Friday, January 23, 2015

Enter for a chance to win a pair of Maple Leaf Lounge Passes (Closes on Jan 25)


It's giveaway time again on Rewards Canada! Thanks to our regular contributor Sol Z. we have a pair of Maple Leaf lounge passes to giveaway! These are 2014 passes which means they expire on February 28th, so if you are travelling over the next few weeks be sure to enter on Instagram for a chance to win!

Here is how you enter:
Follow @RewardsCanada on Instagram (http://www.instagram.com/rewardscanada) and like the photo of the passes! Simple as that!


The giveaway closes on Sunday January 25th, 2015 at 11:59pm MST! Limit 1 entry per person Winner will be determined by random draw from all eligible entries received. Void where prohibited.  No purchase necessary. 

ATB Gold My Rewards Travel MasterCard Review

(This post is a duplicate of the one found on our main Rewards Canada site)
 
Since we launched Rewards Canada in 2001 we have always stated that there aren't really any bad credit cards out there as each card is good for certain individuals. However there are cards that we would have considered being at the bottom of the list when comparing cards and the ATB Gold My Rewards Travel MasterCard used to be one of them. Not the worst card but not far from taking that title. That was when the card had an annual fee but the card was revamped in the Fall of 2014 and now ATB touts it as the "Best no-fee coverage travel card". So with that statement we decided to give this 'small' issuing bank card the Rewards Canada review treatment!

Overview

The only for Alberta residents ATB Gold My Rewards Travel MasterCard is the only travel rewards card from Alberta Treasury Branch portfolio of cards that also includes Cashback and MyHusky rewards cards. It used to be a weak card when compared to others in Canada but with its recent especially since it had an $89 annual fee and lackluster rewards and insurance. Now that has changed and the card provides a decent no fee option for those living in Alberta.

Sign up Features
The ATB Gold My Rewards Travel MasterCard does not have a sign bonus when you apply for the card although in the past in was known for having the largest sign up bonus on a credit card in Canada*. In place of a points based sign up bonus they are however providing a 0% interest rate on balance transfers to the card for the first six months.

* Related: ATB Gold My Rewards Travel MasterCard 100,000 Point Sign Up Bonus - Classic case of "Remember people it's all about the EARN and the BURN"

Costs
The ATB Gold My Rewards Travel MasterCard has no annual fee for the primary or secondary cards. The interest rate on the card is19.9% which is in line with most of the cards at this level.

Earning
The ATB Gold My Rewards Travel MasterCard has a simple earning structure of 10 points per dollar spent on all eligible purchases made with the card.
One thing to note with this card is that they round down earnings on non-whole dollar purchases. For example if a purchase is $47.79 you'll earn 470 points.
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Redeeming
The ATB Gold My Rewards Travel MasterCard redemption process is like many other cards that have proprietary rewards programs. The card allows for various travel redemptions made via the atbmyrewards.com contracted travel agency or via their website where you can redeem for hotel gift certificates (Fairmont, Delta, Brewsters), VIA Rail Gift Cards, itravel2000.com gift cards and several other travel experience options. There are also other non-travel redemptions available. This card falls into the book any travel anywhere sub-category of Travel Points cards which means you don't have to redeem via ATB MY Rewards. All you have to do is book your travel whether it be aircanada.com, westjet.com, expedia.com or anywhere else including your trusted travel agent and when that charge shows up on your statement you simply call up ATB My Rewards or go online and redeem points against the charge.

With this card you'll want to go with the first option of booking via their travel agency or the latter option of redeeming for any travel as that will get you the best return on your spending. Points are redeemed at a rate of 1000 points for a $1 statement credit towards that travel charge. This means you receive a 1% return on your spending which for a no fee card is standard and equivalent to most of this card's competitors. Both the travel agency and self booking options have a minimum redemption of 50,000 points for $50 off your travel. That is the beauty of this card and many like it, you don't have to have the full amount of points to begin to enjoy the rewards! If you buy an airline ticket for $600 and have 30,000 points you can choose to redeem those points for a $300 credit which means your flight only cost $300. Another benefit of this' book travel on your own' is you can be on vacation and buy travel on the card (say a rail ticket) and then redeem points when you get home. It can't be done with cards that don't have this feature such as the BMO Rewards World Elite MasterCard or CIBC Aventura Visa since you need to redeem the points ahead of time. Essentially the ATB Gold My Rewards Travel MasterCard falls into the category of most flexible travel rewards cards.


