Rewards

Canadian Rewards Programs: Are You Loyal?

canadianrewardsprogramsareyouloyal.jpg

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

Keep reading » about Canadian Rewards Programs: Are You Loyal?

Costco’s Crazy Return Policy

costcoscrazyreturnpolicy.jpgI’m going to get a lot of flack for this one - I can feel it in my bones.

You’re waiting to judge me…aren’t you?

Ok here it goes.

In case you aren’t aware, Costco has the most amazing return policy in the history of return policies.

They will allow you to return practically anything, for almost any reason, with no time limit on when you can make the return. There’s only a few reasonable exceptions.

Sounds insane, right? How can this be profitable?

It’s actually a genius marketing and psychological play that gives customers a huge sense of security and trust in the products Costco carries. They open their wallets without thinking about it or even checking the reviews.

Much of the time Costco can charge back any returns to the manufacturer anyway - and the sheer volume of sales they do and annual membership fees makes up for the rest of the potential losses.

In short…it’s why I shop at Costco.

I’m always pressed for time. The draw of that warm security blanket return policy and reasonable prices is just too hard to resist.

I'm not the only one who can't resist either - here's a blogger who lists her favourite Costco buys.

My $1,000 Costco Return

Keep reading » about Costco’s Crazy Return Policy

How To Score Cheap Movie Tickets

howtoscorecheapmovietickets.jpg

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

Keep reading » about How To Score Cheap Movie Tickets

Free Gift Card Offers (Up To $100 To Popular Stores)

free_gift_card_offers_up_to_100_to_popular_stores2.jpg

I've been touting free gift card offers on this site for a long time now: see here, here, and here. Most of them have been a free $100 gift card to Amazon.ca or another popular Canadian store in return for applying for an awesome credit card that earns you even more free money in cash back or travel rewards.

These credit cards usually also come with no annual fee (at least for the first year) and sometimes a hefty points sign up bonus to boot. Then, after the first year, there is no obligation to continue with the card if you decide it isn't for you. It's really a fantastic deal and one I've taken advantage of several times myself.

Since this has become a pretty regular thing, I thought I should make a permanent page that lists legitimate free gift card offers that I am aware of and will continue to update at the beginning of every month.

Proof That It Works

Keep reading » about Free Gift Card Offers (Up To $100 To Popular Stores)

The Best Credit Cards In Canada 2016

bestcreditcardsincanada.jpg

Can there really be one single BEST credit card?

Honestly, nailing that down is pretty hard because everyone's preferences are different. Credit cards offer so many types of rewards, features, insurance, and perks that comparing them against each in an apples to apples way seems nearly impossible...

But, I was foolish enough to try.

5 years ago I made my first attempt at ranking Canadian credit cards. That first attempt was good but not great - I held back from naming THE best card. I continued to track more cards and improve the system year over year. Thousands of hours have been invested...

Today, 124 cards of all types are tracked and ranked using 40+ unique ranking factors to determine which are really best. Finally, there can be one true champion that is best for most Canadians.

Of course, the decision of whether the winner meets your needs is all yours ... but you won't find a better starting point than this. (Not sure what to pick? Take this short quiz and find out.) Keep reading » about The Best Credit Cards In Canada 2016

5 Best Ways To Redeem Your Air Miles

5bestwaystoredeemyourairmiles.jpg

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

Keep reading » about 5 Best Ways To Redeem Your Air Miles

Which Aeroplan Credit Card is REALLY Best?

bestaeroplancreditcards.jpg

Aeroplan is the most popular airline rewards program in Canada and any serious collector should have a matching credit card to earn the most miles. Figuring out which Aeroplan credit card is best though isn't an easy task.

I've done all the work for you by comparing each card across 40+ different ranking factors including Aeroplan mile earning rates, sign up bonuses, annual fees, bonus spending categories, 15 types of insurance coverage, exclusive Air Canada benefits, and a long list of other perks that these cards offer.

After the dust settles, each card is left with a single unbiased score out of 5 proving which card really is top dog. A single easy number to help you make the right decision.

