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Best overall non-Amex card for heavy grocery/restaurant spenders?

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  • Jan 13th, 2023 11:19 pm
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[OP]
Sr. Member
Jul 6, 2018
898 posts
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Best overall non-Amex card for heavy grocery/restaurant spenders?

Girlfriend and I currently using a joint Cobalt for all our spending, but girlfriend is also annoyed that Amex isn't accepted everywhere (especially Loblaws and cheap Asian restaurants...)

Is there a top non-Amex card for our spending patterns? With about $4000-$5000 total a month and about $2000-$3000 on food? Since churning is fraught with danger now, was hoping for a "keeper" card, lest our Aeroplan account gets frozen and I upset the girlfriend even more.
84 replies
Deal Guru
Dec 5, 2006
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Markham
poopooplatter wrote: Girlfriend and I currently using a joint Cobalt for all our spending, but girlfriend is also annoyed that Amex isn't accepted everywhere (especially Loblaws and cheap Asian restaurants...)

Is there a top non-Amex card for our spending patterns? With about $4000-$5000 total a month and about $2000-$3000 on food? Since churning is fraught with danger now, was hoping for a "keeper" card, lest our Aeroplan account gets frozen and I upset the girlfriend even more.
Scotiabank momentum infinite

Cheap Asian restaurants don't accept credit cards
Sr. Member
Mar 25, 2015
854 posts
778 upvotes
Grocery - Scotiabank Momentum Visa Infinite
Restaurants - Simplii Visa but your spending is too heavy, you will easily reach 5000$/annual limit
Last edited by dimon222 on Jan 8th, 2023 8:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Apr 24, 2017
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MBNA RWE - 5% on groceries, dining, bills (cell, cable, home service, natural gas, electricity, city utilities, etc), membership and digital media, plus additional 10% of the points you earned in the past year as your birthday bonus (15K max).

The bonus categories work outside Canada as well.
Amex Cobalt - MBNA RWE - Brim WE
Amex Platinum - Bonvoy Brilliant Amex - CIBC Aeroplan VIP
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Mar 25, 2012
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dimon222 wrote: Grocery - Momentum Visa Infinite
Restaurants - Simplii Visa but your spending is too heavy, you will easily reach 5000$/annual limit
Does Simplii not have credit card limits higher than $5,000?
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poopooplatter wrote: Girlfriend and I currently using a joint Cobalt for all our spending, but girlfriend is also annoyed that Amex isn't accepted everywhere (especially Loblaws and cheap Asian restaurants...)

Is there a top non-Amex card for our spending patterns? With about $4000-$5000 total a month and about $2000-$3000 on food? Since churning is fraught with danger now, was hoping for a "keeper" card, lest our Aeroplan account gets frozen and I upset the girlfriend even more.
Surprised Loblaw doesn't accept American Express, considering Shoppers Drug Mart does. Has that always been the case?

If you need a good alternative grocery spending card, I'd go with either (a) Scotiabank Scene+ (no annual fee, no caps on grocery spend, so it's effectively a 2% card, I think) or (b) Tangerine credit card (not sure the difference between regular and world; they look the same to me). Prefer Scene+, as with Tangerine you will have to make sure you don't use it outside of your spending categories.

Cheers,
Doug
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Nov 11, 2016
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smartie wrote: Scotiabank momentum infinite

Cheap Asian restaurants don't accept credit cards
Here they give you 10% back if you pay cash. But they will accept credit ( most of them).
A fan of RFD
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Mar 25, 2015
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dmehus wrote: Does Simplii not have credit card limits higher than $5,000?
I meant cap on multiplier, not limit as actual limit. Restaurants category multiplier cap is 5000$ spending annually. Above 5000$ will only give 1%
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dimon222 wrote: Grocery - Momentum Visa Infinite
Lol, leaving the word Scotia out doesn’t improve your recommendation.
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Mar 25, 2015
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starchoice wrote: Lol, leaving the word Scotia out doesn’t improve your recommendation.
Indeed, fixed. But who cares... People ask not for quality of issuer, but for best overall.
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Jun 18, 2004
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dmehus wrote: Surprised Loblaw doesn't accept American Express, considering Shoppers Drug Mart does. Has that always been the case?
911979 Alberta Ltd (dba Shoppers Drug Mart) was once upon a time not owned by Loblaw Companies Ltd. Back then, Shoppers Drug Mart accepted all major credit cards as a form of payment.
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Jan 18, 2015
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Based on your spending patterns, I think BMO Exclipse VI is the best fit:

