I called today to cancel my Scotiabank Amex card! I only applied for it 10 months ago! So why cancel it so soon? It was my first real try at “power travel hacking” and I failed miserably!
After reading so many great stories about travel hacking on various blogs, last summer, I got all pumped up and signed up for two extra credit cards, with great offers (for Canada). I was going to “Power Travel Hack” too! I already had the title (and the feature image!) for my next post: “How I traveled to The Seychelles on $15!”
Travel Hacking: The Offers
Credit card offers are scarce in Canada and they are definitely not as good as the ones you get in the US. But I found two that sounded pretty decent and signed up. Of course no fee for the first year! Plus $500 in sign up bonuses.
I consider myself to be responsible when it comes to money, I pay my bills on time (maybe sometimes I get a little sidetracked but who doesn’t? Don’t answer!), I save a good chunk of my income, I invest my savings and I am frugal with my
hard earned money. So what could go wrong?
What Could Go Wrong With Travel Hacking?
Time and planning!!! When I signed up I wrote down what the offers were. All I had to do was follow a few steps, like spend $750 in the first three months on one. How complicated can it be? So easy.
Well no! Not so easy after all, I quickly lost track of it. Life got in the way: Kids’ back to school stuff , news (and related stress) of our office shutting down, dealing with my tenants. Next thing you know, three months passed! And I never charged anything to the American Express card. The offer was gone! Are you #&$@% kidding me? How can I miss it? Well I did.
I even took the time to compare what expenses would be best for which card (travel , entertainment , groceries), not all cards are created equal including the travel insurance. It was an extra tab in my FINANCE spreadsheet (one too many!). But do you think I remember every time I make a purchase which one does what? Nop! Maybe it’s just early Alzheimer, how can I forget so quickly. I always have lots going on, so I prioritize and I guess this was not a priority! All I had to do was carry a piece of paper in my wallet to remind myself about it, but never did. I feel like such a complete idiot!
Other Reasons Travel Hacking May Not Be For YOU
- If you don’t pay your credit card balance(s) in full every month, don’t try travel hacking. The rewards will not offset the interest charged on your credit card balance!
- Don’t sign up for extra credit card(s) if the potential rewards don’t offset the annual cost of carrying the card.
- If you don’t have a good system in place to keep track of various rewards, don’t bother! I sign up for most hotel reward cards whenever I stay in one, but I never remember which one I have or not! (Can’t be bothered carrying all those cards in my wallet, too heavy!) I also don’t stay in hotels often enough.
Keep It Simple Is My Motto!
What I like about my main credit card: it’s simple. It’s with the same bank I do ALL my banking. One screen and I see it all, banking, investing, borrowing. I can transfer money as I please and see the updated balances right away. My fees are comparable to most banks and it includes everything I need, including the annual credit card fee.
Accessing the other credit cards statements is extra steps (wasted time!). Now I have to log onto another bank site to check my balance and detailed transactions, then go back to my main bank and proceed with the payment.
I like to keep things simple where I can, and having to manage several credit cards is not worth it right now! I do get rewards on my main VISA card.
Why Cancel Now?
But still, why did I cancel it already? The American Express card is not accepted everywhere and since I only used it once in the last 10 months, why keep it? If I get sidetracked again, before I know, it will be year two and I will have to pay the annual fee. Why take the chance? I know
most of my weaknesses.
Final Thoughts on Travel Hacking
“Power travel hacking” with credit cards (or any other ways) is not for me yet! I will give it another chance when I have more time on my hands. For now, I cancelled the American Express card . On the other hand, I am struggling with cancelling the other one. Having a second credit card, like the Mastercard, has been beneficial, like today where my son needs one to pay for his physiotherapy session but I still have the second one to pay for my lunch with my girlfriend, their travel insurance coverage is good and they give you four Priority Pass every year! (free food and drink, what’s not to love),but unless they can waive the $150 annual fee for year 2, I am not sure I will keep it.
For now, I will keep to my boring travel hacking: Aeroplan and Avion VISA reward card and keep it simple. We will see later when I have more time
How about you, do you travel hack? Has it worked out for you? Do you ever get overwhelmed with all the statements you need to keep track of? What are some of the best deals you got?