Rewards

Best Travel Credit Cards in Canada 2017

Best travel credit cards in Canada

Incredible reward value, comprehensive travel insurance coverage, one-of-a-kind perks, and jet-setting worry free across the globe. Those are the promises of top travel rewards credit cards.

It all sounds very dreamy - until you start trying to compare their complicated rewards programs and features side by side to decide which one is right for you.

I've removed all the hassle from finding the best card by comparing every travel card available on the Canadian market for you.

My comprehensive scoring system developed over the past 6 years uses more than 50 factors to rank cards from best to worst. You need only look at one simple score to know which card will give you the best overall value.

And, you'll be flying off to your next vacation hotspot much sooner than you think!

With the #1 ranked card, you can pocket $1,781 worth of Aeroplan reward flights in the first year if you spend $2,083 per month on the card on stuff you would be buying anyway. That number factors in points earned both from spending and the 25,000 point sign up bonus you automatically qualify for.

The best part?

It's all at no cost to you because the $150 annual fee is waived for the first year.

2017 Travel Credit Card Rankings

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Canadian Rewards Programs: Are You Loyal?

List of Canadian loyalty rewards programs

Rewards programs are meant to create loyalty…

Repeat customers and repeat business are the name of the game.

But my experience has been that it doesn’t pay to be loyal. Shopping around for both the best prices AND the best rewards bonuses and perks is 100% the way to go...

IF you’re willing to invest the time.

A quick check shows that I am currently a member of at least 30 rewards programs. I don’t use them all on a regular basis - I have my favourites just like anyone. (Don’t miss my top 5 below.)

Then, there’s other times when rewards programs just aren’t worth it.

But, I do try to keep my eyes open for amazing opportunities in any one of those 30+ programs. If they make me an offer I can’t refuse - then I’ll take it!

That said, it’s hard to know what’s out there and targeted specifically at Canadians. I’ve put together a pretty comprehensive list below - please add any I missed in the comments!

Cash Rewards For Shopping Online

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5 Best Ways To Redeem Your Air Miles

5 best ways to redeem your Air Miles

Air Miles may have decided to cancel their their expiration policy - but that doesn't mean you should wait to redeem your miles.

Why?

Because Air Miles was banking on huge profits from being able to take millions of unredeemed miles off their books and keep that money for themselves. Now they can't...

... And who do you think is going to foot the bill?

You'd be right if you're thinking they are going to try and make their collectors pay for their misfortune in some other way! They even admitted that much in a financial disclosure to their investors as reported by The Globe and Mail.

It’s time to stop 'dreaming' about a glorious future redemption and get real about what you can actually get for your points today before they’re worth much less.

Want to get the BEST value for your Air Miles? Download the PDF version of this guide - and read it anywhere when you want.

Your Options For Redeeming Air Miles

A big change to the Air Miles program, Air Miles “Cash”, was announced back in 2011. At the same time, the clock on this new 5 year expiry policy started ticking that has now been abolished.

If you chose to switch your points to 100% Air Miles Cash at the time, then you’re pretty safe. Just go to a participating Air Miles sponsor in your area - maybe a gas station or grocery store - and get part, or all, of your purchase for free.

With Air Miles Cash, your miles can always be redeemed at a rate of 95 miles = $10. That gives each single mile a value of 10.5 cents. This is known as the cost per mile or CPM and is an easy way of comparing reward value.

You calculate CPM by taking the real cost in dollars of the reward you are buying and dividing it by number of Air Miles required to redeem for that reward. I’m going to be using CPM throughout the rest of the article.

If you chose to stick with Air Miles 'Dream', then you have a much more difficult decision ahead of you. You can choose between a variety of rewards including travel, merchandise, events & attractions, and even sweepstakes.

Inside each one of those categories is a confusing array of additional choices. The bad news is that the selection of high value rewards has really dwindled since Air Miles Cash was introduced.

My go-to reward was always the free movie certificates because they gave a 30 cent per mile value, nearly triple the cash rate. Years ago that reward disappeared so I switched to car washes which also had a high value. Not long after, that one was gone too - followed by the great selection of gift cards they used to offer.

The good news?

There’s a few things left worth redeeming for and I’m going to tell you what they are.

