Canadian Credit Card Strategy?

Discussion in 'Other Credit Card Programs' started by jorgeluis500, Mar 5, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. jorgeluis500

    jorgeluis500 Member

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    I'm going to move to Canada soon (Montreal) and wanted some advice on which credit card should I choose there and what general strategy to follow. Although I have read lots of articles, follow several blogs (Brian "The Points guy", Ben "Lucky", Darious, Rewards Canada, Gary, Mommy Points, etc) and just finished the Nicholas Kralev book, I'm fairly new to the miles and points game.

    I got really interested 8 months ago when I could successfully redeem some miles for a NY trip and after losing 21.000 Flying Blue miles since I let them expire (ouch!). To make a long story short, before that, lack of opportunities and ignorance about how to earn and redeem miles in Venezuela (where I live) usually put me off.

    My profile
    - Oneworld: AAdvantage: 200.000 miles (mostly through everyday spending with the Citibank card)
    - Star Alliance: Aeroplan: 5.000 (7.000 by the time I get there)
    - Skyteam: zero (Still missing those hard-earned FB miles)
    And some other orphan miles

    Marriott: ~11.000 points
    Voila Hotels: 5.000 points

    My wife has nearly 55.000 AAdvantage miles and almost 10.000 with Continental (now United). She lost even more miles than me with AF Flying Blue. I am now monitoring all our accounts with Award Wallet. We have a 2 year-old soon and another one on the way.

    My goals
    They are loosely defined but could be summed up as:

    - Aspirational trips: To go to some place far away and exotic but where revenue tickets are expensive (Asia, South Pacific maybe) to get the most bang for my bucks. Business or coach will do it since I feel I don't want to burn all the miles in one or two trips. Once I get more miles in a somewhat easy way (sign up bonuses, minimum spending, etc.) I think I'll be less stingy. Since almost all my miles are in AA, business in Cathay in a long haul route (YYZ/JFK/ORD-HKG) is my aspirational trip. I like Europe and I have read some nice things about BA business class but fuel surcharges and UK taxes make it less appealing. However, with a family of (soon to be) four, I think this goal is getting unrealistic :S

    - NY trips: My wife have family there and tickets to/from Canada are expensive on a per-mile basis, therefore I think we will be fine accumulating and redeeming BA Avios points (9.000 points to JFK, 12.000 to ORD, round trips). I would also like to know Chicago, and those routes are covered by AA (using American Eagle I guess). The card that I'm thinking of is the RBC infinite Avion with a 15.000 points sign in bonus and I just read about a new one with a potential sign in bonus of 50.000 points. I don't think I'll be able to get that one though.

    - Trips to/from Venezuela: Although I'm not planning to visit that often I would like to keep earning AA miles since each award cost 30.000 miles round trip during low season (coach). Any other cheaper alternative between Montreal and Caracas I'm not considering here?. I just told my parents that their first Canada trip will be on me.

    Bottom line: I don't know whether I'm going to get miles by flying or staying at hotels, definitely not in the near future and I guess I won't be able to churn cards at first. But I would like to pick a credit card for my everyday spending in Montreal, right from the start.

    The choices
    So, would you go with:
    - RBC and BA Avios (the strongest candidate for me so far and apparently it does not require minimum income)
    - I have also read about SPG with the Amex credit card. Is it as attractive in Canada as it is in the US? I know the sign in bonus are not that generous. This would be my second choice. One of the strongest points would be that my hotel points are almost non-existent
    - Anything related to AA like the TD cards? Although the conversion rate of 1$=0,75 Addvantage mile is not very attractive
    - or would you go with any card from Aeroplan (CIBC for example) since it's the "local guy", and theoretically with more opportunities to earn miles? Again, recent devaluation and fuel surcharges on Air Canada and its partners make it not that attractive.

    Any other alternatives I haven't thought of? I'm still doing my research but wanted to hear opinions from the FF community

    If you have a blog, feel free to post this to your readers

    Thank you all

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