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It is so nice to spend vacation with your family or loved ones once in a while. Though this may sound quite expensive.

One way to have that dream vacation, without too much worrying on expenses, is by earning points using travel rewards credit cards.

But the question is.. how can we earn more points?

Ive checked some companies and so far, I see that there is an ongoing offer from CIBC which will help us earn travel rewards credit card points faster.

Here are some features:

* Receive 15,000 Bonus Aeroplan Miles with your first purchase – enough for one Economy Class short-haul flight at the ClassicFlight® Reward3 level
* Earn 1 Aeroplan Mile for every dollar you spend on the card4
* 1.5 Aeroplan Miles for every dollar you spend at gas, grocery and drugstores5 Learn More
* Earn additional Aeroplan Miles when you use the card at participating Aeroplan Partners
* Enjoy access to every available seat on Air Canada and Air Canada Jazz, including Executive Class/Executive First®1 6
* A guarantee from CIBC that you will not lose your Aeroplan Miles due to 12 months inactivity


Have you guys tried any credit rewards program? Lets talk about the best travel rewards in Canada that we can try this JUNE.
 

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* Receive 15,000 Bonus Aeroplan Miles with your first purchase – enough for one Economy Class short-haul flight at the ClassicFlight® Reward3 level
* Earn 1 Aeroplan Mile for every dollar you spend on the card4
* 1.5 Aeroplan Miles for every dollar you spend at gas, grocery and drugstores5 Learn More
* Earn additional Aeroplan Miles when you use the card at participating Aeroplan Partners
Are these status miles or just regular Aeroplan miles?
There is a big difference.
Have you guys tried any credit rewards program? Lets talk about the best travel rewards in Canada that we can try this JUNE.
The travel rewards in Canada are not as great as in the US.
I believe TD and RBC tout great travel reward credit cards but I have no experience of those.
When I last looked into travel cards, they were no good and I simply got a plain cashback card.
Maybe things have changed now.
 

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If you guys are into aeroplan, then the AMEX SPG credit card will transfer 5k bonus points on 20k. To be more clear, it's $1 spending for 1 spg point, 20,000 spg points transferred to aeroplan = 25,000 aeroplan points.

Downside is the $120 annual fee, but Aeroplan cards all have annual fees.
 

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I signed up for the AMEX spg card as well to extend my SPG account for another year. As an SPG collector via MBNA since 2004, I am significantly invested into the program.
 

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I have been collecting AirMiles with my free BMO card. The best value by far is Dash 8 flights which is what Jazz uses to go to all the small airports in Canada. It costs me over $1000 to go home on 2 Dash 8 flights and $1000 would get you a long ways from TO (like Italy or wherever) For AirMiles however they charge by zones

I think AirMiles are better if they work for your situation, but Aeroplan miles are far more flexible. I travel a lot for work and I collect Aeroplan miles just to get into the Lounge

Personally I'm sick of the travel cards gimmicks and constant changes. I'm switching to the Smart Cash or TD for their $250 promo
 

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Some banks will waive the annual fees if you have your mortgage with them.

When you calculate what you pay them in your mortgage interest, what is it to them to waive a $100-$120 cc fee to keep you happy, and to have you renew your mortgage with them.
 

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Rewards cards can be great if used wisely. It's important not to let the tail wag the dog. Obviously, these companies want card users to increase or alter their spending. I think individuals should examine their spending first then choose the card that suits their spending patterns. I avoid all aeroplan cards because I dislike flying on Air Canada. I chose air miles because it give the option of carriers besides Air Canada.

After choosing a reward system, going "all in" will maximize rewards. I tend to shop at air miles vendors, so I "double" or even "triple" dip. However, I try to guard against excessive spending. I ask myself if I would buy without the rewards attached. If no, then I decline to spend. But if it's something I would buy anyways, why not get some monetary rewards? I use an air miles gold card from BMO, which carries an annual fee. Howver, I receive multiples of the annual fees in rewards. Someone mentioned that aeroplan miles were more flexible than air miles. I'm not convinced. In addition to travel, over the past 12 months, I've used my air miles to receive $200 worth of iTunes cards and $400 of Chapters cards.

If you don't go "all in," then a no-fee cashback card (there are many good ones) is an excellent choice.
 

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We like to travel business class for most flights so the best plan is Aeroplan because you can redeem for business class travel. Obviously it takes more points but since business class is so expensive it makes sense. As an examle we just booked 2 business class tickets Toronto/Hong Kong for next April (to catch a bike trip in Viet Nam). This cost 2X115,000 points but would have cost over $10,000X2=$20,000 to pay cash. It really isn't worth redeeming points for economy travel as it is so cheap anyway. Best card is Platinum AMEX Aeroplan for collecting Aeroplan points. We get about 300,000-400,000 points a year using this card as the rate is 1.5 for every dollar spent. Costs about $750 per year but gives us other perks as well. Obviously you must pay the credit card balance each month or this strategy is foolish. It also helps to be retired so you can plan these trips well in advance to get the flights you want.
 

