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Kevin O’Leary’s credit card tips

Looking for credit card tips from one of the top financial advisors in Canada? We've collected some of Kevin O'Leary's genius tips to help you manage your spending.

How many credit cards should I have? Should I collect travel rewards points or cash back? Should I even have a credit card at all? These are common questions many first-time and frequent credit card users ask themselves. Fortunately, we’ve collected some of the top tips from one of Canada’s favourite Shark Tank investors: Kevin O’Leary.

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Kevin O’Leary

  • Kevin O’Leary is a Canadian businessman, TV personality and author.
  • Kevin has a B.A. in environmental studies and psychology and an MBA in entrepreneurship.
  • O’Leary is an investor on Shark Tank.

Have at least two credit cards.

Kevin O’Leary suggests having at least two credit cards. Have one credit card with a low limit that you only shop online with. That way, you can protect yourself from online fraud with a low limit card. The second credit card should have a higher credit limit and should be used for in-person purposes only. This way, you have one card you expose only to the online world and one that you use only to pay for purchases in person.

That said, O’Leary has approximately eight personal credit cards. He carries cards with no annual fees, cards that offer multiple currencies, cards that have no foreign transaction fees and more. He states that he simply dislikes credit card fees – especially foreign transaction fees.

If you travel often, get a card with no foreign transaction fees.

Kevin O’Leary is a frequent traveller and, as mentioned above, has around eight personal credit cards. Since his business endeavours take him through many different countries, he understands the importance of avoiding foreign transaction fees. Around 2.5% to 3%, this fee is charged on every transaction you make overseas. Although it doesn’t sound like a lot, these fees can quickly add up – especially if you use your credit card a lot.

Collect cash back, not rewards points.

This might be a controversial topic since many financial experts would recommend the opposite, however let’s hear O’Leary out. He suggests that you should always choose a cash back option over collecting rewards points. This is because cash back is more stable and will constantly be determined by the value of the Canadian dollar, while airline points are subject to more inflation and the value of the points tends to be less and less each year.

His reasoning is that you’ll likely get more value from cash back than you would earn from collecting airline or rewards points. This is why it’s essential to compare cash back to rewards points to determine your earning potential. Do this before you apply for a credit card.

If you’re in debt, avoid using a credit card.

Kevin O’Leary is a massive advocate for avoiding debt. If you don’t have the savings to pay off what you charge to your credit card, then he suggests to avoid using a credit card in the first place.

Paying on a credit card with money you have in a bank account, is different than paying on credit with money you don’t have! Important distinction” – Kevin O’Leary

That said, he does suggest that you occasionally use a credit card in order to build up your credit score, but only if you have the savings on hand to pay off your balance in full. Responsibly using your credit card can help you to build up your credit score, which is an important step for your future – you’ll ultimately get the most competitive rates for future forms of credit such as mortgages, car loans and more if you have a very good to excellent credit score.

Control emotional spending.

Kevin O’Leary says that mixing your emotions with shopping is a terrible combination – and should be avoided at all costs. While you might shop to make yourself feel better or to treat yourself after a difficult week at work, the feeling of debt on your shoulders will be a long lasting burden compared to the joy you feel when you bring home that new pair of shoes.

O’Leary suggests that when you’re about to head out shopping, assess your mood and determine how you’re feeling. Being mindful of your mood can help control impulse purchases and spending, which can ultimately fend off any debt you might bring home.

Don’t put vacations on your credit card.

Rather than charging fun or enjoyable experiences to your credit card – such as vacations, weekend getaways or lunch dates – create a “fun fund” instead. Set aside a percentage of your wage each week in cash, which you can then use to treat yourself to lunch, a spa day or even a vacation. The key to using cash is to avoid using your credit card frivolously toward enjoyable experiences. You can avoid debt, while still treating yourself every so often.

