Sunrise yesterday morning with our rigs parked up at Chihuahua, Mexico.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? In our way to Basaseachic Falls, Chihuahua, Mexico.

Where are they going next? Basaseachic Falls, Chihuahua, Mexico.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

We're moving up in the world!

By the time we finish 2019, we will have been on 23 different airplanes!

And because we don't do very many direct flights, we spend a lot of time in airports waiting for connecting flights. This year, we will have spent time in 16 different airports.

We often spend our time walking in airports just to get some exercise, and during these walks we see the entrances to those fancy airport lounges... you know, the ones the first class passengers and business people use.

(The rest of this post is probably of more interest to our Canadian readers, although it may give some American readers some impetus to check out similar options available in the Unites States.)

Well, some Canadian credit cards now come with airport lounge passes.

American Express has been the leader in this area, and there are Amex and Amex Partner Lounges in most major airports. But such prestige comes at a price.

Some higher end Visa and Mastercards are now getting into it as well. Our son got a Bank of Montreal Mastercard that comes with 4 airport lounge passes per year.

Of course there are annual fees for these cards and you have to weigh if it's worth your while or not. But given that daily access passes have been eliminated at most lounges, there are limited ways to actually gain access. And having a suitable credit card is one way.

Example of an airport lounge.

So after our son told us about his card, I started doing some research.

I found out that the best deal for us is the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card. Yes, it has an annual fee of $139 CAD. But it includes 6 free airport lounge access passes per year!

That alone works out to about $23 CAD per visit. Consider that lounge access includes all the food and booze that you want, as well as a comfortable relaxing space to waste your time... it's not a bad deal. Some even have showers!

But what is even better for our particular situation is that this is one of very few credit cards available in Canada that does not apply ANY foreign exchange fees. Almost all cards in Canada charge 2.5%. For us, that alone will mean a savings of over $500 a year, so this card easily pays for itself. The lounge access passes are essentially free for us.

Looking forward to using our first passes during next month's 4 1/2 hour stopover in Washington, D.C.! We're moving up in the world!

So while I was researching this, I remembered that TD Canada Trust (we have been banking with them for over 30 years) has recently quietly upped their foreign exchange transaction fees when using a debit card in another country. It is now 3.5% instead of the standard 2.5%. I'm sure they are hoping that Canada's other major banks will follow suit, but so far they have not.

So, sorry TD Canada Trust... we are moving some (and maybe all!) of our banking business to Scotiabank. This is what happens when you get greedy... you lose customers!

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18 comments:

  1. I love how they "quietly" increase their charges. Good on you for researching and finding the best, and sharing! ;)

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  2. We use RBC Avion for the airlinepoints and we get at least 2 free tickets to Mexico every year by doing that - but the foreign exchange fees are an unknown for me, I will have to check that out. Plus - you will save on food and drink eating there so that is an added bonus too

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    Replies
    1. The Scotiabank Passport card also does points, and the annual fee is only slightly higher than the RBC Avion card. But, 2.5% foreign exchange fee on the RBC card vs 0% on the Scotia card. Of course, none of this is a real benefit unless you do lots of travel and lots of foreign spending.

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  3. I spoke about this very Visa card last April on my blog. http://www.contessajewall.com/2018/04/27/credit-cards-and-fine-print/ We both have one, one is personal and one is business so we have 12 passes per year to use. We used them all this past year. They are a lifesaver when you have hours to kill in an airport. The 2.5% saving is great. Plus you get points for using the card on various purchases. In one year we have accumulated $1,700.00 to put towards a next trip.

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    Replies
    1. Nice that you got two cards with a total of 12 passes a year. We had no problem getting ours, they just wanted a photo of something that showed our address for proof.

      We are looking forward to using ours this fall as we make our way to Ecuador. We know we won't have any problems accumulating points and Kevin loves the fact that it doesn't have any foreign exchange fees when using it outside of Canada.

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  4. And to think we knew you before you hit the big time! :cD

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  5. You got me signing in to my American Express account her in the states to see if I missed that benefit..Good Stuff!

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    Replies
    1. I hope that you find out that you have that benefit! :-)

      It is always a good idea to check through all the benefits that your card or other cards might include as well as the fine print on the charges that they add on too, such as the foreign exchange fees. You may be surprised at what you find.

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  6. Also do all the major airport lounges include food and drink for FREE?

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    Replies
    1. Yes, as far as we know all airport lounges include food and drink for free.

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  7. Replies
    1. Thanks Lynnette! It is going to feel funny do this, we will feel so posh for a change. :-P

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  8. You got me curious, so I did a count, and we'll be at 20 by the end of the year. We definitely need to look into finding a credit card that doesn't charge foreign transaction fees. We do get what appears to be a spot on exchange rate by our bank for ATM and CC usage, but they also charge a 3% foreign transaction fee. But then, we also get between 1-3% cash back per trsnsaction, so . . .

    It's complicated! 😯

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    Replies
    1. So we are neck and neck then, lol!

      Nice that you have a good exchange rate with your card but then the foreign transaction fee takes away from it. Yep, we'd go looking for another card. I bet you can find one that has just about everything you are looking for, plus don't forget about one with airport lounge passes. :-)

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