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I hate Aeroplan with a passion due to the difficulty in redeeming points for flights and so years ago switched to Royal Bank Avion. With Avion when you redeem points they are actually buying your ticket so there is no problem getting seats on any flight with availability. So much better than Aeroplan where I still have points left over and 80% of the time I call them I can't get seats or have to look at flights where you change planes 3 times and take 18 hours to get somewhere that should only take 4 hours. IMO Avion is well worth the $125 annual fee. Of course you need to spend a ton on the card to rack up points but that has never been my problem as I use it for business and personal every chance I get.
 

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We have the TD Infinite Travel card, which we like, but there's a $170/yr fee which includes $50 for one supplimental card. We always get at least $1K/yr in free travel (no bloody miles... it's cash... you book something, they give you the $ back on the card. If you book through them (you can get the same seat sales you find anywhere) you get 3x's the points.

The annual fee is high, which is why we are considering plunking 5K into getting a Select Service account which will waive the fees for the card. But is 5K sitting in an account worth $170/yr? I'm not sure about that, we have to crunch the numbers.

All in all we're happy with the TD Infinite Travel Visa.
 

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The annual fee is high, which is why we are considering plunking 5K into getting a Select Service account which will waive the fees for the card. But is 5K sitting in an account worth $170/yr? I'm not sure about that, we have to crunch the numbers.
I think you also have to add in the fact that you wouldn't pay any monthly fees on your other accounts with TD (chequing, for example, which would probably otherwise cost you another $140/year or so).

Right now interest rates are so low that tying up $5,000/year isn't going to lose you a lot of money in interest, so if you're saving $310 in combined fees that's pretty good. Just remember that if you ever, even for one minute, drop your balance below $5,000 you'll get dinged with all the fees for that month. That's the risk.
 

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I hate Aeroplan with a passion due to the difficulty in redeeming points for flights and so years ago switched to Royal Bank Avion. With Avion when you redeem points they are actually buying your ticket so there is no problem getting seats on any flight with availability. So much better than Aeroplan where I still have points left over and 80% of the time I call them I can't get seats or have to look at flights where you change planes 3 times and take 18 hours to get somewhere that should only take 4 hours. IMO Avion is well worth the $125 annual fee. Of course you need to spend a ton on the card to rack up points but that has never been my problem as I use it for business and personal every chance I get.
Agree with your strategy as long as you fly economy. We fly business class mostly. Too expensive to redeem Avion points for this. As long as you book well in advance and are flexible you can usually get what you want in my experience. Just saved $20,000 for Hong Kong flights. Hard to see how anything else could pay off this big?
 

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Someone mentioned that aeroplan miles were more flexible than air miles. I'm not convinced. choice.
Maybe I was assuming the grass was greener on the other side. I just fly Air Can for work and the pts get me into the lounge

I actually had a grandfathered BMO plan where the Gold card fee waved my bank fees. However I can maintain the min balance anyways

I have the same strategy as you. Things I would buy anyways I get at Airmiles sponsors. I notice however I will go out of my way to find a Shell and pay a few extra pennies/liter. I also wonder about Airmiles losing value over time.

The rewards may provide better return than cash back but I could also find good deals or save that cash
 

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Square Root is exactly right: Aeroplan is a great choice for business class travellers. But, for those of us whose budgets restrict us to economy (and who don't spend enough to earn hundreds of thousands of points), collecting Aeroplan miles isn't always the best option - especially with the "hoops" you have to jump through to redeem. Only a limited numbers of seats are available for redemption on most flights, and there may be blackout periods. And of course the Aeroplan points have a 7-year lifespan and then they're removed.

Air Miles can also be difficult to redeem, and barring any specials, you typically only get a value of about $0.15 per mile. But the Air Miles credit cards out there earn you 1 point for every $15, so that's only a 1% return, and 1.5% on purchases from Air Miles sponsors.

The RBC Avion is the next step up, as you don't have as many redemption restrictions. You can book any economy seat on any airline, but it has to be done through HRG (RBC's travel agency). And their redemption system is setup so that you could get anywhere from 0.5% to 2.33%, depending on the before-tax cost of the flight. For example, for a flight from Toronto to New York on July 1 - 5, the best deal I can find is $205 plus taxes. Thus redeeming 15,000 points for this flight is only a return of 1.37%. But for certain dates, the same flight could become more expensive. If it were to cost $350 before taxes, I still only need 15,000 points and so the return is 2.33%. It's hard to figuire out the distribution of flight prices for each tier of travel, but I figure that on average you get about 1.6% return on short haul flights, 1.7% on long-haul, and around 1.75% for farther distances. Factor in the $120 annual fee plus $50 per extra card, and your return is diminished even further. Of course, if you live in places where all flights are more expensive or you often fly at expensive times of the year, then you'll see more benefit out of this card, perhaps exceeding 2%.
CIBC's Aventura card is very similar to Avion, but their point redemption chart has ranges on it that make it difficult to compare.

