BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard Worth the Hype?

There is a lot of hype around the BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard. Heck! I even included it in my list of the best travel credit cards in Canada as the winner of the Air Miles category.

Today we’re going to investigate whether or not the BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard is worth the hype or if you should be looking at a different travel credit card instead.

There is no doubt that the BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard is one of the best Air Miles credit card in Canada. It has the best Air Miles sign-up bonus, a simple point earning structure, and a first year annual fee waiver. However, the BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard isn’t a great choice in general. When compared to other travel credit cards in Canada, it falls short. This is a good card for Air Miles loyalists, but everybody else should give it a pass.

Okay. Clearly you now know that I’m not a big fan of the BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard.

It isn’t so much that the card itself isn’t great, but it is more that the Air Miles program itself is terrible.

There are high taxes and fees on airfare, lots of blackout dates and seats, you have to depart from Canada, and you don’t earn points very quickly.

All in all, it is difficult to find a positive spin to put on the Air Miles program.

But! We’ll get deeper into the Air Miles program later on in this article.

We’re still going to go through a complete breakdown of the BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard, so you can decide whether or not it is the right travel credit card for you.

Highlights

While I don’t love the Air Miles program, there are some really cool features and perks that come with the BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard.

BMO, in general, is known to have unique perks associated with their travel credit cards, and this card is no exception!

Here are some of my favourite perks and features of the BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard:

  • 15% discount on North American flights booked with Air Miles
  • 15% discount on Cirque du Soleil shows touring Canada
  • 20% discount on Cirque du Soleil shows in Las Vegas
  • Extended warranty and purchase protection
  • Two complimentary Lounge Key passes
  • $40 yearly annual fee rebate when you have a BMO Performance Plan bank account
BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard

Pros and Cons of the BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard

Pros

  • Best Air Miles credit card in Canada
  • Unique and beneficial extra perks
  • Mastercard extended by a Big 5 bank and widely accepted/trusted

Cons

  • Only collect and redeem Air Miles
  • Low points earning ratio
  • Have to deal with BMO, which in my experience is often unpleasant

Points

You earn and redeem Air Miles with this credit card.

There is no option to transfer your points to a partner program like many other Canadian travel credit cards have.

This puts you at a disadvantage because Air Miles is one of the least flexible travel rewards points in Canada.

With Air Miles, you have to book a flight that originates from Canada. That means you don’t have the option to book a one-way flight from, say, Europe to Canada to get home.

If you wanted to use your Air Miles for a one-way flight for your European vacation, your only option is to use it on the outbound flight that departs from Canada.

The Air Miles program is one of the easiest programs to use, but it is also frustrating when you have to work within their rules and don’t have much travel flexibility.

Sign-Up Bonus

You earn 2,000 Air Miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months of holding the BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard.

That is a fairly generous sign-up bonus, and you can book an ultra short-haul round trip flight with 2,000 Air Miles.

A round-trip flight from Edmonton to Calgary, Vancouver to Victoria, or Toronto to Thunder Bay can all be booked using the 2,000 Air Mile sign-up bonus.

This sign-up bonus is comparable to other sign-up bonuses on travel credit cards in Canada, and there is nothing to complain about there!

Luggage

Earning Points

The BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard has a really straightforward and easy points earning structure.

It is a great card for beginners because you don’t have to worry about using the card strategically in different categories.

No matter what you purchase, you earn 1 Air Mile for every $10 you spend on the card.

Yup! It is really that easy and straighforward!

The downside to that is there aren’t any special categories where you earn 1.5x or 2x points on your purchases.

This really slows down how quickly you can earn points!

The other way you can earn extra Air Miles is by showing your Air Miles card in participating stores or shopping through the Air Miles Shop.

The Air Miles Shop allows you to earn extra Air Miles when you shop online at some of the most popular retailers in Canada. Stores like Chapters, The Bay, and David’s Tea are all on the Air Miles Shop.

You have to log into the Air Miles Shop and shop through their link to earn your extra Air Miles. If you go directly to the store’s website, you won’t earn those extra Air Miles.

Best travel credit cards in Canada

Redeeming Points

One of the best parts of the Air Miles program is how easy it is to redeem points!

No matter what you want to redeem your points for, all it takes is a few clicks of your mouse!

They even have free skipping if you purchase merchandise with your Air Miles!

You can redeem your Air Miles for flights, hotels, car rentals, travel experiences, merchandise, and gift cards.

It is all done through the Air Miles website, and you search for the hotel or flight just as you would if you were using cash and going through a traditional travel website.

You really have to give it to Air Miles for making it so easy to redeem your points!

Solo Female Travel

Best Way to Redeem Air Miles

Air Miles is known for having high taxes and fees, so the best strategy for redeeming Air Miles is to use them for rewards that cost you the least out-of-pocket.

I personally like to use my Air Miles for travel experience like theme park and museum tickets. You get a pretty good value for your points, and you don’t have to pay any cash in addition to the Air Miles you redeem.

Other great options include hotels, short-haul flights within the same province, and last-minute flights.

All of these redemptions will get you the best bang for your points.

You do have to be careful when redeeming your points for flights though! Pay attention to how much you’re being charged in taxes and fees and really do the math to figure out if that redemption is the best use of your points or not.

You should strive to be getting at least 10 cents worth of value out of every point you redeem. Anything below that is considered a less than desirable redemption rate.

With that being said, I always say that it is better to use your points for anything than to let them go to waste and not use them at all.

That isn’t common advice you’ll hear in the travel hacking community, but it is the truth!

Most people tell you to get the most value possible out of every point, and it can lead to people letting their points go to waste because they’re waiting for the perfect moment to redeem their points.

Don’t be that person!

Use your points for what suits your needs, and try to get the most value for your points in whatever way you choose to use them!

Worst Way to Redeem Air Miles

On a value per points basis, one of the worst ways you can use your Air Miles is to redeem them for long-haul international travel.

The value per point tends to be much lower than on shorter fights, hotels, or travel experiences.

Outside of not getting a great value on long-haul international flights, the absolute worst way you can use your Air Miles is redeeming them for a flight that has extremely high taxes and fees.

I know I keep going on and on about the taxes and fees, but it is honestly shocking at how high some of them are!

There have been multiple times where I’ve gotten to the last screen in the redemption process and aborted the mission because the taxes and fees were too high.

I’m talking over $600 worth of taxes and fees!

You’re using potentially thousands of points with an approximate value of 10 cents per point and then are expected to pay hundreds of dollars of taxes and fees on top of it!

It just doesn’t sit right.

Many travel points programs require you to pay taxes and fees, but they are so much higher with the Air Miles program.

The taxes and fees really bring down your value per point value so make sure you do updated calculations taking into consideration the taxes and fees before you pull the trigger and redeem your points!

American Express Platinum Canada Review

Why I Don’t Like the Air Miles Program

By now it should be pretty clear that I don’t love the Air Miles program.

It may be one of the most popular travel points programs in Canada, but it doesn’t deserve the popularity it has.

Here are just a few reasons I dislike the Air Miles program:

  • Flights have to originate in Canada
  • High taxes and fees
  • Points earning is quite slow even if you have an Air Miles credit card
  • Lack of flight customization and normally get stuck with long layovers
  • Rental car option not available in many countries

Annual Fee

The annual fee on the BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard is $120.

The first year’s annual fee is rebated, and you receive a $40 rebate on your annual fee every year going forward if you have a BMO Performance Plan bank account.

Credit Card

Qualifications

This is one of those cards where they require a minimum income. If you’ve read a number of my blog posts, you know that I am opposed to minimum income requirements.

I think they are elitist and exclude far too many people who would use the card responsibly. I completely understand that it is a tactic credit card issuers use to protect themselves from having people abuse their cards, but it is an outdated and classist practice.

American Express has the best travel credit cards in Canada and doesn’t have a minimum income requirement. More credit card issuers should follow suit and eliminate the need for a minimum income.

But I digress.

BMO is one of the worst when it comes to minimum income requirements. All of their annual fee credit cards have an outrageously high minimum income requirement.

BMO requires you to earn at least $80,000 in personal income or $150,000 in household income.

The average Canadian household income in a household where two adults are working is $84,900!

That means the majority of Canadians won’t have access to this credit card. BMO’s personal income requirement is just a few thousand dollars lower than the average household income in Canada.

Just because you’re underpaid at your job does not mean you shouldn’t have access to travel credit cards.

Don’t let a credit card issuer make you feel like you don’t deserve their credit card just because they have elitist requirements and only cater to the financially privileged.

Who Should Get the BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard

This is a great card for Air Mile die hards.

There are people who swear by Air Miles, and it is their favourite travel point in Canada.

If you’re not an Air Mile enthusiast, I don’t see any harm in getting this card and then cancelling it before your first year is up.

The annual fee is waived in the first year, so you’re not shelling any cash out for this card.

The only thing you need to consider is the opportunity cost of holding this card.

You have to spend $3,000 in the first three months to get the sign-up bonus. You could spend that $3,000 to meet the minimum spend on the American Express Gold, TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite, or American Express Aeroplan and get points that will potentially benefit you more.

But if it works with your current travel hacking strategy, then there is no harm in getting the BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard.

Just make sure you cancel it before the second year, so you don’t have to pay an annual fee!

Who Should NOT Get the BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard

I think people serious about travel hacking and getting the most value out of their travel rewards should pass on the BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard.

It lacks the flexibility that most travel points programs have, and you’re really limited in your options since the flight has to originate from Canada.

Additionally, it is quite difficult to earn a lot of Air Miles quickly. The BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard doesn’t offer any bonus categories, and you earn a flat 1 point per $10 spent across the board.

This is a decent option for people wanting to redeem points for experiences, but it really isn’t a viable option for people looking to redeem for flights- especially luxury flights in business or first class.

Copenhagen, Denmark

Alternative Credit Cards

Conclusion

I know this review is a little harsh, but I want you to know the good and the bad before you apply for any credit card.

The BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard just falls short.

It is a great credit card when compared to its peers and fellow Air Miles cards. However, when you review the card objectively and compare it to other travel credit cards on the market, it comes in as one of the most disappointing travel cards on the market.

You don’t get a ton of value each year to justify paying a $120 annual fee. Outside of the first year with the sign-up bonus, the perks you get with the card aren’t worth paying $120 for.

In my (humble) opinion, I see no harm in getting the BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard for the first year and then promptly canceling it before the second year annual fee kicks in.

I would only get it if I had exhausted the other travel credit cards I’m eyeing up and would not prioritize it over a more robust and versatile credit card like the American Express Cobalt, HSBC World Elite Mastercard, or American Express Aeroplan.

10 Kick Ass Side Hustles for Women!

There is no denying that as a woman- whether you’re married, have kids, or are single- bear the brunt of the domestic duties. This doesn’t leave much time to pursue a side hustle. That’s why I’ve complied this list of side hustles for women that you can do on your own time whenever is convenient for you!

You can work when you want, where you want, and how much you want.

These side hustles for women are super flexible, and they all allow you to start your own business and be your own boss!

No more working for the man!

Well, you’ll have to keep working for the man while you build up these side hustles for women, but you have the potential to make them into your full-time gig if you want.

Or just keep doing them as a side hustle and work your full-time job or be a parent or a partner or whatever you get up to.

You’ll be singing Freedom Las Vegas once you start one of these flexible side hustles for women!

1. Start a Blog

I bet you’re not surprised to learn that a blogger’s first recommendation for a side hustle is blogging!

It is truly one of the best side hustles for women out there!

You can work on your blog whenever is convenient for you, and you can write about whatever the heck you’re passionate about!

It is so flexible.

That doesn’t meant it isn’t hard work though!

You have to put in a lot of effort to learn the technical side of blogging and how to make Google happy.

Then you have to put in the effort to write a bunch of blog posts before you make any serious money.

A few people see success right away with their blogs, but most people have to work for months or years before seeing any financial returns.

Here are a few of the most important things you need to do to have a successful blog:

  • Have a niche. The more specific, the better!
  • Make learning about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) a priority from day one.
  • Choose the right hosting platform. This is one of the biggest mistakes new bloggers make! I suggest going with Green Geeks or Bluehost (I previously used Bluehost and am now using Green Geeks and absolutely love it!).
  • Make sure your website is fast!
  • Learn the ins and outs of affiliate marketing

There is a lot more you should know and will learn as you progress in your blogging journey.

