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.

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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 Reward Purchase Interest Rate Cash Advance Rate Annual Fee Minimum Income Minimum Credit Limit
Earn 5x points on eligible eats and drinks, including groceries and food delivery, 2x points on transit, gas, travel purchases, and 1 point on all other spend.
19.99%
22.99%
$120
N/A
Earn 2,500 points with minimum spend of $500 for each billing period. Up to 30,000 bonus points in your first year.
Earn 1.5 miles for every $1 spent on eligible grocery, gas, drugstore and aircanada.com purchases and 1 mile for every $1 spent elsewhere. T&C's apply.
19.99%
22.99%
$120
$60,000
$5,000
Apply by December 1, 2019 to get an Annual Fee Rebate for the Primary Cardholder for the first year and earn up to 40,000 Aeroplan Miles (equivalent to 2 premium economy short-haul roundtrip flight rewards).
Earn 3 BMO Rewards points per $1 spent on dining, travel and entertainment purchases.
19.99%
22.99%
$150
$80,000
Offers 35,000 BMO Rewards bonus points with a minimum spend of $3,000 in the first three months of card membership. Ends January 15, 2020.
Earn 2 Scotia Rewards points per $1 spent on eligible grocery stores, dining, entertainment purchases, and daily transit. Earn 1 Scotia Rewards points per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases.
19.99%
22.99%
$139
$60,000
$5,000
Earn up to 25,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points in your first year of card membership. Plus, earn an extra 10,000 points with a min. annual spend of $40,000 on your card.
Earn 9 TD Points per $1 in travel booked online through Expedia for TD, and 3 points/$1 spent elsewhere.
19.99%
22.99%
$120
$60,000
$5,000
Apply by December 1, 2019 to get an Annual Fee Rebate for the Primary Cardholder for the first year and earn up to 90,000 TD Points (a travel value of $450 when you book travel purchases through ExpediaForTD.com).
Get 2% cashback after the Welcome Rate on all purchases. No cap and no limit.
19.99%
22.99%
$99
N/A
Receive 5% cash back (up to $300 cash back) and a 1.99% balance transfer rate in the first 6 months to new cardmembers. No balance transfer fee upon application.
Earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases. No cap and no limit.
19.99%
22.99%
$120
$80,000
Get 5% cash back in the first three months of card membership with a first year annual fee waiver. Ends March 31, 2020.
Receive 1% cash back on payments made at gas stations, supermarkets, pharmacies and recurring bill payments.
7.99% intro APR for the first 6 months, 19.99% thereafter
22.99%
$0
$12,000
$500
Offers a 7.99% introductory interest rate on all spend for the first 6 months. Ends March 1, 2020.
Earn 3x the points on daily business spend including office supplies & electronics, rides & gas, and eats & drinks and 1x the points on all other purchases.
19.99%
22.99%
$99
N/A
Earn up to 42,000 Membership Rewards® points in the first year of card approval. Offers 30,000 Welcome Bonus points when you spend $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of membership.
Earn 1 AIR MILES® for every $5 you spend at eligible sponsors, stores, drugstores and gas stations (up to $30,000 annually) and 1 Mile for every $10 you spend anywhere else.
19.99%
22.99%
$120
N/A
Receive up to 3,500 bonus AIR MILES®. Conditions apply. Offers 1.99% balance transfer rate in the first 6 months. No balance transfer fee upon application.

