able to open an investing account with QuestradePortfolios.

If you wish then to move an outside account to Questrade Portfolios, they will reimburse up to $150 of the transfer out fee if your transfer is $25,000 or more. Your account is protected for up to $1,000,000 if an investment firm becomes insolvent given that this company is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund.

How To Choose A Robo-Advisor

Keep the following criteria in mind when picking robo-advisors:

How To Get Started With Robo Advisors

Signing up for a robo-advisor is super easy. It can be done from the comfort of your home and requires little more than an internet connection and an idea of what kind of services you want.

Step 1: Sign up

Once you choose your robo-advisor, start by signing up for the service by entering your email and choosing a password that you’ll use to access your account.

Step 2: Fill out a risk survey

The robo-advisor will ask you to answer a series of questions that will help the algorithm create a personalized portfolio and investment strategy for you. The questions will usually be about your age, your average salary, how soon you wish to access your money, and your risk tolerance.

Step 3: Make a transfer

When the survey is completed, the robo-advisor will create a portfolio for you. After that, it’s time to link your existing bank account to your new robo-advisor account and make a transfer to fund your investment.

Some robo-advisors will ask for a minimum deposit, others will let you deposit as little as $1 to start. When the money is transferred, the robo-advisor can start investing and managing your money.

Step 4: Set up regular deposits

 For your portfolio to work effectively, it is better if you invest on a regular basis. The most efficient way to do this is to set up automatic recurring deposits. If you feel like it’s too much of a commitment, you can always go into your account to adjust the deposit as much as needed.

Comparing All Robo Advisors

Before you go, here is a compilation of all the robo-advisors presented in this post, with all their features to make them easier to compare:

Roboadvisor Minimum investment Service cost Management Expense Ratio (MER) Accounts offered
Wealthsimple No minimum deposit A fee of 0.5% that goes down to 0.4% for Wealthsimple Black clients who have invested at least $100,000. Around 0.20%. Traditional IRA, Roth IRA, SEP IRA, Personal account, Joint account and Trust.
Nest Wealth No minimum deposit Under $75,000: $20 fee per month ($240 per annum)   $75,000 to under $150,000: $40 fee per month (or $480 per annum)   $150,000 and Above: $80 fee per month ($960 per annum)   Around 0.15% It offers trust, corporate, joint, and LIRA along with RRSP, TFSA, RESP, and RIF accounts.
Wealthbar Requires a minimum deposit of $1,000 If you have an investment of $25,000 with WealthBar’s 0.60% rate you’d pay $150 yearly. According to each portfolio: Aggressive‎: ‎0.25% Balanced‎: ‎0.25% Growth‎: ‎0.26% RRSP (including spousal RRSP) RESP TFSA LIRA RRIF (and spousal RRIF) LIF Non-registered accounts Joint non-registered savings account Corporate non-registered account
ModernAdvisor No minimum deposit but you need to reach $1000 to start investing  $75 a month to use the service, and an annual investment fee that decreases depending on the investment amount.  Fees start at 0.89% and decrease to 0.49%. Around 2.35% Individual and Spousal RRSP TFSA Individual and Family RESP Individual and Spousal RRIF LIRA Joint-Right of Survivorship Non-registered accounts Corporate accounts ITF accounts
RBC InvestEase $1,000 Flat fee of 0.5% per year Ranges from 0.11%-0.30% which means that you can expect your total annual portfolio fee to be around 0.61%-0.80% Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) Non-Registered Investment Account.
BMO Smartfolio $1,000 First $100,000, annual fee of 0.70% Next $150,000, annual fee of 0.60% An average of 0.20% to 0.35% of the value of your SmartFolio account. Investment Accounts Joint Investment Accounts Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF) Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSP) Registered Education Savings Plans (RESP) Spousal Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF) Spousal Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSP) Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA)
Justwealth 5,000 except for RESP accounts where no minimum is required. The minimum Justwealth management fee is $4.99/month for all account types (excluding RESPs). An average of 0.25% Non-Registered taxable account. RRSP. Spousal RRSP. TFSA. RESP. RRIF. Locked-In Retirement Account. Life Income Fund.
Questrade Portfolio IQ $1,000 $1,000 – $99,999: 0.25% per year. $100,000: 0.20% per year ETFs: 0.17%-0.22%. Socially responsible investing portfolios: 0.21%-0.35% Cash Account- Personal or Joint. RRSP. TFSA. RESP. LIRA- Locked In Retirement Accounts. RIF- Registered Retirement Income Fund. Corporate Accounts. LIF- Life Income Fund.

