There are hundreds of different credit cards on the market to earn points for travel. When you have a lot of expenses, the travel points will follow by themselves, even without optimization and strategy.
In fact, if you have $100,000 in purchases per year, you can easily earn 100,000 Aeroplan Travel Points without any strategy.
However, how can you easily accumulate so many travel points when you don’t have a large volume of spending?
Here are some strategies to consider when optimizing purchases in the right categories on each credit card (restaurants, grocery stores, gas, travel, etc.)
- the least number of credit card applications
- the cheapest way possible
- the minimum expenditure required
This list is not exhaustive! Come and share your credit card travel point strategies in the Milesopedia Facebook community!
Travel points: the credit card sign-up bonus strategy
When you start venturing into the world of credit card rewards, you quickly realize that the most lucrative strategy is in credit card applications via sign-up bonuses.
For beginners, we recommend starting with one or two cards and then spacing out the requests for at least 6-9 months. Then, once you become more comfortable with credit card management, you can increase the number of credit card applications, and move them closer together over time.
Strategy for collecting Aeroplan points
|Credit card||Bonus||Minimum expenses||Rewards||Annual fee||Final collection of Aeroplan points|
|TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card||30,000 Aeroplan points||$ 1,500 for the first 90 days||1,500 Aeroplan points minimum||No annual fee
the first year
|CIBC Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card||20,000 Aeroplan points||$ 1,000 over 3 months||1,000 Aeroplan points||No annual fee
the first year
|American Express® Gold Rewards Card||50,000 membership rewards
(= 50,000 Aeroplan points)
|$3,000 over 3 months||3,000 Membership Rewards points minimum
(= 3,000 Aeroplan points)
(thanks to the $100 credit )
|TOTAL||5 500 $||5,500 Aeroplan points||$150||105,500 points|
By valuing the Aeroplan point at 2 cents per point, this strategy earns 105,500 Aeroplan points ($2,110 – $150 = $1,960 net) on $5,500 of spending, a 36% return.
Even at a value of only 1 cent per Aeroplan point, this strategy would result in a return of 18%.
You can earn these 100,000 Aeroplan points for single or group travel depending on the destination. In a family, each parent could subscribe to the same cards and collect double the points!
Then, the Air Canada Buddy Pass is not to be overlooked in a strategy for travel to North America, Mexico and Hawaii!
Caroline has found a multitude of places to travel as a couple or with her family with 100,000 Aeroplan points!
Strategy to accumulate hotel points
|Credit card||Bonus||Minimum expenses||Rewards||Annual fee||Final harvest in points|
|Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card||50,000 Marriott Bonvoy points||$ 1,500 over 3 months||3,000 points||$120||68,000 points|
|Marriott Bonvoy™ Business American Express® Card||50,000 Marriott Bonvoy points||$ 1,500 over 3 months||3,000 points||$150||68,000 points|
|TOTAL||100,000 points||$3,000||6,000 points||$270||106,000 points|
Valuing the Marriott Bonvoy point at 0.9 cents, this strategy earns 106,000 Marriott Bonvoy points ($954 – $270 = $684 in net value) on $3,000 in spending or a 23% return.
Strategy for earning travel points
For those who don’t like to be tied to a specific program, a travel points strategy can provide a lot of flexibility. In fact, many trips are more accessible with Reward Points.
- activities for
- Car rentals
- any flight
- any hotel
|Credit card||Bonus||Minimum expenses||Rewards||Annual fee||Final value|
|TD First Class Travel® Visa Infinite* Card||135,000 TD Rewards points||$5,000||10,000 points||No annual fee
the first year
|HSBC World Elite® Mastercard®||90,000 HSBC Rewards Points||$1||2 points||$49
(thanks to the $100 credit )
|RBC Avion Visa Infinite Card
||35,000 RBC Rewardspoints||$0||0 points||$120||$525|
|American Express Cobalt™ Card||30,000 Membership Rewards||$6,000
spread over the first year
|30,000 Membership Rewards points||$155,88||$600|
|American Express® Gold Rewards Card||50,000 membership rewards||$3,000 over 3 months||3,000 Membership Rewards points minimum||$150
(thanks to the $100 credit )
|TOTAL||340,000 points||14 001 $||43,002 points||474,88 $||3 176 $|
This strategy for earning travel points results in a net value of $2,701 ($3,176 – $474.88) on $14,001 in spending, a 19% return.
This is just one example of a strategy: travel points and cash back have the same purpose of absorbing costs!
The strategy for a family of two adults and two children: each parent could take these cards to pay for the family trip to an all-inclusive in the South!
Another example of a travel points strategy would be for a single person who would like to take a cruise to the Galapagos Islands.
