How To Maximize My Starbucks Rewards

StarbucksRewards.jpgStarbucks seems like the last place you’d want to go to save money and I definitely wouldn’t suggest people take up a daily latte habit if they don’t want to drink all their money away!

However, the fact remains that Starbucks is an immensely popular spot and people flock there in droves - maybe not quite as much as Tim Hortons here in Canada, but they sure aren’t suffering either. Profit margins on coffee and beverages are INSANE - so it’s definitely a good business to be in.

I have a deep dark secret though … I buy the occasional Tazo Awake Tea at Starbucks. It actually tastes better than Tim Horton’s tea, which I also like because it is pre-brewed, and it isn’t that much more expensive than Tim’s either. The same goes for standard coffee. It only gets really expensive once you start ordering the specialty drinks, which I do a few times a year as a nice treat. You can make them yourself if you want, but I prefer the convenience and experience of picking one up on the go.

The real reason I frequent Starbucks though is for the cheap office space - it can’t get any cheaper really - but more on that later!

How The Program Works

The Starbucks rewards program is unfortunately based around gift cards. You need to have a gift card to join the program and once you use that to sign up, the best thing to do is to load that gift card and any future gift cards into the Starbucks app. You can then use your phone to both pay for your purchases as well as to earn and track your rewards. It’s pretty convenient in that sense.

Earning Stars

The program is based on stars. You earn one star for every purchase you make at Starbucks. It doesn’t matter how big or small the purchase is, you always get 1 star per purchase. Then once you’ve accumulated enough stars, you start reaping the rewards.

Welcome Reward Level (less than 5 stars)

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Don't Pump All Your Money Away: Ways To Save On Gas

Save On GasHow does this sound?

You've just finished fueling up your car and you're tallying all the savings you've managed to achieve on your $80 gas purchase. First, you saved $16 through paying for your gas with 20% discounted gift cards. Then, you saved another $1.60 through buying those gift cards with your 2% cash back credit card. Next, you saved another $1.80 by filling up on 3¢/litre off supreme Thursday. Finally, you earned $2.00 in rewards "money" that you can use for future gasoline purchases.

That's a grand total of $21.40 saved, or a 26.75% savings on your gas bill! Sound too good to be true? Well it isn't - or at least it wasn't - because I've done it many times myself at Canadian Tire a few years back. If you want to know how I did it, I'll continue the story at the bottom of the article. But for now, these are the ways you can save big money on gas today!

1) Get A Credit Card With A Gas Bonus

It's no secret I'm a big advocate of responsibly using credit cards to reap all kinds of rewards and buying gas with your credit card is one of the best ways to reap those rewards even quicker. Why? Because many cards offer bonus rewards for buying it, that's why!

With bonuses like 4% cash back or up to a 10¢/litre discount, having the right credit card can make a big difference.

Full Details: Best Credit Cards For Gas Discounts

2) Rewards Programs

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The Best Way To Use Your Save On More Rewards Points

thebestwaytouseyoursaveonmorerewardspoints.jpgEver wonder just what's the best way to redeem those More Rewards Points offered by Save on Foods, Pricesmart, Overwaitea Food Group, and Urban Fare? Or are you like most people who think they'll never add up to much anyway and just spend them when the cashier offers to redeem your points for a 'free' product? Admittedly, these aren't life changing amounts of money, but here are some tips on how to play "the game" more efficiently. After all, if one is allowing one's buying patterns to be used for data mining, why not get the most value for it?

Tips For EARNING Extra More Rewards Points

Let's say you are an avid collector - you just love buying the Big White passes each year for Christmas gifts and the feeling of getting a great deal! Or perhaps you love the idea of taking a 'free' flight. Here are a few tips on how to boost your points balances.

Earning In-Store

Besides collecting of the points themselves, value can also be found in using the card in store. It is becoming increasingly the case that you only get a discounted price on your grocery purchases if you scan your points card at the checkout. (The irony is that one of their major competitors, Safeway, has recently backed off of forcing their customers to bring in their membership to get discounted prices on groceries!)

Typically, "More Rewards" points are earned at a rate of 1 point per dollar spent when you shop at their grocery stores, including Urban Fare. It's a good idea to watch for double points days as well as bonus points that are offered quite regularly. Here are few in-store examples of how to earn points.

