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How do you use your Air Miles ?

23712 Views 20 Replies 18 Participants Last post by  LauraLap
What is the most efficient way to use Air Miles points ? I am usually not interested in the items they give as rewards, but I like the gift cards. I have made a table with the amount of air miles spent per $ received on different gift cards offered as rewards. Some of the best ones are from Gap, Chapters & Rona in terms of efficiency of Air Miles used.

Gift Card / Air miles /Dollars / Air Miles per dollar received
Gap 185 25.00 $ 7.40
Chapters 185 25.00 $ 7.40
Rona 150 20.00 $ 7.50
Rona 375 50.00 $ 7.50
Air Transat 375 50.00 $ 7.50
HBC 200 25.00 $ 8.00
Jean Coutu 160 20.00 $ 8.00
Second cup 85 10.00 $ 8.50
Shell 175 20.00 $ 8.75
Staples 225 25.00 $ 9.00
Boston Pizza 395 50.00 $ 7.90
Chapters 115 25.00 $ 4.60
Rona 120 25.00 $ 4.80

However, I wonder if it is better to use the Air Miles for flights. I have never done it and am not even sure how to compare it to the table above. Is it easy ? Can you still get a good deal for a flight and pay it in part with Air Miles ? How do you use your Air Miles ?

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The first thing I used them for was for MoneySense magazine. Surprise surprise! :D

Now I'm saving them up for an ipod touch.
In the past I used up quite a bit of airmiles on small household things such as hand-held vac, toaster oven, long distance minutes, movie tickets as well as gift cards. But for the last few years I used airmiles only on MoneySense magazine. :D I will do the same this year. I am not patient enough to accumulate enough miles for flight. Besides I do not earn air miles as much as I did when I had an Amex card (replaced by PC MasterCard).
I only use mine for flights. If you use them to fly to the US it's best to fly on Northwest since the taxes are less than Air Canada. However, I always have to ask them to check the NW flights for availability because the computer says there are no Air Miles seats even if there are. Knowing the flight numbers helps speed up the process considerably.
I typically use Air Miles to get gift cards, Chapters, Rona, and HBC are the most common ones.

I am not as gung-ho on redeeming AirMiles (or Aeroplan points for that matter) as some folks. For starters, we don't accumulate enough points to make it worthwhile and second, i understand there are limited number of seats reserved for these programs on any given flight so you really have to work your schedule around it if you want to get an (almost) free ticket...not to mention the inevitable stopovers (for international flights), among other hassles.

I just don't think these cards are worth their weight for the average Joes, unless you put a lot of big-ticket purchases on the cards but then again it somewhat contradicts the idea of frugality.
7cu ft freezer
coffee machine
weekend in Leighbridge, AB
fly to Ont every second year and Vancover Island every other year.
What is the most efficient way to use Air Miles points?
My wife uses her points to buy groceries.
We use ours exclusively for Starbucks gift cards.
I use ours for the Metro groceries (140 for $20)... I thought I would check the Chapters that you show as being 115 for $20, but couldn't see that one on the site, just the one that was 185 for $20 that you have at the top... was that a special deal or something?
I use ours for the Metro groceries (140 for $20)... I thought I would check the Chapters that you show as being 115 for $20, but couldn't see that one on the site, just the one that was 185 for $20 that you have at the top... was that a special deal or something?
You mean the 185 for 25$ ? Well, my table might be a bit dated. I made it a few months ago and Air Miles rewards is not somehting I check and update regularly.

I found the $25 for 185, but on your list you have:

Gap 185 25.00 $ 7.40
Chapters 185 25.00 $ 7.40
Chapters 115 25.00 $ 4.60
Rona 120 25.00 $ 4.80

So I thought maybe there was another Chapters that was cheaper as part of a promotion or something.
I used my miles to get close to 1K worth of gift cards to chapters, earls and the keg. Stopped using the card after that.
I only use Air Miles for air travel. I have another card (Visa) which accumulates points for other stuff.
Shell car washes and buy-one-get-one-free movies passes are the best cash-in value, if you're looking at it strictly as equivalent dollars-per-mile.

Also remember that like currency, these miles devalue over time, so saving for large purchases is not always a great idea.

I've actually written an article on this topic;

Air miles and other rewards
I redeem them for gift cards mostly (I've redeemed for the GAP, Banana Republic, The Bay, Starbucks, Sportscheck, and Danier in the past). I try to combine the gift cards with sales going on at the stores to make the cards go further. Or sometimes I just give the cards as gifts.

I have also redeemed for the Roots gift certificate, but I am frustrated by their rules - you cannot use the certificates on anthing on sale, and since they are so very over-priced, I don't find they have much value.

I have also redeemed for some merchandise (a cd player, a few watches, a few other things).

I only tried to redeem once for flights but found their pricing scheme to be awful - they charge you the tax on the most expensive flight to your destination - I found something almost as cheap without using my miles by searching online.
We've collected Air Miles for a number of years but had never redeemed any until this year. At this point we've redeemed for three flights (I don't find the tax/fees applied to be overly high, considering what we saved on these otherwise-expensive flights) and two items of merchandise.

One thing that spurred the redemptions was an e-mail offer I received from Air Miles, saying that any miles redeemed during one 30-day period would be credited back later at 50%. In effect, a "half-off" sale on travel and merchandise rewards. We took advantage and did receive the 50% return of miles redeemed during the offer period.
Air Miles = Free Movie Passes

I think if I saved them for a flight I might have enough for a round-trip flight from Toronto to Hamilton! ;)
Gift cards are one of the worst point per dollar reward for most reward programs, Air Miles and Aeroplan included.

The best reward is always the flights. For Air Miles though, the best non-flight rewards I've found is:

- Cineplex 2-for-1 movie pass: 30 miles. If you assume that a movie costs $12 on average, that's $0.4 earned per mile used.

A $20 Metro gift card as an example is 140 miles, or $0.14 earned per mile used.

Personally, we use our Air Miles to either get the Cineplex passes I mentioned above, or we get our annual Maclean's subscription (costs around $50), which is 275 miles, or $0.18 earned per mile used (I know, not a whole lot better than gift cards).

Another worthwhile reward that we've gotten in the past is event tickets. For example, a 500-level Blue Jays ticket (valued at $12) is 40 miles, or $0.3 per mile used.
habsfan, regarding Macleans, you can subscribe to it via the Rogers Reader Advantage program for $3/month which is less than the regular annual subscription fee of $50+

either that or you can take the current promotion that AirMiles has for Rogers Magazine service. Subscribe to 1 mag and you get 20 miles, 2 and you got 60 and 3 and you got 80 plus 80 bonus miles. Details are on the AirMiles site.

P.S. How about them Habs eh? Loading up for a serious run at Lord Stanley next year?
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