Compare up to 4 providers

Name Product Reward Purchase Interest Rate Balance Transfer Rate Annual Fee Minimum Income Credit Rating
Save on interest by consolidating your higher-rate balances and get a low 12.99% purchase interest rate.
12.99%
0.99% for the first 6 months (then 12.99%)
$29
$12,000
650+ recommended credit score
Offers a 0.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers with 0% transfer fee for the first 6 months. Ends March 1, 2020.
Get 2% cashback after the Welcome Rate on all purchases. No cap and no limit.
19.99%
1.99% for the first 6 months (then 22.99%)
$99
N/A
Good, Excellent
Receive 5% cash back (up to $300 cash back) and a 1.99% balance transfer rate in the first 6 months to new cardmembers. No balance transfer fee upon application.
1.25% cash back rate on all purchases when your welcome offer ends. No cap.
19.99%
1.99% for the first 6 months (then 22.99%)
$0
N/A
Good, Excellent
Earn 2.5% cash back (up to $150 cash back) in the first three months. Offers 1.99% balance transfer rate in the first 6 months and no balance transfer fee upon application.
Earn 4% Money-Back Rewards in three categories of your choice such as groceries, dining, petrol and more. Ends January 31, 2020.
19.95%
1.95% for the first 6 months (then 19.95%)
$0
$12,000
650+ recommended credit score
Get 1.95% interest rate on balance transfers for the first six months. Valid within the first 30 days of account opening.
Low interest rates of 12.99% on purchases and cash advances.
12.99%
3.99% for the first 9 months (then 12.99%)
$20
$15,000
Good
Offers a 3.99% balance transfer intro rate for nine months to new cardmembers.
Save with a low interest rate and no annual fee
16.99%
3.99% for the first 6 months (then 16.99%)
$0
$12,000
650+ recommended credit score
Offers a 3.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers with 0% transfer fee for the first 6 months. Ends March 1, 2020.
Earn 1 mile per $10 spent on eligible partners, groceries, gas stations and drug stores (up to $30,000 annually) and 1 mile per $15 on all other spending.
19.99%
1.99% for the first 6 months (then 22.99%)
$299
N/A
Good, Excellent
Receive up to 3,800 AIR MILES Bonus Miles when you spend $3,000. Conditions apply. Offers 1.99% balance transfer for the first 6 months. No balance transfer fee upon application
Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases. No caps, no limit.
19.99%
1.99% for the first 9 months (then 22.99%)
$0
$15,000
Good
Enjoy cash back on your every dollar spent and build a healthy credit history. Get up to 5% cash back with minimum spend of $2,000 in the first three months of card membership. Ends March 31, 2020.
2% cash back on eligible gas stations, grocery and drug store purchases including recurring payments. T&C's apply.
19.99%
2.99% for the first 6 months (then 22.99%)
$39
$12,000
650+ recommended credit score
Offers a 2.99% introductory balance transfer rate for the first 6 months. Ends March 1, 2020.
Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases. No caps, no limit.
19.99%
1.99% for the first 9 months (then 22.99%)
$0
$15,000
Good
Offers a 1.99% balance transfer intro rate for nine months to new cardmembers. Get 5% cash back in the first three months of card membership up to a maximum of $2,000 ($100 cash back) in eligible card purchases (Ends March 31, 2020).

