Reader Question: Is Getting a Credit Card Just Once Worth It?

Q: Over the last few years there are fewer and fewer churnable personal Canadian credit cards available. Is there still value in getting these cards once?

A: Absolutely! It is still the fastest and most inexpensive way to get points – even if you can only get one bonus per card.

For example let’s assume that you want to go from Toronto, Canada to Tokyo, Japan (return) in January 2017. The price of a round trip ticket (not considering mistake fares, deals) would be between $ 1,001.39 and $ 8,924.10.

Ticket price* (includes taxes)

Economy          $ 1,001.39 - $ 5,084.86
Premium Economy  $ 1,456.16 - $ 3,338.58
Business         $ 3,497.97 - $ 8,659.39
First            $ 3,701.01 - $ 8,924.10

*Expedia September 15, 2016 @ 8:30 PM; all prices in this post in Canadian dollars.

The price of a round trip ticket using Aeroplan points would be 75 – 210 K Aeroplan points + $ 88.46 – $ 203.60 taxes.

Number of Aeroplan points required + taxes

Economy           75 K Aeroplan Points + $  88.46
Premium Economy  125 K Aeroplan Points + $  88.46
Business         150 K Aeroplan Points + $ 108.86
First            210 K Aeroplan Points + $ 203.60

From a cash perspective, using Aeroplan points is a no-brainer; however, if you do not have 75,000-210,000 Aeroplan points it is a non-option.

So how do you get those Aeroplan points quickly?

To keep this simple, using just current personal Canadian credit cards that have reasonably direct Aeroplan sign up bonuses (not including credit cards with reward points that require contortions to convert into Aeroplan points), the least expensive credit card churns to make this example voyage for an Economy or a First Class Aeroplan ticket would be as follows:

Aeroplan Economy 75 K credit card churn formula: American Express Gold Rewards Card, TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card, American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Card, CIBC Aero Platinum Visa. The combined fees would be $ 279.00. With Aeroplan taxes the total cash cost of the Toronto – Tokyo return flight would be $ 367.46.
This would save between $ 633.93 and $ 4,717.40 (plus you would be entitled to all the insurances and perks associated with the cards).

Aeroplan First Class 210 K credit card churn formula: American Express AeroplanPlus Platinum Card, TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege Card, TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card, American Express Gold Rewards Card, American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Card, American Express AeroplanPlus Gold Card, TD Aeroplan Visa Platinum Card, American Express AeroplanPlus Card and the CICB Aero Platium Visa Card. The combined fees would be C$ 1,446.0. With taxes and fees the total cash cost would be $ 1,649.60.
This would save between $ 2,051.41 and $ 7,274.50 (plus you would be entitled to all the insurances and perks associated with the card).

Just because a card is not churnable it does not mean you should not get it… at least once. Not doing so would be like refusing to pick up a $2,000 bill found on the sidewalk just because there might only be one of them.

Also, if the past is a guide to the future, there will be more new cards in the future with point sign up bonuses.

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