Compare Canadian credit cards

Name Product Welcome Offer Rewards Purchase Interest Rate Annual Fee Min. Credit Score Description
OFFER
HSBC +Rewards™ Mastercard®
30,000 Points
2x points per $1 spent
11.9%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($25 thereafter)
Min. recommended credit score: 630
Get 30,000 Points (up to $150 in value) when you spend $2,000 in the first 6 months. Plus, get the 1st year annual fee waived for the primary cardholder ($25 value). Apply by January 31, 2022.
BMO CashBack Mastercard
5% cash back
Up to 3% cash back
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Get 5% cash back on all eligible purchases in the first three months of card membership (up to max. spend of $2,000). Plus, get a rate of 1.99% on balance transfers with a 1% balance transfer fee for nine months.
Tangerine World Mastercard
15% cash back
Up to 2% cash back
19.95%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 600
Earn an extra 15% cash back (up to $150) on up to $1,000 of everyday purchases in the first 2 months Until November 30, 2021. Plus, get a 1.95% interest rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months (valid within the first 30 days of account opening, 1% transfer fee applies).
Neo Financial Credit Card
N/A
Average 5% cash back
19.99% - 24.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 600
Earn an average 5% cashback at thousands of partners and at least 1% cashback guaranteed. Neo partners with major gas and grocery stores, restaurants, gyms, coffee shops and more.
BMO Preferred Rate Mastercard
3.99% rate on balance transfers for 9 months
N/A
12.99%
$20
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Get a rate of 3.99% on balance transfers for 9 months with a 1% transfer fee. Plus, get the $20 annual fee waived in the first year.
American Express Cobalt Card
50,000 points
Up to 5x points per $1 spent
20.99%
$155.88
Min. recommended credit score: 700
Earn up to 50,000 Membership Rewards points in your first year. Earn 2,500 Membership Rewards points for each monthly billing period in which you spend $500 in net purchases on your card (up to 30,000 points). Plus, earn a Welcome Bonus of 20,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend a total of $3,000 in purchases on your Card in your first 3 months of Cardmembership.
Brim Mastercard
Up to $200 worth of bonuses
1 point per $1 spent
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 700
Earn up to $200 worth of bonus points when you shop with Brim retailers for the first time through the Brim mobile app.
Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card
15% cash back
Up to 2% cash back
19.95%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 600
Earn an extra 15% cash back (up to $150) on up to $1,000 of everyday purchases in the first 2 months Until November 30, 2021. Plus, get a 1.95% interest rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months (valid within the first 30 days of account opening, 1% transfer fee applies).
SimplyCash Card from American Express
4% cash back
Up to 1.25% cash back
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 700
Earn 4% cash back on purchases (up to $200 cash back) for the first 6 months of Cardmembership.
American Express Green Card
10,000 points
1 point per $1 spent
20.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 700
Earn a Welcome Bonus of 10,000 Membership Rewards points when you charge $1,000 in purchases to your card in the first 3 months as a new Cardmember.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Name Product Balance Transfer Rate Balance Transfer Fee Purchase Interest Rate Annual Fee Min. Credit Score Description
Scotiabank Value Visa Card
0.99% for the first 6 months (then 12.99%)
N/A
12.99%
$29
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Get a 0.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers with a 0% transfer fee for the first 6 months. Apply by February 28, 2022.
BMO CashBack Mastercard
1.99% for the first 9 months (then 22.99%)
1%
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Get 5% cash back on all eligible purchases in the first three months of card membership (up to max. spend of $2,000). Plus, get a rate of 1.99% on balance transfers with a 1% balance transfer fee for nine months.
Tangerine World Mastercard
1.95% for the first 6 months (then 19.95%)
3%
19.95%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 600
Earn an extra 15% cash back (up to $150) on up to $1,000 of everyday purchases in the first 2 months Until November 30, 2021. Plus, get a 1.95% interest rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months (valid within the first 30 days of account opening, 1% transfer fee applies).
BMO Preferred Rate Mastercard
3.99% for the first 9 months (then 12.99%)
1%
12.99%
$20
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Get a rate of 3.99% on balance transfers for 9 months with a 1% transfer fee. Plus, get the $20 annual fee waived in the first year.
Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card
1.95% for the first 6 months (then 19.95%)
3%
19.95%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 600
Earn an extra 15% cash back (up to $150) on up to $1,000 of everyday purchases in the first 2 months Until November 30, 2021. Plus, get a 1.95% interest rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months (valid within the first 30 days of account opening, 1% transfer fee applies).
BMO Rewards Mastercard
1.99% for the first 9 months (then 22.99%)
1%
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 725
Get a bonus of 10,000 BMO Rewards points when you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months. Plus, get a rate of 1.99% on balance transfers for 9 months. A 1% fee applies to transferred balances.
BMO AIR MILES Mastercard
1.99% for the first 9 months (then 22.99%)
1%