If you’re a mature investor, your best choice is: Nest Wealth

As mentioned before, with an unique pricing model that is beneficial for those who invest large sums of money, Nest Wealth allows you to pay a monthly fee instead of an annual percentage of your portfolio value like most others. Its pricing tiers are:

With an average MER of 0.13%  of the ETFs for a balanced and the monthly fees mentioned above, this pricing system makes Nest Wealth a cost-effective option for investors with large portfolios.

This robo-advisor isn’t solely for retirees, even if it does appeal to that demographic. With this robo-advisor trades will occur automatically and follow an algorithm. It does charge some extra fees that others don’t (such as rebalancing fees), so keep that in mind as you consider them.

If you need more of a human touch for your investment, your best choice is: BMO Smartfolio

BMO Smartfolio uses an unique investment approach. With a hybrid approach, they use smart beta ETFs and also have a team of advisors watching the portfolios and actively making the adjustments needed.

So it works like a robo-advisors, but with a very hands-on approach behind the scenes. The portfolios are rebalanced around four times a year, to keep investors on top of their asset allocation. Other details about Smartfolio:

If you would like to have investment variety, your best choice: Justwealth

With a massive selection of 70 different portfolios derived from more than 40 ETFs,  according to Justwealth itself, they have the biggest collection of portfolios out of any robo-advisor in Canada. This is their fee structure:

So, there you have them, all robo-advisors and their features. As you can see, all of them offer different options depending on your investment and your risk preference. Think about what exactly are your needs and the amount you’re willing to start investing and then you’re ready to go over this list and choose one! Have you ever used any of these robo-advisors? If so, tell us about your experience in the comments below!

If you just graduated from high school and your future plans involve college, then it’s about time to consider managing your own finances. Getting your first credit card is the one of the most important decisions to make in this respect, and we’ll help you choose by narrowing down your options to the five best student credit cards available in Canada today.

By offering a perfect balance between rewards and flexibility, the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card presents itself as the best choice for most Canadian students. However, there are other great options as well, and you’ll want to choose the one that’ll bring you the most rewards for your particular lifestyle.

In the following post on the Best Student Credit Cards in Canada, you will find:

Why It’s A Good Idea To Get A Student Credit Card

If you’re new to the concept of student credit cards, you might be scratching your head to the whole concept and will understandably have questions about them. Don’t worry. This article will make sure that you have all the knowledge you need under your belt in order to go out and get your first student credit card. 

So, What Are They? 

Basically, they’re exactly like your regular credit card, but with a few minor differences. As you may have already guessed, student credit cards are for, well, students. Specifically, they’re meant to be the first credit card that a person gets once they graduate from high school and step into the big world. 

Any College Student Can Get Them

This is a student credit card’s main selling point, actually. While regular cards might require you to have a good credit history (which is basically a fancy way of putting how good you are at paying your money back), student credit cards have no such requirements. All you need to do is show that you have a source of income and can afford to pay for the loans you acquire. 

Why We Recommend Them

Let’s focus on what you get when you apply for a student credit card: 

What Are The Top-5 Best Student Credit Cards In Canada?

With that being said, here are 5 of the best student credit cards in Canada which may be the best places to start. Remember, there’s no one-shoe-fits-all here either; you can try different options to see which one suits you best. 

1. BMO CashBack Mastercard

Do you just want a simple, no-hassle student credit card that gets the job done? 

The BMO CashBack, one of the best student credit cards for Canadians

The BMO CashBack is high on our list, and that’s because this card is beautifully simple. It’s there for students who have no special requirements, and simply want to start their college program without a hassle. 

You Get A 5% Cash Back For The First 3 Months

This is one of the best offers anyone looking to get college supplies could ever ask for. Keep in mind that those cash backs are for purchases under $100, though, so you won’t be able to haul a laptop with this offer. However, books, tools, clothes – everything that isn’t too expensive is right in the bag with this offer. The first 3 months are when you’ll be doing most of your shopping anyway.

Your cash backs will be reduced to 1% after the first 3 months, so you won’t really have to do any calculations with your transactions. It’s a simple, dramaless card that can easily get you through college. 

Other Features That You’ll Enjoy

The downsides are no special rewards

This might be something that a lot of students will be repelled by. If you’re the sort of person who wants to focus on college for the next four years (as you should), then this card will be a perfect way forward for you. However, if you need movie tickets and free air travel, this card probably isn’t for you as there are better options out there that provide you with exactly that.

If you’re interested in choosing a cashback card, you can read our review of the best cash back credit cards in Canada.

2. Scotiabank Scene Visa Card

Are You A Cinephile? 

