Reward credit cards secrets

Two little-known ways to beat the system



From the September/October 2014 issue of the magazine.


did_you_knowGroceries from big box stores aren’t considered groceries

If you’re doing all of your food shopping at large retailers like Target and Walmart then don’t bother getting a card that promises extra points for groceries—because you’re not going to get them. Why? Big box stores are coded as merchants, not grocery stores. One way around this is to get a card affi liated with a large retailer, but only go ahead if it offers a higher earnings rate on purchases made there. Also be sure to pay the bill every month as interest rates can be higher on store cards.

You can double dip to collect points twice

Just because your credit card has an Air Miles logo on it doesn’t mean you should toss that old Air Miles points card from your wallet. In most cases you can collect points on both cards on a single purchase. It’s one of the few occasions where double dipping isn’t frowned upon.

You may need more than one

Many merchants accept all types of credit cards but that’s far from universal. Take Costco, which only accepts American Express—yet scores of smaller merchants will take anything but. According to the Canadian Bankers Association, MasterCard is accepted at more than 800,000 merchant locations across the country, followed by Visa, which is accepted in some 600,000 locations. AMEX won’t reveal how many merchants accept its cards here, but globally they say their acceptance rate is between 85% and 95%.

5 comments on “Reward credit cards secrets

  1. Mark Brown’s article is interesting but does not go far enough. I would like to know which BMO card is better value? The BMO Air Miles World Mastercard which Mark recommends, or the BMO World Elite Mastercard. One card earns reward MILES while the other earns reward POINTS. How can one compare these two cards?


  2. We get double rewards at Walmart using an MBNA Smartcash card. Also, in 2 – 4 weeks Costco is changing from Amex to something else apparently. You can no longer get an AMEX Costco credit card.


  3. FYI not all big box stores are coded as merchants. For instance, the Walmart Supercenter closest to me comes up as a grocery store. So for everything I purchase there, I get the 3% grocery store bonus that my credit card provides.


  4. I want to read the article on the best travel credit cards…. where is it? So frustrating!


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