Most people who are interested in personal finance tend to be better at some areas than others.
In my case, I love reading about investing strategies, which include rebalancing methods – but I will often not bother rebalancing my own accounts for years at a time, which sometimes can be a drag on performance.
On the other hand, I’m pretty good at making contributions to said investment accounts.
If you have to choose between making larger contributions to an investment account or being an efficient rebalancer – I can tell you that larger contributions will make a far bigger positive difference than any rebalancing method.
I tend to focus more on items that make more of a difference, rather than somewhat mundane decisions about which rewards credit card pays out the highest return on gas purchases at a particular service station.
That said, sometimes you have to look at some personal finance basics and see if there is room for improvement. Making an extra $40 per year by switching credit cards doesn’t sound like a great deal to me – but over five to ten years, that difference will add up.
Our bunch of bank accounts
Right now, we have too many bank accounts and credit cards. Part of this is from a desire from my wife to have some of her own accounts in order to maintain a credit history. Fair enough.
I’m not interested in having five different rewards cards for different situations. Yes, you can certainly maximize your rewards by having multiple cards, but I just don’t have the time or the interest.
What I want is one rewards card/system and that is it. I want the single best card for our spending habits and I don’t care if it’s not the best card for any given spending category.
I just want one card.
Right now we do most of our spending on a CIBC Dividend VISA card which seems to have decent rewards of up to 1% cash back. I’m going to be looking at that card in more detail as well as for better alternatives, but that’s our card for now.
Our other “rewards card” is a PC Financial account that pays us grocery money (literally) for using the card at Loblaws.
What I want to do is analyze the PC Financial “grocery” rewards card and determine if it offers up enough rewards to justify having a separate account which needs to be topped up monthly.
Just to clarify – the PC Financial is an excellent no-fee bank account and the PC points are a nice bonus. In our case, we only have this account for the points, so I want to make sure the cash value of the points is high enough to make the separate account and card worthwhile.
PC Financial reward card Fees
There are no fees – easy enough.
How does the PC Financial reward card work?
It’s basically a no-fee bank account. If you use the PC bank card at stores that sell President’s Choice products, you can earn PC points which can be redeemed for groceries.
We do a lot of shopping at Loblaws, so we use this card a lot. PC points are worth one tenth of a cent each. So if you use the minimum allowable amount of PC points of 20,000, you will get $20.00 worth of groceries.
How do you get PC points?
There are a number of different ways to get PC points, but the only one relevant to me is the points you get from making purchases with the card.
You get five PC points for every dollar you spend on your bank card at participating stores where President’s Choice products are sold.
This is a bit disappointing as I can do the math in my head and determine that the PC points rewards are only worth 0.5% of your purchase amount. I had expected at least 1% to compete with the top reward credit cards.
In case you are wondering, we’ve been using this card for at least five years and this is the first time I’ve sat down to analyze the rewards benefit. Oh well, this “mistake” has probably only cost us about $50 per year. Not exactly noticeable.
Ok, so this bank account is not very worthwhile for us and we will stop using it. I know the CIBC dividend card has better rewards and we can remove one bank account from our pile.
As mentioned, the PC Financial bank account is a great product if you are looking for a no-fee bank account. I’ve had a separate no-fee PC account for several years which was my unofficial “business” account and it has been great.
In our case, we were only using (or mis-using) it for the rewards, which by themselves are not good enough to justify having the extra account.