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A tip for finding the right credit card: consider one without annual fees.

I suggest this after reading the latest credit card customer satisfaction study from J.D. Power. Satisfaction among customers with a no-fee credit card is much higher than among customers with an annual fee. On a 1,000-point scale, no-fee cards received a customer satisfaction score of 747, while cards with fees scored 707.

Just over one-fifth of card customers surveyed by J.D. Power said they switched their primary card in the previous 12 months to avoid an annual fee, up from 16 per cent in 2020. The pandemic may help explain this trend – some households are struggling financially and need to cut costs, and others aren’t travelling and thus unable to make use of rewards generated by cards with fees.

Still, I wonder if there’s something to be said for a card that generates rewards without costing you annual fees that are commonly as high as $120 to $150 per year. Check out what’s available in the no-fee category on websites like CreditcardGenious, GreedyRates,,, Savvy New Canadians and Young & Thrifty.

The credit cards with the most satisfied customers come from Tangerine Bank, with a score of 822 out of 1,000. Canadian Tire and PC Financial were next with scores of 800 and 796. The industry average was 766. Have your say in what Canada’s best credit cards are by voting on the RewardsCanada website.

The biggest problem in customer service is no surprise – it’s bad service from call centres. J.D. Power said more card customers noted instances this year of “being transferred, put on hold, asked for the same information multiple times or having difficulties understanding the representative.”

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Rob’s personal finance reading list

Now’s an ideal time to renovate

The surge in lumber prices at the peak of the pandemic is over. If you waited, you win.

Best cashback websites

The Savvy New Canadians blog looks at ways to earn cash for shopping at particular retailers. Here’s a similar list from

Why it’s a good thing that stock trading is being treated like a game

A refreshingly contrarian take from a finance professor on the gamification of stock trading by millennials and Gen Z during the stock market rally of the past year and a half. He argues that turning investing into a game is part of a process that will make young people better investors over time.

Weird times in the housing market

All about a land rush in Peoria, Ill., a rust belt city that has seen better times. People from all over the United States have bought up houses, sight unseen. The reason: these cheap houses are their best chance at owning, and sometimes flipping, a home.

Ask Rob

Q: What is the cost of a financial planner? I was quoted $6,000-$8,000 as a base fee. I think this feels high.

A: Sounds high, unless you have complex needs in terms of family wealth – tax and estate planning, for example. In researching this column on the cost of a financial plan, I found that fees from planners often ranged between $1,500 to $4,000.

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 and clarity.

Today’s financial tool

The U.S. personal finance website NerdWallet has started a Canadian operation offering beginner-friendly information on banking, mortgages, credit cards and more to start.

The money-free zone

Rolling Stone has updated and freshened its Top 500 best songs list. More than half the songs didn’t appear on the old list.

Tweet of the week

The debt problems of the Chinese real estate developer Evergrande rocked the stock market early this week. Here’s a helpful thread to get you up to speed on the company and its current difficulties.

The lowdown on mortgages

What happened to those higher rates? What are the lowest rates right now? Where will they head next? Introducing the mortgage rundown, a new biweekly take on what’s happening in Canada’s mortgage market by mortgage strategist Robert McLister. You can read the first one here.


What I’ve been writing about
  • Canada’s first ETF especially for retirees has been around for a year now: Here’s what we’ve learned about it
  • What your family finances would look like if you were as casual about debt as the federal political parties
  • The most overblown warning in personal finance has been that rising rates will crush borrowers

More Rob Carrick and money coverage

Subscribe to Stress Test on Apple podcasts or Spotify. For more money stories, follow me on Instagram and Twitter, and join the discussion on my Facebook page. Millennial readers, join our Gen Y Money Facebook group.

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