So last week we talked all about AMEX and how to utilize them to their fullest potential in a One Year Churning Plan. We mentioned this week we would go over the non-AMEX cards and point out the good ones. Here we go:
My all time personal favourite non-AMEX has to be the Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard.
- 25,000 Alaska Airlines Miles after minimum spend is met
- $1,000 minimum spend in the first 90 days
- $75 annual fee (see below how to reduce this to $15)
- Earn 1 Bonus Mile per $1 spent on every eligible purchase
- Earn 3 Bonus Miles per $1 spent on Alaska Airlines tickets, cargo purchases, in-flight purchases and vacation packages
- Receive an annual Companion Fare from $121 (USD) ($99 base fare, plus taxes and fees from $22)
As we spoke about last time, Air Canada and British Airways are part of airline alliances. Alaska Airlines is not, but what makes their points so valuable is their partner airlines that you can book with. Click here to see Alaska Airlines’ partners.
In terms of luxury air travel, they do have a few very notable partners. I’ll talk about a few of them:
Singapore Airlines – Alaska’s most recent partner, known for their First Class Suites. Unfortunately, sorry to get your hopes up, availability on the Suites in not available via Alaska. Sorry if you got excited there for a second.
Japan Airlines – JAL is famous for their Sky Suite are a great way to get from Canada to Japan in luxury. The Sky Suite is bookable on Alaska and a one way flight only costs 70,000 points.
Fiji Airways – easily the best way to get from the west coast to Fiji in a very great business class product for only 55,000 points.
Emirates Airlines – Maybe the most famous luxury airline in the world, Emirates First Class has a shower on your flight, so you can freshen up before you land. Emirates First Class is bookable through Alaska but they recently devalued the points on this redemption so now this will cost you 150,000 points for a one way flight in First.
Cathay Pacific – Cathay has by far one of the best First Class products in the world. With their sweet spot you can fly from Canada to Hong Kong in First then onto South Africa in Business for only 70,000 points. Easily the best redemption via Alaska Miles.
Alaska is my favourite card because they have amazing partners, but also because it is very churnable. The wording in their terms and conditions is as follows:
“Limit one-time bonus Miles and Companion Certificate offer (no cash value) per new account.”
Every time you apply for a new card, it opens a new account which makes it the most churnable card we have available to us as Canadians.
To be eligible for the Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard you need a minimum annual personal income of $80,000 or a minimum household income of $150,000. However, MBNA, who issues the card, has a Platinum Plus version of the card for those who apply but don’t meet the income requirements so it is actually very easy to get approved for this card.
Lastly, I mentioned you can get this card for only a $15 annual fee. Well, if you apply for the card through GreatCanadianRebates (GCR), you get a $60 rebate once approved for the card. To apply for the card and be eligible for the rebate, you need to create a GCR account and then apply through this link. The rebate can take up to 45 days but if you are approved you will get the $60 rebate.
My next favourite card is a card that isn’t talked about much in the churning universe but I do find it has incredible value. It is the WestJet World Elite Mastercard.
- 250 welcome WestJet dollars after first purchase
- Annual fee $119
- Free first checked bags for the primary cardholder and up to 8 guests on the same reservation
- Get an annual round-trip companion voucher starting at $99 (CAD) (plus taxes, fees and charges)
- 1.5% back in WestJet dollars on everyday purchases
- 2% back in WestJet dollars on WestJet flights or WestJet Vacations packages using your card
This card is actually very good for Canadians. Especially if you fly within Canada a lot. There is no rebate for the annual fee but if you use the companion flight, chance are you’re saving as much if not more than the annual fee right there. That’s not including the check bag fees (minimum $25 each) you save for yourself and up to 8 people on your reservation.
The companion flight works a little bit different than Alaska’s does. With Alaska it’s a flat rate no matter where the flight is. With WestJet is works in the following way depending on where you’re travelling:
- Canada and the Continental U.S. for $99
- Hawaii, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean for $299
- Europe for $399
The biggest savings are on the flights to Europe where you’re paying around $1,000 to fly there from the west coast. Using the voucher saves you about $700.
The only downfall of this card is the income requirement which is a minimum personal income of $80,000 or a minimum household income of $150,000. Unlike the Alaska card, there is no lesser option with all the same benefits.
That being said, if you qualify, the value here is tremendous. You can go buy a pack of gum and get $250. That’s a good deal.
- 15,000 welcome points (use link below for 25,000) after first qualifying purchase
- 1 RBC Rewards point (Avion point) per $1 spent
- 25% bonus points for spend on travel
- $120 annual fee (see below how to get it waived)
- Many transfer partners
- No minimum spend
The RBC Visa Infinite Avion card is another underrated card I have found. It isn’t super lucrative and isn’t really worth being your everyday spend card, but it has a good welcome bonus for no minimum spend.