Aeroplan Credit Cards Compared and Ranked for 2016

You might think this is just a comparison between Aeroplan branded American Express and CIBC cards. You'd be wrong. TD recently launched 3 brand new Aeroplan branded choices into the fray and cards that earn points that can be easily converted to Aeroplan miles shouldn't be left out either. In all 14 different Aeroplan credit cards have been compared and ranked in the table below from best to worst. Keep reading » about Which Aeroplan Credit Card is REALLY Best?

Which AIR MILES Credit Card Is Best For 2016?

bestairmilescreditcards.jpg

Two out of every three Canadians collects AIR MILES and, if you want to maximize your rewards, having an AIR MILES credit card just makes sense!

But why settle for any old card, when you could be earning a lot more miles and experiencing a lot more perks by getting the best one?

Figuring out which one is best is easier said than done though ... that's why I analyze every single detail of these cards and then rank them using a comprehensive system I personally developed over the last five years.

No more comparing feature by feature trying to weigh the pros and the cons - you can rest assured that the top card on my list is the best fit for most Canadians. My rankings are also continually updated so you can be sure you aren't getting stale information.

AIR MILES Credit Cards Compared And Ranked

The cards in the table are ordered from best to worst. Please note that the table scrolls horizontally by using the slider at the bottom.

  Credit Card
Apply BMO AIR MILES World Elite MasterCard
Apply American Express AIR MILES Platinum Credit Card
(low min. income!)
Apply BMO AIR MILES World MasterCard
Apply Hudson's Bay MasterCard
Apply BMO Sobeys AIR MILES MasterCard
Apply American Express AIR MILES Reserve Credit Card
Apply American Express AIR MILES Credit Card
Apply BMO AIR MILES MasterCard
Score Miles Per $100 Spent Bonus Miles Annual Fee First Year Free? Extra Cards $25,000 Spend Score $100,000 Spend Score Insurance Score Perks Score
5.0 10.0 1,000
2,000*
$120 No $50 4.6 5.0 5.0 2.9
3.3 8.0 2,000 $65 No Free 4.6 3.2 1.0 2.8
3.0 6.9 0 $99 No $35 3.4 1.4 4.2 1.6
2.6 6.3 0 $0 Yes Free 5.0 1.7 0.0 2.2
2.4 5.5 400
500*
$0 Yes Free 4.6 0.8 0.8 2.2
2.2 8.0 2,400 $299 No $50 0.0 0.4 2.7 5.0
2.1 5.2 500 $0 Yes Free 4.4 0.4 0.2 2.4
2.0 4.8 0
500*
$0 Yes Free 4.2 0.0 0.8 1.9
* Limited time promotion ending soon.
Keep reading » about Which AIR MILES Credit Card Is Best For 2016?

10 Best Travel Credit Cards in Canada for 2016

besttravelcreditcardsincanada.jpg

Travel credit cards give you both the highest reward return on your spending and the best insurance and perks of any type of credit card.

The catch?

Their rewards programs can be confusing and comparing apples to apples can seem impossible when every rewards program is completely different.

I've taken all the hassle out of finding the best card and compared every travel card available on the Canadian market. My comprehensive ranking system developed over the past 5 years uses more than 40 factors to rank cards from best to worst comparing only apples to apples. You just need to look at one simple score to know which card will give you the best overall value.

You will be flying off to your next vacation hotspot much sooner than you think! With the #1 ranked card you can earn $1,763 worth of free 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.

2016 Travel Rewards Credit Card Rankings

Keep reading » about 10 Best Travel Credit Cards in Canada for 2016

10 Best No Fee Travel Credit Cards in Canada for 2016

bestnofeetravelcreditcardsincanada.jpg

Finding no fee travel credit cards is kind of like looking for Bigfoot - sightings are pretty rare indeed...

Reason being that annual fees are needed to allow for the increased rewards, insurance coverage, and perks that these cards typically offer.

While you are unlikely to find Bigfoot no matter how hard you look, fortunately there is still some Canadian no fee travel plastic in the wild. If points and miles are completely new to you, then this is a great starting point for you to figure out how everything works without any risk.

Once you've got it all figured out, you'll probably want to graduate to a top tier travel credit card that will rack up rewards faster and give you many additional perks.

2016 No Fee Travel Rewards Credit Card Rankings

Keep reading » about 10 Best No Fee Travel Credit Cards in Canada for 2016

Pages