Top 5 Air Miles Dream Rewards

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How To Score Cheap Movie Tickets

How to score cheap movie tickets

I don't know about you, but I love going to the cinema to watch a movie!

It's a great way to get out of the house and enjoy a night out with family or friends. There's just something about the experience that makes it so much better than watching a movie at home, even if it is MUCH more expensive.

With the price of a single admission approaching $15 per ticket in some cities, it can cost a fortune to go out to the movies with your spouse especially if you include the insane cost of movie food. Add on a babysitter and you could be getting close to $75 or more for one night at the movies!

Fortunately, there are a lot of creative ways to score cheap movie tickets and I've put together a pretty comprehensive list:

Discount Movie Passes

There are actually a ton of ways you can advance purchase discount movie passes that makes getting cheap movie tickets a breeze. You can find these cheap movie passes at various retail stores, through certain membership programs, or sometimes even through your employer. Here are a few specific examples:

Costco Cineplex Movie Packages

One of the quickest and easiest ways to get discount movie passes is at Costco. They "Great Escape" Cineplex package for adults costs $26.99 when bought directly at the warehouse. You get 2 regular adult admissions, 1 regular popcorn, and 2 regular fountain drinks all for that one price. Keep in mind, it is $3 extra per person to upgrade to 3D. Depending on how you value the tickets and the refreshments, you could be getting a value of up to $45 there.

Costco also offers kids packages for about $10 which gives you an under 13 regular admission ticket and a kids pack from the concession stand (popcorn, soft drink, and small candy).

It’s worth noting that Costco.ca often has these same or similar packages at a slightly increased price so you can buy them even if you aren’t a Costco member - but they do go out of stock often. If you aren't a member, try convincing your friends who are to pick a few passes for you.

Virgin Mobile BOGO

Virgin offers buy one get one free (BOGO) movie passes to its customers several times a year. This is great if you are already a "member" or know somebody who is. The good news is that you can become a member cheaply when you buy a prepaid SIM card (about $5). Once you have that, you can insert it in any unlocked phone and use it to claim your BOGO code.

The downside is that your SIM card will expire in 120 days from when your balance reaches $0. The minimum top up is $15 and that lasts for 30 days. So you can wait 119 days after buying the SIM, top up for $15, then you should have 150 days before it is set to expire again. Keep topping up every 149 days to keep it active.

CAA

Being a CAA member can have its perks and one of them does happen to be cheap movie tickets! CAA offers a discount on individual Cineplex movie tickets and sometimes packages as well. The packages aren’t quite as cheap as they are at Costco, but still a reasonable deal if you can’t take advantage of the Costco deal. They also offer single admission passes at $9.83 each, which is something you can’t buy at Costco which is great for those people who don’t want over-priced food at the movies or don’t want to spend the extra money to get it.

Employee Discount Programs

Many larger employers offer employee discount programs for their employees to take advantage of. Typically the discounts given are of marginal value at best, but many such programs do offer decent discounts on movie tickets. For example, a previous employer of mine offered us single admission movie tickets for $2.50 off the regular price. Check with your employer to see if they offer a similar program!

Redeem Points For Movie Passes

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Intro To Points And Miles For Travel Hacker Wannabes

Intro to points and miles for travel hacking

Travel hacking is like some sort of mystical promised land flowing with milk and honey…

It portrays a life spent floating in first class suites in the sky, free gourmet food and drinks galore, and unlimited hotel upgrades to fancy hotel rooms complete with turn down service and a chocolate on your pillow every night - all practically free - *sigh*...

The truth is, achieving all of that is a lot of work and requires jumping through all kinds of hoops. Many beginners get put off by the crazy language barrier (hello acronyms!), the insane points strategies, and the attention to detail it takes to pull it all off.

The upside is you CAN start small and work your way up.

This guide will ease you into the points and miles game. You'll learn to earn miles faster and redeem them smarter so you can jet off on your next vacation much sooner than you ever thought possible. Keep reading » about Intro To Points And Miles For Travel Hacker Wannabes

Collecting AIR MILES At Shell: Still Worth It?

Collecting Air Miles at ShellRoyal Dutch Shell, the second largest Big Oil company in the world, operates about 1,300 Shell branded retail stations in Canada.

