I set the table from the start. Reward points earned with our credit cards can be used to purchase gift cards or experiences.
We are used to optimize them when we travel, which is recommended by Milesopedia. But in a context where we have earned a lot of them, I suggest to temporarily take an unusual path.
Using our Reward Points
Let’s remember from the start that these credit card rewards points were earned free of charge in several cases. For example, when the credit card fee is waived in the first year of membership.
Consider the latest welcome offers from three National Bank cards (now expired) or the TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card. This one in particular – still in effect – requires no out-of-pocket expenses for Quebec residents to award 25,000 Aeroplan points. So there’s nothing to lose by redeeming those points.
I know of one traveller who was recently concerned that he could not maximize his Aeroplan Reward Points redemption on a flight. The calculation gave him 1.8 cents instead of 2 cents. However, he confided to me that he had a very large quantity of this currency.
Earn and BURN
However, if you end up with a valuation of less than 1 cent, you can always convert Aeroplan points into gift cards (note the maximum number of cards allowed).
Our colleague Aline has well-discussed the subject. Our credit card rewards points are like money. She suggests investing them so that they don’t hang around too long until we can travel again.
These points are not optimized like for business class flights but invested, they remain active.
I’ll take you to a second option: purchasing gift cards or experiences with a portion of these rewards points through the rewards portals of our financial institutions, as well as those of Air Canada (Aeroplan) and British Airways(British Airways Executive Club – Avios Miles).
Why treat yourself? Because it’s the holiday season, because there’s no way COVID frustration will win, because those credit card points are for our use and not the other way around, and because we’re going to keep earning them anyway. I mean, because it’s healthy to treat yourself.
That said, for those who travel… Enjoy it!
Gift cards or Experiences?
Let me show you some gift card discoveries and experiences. You will surely be able to find others. They don’t optimize the points as much as for travel but you’ll see, they are not to be dismissed out of hand.
Plates of seafood
At BNC À la Carte Rewards, they had the good sense to offer us seafood platters for 20,000 to 28,000 points.
We checked the market price of these plates. For example, the deluxe lobster and crab platter retails for $199.99 at the merchant, which is highly rated by consumers.
BNC Rewards is asking for 26,110 points for this product, resulting in a value of 0.76 cents per point. Not bad at all for a point valued by Milesopedia at 0.9 cents.
We agree that to welcome 2022, it’s a beautiful folly.
A decorative addition
As for HSBC Rewards, whose travel points are worth 0.5 cents, we note the offer of a $250 gift card from Brault and Martineau in exchange for 80,900 points, which gives them a value of 0.31 cents each.
Cushions, throws, lighting, a side table?
An evening at the 3-D cinema
With a 1:1 redemption ratio, you can’t go wrong with Scotiabank Scene+ points.
All it takes is 1,200 to 2,000 points to get a general admission, 3-D movie, UltraAVX, IMAX, Premium seating, D-Box or VIP movie ticket.
To be kept in mind when it is possible again.
A luxurious train journey
Granted, it’s a trip.
At Aeroplan, you can use your points to pay for all or part of a great Rocky Mountaineer train ride. Points can be used to purchase gift cards ranging from $50 to $5,000, or from 4,000 to 400,000 points. In any case, the point is valued at 1.25 cents while Milesopedia rates it at 2 cents.
The dome train offers 4 routes including the Rocky Mountain route, First Passage to the West Classic. It winds through the mountains between Vancouver, Kamloops and Banff.
The gift card you get with the points allows hotel accommodation, excursions, lunches, dinners and snacks on board the train. For a 4 days/3 nights trip in April, the cost is $1,985 per person. And I repeat, the trip can be paid in whole or in part with points.
Still with Aeroplan, it is still very convenient to pay for Switch Health test boxes with points . Especially since delivery is included, which is not the case when you order them online and pay with cash!
Finally, until January 2, 2022, some gift cards such as Petro-Canada, Apple and Amazon are sold at a 15% discount.
20% discount on gift cards
At TD Rewards, several gift cards are being promoted. They are reduced by 20% of the usual number of points required. A $25 gift card to David’s Tea, Esso, X-Box or even Costco is 15,000 points instead of 20,000 points.
Since the TD point is valued at 0.5 cents, these purchases reduce their value to 0.33 cents. This is a way to use 80,000 or 100,000 free points obtained with this welcome offer.
At RBC Rewards, there are also 20% discounts on several gift cards, plus dining experiences for the Avion and Preferred credit cards.
The most optimized gift card is still the Air Canada gift card for a 1:1 ratio. I’ll let you decide.
Fans will be pleased to know that American Express Membership Rewards points can be used to purchase an initial ClubLink membership or a hotel weekend that includes ClubLink golf.
The membership will give them access to over 40 world-class golf courses. They are found in Quebec, Ontario and Florida. Birdee for snowbirds!
35,000 Membership Rewards points worth $500: a valuation of 1.43 cents while Milesopedia gives it a value of 1.7 cents.
The cherry on top!
I went to the British Airways Executive Club. On experiences from Montreal, payable in Avios points. But it could also be from Quebec City or Ottawa, Toronto, etc.
Well! In addition to transportation and city tours, there are several per city, on all dates including Christmas and New Year’s Day! Examples include:
- 20-30 minute helicopter tour over the island of Montreal for 20,100 to 25,350 Avios points per person.
- Skiing or snowboarding at a ski resort in the Quebec City area, equipment rental included. 23,350 Avios points / person from 7 to 70 years old.
- 20-30 minute ride on the Ferris wheel at the Port of Old Montreal for everyone. Between 100 and 2,450 Avios points depending on age.
- 30 minute photo session with a professional photographer in Montreal. For 42,050 Avios points per group/family/couple/individual.
Not bad! The value of these points depends on each experience.
As far as I’m concerned, it’s priceless in times of pandemic, especially since the Avios currency can be complicated to use. Let’s spoil ourselves!
These are just a few examples. Just to show you the flexibility of our credit card rewards points. The important thing is not to let them stay unused and to know how to take a new path, while we must.
Share your own discoveries with your points in the Milesopedia Facebook group (link below).
Let me end this article with a thank you to Frédéric, who made sure that the calculations for the points valuation in this article were correct.
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