The TD Platinum or Infinite cards have no restrictions, and no redemption tiers (though you have to redeem for at least $50 worth of points). The only problem? Only 1.5% return. But you can earn double (or triple with Infinite) the points on travel purchases made through their travel agency, so if you do a lot of travelling you could easily beat 2%. For example, if I used the Infinite card for travel only, and put $10,000 worth of travel on it through their travel agency, I would earn $450 worth of travel. Even subtracting the $120 fee from that leaves you with a 3.3% return!

In my opinion, the best travel card is the Capital One Miles Plus Platinum Mastercard. For some reason this one wasn't compared in the RFD article, so here's the details:
(EDIT: Capital One has since released the new Aspire World card, which easily trumps the Miles Plus card. Click here for my review on MDJ)
Annual fee is $99 and no charge for 2nd card. You get 2 points per dollar spent, and the redemption rate is 100 points per dollar. So that works out to a 2% return (slightly less after factoring in the annual fee), and there are no travel restrictions. The Canadian version of this card does have redemption tiers: a travel charge on your card up to $150 can be credited back for 15,000 points, between $150 and $350 costs 35,000 points, and between $350 and $600 costs 60,000 points. The tiers vanish after $600, as it just becomes 100 points per dollar. But there is a workaround: you can usually ask an airline or hotel to break the charge into two parts, and you can then set one of the amounts to exactly $150 or $350.
There's also a no-fee version of this card that earns 1 point per dollar.

The nice thing about the Captial One and TD cards, is that you can book a last-minute deal, or book first class if you like. You have the freedom to use your favorite travel agency, or book online or over the phone. And you can redeem on hotels, car rentals, vacation packages, and cruises too. Both these banks offer the typical platinum benefits plus lost baggage insurance. The Infinite card adds trip cancellation/interruption insurance and travel medical insurance (RBC Avion also has interruption and medical).
 

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Square Root is exactly right: Aeroplan is a great choice for business class travellers. But, for those of us whose budgets restrict us to economy (and who don't spend enough to earn hundreds of thousands of points), collecting Aeroplan miles isn't always the best option - especially with the "hoops" you have to jump through to redeem. Only a limited numbers of seats are available for redemption on most flights, and there may be blackout periods. And of course the Aeroplan points have a 7-year lifespan and then they're removed.

Air Miles can also be difficult to redeem, and barring any specials, you typically only get a value of about $0.15 per mile. But the Air Miles credit cards out there earn you 1 point for every $15, so that's only a 1% return, and 1.5% on purchases from Air Miles sponsors.

The RBC Avion is the next step up, as you don't have as many redemption restrictions. You can book any economy seat on any airline, but it has to be done through HRG (RBC's travel agency). And their redemption system is setup so that you could get anywhere from 0.5% to 2.33%, depending on the before-tax cost of the flight. For example, for a flight from Toronto to New York on July 1 - 5, the best deal I can find is $205 plus taxes. Thus redeeming 15,000 points for this flight is only a return of 1.37%. But for certain dates, the same flight could become more expensive. If it were to cost $350 before taxes, I still only need 15,000 points and so the return is 2.33%. It's hard to figuire out the distribution of flight prices for each tier of travel, but I figure that on average you get about 1.6% return on short haul flights, 1.7% on long-haul, and around 1.75% for farther distances. Factor in the $120 annual fee plus $50 per extra card, and your return is diminished even further. Of course, if you live in places where all flights are more expensive or you often fly at expensive times of the year, then you'll see more benefit out of this card, perhaps exceeding 2%.
CIBC's Aventura card is very similar to Avion, but their point redemption chart has ranges on it that make it difficult to compare.

The TD Platinum or Infinite cards have no restrictions, and no redemption tiers (though you have to redeem for at least $50 worth of points). The only problem? Only 1.5% return. But you can earn double (or triple with Infinite) the points on travel purchases made through their travel agency, so if you do a lot of travelling you could easily beat 2%. For example, if I used the Infinite card for travel only, and put $10,000 worth of travel on it through their travel agency, I would earn $450 worth of travel. Even subtracting the $120 fee from that leaves you with a 3.3% return!

