Tuesday, December 6, 2016

December 6 Update: Promo code for up to 25% off WestJet flights, Podcast Episode10 & new AC Maple Leaf Lounge in YUL

News, Tips & Tricks

Episode 10 of the Rewards Canada podcast is out now! We talk Air Miles, 5 great Marrriott hotels and more! Download the episode here.

There is a day sale from WestJet for their Rewards members! You can save up to 25% on flights if you book today. Save 15% on Econo Fares or 25% on Plus fares. Use Coupon code (Web coupon no.) VMGEPQU Promo code REW17.

Book by: December 6, 2016 (9:59 p.m. MT)
Destinations: Canada, the Caribbean, Europe and select U.S. destinations
Travel from: January 9 -  May 31, 2017
(Blackout dates apply)

 Last Thursday saw the reopening of Air Canada's international Maple Leaf Lounge at Montreal-Trudeau airport following a year-long complete makeover.
"We are thrilled to welcome eligible Air Canada and Star Alliance customers to our completely redesigned international Maple Leaf Lounge at Montreal-Trudeau airport. Our newest international lounge incorporates many elements sought after by today's business and premium travelers including a quiet, stress-free place to work or relax while travelling, and our new lounge is designed with this in mind," said Benjamin Smith, President, Passenger Airlines at Air Canada. "Surrounded by Canadian and Quebec design artistry and craftsmanship, as well as elements highlighting the majestic natural beauty of Canada, customers will enjoy an inspiring environment before their Air Canada flight." 
(Source Air Canada)

If you are not done with AIR MILES, you can earn 60 Bonus Reward Miles for spending $40 or more at Rexall until December 8. Get the coupon here

You can now book Air France's new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner service between Montreal and Paris (Source Routesonline)

Posts since our last update:
Travel Deals
Executive Hotels is offering up to 20% off holiday stays at their locations in Canada and the U.S.  Full details and online booking
Avianca has Ecuador on sale from Toronto. Fares start at $649 all in. Book by Dec 31. Full details and online booking

Canadian Bonus Offers
Air Canada / Aeroplan
- Earn up to 20,000 Aeroplan Miles and first year free with the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card. Residents of Canada only More... Until Mar 5, 17
- Earn up to 40,000 Aeroplan Miles with the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege Card. Residents of Canada only More... Until Mar 5, 17

National Emerald Club
- OFFER EXTENDED Earn a Free Rental day when you earn 600 points or complete two qualifying rentals in Canada and the 50 United States, including the District of Columbia, for a period of two or more consecutive days during the promotion. Valid for residents of Canada only More... Until Feb 28 17

Other Bonus Offers
Air France KLM Flying Blue
- 10,000 Bonus Flying Blue Miles on your first hotel booking of 2 or more nights made via PointsHound. More... Book by Dec 31, 16
- Up to 50% Bonus Flying Blue Miles when you buy miles online. More... Until Dec 31, 16

British Airways Executive Club
- Double Avios when you book and stay on the Linger Longer offer at Langham Hotels Worldwide. More... Until Feb 28, 17
- Double Avios when you shop via Gate 365. More... Until Dec 18, 16

Miles & More
- Triple Miles&More Miles for stays of at least two nights at Mercure, Novotel, Novotel Suites hotels and/or at least one night at Sofitel, Pullman and MGallery hotels Worldwide. More... Until Feb 28, 17

SriLankan FlySmiles
- Up to Triple FlySmiles when you rent a car at participating Hertz locations in USA, Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand or Asia. More... Until Feb 28, 17

United MileagePlus
- Triple MileagePlus Miles when you stay at participating Hilton hotels in Canada, the Caribbean, Central and South America. More... Until Mar 31, 17
- Up to 100% Bonus MileagePlus Miles when you buy miles online. Bonus varies by member. More... Until Dec 19, 16

