Personal Finance

Best Free Canadian Rewards Credit Card Award Goes to…MNBA

A while ago I wrote how I used to have a Visa Aerogold credit card which might just be the worst Canadian rewards credit card ever.  I finally made the switch to a no-fee rewards card called the CIBC Dividend Visa which is ok – but it’s not as good as the MNBA Premier Rewards Platinum Plus Mastercard.

1% cash back reward

The main thing I like about this card is the fact that it pays 1% cash back on all purchases from the first dollar.  The Dividend card that I currently own has a sliding scale so I only earn 1% cash back after spending $3,000 annually.

No annual fee

After paying $170/year for the Aerogold – I will never pay annual fees again.  This card has no fees of any sort.

Car insurance and extended warranty

Another great benefit of this card is that it provides extra insurance for car rentals so you don’t have to pay extra for collision when renting.  It also provides extra warranty for most purchases.

I’m signing up

This card looks good to me so I’m going for it.  If you want to sign up for the card then feel free to sign up through one of the affiliate links on this post.


Is VISA a Buy Now?

Yesterday was the highly anticipated initial public offering (ipo) of Visa – stock symbol “V” (you know you are big when you get a single letter) which ended up being the biggest stock IPO in American history. The stock was sold to (already) rich insiders, ie brokers,executives and various other people much richer than I, at a price of $44 per share.

As is often the case with “hot stock ipos”, the price started trading much higher (around $65) than the initial offering price and ended up the day at $56.50. So the huge financial gap between those rich insiders and myself, is ever so slightly larger as I write this.

The success of the VISA ipo is all the more surprising considering the fact that not once did I use my VISA card yesterday, so I’m guessing someone else perhaps took up the slack? 🙂

Is VISA a good buy now?

Hmmmm…..I have no idea. As I mentioned a couple of days ago I think that the amount of hype around this stock makes it a long shot to make money from trading in VISA shares but what do I know?? Well, I do know that if it was a good buy at the ipo price $44 (which apparently it was), it’s a lot less of a good buy at $56 which is quite a bit higher.

Who made money on the VISA ipo?

Not me (thanks for asking), but judging from the fact that 177 million shares were traded today out of a total float of 406 million – I would guess that a lot of the fat cat insiders who were able to order some ipo shares made out like bandits. Too bad the VISA investment bankers were not inspired by the Google Dutch auction system.

Anyone else?

From my extensive research it appears that the following institutions also made out like bandits in this deal:

  • Bank of America (BAC) – $625 million.
  • J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs – $500 million in fees.
  • Citygroup Inc. – $300 million.
  • Quest For Four Pillars Inc. -$0.00


The rich got richer, I’m still going to work tomorrow and VISA will probably do ok, but don’t expect the kind of returns that MasterCard has produced.


Visa IPO – The Good and the Bad

With the upcoming VISA ipo (initial public offering) I thought it would be worthwhile to write about this event. I’m not really a stock trading kind of guy since I’m generally more comfortable with exchange traded funds, however I like to follow stocks for interest (and the occasional purchase.)

What’s the big deal with the VISA ipo?

This will be the biggest IPO in US history at around 17 billion dollars. In comparison the much heralded Google IPO was about $1.7 billion dollars which was one of the biggest technology IPOs ever.

What exactly do they do again?

They are in a great business where they get paid for processing transactions for banks that have credit cards. Visa does about two thirds of all such transactions in America. A good chunk of the money will go to the member banks which currently own VISA – given how most of them have been hit hard by the credit crunch, the money will come in handy!

Should I buy the VISA ipo?

The problem with this stock is lots of investors get excited about buying stocks in companies that they are familiar with. Here in Canada we had an IPO a few years ago for a company called Tim Horton’s Donuts (THI) which is our best known coffee shop. This ipo had a lot of buzz around it but the stock hasn’t done all well since the financial performance of a stock has very little to do with the public’s sentiment toward the company.

Another easy comparison is Mastercard which has gone up about 400% in the two years since its IPO. As ThickenMyWallet points out, there are significant differences between the two companies such as the market share. Visa already has a good majority of the market so it will be hard for them to improve on that.

Don’t forget – IPO prices are based on supply and demand – if there is enough buzz around the stock then the IPO price will go up and it will be harder to make money from it. This buzz will frequently cause the stock price to rise a lot in the beginning which is when the average investor can buy it so it’s often a classic case of buying high.

On the other hand – investors who bought shares of Google (Goog) have done quite well until recently.

Another post on the Visa ipo.
A good post on the Tim Horton’s mania.

Personal Finance

I Got Rid of My Visa Aerogold Card

After thirteen years a long and bitter friendship came to an end recently when I finally cancelled my Visa Aerogold credit card. For those who aren’t familiar with this card, it is a rewards card that gets Aeroplan points which can be used to buy airplane flights.

Why cancel?

Mainly because it’s just not worth it anymore. The annual fee for this card is $120 and when I added my wife to the account (so she could get a card too) the fee went up to $170 which broke this camel’s back! I have redeemed a number of flights using points in the past but when I look at the annual fees, the charges for booking flights and the amount that I charge each year on the card, it doesn’t seem to be worth it. The other big aggravation with Aeroplan is that you have to book a long time in advance if you want a reasonable flight. I can remember trying to book a flight from Toronto to Calgary a few years ago and my only options involved a two day flight with two stops which is ridiculous for a four hour journey.

A new card?

When I called Visa to cancel the card, the customer service rep told me about their “Dividend” card which has a cash back reward and no fees. At the end of each year you get 0.25% on the first $1500 charged, 0.5% on the next $1500 and then 1% on everything over $3000 which seemed like a reasonable reward system. And there are no fees! The interest rate on the card is 19.5% but since I haven’t paid credit card interest in over ten years, that is of no concern to me.