Rewards

Canadian Tire Money Finally Comes Out Of The Dark Ages

canadiantiremoneyfinallycomesoutofthedarkages.jpgCanadian 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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FREE $100 Gift Card Is BACK!

free100giftcardisback.gifEvery time one of these awesome FREE $100 Gift Card promotions comes up from RateSupermarket.ca, I try to write a post about it because it is such a good deal … and for a limited time IT’S BACK!

For those of you who are new here, it all started back in 2012 when they were offering a free $100 gift card to popular Canadian retailers for signing up for the MBNA Smart Cash MasterCard. Then they did it again in April and May of 2014, first with the Smart Cash again and then with the Scotiabank Momentum Visa Infinite.

Each time I wondered if the deal would come back because it is such an amazing no-strings-attached deal:

  • You don’t pay an annual fee (at least in the first year).
  • You get the $100 gift card quickly (within the first couple of months).
  • You get any sign up bonuses the card offers on top of the gift card.
  • You are under no obligation to keep the card after the first year (cancel anytime).
  • You get to keep all of the bonuses, even if you decide to cancel.

So we’re basically talking free money here and credit cards that have great perks if you decide to keep them to boot! One of the offers this time actually gives you $300 in free stuff when you combine the $100 gift card with the $200 sign up bonus.

This Could Be Your Last Chance

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Get Paid To Take Online Surveys?

getpaidtotakeonlinesurveys.jpgMaking money online has always intrigued me and when I first took a stab at it, I tried all kinds of crazy things! I installed toolbars that were supposed to pay me to surf the web. I was selling my stuff on Ebay left and right. I even sought out rewards and survey companies that would reward me for sharing my opinion and shopping habits with them.

That was years ago when the internet was still young, undeveloped, and wild resulting in most of those attempts being a big fail. I’m not sure I ever got paid from the toolbar before that company went under. I sold a few things on Ebay, and still do sometimes, but eventually ran out of things to sell. I did earn a few bucks from surveys but I found it really hard to find surveys that I actually qualified for and that paid a decent amount of money or rewards for my time.

Since then, I’ve always wanted to explore the survey side of things again and maybe even write a how-to guide on getting the most out of them. This thought has sat dormant in the back of my mind for years…

My Frustration With Online Surveys

Back in the early 2000s I was signing up on all kinds of survey sites just Googling around. I tried companies like MyPoints, Global Opinion Panel, and Asking Canadians. It’s not that they were all bad but there were many frustrations:

  • It was very hard to find reputable companies that actually paid.
  • These companies were still very new and not many of them catered to Canadians.
  • Those I did find frequently had very few surveys to offer me. I could go weeks without getting a notification of a new survey.
  • When I did find a survey to participate in, I’d often be disqualified after the first few questions.
  • The software for taking the actual surveys was still in the dark ages - buggy and slow.
  • Rewards were inconsistent to earn clumsy to redeem.

A Better Way To Find Surveys

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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 Random.org 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

getloadsoffreemovieswithscenerewards.jpg

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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