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Part 2: Getting Started With Rewards Programs

To the point

In Canada, and more generally in North America, there are hundreds of reward programs. In fact, the vast majority of companies from which you purchase goods and services offer a rewards program.

Getting started with rewards programs

The companies you deal with every day, whether in the travel industry (airlines, hotels), banking, or everyday life, have created rewards programs to build loyalty.

We have identified four types:

  • Airline Rewards programs
  • Hotel loyalty programs
  • Bank rewards programs
  • Cash back Rewards programs

If you prefer the video version, here it is! If not, continue reading.

Airline Rewards programs

These are rewards programs that are closely or remotely related to an airline. In Canada, the best-known is Aeroplan, which is Air Canada’s rewards program.

These programs offer miles you can use for:

  • flights
  • hotel nights
  • car rentals
  • merchandise/gift cards

However, keep in mind that you’ll get the best return on investment when using these miles for flights.

Finally, it is generally advisable to be a member of 3-4 airline reward programs to cover the possibilities offered by the 3 major airline alliances:

  • Star Alliance (Air Canada, United, etc.)
  • Oneworld (British Airways, American, etc.)
  • Skyteam (Air France – KLM, Delta Airlines, etc.)

The main rewards programs

Hotel loyalty programs

There are several major hotel groups around the world and each of them have rewards programs.

The best-known is Marriott Bonvoy which gives access to more than 7,000 hotels worldwide.

These rewards programs offer loyalty points that you can use for:

  • hotel nights
  • flights
  • car rentals
  • merchandise/gift cards

However, you will get the best return on investment when using these points for hotel nights.

It is advisable to be a member of all hotel rewards programs to cover all eventualities for your travels.

The best credit card to quickly earn hotel points is the Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card.

In Canada, you can also get a credit card linked to the Best Western Rewards program.

The main rewards programs

Bank rewards programs

Most financial institutions have their own reward programs.

At Desjardins we’ll talk about Bonusdollars; at BMO we’ll have BMO Rewards, or at American Express you’ll find Membership Rewards.

Obviously, each of these programs has strengths and weaknesses you need to know about.

They generally offer points which can be – for some – used for:

The main rewards programs

Cash back Rewards programs

Cashback Rewards Programs are especially for those who don’t want to use the 3 previous types of programs.

AIR MILES Cash Rewards are part of this type of programs. Find out more about all the AIR MILES credit card offers available in Canada!

These programs issue reward dollars that will generally be charged to your credit card account or used to reduce your bill at the pharmacy, the SAQ or your gas station.

The main rewards programs

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