In my opinion, the best travel card is the Capital One Miles Plus Platinum Mastercard. For some reason this one wasn't compared in the RFD article, so here's the details:
Annual fee is $99 and no charge for 2nd card. You get 2 points per dollar spent, and the redemption rate is 100 points per dollar. So that works out to a 2% return (slightly less after factoring in the annual fee), and there are no travel restrictions. The Canadian version of this card does have redemption tiers: a travel charge on your card up to $150 can be credited back for 15,000 points, between $150 and $350 costs 35,000 points, and between $350 and $600 costs 60,000 points. The tiers vanish after $600, as it just becomes 100 points per dollar. But there is a workaround: you can usually ask an airline or hotel to break the charge into two parts, and you can then set one of the amounts to exactly $150 or $350.
There's also a no-fee version of this card that earns 1 point per dollar.

The nice thing about the Captial One and TD cards, is that you can book a last-minute deal, or book first class if you like. You have the freedom to use your favorite travel agency, or book online or over the phone. And you can redeem on hotels, car rentals, vacation packages, and cruises too. Both these banks offer the typical platinum benefits plus lost baggage insurance. The Infinite card adds trip cancellation/interruption insurance and travel medical insurance (RBC Avion also has interruption and medical).
Could you go over your math for your comparisons? I use Air Miles, and I actually find them to be quite flexible. However, there's no doubt that the value of Air Miles and aeroplan miles have diminished. The exact value of reward miles depends on how you collect and use miles.

For example, I can "triple dip" with my Air Miles. If I purchase, say Chapters gift cards, at Safeways I receive Air Miles from Safeways (5 miles for a $100 purchase), 10 Air Miles from Amex (the air miles platinum gives 1 air mile per $10 from air miles vendors). If I redeem these gift cards through airmilesshops.ca (and I do) then I receive 5 air miles from airmilesshops (1 mile per $20). Therefore, $100 yields 20 air miles. LMG (loyalty management group) allows one to redeem air miles for Chapters cards; 365 air miles yields one $50 card. Theoretically, (I spend a lot on books, but not this much!) doing the above 18.25 times (purchase of $1,825) would give enough air miles for a $50 card, which works out to a yield of 2.74% ($50/$1825). Please note that calculation does not take advantage of special offers which would substantially improve the yield.

I'm sure the same can be done with aeroplan miles, but I dislike flying Air Canada. Also, since Air Canada spun aeroplan out of itself, redeeming rewards seems to be more difficult and more expensive.

Rewards cards are so complex that easy comparisons are difficult.
 

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You may have a theoretical maximum yield of 2.74%, but as you said yourself, you don't spend enough on books to be trading in all your Air Miles for Chapters gift cards. Collecting points is only worth it if you can redeem them all for something you would normally buy anyways. The Chapters cards by the way, are only giving you 13.7 cents per mile. The other gift cards, like iTunes, Rona, or HBC all have even lower return. I calculated the costs of a bunch of flights to various destinations (all originating from Edmonton though), and divided that by the number of Air Miles required for the same flights. That's where I came up with 15 cents per mile.

Any miles you collect as an Air Miles card holder, whether it be through shopping at Safeway or airmilesshops.ca, can be earned without the Amex card, so they do not count when calculating the card's return. Your Amex card is only giving you 0.1 miles per dollar at Air Miles sponsors, which is 1.5%. At all other stores, you only get 1.0%. So, it's really not that great of a card, especially given the limited acceptance of Amex. If you like fee-free cards, you would be better off with the MBNA Smart Cash card that gives you 3% on gas & grocery purchases (including Safeway) and 1% at all other stores. You could buy your books with the cashback reward! But the Capital One miles plus card still beats the Smart Cash card, provided you spend more than $25000/year on it.
 

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You may have a theoretical maximum yield of 2.74%, but as you said yourself, you don't spend enough on books to be trading in all your Air Miles for Chapters gift cards. Collecting points is only worth it if you can redeem them all for something you would normally buy anyways. The Chapters cards by the way, are only giving you 13.7 cents per mile. The other gift cards, like iTunes, Rona, or HBC all have even lower return. I calculated the costs of a bunch of flights to various destinations (all originating from Edmonton though), and divided that by the number of Air Miles required for the same flights. That's where I came up with 15 cents per mile.

Any miles you collect as an Air Miles card holder, whether it be through shopping at Safeway or airmilesshops.ca, can be earned without the Amex card, so they do not count when calculating the card's return. Your Amex card is only giving you 0.1 miles per dollar at Air Miles sponsors, which is 1.5%. At all other stores, you only get 1.0%. So, it's really not that great of a card, especially given the limited acceptance of Amex. If you like fee-free cards, you would be better off with the MBNA Smart Cash card that gives you 3% on gas & grocery purchases (including Safeway) and 1% at all other stores. You could buy your books with the cashback reward! But the Capital One miles plus card still beats the Smart Cash card, provided you spend more than $25000/year on it.
Good posts-Thanks. Life sure is getting complicated isn't it.
 
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