Two years ago I cashed in on over $1,500 in credit card rewards. Last year I upped the ante and claimed over $2,000 in rewards by taking advantage of several promotional offers and sign-up bonuses. This year I managed to blow those numbers out of the water as I earned $1,685 in straight cash, plus a host of Aeroplan miles from new credit card sign-ups.

I like a travel program that lets you use your points for purchases. That’s why I funnel most of my everyday spending onto my Capital One Aspire Travel World Elite MasterCard. But I also can’t resist new credit card promotions that offer juicy rewards and waive the annual fee in the first year. That led me to sign-up for three Aeroplan credit cards over the course of the year and earn 80,000 Aeroplan bonus miles.

How much I earned from credit card rewards this year

Here’s a breakdown of my credit card rewards earnings in 2016:

  • Capital One Aspire Travel World Elite MasterCard – $1,345
  • WestJet RBC World Elite MasterCard – $300
  • Rewards Visa – $40

Total cash rewards earnings: $1,685

  • TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite – 25,000 Aeroplan miles
  • American Express Gold Rewards Card – 25,000 Aeroplan miles
  • American Express Business Gold Rewards Card – 30,000 Aeroplan miles

Total Aeroplan miles: 80,000

I haven’t used these Aeroplan miles yet but I plan on cashing them in for a couple of flights in the new year. How much is an Aeroplan mile worth? This varies based on what you redeem, but a conservative value when it comes to redeeming for flights is roughly 2 cents per mile. That makes my 80,000 Aeroplan miles worth approximately $1,600.

Total credit card rewards earned in 2016: $3,285

Now the Capital One Aspire Travel World Elite MasterCard comes with a $120 annual fee (I have a grandfathered version from several years ago), and the WestJet RBC World Elite MasterCard comes with a $99 annual fee.

I (grudgingly) accept and pay these annual fees because Capital One still hands out a 10,000 mile anniversary bonus (again, grandfathered), which is worth $100, and WestJet gives me an annual round-trip companion voucher where my wife can fly anywhere in North America on the same itinerary for just $99.

The Rewards Visa is a must-have anytime you travel to the U.S. or abroad, as it’s one of the only cards not to charge a 2.5 percent fee for converting your foreign currency purchases back to Canadian dollars. There’s no annual fee.

As for the other cards, I’ll likely cancel them before the annual fee comes due and then look for a couple of new offers to sweeten my rewards in 2017.

Final thoughts

There has never been a better time to cash-in on credit card rewards. The competitive landscape means that credit card issuers have stepped up their game when it comes to bonus offers and base earning rates.

By making the most of the card I use for everyday spending, and then taking advantage of some timely credit card offers, I earned an incredible $3,066 in credit cards rewards, after paying annual fees.

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