The other travel redemptions on their website are gift cards and gift certificates for several Canadian hotel operators, VIA Rail and itravel2000.com. These options do not provide the 1% return that you would get for redeeming for travel directly. Most of these options run 130,000 for a $100 Gift Card or Certificate. That equates to roughly a 0.77% return on your spending. The question is, unless you need to give a gift certificate as a gift why would you redeem for one of these? If you have a stay planned at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise you are better off booking it through ATB's agency or yourself and redeeming 130,000 points for a $130 credit rather than the $100 gift card.

Features and Benefits

The ATB Gold My Rewards Travel MasterCard comes with a really decent insurance and benefits suite for a no fee card. On the insurance side the card comes with wide range of coverage as including travel accident insurance, flight delay, baggage delay insurance, car rental CDW coverage, purchase protection and extended warranty. Save for about three other cards most no fee travel rewards cards do not include insurance coverage like this card does.

The card also offers one other benefit that we typically don't see on a credit card but rather from vacation packagers: a weather guarantee! Called WeatherGuard, it offers up to a $300 discount towards future travel if precipitation is more than 0.5 inches in a 24-hour period on at least half of the total number of days on your affected trip. Trip must be a minimum of 4 days/3 nights within Canada, the United States, or Caribbean. You then have two years after you return from the affected vacation to apply the discount towards another vacation.


What is good about this card
The insurance package that comes with the ATB Gold My Rewards Travel MasterCard is strong for a no fee rewards card and is the best thing about it.

Also the fact that you can book travel on your own and then redeem points against the charge on your account is great as it provides the utmost in flexibility when it comes to travel rewards.

The WeatherGuard benefit is another good point to the card, while it seems like a great benefit, the longer your trip the less likely it will work out that you would be able to claim this benefit. However since it does work for trips in Canada or to the U.S. and you fly to a location that is known for rain, say Vancouver, Victoria or Seattle for four days, you won't be sad if it rains as chances are you'll be prepared for it and there is a possibility you could qualify for this credit!

What is not so good about this card
The 1% return on the card, while standard for the majority of no fee travel rewards cards is lower than at least three other cards who provide 1.25% or a blend of 1 and 2% back makes the card a little weak in the earning department.

No sign up bonus, many no fee cards don't carry a bonus but this card's major competitors do.

The foreign transaction fee on this card is the highest in Canada. The majority of cards charge 2.5%, some are 0% and 2% while this card is 2.9%. If you travel out of Canada a lot that 0.4% could really add up to a lot of extra fees.

The fact that this card is only available to Albertans makes it not good at all for the remainder of Canada!
Conclusion
For point and mile gamers in Alberta the ATB Gold My Rewards Travel MasterCard won't even be on the radar. No sign up bonus, no ties to other loyalty programs and a mediocre return. However for those who aren't chasing down every mile and point but like to vacation once or twice a year this card could actually make sense. One percent return isn't huge but the fact that you can book travel how you want and when you want is a nice bonus and makes it much easier to redeem for travel rewards than programs like Aeroplan and AIR MILES. This is especially true if you don't earn a lot of miles in those two other programs from other methods. If you are happy with a few hundred dollars discount each time you take a vacation, these type of cards totally make sense. For others in Alberta the card may be attractive as secondary or tertiary card especially if you bank at ATB for convenience sake however if you don't bank at ATB you are probably better off with one of the no-fee travel rewards cards that offer 1.25% as one would assume that your primary credit card carries all the necessary insurances and benefits for your travels.

If your travel rewards goals is flying like VIPs in first or business class this card is not for you. There are much better options out there that will get you those premium seats much faster and at a better return than this card would.