The Scotiabank Scene Visa Card, one of the best student credit cards in Canada

Scotiabank designed this card specifically for students who simply have to see all the blockbusters in the cinema and won’t make do with anything less. If you’re a cinephile, you should probably think about sticking to the Scotiabank Scene Visa card since it’s rewards are aimed at you. 

Get Super Rewards For Movies

That’s pretty much all that this card revolves around. You’re earning more than what you would normally get from a cashback card, like say, the BMO Cashback Mastercard. If you would get $0.01 back for every dollar spent with a BMO cashback card, the same purchase would give you $0.0136 using the Scotiabank Scene Visa, but you will only be able to redeem them for cinema movies. Of course, that works exactly the way any movie lover would want this card to.

Introducing SCENE Points

This card revolves around scene points. You don’t actually get cashback by using this card. Instead, for every dollar you spend, you’ll get 1 SCENE point. Collect 1250 of these, and you’ve got yourself a free movie. One additional point to note is that you get 5 SCENE points for every dollar you spend at Cineplex Cinemas, so you won’t feel that bad after purchasing the impossibly expensive popcorn and drinks while you enjoy your movie. 

The Scotiabank Card Will Make Life Easy

The Credit Limit Is Low, Though

You’re going to face a minimum of 19.99% annual interest rate for your purchases, which could become highly troublesome to deal with if mishandled. However, the card has a credit limit of $500, which should ease things up a bit. This card also has a minimum income requirement of $12,000 a year, which is surely unwanted, but something that most students will be able to afford.

3. BMO SPC Air Miles Mastercard

Do You Need To Fly A Lot During Your College Degree?

The BMO SPC AIR MILES Card, the best student travel credit card in Canada

Is your college campus far from home? You’re in luck because BMO has the perfect offer for you. You’ll save money for your ticket home during the holidays while you spend on your daily needs and before you know it, you’ll have a massive discount – if not a completely free ticket at your disposal. 

You get 1 mile for every $20 spent

That’s the flagship offer you’re getting on this card … and, it’s totally worth it if you think you’ll be traveling frequently since it has plenty of opportunities to save up on flight ticket costs. You’ll save up on a whole lot of money on air travel just by charging your purchases to this card. Before you know it, you’ll have a free ticket for home by the time your semester is done. 

You’ll be gifted 800 miles right off the bat

If that’s not an alluring offer, then we don’t know what is. You’ll be able to make most domestic flights with this number of free miles, and we’re guessing it’ll be the perfect way to land in the city where your college campus is built. 

There’s a sweet reward for using partner stores

You actually get another air mile for your $20 to spend if you do so at an AIR MILES partner store. That’s double the amount you’d normally get as a regular AIR MILES collector, which essentially means you’ll be flying a whole lot more if you’re smart about where you buy from. 

The minimum earning requirements are a letdown

You’d expect that a card like this would have a catch. You’ll need a minimum income of $15,000 a year if you want to qualify for this card, which might be a stretch for some students out there. 

4. Tangerine Money-Back Card

Want more control over how much cashback you receive? 

The Tangerine Money Back credit card is the best student credit card in Canada

BMO’s cashback card is a godsend for everyone who isn’t interested in keeping track of any rewards or point-scoring. Tangerine’s Money-Back card does something quite similar but it requires a slight bit of input from your side. Rather than having a flat cashback rate on every purchase that you’re going to make, the Tangerine money back card allows you to have a higher cashback rate on 2 product categories of your choice and a lower rate on every other category. In fact, if you choose to withdraw the cashback to your Tangerine account, you could choose an extra category for the 2% cashback rate.

That’s 2% cashback on up to three categories with the Tangerine Money-Back Card

You’re Going To Love Your 2% Cashback

It’s double the money that you’re getting from the BMO cashback card. What more could you possibly want? Of course, this only applies to up to 3 product categories of your choice- you’re going to get 0.5% cashback on the rest of the products you purchase. In this sense, if you feel like you’re going to be dealing with a diverse range of products throughout your college life, you’re better off with another card. 

However, we believe that with some planning, you’ll be able to make your life a lot easier by utilizing this card’s powerful 2% cashback feature. Identify your lifestyle and make it 2% cheaper – there’s nothing more to it! 

Why is the Tangerine Money-Back Card One Of The Best Student Credit Cards in Canada?

It’s hard to pick on this card

The 0.5% cashback for categories other than the ones you chose might be a turn-off for some potential customers. However, it’s a fair deal considering the extensive savings you’ll get from their flagship offer of a 2% cashback on categories you’ve chosen. You can choose just about any category ranging from restaurants to travel. 

The Tangerine Money Back Credit Card isn’t only one of the best student credit cards in Canada, but it’s also one of the best cash back credit cards in Canada.

