Card Sharp: Cool Credit Card Perks

Today, a bonanza of credit cards with competitive features and rewards has increased our expectations for cards that suit our personal lifestyle preferences. “Hey credit card! What have you done for me lately?” If you’re looking for a card with unique benefits, here are some to consider:

Suite Dreams

If you love the hotel life, look for a card that boosts your status with hotel loyalty programs. The Scotiabank® American Express Platinum Card, for example, offers Premium status for members of Fairmont President’s Club, which includes an instant room or suite upgrade.

The Marriott Rewards® Premier Visa® offers a “welcome bonus” of 30,000 Marriott Rewards points, enough for one free night at a Marriott ‘category 6’ property, such as the JW Marriott in Mexico City, or several nights at lower category hotels.

The best deal, however, appears to be the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express. With 20,000 Starpoints as a “welcome bonus”, equivalent to a free night at an SPG ‘category 6’ property, such as the swanky W Amsterdam, or Blakes Hotel London.

Better yet, with Marriott’s recent acquisition of SPG, the points between the two programs are transferable on a 3:1 basis, making those 20,000 Starpoints worth 60,000 Marriott Rewards – double the Marriott Visa offer, which could give you a free night at a Marriott ‘category 9’ hotel, such as the ultra-luxe Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort, or a ‘tier 4’ property such as The Ritz-Carlton, Montreal.

Free Exchange

Whether you’re traveling abroad or shopping online, most credit card companies charge a 2.5% exchange fee when you make purchases in a foreign currency. However, the aforementioned Marriott Rewards Premier Visa and the Amazon.ca Rewards Visa waive those pesky foreign conversion fees.

Another option is the Rogers™ Platinum MasterCard®, which charges the 2.5% fee, then turns around and provides a 4% cash-back reward – amply covering the transaction fee and leaving a lovely net 1.5% cash bonus in your account.

Date Nights

Credit card companies are aiming to distinguish themselves in a competitive marketplace by creating one-of-a-kind experiences for their cardholders. American Express has long provided their members with Front Of The Line® service for in-demand concert and event tickets, often before they go on sale to the public.

Visa Infinite® has stepped up with the Visa Infinite Dining Series: intimate dinners with top chefs in cities across Canada and unique tasting events in the wine regions of BC and Ontario. Visa Infinite cardholders also get the VIP treatment at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), with early access to film selection and speedier line-ups.

For regular date nights at the movies, the Scotiabank SCENE® Visa is one to watch. Every $85 spend earns you over 1,000 SCENE points, enough for a free movie. Plus, there’s a “welcome bonus” of 4,000 SCENE points, equal to four free movies. You can also apply your points to snacks.

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