Rather than offer their own rewards program like Petro-Canada’s Petro-Points or Esso Extra, Shell is a sponsor of the AIR MILES Reward Program. Customers that fill up at Shell can earn AIR MILES on eligible purchases at participating stations in addition to the miles that can be earned with other retail partners.

Shell recently changed their rewards structure yet again. It used to be that you earned 1 mile for every $20 spent on gas. Then, it became 1 mile on the first $30 and 1 mile per $20 spent in the same transaction thereafter.

Now, getting that first mile is much easier with only a 15L purchase required, but chances are it will be the only mile you earn on a single fill up. Have they gone too far with the changes this time?

Read on to see exactly how earning miles at Shell works and how you can maximize your rewards.

Earning AIR MILES with Shell

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The Best Use Of Petro Points

The best use of Petro points

Petro-Canada offers the Petro-Points loyalty program. Members can collect points and exchange them for fuel, car repair and store purchases at any of the 1,500 Suncor branded gas stations.

There is no annual membership fee associated with the Petro-Points program. Sign up at a station to receive a card immediately. Signing up online gives the option to print a temporary card until one arrives in the mail. In each instance, an online account will need to be created and the card number registered. Rewards are redeemed using the online account.

Here’s everything you need to know about collecting Petro-points with Petro-Canada.

Earning Petro-Points

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The Best Bang For Your Esso Extra Points

The best bang for Esso Extra pointsEsso Extra is a loyalty program offered by Esso, one of the largest gas retailers in Canada. It offers everyday rewards like car washes, gift cards and fuel to entice drivers to fill up at one of the 1,700 Imperial Oil branded gas stations.

The Esso Extra program is free to join and there are no annual membership fees. You can join online or become a member at any station with your name, a valid email and Canadian address. Once the Esso Extra card has been received, you will need to create an online account to register the card number. The online account is also used for redeeming rewards.

With the current price of regular running about $1.05/L, an average Canadian family that drives 20,000 KM/year in a vehicle with a combined city/hwy fuel economy of 9L/100 KM would pay $1,890 for a year’s worth of fuel. How many points would be accumulated and what would be the best way to use those points? Here’s what you need to know.

Earning Esso Extra Points

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Are Chapters-Indigo Plum Rewards Worth It?

Chapters-Indigo Plum rewards reviewPlum Rewards is Canada’s largest loyalty program for reading enthusiasts. It offers discounts and special promotions for members that shop at the Toronto-based retail chain Indigo. The Plum Rewards program is available across the country at Indigo’s 92 superstores and 131 smaller format stores operating as Chapters, Coles, SmithBooks and online at chapters.indigo.ca.

Plum Rewards is free to join and there are no annual membership fees. To become a member, you must be 16 years of age. You can join online or at any store location with your name and a valid email address or mailing address and telephone number.

Related: Cut Your Telephone Costs By 90% With Voip

In addition to books, Indigo has expanded to include exclusive product lines, a large toy department, fashionable home décor and even specialized teas. The wide range of products makes Chapters a tempting shopping destination to readers and non-readers alike.

Changes have been made to the Plum Rewards program starting September 3rd, 2015. Here’s what you need to know.

Earning Plum Rewards Points

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Canadian Tire Money Finally Comes Out Of The Dark Ages

Canadian Tire money finally comes out of The Dark AgesCanadian Tire ‘Money’ has been in the dark ages as a rewards program for many years forcing you to carry around stacks of worthless bills that were easily lost or left behind.

Things were slightly better if you were a Canadian Tire Options MasterCard holder because you could accumulate the stuff on your credit card but unfortunately that card has a dubious system for paying out rewards and doesn’t give great value anyway. The only exceptions being bonus gas multipliers and in-store offers available exclusively to cardholders that are occasionally worthwhile.

Enter the new My Canadian Tire ‘Money’ program. It has all the features of a modern rewards program making it much more usable and useful. This is still a big step forward for the program even though the return on spending it offers has diminished greatly from a high of 5%, when CT Money first started in 1958, to the meagre 0.4% it is today.

The up side to the low regular rate of return is that it allows them to offer big bonus multipliers, similar to what you see with other programs like Shoppers Optimum and Air Miles, along with individual product bonuses and offers customized specifically for you.

Related: The Best Cash Back Websites For Canadians

Great New My Canadian Tire Money Features

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