With credit card points, you can save a lot of money on flights for your travels!
How to save money on flights with points?
We have written a very detailed post on the best travel hacking techniques to find cheap flights. Here, as part of this strategy, we are only interested in programs that offer travel points that can be applied directly to your airline ticket purchases.
1 / Your goal: Save money 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!
2 / Loyalty 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.
Scotia Rewards Points can be applied directly to the purchase of your airfare on one of the cards in the program.
You will be able to use 5,000 points for a credit of $50 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 exchange rate will always be the same when using points for travel, in this case here to save on airfares: 10,000 points = $71
3 / Credit cards to save money on flights
Now that the goal and programs have been defined, we can now turn our attention to credit cards that can be used to earn points to save on airline tickets.
HSBC Rewards Credit Card
The HSBC World Elite® Mastercard® is a great credit card with no foreign transaction fees, especially for travel purchases.
With the HSBC World Elite® Mastercard®, you earn:
- 6 points per dollar for travel purchases (flights, hotels, Airbnb, all-inclusive, etc.)
- 3 points per dollar for all other purchases
It’s a 1% to 3% value depending on your purchases!
You can apply your points on any travel purchase charged to your 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.
Finally, with the HSBC World Elite® Mastercard® you get:
- $100 annual travel credit (for airport lounges, for example)
- Unlimited 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.
And it’s one of the best credit cards for Costco, earning 3 points per dollar there.
American Express Membership Rewards Cards
Here are the 6 Cards that are part of the American Express Membership Rewards Points program and whose points can save you money on your airline tickets.
The American Express Cobalt™ Card is the best American Express Credit Card.
With the American Express Cobalt™ Card, you earn between 1 and 5 points per dollar:
|Category||Points per dollar|
|Restaurants and bars||5|
You can get up to 30,000 Membership Rewards Points as a Welcome Bonus; that’s a $300 value. You can earn 2,500 Membership Rewards® points for each monthly billing period in which you spend $500 in net purchases on your Card.
So, if each month you spend $500 in the 5x categories, you could get up to 60,000 points or $600 during the first year! You can redeem your points in statement credits towards travel purchases, or even on your everyday purchases. Or you can transfer your points to Marriott Bonvoy or Hilton Honors.
Besides, this Card provides premium insurance :
- Car Rental Theft and Damage Insurance
- Baggage delay insurance
- Lost or Stolen Baggage Insurance
- Flight delay insurance
- $250,000 Travel Accident Insurance
- Hotel or motel burglary insurance
- Purchase Protection® Plan
- Buyer’s Assurance® Protection Plan
Scotia Rewards Credit Cards
Here are the 3 best credit cards in the Scotia Rewards program.
The most interesting in our opinion are:
- The Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite* Card: one of the only cards in Canada with no foreign currency conversion fees AND which offerssix free accesses to airport lounges. See its presentation here.
- Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card: This card does not charge any foreign currency conversion fees. This credit card is particularly interesting thanks to its accelerated points earning and its excellent insurance package. See its presentation here.
BMO Rewards Credit Cards
There are 2 cards that are part of the BMO Rewards program:
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.
According to us, the four best credit cards are:
- American Express Cobalt™ Card
- Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card
- HSBC World Elite® Mastercard®
- BMO® 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 (American Express Cobalt™ Card).
So everyone can benefit from travel points to save on flights!