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.
Loblaws began integrating PC products onto Shoppers Drug Mart shelves soon after acquiring the pharmacy chain in March 2014, but the two Canadian retail giants have kept their loyalty programs apart. That changes February 1, 2018 when PC Plus and Shoppers Optimum will officially become the PC Optimum program.
I’ve spent the better part of the day scouring terms and conditions of the new program to find something to critique, but came up empty. This is a win-win merger for PC Plus and Shoppers Optimum loyalty cardholders. Here’s what’s going to happen:
New PC Optimum Program
On February 1, 2018, your PC Plus points and Shoppers Optimum points will be converted to PC Optimum points at their full value.
PC points will be converted to PC Optimum points at a ratio of 1:1. For example, if you have 10,000 PC points, you’ll have 10,000 PC Optimum points after your points have been converted.
Shoppers Optimum points will be converted as outlined in the chart below.
Points between reward levels will be converted at the rate of the highest reward level reached. For example, if you have 22,000 Shoppers Optimum points, which is $30 in value, you will have $30 in PC Optimum points.
Here’s how it works: your 22,000 Shoppers Optimum points x 1.363637 (22,000 points conversion rate) = 30,000 PC Optimum points. Since every 10,000 PC Optimum points is worth $10 of free stuff, you’ll have over $30 in PC Optimum points.
The PC Optimum program combines the benefits of the PC Plus and Shoppers Optimum loyalty programs into one account, allowing you to manage your points with just one card or one app.
There are almost 2,500 locations across Canada where you can earn PC Optimum points. View participating stores in your province.
Earning and redeeming PC Optimum points
Earn 15 PC Optimum points for every dollar spent on eligible products at participating Shoppers Drug Mart stores. That’s a 50% increase on the current 10 points per dollar on eligible purchases.
The minimum amount of points required to redeem will be lowered from 20,000 points in the PC Plus program to just 10,000 points in the PC Optimum program. 10,000 PC Optimum points equals $10 worth of free stuff at any participating store or online at BeautyBoutique.ca and JoeFresh.ca.
You’ll also still get points in store, online and at points events at participating banners, like the Shoppers Drug Mart and Pharmaprix “20x the points” events.
You can save your points for up to a maximum of $500 off on any one purchase.
You’ll continue to receive personalized offers each week and also earn points from in-store and online offers at participating Loblaws grocery stores. To continue to receive your personalized offers, you will need to create a PC Optimum online account once the program launches.
PC Financial MasterCard cardholders can link their credit card to their PC Optimum account and earn all of their points with just one card.
You’ll continue to earn points with your PC Financial MasterCard as you do right now plus you’ll be able to earn and spend PC Optimum points at participating Shoppers Drug Mart stores as well as participating Loblaws stores.
When the program launches
Make sure to hold onto your Shoppers Optimum and / or PC Plus cards until you have successfully linked them to a new PC Optimum account.
When the PC Optimum program launches, your points will automatically become PC Optimum points. Then, the next time you shop, the cashier will ask you to swap your existing Shoppers Optimum and/or PC Plus card for a PC Optimum card so you can continue to earn and spend your points.
You can also start by downloading the app or create an online account and follow the prompts on screen to link the points from your current card(s). You can link your Shoppers Optimum, PC Plus and PC Financial MasterCard accounts.
The PC Plus app will be updated to the PC Optimum app on February 1, 2018. If your mobile phone is set to have automatic app updates, you won’t have to do anything to get the PC Optimum app updated on your phone.
Once you have the PC Optimum app on your phone, you’ll need to create a PC Optimum online account to continue to receive personalized offers.
When the PC Optimum program launches on February 1, 2018 you can create an online account and link your current family’s PC Plus account. Whoever does this within your family can then send invites to the other family members to join their Household. Once the family members all accept the invitation, you will be able to share your points. More information will be provided about this once the PC Optimum program launches.
Shoppers Optimum is arguably the most popular loyalty program in the country, boasting 10 million cardholders. For that reason, Loblaws needed to be careful how it managed this inevitable merger.
They appear to have gotten it right as the two programs will finally combine into a loyalty behemoth.
Customers on both sides win, as they get to retain full value of their points upon the merger February 1, 2018, plus a 50% increase on their earn rate at Shoppers Drug Mart stores, a minimum redemption of 10,000 points instead of 20,000, and the ability to earn PC Optimum points at nearly 2,500 locations across Canada with just one card or app.