It is a never ending learning cycle! There is always something new to learn about and adapt to in the world of blogging.

It is so much fun though!

Travel blogging mistakes to avoid at all costs

How bloggers make money
Feel free to share this graphic with your audience but please provide a do-follow link as proper citation.

2. Become an Etsy Seller

Starting an Etsy store is one of the most underrated side hustles out there.

You may be thinking to yourself that you could never sell anything on Etsy because you don’t have any crafting skills.

That’s 100% wrong!

Anybody can be a successful Etsy seller. Even if you have zero arts and craft skills (like me).

The hidden beauty of Etsy is you can create and sell digital products!

Things like Pinterest templates for bloggers, wedding invitation, or baby room decorations are amazing things to sell on Etsy.

The best part is that anybody can learn to create these digital products pretty easily!

Most people use Canva (a free graphic design platform) to design the digital downloads they sell on Etsy.

It is a very intuitive platform and makes graphic design super easy.

I had zero graphic design skills when I started blogging, and now I can create beautiful graphics and pins with Canva.

If this is the side hustle on the list that scares you the most, i challenge you to give it a go. It is way easier than you think it is!

3. Tutor

I can pretty much guarantee that you know more in some subject than someone else, and you can pass your knowledge to them through tutoring.

You could tutor children in math, help adults learn English, or even teach someone how to play a musical instrument.

There are truly endless possibilities!

There are two ways you can go about starting your tutoring side hustle:

  • Work for an online platform like VIPKid or
  • Start your own tutoring business

The second option is more work and requires more effort, but you can make a lot more money with it!

I suggest reaching out to anybody you know who might be looking to learn the skills you offer.

Then after you have some experience, you can actively promote and market your business!

You can leave flyers at your local school, start a website, or knock on some doors to see if anybody is interested in your services.

Word of mouth referrals will probably make up a significant portion of your business too!

This is one of my favourite side hustles for women because it gives you freedom, allows you to share your knowledge with someone else, and (hopefully) make some money in an area you’re passionate about.

Digital nomad

4. Pinterest Marketing Specialist

The majority of people who use Pinterest are women. Chances are you’ve used Pinterest before and have a pretty good idea of how the system works and what makes you click on a specific pin.

You can take your knowledge of Pinterest and turn it into one of the most lucrative side hustles for women.

You would be shocked to learn how much a good Pinterest marketing manager makes!

I’m talking at least six figures a year once you’ve made a name for yourself.

To be a successful Pinterest marketing specialist you need to have some very specific skills:

  • Understand the Pinterest algorithm for your niche
  • Know how to design pins (probably in Canva)
  • Understand how to use Pinterest-specific tools like Tailwind
  • How to coach the content creators you’re working with to create content that works well on Pinterest

That may sound daunting, but I promise it isn’t too bad!

The hardest part of being a Pinterest marketing specialist is learning the algorithm and how to make it happy.

Some people are really good at it.

Some people (like me) are terrible at it.

My biggest piece of advise I can give you is to become specialized in one specific niche and only work in that niche.

I don’t care what it is.

Finance, travel, food, style. Whatever you’re good at, become known as the best Pinterest marketing specialist in that area.

The clients will be knocking down your door for help!

How to start a website on Green Geeks in 30 seconds!

5. Freelance Writer

Freelance writing is one of the most lucrative side hustles out there!

Seriously! Your socks will be knocked off when you learn how much freelance writer can make. Just watch Alex Cattoni’s video (below) about the largest invoice she’s ever sent.

There are two types of freelance writing, and it is imperative that you know what type you want to break into:

  • Content writing
  • Copy writing

The difference between the two lies in the intention behind the writing.

An easy way to remember is it content writing (like this blog post) is for informational purposes and to build trust with your audience.

Copy writing’s sole purpose is to sell the customer a service or good. Think Facebook ads and sales pages.

Knowing what type of freelance writing you want to break into isn’t the only important thing you need to decide.

You also need to have a niche.

You will make significantly more money when you’re specialized in one area versus being a general freelance writer.

Basically every business needs content or copy written, so you can easily choose your niche based on one of your passions.

Finance, travel, mental health, law. The niche possibilities are endless!

One last suggestion for this side hustle, charge per project not per hour! And charge what you’re worth.

Don’t water down your rates. You deserve to be paid what you’re worth!

6. Start a Podcast

Starting a podcast is one of the most underrated side hustles for women, but it is gaining popularity!

What makes podcasting so special is that it takes away a lot of the fears people have about starting a YouTube channel, Instagram page, or blog.

You don’t have to show your face if you don’t want to, and the editing process is way easier than video editing.

It truly takes no specialized skills to edit a podcast, and anybody can learn how to do it quickly and easily.

Yes. Even you who is shaking your head thinking of you lack of technical skills.

The other reason I think podcasting is one of the best side hustles for women is because you can record it wherever you are!

You can record the audio on your phone or invest in a portable microphone.

Taking you kid to hockey practice? Record in the car while you wait for them to finish.

Or you could easily take your setup to a guest’s house and record there just as easily as you can record in your own house.

If you’ve ever had a YouTube channel or done any filming, you know how much of a dream that sounds like!

You can even use the podcast as an excuse to hangout with your best friend every week if you’re cohosts.

And the topics you can cover are absolutely endless.

People love hearing people banter back and forth about pretty much any topic under the sun!

Podcasts are quickly becoming a more and more saturated market.

You want to get in there and start carving out your little slice of the podcast market as soon as you can!

Oh! Did I mention that most podcasting platforms allow you to start placing ads on your content from day one?!

Laptop

7. Flip Furniture

This one isn’t for everybody, but if it is your jam, flipping furniture is one of the best (and most fun) side hustles for women.

It isn’t for me, but I have a lot of female friends who love interior design and decorating.

If you’re that type of person, this might just be the perfect way to earn some extra cash!

It requires a fair amount of work and skill, but you can make a lot of money flipping furniture!

You do need to have some knowledge or the ability to learn about furniture. What makes it valuable, how to spot a good deal, the current trends, and how to refurbish the furniture.

On top of that, you then need to come up with a plan to sell the piece you’ve created.

Flipping furniture definitely isn’t the right side hustle for someone wanting a super easy side hustle they can just jump into!

But it is a great way to combine making money and having fun if it is a task you enjoy!

Once you start making money, you can always outsource the part of the process you dislike the least (probably finding a buyer).

8. Become a Proof Reader

There is a stereotype out there that women are good at noticing the small details.

This (obviously) doesn’t apply to all women, but if you fall into that stereotype, proof reading may be one the best side hustles for women out there.

It doesn’t pay as well as freelance writing, but you can still make a full-time living being a proof reader if that is what you choose!

The thing I love most about proof reading is that you never get bored.

You’re always reading something new, and, in turn, learning something new.

I have proof reader friends who have proofed everything from cookbooks to young adult novels to physics textbooks.

The possibilities are truly endless!

That being said, it is really important that you’re good at what you do if you want to be a proof reader!

You need to have know grammar, sentence structure, and spelling inside and out.

Be able to catch the smallest of mistakes and know how to fix them.

But, if you find yourself finding comma splices and dangling modifiers when you’re reading a novel or the paper, starting a proof reading side hustle may just be the gig for you!

Digital nomad jobs for beginners

9. Sell Photographs

This is one of the funnest side hustles for women on this list!

If you love taking photos, then you need to consider making photography your side hustle.

You can either sell your photos to stock photo websites or offer photography sessions in your local community.

The first thing you might think of when it comes to photography is weddings, but there are so many other options!

You can photograph pets, newborn babies, couples, athletic events, etc.

And if you’re not too keen on photographing humans or animals, you can work with local businesses to photograph their products for their website or social media.

You can work as much or as little as you want, and you get to charge your own rates!

Why not make some money off your love of taking photos?!

Video Editor

10. Start a YouTube Channel

I’m hesitant to put this one on the list because it almost seems like a cliche at this point.

Starting a YouTube channel shows up on basically every list about side hustles, but there is a reason why.

Don’t get me wrong. I know from personal experience how much effort and work it takes to build up a YouTube channel, and there is no guarantee it will take off and become profitable.

It certainly isn’t a get quick rich side hustle. It takes months or years of creating content and building up an audience before you start making a decent income from YouTube.

But the income ceiling is infinite.

You do need to take the time to teach yourself how to edit videos, create content people enjoy watching, and take the scary step of putting yourself out there on the internet.

It certainly isn’t the side hustle for everybody!

But if you’ve been thinking or dreaming about starting a YouTube channel for a while, this is your sign to take the plunge and start now!

I waited five years before I started my YouTube channel because I was scared. Don’t be like me!

It is well worth the up front effort to build up your audience!

Plus you can always outsource the aspects (like editing) you don’t love after you start making money!

Flying the Nest Video Editing Masterclass Review

Here’s my YouTube channel if you want to check it out!

Conclusion

Any of the side hustles for women on this list peak your interest?

This list is just the tip of the iceberg. There are countless other side hustles you can find that might interest you more.

I wanted to give you a list of the top side hustles for women that are flexible and work around your life.

No punching the clock or working on someone else’s schedule!

One thing every side hustle on this list has in common is that you should set up a website to promote your services!

Green Geeks is my hosting platform of choice, and you can create your website in less than 30 seconds even if you have no prior experience!

A website helps you market your skills and be found by potential clients.

You could be successful without a website, but you will grow quicker and earn more money with one!

MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard Review

The MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard is one of the most underrated but powerful travel credit cards in Canada.

I certainly hadn’t heard of it before I got into the travel hacking game!

The MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard really only benefits people living in Western Canada. For Western Canadians, the MBNA Alaska Mastercard is the best travel card in Canada for inexpensive reward flights to Asia. Alaska Airlines has a sweet spot from Western Canada to Asia you can take advantage of, and the trip costs you far fewer points than on any other airline. The MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard is a secret tool that makes travel to Asia more accessible than ever!

The MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard comes with other benefits like a 30,000 points sign-up bonus, a companion fare, and free checked luggage that only sweeten the deal.

It is a more advanced travel credit card, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be reaping the rewards in no time!

The MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard is one of the first travel credit cards I got, and I love it.

It isn’t for everybody, but if you’re a Western Canadian looking to travel to Asia or Western United States, this is a great option for you!

I have to admit that I’ve flown Alaska Airlines a number of times and think they are an underrated carrier in North America. I’ve always had good service, and the staff are so kind!

Highlights

The MBNA Alaska Airlines Mastercard has similar benefits to the RBC Westjet World Elite Mastercard.

Just like the RBC Westjet Mastercard, it lacks a little bit in the points earning categories.

But it makes up for it with the other benefits offered with the card.

Some of the top highlights of the MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard are:

  • 30,000 Alaska Airlines miles sign-up bonus
  • Free first checked bag for you and up to 6 guests on the same reservation
  • Complimentary “world famous” companion fare awarded each year you hold the card
  • 3 miles for every $1 spent at Alaska Airlines
  • 1 mile for every $1 spent on every other purchase
MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard

Pros and Cons of the MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard

Pros

  • Great redemption price for flights to and from Asia
  • Free checked luggage and companion fare
  • Decent points earning on Alaska Airlines purchases

Cons

  • Points most beneficial to people living in Western Canada
  • Very high minimum income requirement
  • Bad points earning on non-Alaska Airlines purchases

Points

You earn Alaska Airlines miles with the MBNA Alaska Mastercard.

The best part about Alaska Airlines miles that they can be used to book on a plethora of partner airlines. The redemption rate for partner airline flights are significantly lower than you will find with other programs.

You get a ton of benefit out of Alaska Airlines miles, and you get a pretty high value per mile when you book with a partner airline.

Unlike some other credit card points, you don’t transfer your Alaska Airlines miles to partner programs.

Instead you go through the Alaska Airlines portal and redeem your miles on partner airlines directly through Alaska Airlines.

It eliminates that pesky middle step of transferring points from one program to another, which is sometimes a headache.

Best travel credit cards in Canada

Sign-Up Bonus

The sign-up bonus on the MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard is 30,000 Alaska Airlines miles.

