Jul 22, 2010

TD AAdvantage Visa

This is one of my favourite cards. It's mostly meant for redeeming international tickets, though vacation packages and small rewards (1-800-flowers, Bose headsets, etc...) are also available. I find the annual fee ($120) to be in-line with others and the award availability pretty easy to cash in. You earn 1 AAdvantage mile on American Airlines for every dollar spent.

Credit Card Guru score:  4.5 out 5 


  • AAdvantage miles can be used to travel anywhere the Oneworld Alliance goes (almost anywhere)
  • Double AA miles are awarded for using American Airline services (buying tickets, Admiral's Club & upgrades)
  • Mile redemption is straightforward and easy for flights or upgrades. For example a return trip from Toronto to Mexico is 25k miles in low season and 30k miles in high season. Click here to view their redemption chart.
  • Using AA miles for travel is usually available on short notice without having to spend additional miles. For example I booked a trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina in May 2010 for 40k points with 8 days notice (using Aeroplan miles would cost you double or triple the miles on such short notice). 
  • Car rental insurance, medical insurance, etc.. is also included.
  • 2,500 AA miles upon renewal, each year
  • AA miles don't expire if you cancel your credit card. As long as you have an activity with AA partners once every 18 months, the miles stay active. With a banks points program, the points will expire once you cancel the credit card.
  • The biggest drawback is the lack of direct flights within Canada. Travel has to be through the US. 
  • Trip cancellation insurance is not included
  • The quality of the AA planes is not the best in the world, but it's better than many Central America airlines.
Overall, this is one my favourite credit cards to earn and redeem free flights.

Jul 19, 2010

Capital One Aspire

Capital One Aspire  is the newest credit card in the market and is being supported by a big marketing campaign. Their main pitch is 2 for 1 in terms of points earned per dollar, which is not bad if you plan on redeeming for "small" awards or short-haul flights.

Credit Card Guru's Rating:  4 out of 5
Overall, I think this is an excellent primary credit card if you're looking to redeem points for non-travel awards (i.e. TV's, microwaves, iPad, MacBook, etc..). This card is above average for travel redemption vs. other points cards. CIBC AeroGold Visa or TD AAdvantage Platinum Visa credit cards are better for medium to long-haul flight redemption.

Let me highlight some of the Pros and Cons.


  • Excellent start-up bonus (35,000 points)
  • Very good anual renewal bonus (10,000 points)
  • Ample redemption awards (allowing one to redeem for anything that can be charged to the card)
  • Good travel coverage (medical, trip cancellation, etc...)
  • Redemption values are comparable to other points (non-airline) credit cards, allowing you to spend less to obtain the "small" awards.


  • Not great for medium to long-haul flight awards (i.e. a flight to Cancun costs $916+ taxes on AC, thus you would have to redeem 92,000 points, equivalent to $41,000 in annual spending, averaging out to $3,400/ month).
    • To redeem the same flight with a CIBC Aerogold credit card you would spend $35,000 (for 35,000 points), thus your overspending with Capital One.
  • It's geared to the above-average household income consumer, or above-average credit card spender as the redemption levels are difficult to obtain.