I play the rewards card game because it’s the only way to earn money back on the things you buy every day. By combining a rich ‘everyday’ rewards card program with a couple of niche rewards cards, and several promotional offers, I routinely earn thousands of dollars in credit card rewards each year.
I’m getting more and more credit card savvy every year. Back in 2014 I managed to cash in on $1,555 worth of credit card rewards – mostly using cash back programs. In 2015 I put more emphasis on travel cards and bonus offers to up that total to $1,825.
2016 was all about Aeroplan. I pulled in 80,000 Aeroplan miles to go along with the $1,685 in cash back and travel rewards. Altogether that meant earning an incredible $3,066 in credit cards rewards, after paying annual fees.
How much did I earn from credit card rewards in 2017? Let’s just say I blew those numbers away again. Here’s how it all breaks down:
How Much I Earned From Credit Card Rewards In 2017
Capital One Aspire Travel World Elite MasterCard
My go-to card is Capital One’s Aspire Travel World Elite MasterCard. This grandfathered version of the now discontinued travel rewards card (#RIP) pays two miles for every dollar spent. It comes with a $120 annual fee, which is mostly offset by a 10,000-mile bonus each year (worth $100).
We do the majority of our grocery shopping at Costco and so the Capital One MasterCard is a must have to earn money back on our grocery spending. We get 2 percent back on ALL spending, and redemptions are a breeze with their No Hassle rewards program.
Total earnings from Capital One in 2017 = $1,250.70 after fees.
Amazon.ca Rewards Visa
I use the Amazon.ca Rewards Visa card for all of our purchases on Amazon.ca (obvs) plus anytime I make a purchase in a foreign currency. Unfortunately, Chase Canada closed the Amazon.ca Rewards Visa card to new members last year, but I’ll take advantage of this gem for as long as I’m able to.
Total earnings from Amazon.ca Rewards Visa in 2017 = $60
American Express Cobalt Card
I added the American Express Cobalt Card to my everyday line-up because of its super-rich earnings on ‘Eats & Drinks’, plus its generous 40,000-point welcome bonus.
The structure is unique because it pays out the bonus in instalments each month (to make sure you keep active with the card), but in the short time I had the card I’ve been impressed with the earnings and ease of redemption. The card is a keeper!
Total earnings from American Express Cobalt Card in 2017 = $107.17
Sign-up bonuses and travel rewards
Scotiabank Gold American Express Rewards Card
In the spring I signed up for the Scotiabank Gold American Express Rewards Card because it fit my four rules of credit card churning (no annual fee, sign-up bonus of $250, easy to earn, easy to redeem).
I ended up earning 31,970 points and turned those into $319.70 worth of savings towards a hotel stay in Toronto last fall. I plan to cancel this card later in 2018 before the annual fee kicks-in.
Total earnings from Scotiabank Gold American Express Rewards Card = $319.70
WestJet RBC World Elite MasterCard
I keep the WestJet card as a secondary travel rewards card. It comes with an annual fee – which just jumped from $99 to $119 – but the annual round-trip companion voucher more than makes up for the fee.
For instance, my wife and I flew to Toronto last fall and I used the $99 companion voucher to save $435 on her ticket. Include the additional $60 that I earned in WestJet rewards from purchases and I nearly saved $500! Subtract the annual fee and it’s still a sweet deal at nearly $400 earned.
Total earnings from WestJet RBC World Elite MasterCard = $396 after fees.
Aeroplan gets its own category as once again I went out of my way to stock up on Aeroplan miles.
I started off by signing up for the TD Aeroplan Visa Business card, which included a 30,000-mile sign-up bonus.
Then I applied for the Starwood Preferred Guest credit card from American Express. It included a HUGE 25,000-point welcome bonus, plus an additional 5,000 points to convert Starpoints into Aeroplan miles. Aeroplan also kicked in a 35 percent bonus for converting Starpoints to Aeroplan, which altogether gave me $32,047 Aeroplan miles.
Add it all up and I earned 78,362 Aeroplan miles in 2017. Using a rough calculation of 2 cents per mile and that works out to more than $1,500 in travel rewards. Nice!
Total potential value of Aeroplan miles = $1,447 after fees ($120 for SPG card)
2017 was a great year to earn and redeem credit card rewards. My three go-to cards for everyday spending generated $1,437.87 in rewards. I redeemed another $814.70 in hotel and flight rewards through Scotiabank and WestJet. And, to top it off, I earned a potential of $1,567 worth of Aeroplan miles.
The grand total that I earned from credit card rewards in 2017 was a whopping $3,580.57 after fees!
Hey, in our environment of low interest rates on savings, and low-to-no growth in wages, the ability to earn thousands of dollars in credit card rewards makes a big impact on our budget. It could mean the difference between taking an annual vacation, and not being able to afford to fly anywhere or stay in a nice hotel.