Compare up to 4 providers

Name Product Reward Purchase Interest Rate Cash Advance Rate Annual Fee Minimum Income Minimum Credit Limit
Earn 5 Scotia Rewards points per $1 spent on groceries, dining and entertainment, 3 points on gas, transportation and streaming services, and 1 point on every other purchase.
19.99%
22.99%
$120
$12,000
$5,000
Get up to 30,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points in your first year of card membership (up to $300 in rewards). Ends 30 December 2019.
Earn 2 Scotia Rewards points per $1 spent on eligible grocery stores, dining, entertainment purchases, and daily transit. Earn 1 Scotia Rewards points per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases.
19.99%
22.99%
$139
$60,000
$5,000
Earn up to 25,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points in your first year of card membership. Plus, earn an extra 10,000 points with a min. annual spend of $40,000 on your card.
Earn 5x points on eligible eats and drinks, including groceries and food delivery, 2x points on transit, gas, travel purchases, and 1 point on all other spend.
19.99%
22.99%
$120
N/A
Earn 2,500 points with minimum spend of $500 for each billing period. Up to 30,000 bonus points in your first year.
Earn 1 mile per $10 spend in purchases.
19.99%
22.99%
$120
$80,000
Get up to 3,000 AIR MILES Bonus Miles with minimum spend of $3,000 in the first three months, plus a first year annual fee waiver. Ends January 15, 2020.
Earn 1 AIR MILES® for every $5 you spend at eligible sponsors, stores, drugstores and gas stations (up to $30,000 annually) and 1 Mile for every $10 you spend anywhere else.
19.99%
22.99%
$120
N/A
Receive up to 3,500 bonus AIR MILES®. Conditions apply. Offers 1.99% balance transfer rate in the first 6 months. No balance transfer fee upon application.
Get free annual partner ticket and unlimited access to Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounges as well as Air Canada priority check-in.
N/A
N/A
$499
N/A
Get free annual partner ticket and unlimited access to Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounges as well as Air Canada priority check-in. Receive 40,000 bonus Aeroplan Miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months of card membership. You can also earn an additional $150 Air Canada eGift Card after spending a total of $6,000 in purchases within the first six months of card membership.
Earn 1 Aeroplan Mile for every dollar spent. Double your miles on purchases at over 150 Aeroplan partner brands.
N/A
N/A
$60
N/A
New cardmembers receive 5,000 Bonus Aeroplan Miles when spending $500 in the first three months of membership.
Earn 3 BMO Rewards points per $1 spent on dining, travel and entertainment purchases.
19.99%
22.99%
$150
$80,000
Offers 35,000 BMO Rewards bonus points with a minimum spend of $3,000 in the first three months of card membership. Ends January 15, 2020.
Earn 1 Scotia Rewards point per $1 spent on eligible purchases.
19.99%
22.99%
$0
$12,000
$1,000
Get 5,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points upon min. spend of $500 on eligible purchases within the first 3 months. Ends March 1, 2020.
Get 1.5 miles for every $1 spent on eligible grocery, gas, drugstore and Air Canada purchases and 1.25 miles for every $1 spent elsewhere.
19.99%
22.99%
$399
N/A
$10,000
Get up to 60,000 Aeroplan Miles (equivalent to 2 business class short-haul roundtrip flight rewards) Conditions apply. Ends 1 December 2019.

Compare up to 4 providers

Name Product Reward Purchase Interest Rate Cash Advance Rate Cash Back Rate Annual Fee
Get 2% cashback after the Welcome Rate on all purchases. No cap and no limit.
19.99%
22.99%
2%
$99
Receive 5% cash back (up to $300 cash back) and a 1.99% balance transfer rate in the first 6 months to new cardmembers. No balance transfer fee upon application.
1.25% cash back rate on all purchases when your welcome offer ends. No cap.
19.99%
22.99%
1.25%
$0
Earn 2.5% cash back (up to $150 cash back) in the first three months. Offers 1.99% balance transfer rate in the first 6 months and no balance transfer fee upon application.
Earn 4% cash back per $1 spent on groceries & recurring bill payments, 2% per $1 spent on gas & public transit and 1% per $1 spent on all other spend.
20.99%
22.99%
4%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($120 thereafter)
New cardholders save with no annual fee for the first year. Ends December 30, 2019.
Get 1% cash back on payments made at gas stations, grocery stores and pharmacies, including recurring payments, plus an additional 0.5% cash back on all other spend.
7.99% intro APR for the first 6 months, 19.99% thereafter
22.99%
1%
$0
Get 1% cash back on payments made at gas stations, grocery stores and pharmacies, including recurring payments. Receive a 7.99% introductory interest rate on all spend for the first six months. Ends March 1, 2020.
Receive 1% cash back on payments made at gas stations, supermarkets, pharmacies and recurring bill payments.
7.99% intro APR for the first 6 months, 19.99% thereafter
22.99%
1%
$0
Offers a 7.99% introductory interest rate on all spend for the first 6 months. Ends March 1, 2020.
2% cash back on eligible gas stations, grocery and drug store purchases including recurring payments. T&C's apply.
19.99%
22.99%
2%
$39
Offers a 2.99% introductory balance transfer rate for the first 6 months. Ends March 1, 2020.
Earn 4% Money-Back Rewards in three categories of your choice such as groceries, dining, petrol and more. Ends January 31, 2020.
19.95%
19.95%
2%
$0
Get 1.95% interest rate on balance transfers for the first six months. Valid within the first 30 days of account opening.
Get 3% cash back on eligible groceries, gas and bill payments and 1% cash back on all other purchases.
20.99%
22.99%
3%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($120 thereafter)
Earn 10% cash back on all purchases for the first 3 months (up to a total spend of $2,000). Ends 1 December 2019.
Earn 1% in cash back on eligible groceries, gas, and bill payments and 0.5% in cash back on all other purchases.
19.99%
22.99%
1%
$0
Earn 1% in cash back on eligible groceries, gas, and bill payments and 0.5% in cash back on all other purchases.
Get up to 5% in GM Earnings on your initial spend of $5,000 in the first year, and 2% thereafter.
19.99%
22.99%
5%
$0
Get up to 5% in GM Earnings on your initial spend of $5,000 in the first year, and 2% thereafter.