This is a very generous sign-up bonus, and you can do a lot with those points!

Here are a few examples of what 30,000 Alaska Airlines miles can get you (as of January 2021):

  • One-way economy flight from Western Canada to Asia on Cathay Pacific
  • One-way economy flight from Western Canada to Europe on American Airlines
  • One-way business class flight from Western Canada to South America Zone One (e.g. Ecuador)

Not too shabby, eh!

To get your sign-up bonus points, you have to spend $1,000 on the card in the first 90 days of opening it.

That’s pretty doable for most people!

Just make sure you have a plan and budget to spend $1,000 in the first three months of having the card. You don’t want to miss out on getting your sign-up bonus!

Hong Kong Junk Boat

Earning Points

The points earning structure on the MBNA Alaska Airlines Mastercard is pretty straightforward and easy to keep track of!

You earn:

  • 3 points for every $1 spent at Alaska Airlines (including purchasing points and gift cards)
  • 1 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases

As you can see, the points earning on everyday purchases is pretty sad.

It takes a long time to earn any significant amount of points if you use the MBNA Alaska Mastercard for everyday purchases.

For that reason, I don’t recommend using this card for everyday purchases once you spent enough on the card to get the sign-up bonus.

There are other credit cards on the market that give you a much higher reward in everyday spending categories.

You may be interested in the American Express Cobalt card if you spend a lot of groceries and dining out. You can read my full review of the card here.

When I hold the MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard in my wallet, I spend when I need to meet the minimum spend and then tuck the card away.

After that, I only use it for Alaska Airlines purchases.

The value just isn’t there in the everyday spending categories.

I don’t anticipate MBNA increasing the points offered on everyday spending, but it would be nice if they did!

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Redeeming Points

This is where things get fun!

Redeeming Alaska Airlines miles is very easy and most redemptions can be done via the Alaska Airlines website.

There are a few exceptions where you have to call to redeem points, but they are few and far between.

Alaska Airlines is one of the few airlines that still allows one-way stopovers, and you need to call them to book a trip with a stopover.

Speaking of stopovers, the offering of a one-way stopover is one of the best features of the Alaska Airlines program!

You have the option to book a one-way flight with a stopover in a city for up to 364 days. This means you can fly from North America to Hong Kong, spend a few weeks or months in Asia, and then continue your booking and fly from Hong Kong to Dubai, South America, or Israel.

All for one low, low price!

The redemption process outside of booking a stopover on a one-way flight is very easy. As I said above, most of your bookings can easily be done alone through the Alaska Airlines website!

You simply sign into your Alaska Airlines account, go to the redeem points section, and search for the flight you want.

Once you select your flight, you book it as you would book any normal flight. The only difference is you use your points to pay rather than fiat money.

There may be some taxes and fees to pay on top of your point redemption, but they will be negligible.

The entire process is seamless, and it is nice to have everything on the Alaska Airlines portal and not have to worry about transferring points to a different program.

Couple Travel Hacking

Best Way to Redeem Alaska Airlines Miles

The Alaska Airlines miles program has two sweet spots where you get a really high value per point:

  • Flying any class of service from Western North America to Asia
  • Flying economy from Western Canada to Western United States destinations

One-way economy flights from Vancouver to Asia start at just 35,000 Alaska Airlines miles and business class flights start at just 50,000!

That’s a very good redemption price. One of the best in the industry by far!

One-way flights from Canada to the US start at just 5,000 miles!

I highly recommend you use your Alaska Airlines miles to redeem for travel to either Asia or the US. It is by far the best value per point and some of the best value in the entire industry!

That being said, it is always better to use your points for something than to let them gather dust.

You lose your miles if there is no activity in your account for two years. That means if you don’t earn or spend miles for two years, you lose them all!

Don’t let that happen!

A lot of times people in the travel hacking game try to squeeze the very most value out of every single point and end up not using their points because they haven’t found the perfect value for them yet.

Don’t be that person!

Find the best way to use your miles that compliments your travel style and needs.

Don’t go booking a flight to Asia you don’t want to take just because it is one of the best ways to use your miles!

Do what is right for you and your travel style, and that is the ultimate best use of your points!

Click here and use code TRAVELSWITHERICA for 10% off my favourite Instagram travel presets

Worst Way to Redeem Alaska Airlines Miles

You have the option to redeem Alaska Airlines miles for hotel rooms, and that is the worst way to redeem your miles.

You simply don’t get a very good value per point when you redeem Alaska Airlines miles for hotel stays.

While there may be different flight paths that give you the highest value per point, no matter what flight you book, you will get a value for a flight than you do for a hotel room.

So keep it simple and use your Alaska Airlines miles for flights and don’t even think about using your miles to book a hotel stay.

There are better credit cards for that! Check out the MBNA Best Western Rewards Mastercard or Marriott Bonvoy American Express card if you want to redeem points for hotel stays!

Seoul, South Korea

Annual Fee

The annual fee on the MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard is $99.

That is a very fair rate and one of the lowest annual fees on a travel credit card in Canada!

To make the deal even sweeter, if you apply for the card through the Great Canadian Rebates link, you get $50 back on your annual fee!

It does take two billing cycles for your rebate to show on your MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard statement. Be sure to contact Great Canadian Rebates within 3 months if your rebate doesn’t show on your card statement!

Effectively, your annual fee for the first year of holding this card is $49!

That is a tiny price to pay for all the benefits you get out of the card!

Qualifications

You have to meet the following requirements to be eligible for the MBNA Alaska Airlines Mastercard:

  • Be the age of majority in your home province
  • Be a Canadian resident
  • Have a Canadian credit profile
  • Have a minimum personal income of $80,000 or minimum household income of $150,000
  • Abide by the 5/24 rule where you haven’t applied for more than 5 credit cards in the past 24 months

Just like every other time a credit card issuer demands such a high minimum income for approval, I’m going to complain about it.

I hate these high minimum income requirements, and I wish banks would do away with them.

The discriminate against young people, single people, women, and less educated people.

Just because you’re underpayed at your job doesn’t mean you aren’t good with your money and you don’t deserve a premium travel credit card.

Having a high minimum income requirement that is significantly higher than the income of an average Canadian is an outdated practice that should be done away with!

Don’t let a credit card issuer make you feel bad about yourself just because you don’t meet their minimum income requirements!

It is their problem and not yours.

Airplanes at Airport

MBNA’s 5/24 Rule

MBNA is the only credit issuer in Canada that has a rule surrounding how many credit inquiries you can have on your profile.

No matter how good your credit score, MBNA will not approve you for one of their credit cards if you have more than 5 hard credit inquiries in the past 24 months.

This means you have to be strategic when applying for MBNA credit cards.

The best strategy is to apply for the MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard at the start of your travel hacking journey, so you don’t get denied.

After you’re done with the Alaska Airlines Mastercard, call MBNA and downgrade your card to the MBNA Best Western Rewards Mastercard (read the review here).

This allows you to have a profile open with MBNA at all times, and you can use that to your advantage in the future.

If you want to sign up for the MBNA Alaska Airlines Mastercard again in the future and are denied because of the 5/24 rule, there is a way around it!

Simply call MBNA and ask them to split the credit from the MBNA Best Western Rewards Mastercard with the MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard.

MBNA is normally more than happy to do that, and you beat the system to get the credit card you want!

Who Should Get the MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard

Canadians living in the western provinces can benefit from the MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard.

It is especially useful for people who want to travel to Asia or to Western United States destinations.

Asia and Western United States destinations are where you’ll find the best value for your points, and you can easily take advantage of them as a Western Canadian.

It is also a great option for travel hackers that have taken advantage of some of the more traditional and well known travel credit cards in Canada.

The MBNA Alaska Airlines Mastercard offers unique redemption opportunities for a very fair price.

What I wish I knew before backpacking Europe alone

Who Should NOT Get the MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard

Anybody who lives in Eastern Canada probably isn’t going to find much value out of this card.

There are some flights from Eastern Canada to Europe or South America you can hop on, but the you miss out on the best sweet spots of the program.

If you live in Eastern Canada and want to travel to Europe, there are better cards on the market. Any card that gets you British Airways Avios miles is your best option.

They have fabulous redemption prices from Eastern Canada to Western Europe.

Cards like the RBC British Airways Visa Infinite, HSBC World Elite Mastercard, or American Express Gold are great options for earning Avios miles.

Hong Kong

Alternative Credit Cards

Conclusion

The MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard is a hidden gem in the Canadian travel hacking game.

It is super underrated and offers a lot of benefits for a relatively low cost.

If you use the Great Canadian Rebates link, you’re paying a $49 annual fee and getting hundreds of dollars of benefits out of the card.

It is hard to beat that!

I personally use my Alaska Airlines miles to book a business class one-way stopover trip from Vancouver to Hong Kong and then Hong Kong to Dubai.

I think it is the best way to use your Alaska Airlines miles, and gives you the most value per point.

The MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard is very user friendly (minus the minimum income requirement). You only have to spend $1,000 on the card to get the sign-up bonus, and MBNA is helpful when you want to change products and transfer credit limits.

This is a genuinely good credit card for Canadians and a very good an underrated points program.

Most people don’t realize how versatile the Alaska Airlines program is, and how easily it can be leveraged to book the trip of your dreams!

How to Easily Travel from Tangier to Chefchaouen

Tangier and Chefchaouen are two of the most beautiful cities in Morocco. The good news is that it is extremely easy to travel from Tangier to Chefchaouen.

So you have no excuse not to visit both cities on your trip to Morocco!

Tangier is a popular port city, and a lot of people arrive in Morocco through the Tangier port. There are ferries that take you from southern Portugal to Tangier, and a lot of people choose to take the ferry over flying to Morocco.

So, if you’re coming from Portugal or Spain, you’ll likely be arriving in Tangier and then can easily visit Chefchaouen on your trip as well!

The best way to travel from Tangier to Chefchaouen is by taking the public bus. It’s quick, comfortable, and affordable. If you don’t want to take the bus, your other options include taking a taxi, renting a car and driving, or going on a guided tour.

This guide will break down everything you need to know about travelling from Tangier to Chefchaouen, so you can decide what option is best for you.

By the end of the article, you’ll have a better idea how you want to travel from Tangier to Chefchaouen and can confidentially book your transportation method!

Solo travel in Morocco

Before We Get Started

One of the things I dislike the most about travelling is figuring out how to travel from one city to another.

All the information I need is rarely in the same place, and it takes way longer to figure out my transportation strategy than it should.

That’s why I write these transportation guides for you!

Hopefully they make your travel planning a little bit easier.

If you’re planning a larger trip around Morocco, here are some other transportation guides that may help you easily plan your trip.

Taking the Bus from Tangier to Chefchaouen

The easiest and cheapest way to travel from Tangier to Chefchaouen is to take the bus.

There are plenty of buses that travel from Tangier to Chefchaouen each day, so you can travel at whatever time is convenient for you.

How Long Does the Bus from Tangier to Chefchaouen Take?

The bus from Tangier to Chefchaouen takes approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes.

This can change slightly based on road conditions and traffic jams, but, in general, you should be in Chefchaouen in less than 2.5 hours!

Tangier, Morocco

How Much Does a Bus Ticket Cost?

The cost of a bus ticket to Chefchaouen varies a little bit depending on what day of the week and time of day you travel.

If you travel during peak times on a weekend, you’ll end up paying a bit more than if you took the bus during non-peak times on the weekend.

Even if you end up paying a bit more for your ticket, it still won’t break the bank.

You can expect to pay between 50MAD and 90MAD for your bus ticket from Tangier to Chefchaouen. That’s between $5USD and $10USD.

Not a bad deal at all!

Where to Purchase Bus Tickets

You need to go to the bus station to purchase you bus tickets.

You can purchase them on the day of your departure or purchase them in advance. The bus route from Tangier to Chefchaouen is very busy, so if you need to leave at a very specific time, you may want to purchase your tickets in advance to make sure you get the departure time you want.

If you show up to the bus station on the day of your departure and purchase a ticket, the next bus may already be sold out, and you may need to wait for the bus that leaves after it.

Don’t worry if that happens to you though!