Prices for week-long tours in the archipelago start at $3,000 with G Adventures. The cost of travel will be greatly reduced with this travel points strategy!
The long-term traveler's strategy
For a variety of reasons, many people prefer the strategy of arming themselves with a good portfolio, without too many cards, to keep for the long term.
The credit cards with the highest rewards rates often have an annual fee. Indeed, the annual fees may seem high, but they are all justified with the benefits provided.
Also, there are many offers available from American Express that put the annual fee into perspective!
Since the changes to the American Express Cobalt? Card, it has become the best credit card for earning points for travel.
Then, as a paying strategy, I advise you to subscribe to credit cards in order to cover and optimize each category of expenses.
The long-term travel portfolio
|Card||Spending Category||Return per dollar of purchase||Welcome bonus||Annual fee||Other benefits|
|American Express Cobalt™ Card||
||5 Membership Rewards Points
5 Aeroplan points
or 6 Marriott Bonvoy points
|30,000 Membership Rewards points||$155,88||Mobile Device Insurance|
|HSBC World Elite® Mastercard®||
||up to 6 points||90,000 points
|TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card||
||up to 1.5 points||30,000 Aeroplan points||$139||
Preferred Aeroplan Award ticket rate
|National Bank’s World Elite Mastercard®||
||up to 2 points||35,000 points||$ 150 (free the first year)|
|Marriott Bonvoy™ Business American Express® Card||
||up to 5 points||up to 65,000 points||$150|
*Gift cards for these businesses can be purchased at grocery or convenience stores for 5 points per dollar.
Illustrated example of the strategy
Here are some numbers to illustrate the return of this portfolio with a strategy aimed at the primary accumulation of Aeroplan points and other travel points.
It can be easily adapted for accumulation of Marriott Bonvoy points and other travel points.
|American Express Cobalt™ Card||Grocery store where American Express is accepted||$1,500||7,500 points|
|TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card||Grocery||$1,500||1,500 points|
|American Express Cobalt™ Card||Gas||$1,000||5,000 points|
|American Express Cobalt™ Card||Restaurants where American Express is accepted||$500||2,500 points|
|TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card||Dining||$500||500 points|
|American Express Cobalt™ Card||Uber Eats||$700||3,500 points|
|American Express Cobalt™ Card||Tim Hortons, Starbucks||$500||2,500 points|
|Gift cards strategy||Walmart||$500||2,500 points|
|Gift cards strategy||Amazon||$1,000||5,000 points|
|Gift cards strategy||SAQ/LCBO||$500||2,500 points|
|Gift cards strategy||Netflix||$250||1,250 points|
|Gift cards strategy||Cinema||$500||2,500 points|
|Gift cards strategy||Books and cultures||$500||2,500 points|
|TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card||Drugstores||$300||300 points|
|Gift cards strategy||Furniture (IKEA, Wayfair, etc.)||$375||1,875 points|
|Gift cards strategy||Minor renovation and maintenance||$375||1,875 points|
|Gift cards strategy||Clothing||$1,000||5,000 points|
|TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card||Miscellaneous (other)||$2,500||2,500 points|
|HSBC World Elite® Mastercard®||Travel||$6,000||36,000 points|
|TOTAL||$20,000||50,800 Aeroplan points and 36,000 HSBC points|
With this strategy, we can calculate the withdrawn values as follows:
- 50,800 Aeroplan points ($1,016)
- 36,000 HSBC Rewards points ($180)
- 1 free night Marriott ($150)
- Annual travel insurance for the whole family ($500)
- Unlimited access to the National Bank Lounge ($150 for 2 visits for a couple)
- National Bank Travel Credit ($150)
- HSBC Bank Travel Credit ($100)
- American Express Canada Travel Credit ($100)
- Free checked baggage ($100)
- Savings on conversion fees for foreign currency transactions
The calculations were made using the Milesopedia valuation and a monetary value was given to the credit card benefits in the portfolio.
Thus, an individual’s annual expenditure of $20,000 could generate a return of $1043.60 ($1,016 + $180) or 5.22%.
When you don’t have many credit cards, the best strategy is to make sure you go out and optimize each purchase category. Therefore, the gift card strategy is essential to master.
As you can see, this travel points strategy yields a significantly lower return when you remove the sign-up bonuses from the equation. However, an average return of 5.22% is still excellent.
Finally, once you add up the value of the rewards, the benefits provided versus the annual fee, they pay off… in a good way!
Accumulated awards: $1,044
Benefits and advantages: $1,250
Total annual fee: $713.88
Return value of $1,550.12 ($1,044 + $1,250 – $743.88) on $20,000 of annual expenses or 7. 75% in the first year.