Follow Rewards Canada:
LinkedIn Facebook Twitter Pinterest Google+ YouTube Instagram RSS Newsletter

Done with AIR MILES? Here are your other options - Part 1 Coalition Reward Programs

As many of you know the AIR MILES Expiring Miles fiasco came to somewhat of a close late last week when they finally dropped their expiry rule after threat of legislation, a damning MarketPlace report and of course 9 months of really bad press. If you watched the MarketPlace piece you'll have seen members cutting up their AIR MILES collector cards and I've heard many more stories of people letting go of the program. So what are some of your other options? In this three part series we'll look at three types of reward programs that make the most sense for Canadian but please be aware there even more options beyond these three (ie Frequent Flyer programs, Frequent Guest programs, proprietary retail programs etc.)

 In part one we look at other coalition program options. AIR MILES is a coalition program and a coalition program is one where you can earn points or miles at many different merchants or partners and then have numerous options for redeeming those miles (ie a varied reward catalog). In Canada we have two major coalition programs, AIR MILES & Aeroplan with several others moving up the ranks in an attempt to become full fledged coalition programs.

The second largest coalition program is well known in Canada and went through some rough times a few years ago just like AIR MILES did this year. Originally Air Canada's frequent flyer program, Aeroplan grew out of that mold over the past 10-15 years to become a coalition program by adding lots of partners within Canada where you could earn miles and they also built up there reward catalog to many items beyond flights. This program is easy to get started with if you haven't already done so and with their large list of partners it is relatively easy to earn Aeroplan miles. The easiest by far are with credit cards and also free miles offers!

If you want to get started with the program we recommend grabbing the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card as your launch card since it is currently offering a first year annual fee waiver (saving you $120) just to try out the card and you'll get 15,000 Bonus Aeroplan Miles on your first purchase. That's right all you would have to do is spend one dollar on the card and you'll get those 15,000 miles. 15,000 miles are enough for a short haul flight within Canada to neighbouring provinces or to neighbouring states in the U.S.. You can't beat that deal!

But you can also boost your balance faster with some free Aeroplan miles offers. These are the ones we are currently aware of:

Then you can even boost your balance by thousands of more miles by taking advantage of other credit card sign bonuses, all with no first year annual fee. See our post called: Travel Hacking 101 - Earn 98,000+ Aeroplan Miles  for free

Some of other Aeroplan resources on Rewards Canada you'll want to check out are:
TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Review
Which credit card earns the most Aeroplan Miles?

Aeroplan Bonus Miles offers


Cineplex SCENE

Once known as only a movie lovers program with a large membership of students, Cineplex SCENE knew that many of their members were 'growing up' and moving to other programs with more reward options and places to earn. So the mandate a few years ago was for Cineplex to expand the program and they have been doing so. Sure it is still primarily about getting free movies but now instead of just earning on the SCENE Visa and debit cards from Scotia along with going to actual movies, you can now earn SCENE points at place like Sport Chek, Milestone's, Swiss Chalet and numerous other locations. You can also redeem points for cash off purchases at those same places. Watch for the program to further expand over the next while especially now with the AIR MILES fiasco! To start off in this program we recommend grabbing the Scotiabank SCENE Visa card. It comes with a 4,000 point sign up bonus that is good for up to 4 free movies or $40 off at retailers that accept SCENE points. The beauty of this card is that has no annual fee either so you can try it out for free!

Some of other SCENE resources on Rewards Canada you'll want to check out are:
SCENE Bonus Points offers

More Rewards

More Rewards has been around for several years but went through some major renovations earlier this year as parent company Overwaitea Food Group looks to grow its presence in Canada and compete with the the Safeway/Sobeys/Loblaws store that dominate our nation. Still a small coalition program at this time with only 16 partners that you can earn points with (primarily in Western Canada), More Rewards scored a big partner in Petro-Canada earlier this year and the great news is you double dip at Petro-Canada since you can earn Petro-Points and More Rewards points on each purchase. Also earlier in the year they launched a new co-brand credit card with Scotiabank and while the Scotiabank More Rewards Visa does not have a sign up bonus, it is now one of the strongest earning no annual fee cards in Canada providing up to a 2.54% return.

