I prefer using one rewards credit card for all of my purchases so that I can maximize all the benefits of the program. But sometimes credit card offers come along that are too good to pass up. Here’s how I managed to earn 80,000 Aeroplan miles without much effort or spending.
TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite
First up in May I applied for the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite card. The promotion at the time was a 15,000 Aeroplan miles welcome bonus on first purchase. TD waived the $120 annual fee by offering a fee rebate after two months of card activation. Then I received an additional 10,000 Aeroplan miles after 90 days of opening the card.
*The card also includes an extra 5,000 Aeroplan miles if you add an authorized user to your account – but these cards cost $50/year so I considered that a wash and passed.
Since there is no spending requirement this is an easy and pain-free way to earn 25,000 Aeroplan miles.
American Express Gold Rewards Card
Next up is the American Express Gold Rewards Card – which happens to be one of the top rewards credit cards in Canada.
I applied for this card in mid-May and with the promotion received 25,000 Membership Rewards points after charging $500 to the card within the first 3 months.
The nice thing about Membership Rewards is the flexibility to transfer them one-to-one to Aeroplan, which I did as soon as the points appeared in my account.
The $150 annual fee is waived in the first year.
Bonus: Juice your rewards even more by applying for this card through Great Canadian Rebates – you’ll get an additional $50 cash back rebate.
American Express has extended this promotion, however to earn 25,000 Membership Rewards points now you’ll have to spend $1,500 in the first 3 months.
American Express Business Gold Rewards Card
As a small business owner I was eligible to apply for the American Express Business Gold Rewards Card, and so I did at the end of July.
The steep $250 annual fee is waived in the first year and you can earn 30,000 Membership Rewards points by spending $5,000 in the first 3 months.
At first glance the spending requirements seem high, but broken down it’s a reasonable $1,666.67 per month. Good timing since I had a couple of large one-time expenses to pay, including a $1,400 home insurance bill.
Another Bonus: Once again, if you apply for this card via Great Canadian Rebates you’ll get an additional $65 cash back rebate.
I love taking advantage of credit card offers when I can get $200 or more in value without having to pay an annual fee. If the card is good and the program valuable then the card may be worth keeping another year despite the annual fee. If it’s not, then simply cancel the card before the annual fee comes due.
In this case I had to spend $5,500 in three months on purchases I would have made anyway. For my trouble I earned 80,000 Aeroplan miles for free, plus an extra $115 in cash back from Great Canadian Rebates.
All of this could amount to over $1,000 in value, depending what I do with the Aeroplan miles. Here’s how travel experts recommend spending 50,000+ Aeroplan miles. I think I’ll follow their lead.
Air Miles is Canada’s largest loyalty program with more than 10 million active collector accounts across the country. The company has come under fire recently as the expiry policy that Air Miles introduced four-and-a-half years ago comes into effect at the end of 2016 and many collectors stand to lose their miles.
At the same time the company announced its expiry policy Air Miles also unveiled a feature called Cash Miles; a way for collectors to redeem points instantly at participating sponsors.
Traditional rewards for flights and hotels can be found in something called Dream Miles while collectors looking to instantly redeem miles at grocery stores, gas stations, and at the movies should opt for Cash Miles.
Air Miles Dream Miles
What is it? Dream Miles is basically the Air Miles rewards program that existed before Cash Miles were introduced in 2012. Here you’ll find options for travel rewards, merchandise, plus tickets for events and attractions.
Types of Dream rewards: Flights, hotels, car rentals, package vacations, and cruises can be booked with your Dream Miles online or through customer care. There are options to book tickets for concerts, plays, sporting events, as well as golf or spa getaways. The merchandise catalogue includes electronics and household items.
How much are your miles worth? A flight from Toronto to Orlando during high season starts at 3,500 reward miles. One night at the Westin Bristol Place Toronto Airport starts at 1,065 reward miles. Car rentals start from 500 reward miles.
A Broil King Regal 420 propane grill costs 9,100 reward miles.
Air Miles Cash Miles
What is it? Air Miles introduced its Cash feature in December 2011 and collectors then had the option to allocate a portion or all of their future reward miles earnings into their Cash Miles account. Cash Miles allow collectors to redeem instantly at participating sponsors in smaller increments starting at $10.
Types of Cash rewards: There are three types of cash rewards; redeem in-store for rewards such as groceries, gas, and home renovations; redeem online and get an eVoucher for items such as pizza, movies, and Starbucks coffee; or donate your reward miles to one of over 86,000 charities.
How much are your miles worth? Cash Miles come in a standardized format so that 95 reward miles = $10. That means one reward mile is worth approximately 10.5 cents.
For a full list of participating Air Miles Cash sponsors click here – https://www.airmiles.ca/arrow/Sponsors
One of the more insidious features of this two-tier rewards structure is that there is no way to transfer Dream Miles to Cash Miles, or vice-versa. Collectors must choose their earnings preference – 100 percent Cash Miles, 100 percent Dream Miles, or anything in-between.
Set your preference here – https://www.airmiles.ca/arrow/CashDreamTool
Dream Miles are more valuable than Cash Miles, however collectors must be wary of saving too long as reward miles expire if unused after five years. The best value for Dream Miles is on hotels, flights, and rental cars. Skip the merchandise and contests.
Air Miles Cash is a decent program that gives collectors a quick and easy way to save $10 each time they’ve earned 95 reward miles. The number of sponsors is broad enough that collectors can redeem their miles for useful rewards such as groceries, gas, movies, coffee, and even iTunes.