What about the claim of being "Best no-fee coverage travel card". You'll notice then leave 'rewards' out as they know other no-fee travel rewards offer higher returns but the claim about coverage? The only coverage they have on this card that other no fee cards have is Flight Delay insurance but other cards in the no fee category have other insurances like Trip Interruption and Price Protection which this card does not have. It also has that WeatherGuard guarantee but we here don't feel that is a game changer as the majority of trips taken by cardholders will not qualify. That is why you see travel providers like itravel2000.com offering this type of benefit as well as the pay out for them is very little. So in our minds it is not the Best no-fee coverage travel card but its not bad either. If this card was available across Canada it would definitely make it into our Top 5 Travel Points Credit Cards (with no annual fee) in our annual rankings.

Care to comment? Do you agree or disagree with us? Tell us what you think about the ATB Gold My Rewards Travel MasterCard in the comments section below.


Related Links:
ATB Gold My Rewards Travel MasterCard on atb.com
Rewards Canada's All Travel Rewards Credit Card Comparison including the ATB Gold My Rewards Travel MasterCard
Rewards Canada's Travel Points Only Credit Card Comparison including the ATB Gold My Rewards Travel MasterCard

Other cards to consider if you are looking at this card:
American Express Air Miles Credit Card
American Express Blue Sky Credit Card
BMO Air Miles MasterCard
Capital One® Aspire Travel™ Platinum MasterCard®
CAA Rewards MasterCard

Jan 23 Update: Porter to launch Charleston SC service, KLM Pack&Go Sale, 15 new bonuses

Final update of a relatively quiet week:

News, Tips & Tricks
Porter Airlines will be launching seasonal service between Toronto City Airport and Charleston, South Carolina. The service will operate only on Saturdays between February 14 and May 2. (Source Airlineroute.net)

Travel Deals
Another KLM Pack&Go sale for you! Fly from Toronto to Amsterdam for $899 all in! Find out more here.



Bonus Offers

Air China Phoenix Miles
- Earn up to Triple Phoenix Miles Kilometers on all stays at participating Hilton Hotels in Greater China. More... Until Mar 31, 15

China Eastern Eastern Miles
- Earn up to Triple Eastern Miles Points on all stays at participating Hilton Hotels in Greater China. More... Until Mar 31, 15

Hainan Airlines Fortune Wings
- Earn up to Triple Fortune Wings Miles on all stays at participating Hilton Hotels in Greater China. More... Until Mar 31, 15

Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles (on FrequentFlyerBonuses.com only)
- 3,000 Bonus HawaiianMiles for stays of 4 or more nights at The Turtle Bay Resort. More... Apr 1 - Jun 30, 15

Le Club accorhotels
- Double Le Club Accorhotels Points for stays at participating Accor Hotels in South America. More... Book by Jan 31 for stays until Feb 28, 15
- Double Le Club Accorhotels Points for stays at Accor Hotels in France. More... Until Mar 8, 15
- Double Le Club Accorhotels Points for stays at select MGallery Hotels in the France. More... Until Mar 8, 15

Stash Hotel Rewards
- Triple Stash Rewards Points for stays at The Riviera Palm Springs. More... Book by Feb 28 for stays until May 31, 15
- Triple Stash Rewards Points for stays at the Wilshire Grand Hotel West Orange. More... Until Feb 28, 15
- Triple Stash Rewards Points for stays at The Whitney Peak Hotel Reno. More... Until Mar 27, 15
- Double Stash Rewards Points for stays at The Strand Hotel New York. More... Until Mar 15, 15
- Triple Stash Rewards Points for stays at the The Resort at Port Ludlow. More... Until May 20, 15
- Triple Stash Rewards Points for stays of 2+ nights at the Ambassador Hotel Milwaukee. More... Until May 31, 15

Virgin America Elevate (on FrequentFlyerBonuses.com only)
- Double Elevate Points between San Francisco (SFO) or Los Angeles (LAX) and Austin (AUS), Boston (BOS), Cancun (CUN), Chicago (ORD), Dallas (DAL), Fort Lauderdale (FLL), Los Cabos (SJD), New York City (JFK), Newark (EWR), Orlando (MCO), Puerto Vallarta (PVR), Seattle (SEA), or Washington, DC (DCA / IAD). More... Until Mar 31, 15
- 35% Bonus Elevate Points when you transfer American Express Membership Rewards points into Elevate points. More... Until Feb 15, 15







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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Jan 22 Update: WestJet 24 hour sale, Up to 1,000 Bonus Aeroplan Miles for Avis rentals, Double AAdvantage Miles to Asia

Another relatively quiet day....