Related: The Scotiabank More Rewards Visa Card is now available! Now the strongest earning no fee travel points card in Canada

Free More Rewards points offers:
Some of other More Rewards resources on Rewards Canada you'll want to check out are:
Scotiabank More Rewards Visa Review
More Rewards Bonus Miles offers

All of these programs provide decent options if you are leaving the AIR MILES program. There is no harm in joining one or all of them. Just make sure you focus on one so that you don't spread yourself to thin on your earning side so that you'll never reach a reward in any program!

Stay tuned for Part 2!

150 Free Aeroplan Miles for setting travel goals

Aeroplan is once again offering some free miles for setting your Aeroplan travel goal. The 'Goal Setter' was launched earlier this year in May and it looks like they may want some more uptake in this feature so they are offering members 150 miles for setting their goal by December 16th.

Offer details
150 Free Aeroplan Miles for setting your Aeroplan Travel Goal. Full details. Until Dec 16, 16

Find a full slate of Aeroplan bonus miles offer here!

Top 5 Credit Card Sign Up offers for December

Here are the Rewards Canada Top 5 Credit Card Sign Up offers for the month of December! This is not a 'best' credit card list like our Top Travel Rewards Credit Card rankings but instead a look at cards that have very good acquisition offers. As always when choosing a card you should always take other factors into account other than the sign up bonus, but when most or all of these cards are first year free, they can and do pay off even when not taking into account insurance packages and other non-reward benefits. In fact all of the cards on this list for December are first year free so you can try them all at no cost, get over $1,000 in rewards and decide later on if the card is right for you. All the while earning the sign up bonus which can be used to subsidize your travels!  Just ensure you drop any cards you don't like before your 1st year anniversary so you don't pay the annual fee for the second year
This month we lose the mbna Rewards World Elite MasterCard since it is no longer first year free! However the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card has its first year free waiver return so that means you can get the card's 15,000 Aeroplan Mile sign up bonus for free!  

So here are our top 5 credit card sign up offers for December (in alphabetical order)

American Express Gold Rewards Card - 25,000 Points (Apply here)
A mainstay offer here on Rewards Canada, the American Express Gold Rewards card has its first year fee of $150 waived and will award you 25,000 Membership Rewards points when you complete $1,500 in spending in the first three months. That 25,000 points is worth a $250 travel credit via Amex's TripFlex feature or can be converted to 25,000 Aeroplan Miles (1 Round trip Economy Award ticket within North America) or 25,000 British Airways Executive Club Avios (as much a 3 one way Economy Award tickets in North America, see this article for details.)

Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Visa - 30,000 Points  (Apply here)
The best no foreign transaction fee card in Canada makes it to this list due to a very strong acquisition offer. I mean who can complain with 30,000 to 50,000 points awarded on approval all at no cost as the card has the annual fee waived in the first year! They also give you a 15 night credit into the mix which automatically provides you with Marriott Rewards Silver Elite status. Please note there is a 50,000 point offer floating around that is specific for Marriott Elite members and some people are reporting that they getting the points while some others are not. YMMV but no matter what you should get at least 30K.

mbna Best Western Rewards MasterCard (Apply here)
Right now there is an offer for 40,000 Bonus Western Rewards points with this card! With no annual fee to boot! We detail the offer in this post that shows just how much value you can pull out of the card with this 40K bonus!

Scotiabank Gold American Express Card - 20,000 Points  (Apply here)
A very strong card in the earn category for Gas, Grocery and Dining/Entertainment purchases, the current sign up bonus for the Scotiabank Gold American Express Card is 20,000 points when you reach $750 in spending in the first three months. That 20,000 points is equal to a $200 travel credit and since this card is a book anywhere card you can book the travel how you want when you want and when the charge shows up on your account you can redeem the points against the charge. The card normally has a $99 annual fee but of course that is waived in the first year if you apply by January 31, 2017!

TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card - 15,000 Miles (Apply here)
Earn 15,000 Bonus Aeroplan Miles and a 100% rebate off your first year annual fee when you apply for and receive the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card. You can earn an additional 5,000 miles if you hold onto the card for a year however you'll then have to pay the annual fee unless you have a TD All Inclusive Banking Plan which means you would get all 20,000 miles at no cost to you!

If you went for all these cards you ultimately could end up with over $1,000 in travel credits and hotel free nights but even if you only take on one or two you are helping your travel budget significantly at no cost other than regular credit card spend

Monday, December 5, 2016

How to get a $5,500+ Business Class flight between Toronto & Rome for less than $3,300!

Air France KLM's Flying Blue is once again offering a bonus on buying their miles less than a month after the last time they did! Usually buying FB miles isn't a great proposition but if you can tie in buying them with one of their discounted promo awards offering up to 50% off award tickets you may just be able to out some value from this promotion.

Offer details:
Up to 50% Bonus Flying Blue Miles when you buy miles online. Full Details  Until Dec 31, 16

  • 2,000 Award Miles – 10% bonus
  • 4,000 to 8,000 Award Miles – 20% bonus
  • 10,000 to 28,000 Award Miles – 30% bonus
  • 30,000+ Award Miles – 50% bonus
During this limited-time offer, you can earn up to a maximum bonus of 50,000 Award Miles! Elite members can buy an unlimited number of Award Miles. For this promotion we have reset the balances for our Ivory members. This means they can buy up to 75,000 Award Miles this month on top of their usual yearly maximum of 75,000.

Here is an example of this buy miles bonus saving you some money:

You can buy 96,000 miles for EUR 1760. Those 96,000 miles will be enough to redeem for a discounted business class award ticket between Toronto and Europe (with a few miles to spare)
Looking at Feb 7-14, 2017 in business class you can get the discounted rate between YYZ & FCO for 93,750 miles and 455.77EUR in taxes and fees. To buy the miles will cost EUR1848 (including 5% GST) and add in the taxes and fees on the award flight of 455.77EURfor a total of 2303.77 EUR. Convert that to C$ and you get C$3,290.97.
To buy the same tickets outright costs C$5,570.11. As you can see buying the miles can provide you a savings of over C$2,200 on these particular flights!

If you don't live in Canada those miles will only cost you 1760EUR saving an additional 88EURor so. And the discount for these Flying Blue tickets is only 25% at this time, sometimes its 50% off so your savings could be even bigger.

Find many more Flying Blue bonus offers here!

United MileagePlus: Up to 100% Bonus when you buy MileagePlus miles

United is once again offering targeted offers for purchasing MileagePlus Miles. If you are lucky you'll get the 100% offer, we weren't as we got only 25%. At that rate we won't buy but if you get 100% then it can definitely be worthwhile to do so!

Offer details:
Up to 100% Bonus MileagePlus Miles when you buy miles online. Bonus varies by member. Full details. Until Dec 19, 16

Find many more MileagePlus Miles bonus offers here!

New TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Offer - Up to 20,000 Aeroplan Miles & First Year Free

On Friday the offer of up to 30,000 Aeroplan Miles and 50% off your first year annual fee for the TD Aeroplan card ended and this morning the new offer launched. In some ways this offer is just a little less attractive but not by much. This time you'll get 15,000 Aeroplan Miles on first purchase (same as the last offer) and then 5,000 more upon keeping your account active for one year. The last offer provided 10,000 for doing that second action but also charged you $60 in the first year of having the card. This time you can get the card for free in the first year. Depending on how you value Aeroplan Miles that difference between saving $60 this time versus getting 5,000 more miles last time is about $15 or so on the side of the miles offer. Still getting 15,000 Aeroplan miles at no cost at all shouldn't be ignored. In this world of miles and points any mile at no cost especially on a card you can churn is a good offer as a churner will drop the card before the first anniversary, foregoing the additional 5,000 miles but saving the $120 that would be charged on that anniversary.

TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card
• Receive a Welcome Bonus of 15,000 Aeroplan Miles with your first Purchase 
• Receive another 5,000 bonus Aeroplan Miles if you keep your Account open, active and in good standing for one year after your Account is opened
• 100% Annual Fee Rebate for the first year (Primary Cardholder only) – that’s $120 in savings!
• Offer Valid until March 5, 2017
• Earn 1.5 miles for every $1 spent on eligible gas, grocery, drugstore and aircanada.com Purchases made with your Card.
• Earn 1 mile for every $1 you spend on all other Purchases on your Card.
• Earn miles twice when you pay with your TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card and present your Aeroplan Membership Card at over 150 Aeroplan partner brands and with 100 online retailers
• Your Aeroplan miles will not expire as long as you are a TD Aeroplan Credit Cardholder
• Enjoy an extensive suite of travel insurances for peace of mind on your next getaway.
Apply online

Friday, December 2, 2016

AIR MILES drops its unpopular expiry policy!

 I'm pretty sure most of you have seen this news that came out late Thursday afternoon! What a ride it has been over the past 9 or so month! After so much backlash, bad press, a class action lawsuit, the potential bill to make expiring points illegal and just a day before a scathing report to come out by CBC Marketplace, AIR MILES has finally succumbed to the pressure and dropped its very unpopular expiry rule (read the press release here). This is great news in that the expiry is gone but it may be a little too late for the company to save face.

This is a win-lose for the consumer. A win in that those who haven't redeemed and get to keep their hard earned miles. A lose for those who have rushed to redeem so that they don't lose their miles and ended up redeeming for something they really did not want. Looking into the crystal ball there may be a change to the class action lawsuit now to cover this 'forced hand' by AIR MILES. There are also those of you have switched over to cash rewards, in our household we went from 100% dream miles to a 50/50 split in September and have already earned over 200 Cash Miles and redeemed twice although I would have preferred to earn and use those as dream miles. AIR MILES is a secondary program for Rewards Canada but still significant since the balance has been growing steadily.

Related: When and why secondary loyalty programs can prove to be valuable)

For AIR MILES, the damage is done. Yes they got a lot of miles off the books with everyone rushing to redeem but they didn't get as many off the books as they had hoped on January 1st, 2017. The majority of customers are not happy. If was to guess I would say 1 in 10 of people we have talked to via email, social media or on the numerous call in radio shows we have been on were happy with the program. The long waits on the phone to reach customer service, the fluctuating reward options that showed better rewards for new members than those who have been active for years, the having to make an appointment to have a travel advisor call you back to book travel and never having them call you back cannot be erased. It will take many years for AIR MILES members to regain confidence in the program if they ever do. Many of you have redeemed and cut up your cards. Switched to other programs, switched to cash back (cash is king) or are done with loyalty programs in general.

In the end we still hope the private members bill in Ontario passes on Monday as it would ensure that this won't happen again in the future, from AIR MILES, Aeroplan or any other program. Technically speaking the passing of the bill will only affect WestJet Rewards, Starbucks Rewards and MyHusky Rewards as those are the only three major programs in Canada left with expiry rules. Remember the bill does not touch inactivity rules, a rule that almost every program in Canada including AIR MILES who will still close your account if you don't accumulate or redeem a single mile within a 24 month period.

Related: Expiry and Inactivity Rules of Canadian Loyalty Programs

Let's hear it people! What are your thoughts? Did you breathe a sigh of relief? Are you fuming as you redeemed miles for something you did not want? Please have your free for all in the comments below!