5. Home Trust Secured Visa

Have You Messed Up Your Credit Score? 

Home Trust Secured Visa. A great choice for those with bad credit

Home Trust provides students with a get out of jail card with this fantastic savior of a card. If you’ve ended up messing up your credit score with another card, this secured card is everything you need to pull yourself back on track. 

There aren’t any fancy rewards here – the entire point of this card is to spend responsibly and restore your credit score so that you can apply for another credit card that serves your needs. 

95% Of Applicants Get This Card

That’s what’s so great about it. According to the card’s official website, 95% of all applicants successfully receive their card without any hurdles facing them. If you have a credit score, say … around 600, you should definitely look to apply for this card as soon as you can.  As per norm, a good number of credit card companies would reject applications for such a credit score – or something lower – but Home Trust is here to take you into their arms.   

Verdict: Take the Tangerine Money-Back Card

We believe that every student should have enough interest in their financial interests to be able to make bold decisions. The Tangerine Money-Back card saves you from the distractions that many of the other rewarding cards provide. Regardless, it still demands a small amount of attention – something that the BMO Cash Back card doesn’t do. 

As a student, you’ll be on a budget, and will have to make smart decisions regarding your money in order to save up for the future. The Tangerine Money Back Card does exactly that by allowing you to choose how you can save the most money based on your lifestyle. In a way, it compels you to be money-smart, which, you’ll likely agree with us, is a good thing. It’ll set you up for the financially stable future as you’ll learn how to steer yourself through the storm of impulse-driven purchases and monthly budgets. 

American Express Cards accepted window sign

This post was sponsored by Amex Bank of Canada. The views and opinions expressed in this blog, however, are my own. American Express is not responsible for maintaining or monitoring the accuracy of the information on this website.

The question of how widely American Express cards are accepted has been a hot topic for years. That’s why this post takes both a qualitative and a quantitative look at where American Express is accepted in Canada and abroad, and takes a peek at the top benefits on some of their most popular cards, like the American Express Cobalt Card.

For years, many Canadians have believed a few things about American Express Cards:

  1. American Express Cards are for people who love to travel widely and live the good life.
  2. American Express Cards offer plenty of benefits, both at home and abroad, and reward their cardholders generously.

And they’re absolutely right!

But alongside these truths, a false belief has manifested as well: the belief that American Express Cards are not widely accepted in Canada.

In fact, nothing could be more incorrect.

This post will show you why American Express Cards are accepted more widely than you might think in Canada, and why the future is bright for Amex Cardholders.

My Experience With American Express Cards

My personal experience with my American Express Cards in Canada and abroad has been very positive. I’ve been traveling with my Platinum Card® for nearly 5 years now, and it’s accepted virtually everywhere that I go. Generally the only places I find that don’t take my Amex are those places that don’t accept credit cards at all. Even those spots are becoming harder and harder to find.

Where is American Express Accepted in Canada?

Everyday Expenses

I use my American Express® Gold Rewards Card at grocery stores and gas stations all across Canada. I use my American Express Cobalt Card at eligible bars and coffee shops all the time. Just about all of the big names in food and beverage, consumer electronics and apparel gladly accept American Express Cards, and once you understand how much you’re leaving on the table by not using an Amex card, you’ll want to start using yours everywhere, too.

Travel Purchases

If you’ve read any of our posts on the different Amex cards (like the Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express Card or any of the American Express Aeroplan Cards), you’ll know that they excel when it comes to travel purchases. Thousands upon thousands of airlines and travel providers in Canada and abroad accept American Express.

What’s even better, though, is that many of those airlines and travel providers also offer special benefits and bonuses for clients who pay with an Amex card. You’re essentially getting doubly rewarded – once by Amex, and once by the merchant – for using your Amex travel credit card.

Who Accepts American Express In Canada?

It’s tough to find information on how many merchants accept Amex cards at any given time. However, American Express does leave some clues.

For example, on the American Express Canadian website, they mention that more than 96,000 new places in Canada started accepting American Express Cards in 2018. Looking at the main industries involved, that’s 47,000 new service providers, 27,000 new shopping locations, and 16,500 new dining locations.