There are many transfer options from RBC Rewards (Avion), they are: a 1:1 ratio to British Airways Avios and Asia Miles, a 100:1 ratio to WestJet Dollars, and a 10:7 ratio to American Airlines AAdvantage.
The most common one and the one I will spend time talking about is British Airways Avios. The biggest reason is that they often run transfer bonus promotions where you get bonus points for transferring. There is currently a 30% transfer bonus promotion until December 31, 2017. So, if you get this card, get the 25,000 points and transfer them right away you will get 32,500 points. They sometimes run 50% promotions although there hasn’t been one in a while.
Even without the transfer bonus, transferring 25,000 points at 1:1 to Avios is enough for a round trip flight in economy to Hawaii from the west coast. I’ll explain this at a later date when we cover the Avios program but it is distance based so one-way flights from the west coast to Hawaii is only 12,500 Avios points.
RBC currently is running a promotion, an unadvertised promotion, where you can get the annual fee waived if you have a competitor’s Infinite Visa. TD and CIBC both have Infinite Visas so if you have one of them you can call RBC and mention that and get the annual fee waived. They don’t ask for verification so technically you can call and tell them you have the card when you don’t and still get the fee waived.
Lastly, when you sign up for a PetroPoints account and link your RBC Avion card to your PetroPoints account, you will get 20% bonus RBC Rewards on every dollar spent on fuel and save 3¢ per litre.
This card does have a $60,000 person or $100,000 household income requirement. Here is the link to apply through for 25,000 welcome points.
In the end, this is a great card because of the welcome bonus. It’s not great for every day spend unless you have a specific Avios redemption in mind. It’s great to store those points then transfer when British Airways has a transfer bonus promotion on. If you really want Avios points I still suggest AMEX cards as they also transfer 1:1. The American Express Personal Gold has the same annual fee as this card and you can get 30,000 welcome points when you add a supplementary card.
- 6% cash back on all purchases for the first $3,500 spent on the card
- $120 annual fee waived for the first year
- 3% cash back on groceries, gas and recurring bills after 3 months
- 1% on all other purchases
- Redeem cash back at any time to pay down the card balance
- No expiration on cash back
- Invitations to exclusive food and wine experiences
Currently, the best cash back offer in Canada and one of two cash back cards on the list, the TD Cash Back Infinite card is great for those looking to earn cash for their credit card spending. The 6% cash back for the first $3,500 spent in the first 3 months if the big draw for this card. If you hit the $3,500 spend in the first 3 months that works out to $210 back. That’s a good deal. After the first 3 months you get 3% back on groceries, gas and recurring bills which is a good deal also. Personally, I would just use this card for the first 3 months, hit the $3,500 spend then put it in the sock drawer.
This card has a $60,000 personal income or $100,000 household income requirement. You can apply for this card here.
- 5% cash back on all purchases in the first 3 months up to $3,000 spend
- 4% Cash back on gas & groceries after 3 months
- 2% cash back on Drug Stores and recurring bill payments
- Plus earn 1% cash back on everything else you charge to your card
- $99 annual fee waived for the first year
The second of two cash back cards on the list and the second best cash back offer in Canada, the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite card is another great cash back card for those looking to get some return on their credit card spend.
This card has a 4% return on gas and groceries so if you wish to keep a cash back card for everyday spend this would be the one to choose.
The best way to go out cash back is to get the TD Cash Back Visa Infinite for 3 months then get this card for the next 3 months. This card, after $3,000 spend in the first 3 months will give you $150 back in the first 3 months. If you pair this card with the TD Cash Back card you will have $360 back in 6 months.
This card has a minimum annual income requirement of $60,000 or a minimum household income of $100,000. You can apply for this card by clicking here.
- 20,000 welcome TD points
- 30,000 TD points after $1,000 spend in the first 90 days from approval
- 3 TD points for every $1 spend
- $9 TD points for every $1 spend through Expedia for TD
- $120 annual fee waived for the first year
The TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite is a great card because it has a great welcome bonus. This offer originally expired on December 9, 2017 but has been extended to March 1, 2018. That means you get another chance to jump on this offer.
TD points can be redeemed in increments of 200 for $1. That means after you meet the minimum spend you can redeem your 50,000 TD points for $250 worth of travel when redeemed on ExpediaforTD.
Again, this isn’t an everyday spend card but it’s an easy way to get $250 worth of travel.
This card does have a $60,000 person or $100,000 household income requirement. You can apply for this card by clicking here.
These aren’t all of the non-AMEX cards but they are, in our opinion, the best ones. Depending on your needs, cash back or travel, there are enough cards here to keep you busy for a while.
Next week we will go over the remaining AMEX cards and why they can be of great value.
Never stop adventuring!