The buses depart on a very regular basis, and it won’t be long until the next bus shows up. If it’s anything like my experience, there will already be a line of people waiting for that bus in order to put their luggage underneath the bus first.

If you’re planning to take the bus from Chefchaouen back to Tangier either on the same day or another day, I recommend purchasing your return ticket when you get off the bus in Chefchaouen.

This will ensure you get the return ticket you want and give you the peace of mind knowing you already have a return ticket and won’t have to worry about the bus being full on your return.

A tourist’s guide to wifi in Morocco

Where Does the Bus Depart from in Tangier?

Buses to Chefchaouen depart from CMT Bus Station Tanger.

It’s located a bit outside the main tourist area, so you’ll likely need to either take a bus or taxi to get to the bus station.

Buses 11, 18, and 20 will all directly get you to the bus station without having to transfer, but you may just want to take a taxi depending on how much luggage, if any, you have.

If you do choose to take a taxi, be sure to either negotiate a price before you get in or insist on them using the meter.

This will ensure you get a fair price for the taxi ride and are not being ripped off.

Where Does the Bus Arrive at in Chefchaouen?

The bus arrives at Gare Routière in Chefchaouen.

The bus station is in a fairly convenient location, and there is a good chance you’ll be able to walk to your accommodation in less than half an hour.

If you don’t want to walk, you’ll have to take a taxi to your accommodation, but it shouldn’t be more than a 5 minute drive.

Depending on traffic that is.

Advantages of Taking the Bus from Tangier to Chefchaouen

  • The least expensive option
  • Buses depart on a regular basis
  • Luggage storage underneath the bus

Disadvantages of Taking the Bus from Tangier to Chefchaouen

  • The bus station in Tangier is a bit out of the way
  • Buses are busy, and you may have to wait for the next bus to come
  • Have to purchase your tickets at the bus station rather than online
Chefchaouen, Morocco

Other Ways to Travel from Tangier to Chefchaouen

While taking the bus is the best and least expensive way to travel from Tangier to Chefchaouen, you have other options if you don’t want to take the bus.

I’m not going to go into as much detail about those options, but I’ll give you a brief overview.

Take a Guided Tour from Tangier to Chefchaouen

If you don’t want to plan your trip to Chefchaouen by yourself, you can take a guided day trip from Tangier to Chefchaouen.

Your guide will pick you up at your hotel (or near your hotel), drive you to Chefchaouen, show you around the city, and drive you back to your hotel.

This can be a great way to see the city if you’re nervous about travelling without a guide in Morocco, have mobility issues, or just want to relax and not think about any aspect of travel planning.

The downside to guided tours is that they are quite expensive.

If you choose to take a guided tour, be sure to research the tour company and read the reviews before you make your reservation.

This will ensure you purchase your tour through a reputable company and limits your chances of being scammed.

Click here and use code TRAVELSWITHERICA for 10% off my favourite Instagram travel presets!

Taking a Taxi to Chefchaouen from Tangier

Your next option (and probably most expensive option) is to take a taxi from Tangier to Chefchaouen.

I don’t recommend this unless you don’t want to take a guided tour and are unable to take the bus due to mobility issues or something along those lines.

A taxi ride from Tangier to Chefchaouen will cost you between 1,500 MAD and 2,000 MAD each way. That’s approximately $150 USD to $200 USD.

Yikes!

So, think long and hard about whether taking a taxi to Chefchaouen is worth the extra cost!

Driving from Tangier to Chefchaouen

Your final option is to rent a car and drive to Chefchaouen.

I don’t really recommend this option unless it is part of a larger road trip around the country.

It’s a bit of a hassle to rent a car, drive it to Chefchaouen, find parking, and then drive it back to Tangier.

With that effort, it’s better to take the bus or go on a guided tour.

Chefchaouen, Morocco

Conclusion

As you can see, travelling from Tangier to Chefchaouen is very easy, so you have no excuse not to make the trip to one of the most beautiful cities in Morocco!

I recommend taking the bus to Chefchaouen. It’s quick, clean, and comfortable. It’s almost the least expensive options.

The bus is direct, and all you have to do is get on and off of it.

The next best option is to take a guided tour from Tangier to Chefchaouen. Not only is this super convenient, but you’ll also learn a lot of interesting facts along the way!

It doesn’t matter how you get to Chefchaouen. The important thing is you get there and get to experience what this beautiful city has to offer!

Why I Love the American Express Cobalt Canada Card

The American Express Cobalt Canada credit card is in the running to be the best travel credit card in Canada.

The Amex Cobalt card is designed with millennials in mind. You get huge bonus points in the categories (like grocery and food delivery services) that millennials use constantly, so you quickly rack up the points. The annual fee and minimum spend are calculated monthly, so even if you have a small budget, you can get those sweet, sweet bonus points without breaking the bank. All in all, there is nothing to dislike about the American Express Cobalt Canada credit card.

It is without a doubt a keeper card, and you keep getting value out of it year after year!

If you’re a millennial looking to earn travel points, the Amex Cobalt Canada should be at the top of your list.

Highlights

There is a lot to love about this card!

The Amex Cobalt is a great starter card. It is easy to use, and you earn points at a pretty quick rate.

The top highlights of the card include:

  • Up to 30,000 MR Select points as a sign-up bonus
  • The card fee is charged monthly rather than annually
  • 5x points on eligible restaurant, food delivery service, and groceries purchases at Canadian locations
  • 2x points on eligible gas and transportation purchases in Canada
  • 2x points on eligible travel purchases including hotels and flights
  • $100USD hotel credit to be used on amenities such as dining and spa treatments
American Express Cobalt Canada Card

Pros and Cons of the American Express Cobalt Canada

Pros

  • The card fee is charged monthly rather than annually
  • Generous points earning on food and transportation
  • Point redemption and transfers are easy to use even as a beginner

Cons

  • You have to spend $500/month to get the full 30,000 sign-up bonus
  • Hard to earn a lot of points outside of food and transportation
  • Not every vendor accepts American Express

Points

In 2021, American Express changed the rules around earning and spending points with the AMEX Cobalt Canada, and it was a game changer.

You used to only be able to earn and spend MR Select points. MR Select points were only able to be transferred to hotel rewards programs.

In 2021, they changed it, so you earn the same MR points that you earn with other AMEX travel cards.

These points can be transferred not only to hotel programs but also to flight programs.

It was an absolute game changer, and the American Express Cobalt Canada became even more valuable than it already was.

Sign-Up Bonus

One of the biggest selling features of the Amex Cobalt Canada card is the sign-up bonus.

You earn up to 30,000 MR Select points in your first year of holding the card!

That’s an estimated value of about $300!

That’s a very generous sign-up bonus- especially when you compare it to the cost of holding the card!

The American Express Cobalt Canada is quite unique and a leader in the credit card space. One of the most innovative features of the card is that you get your sign-up bonus monthly rather than up front after meeting a specific minimum spend in the first three months as is the case with most credit cards.

You earn 2,500 MR Select points each month you spend $500 in the first 12 months. If you meet the $500 spending threshold every month in the first year, you earn 30,000 MR Select points.

The sign-up bonus on the American Express Cobalt Canada card is pretty hard to beat and is one of the best in travel credit card space!

Hotel Room

Earning Points

Outside of the sign-up bonus, one of the most important things to consider when applying for a new travel credit card is the points earning.

It is incredibly important to analyze the points earning on a credit card. The better the points earning on categories you spend a lot of money in, the more beneficial the card is for you.

Lucky for you, the earning categories on the American Express Cobalt Canada card are incredible and make it easy for you to earn a lot of points without changing your spending habits!

The points earning on the Amex Cobalt are:

  • 5x points on eligible grocery, restaurant, and food delivery services purchases. The bonus points are only awarded on purchases made in Canada and aren’t awarded on purchases made outside of Canada. You earn 1 points per $1 in these categories outside of Canada.
  • 2x points on eligible gas and transportation purchases. This includes bus passes, rail passes, and cabs! Just like the food category, the bonus points only apply to purchases in Canada, and, unfortunately, you don’t earn 2x points when filing up your rental car with gas while on an Icelandic road trip.
  • 2x points on eligible travel purchases. This includes flights and hotels no matter what country the purchase is made in!
  • 1x points on all other purchases. Whether it is university tuition, rent, concerts, movies, or anything else under the sun, you earn 1 point per $1 spent on every other purchase that doesn’t fall within the bonus point categories.

You can probably already tell, but the best way to maximize your points earning with the Amex Cobalt is to use it every time you purchase food!

You’ll earn points at a staggering rate and be reaping the travel benefits in no time!

Underrated cities in Europe you need to visit ASAP!

Redeeming Points

Now it is time to talk about the fun stuff and how you use the MR points you earn with the American Express Cobalt Canada card to travel the world for free!

As mentioned earlier, there are two ways you can redeem your MR points. You can book travel directly through the American Express portal or transfer your MR points to a partner program and redeem them through their portal.

You get the best value for your points when you transfer them to a partner program.

It gives you more flexibility and control of the value you get per point, and you have more redemption options.

On the other hand, I would be lying if I didn’t acknowledge that it was easier to redeem your points directly through the American Express portal rather than transferring them to another program.

It all comes down to personal choice though. Do what’s best for you and your travel needs.

If you’re going to transfer your points to a transfer program, all the information is below!

Fancy Hotel

AIRLINE PARTNER PROGRAMS (IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER)

AirlineTransfer RatioEstimated Transfer Time
Air Canada (Aeroplan Points)1000:100030 minutes
Alitalia (MilleMiglia)1000:7505 business days
British Airways (Avios)1000:1005 business days
Cathay Pacific (Asia Miles)1000:7505 business days
Delta (SkyMiles)1000:75030 minutes
Etihad (Etihad Guest Miles)1000:7503 business days

HOTEL PARTNER PROGRAMS (IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER)

HotelTransfer RatioEstimated Transfer Times
Hilton1000:10005 business days
Marriott2:35 business days

Rules for Transferring Points to Partner Programs

There are two rules to be aware of when transferring MR points to partner programs:

  • All transfers are final, and you can’t get your points back once you’ve clicked the button to transfer them to another program.
  • There is a small fee for transferring points to Delta. It never exceeds $100 and is normally worth the additional fee with the added value you get from transferring points to the Delta program.

Best Use of MR Select Points

This probably isn’t a popular opinion. In fact, I know it isn’t a popular opinion, and I’ll be shamed in the travel hacking community for it.

BUT!

The best use of your points is whatever works best for you and your travel needs!

There is no shortage of information on the internet about how to maximize every point to get the most value out of it.

This is all well and good, but if it doesn’t suit your travel style or isn’t a place you want to go, then what’s the point?!

You’ll sit on your points, not use them, and let them go to waste.

That’s one of the worst things you can do with your MR Select points!

That being said, there are ways to use your MR points to maximize your points if you don’t have any specific travel plans you’re saving your points up for.

But, again, I want to emphasize that it is better to use your points for anything even if it isn’t technically the best use of your points from a sheer numbers perspective.

You don’t want those points to go unused and lose their value. Or worse expire!

Best travel credit cards in Canada

Worst Use of MR Select Points

I bet you’re expecting me to say there is no bad use of your MR points, but I’m not going to tell you that.

There are bad uses for your MR points.

The least value you get for your MR points is when you use them for a statement credit or use them to purchase merchandise or gift cards.

You should only use these options as a last resort when either you’re struggling so much financially that you can’t afford to pay your bills or your points are going to expire before you can use them for travel.

But, again, using your points for anything is better than not using your points at all.

We don’t like wasted and forgotten points here!

Luggage and passport

America Express Cobalt Canada Annual Fee

The Amex Cobalt Canada is incredibly accessible, and that is one of the reasons I love this card as much as I do!

A lot of people can’t afford a $100+ annual fee all at once, and the American Express Cobalt Canada card takes that worry away and makes it easier for the average person to get the card.

You are charged $12 every month you hold the card for a total annual fee of $144 if you hold the card for an entire year.

It is significantly easier for someone to budget for a $12 charge every month than a $100+ charge the month after they receive the card.

The other amazing upside to having the fee charged monthly rather than annually is that you only pay for what you use. If you try the card for a few months and don’t like it, you’re only out $12 per month rather than the full $144 like you would if it were a traditional annual fee.

