The Frugal Canadian

A frugal spender seeks to find new ways to save money and increase her net worth.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Credit Card Comparisons

I've had a number of comments a few posts back on credit cards and the different rewards that they offer. I decided analyze what I think are some of the more commonly used credit cards. While I've analyzed 18 different cards, I am sure this does not cover all of my readers' cards. While your individual card may not be covered below, I believe that the message will be the same. You must spent a lot of money for these cards to be worthwhile.

I've based the analysis on my average monthly credit card bill spending of $700. For each card analyzed I have also indicated a break even spending level. If we take TD's Gold Travel Visa as an example, an individual would need to spend $8,000 just to cover the cost of the annual fee.

There are a number of limitations with the analysis.
- I've excluded interest rates on the cards, since I pay my bill every month
- The analysis excludes differences in the cards such as insurance coverage, flight change options, upgrade options, waived banking fees associated, free auto clubs with a particular card etc. While these may be very valuable to a frequent flyer, I feel that for the average consumer they are useless.
- The analysis ignores booking limitations such as must have a Saturday stayover or must be booked 14 days in advance
- Since many of the cards use a point system, I determined an implied rate using Air Canada flight prices published on their website. I took 2 September flights: Toronto to Vancouver($539.90) and Toronto to London, UK($969.21) as my base fare price and used these prices to calculate an average implied rate.

How do your cards rate? My vote would be for the PC Financial Mastercard or the CIBC Dividend Card. While one reader pointed out that Loblaws is expensive and therefore the rewards for the PC card may have a lower value, No Frills is a cost-effective grocery store where points can be redeemed. I also rank the CIBC dividend card higher than Scotia's Moneyback card because of the monthly payouts vs Scotia's annual payout. Some of the other cards do have a higher rewards rate, but I personally prefer cash/near cash(groceries) than a travel reward.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Monthly Savings and Net Worth Update

I had a savings rate of 43% or $2,162 this month. I overspent across the board this month. Some large spending items included:
- Renewal of CAA membership of $60. In May I killed my car battery. CAA arrived within the hour when I called and I had a new battery installed in minutes. While I am sure I was overcharged for the battery by approximately $40, the alternative would have been to have 3 hours of lost work which was worth the cost to me and justified me renewing the membership.
- Close friends birthdays, family gifts and baby gifts cost me $150.
- Other night outs with friends and other entertainment costs over spending $225.

My portfolio rebounded by gaining $869 vs last month. I sold my mutual funds which I've been meaning to dump for a long time now. They have had mediocre returns with high MERs. I'm now looking for a Canadian index ETF(likely XIU which I'll buy on a market dip), and likely will get into some US defensives.

I've changed my net worth statement to reflect only my Tangible Net Worth. As a result, I've excluded my vehicle and diamond ring as these items really have no tangible net worth to me. I'm not planning on selling either ever and my car will be driven until it has no value and is depreciating rapidly.