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There’s a clarity and directness to credit cards that reward users by giving them cash. These cards have a set formula for turning your spending on a card into cash. You’re not trying to stretch points or miles far enough to buy flights or other goods and services. You simply get money.

If you’ve never been able to generate decent rewards from cards offering travel points, consider cashback. Start your research with the recently issued 2018 list of top cashback cards from RewardsCanada. For the second straight year, the winner is the American Express SimplyCash Preferred Card. Cards from MBNA, Bank of Nova Scotia and Rogers – yes, that Rogers – also make the list. The telecom company has a banking division that offers three credit cards, including the cash-paying Rogers World Elite MasterCard.

I like to cross reference rankings like this with what other websites pick. Here’s the GreedyRates 2018 cashback card ranking, with American Express SimplyCash also listed first. This card also scores well in rankings from Ratehub.ca, HowToSaveMoney.ca and CreditcardGenius.

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One thing to watch out for with new-ish cashback cards is a strong introductory rate for paying cash on purchases. The better the rate, the more likely it is that it will be pared back once the card has attracted a lot of customers. Here’s a column I wrote about how Tangerine downsized the perks on its cashback card last year.

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Rob’s personal finance reading list...

The joy of missing out

You’ve heard of FOMO, right? The fear of missing out? Stoked by social media, FOMO is often cited as a reason why people live beyond their means and take on debt. Now, meet JOMO, which stands for the joy of missing out. The idea here is to take a social media detox and feel the joy of disconnecting. It might save you money in the long-term.

Living the life in New York City

The Money Diaries is a blog where working women talk about money. Here, a young woman living in New York writes about living on her $25-an-hour paycheque from a job as a marketing intern. Oh, right – there’s also a $1,100 monthly subsidy from family. Predictably, social media had something to say about that.

“Like a doctor who pops out for a cigarette break”

A slideshow of advice that financial planners give, but sometimes don’t follow themselves. Kind of comforting, in a way. We all bow to human nature sometimes when handling money.

For those who dig airport lounges

A rundown of what various travel reward credit cards offer in the way of access to airport lounges, a feature that may appeal to the frequent traveler.

Today’s featured financial tool

The How Long Will the Money Last calculator helps you figure out how long you can draw an annual income from your investments.

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Ask Rob

Q: “How come you never see advice to sell when the market is high? If my stocks have increased by more than 25 per cent over purchase price, I strongly consider selling. At 33 to 50-plus per cent, I always sell, and then wait for the correction. The question for me is what do I consider to be a decent return on investment?”

A: “Great question. Two thoughts in response, the first being that re-balancing once or twice a year is a way of reducing your holdings in stocks that have gone up in value. Basically, you sell some of what has performed well to buy some more of what has under-performed. Another thought is that people hesitate to sell fast-rising stocks because gains can sometimes be quite a bit more than 33 or 50 per cent. An alternative approach selling your rising stocks would be to use a stop-loss order. That means having your broker sell a stock if it falls a set dollar amount or percentage below a pre-set price.”

Do you have a question for me? Send it my way. Sorry I can’t answer every one personally. Questions and answers are edited for length.

In case you missed these Globe and Mail personal finance stories

  • Seniors may have a hard time with TD’s security process for online banking
  • Why hiring an adviser who’s offering low fees could be a terrible move for your finances
  • How to get the best advice if you’re thinking of buying a rental property (for Globe Unlimited subscribers)

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