The flexibility of the American Express Cobalt Canada is unbeatable, and I wouldn’t be surprised if more and more cards moved to this model in the future.

Qualifications

Unlike most credit card providers in Canada, American Express doesn’t have a minimum income requirement to qualify for their cards.

We love this because it makes accessing credit cards easier for people in lower-earning jobs.

Just because someone is underpaid doesn’t mean they don’t deserve to have a great credit card that helps them travel for free.

We appreciate that American Express credit cards are accessible to everybody and are based on other qualifications rather than simply income.

You need to meet the following criteria to be eligible for the Amex Cobalt Canada:

  • Be the age of majority in your home province
  • Be a Canadian resident
  • Have a Canadian credit file

And that’s it!

A word of caution though.

Just because you meet the qualification requirements doesn’t mean you will be approved for the American Express Cobalt Canada card.

America Express likes you have a pretty good credit score in order to be approved.

I recommend you have at least a 650 credit score and the higher or better.

Who the American Express Cobalt Canada Card is Best For

The Amex Cobalt Canada card is very versatile, and it is a great addition to basically everybody’s wallet.

I think the card is best for millennials who are on a tighter budget because you pay the annual fee monthly and have a smaller monthly minimum spend rather than a large minimum spend to meet within the first three months of holding the card.

The Amex Cobalt Canada is really good for everybody no matter your travel style. MR points are so easy to use and work for any kind of travel, so it is hard to go wrong with the Amex Cobalt Canada card.

Most people spend a lot of money on food, so anybody and everybody can earn a lot of points pretty quickly.

All in all, I think every Canadian travel hacker or average Canadian traveller can benefit from having the American Express Cobalt Canada in their wallet.

Who the American Express Cobalt Canada is Not For

It is a bit difficult to identify who the Amex Cobalt Canada isn’t for, but there are a few categories of people who may want to think harder before getting this card.

Here are the two types of people who may not want to get this card:

  • Credit card minimalists: Not every vendor accepts American Express credit cards. If you only want to hold one or two credits may not want to have the Amex Cobalt in their wallet, so they don’t run into an issue with not having a credit card in their wallet they can pay with if someone doesn’t accept American Express.
  • Digital nomads or full-time travellers: Since you have to make purchases at Canadian businesses to earn the bonus points, if you don’t spend a lot of time in Canada, this isn’t the card for you. You simply won’t get the most out of the card, and there are other options that may work better for you and your lifestyle.
Couple Travel Hacking

Alternative Credit Cards

Conclusion

There is a reason why I everybody praises the American Express Cobalt Canada card!

It is a well-rounded card that appeals to basically everybody no matter where you want to travel or how often you travel.

There are basically no barriers to entry, and almost everybody meets the posted qualifications.

On top of how accessible the card is to lower-income earning people, the sign-up bonus and points earning categories are unbeatable.

I challenge you to find another Canadian travel credit card that offers 5x on food delivery services, restaurants, and groceries.

I’ll wait while you search for it and then come back and tell me in the comments that it doesn’t exist. 😉

There really isn’t anything to complain about with this card.

It is a great card for travel hacking beginners and for more experienced travel hackers.

The American Express Cobalt Canada is at the top of my list for credit cards I recommend to everybody in my life (and on the internet) who are interested in travel hacking as a Canadian.

I could gush about it all day long!

Solo Travel in Morocco: 9 Things Essential Tips

Morocco may not be the first place you think of when planning a solo trip, but solo travel in Morocco can be amazing to say the least.

There are a ton of rumours about Morocco and have it isn’t safe for solo female travellers.

While there may be some truth in the fact that Morocco isn’t like Europe, and there are different customs and culture, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t plan a solo trip to Morocco.

That being said, it might not be the best place for your first solo trip, but once you have some experience travelling alone, Morocco should definitely be added to the list of places you want to go!

Morocco is a beautiful country with amazing things do so, see, and eat.

If you’re wondering if solo travel in Morocco is right for you, keep reading! Hopefully this article will give you a better idea of what to expect when travelling alone in Morocco.

Is Marrakech safe for solo female travellers?!

1. It’s Really Easy to Travel Around Morocco

A lot of people have this idea that Morocco is a difficult country to travel in, but that simply isn’t the case.

Morocco has a great train and bus system that can easily get you from one city to another. This makes it very easy for solo travellers to see more than one city in Morocco.

However, one important thing to note is that the buses and trains are often very busy, and tickets sell out fast.

You may want to go to the bus or train station a day or two before you travel to a new city to secure your seat. If you don’t, you may have to wait a little while for the next bus or train to depart.

Buses and trains run on a regular basis, so you won’t have to wait long.

Here are a few transportation guides I’ve written to help you figure out how to travel between cities in Morocco:

In terms of getting around within cities in Morocco, that’s pretty easy too!

I’ve found that most cities in Morocco are very walkable. I walked everywhere and didn’t have to rely on public transportation.

If you want to go somewhere that is beyond a distance you feel comfortable walking, there are lots of local buses, or you can take a taxi.

Just be sure to either agree on a price before you get in a taxi or demand they turn on their meter. This will ensure you get a fair price.

But, all in all, getting around Morocco is very easy and not something you have to worry about when you’re on a solo trip to Morocco.

Rabat, Morocco

2. You Need to Exchange Money Inside Morocco

One of the most important things you need to know when planning solo travel in Morocco is that it’s extremely difficult to access Moroccan Dirham (MAD) outside of Morocco.

You’re going to have to exchange your currency inside Morocco (likely at the airport).

Exchange however much you think you’ll need and then a little bit more just in case you fall in love with a few extra souvenirs or eat more than you anticipated.

If you have any MAD left over at the end of your trip, you can exchange it back into a variety of currencies at the airport.

You often get the best rate if you exchange it into Euros so keep that in mind. If you’re going to Europe next or planning a trip to Europe in the near future, you’ll probably want to exchange your MAD into Euro rather than your local currency.

I have heard of some banks giving you a very small amount of MAD before you arrive in Morocco.

I had one coworker who was able to get about $100 CAD worth of MAD from a Canadian bank inside Canada.

That would be enough to tide you over if something went wrong at the airport or if you arrived when the exchange places were closed.

I wouldn’t rely on being able to do that though and would expect to have to exchange all your currency inside Morocco.

3. The Food is Delicious

One of the biggest surprises for me the first time I went to Morocco was how incredible the food was.

I didn’t know what to expect and didn’t have any preconceived ideas of what the food would be like when I arrived in Morocco, and I was blown away by how delicious everything I ate was.

I even brought home a tajine, so I could make Moroccan food at home!

One of the most important things to do during solo travel in Morocco is indulge in the local cuisine.

Don’t be afraid to eat at a restaurant alone and don’t be afraid to try the local food even if you’ve never heard of it before.

Trying new food is one of the best parts of travel, and you don’t want to miss out on it in Morocco!

If you don’t know where to go, be sure to ask someone at your hotel or hostel. They’ll be able to point you in the right direction.

Tips for eating alone at restaurants

Marrakech, Morocco

4. You’ll Probably Get Some Extra Attention

I hate to say this because I don’t like playing into stereotypes, but I want to give you a realistic idea of what solo travel in Morocco might look like.

Or at least what my perspective was as a young, white, blonde woman.

Unfortunately, as a solo female traveller in Morocco, you’ll likely get some extra attention.

It’s important to note that not all of it is unwanted advances or sexual in any way. Oftentimes, it’s just people noticing you’re alone and hoping they can “help” you in whatever you need and be tipped.

If someone is following you or asking to help you, confidentially say no thank you and keep walking.

Some people might still try to “help” you and others will move on to “help” another tourist. The important thing is to keep moving and stand your ground that you don’t need help.

I’ve had a couple of situations where a man walked me all the way to my riad front door and wouldn’t leave without a tip. These situations are few and far between. If that happens, I think it is just better to give them a small amount of money rather than getting into an argument.

Now, in terms of the souks and markets. That’s where I’ve found the unwanted attention to be at it’s worst.

Again. This is just my experience, and I’m not saying this to demonize a certain culture or anything like that. It’s just so you’re prepared.

I found that in the souks, people are more inclined to try to get your attention by cat calling.

This is likely a sales tactic to get your attention and try to lure you into their stall. The best thing you can do is keep walking and not interact if you don’t want to.

All things considered, I think solo travel in Morocco is very safe, and if a little unwanted attention is what you have to put up with to explore this beautiful country, then that’s a small price to pay.

I’ve never felt unsafe when people approached me in Morocco. The people are incredibly kind.

Even if a stranger is following you to your riad, they likely want a tip and aren’t interested in harming you in any way!

5. Never Look Lost

This tip goes hand in hand with the last one.

I personally think it is best to never look lost in Morocco even if you are. Looking lost will make people want to come up and help you, and if you’re like me, that just causes even more stress.

So, keep your map in your bag or pocket and walk like you know exactly where you’re going.

If you do happen to be lost, pop into a corner shop, café, hotel, or restaurant to look at your map and ask for directions if you need to.

This may be a bit overkill, but I prefer it to looking lost on the streets and potentially having multiple people come up to me to “help”.

You may not be as introverted as I am and not mind the help, but if you’re like me and find a situation like that stressful, never look lost.

Essaouira, Morocco

6. Internet Safety is Key

Just like any country in the world, on a solo trip to Morocco you’re going to be relying on public wifi to access the internet.

The problem with public wifi is that anybody can access it, and if someone wants, they can access your personal online information and data.

I’m talking banking information, social media passwords. Anything you can think of can be stolen if you’re not being internet safe.

The only way to be internet safe when using public wifi networks is by installing a VPN on your devices.

A VPN essentially puts up an imaginary forcefield around your devices that makes it impossible for someone to access your online information when you’re using a public wifi network.

It makes using public wifi just as safe as using your home wifi where you’re the only person who knows the password.

My Favourite VPN

I’ve used a lot of different VPNs over my years of travel, and, frankly, most of them suck.

VPNs are notorious for slowing down your internet speed, which is not what you want when travelling. It makes using the internet frustrating.

The reason I love NordVPN and continue to use it year in and year out is because they’re the fastest VPN on the market.

You don’t even notice that you’re using a VPN because your internet connection isn’t slowed down!

The best part is you can protect up to six devices with one NordVPN subscription. You can protect all your devices for one low fee.

The price of a two-year NordVPN subscription costs less per month than a single Starbucks latte.

With prices like that, you can’t afford to not protect your online information.

My philosophy is that if you can afford to travel, you can afford to install a VPN on your devices and keep your online information safe.

7. Be Prepared to Haggle

One of the things you need to know about solo travel in Morocco is that you’re going to have to haggle.

You’ll need to haggle when purchasing souvenirs and if you take a taxi somewhere.

It isn’t a big deal, but if you’re like me, haggling just feels uncomfortable and awkward. I know it’s a cultural thing, and lots of people do it. I was born and raised in Canada though, so I’m not used to haggling.

Haggling can become even more awkward and uncomfortable if you’re travelling alone.

But it’s something you need to be prepared for. Otherwise you’ll be way overpaying.

You’ll likely still be paying more than a local would unless you’re really good at haggling, but at least you’re not paying an absurd amount more than you should be.

Now if you’re like me and are terrible at haggling, here’s an article that’ll give you some tips on how to haggle properly.

The challenge is putting them into practice though!

A tourist’s guide to wifi in Morocco

8. Be Aware of Local Scams

Just like anywhere else in the world, there are local scams you need to be aware of during a solo trip to Morocco.

The local scams aren’t just pick pocketing, and there are some larger scams you need to be aware of. Some of them seem so innocent that you don’t realize you’ve been scammed until it happens.

This article outlines the top scams in Morocco, and I definitely recommend you give it a read.

If you don’t have time to read that article, here are a few of the top ones you need to be aware of:

  • The carpet scam where you’re invited to have a drink of tea then the store owner gets upset that you didn’t purchase a rug and drank his/her tea.
  • Fake goods (such as saffron) being sold as if there were the real thing.
  • Inflated prices for camel rides (be sure to book online rather than with someone randomly on the street).
  • Live animal photos. Someone demands you take a picture with their animal and then demands payment after you take the photo.

Just be safe when you travel alone in Morocco.