  • Bonus points on products - just keep an eye for the little blue shelf signs while shopping in store.
  • Multi-buy specials - A typical offer would be "Buy four boxes of Kelloggs cereal and receive 2000-3000 points." You usually don't need to clip the coupon from the flyer, just buy the product and the points show up on your receipt automatically. If you use the FLIPP app on your phone to find the product on sale cheaper locally elsewhere, you can save even more. (This app is fantastic, you can search for ANY advertised item and find out who has it on sale - click here to check it out.) Note: Some stores still won't accept price matching requests unless you have the paper flyer, so bring the flyer in when you shop if that's the case. Ask the cashier to price-match the items. You'll still get the points that are associated with those items, as they are automatically added by the system giving you more points per dollar spent.
  • Manager's specials - Each store is responsible for distributing their own points. Some Store managers offer a 1000 point incentive if you fill out one of their feedback surveys. Just bring in the confirmation sheet after filling out your survey, or fill it out online at the kiosk provided in select stores.
  • Share your account - Be sure everyone in your family has a card, they come on key-chain tags as well, so everyone can easily earn.
  • Use the kiosk - Most stores now offer a More Rewards kiosk close to the entrance where you can scan your card and receive bonus offers for spending set amounts. Typically one receives 375 points for a $35 spend, but the amounts are often MUCH larger if you spend more. Each card is allowed one scan per day. The highest value coupons are only offered to each cardholder occasionally, it seems.

Ways To Earn Outside Of The Grocery Store

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Giveaway & Review: Travel Hacking For Canadians

Travel Hacking For CanadiansI've been travel hacking and churning credit cards for big rewards myself since about 2006. As a result, I've taken several very nice trips paid for primarily with miles and points including Paris, Toronto, Niagara Falls, Chicago, Los Angeles, the Philippines, Vancouver multiple times, and more.

In 2012, Steve Zussino, the founder of Grocery Alerts approached me about a joint venture related to travel hacking specifically for Canadians. I was intrigued by the idea and initially accepted, but it was soon apparent that I didn't have the necessary time to devote to the project so he had to continue the endeavour alone.

Now, 2 years later, Steve has successfully launched the website Canadian Travel Hacking and his new book Travel Hacking For Canadians has just been published.

5 Copies To Give Away

Just before the book was set to launch, Steve contacted me about doing a review and I readily agreed with the simple condition that he provide me with some free copies to give away to my readers. At the time, I thought he was publishing an eBook and it wouldn't cost him much to give away a few copies. However, when my own copy arrived in the mail shortly thereafter, I discovered that it is a beautiful 200 page soft cover book - thanks for being so generous to my readers Steve!

How To Win Your Copy

For a chance to win one of the five copies, all you have to do is leave a comment below sharing with Steve and I what your dream vacation is that you haven't yet been able to realize or afford. I guarantee you can use the information found in this book to help make it happen for a lot less money than you thought.

When you leave your comment, be sure to use your primary email address, because that is how I will be contacting the winners. I will randomly select 3 winners from the list of comments using and 2 additional winners that I think shared a really compelling dream vacation or travel story.

The giveaway will close in one week on Tuesday, August 26th, 2014 and I will contact the winners shortly thereafter.

Buy The Book

My Review Of The Book

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The Best Cash Back Websites For Canadians

thebestcashbackwebsitesforcanadians.jpgDid you know you can get cash back for almost everything you purchase online? It's true and I've been doing it for years earning a cash discount for buying things I need anyway that are often already deeply discounted by comparing prices, price matching, taking advantage of sales, using a coupon, and getting rewards on my credit card. Add cash back to that and you usually have a real sweetheart of a deal.

Jump to the list of cash back sites

How Much Can You Earn?

It all depends on what you buy but rebates can range from 1 or 2 percent of your total purchase amount all the way up to 30% or even 50% for higher margin products. There are often cash back boost promotions as well that can double or even triple the normal cash back rate a store offers.

$1203.45 - My Lifetime Earnings

I've been using cash back websites for quite a few years now and I've really been able to rack up the cash. Whenever I book a trip through Priceline, Hotwire, or an online travel agent I use cash back. When I made purchases on Ebay - cash back. New tires purchased out of the USA - you guessed it, cash back!

It all adds up over time to a significant chunk of change. There were a few purchases in there that were related to my business along with a small amount of money for referring a few people, but over 90% of that grand total is just from regular purchases I've made online over the years.

How It Works

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Get Loads Of Free Movies With Scene Rewards


I've been collecting Scene rewards since late last year because that is when Cineplex FINALLY came to my area after buying out Empire Theatres who had a monopoly around here. Now Cineplex has the monopoly … but at least we have points!

Given that movies at the theatre are outrageously expensive, the program is actually quite generous and there are LOTS of opportunities to maximize your points so you can get free movies almost until your heart's content.

Rob, from Boomer and Echo touched on this subject recently which inspired me to put together my own tips and tricks as I've really been loving and benefiting from this rewards program lately.

When you're done here, you'll also want to check out my guide to saving money at the movies and apply those tips in conjunction with your Scene points to get maximum value.