Compare up to 4 providers

Name Product Reward Purchase Interest Rate Cash Advance Rate Annual Fee Minimum Income Minimum Credit Limit
Earn 1 SCENE point per $1 spent on all purchases, plus 5 SCENE points for every $1 spent at Cineplex Entertainment theatres or cineplex.com.
19.99%
22.99%
$0
$12,000
$500
Save with no annual fee and earn 1 SCENE point for every $1 spent on all purchases. Get 2,500 bonus SCENE points with min. spend of $500 in the first three months. Ends March 1, 2020.
Receive 1% cash back on payments made at gas stations, supermarkets, pharmacies and recurring bill payments.
7.99% intro APR for the first 6 months, 19.99% thereafter
22.99%
$0
$12,000
$500
Offers a 7.99% introductory interest rate on all spend for the first 6 months. Ends March 1, 2020.
Earn 3 TD Rewards Points per $1 spent on travel booking via ExpediaForTD.com, 2 points when you book via phone, 2 points on grocery dining and bill payments and 1 point on all other spend.
19.99%
22.99%
$0
N/A
$500
Get 2x TD Rewards Points on all purchases up to a total of 10,000 TD Rewards Points when your account is active and in good standing for 90 days after account opening (excluding Quebec residents). Ends 1 December 2019.
Earn 1% in cash back on eligible groceries, gas, and bill payments and 0.5% in cash back on all other purchases.
19.99%
22.99%
$0
N/A
$500
Earn 1% in cash back on eligible groceries, gas, and bill payments and 0.5% in cash back on all other purchases.
Get 1% cash back on payments made at gas stations, grocery stores and pharmacies, including recurring payments, plus an additional 0.5% cash back on all other spend.
7.99% intro APR for the first 6 months, 19.99% thereafter
22.99%
$0
$12,000
$500
Get 1% cash back on payments made at gas stations, grocery stores and pharmacies, including recurring payments. Receive a 7.99% introductory interest rate on all spend for the first six months. Ends March 1, 2020.
Earn 2x AIR MILES reward miles per $20 spent at eligible partners and 1 mile per $20 spent for all other purchases.
19.99%
22.99%
$0
$15,000
Get up to 800 bonus AIR MILES reward miles with minimum spend of $1,000 in the first three months. Ends January 15, 2020.
Earn 2x AIR MILES reward miles per $20 spend at eligible AIR MILES partners.
19.99%
22.99%
$0
$15,000
Enjoy AIR MILES on your every dollar spent and build a healthy credit history. Earn up to 800 AIR MILES bonus miles with minimum spend of $1,000 in the first three months. Ends January 15, 2020.
Earn 2x AIR MILES reward miles per $20 spent at eligible partners and IGA stores and 1 mile per $20 spent for all other purchases.
19.99%
22.99%
$0
$15,000
Get up to 800 bonus AIR MILES reward miles with minimum spend of $1,000 in the first three months. Ends January 15, 2020.
Save with a low interest rate and no annual fee
16.99%
16.99%
$0
$12,000
$500
Offers a 3.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers with 0% transfer fee for the first 6 months. Ends March 1, 2020.
Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases. No caps, no limit.
19.99%
22.99%
$0
$15,000
Offers a 1.99% balance transfer intro rate for nine months to new cardmembers. Get 5% cash back in the first three months of card membership up to a maximum of $2,000 ($100 cash back) in eligible card purchases (Ends March 31, 2020).

Compare up to 4 providers

Name Product Required Deposit Purchase Interest Rate Cash Advance Rate Annual Fee
$200 - $10,000
17.99%
N/A
$12.95
Take advantage of a low annual fee, with guaranteed approval and no credit check.

Compare up to 4 providers

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