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Marathon

Travel hacking is a marathon… not a sprint!

To the point Recent examples tend to support the view that many credit cards issuers and loyalty program managers are tightening the rules. So this is a good opportunity to mention milesopedia's Golden Rule: travel hacking is a marathon... not a sprint!

Moderation is always best

Everyone would like to be able to afford a dream trip in 3 months thanks to points & miles, spending as little as possible thanks to credit card sign-up bonuses in particular.

Yet, we tell you daily in the community: the game plan is essential to your reward earning process. Of course, there may be cases where, within a few months, a lot of money can be saved on:

But in the vast majority of cases, for a family, this action plan should be spread out over a year.

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Credit card applications

Sure, you can apply for several credit cards on the same day in order to reduce the impact of these applications on your credit report, but you have to be smart about it too!

Ask yourself:

Would a credit card issuer find it normal that in January you subscribed to a card, in April to another one, and again another one in July…? And that afterwards, you only spent the strict minimum to unlock the welcome bonus, without continuing to make some purchases on the card?

Diversify your applications throughout the year: first you’ll apply for a BMO credit card, then an American Express card, and finally a Scotiabank card!

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Repeated bonuses

Unlike the U.S., where the market has seen a major tightening of the rules on repeat bonuses in recent years, Canada seemed untouched until now.

However, in recent years, issuers seem to be trying to curb this by imposing new restrictions:

  • American Express has gradually increased or expanded the thresholds for earning welcome bonuses from:

Even though the “lifetime bonus” rule was put in place in 2015 by American Express, it was never likely to be enforced… until 2020. At that point, American Express’ actions were drastic. It unilaterally closed without notice all the accounts it considered to have abused this rule. All points earned in the accounts of the targeted cards have been cancelled.

Then, Scotiabank recently introduced a new limitation requiring you not to have held the same product in the last 24 months in order to get the welcome bonus.

Second, TD Bank introduced a rule that you cannot get a welcome bonus if you have already gotten the same type of card in the last 12 months.

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Limitations on application

Aside from repeated bonuses, some issuers want to protect themselves from points hoarders.

So take your time and space out your requests to certain issuers!

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The means to reach requested expenditures

In this article, we have discussed many ways to achieve the spending required by credit cards issuers to help unlock bonuses:

All these tips are still entirely valid today.

Second, there are ways to apply for for cards that require little or no minimum spending. My colleague Aline has listed various strategies to easily earn points. In addition, there are also ways specifically for credit cards that earn cash back.

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On the other hand, American Express has put a stop in 2019 on other means used such as prepaid gift cards that are “cash equivalents.”

Do not confuse the following:

  • Prepaid Vanilla gift cards (which can be used as “cash equivalents” and which we do not recommend)
  • with store gift cards (like SAQ, Home Depot…) which are restricted to the banner.

In this case, moderation is much better. Rather than racing to unlock your bonuses through this method, take your time.

Moreover, it is not optimal to apply for 2 credit cards at the same time, each asking to spend $3,000 in 3 months, and then not being able to reach that level of spending. Therefore, it would be wiser to apply for to only one card in this case.

Take…. your…. time, like in a marathon!

Abusive behaviour and red flags

In an effort to eliminate any behaviour that appears abusive to an issuer, avoid:

  • Declaring an annual income of $40,000 and making $10,000 in monthly purchases on your card
  • Buying stuff every day at the same store with the same purchase amount (gift cards, anyone?)
  • Calling the credit card issuer to find out when your bonus will be received
  • Keeping a card open for 3 months, getting its bonus, and closing the card

Indeed, the last thing you want is to receive a call from the card issuer fraud department!

So if you know you’re in the wrong… you don’t call a credit card company: you keep a low profile. And avoid any “abnormal” behaviour.

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The basic rules of smart travel hacking

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Conclusion

Come to discuss that topic in our Facebook Group!

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