We have written a detailed article on the best point hunting techniques for finding cheap flights. As part of this strategy, we are only interested in programs that offer travel points that can be applied directly to your flights.
Goal: Save on Flights
So you want more freedom than the one you could have with Aeroplan or AIR MILES. You should always hold a credit card with travel points: it will offer you some flexibility!
Reward Programs to save on flights
Some will offer you the possibility:
- to book with any travel agency or airline
- while others will have their own online agency, often offering the same prices
Of course, we will prefer programs that offer more flexibility, but we should not disregard the others!
Here are the top 4 travel reward programs to save money on flights:
Then you can go to the HSBC Rewards portal to apply your points on your travel purchases and get a statement credit.
For example, here is the purchase of an Air Transat flight on my HSBC World Elite® Mastercard®:
American Express Membership Rewards Points (flexible option)
With the Membership Rewards program, you can apply points to any flight purchase charged to one of the six Membership Rewards Cards.
You can apply 1,000 points for a $10 credit or 10,000 points = $100. Below, an Air Transat flight booked with an American Express Card:
American Express Membership Rewards Points (fixed option)
For some flights, American Express has assigned a fixed chart: you will be able to use a predetermined number of points based on the cost of your flight.
The Scotiabank SCENE+ program works the same way: you can apply your points directly to the purchase of your flight charged to one of the cards from the program.
This means that 5,000 points can be used for a $50 credit, or 10,000 points = $100.
BMO Rewards program works differently: you must use BMO’s travel booking portal to redeem points earned with one of the three credit cards that are part of the program.
The redemption rate will always be the same when using points for travel, in this case to save on flights: 10,000 points = $71
With the goal and programs set, we can now look at credit cards that earn points to save money on airfares.
HSBC Rewards Offer
The HSBC World Elite Mastercard is an excellent no-conversion-fee credit card for foreign currency purchases, especially for your travel purchases.
Until September 29, 2023, you can get:
- Up to 80,000 points* ($400 value in travel rewards) if you live in Quebec, with no minimum spend!
- Up to 50,000 points* ($250 value in travel rewards) and first-year annual fee waiver if you live outside Quebec
Get your card before September 29, 2023!
With the HSBC World Elite® Mastercard®, you can earn:
- 6 points per dollar for travel purchases (flights, hotels, Airbnb, all-inclusive, etc.)
- 4 points per dollar for grocery, gas or drugstore purchases
- 2 points per dollar for all other purchases (including Costco)
This means a 1 to 3% return, depending on your purchases!
You can easily redeem your points on any travel purchase made with the HSBC World Elite Mastercard (flights, hotels, Airbnb, all-inclusive, etc). But you can also transfer your points to three airline loyalty programs: British Airways Executive Club, Asia Miles and Singapore Airlines Krisflyer.
In addition, the HSBC World Elite Mastercard comes with:
- $100 Annual Travel Credit (for airport lounges, for example)
- Access to Boingo WiFi hotspots around the world
- 10% discount for hotel bookings on Expedia or Agoda
- Premium insurance for your travels and purchases
Finally, the HSBC World Elite Mastercard does not charge any conversion fees for foreign exchange transactions: you save 2.5% for each transaction.
American Express Membership Rewards offers
Here are the 7 Cards of the American Express Membership Rewards Program, whose points can save you money on your flights.
The Best Membership Rewards Offer from American Express
The American Express Cobalt® Card is the best credit card from American Express, whether you want points for travel or cash back.
The welcome bonus is distributed monthly for the first 12 months. You earn 2,500 Membership Rewards points for every $500 in purchases charged to your card during the month (whether in the 1X, 2X, 3X or 5X category). That’s up to 30,000 Membership Rewards points.
You can easily use these points as statement credits for everyday or travel purchases. The value is the same for both: 1,000 points = $10.
Or you can transfer them into Aeroplan points, Avios (British Airways/Qatar Airways), Flying Blue, Marriott Bonvoy or Hilton Honors.
With the American Express Cobalt® Card, you can earn between 1 and 5 points per dollar:
|Category||Points per dollar|
|Grocery stores (Metro, IGA, Sobeys, Super C, etc.)||5|
|Restaurants and bars||5|
This is a 1 to 5% return on all these purchases.
For example, if you spend $1,000 per month on groceries and/or dining and/or food delivery, you’ll earn $50 cash back per month or $500 cash back per year with this card for that category of purchases!
And if you decide to transfer your points to other programs like Aeroplan, you could get even more value!
In addition, this card provides excellent insurance coverage: rental car theft and damage, baggage delay, lost or stolen baggage, flight delay, $250,000 travel accident, hotel or motel burglary, Mobile Device Insurance, Purchase Security, Purchase Protection Insurance.
Like all American Express Canada Cards, there is no minimum income requirement.
Scotia Scene+ Offers
Here are the four best credit cards in the Scotia SCENE+ program.
The most interesting in our opinion are:
- Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card: one of the only cards in Canada with no foreign currency conversion fees AND to offer six free visits to VIP Airport lounges. See the detailed presentation here.
- Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card: This card has no foreign currency conversion fees. This credit card is exciting thanks to its accelerated points earning and excellent insurance coverage. See its presentation here.
BMO Rewards Offers
There are 2 cards that are part of the BMO Rewards program:
The BMO Ascend World Elite Mastercard is one of the best World Elite Mastercard credit cards with travel points in Canada. With our exclusive offer, you can get up to 70,000 Welcome Bonus Points:
- 40,000 points when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months
- 2,500 points per month after $2,000 in monthly purchases from the 4th to the 15th month, up to 30,000 points
Plus, the annual fee is waived in the first year for both the primary cardholder and authorized users.
With the BMO Ascend World Elite Mastercard, a premium credit card from BMO, you get:
- 5 points per dollar on travel purchases
- 3 points per dollar on dining purchases
- 3 points per dollar for entertainment purchases
- 3 points per dollar on recurring bill payments
And 1 point for every $1 spent everywhere else, including at Costco. You can use your points for travel purchases on the BMO Rewards website (flights, hotels, car rentals, all-inclusive).
The BMO Ascend World Elite Mastercard also offers:
- Four annual complimentary passes to airport VIP lounges
- Excellent Premium insurance for your travels or purchases
- a premium concierge service
To apply this strategy to save on airline tickets with Reward Points, you could only focus on one program. Or you can get into multiple programs, which is ideal for a couple: each of you applying for a different card.
The three best cards in our eyes are:
- American Express Cobalt® Card
- Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card
- HSBC World Elite® Mastercard®
Also, as you can see, these cards sometimes require a high income ($60,000 – $80,000/year), while others require lower income ($12,000 with the Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card) or even no minimum income at all (American Express Cobalt® Card).
So everyone can benefit from travel points to save on flights!