TD Bonus – Stage 1
About two months ago I wrote about my plan to get a TD bonus of $250 for opening a new chequing account. The chequing account in question is TD Canada Trust’s extremely expensive “Select Service” account. I described how I planned to open the account, earn the bonus, and minimize fees paid. I’ll now call this “Stage 1″ of my TD bonus plan.
Stage 1 has actually gone better than I previously guessed. My original plan included the expectation that I’d pay $10 in fees when I opened the account — but I haven’t paid a cent. I think this was because, on the day that I opened the account, I deposited the minimum balance of $5,000 to waive the exorbitant $29.95 monthly account fee. Further, I’ve completed all of the other tasks necessary to earn the TD bonus: I set up my direct deposit and completed two bill payments. Now I just need to wait another two months, get the bonus, and close the account. My expected bonus (after deducting the opportunity cost of having $5,000 sit in an interest-free chequing account) stands at about $200. OK, so I’m winning already.
TD Bonus – Stage 2
When I opened my Select Service account near the end of May, TD heavily pushed one key ‘benefit’ of the package: they’d waive the fee on their ‘exclusive’ TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite Card (yeah, that’s the longest credit card name ever). The fee on this card is $120 a year. I already get amazing cash-back on gas and groceries from my fee-free MBNA Smart Cash MasterCard card. I don’t derive any of my self-worth from having an ‘exclusive’ credit card (if I did, I’d get a Centurion Card). Thus I declined TD’s ‘generous’ offer when I opened the account.
But a new TD bonus offer just made me change my mind. I was told I’d get 40,000 free TD Rewards points if I opened a TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite Card. As TD points out in its promotional literature, that’s enough for $200 in free travel. Travel, however, is a fickle way to spend rewards points (especially if I don’t want to travel before I cancel the card). These reward points can, however, be used to obtain things other than travel. For example, 40,000 TD Rewards points can get two $50 gas cards from PetroCanada or two $50 grocery cards from FoodBasics. A TD bonus that will put gas in my Malibu or put food on my family? (Sorry for the silly Bush-ism reference). Sign me up!
OK, so don’t sign me up just yet. I called to ask a few questions:
- If I open the Visa card, will TD waive my fee (by virtue of my Select Service account) immediately? Or do I need to pay it and get reimbursed later? Answer: it’s waived from Day 1.
- Are there any fees to close the Visa account? Even if I close it within a month of opening it? Answer: there are no closing fees.
- Do I get the points immediately or do I need to wait some amount of time? Also, do I need to do anything besides opening the account (e.g. make a purchase) to get the points? Answer: The points will be awarded during the first statement period. Opening the account is the only requirement to get the TD bonus points.
After the nice lady had answered all of my questions, I applied on the same phone call and was immediately approved. I’ll spend the points in August. Since the card is free for a year, even after I close my Select Service account, I might actually keep the card to enjoy its other benefits (e.g. free travel medical insurance) and mark my calendar to cancel the card in July 2013. Thus my $250 TD bonus has turned into a $350 TD bonus (or about $300 after accounting for the opportunity cost on my Select Service account balance of $5000).
This TD bonus doesn’t really “add up” if you’re not going to get the fee waived. Paying a $120 fee to get $100 in gift cards is obviously money-stupid. Paying $120 in cold hard cash to get $200 in ethereal “free travel” could be smart — but only if you need to travel anyway and you’re sure you’ll actually get $200 in real value. Even still, I wouldn’t touch this offer with a 10-foot pole if my fee wasn’t waived.
How do I plan to spend my reward points? I must admit that I was tempted by this Fossil watch. I’m leaning toward getting $100 in gas cards. Yes, PetroCanada is overpriced — the Ultramar gas stations in my area are consistently cheaper than the nearest PetroCanada locations. But still, gas margins are thin. Even at a price that’s inflated by 5%, $100 is enough for several weeks of our average fuel consumption (barring any non-local travel). But if you see a better idea while perusing TD Rewards, let me know!