Everyone loves to travel, so why not get a credit card that enables you to do that more often? The Meridian Visa Platinum Travel Rewards Card is just one of the many travel credit card options out there that you can use for this purpose.
Earn 2 reward points per dollar when you buy items in foreign currency either in person or online.
|You Are Interested If||You’re a member of the middle class who wants to earn reward points toward travelling.|
|Brief Description||The Meridian Visa Platinum Travel Rewards Card is a low- to mid-level travel rewards card that particularly incentivizes spending in foreign currency.|
|Main Requirements||Generally, if you want this card, you can get it – there are only very loose income and credit requirements to follow.|
|Card Type||This is your typical travel credit card.|
Fees and Interest
|Purchase Interest Rate||The usual interest you’ll pay on each statement over the course of a year is 19.50%.|
|Cash Advance||Taking a cash advance will cost you a little more at 21.99% yearly interest.|
|Balance Transfer||A balance transfer, on the other hand, will only be charged 19.50% in interest.|
|Income Requirements||You don’t need to meet any income requirements to get this card.|
|Household Income Requirements||You also don’t need to make any particular amount as a household, either.|
|Annual Fee||While there is usually an annual fee of $49 to be paid, you can get this card for free during your first year with it.|
|Welcome Bonus||There is only the free first year promotion to serve as a welcome bonus here.|
|How To Earn Points||For every purchase you charge to this card, you’ll get 1 reward points per dollar normally. This will increase to 2 reward points per dollar if the purchase was made in foreign currency.|
|Benefits||This card gets you extended warranties, purchase protection, price protection, auto rental loss and collision insurance, baggage insurance, common carrier accident protection, and mobile device insurance coverage.|
About Meridian Visa Platinum Travel Rewards Card
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Meridian Visa Platinum Travel Rewards Card is extremely similar to the Meridian Visa Platinum Cash Back Card. These two credit cards, offered by the same provider with the same low application requirements and annual fee and the same benefits package, seem to be designed to be considered in opposition to each other. Because of this, that’s part of what we’ll be doing over the course of this review.
First, though, we’ll need to discuss the specifics of the Meridian Visa Platinum Travel Rewards Card itself. This card’s reward breakdown is very easy to understand and work with in terms of making projections to see what your typical spending would net you in points. For all your regular purchases, this card will reward you with 1 point per dollar you spend. Buying something in a foreign currency, however, can get you 2 points per dollar instead. You don’t necessarily have to travel out of the country to do this – online purchases can count too, and almost everyone does a lot of online shopping these days – but you must be paying in a currency other than CAD.
In isolation, this is a mundane but perfectly serviceable reward category layout. However, setting it next to that of the cash back card makes its flaws much more obvious. The Meridian Visa Platinum Travel Rewards Card fences off its bonus points opportunities in a category in which most people will spend very little on a consistent basis. This is great for the provider, who usually doesn’t have to pay out as much in points, but terrible for you. 1 point per dollar is fine as a base rate if you often get the chance to earn at higher rates; this is what the Meridian Visa Platinum Cash Back Card does with its reward structure, making virtually all necessary household items eligible for its boosted 2% rate by default. However, if a card makes it hard to qualify for those bonuses on your purchases, it will generally either be more generous with its base rate or make the bonus rate on those hard-to-reach categories so exemplary that even a little spending in them goes a long way. In this case, neither of those things are true, and you won’t be able to get the most out of this card unless you practically spend more time out of the country than in it. What’s worse is that you’ll also be charged a 2.5% foreign transaction fee each time you do buy something that would get you that rate, pretty much wiping out any gains you would have achieved.
An example of how many points someone might earn can do a lot to show the value of a particular card, so let’s do that here to show what we mean. For these purposes, our pretend budget will be $1,500 a month in regular spending, and $250 a month in foreign transactions (a bit of a stretch for most people, but certainly possible if you travel consistently and shop a bit online as well). That would net you 2000 points per month and consequently, 24,000 points per year. It almost goes without saying that you can then use your points for travel rewards, but this card also gives you other options to use them if you want to: you can also get gift cards, tickets to events, merchandise and more with them too.
That kind of flexibility does make this card more attractive, but it’s still not enough to overtake its sister card in this area either. Cash back is generally considered the most coveted type of credit card reward there is, but other cards can often make themselves look more appealing by offering points with a higher trade-in value. This way, even though you don’t receive your rewards as liquid funds, you can still potentially receive a greater overall value from your rewards in total. That is not the case here. As you can see from this example listing of a Cineplex gift card, the points don’t even quite reach a value of 1 cent per point, making the actual reward rate inferior to the other card as well. The difference is only slight and the trade-in value does seem to even out a little more even when you get to the travel rewards – but when you’re already sacrificing utility by going with points at all instead of cash, it’s a bit of a blow to have to accept even more restrictions.
The last thing we need to talk about regarding the Meridian Visa Platinum Travel Rewards Card is its benefits: this includes everything from baggage insurance (the only travel-related perk to be found here), auto rental insurance, mobile device insurance, common carrier accident protection, a price protection policy, and the purchase protection and extended warranties we’ve come to expect from all credit cards. This, coincidentally, is the exact same benefits package as the one that comes with the cash back card we’ve been talking about. While that was a good package to be included with that card, the lack of much travel insurance or other travel-related perks really stands out here. The downgrade on the rewards side of things might have seemed like a good trade-off if, for example, there was some really good medical insurance added to this card that the other one didn’t have. That isn’t the case, though. The benefits are an exact match, and that only makes this card look worse by comparison.
The Meridian Visa Platinum Travel Rewards Card has just about everything you would expect from a typical mid-market travel rewards card, with the arguable exception of some more robust travel insurance as part of its benefits. As we’ve mentioned, it does not measure up to the cash back card on any level, but on its own, it’s a decent option that does have simplicity and flexibility on its side.
Meridian is a strongly-rooted Canadian financial institution, providing personal banking, financial advice, investment services, credit cards and more to their nearly 350,000 members. They take their role as a credit union seriously – they are proud to be a 100% member-owned company. They have corporate offices in both St. Catharines and Toronto and continue to try to expand their reach to all corners of the province. They have not yet moved to extend their services to other provinces, but time will tell if this is something they will every become interested in doing.
What We Think
The Meridian Visa Platinum Travel Rewards Card is not a bad card at all, but it definitely suffers from being overshadowed by better alternatives. Unless you’re insistent on using a travel card for whatever reason, you’ll probably do better and be more satisfied with the cash back counterpart to this card. Don’t apply for this one unless you’ve really given it some thought and done a thorough comparison of the two in terms of their respective values.