Use your best judgement. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. If something seems sketchy, it probably is.

Listen to your gut.

Rabat, Morocco

9. You Can’t Enter Mosques Unless You’re Muslim

This last one technically isn’t a tip specific to solo travel in Morocco, but it’s still important to know.

Unless you’re Muslim, you’re not allowed to tour the mosques.

There is a mosque in Marrakech that sometimes allows non-Muslims to tour it depending on the time of day and what other functions are going on that day. It isn’t a guarantee though.

I tell you this to hopefully prevent you from accidentally embarrassing yourself if you try to enter a mosque just to tour it.

A lot of us are used to being able to tour any religious building we want. It’s very common in Europe, Asia, and North America to walk into a religious building without practicing that religion and just tour it.

We can sometimes take that for granted and think that’s the case everywhere we travel, but it isn’t in Morocco.

Knowing this information will help you respect the local culture and save yourself a little bit of embarrassment.

There are lots of other amazing things to do and see in Morocco that not being able to tour a mosque won’t make you feel like you’re missing out.

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Conclusion

There you go! All my top tips and tricks for solo travel in Morocco.

Hopefully this guide helped give you a picture of what solo travel in Morocco is like and help you decide whether or not Morocco is the right place for you to visit alone.

I really liked Morocco and am obsessed with their food to say the least, but it was definitely a culture shock when I visited.

I had only been to European and North American cities at that point in my travel career, and Morocco was definitely a different experience.

It took a little bit of getting used to, but it was a different experience in the best way possible.

If you’re up for an adventure and an amazing experience, Morocco might just be the perfect place for you!

RBC British Airways Visa Infinite Review

The RBC British Airways Visa Infinite is one of those Canadian travel credit cards that flies under the radar.

But it shouldn’t! It is packed with value and really benefits holders.

The RBC British Airways Visa Infinite gives you 40,000 Avios points as a sign-up bonus. That’s enough points for 5 short-haul round-trip flights or 3 one-way flights from Eastern Canada to Western Europe. The RBC British Airways Visa Infinite sign-up bonus is one of the best in Canada. The annual fee is a little steep at $165, and RBC, unfortunately, doesn’t rebate the annual fee in the first year. However, the pros of the RBC BA Visa Infinite outweigh the $165 annual fee!

Today we’re going to do a deep dive into the RBC British Airways Visa Infinite.

We’re going to talk about the pros and the cons of the card and help you decide whether it is the right credit card for you!

As an aside, the RBC British Airways Visa Infinite isn’t your typical credit card. It isn’t the credit card you get and then hold for years because it is so great.

Most people cancel their RBC BA Visa Infinite in the first year, and that is what I recommend doing as well.

Tips for flying alone

Highlights

The RBC BA Visa Infinite isn’t a sexy credit card, and it seems quite boring at first glance.

The story changes, however, when you dig deeper into how to redeem British Airways Avios points. There are countless ways you can redeem your Avios points, and they are great for every traveller.

No matter where you go, you’ll be able to redeem your Avios points to fly for free!

Some of the top highlights of the RBC British Airways Visa Infinite are:

  • Up to 50,000 Avios points as a sign-up bonus (I know I said 40,000 Avios points in the introduction, and we’re going to cover why it most people only get 40,000 Avios points in the points section)
  • 10% British Airways flights when you pay for flights with the card
  • Earn points in one of the best points programs on the market

Again, not the most luxurious or sexy highlights, but the sign-up bonus is well worth the credit hit to get this card!

RBC British Airways Visa Infinite

Pros and Cons of the RBC British Airways Visa Infinite

Pros

  • Huge sign-up bonus
  • Easy to redeem points
  • Partner airlines mean you can redeem points anywhere in the world

Cons

  • Hefty annual fee
  • Poor points earning categories
  • Most people only get 40,000 Avios as a sign-up bonus instead of 50,000 Avios

Points

You earn and redeem British Airways Avios points with the RBC BA Visa Infinite.

There isn’t the possibility to transfer points to partner programs, but the Avios program is so robust that you don’t need that option.

Before applying for the RBC British Airways Visa Infinite, make sure you have an Avios profile set up and have a rewards number.

You need to enter that number when you apply for the card, so they can add the points you earn to the correct account.

Sign-Up Bonus

You earn up to 50,000 Avios points as a sign-up bonus with this card.

The sign-up bonus is split into three sections, and you earn it as follows:

  • 15,000 Avios points after your first purchase
  • 25,000 Avios points after spending $5,000 on the card in the first 3 months
  • 10,000 Avios points after renewing your card for the second year and paying the annual fee

That’s a total of 50,000 Avios points, but, as I said, most people only receive 40,000 Avios points as their sign-up bonus.

That is because it isn’t worth paying the annual fee to hold the card for a second year.

One Avios equals approximately $0.0153. That means 10,000 Avios points is worth $153 Canadian dollars. You are way overpaying for those last 10,000 Avios points if you spend $165 on the second year’s annual fee.

I highly recommend you cancel this card before the second year’s annual fee comes due!

You can also do a product switch, which is the best way to work your way through RBC’s travel credit cards with just one hard credit hit.

You can easily do a product switch online, and it takes less than five minutes!

Airplanes at Airport

Earning Points

There is no nice way of putting this:

The points earning categories on the RBC British Airways Visa Infinite are rubbish.

They are a bit shameful actually!

You earn:

  • 2 Avios points for every $1 spent on British Airways flights
  • 1 Avios for every other $1 spent

It is for that reason I don’t recommend you put much spending on this card once you’ve hit the minimum spend.

You can pick up almost any other travel credit card and get a better points earning rate on them.

It takes ages to earn Avios points with this card outside the sign-up bonus.

The RBC British Airways Visa Infinite is really a one night stand. You get it for the sign-up bonus and then sneak out in the middle of the night and never call it again.

Redeeming Points

British Airways makes it really easy to redeem your Avios points!

You simply search for the flight route you want to take and check the redeem points box.

That takes you to a listing of available flights and shows you the price in Avios rather than in fiat currency.

British Airways is a member of the OneWorld Alliance, and you can redeem your Avios for flights on partner airlines.

All through the British Airways website!

Redeeming Avios points is super painless and one of the best programs for people new to the travel hacking world.

One important thing to note about redeeming Avios points is there are two different charts. It is slightly less expensive to redeem Avios on British Airways, Aer Lingus, Vueling, and Iberia than it is to redeem on other partner airlines.

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Best Way to Redeem Avios Points

It is widely known in the travel hacking world that Avios points are best used for short-haul flights under 1,151 miles flown.

You get an exceptional value per point when you redeem your Avios points for short-haul flights. One-way flights can be paid for with as little as 4,000 Avios!

And let’s be honest. Those expensive short-haul flights are some of the most painful to pay for with your own money! I always feel like I’m winning when I redeem my Avios for an expensive short-haul flight.

With so many partner programs, you can redeem Avios anywhere in the world.

You don’t need to be in Europe/England to take advantage of Avios points!

Another great way to redeem the Avios you earned through the RBC British Airways Visa Infinite is to fly economy from Eastern Canada to Western Europe!

You can fly economy from, say, Toronto to Dublin on Aer Lingus for just 13,000 Avios each way.

That is an incredible value and shouldn’t be overlooked!

I live in Western Canada and can’t take advantage of that sweet spot, but if I lived out East, I would be chomping at the bit to take advantage of that redemption!

Solo Female Travel

Worst Way to Redeem Avios Points

Without a doubt the worst way you can redeem your Avios points is by buying merchandise and gift cards.

The value get per point is atrocious, and it simply isn’t worth it!

I don’t think many people redeem their Avios for merchandise in Canada, and it is probably a more common occurrence in Europe.

But don’t do it!

In terms of flight redemptions, the mid-haul flights aren’t a great value.

You pay quite a bit more in points but don’t fly that many miles.

The long-haul flight redemption of 32,500 to 51,000 Avios one-way in economy isn’t great, but if you fly a huge number of miles, it may just be a better deal than mid-haul flights.

When push comes to shove, try to save your Avios points and only use them for short-haul flights or for that special Eastern Canada to Western Europe redemption.

But no matter what, please don’t redeem your Avios for merchandise!

Annual Fee

The annual fee on the RBC BA Visa Infinite is $165 per year.

That is quite a significant annual fee and higher than the annual fee on any of RBC’s other travel credit card.

I definitely think the annual fee could be lowered, but the sign-up bonus is so good that it is still worth paying $165 to get this card!

Best digital nomad jobs for beginners

Qualifications

Like many other premium travel credit cards in Canada, there is a steep minimum income requirement.

You need to meet one of the following income requirements:

  • $60,000 in personal income
  • $100,000 in household income

The personal minimum income requirement is quite difficult to meet. I really don’t like when credit card issuers have minimum income requirements that are so much higher than the average income.

It is an elitist practice that discriminates against young people, single people, women, and people who are underpaid at their jobs.

Don’t let a credit card issuer make you feel bad about yourself because your employer doesn’t pay you what you deserve, and you don’t meet their high income standards.

The good(ish) news is that the household income is more manageable assuming there are two working people in the household.

It by no means guarantees that you will meet the household minimum income with two working people, but it is more likely to happen than someone meeting the minimum income as an individual.

I understand why banks have minimum income requirements, but they really get on my nerves! That’s why I love American Express so much. They don’t have any minimum income requirements on their Canadian cards!

Couple Travel Hacking

Who Should Get the RBC British Airways Visa Infinite

I definitely think the RBC BA Visa Infinite is not the right credit card for everybody.

There are other Canadian credit cards (like the Amex Gold, Amex Platinum, HSBC World Elite Mastercard, and RBC Avion Visa Infinite) that allow you to earn Avios points.

But they have better points earning categories!

I suggest going after those credit cards first and then applying for the RBC British Airways Visa Infinite.

Another tactic is to apply for the RBC British Airways Visa Infinite first and get you 40,000 Avios and then do a product search to either the RBC Westjet World Elite Mastercard of RBV Avion Visa Infinite.

That is what I did, and it worked out great!

You have to apply for the RBC BA Visa Infinite first because you have to meet a minimum spend to unlock part of your sign-up bonus. The other two RBC cards don’t have a minimum spend requirement.

A number of people have said that said that when they transfer to the RBC British Airways Visa Infinite from another RBC card, they did not get the bonus points associated with the minimum spend requirement.

They only got the 15,000 Avios after their first purchase.

You do not want to miss out on those additional 25,000 Avios!

So if you’re going to product switch between RBC products, make this card your starting point and switch to other cards from there!

Who Should NOT Get the RBC British Airways Visa Infinite

People who are just getting into the travel hacking game probably shouldn’t target the RBC British Airways Visa Infinite right out of the gate.

There are much better credit cards out there where you can earn points quicker and transfer them to the Avios program.

Once you have exhausted all the other Avios cards, then you should start considering this card.

Luggage

Alternative Credit Cards

Conclusion

There you have it!

My in-depth review of the RBC British Airways Visa Infinite. I threw a lot of information at you, and I hope it was helpful!

I personally like the RBC BA Visa Infinite, but it isn’t a card I would recommend to new travel hackers.

There are better credit cards on the market with higher points earning categories that you should target first.

But!

Once you’ve exhausted those, the RBC British Airways Visa Infinite is a great place to start looking next.

I love the Avios program and never turn away from an opportunity to earn more Avios points!

And this card really helps you earn a lot of Avios points quickly!

As a side note: I really enjoy RBC. I’ve had nothing but good experiences with them, which is not something I can say about any other Canadian bank. I know it has nothing to do with the card, but it is a nice cherry on top of RBC’s fantastic selection of travel credit cards.

Is Prague Safe for Solo Female Travellers?!

Prague is quickly becoming one of the most popular cities in Europe for tourists to visit, but is Prague safe for solo female travellers?

With the influx of tourists, there has been a steep increase in the number of petty crimes in Prague in recent years.

But that doesn’t mean Prague isn’t safe.

In fact, the answer to the question is Prague safe is yes!

I’ve been to Prague as a solo female traveller and at no time did I not feel safe. That doesn’t mean you can go to Prague and not have your wits about you.

You need to be aware of your surroundings and protect your personal belongings. Pick pocketing is a major issue in Prague, and when you’re packing into the crowds in Prague’s Old Town, you’re a pretty easy target.

