Tips for holiday spending

To the point The holiday season is a great time to earn points and miles on your credit cards. But be careful not to overspend!

If you follow me regularly, you’ll be well aware of the importance of building an excellent credit record by carefully managing your credit cards.

Would you like to take advantage of the festive season to earn points or miles for your spending ? Here are some tips and tricks from a mileage hunter to help you earn rewards faster.

During the holiday season - Optimize your restaurant expenses

The holiday season is a time for gathering with family and friends, whether at home or in a restaurant.

Do what I do for your holiday spending: offer to pay the bill on your credit card, and ask everyone to give you their share in cash, cheque or Interac.

Not many people are points hunters… but you are!

Here’s a card that lets you quickly accumulate points in restaurants and grocery stores: 5 Privilege Points per dollar for 5% cash back, 5 Aeroplan points, and more.

During the holiday season - Earn points with the purchase of gift cards

Gift cards can be used in three ways:

  • Either in their primary destination: a gift to a loved one for the festive season.

More and more surveys show that people prefer to receive money rather than a gift.

The gift card is therefore a happy medium: we know that the recipient likes this or that store… but we prefer to leave it up to them to choose the gift that will really please them.

And you can earn points on your credit card by giving away a gift card from a grocery store, drugstore or gas station!

As part of your holiday budget, you can use gift cards to pay for purchases in stores (SAQ,, Home Depot…) that may not have offered you a large number of points.

Credit cards often require that a certain spending level be reached in order to offer a welcome bonus.

Most often set at $500 of spending in the first three months, this level can be higher ($1,000 or even $5,000 for certain “corporate” cards).

Buying gift cards for shops you visit regularly (gas stations, grocery stores…) is a way of “triggering the bonus early”. You’re simply “frontloading” expenses that you would have incurred anyway in the coming weeks or months.

Stay on top of your holiday budget and make sure you pay off your credit card balance before it’s due.

Credit cards offering the most points for gift card purchases

The following three credit cards allow you to accumulate a large number of points or cash back not only during the holiday season, but throughout the year:

But in addition to these three cards, there are a number of other interesting cards that can also be used to purchase gift cards at pharmacies and service stations. This is particularly true of the American Express Gold Rewards Card, with its 2 points per dollar.

Gift card ideas for the holiday season

In that article, I mentioned the countless possibilities offered by gift cards:

  • Entertainment : iTunes, PlayStation Store, Xbox Live, Google Play, Netflix, Steam, Facebook, Minecraft, Cineplex, Guzzo ;
  • Media / culture : Amazon, Indigo, Kobo ;
  • Do-it-yourself : Canadian Tire, Home Depot, Rona ;
  • Gasoline : Esso, Petro-Canada, Irving ;
  • Restaurants : SAQ, Tim Hortons, Starbucks, Subway, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, SQD, Pizza Pizza, Baton Rouge, Scores, The Keg, Boston Pizza, Cora, M&M ;
  • Stores : Toy’s R Us, HomeSense, Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, American Eagle, L’Équipeur, Ardene, Golf Town, La Vie en Rose, La Senza, Simons ;
  • Telephony : Prepaid cards from operators (Fido, Koodo, Bell…).

So you see, there’s plenty to do with these holiday gift cards!

This holiday season - Maximize your online shopping

There’s a trick to getting even more rewards, but also cash back. For this, you’ll need to use online shopping portals for your holiday spending.

The best-known portals are :

TakeAeroplan eBoutique, for example, a platform for Aeroplan members who want to earn points fast. By using this portal before shopping at over 250 partner brands, you’ll earn at least 1 Aeroplan Point for every dollar you spend. This way, you can spoil yourself and maximize the purchase of an iPhone or laptop.

Keep your eyes peeled this holiday season! Cashback or points multipliers are common.

According to a recent survey conducted by Angus Reid on behalf of FedEx Canada, 57% of Canadians plan to do their holiday shopping in 2023 online. Retailers’ return policies also influence their choices.

Bottom Line

So you see: the hunt for points and miles is well and truly on during the holiday season! It’s up to you to optimize your credit cards to suit your budget.

The high cost of living spares no one. This year, average spending per household during this period will fall by 11% to $1,347, according to Deloitte Canada’s recent 2023 Holiday Shopping Survey.

For my part, I bought $250 worth of SAQ gift cards at Métro with my American Express Cobalt® card, which earned me 1,250 Membership Rewards points ($12.5 or 5% cash back, or 1,250 Aeroplan points worth $25).

And I used these SAQ gift cards at a SAQ Dépôt with the purchase of 15 bottles of wine… enough for a great holiday season!

I presented my SAQ Inspire loyalty card for a very big return from…. 500 SAQ points or 0.5$. Quite disappointed on that score… but that’s the rule of the game: you still save 10% on the total by shopping at the SAQ Dépôt!

Happy Holidays!

What is the average Christmas budget per child?

From gifts to food to travel, average spending per household is expected to reach $1,347, according to Deloitte Canada’s recent Holiday 2023 survey. The average Christmas budget per child will therefore depend on the distribution of consumer spending in each category.

What is the average price of a Christmas gift?

This year, Canadians will be buying fewer gifts. Value for money – not just the amount of the present – is at the heart of budget-conscious consumers’ financial concerns, according to a recent Deloitte Canada Holiday 2023 survey.

Come to discuss that topic in our Facebook Group!
Jean-Maximilien Voisine
Jean-Maximilien is an expert in Canada and France about Loyalty programs, Credit cards and Travel. He is the Founding President of Milesopedia.

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