5x points on groceries and dining (as well as gas/transit), $50k annual max... among other things. This should give you more points to use than you would get even with their cashback card, except it's in points, which means the key is what you redeem for will affect point value. And if you are not against carrying 2 cards in your wallet you can still do the BMO card PLUS an Amex and alternate between them.
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NoAF CB Combo:
(1) 4% (Restaurants)/1.5% Simplii (2) 3% (Grocery) BMO CB MC (3) 2% Tang (4) 2%/1.25% Amex SC (5) 2% (Cell warranty) Desjardins
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CouponBaron wrote: Based on your spending patterns, I think BMO Exclipse VI is the best fit:

5x points on groceries and dining (as well as gas/transit), $50k annual max... among other things. This should give you more points to use than you would get even with their cashback card, except it's in points, which means the key is what you redeem for will affect point value. And if you are not against carrying 2 cards in your wallet you can still do the BMO card PLUS an Amex and alternate between them.
I will say, as someone who has the BMO eclipse VI, it sucks. I never use it. 5x isn't 5% considering their points are worth like nothing. If my memory serves me right, 5x is something like 3.34% (or close within 3.XX% range) and the points are finnicky to redeem with. As you said, the values will change depending on what OP redeems the points for, and it won't be that much valuable. 5x on gas/transit may technically have higher theoretical value (vs. AMEX Cobalt's 2x MR-S), but since MR-S is super flexible and arguably one of the most versatile points currency, it may provide more value for OP.

The one's mentioned above, such as the MBNA RWE MC as well as the BNS Momentum VI are far better offerings with better returns, and better redemption options/flexibility.
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Jr. Member
Jan 25, 2017
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Wydrazor wrote: I will say, as someone who has the BMO eclipse VI, it sucks. I never use it. 5x isn't 5% considering their points are worth like nothing. If my memory serves me right, 5x is something like 3.34% (or close within 3.XX% range) and the points are finnicky to redeem with. As you said, the values will change depending on what OP redeems the points for, and it won't be that much valuable. 5x on gas/transit may technically have higher theoretical value (vs. AMEX Cobalt's 2x MR-S), but since MR-S is super flexible and arguably one of the most versatile points currency, it may provide more value for OP.

The one's mentioned above, such as the MBNA RWE MC as well as the BNS Momentum VI are far better offerings with better returns, and better redemption options/flexibility.
The BNS Momentum VI while it does offer 4% cash back on groceries, does not have a dinning accelerator and dinning purchases only get the base earn rate of 1%. You can get the annual fee waived on an ongoing basis if you hold a Scotiabank Ultimate Package checking account which itself can be had for free if you maintain a minimum balance of $5,000.

The MBNA RWE MC is decent, 5 points per $1 on grocery and dinning = 5% return when you book travel through MBNA. You get a 10% birthday bonus which only increases you return. However, there is no way to get the annual fee waived on an ongoing basis.

I would not totally disregard the BMO Eclipse VI though. It might be the best option depending on your spending habits and if you want to bank with BMO and are ok to keep $6,000 in your checking account. As you can redeem BMO Rewards Points towards ANY TRAVEL you can charge to the card at the maximum value of 150pts = $1 or 0.67cpp. That works out to a 3.34% return on 4 categories of grocery, dining, gas and transit up to $50,000 spend per year. That's not bad and you get an annual $50 recurring credit plus you can have the annual fee waived on an ongoing basis with the BMO Premium Plan checking account which itself is free when you maintain a minimum balance of $6,000. The base earn rate is 0.67% which is very bad, especially for a premium card so you would definitely want to get another card for any spending which does not fall into the 4 categories.
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MountainView11 wrote: The BNS Momentum VI while it does offer 4% cash back on groceries, does not have a dinning accelerator and dinning purchases only get the base earn rate of 1%. You can get the annual fee waived on an ongoing basis if you hold a Scotiabank Ultimate Package checking account which itself can be had for free if you maintain a minimum balance of $5,000.

The MBNA RWE MC is decent, 5 points per $1 on grocery and dinning = 5% return when you book travel through MBNA. You get a 10% birthday bonus which only increases you return. However, there is no way to get the annual fee waived on an ongoing basis.

I would not totally disregard the BMO Eclipse VI though. It might be the best option depending on your spending habits and if you want to bank with BMO and are ok to keep $6,000 in your checking account. As you can redeem BMO Rewards Points towards ANY TRAVEL you can charge to the card at the maximum value of 150pts = $1 or 0.67cpp. That works out to a 3.34% return on 4 categories of grocery, dining, gas and transit up to $50,000 spend per year. That's not bad and you get an annual $50 recurring credit plus you can have the annual fee waived on an ongoing basis with the BMO Premium Plan checking account which itself is free when you maintain a minimum balance of $6,000. The base earn rate is 0.67% which is very bad, especially for a premium card so you would definitely want to get another card for any spending which does not fall into the 4 categories.
All true points, however, I would still say the MBNA RWE MC is still more valuable for OP's spending habits (from the info that was given), than the BMO eclipse VI would be in terms of return on spend (ROS). I basically wrote an initial-findings report in 2020 with a follow-up update in 2021 about finding values from e-Gift Cards from MBNA's catalogue. Simply put, it's easy to find values for your favourite merchants at above, if not, close to 5% without having to spend it strictly on travel only. This still holds true, to this day, and that does not take into account which can push value up to (or even above) a realistic 5.5%.

