Ever wonder if you are doing everything you can to get the credit card rewards you need to book a flight or pay for a stay in a hotel? Chances are, you’re probably not. Above being financially savvy and preparing by saving for your travels, credit card hacks can be a fun way to maximize your spending.
Here are credit card rewards and techniques worth leveraging to supplement your travel budget.
GIFT CARD REWARDS
Check with your credit card company if you earn points for gift cards from participating stores. Pay points that you frequently visit like the grocery store, gas station, and drugstore might offer fewer points than the reward of buying the gift card – allowing you to maximize the money you spend.
If your credit card company does offer rewards on gift cards, it can be a great way to reach your rewards programme’s minimum spend. Buy gift cards when you are close to reaching your reward tier and keep them as gifts or use them for everyday shopping or groceries.
EARN POINTS AS YOU SPEND AT STORES
It is essential that you check for existing reward programs with the shops you most often order from or visit. Offers can come in the form of emails, advertisements, and printouts in the store. If you shop at Sobey’s, one of Canada’s largest grocery retailers, you can collect Air Miles at the rate of 1 mile per $20 spent.
There are, however, some items like milk, eggs, tobacco, prescriptions, gift cards, and lotto tickets that are not eligible for points. It is essential that you familiarize yourself with the products that offer bonus miles, as these change weekly.
The easiest way to check your local retailer’s offers is to download their app, visit their website, or enquire in-store. Coupons for Air Miles are occasionally printed on your receipt following a large purchase. They can also appear in newspapers which you can cut out and bring with you to the store. Sometimes the cashier behind the register will have the coupon on hand, so remember to ask.
An example of a coupon would be ‘Get 150 Air Miles when you spend $200 or more and present this coupon.’ Coupons typically have a limited time for use and are marked by the expiry date.
Air Miles is one of the best-known loyalty programs in Canada and is a smart way to save while you spend. The ‘miles’ you earn have a different value depending on whether you want to collect Dream Miles or Cash Miles. Once a mile is acquired in either category, it cannot be transferred to the other.
A popular Air Miles hack is to check for Mega Miles. These promotions can earn you 1000 bonus miles when you complete the tasks described in the promotion. If you don’t typically spend much on your credit card over the year, a no-fee card such as the BMO Air Miles Mastercard could be perfect for you. More on that later.
So, how do you redeem your Air Miles? If you have been collecting Dream Miles, you can find redemption options in the airmiles.ca catalogue. You can use your Dream Miles to pay for flights, car rentals, hotel stays, and vacation packages.
If you have been collecting Cash Miles, you can simply use them at the cash register or request a voucher.
CHOOSE THE BEST REWARDS PROGRAM FOR YOU
Using the right credit card can lead to big rewards. The most popular credit cards with reward programmes are Visa, Mastercard, and American Express. These programmes have annual fees and income requirements, while some credit card companies like BMO Air Miles Mastercard and Tangerine Money-Back Mastercard only have income requirements.
Signing up for a credit card can be a lucrative process, too. Welcome bonuses range from 10% cashback on the first three months to 1500 miles when you spend enough to reach your rewards.
AMERICAN EXPRESS REWARDS PROGRAM
The American Express Cobalt card offers the best rewards for grocery shopping in Canada. It has access to the Amex Membership Rewards and offers up to 45,000 bonus points when you join. It has an annual fee of $120 and an average reward rate of 3.76%.
On grocery purchases, you will receive 5 points for each dollar you spend. The benefits continue with 2 points per dollar spent on gas, transit, and travel. All other purchases made with your Cobalt card are rewarded with 1 point per dollar spent.
BMO AIR MILES MASTERCARD REWARDS PROGRAM
The BMO Air Miles Mastercard is a competitive credit card with no annual fee. It offers great rewards, with up to three times the regular Air Miles offered on groceries. Receive 3 miles for every $25 you spend on food. While the reward rate is around 0.76% on regular purchases, it is closer to 2% when shopping at participating stores.
You can redeem your Mastercard points by using them to pay at any store that welcomes credit cards. Visit online to check your balance and set parameters for points-to-cash conversion rates.
SCOTIA MOMENTUM VISA REWARDS PROGRAM
The Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite is the top-tier credit card offered by Scotia Bank and has no annual fee in the first year. It provides Visa reward points valued at 4% of every dollar you spend on grocery store purchases, bills, and subscriptions. It also offers 2% in rewards for gas and daily transit.
Your Scotia Momentum Visa rewards balance can be checked and points redeemed from the bank’s website.
There are a lot of places online where you can read more about the best Canadian travel cards. Typically, these 3 above are always mentioned, but obviously, there are also a ton of others to choose from, based on your exact situation and needs. My favourite comparison between all of these is the one made by MillionDollarJourney.com.
CANADIAN TRAVEL HACKING TECHNIQUES
- Sign up for a credit card with favourable rewards and no first-year annual fee
- Choose a credit card with a welcome bonus you can reach – do your research
- Spend in bonus categories which give you extra rewards
- Purchase gift cards from participating merchants
- Have more than one credit card – use the one with the highest reward for each purchase
- Collect multiple rewards – swipe with your credit card and present your Air Miles collector card
- Before making a big purchase, check for bonus miles offered by participating merchants
Pay for your insurance with your credit card
READY, SET, PAY WITH REWARDS
Learning to hack your credit card to get the most rewards can be a great way to save for your next trip overseas or simply a weekend in Quebec City. Test out the above savvy saving techniques before redeeming your points on your next trip.
Have you booked a holiday with your credit card rewards? Share your story in the comments below!
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