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Get 800 AIR MILES Bonus Miles (enough for $80 towards purchases with AIR MILES Cash). Get a rate of 1.99% on balance transfers for 9 months. A 1% fee applies to transferred balances.
Scotia Momentum No-Fee Visa Card
1.99% for the first 6 months (then 22.99%)
N/A
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Earn 5% cash back on all purchases for the first 3 months (up to $2,000 in total purchases). Plus, get a 1.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months with no balance transfer fee. Apply by January 1, 2022.
Scotiabank Gold American Express Card
0% for the first 6 months (then 22.99%)
1%
19.99%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($120 thereafter)
Min. recommended credit score: 700
Earn up to 40,000 bonus Scene+ points in your first year (that's up to $400 towards travel) and no annual fee in the first year, including supplementary cards. Plus, get a 0.00% introductory interest rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months (A 1% balance transfer fee applies). Apply by January 1, 2022.
Scotia Momentum Visa Card
2.99% for the first 6 months (then 22.99%)
N/A
19.99%
$39
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Get a 2.99% introductory rate on balance transfers and a 0% balance transfer fee for the first 6 months. Apply by February 28, 2022.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Name Product Welcome Offer Rewards Purchase Interest Rate Annual Fee Min. Credit Score Description
OFFER
HSBC +Rewards™ Mastercard®
30,000 Points
2x points per $1 spent
11.9%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($25 thereafter)
Min. recommended credit score: 630
Get 30,000 Points (up to $150 in value) when you spend $2,000 in the first 6 months. Plus, get the 1st year annual fee waived for the primary cardholder ($25 value). Apply by January 31, 2022.
American Express Cobalt Card
50,000 points
Up to 5x points per $1 spent
20.99%
$155.88
Min. recommended credit score: 700
Earn up to 50,000 Membership Rewards points in your first year. Earn 2,500 Membership Rewards points for each monthly billing period in which you spend $500 in net purchases on your card (up to 30,000 points). Plus, earn a Welcome Bonus of 20,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend a total of $3,000 in purchases on your Card in your first 3 months of Cardmembership.
BMO World Elite Mastercard
30,000 points
Up to 3 points per $1 spent
20.99%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($150 thereafter)
Min. recommended credit score: 760
Get up to 30,000 points and the $150 annual fee waived in the first year.
American Express Aeroplan Card
40,000 points
Up to 2x points
30% annual interest rate applies to balances not paid in full each month
$120
Min. recommended credit score: 700
Earn up to a total of 40,000 welcome bonus Aeroplan points and a bonus Buddy Pass. New Cardmembers can earn up to $1,200 in value within the first year.
American Express Business Edge Card
57,000 points
Up to 3 points per $1 spent
19.99%
$99
Min. recommended credit score: 700
Earn up to 57,000 Membership Rewards points in your first year.
American Express AIR MILES Platinum Credit Card
2,000 Miles
Up to 1 Air Mile per $5 - $10 spent
20.99%
$120
Min. recommended credit score: 700
Earn a Welcome Bonus of 2,000 AIR MILES within the first three months. That’s enough to redeem for $200 towards your purchases with AIR MILES Cash.
American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card
90,000 points
Up to 3x points
19.99%
$599
Min. recommended credit score: 700
Earn up to a total of 90,000 welcome bonus Aeroplan points and a bonus Buddy Pass. New Cardmembers can earn up to $3,000 in value within your first year. Plus, receive up to $100 in statement credits every four years when a NEXUS application or renewal fee is charged to your card.
BMO eclipse Visa Infinite Privilege
50,000 points
5 points per $1 spent
20.99%
$499
Min. recommended credit score: 760
Get up to 50,000 welcome points in your first year.
HSBC World Elite® Mastercard®
100,000 Points
Up to 6 points per $1 spent
19.9%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($149 thereafter)
Min. recommended credit score: 650
Earn up to 100,000 Points. Get a Welcome Bonus of 20,000 Points (up to $100 value). Plus, earn an additional 80,000 Points and get the 1st year annual fee waived for the primary cardholder (up to $549 value). Apply by January 31, 2022.
BMO CashBack World Elite Mastercard
Up to 10% cash back
1% cash back
20.99%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($120 thereafter)
Min. recommended credit score: 760
Get up to 10% cash back in your first 3 months and the $120 annual fee waived in the first year.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Name Product Welcome Offer Cash Back Rate Purchase Interest Rate Annual Fee Min. Credit Score Reward Description
Neo Financial Credit Card
N/A
Average 5% cash back
19.99% - 24.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 600
BMO CashBack Mastercard
5% cash back
Up to 3% cash back
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Earn 3% cash back on groceries, 1% on recurring bill payments and 0.5% on all other eligible purchases.
Tangerine World Mastercard
15% cash back
Up to 2% cash back
19.95%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 600
Earn 2% cash back in two categories of your choice (or three categories if you open a Tangerine Savings Account and directly deposit your cash back into the account), and 0.5% cash back on everything else.
Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card
15% cash back
Up to 2% cash back
19.95%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 600
Earn 2% cash back in two categories of your choice (or three categories if you open a Tangerine Savings Account and directly deposit your cash back into the account), and 0.5% cash back on everything else.
SimplyCash Card from American Express
4% cash back
