For years, I’ve used credit cards rewards points to help offset the cost of travel throughout the year. I’ve always gone with a travel rewards card, so earlier this year when Scotiabank reached out and asked if I would partner with them and use their Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite Card, I jumped at the chance to try out one of the best cash back cards available in Canada.
But then 2020 turned my life around, and suddenly, I found myself scrambling to get refunds for booked international trips, working from home, stressed about money, my career, and the health of my family. Even though I feel very fortunate to have kept my job through everything that has happened, my mental health was suffering, and I knew I needed to do something.
My husband and I decided that even though we weren’t going to go on any big adventures this year, we were still going to make the most of our vacation time, and we were going to take care of our mental and physical health. So instead of going to Japan, we diverted our travel budget to local trips into the mountains to go hiking. And instead of spending my time and money on concerts, film festivals, happy hours, and restaurants with friends, I spent what I needed on running. Yes, running. I’ve run off and on for my entire adult life, never sticking to it long enough to make it a solid part of my weekly routine. But working from home without a commute into the city meant I had zero excuses. I signed up for virtual races to hold myself accountable, bought workout gear that made me feel good, and forced myself to run – rain or shine. Eventually I found myself running nearly every day and decided it was time to tackle one of my life goals of running a marathon – which I accomplished in September after an entire summer of training. I then took it one step further, running a 50km ultra-marathon in October.
Between my husband and I, we’ve spent thousands of dollars on our health this year – something I don’t think we would have done had COVID not happened. I haven’t felt this fit since my early 20’s and it’s made me realize that we should have been prioritizing our health over the mindless spending we had been doing before the pandemic. For that change in our lives, I’m grateful.
Moving to a new credit card this year meant making sure I was taking full advantage of the rewards categories offered by the Scotia Momentum Visa. As a personal finance nerd at heart, I wanted to maximize the bonus offer of 10% cash back on all purchases for the first three months I had the card (up to $2,000 in total purchases), so you can bet I put most of my workout gear on the Visa! I also moved over all my recurring bill payments and subscriptions for the 4% cash back and updated all my shopping apps with my new credit card info.
To estimate what my cash back rewards could be annually, I plugged my budget numbers into Scotiabank’s Cash Back Calculator. There’s quite a high $25,000 annual spending cap on both the 4% and 2% bonus spending. And while it’s unlikely I’d ever hit those caps, it’s hard to estimate exactly how much I’ll spend each month as I also put a lot of work expenses through this card. However, running my numbers through the calculator estimated I would earn $558 this year to put towards travel, a new pair of running shoes, or whatever I want to splurge on.
With my previous travel rewards card, I was stuck redeeming my points on travel related purchases, so I count myself lucky that I switched to this cash back card in the spring. It’s making me think that the smartest move might be to stick with a cash back card moving forward, even once COVID has passed. The flexibility of being able to spend my rewards on anything I want – travel included – is nice to have, and with the reward amount being close to what I would get from my travel card anyway, it seems like a no-brainer!
As someone who has been in credit card debt before, I’m still at true believer that credit cards deserve a place in every household, and if they are used in a responsible manner, I’m on board with having the best rewards card for your spending habits. Having a credit card means you need to be able to pay off your balance in full every month (or if you’re like me, paying off your balance at least 2x/week), actively avoid the cash advance option, and know exactly how credit card interest rates are calculated.
What are your thoughts on the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite Card?
How has your spending changed in 2020?
I’m a personal finance blogger and marketing professional based in Vancouver. I’m a former Toronto Star (Moneyville) columnist, author of The Beginner’s Guide to Saving and Investing, and co-founder of the Canadian Personal Finance Conference. When I’m not working, you can usually find me running, climbing, playing field hockey, or plotting my next adventure.