Outside of petty theft, you don’t really have much to worry about as a solo traveller in Prague.

The risk of being a victim of violent crime is very low.

So, if you’re wondering if Prague is safe for you as a solo traveller and that is the only thing holding you back from booking the trip, you’ll be happy to know you don’t really have to worry about safety in Prague more than anywhere else you travel.

Solo travel in Prague

Is Prague Safe?

Just in case you skimmed the intro, I just want to reiterate that Prague is safe for solo female travellers.

There aren’t any major safety concerns in Prague that should make you wary of visiting the city.

As long as you take normal safety precautions while you’re there, you should be just fine!

Prague, Czechia

Prague Safety Tips

Even though Prague is safe, there are still a few safety tips you should know to make sure you’re as safe as you can be while travelling in Prague.

Most of these are generic safety tips you should be following no matter where you’re travelling to.

It’s always good to have a refresher though!

Beware of Pick Pockets

As I mentioned in the intro, the biggest threat you have as a solo traveller in Prague is the risk of being pick pocketed.

Pick pocketing is on the rise in Prague, and it is something you need to be aware of. There are tons of crowds in the main tourist area of Prague, and tourists are easy pickings for pick pocketers.

The good news is that it is super easy to reduce your chances of being pick pocketed.

The most important thing you need to do is always keep your purse or bag in front of you and not hanging at the back of your hip.

Better yet, keep a hand on your purse as often as you can.

This will make it extremely difficult for pick pocketers to easily access your bag, and they’ll move onto another target.

Additionally, try to keep your wallet, phone, and passport in zipper compartments within your purse or bag to add another layer of security.

Finally, if someone distracts you, be sure to keep your hand on your bag and your bag in sight. This is sometimes a scam where multiple people are working together.

One person distracts you (by asking if you dropped something or something along those lines), and their partner picks your pocket when you’re not looking.

Tips for travelling alone for the first time

Prague, Czechia

Be Internet Safe

One of the biggest threats to you when you travel is using public wifi. Not enough people talk about it, but it can seriously put you at risk.

When you travel, you rely a lot on public wifi.

You use it at your hotel, at restaurants, and when you’re out and about. The problem with public wifi is that anybody can access it, and if someone wants, they can steal your online data.

You may be thinking that you’re using public wifi safely because you’re only using wifi that has a password.

That’s not good enough.

Anybody can access the password and use the public wifi network.

The only way to protect your online information and data when you’re travelling is by installing a VPN on your devices.

A VPN puts a forcefield around your devices that makes it impossible for a hacker to access your private data and information. Even if you’re using a public wifi network.

A VPN makes using public wifi just as safe as using your home wifi where you’re the only person who knows the password.

It’s a basic safety thing you need to be doing every single time you travel. You don’t want to risk having your online information stolen from you!

My Favourite VPN

The problem with VPNs is that they’re known for slowing down your internet connection and making browsing the internet a frustrating experience.

I’ve used a number of VPNs during my years of travel and pretty much hated them all.

The only one I’ve enjoyed (and the only one I’ve renewed my subscription with) is NordVPN.

It’s the fastest VPN on the market, and it doesn’t feel like you’re using a VPN when you’re browsing the internet. And we all know how important it is to be able to use the internet to research and plan your days when you’re on the road.

The speed of NordVPN is why I love it and recommend it to my fellow travel lovers like you.

There is no other product on the market that is close to as good as NordVPN (in my opinion).

Plus you can connect and protect up to six devices with one NordVPN subscription. You can protect all your devices for one low price!

A two-year subscription to NordVPN costs less per month than a single Starbucks latte. With prices like that, you don’t have an excuse not to protect your online data when you travel.

My philosophy is that if you can afford to travel, you can afford to protect yourself with a VPN.

Check Your Restaurant Bills Closely

Unfortunately, some restaurants (especially in touristy areas) try to get a little bit of extra money out of tourists, so you need to read your bill closely before paying.

Some restaurants include a tip or service charge in the bill and make a note at the bottom of the bill about the suggested tip amount.

People who aren’t reading their bill properly will see the suggested tip amount and pay it without realizing that the tip was already included in the price of the bill.

In fact, tipping isn’t necessarily customary or expected in Prague.

It’s becoming more expected as more tourists flock in, but if you’re outside the touristy areas, tips aren’t expected.

If you do tip, round up to the nearest 100 Koruna or tip between 5% and 10%.

But, if there is a service charge or tip included in the price of your bill, you don’t need to tip on top of that.

Technically, the restaurants aren’t doing anything illegal, but it can be very misleading to tourists.

The moral of the story is to read your bill carefully before paying it!

What I wish I knew before backpacking Europe alone

Prague, Czechia

Be Careful Walking Home in the Dark

Just like any city in the world, walking home alone in the dark can put women on edge.

Prague is a party city, and it’s easy to stay out late and then have to find your way home in the dark.

Your best option is to just catch a taxi, but if you choose to walk, be extra careful and aware of your surroundings.

Walk on main streets with lots of light, walk quickly, keep your head on a swivel, and keep your bag close.

Basic safety precautions like that will help you feel safer walking home alone and get home safely.

Don’t Overindulge in Alcohol

As I mentioned, Prague is a party city, and it’s easy to get caught up in the fun, but please don’t drink too much.

Especially as a solo traveller.

You’re 100% responsible for your safety and getting back to your hotel safely. You don’t have a friend watching out for you.

My rule of thumb is to have two drinks maximum and then stick to water. You can still have fun, but it’s much safer for you.

You know your own limits.

Your solo trip to Prague is not the time or place to test them.

Prague, Czechia

Conclusion

I hope this post answers the question is Prague safe?

I’ve been to Prague as a solo female traveller and felt safe the entire time, and I hope you feel safe in Prague as well.

As more and more tourists flock to Prague, petty crime will continue to increase, but (hopefully) there won’t be a rise in violent crime.

It’s up to you to make sure you’re aware of your surroundings and not putting yourself at risk of being robbed (or something worse).

As long as you follow basic safety precautions that you should be following everywhere you travel, you shouldn’t have an issue in Prague.

So, is Prague safe for solo female travellers?

I’m happy to report that it is!

MBNA Best Western Rewards Mastercard Review

The MBNA Best Western Rewards Mastercard is the worst hotel credit card in Canada, but it only has one competitor.

The only other hotel credit card in Canada is the Marriott Bonvoy American Express, and it blows the MBNA Best Western card out of the water.

But that doesn’t mean the MBNA Best Western Rewards Mastercard is a bad credit card!

In fact, I think it is a great credit card when you analyze it objectively and don’t compare it to the Marriott Bonvoy Amex card.

The MBNA Best Western Rewards Mastercard has no annual fee, comes with a sign-up bonus that gets you a free night hotel stay, and has an unbeatable points earning of 5x points for every $1 spent at Best Western. It is the best no-fee travel credit card in Canada. Hands down.

It is also one of the most underrated travel credit cards in Canada.

Not many people know about MBNA and the cards they offer. I sure didn’t before I got into the travel hacking game.

The MBNA Best Western Rewards Mastercard is a hidden gem and should not be ignored or pushed to the side.

At the end of this post, I’m going to tell you the best secret hack I have for MBNA credit cards. You can make MBNA work for you, and earn a lot of extra points!

Highlights

For a no annual fee credit card, the MBNA Best Western card has a lot of highlights and perks.

A lot more highlights and perks than the average no-fee credit card. Heck! Most no-fee credit cards don’t give you a sign-up bonus, and MBNA gives you a juicy sign-up bonus with the MBNA Best Western Rewards Mastercard!

You get a certain happy, squishy feeling when you get a sign-up bonus on a no annual fee credit card!

Some of the top highlights of the MBNA Best Western card that you should know about are:

  • No annual fee
  • 20,000 Best Western Rewards as a sign-up bonus (enough for one free night’s stay!)
  • 5x points on purchases made at Best Western
  • Automatically receive Gold Status at Best Western (and all the associated perks) after you make your first purchase with the card
  • Rental car insurance

That’s a lot for a no annual fee card to be offering! It is quite impressive, really.

MBNA Best Western Rewards Mastercard

Pros and Cons of the MBNA Best Western Rewards Mastercard

Pros

  • No annual fee and can add up to 9 additional users at no cost
  • Great sign-up bonus and solid rewards on Best Western purchases
  • Can be used in conjunction with other MBNA cards to get more rewards

Cons

  • Low points earning on non-Best Western purchases
  • Can only redeem at Best Western properties
  • MBNA has strict rules about who they will approve for credit cards

Points

You earn and redeem Best Western Rewards with this card.

There is no option to transfer your rewards to a partner program, and you can only use your points to redeem for free nights at Best Western properties.

There is nothing wrong with that though!

Some people look down on Best Western like it is a gross hotel or you’re poor if you stay there.

That couldn’t be farther from the truth!

Best Western hotels are actually pretty nice, and they get upgraded all the time! They are a great option for budget travellers or people who aren’t too fussed about where they stay.

You get what you expect when you stay at a Best Western property.

The rooms will be clean, the beds comfortable, and no extra fuss or extravagance.

I like Best Westerns, and I think they are the perfect hotel to stay at when you have to spend one night near an airport to catch an early flight.

I’ve stayed at many airport Best Western hotels and have nothing but great experiences!

Best travel credit cards in Canada

Sign-Up Bonus

You receive 20,000 Best Western Rewards after you make your first eligible purchase with the MBNA Best Western Rewards Mastercard.

Pretty much anything and everything counts as a first purchase!

Use the card to buy a $1 cup of tea, and your bonus points will show up in your account within a few weeks (after the first billing cycle most likely)!

That is enough for one free night at most Best Western properties!

That’s a very generous sign-up bonus for a no-fee credit card, and you can’t complain at all about it.

In fact, I think it is quite generous!

Hotel Room

Earning Points

As mentioned earlier, you earn Best Western Rewards with this card.

The points earning categories are really straightforward and easy to remember. You earn:

  • 5x points on all eligible Best Western purchases. This includes purchases like food made at Best Western properties and hotel bookings
  • 1x points on every other $1 spent

The points earning for everything outside of purchases at Best Western properties is awful!

I don’t recommend you spend much (if any) money on the MBNA Best Western card outside of Best Western hotel purchases.

It simply isn’t the best way to earn points, and there are much better travel credit cards out there where you can earn a lot more points per dollar spent.

The American Express Cobalt card is the perfect travel credit card for anybody who does a lot of spending on food and groceries. You can read my full review of the card here.

On the other hand, the points earning for Best Western purchases is really good!

It is on par with the other (more premium) hotel credit card in Canada the Marriott Bonvoy American Express.

You will earn a lot of Best Western points really quickly when you use the MBNA Best Western Rewards Mastercard for all your Best Western purchases.

Say hello to free hotel stays!

Redeeming Points

It is super easy to redeem Best Western Rewards!

All the points you earn through the MBNA Best Western Rewards Mastercard will automatically show up on your Best Western Rewards profile.

You don’t have to worry about figuring out how to get your points from MBNA to Best Western because the process is done automatically for you behind the scenes!

Best Western has a really smooth redemption process on their site.

You simply search for the hotel you want to stay at and click the “use points” box before you click the search button.

Your search will results will show the price in Best Western Rewards rather than in Canadian dollars.

All you have to do is choose your hotel, and book the room the same way you normally would if you paid with cash.

The points will be deducted from your Best Western Rewards profile, and you don’t have to do anything else.

The next thing you have to do is show up at the hotel and be ready for a great stay!

It really is as easy as that!

Best Way to Redeem Best Western Rewards

It can take a bit of work to figure out the best use of your Best Western Rewards.

In general, using them for pretty much any hotel stay is a good use of your points, but you can work to find the best value for your points.

I like to look at my travel calendar for the year and search each city I’m visiting that year.

I look at the cost in points versus the cost in dollars for each hotel and use my points at the hotel that gives me the best value.

I’m not going to lie. This can be very tedious.

Most people don’t want to and won’t go through that time consuming process.

I don’t blame you!

In that case, I recommend you looking for a hotel in whatever city you’re visiting and book the hotel you want with your points. The only thing to look out for is to make sure the hotel isn’t on sale. In that scenario, it is probably best to pay with cash and save your points for stay where it will save you more money.

