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Earn Your Way to a New Car With The Scotiabank GM Visa

Sept. 17, 2015
4 mins
A woman leans against her electric vehicle while it charges

On the market for a new car? For many families, an auto purchase is one of the most costly, aside from buying a home. But what if, with every credit card transaction, you came closer to affording a new ride?

It's this need for a new set of wheels GM and Scotiabank are looking to tap into; the automaker and lender have partnered to offer a new VISA rewards credit card that offers points towards a car purchase - the first of its kind in Canada.

With up to 5% earned on the first $5,000 spent on both fee and no-fee versions, it's one of the richest rewards offerings available today - but will it really put you in the driver's seat sooner?

A Look At the Scotiabank GM VISA and VISA Infinite Cards

Both the Scotiabank GM VISA (no-fee) and Scotiabank GM VISA Infinite offer up to 5% in GM Earnings on the dollar annually up to a cap, with 2% earned thereafter. There is no limit on rewards, and they never expire. One GM Earning is the equivalent of $1 and can be used to buy any eligible new Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, or Cadillac.

Check out this breakdown of card features:

Scotiabank GM VISA Infinite Card Scotiabank GM VISA Card
$79 Annual Fee No Fee
Earns 5% on first $10,000 spent on card annually Earns 5% on first $5,000 spent on card annually
Earns 2% thereafter Earns 2% thereafter
No limit on annual rewards earnings No limit on annual rewards earnings
22.99% on Balance Transfers 22.99% on Balance Transfers

As you can see, the fee version is a little richer; for an annual fee of $79, you earn 5 percent rewards on the first $10,000 in net annual purchases. If you're the type who likes to utilize your card regularly for rewards earnings (ensuring you pay down your balance during the interest-free grace period), this can be an effective way to save a chunk on your next new car.

In addition to the 90-day Purchase Security and Extended Warranty features offered on both cards, the VISA Infinite version also packs a comprehensive suite of travel insurance.


  • Great rewards earnings ratio per dollar
  • Rewards can be earned on all purchases, with no retailer or category restrictions
  • Relatively low annual fee (VISA Infinite), and comprehensive insurance coverage
  • No cap on annual rewards earnings, and no expiry
  • GM Earnings can be combined with other special offers on the lot for more savings


  • Rewards are limited to GM auto purchases. They cannot be converted into cash, gift cards, or other merchandise
  • The car purchased must be a new model
  • Rewards cannot be retroactively earned on transferred balances to the card

The Bottom Line: If you're truly looking to purchase a car over the next few years, and are happy to buy a new GM model, this card can certainly help speed the process, and comes with decent shopper protection. For shoppers looking for more flexibility, there are other rich cash back or travel offers available on the market.

How Long Does It Take To Buy a Car?

So, how long will it take to earn your way to a shiny new ride? While this reward offering is generous, a new car is expensive. To find out, we've looked up the retail prices for some of the most popular models of Chevy, Buick, GMC and Cadillac and crunched how many years it would take to earn the points to purchase each in full, assuming a $10,000 annual spend on the card. We’ve done it for both the fee and no fee versions, factoring in the annual fee for the fee calculation.

Chevrolet Cruze - $16,175

Scotiabank GM VISA Card: 46.21 years

Scotiabank GM VISA Infinite Card: 38.42 years

Buick Encore - $27,895

Scotiabank GM VISA Card: 79.70 years

Scotiabank GM VISA Infinite Card: 66.26 years

GMC Sierra - $28,500

Scotiabank GM VISA Card: 81.43 years

Scotiabank GM VISA Infinite Card: 67.70 years

Cadillac ATS - $36,110

Scotiabank GM VISA Card: 103.17 years

Scotiabank GM VISA Infinite Card: 85.77 years

So as you can see, unless you have some serious patience, your best bet is to combine your GM Earnings with other savings in order to purchase a car this decade.

What About Credit Card Interchange Fees?

If you've been following Canadian credit card news, you may be asking - aren't credit card lenders supposed to be slashing their rewards offerings following recent caps to credit card interchange fees?

These fees, which have been a thorn in the side of retailers for years, were capped at an average of 1.5% this April, following a long, drawn-out negotiation with Visa and MasterCard.

Five-to-2% is one of the highest offerings out there, (also currently available from the MBNA SmartCash MasterCard and Amex Simply Cash cards), which haven't altered their rewards structures yet post-interchange. Despite the rich offering, Scotiabank has said it will adhere to the interchange rate standards. It says doesn’t anticipate any changes to the reward structure at this time.

Will you use the Scotiabank GM VISA and VISA Infinite credit cards to purchase a new car? Let us know in a comment.

Sean Cooper

Sean Cooper is the author of the new book, Burn Your Mortgage. He bought his first house when he was only 27 in Toronto and paid off his mortgage in just 3 years by age 30. An in-demand Personal Financial Journalist, Speaker and Money Coach, his articles and blogs have been featured in publications such as The Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, Financial Post, Tangerine: Forward Thinking blog and TheDot. You can follow him on Twitter @SeanCooperWrite.

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