Breaking these 2018 numbers down by city, you can see that Amex acceptance in the big cities is growing at an extremely fast pace:

Number of new merchants accepting American Express Cards In 2018

Toronto20,000
Montreal10,000
Vancouver9,000
Calgary5,000

American Express also gives this partial list of where Amex cards are accepted in Canada:

Dining• Alice Fazooli’s, Jack Astor’s, Canyon Creek Chophouse, Second City, Loose Change Charlies
• Browns Socialhouse
• Bymark, Fabbrica, North 44°, One Restaurant
• Earls Kitchen & Bar
• Harvey’s, Kelsey’s, Milestone’s, Montana’s, Swiss Chalet, The Second Cup
• McDonald’s
• Moxie’s Classic Grill, Chop Restaurants, Dennys, Revelstoke Mountain Resort, Sandman Hotels & Inns, Shark Clubs Of Canada, The Shark Club Of Langley
• Oliver & Bonacini Restaurants
• Pickle Barrel
• The Keg, Hy’s Steakhouses
Health & Essentials• 407 ETR
• 7-Eleven
• Bell, Virigin Mobile, The Source
• Esso
• Grocery Gateway
• London Drugs
• Longos
• Marketplace IGA (BC Only)
• McEwan
• Metro
• Petro-Canada
• Pusateri’s
• Rogers, Fido
• Save-On-Foods, PriceSmart Foods, Urban Fare, Overwaitea Foods
• Shaw
• Shell Canada
• Sobeys, Foodland, IGA, Commisso’s
• SAQ
• Telus, Koodo Mobile
• Whole Foods Market
Home & Entertainment• Apple
• Best Buy, Future Shop
• Cineplex Entertainment, Famous Players, Alliance Atlantis Cinemas, Galaxy Entertainment
• Clublink
• Crate & Barrel
• Home Depot
• Home Hardware
• Leon’s
• Lowe’s
• Mirvish
• Pottery Barn
• Restoration Hardware
• Sleep Country Canada
• Staples
• The Brick
• Ticketmaster
• Urban Barn
• Visions Electronics
• West Elm
• William Ashley
• Williams Sonoma
Retail• Aldo
• American Eagle Outfitters
• Atmosphere, Coast Mountain Sports, National Sports, Nevada Bob’s Golf, Sport Mart, Sports Experts, Fitness Source, Gen-x Sports Inc, Podium, Rnr Outdoors
• Birks
• Browns
• H&M
• HomeSense
• Indigo, Chapters, Coles, Calendar Club Of Canada
• Lululemon
• Marshall’s
• Reitmans, RW & Co, Smart Set, Thyme Maternity, Addition-Elle, Penningtons
• Roots
• Sporting Life
• The Bay, Home Outfitters
• Victoria’s Secret, Bath And Body Works, Pink, La Senza
• Walmart
• Winners
Travel• Air Canada
• Air Transat, Nolitours
• Avis
• Best Western
• Budget
• Carnival Cruise Lines
• Celebrity Cruises
• Enterprise Rent-A-Car
• Flight Centre
• Hertz
• Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Hilton Homewood Suites, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Inn Hotels, Embassy Suites Hotels, Doubletree Hotels
• Holiday Inn Hotels, Intercontinental Hotels, Crowne Plaza Hotel, Candlewood Suites, Staybridge Suites
• Porter Airlines
• Princess Cruises
• Royal Caribbean Cruises
• Sunwing Tours
• Thrifty
• Westcorp Hotels
• WestJet

What Is American Express Doing To Increase Acceptance In Canada?

Offering Great Benefits

The most important thing American Express does to increase Amex acceptance is offer a great product. The Amex family of cards are some of the top cards in Canada today. The American Express Cobalt Card makes a strong case for being the best credit card in Canada for millennials – its $10/month fee and generous reward scheme have quickly made it a favourite among students and young professionals alike. Business owners rave about the Business Platinum Card® and Marriott Bonvoy Business Cards.

Benefits like welcome bonuses, travel benefits, American Express Invites and purchase, travel and small business insurance make Amex cards appealing to just about everybody. And as more Cardmembers sign up, there’s more demand put upon businesses to start accepting Amex cards, a key driver behind why tens of thousands of Canadian businesses are starting to accept American Express every year.

Finding Amex-Friendly Merchants With American Express Maps

One great way to find American Express merchants is by using Amex Maps. You can think of Amex Maps as Google Maps overlaid with Amex-friendly establishments nearby. Looking for a restaurant or coffee shop near you that accepts Amex? The answer is just a couple of clicks away.

Here’s what Amex Maps looks like in downtown Toronto. As you can see, there are a lot of places on there:

The Bottom Line

Based on statistics by the Canadian Government, there are about 1.2 million businesses in Canada today, and that number grows by about 10,000 businesses every year. Yet with 70,000 new businesses accepting Amex in 2017, and 96,000 more in 2018, the future is clear: it won’t be long before just about every business in Canada accepts American Express cards.

If you want help deciding which American Express card is best for your lifestyle, take our 60-second quiz and we’ll help you out!