So, I did some calculations. Assuming rest of the OP's spend falls under "E.E.", not taking into the birthday bonus of 10% on MBNA, and assuming they'd get BMO's AF waived + $50 LSC from BMO:

In case 1, they spend $4K in total per month, with $2K of it going to groceries/dining.
  • On MBNA: 12 × (2000×0.01 + 2000×0.05) - 120 = $1,320 annually after AF, without the 10% bonus, OP's ROS
  • On MBNA (CB): 12 × (2000×0.0083 + 2000×0.0417) - 120 = $1,080 CASH BACK annually after AF, without the 10% bonus, OP's ROS
  • On BMO: 12 × (2000×0.0067 + 2000×0.0334) + 50 = $1,012.40 annually after AF-waiver from chequing account + $50 LSC from holding the card annually, OP's ROS

In case 2, they spend $5K in total per month, with $3K of it going to groceries/dining.
  • On MBNA: 12 × (2000×0.01 + 3000×0.05) - 120 = $1,920 annually after AF, without the 10% bonus, OP's ROS
  • On MBNA: 12 × (2000×0.0083 + 3000×0.0417) - 120 = $1,580.40 CASH BACK annually after AF, without the 10% bonus, OP's ROS
  • On BMO: 12 × (2000×0.0067 + 3000×0.0334) + 50 = $1,413.20 annually after AF-waiver from chequing account + $50 LSC from holding the card annually, OP's ROS

In case 3, E.E. spend goes on a different card, with $2K of it going to groceries/dining only.
  • On MBNA: 12 × (2000×0.05) - 120 = $1,080 annually after AF, without the 10% bonus, OP's ROS
  • On MBNA: 12 × (2000×0.0417) - 120 = $880.80 CASH BACK annually after AF, without the 10% bonus, OP's ROS
  • On BMO: 12 × (2000×0.0334) + 50 = $851.60 annually after AF-waiver from chequing account + $50 LSC from holding the card annually, OP's ROS

So clearly, in ALL cases - with the given information, the MBNA's RWE would still be superior despite giving massive "benefit of the doubt" to the BMO assuming that OP would even want to go through the hassle of switching their bank to BMO with $6K stuck in an account and not calculating the 10% bonus into account. It also has to be said that because OP mentions AP and "churning", it may also be reasonable to assume OP goes through/has (at least temporarily) an AP credit card along with other travel credit cards. This could possibly mean that they may not want to spend points from other cards (MBNA/BMO) on travel - perhaps CB or e-Gift Cards to some merchants OP frequents may work better. So with all this in mind, MBNA RWE, for OP, is still better. Yes, I'm sure there are very specific cases where the BMO eclipse VI may outshine the MBNA, but it's rare, and I just don't see with how flexible MBNA points are (e.g. travel, just as same as BMO, or e-GCs, with several merchant options, or straight up CB), BMO could be better in most cases.
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If you happen to have $5k lying around doing nothing, you can stick it in a 5% GIC and make $250 a year which more than covers the annual fee on the MBNA.

The fee waivers for holding money doing nothing in a chequing account are not free.
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dmehus wrote: Surprised Loblaw doesn't accept American Express, considering Shoppers Drug Mart does. Has that always been the case?
Different profit margins.
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Jun 16, 2016
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ottawa
How about the National Bank World Elite Mastercard which earns 5X points for Grocery & Restaurant capped for first 2500 per month?

FYF, annual fee can be waived by having NBC's top tier bank account (parking 6k to waive account fee), professional offer, or wealth management offer (250k self direct investment)
Churning: CIBC Aventura VI *2, CIBC Aeroplan VI
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Wydrazor wrote: I will say, as someone who has the BMO eclipse VI, it sucks. I never use it. 5x isn't 5%
Thanks for mentioning that. It's easy to read 5x and think it means 5%, where in BMO's case it means only 3.33%. Compare with Amex, where 5x points means a minimum of 5% return, and potentially much more than that depending on how they are redeemed.

There are so many programs with so many different kinds of points worth so many different amounts, that I made a guide: https://forums.redflagdeals.com/value-o ... s-2308979/

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