I also recommend you look out for any hotels that are running promotions where you save X% off the price when you pay with points or you get an extra night free if you pay with points.

They don’t happen often, but they are the golden gem you should look out for!

Champagne in hotel room

Worst Way to Redeem Best Western Rewards

Normally this is the point in the article where I tell you it is foolish to use your points to buy merchandise or gift cards.

You don’t have that option with the MBNA Best Western card or Best Western Rewards.

You can only redeem your points for hotel stays, so it is pretty hard to use your points in a wasteful way.

The only realistic way you could spend your points in a terrible way is if you don’t use them and let them go to waste.

You should always use your travel points!

There is hardly anything worse in the travel hacking sphere than letting your points collect dust and never use them.

Don’t be that person.

Be sure to use your Best Western Rewards and keep your precious money in your pocket!

Annual Fee

There is no annual fee for the MBNA Best Western Rewards Mastercard!

Yay!!

Best hotel credit cards in Canada

Qualifications

To be eligible for the MBNA Best Western Rewards Mastercard you must be the age of majority in your home province and be a Canadian resident.

MBNA has a 5/24 rule, and it applies to the MBNA Best Western Rewards Mastercard.

This rule states that you will not be approved for any MBNA credit card if you have applied for 5 or more credit cards (with any issuer) in the past 24 months.

Keep that in mind when you apply for the MBNA Best Western card and any other MBNA credit card you’re interested in.

Who Should Get the MBNA Best Western Rewards Mastercard

Everybody.

Seriously.

There is no downside to the MBNA Best Western Rewards Mastercard!

It has no annual fee, so it cost you nothing to keep it in your wallet.

The MBNA Best Western card is also super practical, and you can earn a lot of points quickly even if you don’t frequent Best Western properties.

On top of all that, the card has a sweet sign-up bonus, and you get a free hotel night for doing absolutely nothing but making a small purchase on the card to get the bonus.

There really is no downside to the MBNA Best Western Rewards Mastercard.

There is the reason I crowned it the best no-fee travel credit card in Canada!

Student Travel Hacking

Who Should NOT Get the MBNA Best Western Rewards Mastercard

The only way I can see it not being a good idea to have the MBNA Best Western card is if you’re in danger of being rejected because of the 5/24 rule.

You definitely need to have a strategy when you apply for MBNA credit cards thanks to that pesky (but practical) rule.

You’ll want to read the next section if you want to learn how to get around that rule!

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Top Secret MBNA Credit Card Hack

Okay. Here’s the deal.

MBNA doesn’t like travel hackers like us, and the 5/24 rules proves that.

But there is a sneaky way around that rule, and I’m going to share it with you.

Here is the step-by-step process to beat MBNA at their own game:

  • Step Two: Get the sign-up bonus from the Alaska Airlines card and keep it open for at least 8-12 months (the closer to 12 months the better)
  • Step Three: Call MBNA and ask them to downgrade you to the MBNA Best Western Rewards Mastercard
  • Step Four: Apply for the MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard one year or more after closing it. Probably get rejected because of the 5/24 rule
  • Step Five: Call MBNA and explain that you aren’t looking for any more credit than they have already extended you. Ask them politely if they will split the credit limit from the MBNA Best Western Rewards Mastercard and put half the credit limit on the new MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard. MBNA has no problem doing this.
  • Step Six: Initiate evil laugh because you just beat the system!
Hong Kong Junk Boat

Alternative Cards

Conclusion

There you have it! My short (but sweet) review of the MBNA Best Western Rewards Mastercard.

This is a small but mighty card.

There is no annual fee, but you get enough points for a free night’s stay after your first purchase!

It is an underrated gem the travel hacking gods have bestowed upon us humble travel hackers who want to pay as little as possible for travel.

Don’t let the fact that you have to stay at Best Western hotels discourage you from applying for the MBNA Best Wester Rewards Mastercard. Best Westerns are much nicer than they used to be!

I personally love this card, and it is a keeper card for me.

There is no cost to you the user for holding this card, and you can use it to your advantage to get even more travel points out of MBNA in the future.

It rewards you now and will reward you again in the future when you want to top up your Alaska Airline miles.

Do the secret MBNA hack described above, and then keep the MBNA Best Western Rewards Mastercard in your wallet forever!

It is truly one of the most underrated travel credit cards in Canada, and it deserves more love than it gets!

How to Easily Travel from Casablanca to Rabat

Are you interested in travelling from Casablanca to Rabat on your Moroccan vacation but aren’t quite sure the best way to do it?

Keep reading because I’ve got you covered!

Rabat is a beautiful costal city just north of Casablanca. If you’re visiting Casablanca, then making the trip to Rabat is a must.

You can visit Rabat from Casablanca on a day trip or spend two or three days casually exploring the city.

The best part?

It’s extremely easy to travel from Casablanca to Rabat!

The two main ways to travel from Casablanca to Rabat are by train or by bus. Both options are very similar. They cost basically the same, and the train is only faster than the bus by ten minutes.

It all comes down to what options fits your travel style and schedule the best.

But worry not!

I’m breaking down everything you need to know about all the different ways to travel from Casablanca to Rabat, so you can easily decide what option is the best for you.

Before We Get Started

If I’m being honest, one of the aspects of travel I dislike the most is figuring out how to travel from one city to another.

I find the information is scattered around the internet, and it takes me much longer to find the information I need than it should.

That’s why I write these transportation guides for you!

Hopefully they make your travel planning for Morocco a little bit easier.

Here are my other Morocco transportation guides in case you’re visiting more of the country:

Casablanca, Morocco

Option One: Taking the Bus from Casablanca to Rabat

The first option you have is to take the bus from Casablanca to Rabat.

There isn’t really a big difference between taking the bus and taking the train, and it all comes down to what is most convenient for you.

As in what option has the best departure and arrive location and what has the best time schedule for you.

A tourist’s guide to wifi in Morocco

How Much Does a Bus Ticket Cost?

As with most forms of transportation, the cost of your ticket varies depending on what you travel.

If you travel on a weekend during peak hours, you’ll be paying more than if you travel during off-peak hours on a weekday.

That being said, there isn’t a huge difference in what you’ll pay for your ticket. Pick what time works best for you and go with it.

You can expect to pay anywhere from 38 MAD (approximately $4 USD) and 68 MAD (approximately $7 USD).

As you can see, it’s very affordable to take the bus from Casablanca to Rabat!

Where to Purchase Bus Tickets

The easiest way to get your bus ticket (well, really the only way) is to go to the bus station and purchase it there.

The bus route from Casablanca to Rabat is very popular, and you need to get to the bus station well in advance of your bus leaving if you want to get a ticket.

If you don’t get there early enough, you may have to wait for the next bus.

That isn’t a huge issue since the buses leave on an extremely regular basis.

If you need to take a certain bus and cannot miss it for any reason, you may want to go t the bus station a day or two ahead of time and purchase your bus ticket.

The same goes for purchasing your return bus ticket.

I highly recommend you purchase your return bus ticket as soon as you arrive in Rabat.

You’re at the bus station anyways, and this way you know for sure that you’ll get on the return bus you want.

You can purchase you return ticket for later that day if you’re doing a day trip to Rabat or for a few days in the future if you’re spending more time in Rabat.

Either way, you’ll be very happy you took the time to purchase your return bus ticket when you arrived in Rabat.

Where Does the Bus Depart from in Casablanca?

The bus departs from CMT Bus Station.

The bus station is quite convenient to get to. Much more convenient than the train station is.

It’s located near the port just a short walk away from the main touristy part of town.

However, if you have a lot of luggage, you may want to consider taking a taxi. Navigating the busy streets with luggage can get a bit overwhelming at times.

Rabat, Morocco

Where Does the Bus Arrive at in Rabat?

The bus arrives at Rabat Center.

It’s located in the centre of Rabat, but it isn’t that close to the tourist attractions you likely want to visit.

For example, the Old Market is 3.3km away from the bus station and about a 45 minute walk.

Your best option is to take a bus or taxi to wherever you’re going as soon as you arrive in Rabat. Whether it is your hotel or a tourist attraction.

Pros of Taking the Bus from Casablanca to Rabat

  • Very affordable
  • Buses leave on a regular basis
  • Luggage storage under the bus

Cons of Taking the Bus from Casablanca to Rabat

  • Inconvenient arrival location
  • Buses are busy, and you may have to wait for the next bus because it is sold out
  • Bus will be crowded

Option Two: Taking the Train from Casablanca to Rabat

Your next option is to take the train to Rabat from Casablanca.

Just like the bus, the train from Casablanca to Rabat is quick and affordable!

How Long Does the Train from Casablanca to Rabat Take?

The train to Rabat from Casablanca takes about 1 hours and 10 minutes.

So, it’s just a few minutes quicker than the bus.

The upside to the train though is you’re not going to run into any traffic jams like you can on the bus. You likely won’t run into any major traffic jams on the bus, but you never know.

How Much Does a Train Ticket Cost?

You can expect to pay anywhere from 38 MAD (approximately $4 USD) and 88 MAD (approximately $9 USD).

As you can see, there isn’t really a difference between the cost of the bus and the cost of the train.

The train may cost you a couple dollars more, but most tickets will cost the same as a bus ticket.

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Where to Purchase Train Tickets

Just like the bus, it’s best if you go to the train station to purchase your ticket.

Seating is first come first serve, so it you really want to sit on your journey, be sure to be at the train station at least half an hour in advance.

This way you’ll be able to purchase your ticket and be standing on the platform when the train arrives.

If you’re late, you’ll likely need to stand on your trip from Casablanca to Rabat.

That’s normally not an issue though since it is such a short trip. However, if you have mobility or health issues that make standing difficult, you’ll need to arrive at the train station as early as possible.

Rabat, Morocco

Where Does the Train Depart from in Casablanca?

Trains depart from Casa Voyageurs.

The train station isn’t in the heart of the city, and is quite a walk away from where you’re likely staying.

You can either take a bus or taxi to get to the train station, but I don’t suggest trying to navigate you and your luggage to the train station by foot.

Where Does the Train Arrive at in Rabat?

The train arrives at Rabat Ville station.

It’s in a very convenient location, and you can likely walk to wherever you’re staying (or whatever sights you want to visit).

You can always take a bus or taxi to wherever you need to go as well if you don’t want to walk.

Advantages of Taking the Train from Casablanca to Rabat

  • Very affordable
  • Convenient arrival location
  • Trains leave on a regular basis

Disadvantages of Taking the Train from Casablanca to Rabat

  • May have to stand on the train
  • Less convenient departure location than the bus
  • Limited luggage storage
Casablanca, Morocco

Other Ways to Travel from Casablanca to Rabat

There are a few other ways you can travel from Casablanca to Rabat, but I’m not going to give them their own dedicated section.

Either because they’re very expensive or because you’ll have to do your own research and pick a company to help you in your journey.

I’ve never used a transportation company to travel to Rabat from Casablanca and don’t feel comfortable recommending one in particular.

Your other options include:

  • Driving from Casablanca to Rabat
  • Taking a taxi from Casablanca to Rabat
  • Hiring a private car to drive you to Rabat
  • Taking a guided day trip from Casablanca to Rabat

I don’t recommend driving to Rabat unless it is part of a larger road trip around the country. It’s too expensive (and stressful) to rent a car just to drive to Rabat.

In terms of hiring your own car, taking a taxi, or doing a guided day trip, these are all legitimate options, but they are significantly more expensive than taking public transportation.

They are likely more convenient though.

You don’t have to worry about getting to the bus or train station and finding your way around once you get to Rabat. They normally pick you up at your hotel and drop you off wherever you need to go.

Easy peasy!

It all comes down to your travel style and budget.

Overcome Your Fear of Solo Travel

Conclusion

As you can see, there are plenty of ways to travel from Casablanca to Rabat.

I personally recommend taking the bus or train. It’s super affordable and quick. But others may prefer to pay for private transportation or a guided tour.

Just be sure to research the tour company and make sure they’re legitimate before booking it.

They probably are, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

The important thing is now you know it’s incredibly easy to travel to Rabat from Casablanca, and you don’t have an excuse not to visit the beautiful city of Rabat while in Morocco!