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How to Make the Most of Travel Credit Card Points in Canada

Jul 16, 2019 08:49 PM EDT
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How to Make the Most of Travel Credit Card Points in Canada

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Since Canadians love to travel, it is no wonder that they have a wide range of Canadian travel cards to choose from. The truth is that if you master the credit card reward game, travel points can significantly lower the costs of trips. However, the reward system is not that easy to master. 

First, you have to find the best travel credit card in Canada and make sure it will fit your needs perfectly. Secondly, you need to put together a system that will help you earn the most rewards and make the most of each travel point. If you don't know much about credit card travel rewards, we have put together a simple guide that will help you make the most of this reward system. 

How to choose the best travel credit card

Most people choose a travel card based on the welcome bonus points that they get when they receive the card. Nonetheless, keep in mind that these welcome points are usually conditioned by an initial expense, which needs to amount to several thousands of dollars within the first months of using the card. Aside from the welcome points, there are several other factors that you should consider before choosing a card such as annual fees, the reward-earn rates, the reward redemption system, the eligibility criteria and the special perks offered by the card provider (travel insurance, no foreign transaction fees and so on).

Popular Canadian picks and eligibility standards

  • TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* - To be eligible for this card, you will need either a $60,000 personal income or a $100,000 household income. The card has a $120 annual fee, but you get a rebate on the first year. It comes with 25,000 Aeroplan Miles and some amazing premium perks such as travel insurance and priority-boarding.

  • BMO® AIR MILES®† World Elite®* Mastercard® - This card has a higher eligibility standard requiring either an $80,000 personal income or a $150,000 household income. There is no annual fee for the first year and you get a welcome bonus of 3000 AIR MILES. With 1 mile for every $10, this card has the highest Air Mile earn rate. You also benefit from other great travel perks such as travel insurance and a 15% discount on AIR MILES. 

How to use all the benefits of your card

As we said, finding the right card is just the first step of reducing your travel expenses. To save money, you need to squeeze every possible reward out of that card.

  • Get your welcome points - Since welcome bonuses are conditioned by an initial expense, it helps if you get the card before making a big purchase that you already had in mind. This way you can use the card for that purchase and redeem your welcome points. Just make sure to pay your balance in due time. 

  • Get bonus rewards on almost any purchase - Just because your card is not partnering with your favorite merchants, this doesn't mean that you can't score points for almost any purchase. The trick is to use the credit card to buy gift cards, and then use the gift cards for your normal shopping. This way, you will get a 5% cash back or 2 points per dollar, instead of a single point per purchase. 

  • Collect double rewards - To double the value of a reward, use your credit card in combination with a loyalty card. For example, Air Miles or Aeroplan have loyalty programs with different credit card issuers. When you use the credit card to make a purchase, you will earn a reward like 1 mile for $20, but you can get another mile for the same purchase. on your loyalty collector card. Also, keep in mind that many travel loyalty programs also offer discounts at popular merchants like Amazon or e-bay. These types of discounts are not always advertised online, but they will be advertised by the travel loyalty program, so make sure to study their website in detail. 

  • Avoid the common credit card pitfalls - Since the goal of a credit card issuer is to make a profit of their clients, it is obvious that they lined their reward systems with some traps. Keep an eye out for the following landmines: 

  • Earning caps and spending tiers - Some reward programs offer shocking cash backs, but if you read the fine lines, you will notice that those cash backs are only given within a rather small maximum spending limit, or above a very large minimum spending limit. 

  • Penalties and fees: There are several ways in which you can lose your points, so make sure you know the rules of this game if you want to make the most of it. You should not get a credit card if you carry a balance or if you are constantly late with your payments. You should also do the math and make sure that you will be using the credit card enough to justify the annual fee.

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