Up to 1.25% cash back
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 700
Earn 1.25% cash back on all eligible purchases.
SimplyCash Preferred Card from American Express
10% cash back
2% cash back
19.99%
$99
Min. recommended credit score: 700
Earn 2% cash back on all eligible purchases
BMO CashBack World Elite Mastercard
Up to 10% cash back
1% cash back
20.99%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($120 thereafter)
Min. recommended credit score: 760
Earn 5% cash back on groceries, 4% on transit including ride sharing, taxis and public transportation, 3% on gas and electric vehicle charging, 2% on recurring bill payments and 1% unlimited cash back on all eligible purchases.
BMO Cashback Business Mastercard
10% cash back
Up to 1.75% cash back
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 650
Earn 1.5% cash back on eligible gas purchases, office supplies and on cell phone and internet recurring payments, earn 1.75% cash back at participating Shell stations, and earn 0.75% on all other eligible card purchases.
BMO CashBack Mastercard For Students
5% cash back
Up to 3% cash back
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Earn 3% cash back on groceries, 1% on recurring bill payments and 0.5% on all other eligible purchases.
Scotia Momentum No-Fee Visa Card
Up to 5% cash back
1% cash back
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Get 1% cash back on all eligible gas station, grocery store and drug store purchases and recurring bill payments, and get 0.5% cash back on all other eligible purchases.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Name Product Welcome Offer Rewards Purchase Interest Rate Annual Fee Min. Credit Score Description
BMO CashBack Mastercard
5% cash back
Up to 3% cash back
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Get 5% cash back on all eligible purchases in the first three months of card membership (up to max. spend of $2,000). Plus, get a rate of 1.99% on balance transfers with a 1% balance transfer fee for nine months.
Tangerine World Mastercard
15% cash back
Up to 2% cash back
19.95%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 600
Earn an extra 15% cash back (up to $150) on up to $1,000 of everyday purchases in the first 2 months Until November 30, 2021. Plus, get a 1.95% interest rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months (valid within the first 30 days of account opening, 1% transfer fee applies).
Brim Mastercard
Up to $200 worth of bonuses
1 point per $1 spent
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 700
Earn up to $200 worth of bonus points when you shop with Brim retailers for the first time through the Brim mobile app.
Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card
15% cash back
Up to 2% cash back
19.95%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 600
Earn an extra 15% cash back (up to $150) on up to $1,000 of everyday purchases in the first 2 months Until November 30, 2021. Plus, get a 1.95% interest rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months (valid within the first 30 days of account opening, 1% transfer fee applies).
SimplyCash Card from American Express
4% cash back
Up to 1.25% cash back
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 700
Earn 4% cash back on purchases (up to $200 cash back) for the first 6 months of Cardmembership.
American Express Green Card
10,000 points
1 point per $1 spent
20.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 700
Earn a Welcome Bonus of 10,000 Membership Rewards points when you charge $1,000 in purchases to your card in the first 3 months as a new Cardmember.
BMO Rewards Mastercard
10,000 points
Up to 2 points per $1 spent
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 725
Get a bonus of 10,000 BMO Rewards points when you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months. Plus, get a rate of 1.99% on balance transfers for 9 months. A 1% fee applies to transferred balances.
Home Trust Secured Visa (No Annual Fee)
N/A
N/A
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: Any score
The no annual fee Home Trust Secured card comes with a standard 19.99% purchase and cash advance rate. Apply with any credit score and start rebuilding your credit.
BMO Cashback Business Mastercard
10% cash back
Up to 1.75% cash back
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 650
Get 10% cash back on gas, office supplies, cell phone bills and internet bills for 3 months.
BMO AIR MILES Mastercard
800 Miles
Up to 3x Air Miles for every $25 spent
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Get 800 AIR MILES Bonus Miles (enough for $80 towards purchases with AIR MILES Cash). Get a rate of 1.99% on balance transfers for 9 months. A 1% fee applies to transferred balances.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Name Product Min. Required Deposit Purchase Interest Rate Cash Advance Rate Annual Fee
Refresh Financial Secured Card
$200
17.99%
N/A
$12.95 + $3/month
The Refresh Secured Card has no credit check, a low annual fee and guaranteed approval once you secure your card with anywhere from $200 - $10,000.
Home Trust Secured Visa (No Annual Fee)
$500
19.99%
19.99%
$0
The no annual fee Home Trust Secured card comes with a standard 19.99% purchase and cash advance rate. Apply with any credit score and start rebuilding your credit.
Home Trust Secured Visa (Low Rate & Monthly Fee)
$500
14.9%
19.8%
$60
Pay a monthly fee of $5 and get a low purchase interest rate of 14.90%.
Home Trust Secured Visa (Low Rate)
$500
14.9%
19.8%
$59
Rebuild your credit score and enjoy a low purchase interest rate of 14.90% and a cash advance rate of 19.80%.
BMO World Elite Business Mastercard
BMO World Elite Business Mastercard
17.99%
22.99%
Get up to 50,000 BMO reward points when you spend $5,000 in the first three months, Plus, get the $149 fee waived for the first year.
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