The Normal (Slow) Way To Earn

The normal way to earn points is simply by joining the program and then either showing your scene card each time you watch a movie at a Cineplex affiliated theatre or getting them to scan the barcode on your Cineplex mobile app.

You typically earn 100 points per movie watched and it takes 1000 points to get a free, no-restrictions, admission ticket to any movie (yes, that means 3D and other upgraded movies too).

Supercharge Your Points Earning Potential

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My Simple Strategy for Maximizing Air Miles

Air Miles CardThere are a wide variety of sponsors that allow you to earn Air Miles, but each one rewards you with varying amounts of miles based on their own one-of-a-kind rewards structure. It can all get very confusing very quickly.

If you want to know all the ways you can earn, redeem and maximize Air Miles, then Stephen has already written a complete guide, which may just overwhelm you. However, I have found that we can earn a decent amount of Air Miles quickly and easily simply by shopping at a select few high earning sponsors as well as using a good Air Miles credit card.

I think it’s important for each individual to craft their own unique strategy based on what works for them taking into account your available time and energy to put into it. Settle on something repeatable that gives you maximum rewards per amount of time invested.

Maximizing Air Miles at Participating Sponsors

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The Platinum Card: Get 100,000 Aeroplan Miles FAST

American Express The Platinum CardLast week I told you how I got a $400 DSLR camera essentially free, which is a deal I think anyone would jump on given the chance. Today I’m doing an about face by breaking the news that I just signed up for a credit card with a $700 annual fee! Have I gone stark raving mad?

For a guy that professes to like saving money, that doesn’t seem like a very sensible thing to do now does it? Well, bear with me because while this strategy definitely isn’t for everyone, it does make a lot of sense.

Why Would I Ever Spend $700 On A Credit Card?

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How I Got A $400 Canon DSLR Camera Practically Free

how_i_got_a_400_canon_dslr_camera_practically_free.jpgI've said it time and time again: Shoppers Optimum is hands down the best Canadian rewards program because you can consistently get massive reward value without spending a fortune while simply buying things you normally would anyway. Those sentiments couldn't have rung truer than they did today.

You see, my second child is being born in a few days and I was under a lot of pressure to find a good camera for the occasion on short notice. Ok, so I was actually given months of warning, but I've been a busy guy and only started browsing a couple of weeks ago and got serious about it last week! Boy, did I get lucky on the timing of this deal.

Proof Shoppers Optimum Is Still Awesome!

Thursday I decided to check out the Shoppers Drug Mart flyer online because I know they sell cameras and I've scored some pretty insane deals on electronics there in the past. I wasn't really expecting to find anything at the 11th hour like this, but I thought I might as well give it a shot anyway. My eyes were scanning for a good reliable point and shoot camera that shoots high quality pictures, has a fast response time, takes decent video, and has at least 15x optical zoom.

Well, I didn't find that, but what I did find was a picture of a Canon Rebel T3 DSLR camera with a 20x points promo bubble on it. My wife had been hinting that we should maybe look into DSLRs, so I took notice of it right away. I'm ok being flexible on my buying decision when the right deal comes along, especially when it's for a higher quality product!

Related: A Complete Guide To Air Miles Reward Miles

20x the points is already good by itself, but I also saw that this weekend was also a bonus redemption weekend where any existing points you have are worth more when you redeem them. Normally 20x the points and redemptions don't stack together, but when the 20x the points is on a specific product and not store-wide, they do stack. Sweeter still, the camera was on sale for $50 off the regular price.

Was It Really Almost Free?

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PC Plus Loyalty Program Review And Tips

Reward_ImageThe Loblaws Company points program, originally called PC Points, has been around since 1998. Initially one could only earn points at a select few Loblaws grocery stores. In the spring of 2013, the program expanded to include other stores under the Loblaws banner throughout Ontario as a trial run, and subsequently expanded to all provinces in November of 2013.

When the revamped program first rolled out, there were some technical glitches as the new program is largely digital now and minor issues go with the territory. Some customers experienced the app crashing at checkout, and some lost points as opposed to gaining them. However, the customer service for this program is fast so a quick call in will get any issue resolved.

Why You Should Join

The PC Plus program gives you points for things you are most likely to buy. By swiping your card on every visit, the program learns your buying patterns and begins to adjust its offers to best suit what you would actually purchase. In turn, those points can be used to purchase just about anything in the store.

This program significantly closes the gap on the lack of coupons for fresh produce. You can actually earn points on fruits and vegetables and can redeem points for them as well. Users can also specify dietary restrictions such as “vegetarian”, which would keep the program from offering you points on meat, making sure the focus is on what you prefer. This is currently the most personalized grocery loyalty program available. Keep reading » about PC Plus Loyalty Program Review And Tips