I’ve been an avid Air Miles collector for over a decade now (really, who hasn’t?), and I’ve reached Gold Status each of the past three years. I used to diligently redeem my Air Miles reward miles for Shell gas gift certificates.
Back in March, 2012, Air Miles introduced its Air Miles Cash feature along with Dream Rewards, where you could still redeem your miles for things like travel, merchandise and gift cards.
Related: How To Earn More Air Miles Rewards
By default, collectors only earned miles in their Dream Rewards account unless they went to the website and manually changed their allocation preferences. You had the option to allocate any new Air Miles earned toward your Cash balance or your Dream balance.
Using Air Miles Cash
When the Air Miles program changed last year, they made it clear that their gift card options would disappear over time as they wanted collectors to use the Air Miles Cash feature.
Although the gas gift certificate option were no longer available, I continued to allocate 100% of my Air Miles toward the Dream Rewards balance while I contemplated redeeming them for a flight or other merchandise.
Related: Air Miles New Expiry Policy
Recently, a PR firm contacted me to see if I wanted to give Air Miles Cash a try. They offered to send me $250 worth of Air Miles so I could test out the program and blog about my experience.
So I went to the Air Miles website and reset my preferences to 100% Air Miles Cash. Note – you can change your preferences at anytime by clicking on the Cash Rewards home.
Once I had the balance deposited into my account, it was time to go shopping!
Redeeming Air Miles Cash
When your Cash balance reaches 95 Air Miles, you can redeem them for $10 off your bill at participating sponsors when you swipe your Air Miles card at check-out.
Folks in Central and Eastern Canada have better options than those of us located out West. The only locations where you can use Air Miles Cash in BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba are at Shell gas stations and Rona stores.
Here in Lethbridge, Alberta, most of the Shell locations have yet to install the Air Miles Cash redemption terminals, which was disappointing.
Air Miles Cash sponsors:
So off I went to Rona Lethbridge to try out the Air Miles Cash feature. I’ve been doing a lot of work in the yard lately and I needed a lawn trimmer/edger, so I picked up this awesome lithium battery powered edge trimmer for $120.
I went to the cash register and saw each checkout was clearly marked with Air Miles Cash signage. I asked the cashier how it works and so she scanned my Air Miles card and told me I had $120 worth of Air Miles that I could put toward the purchase, leaving me with just a few bucks to pay in taxes.
And that was it; no fuss! She just scanned the item, scanned the card, punched in the amount I wanted to redeem (remember, you can only redeem your points in $10 increments), and it was done.
Pros and Cons of Air Miles Cash
What I don’t like about Air Miles Cash is the lack of sponsors. In a perfect world, every retailer who offers the chance to earn Air Miles would also give you the chance to redeem them in-store through Air Miles Cash.
Sadly, the options in Western Canada are very limited at this time. At least, east of Manitoba, you can use Air Miles Cash at a grocery store, drug store, gas station and home renovation store. I’d love the opportunity to use Air Miles Cash for groceries at Safeway or Sobeys.
I also don’t like the fact that Air Miles increased the number of reward miles you need to redeem for gas and groceries. Used to be, I could redeem 175 Air Miles for a $20 gas gift certificate. Now, it takes 190 Air Miles to get $20 off at the pump.
What I liked the most about Air Miles Cash is that it’s instantaneous. No more waiting 4-6 weeks for a gift certificate to arrive in the mail. Once your account hits the 95 Air Miles threshold, you’re good to redeem them for $10 savings.
I also liked that there’s no hassle to redeem them at the checkout. I was expecting the cashier to give me that deer in the headlights stare, but it was clear that the sponsor (at least Rona), takes the program seriously. I also asked the cashier if she gets many customers coming in and using Air Miles Cash and she said it’s starting to pick up steam.
Have you activated your Air Miles Cash feature? What’s holding you back?