News, Tips & Tricks
No news today so here is a recap of posts on the Rewards Canada blog since our last update:

 
Travel Deals
WestJet has a 24hr seat sale for flights in Canada, to the U.S, Mexico and Caribbean. Book by 11:59pm MT tonight Find out more here.

Bonus Offers

Air Canada / Aeroplan
- Earn up to 1,000 Bonus Aeroplan Miles on rentals of 3+ days during the week or 2+ days on the weekend for Intermediate (Group C) and above vehicles at participating Avis locations in Canada and the U.S. More... Until Apr 30, 15 



American AAdvantage
- Double AAdvantage miles when you fly American or Japan Airlines between Dallas/Fort Worth, Chicago O'Hare, Los Angeles,  San Diego, New York, Boston, or Vancouver and Tokyo Narita; or between San Francisco and Tokyo Haneda; or between Dallas/Fort Worth and Seoul or Hong Kong. More... Until Mar 20, 15
- Double AAdvantage miles when you fly  Japan Airlines between Tokyo Narita and Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Dalian, Jakarta, Hanoi, Singapore, Delhi; from Tokyo Haneda to Singapore or Beijing More... Until Mar 20, 15
- 30 Bonus AAdvantage Miles for every dollar you spend with 1-800-Flowers.com. More... Until Feb 15, 15

Carlson Hotels Club Carlson
- 10,000 Bonus Gold Points when you book the Mega Points rate at participating Radisson Hotels in North and South America. More... Until Dec 31, 15
- 2,000 Bonus Gold Points for stays on the Bed and Breakfast package at participating Radisson Hotels in North and South America. More... Until Dec 31, 15

SAS EuroBonus
- Receive up to a 25% Discount when you purchase EuroBonus points online. More... Until Jan 31, 15



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NOW LIVE Rocketmiles 24 Hour Flash Bonus: Double Miles/Points with all partners including Aeroplan for 1st time bookers


Rocketmiles has decided to celebrate their tremendous growth and success with a new 24 hour flash sale! The offer is simple, if you have never booked with Rocketmiles you can earn Double Miles/Points with any Rocketmiles partner airline including Aeroplan. if you book during this 24 hour flash sale. The sale runs from 8:00am CT today to 7:59am CT on January 23. The bonus can only be earned once per member who has not booked with Rocketmiles before and will awarded a maximum of 30,000 Miles (or 3,000 Norwegian CashPoints) on that stay. The T&C's don't stipulate when the stay has to be completed by but for safety sake I would have your stay done by the end of this year.

If you choose to credit your Rocketmiles stays to Aeroplan you'll be happy to know that the miles are Distinction eligible.

Offer Details
Earn Double Miles or Points in the Rocketmiles partner program of your choice when you make your first booking. Stay must be booked via the special promotion page at www.rocketmiles.com/doublemiles/. The bonus can only be earned once per member.

Complete Rocketmiles partner list:

Earn Double American AAdvantage Miles when flying Japan Airlines between Vancouver and Asia

American Airlines launched these two new AAdvantage flight promotions yesterday to encourage travel between North America and Asia on AA and/or JAL as well as on JAL flights out of to Tokyo to select locales in Asia. For those of you in the Vancouver area this could be a promotion you look at if you are flying to Asia since JAL's Vancouver-Tokyo flight is included in the promotion. Of course for the rest of us not in Vancouver it doesn't stop us from connecting in Vancouver or any one of the many U.S. gateways that are also part of this promotion. With the promotion you can earn the Double Miles on most fare classes except for the lowest discounted economy classes.

Offer Details
Double AAdvantage miles when you fly American or Japan Airlines between Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) Chicago O'Hare (ORD) Los Angeles (LAX)  San Diego (SAN) New York (JFK) Boston (BOS) or Vancouver (YVR) and Tokyo Narita (NRT) ; or between San Francisco (SFO) and Tokyo Haneda (HND) ; or between Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) and Seoul, South Korea (ICN); or Hong Kong (HKG) Register Online (Registration is required) Until Mar 20, 15 

Offer DetailsDouble AAdvantage miles when you fly  Japan Airlines between Tokyo Narita (NRT) and Shanghai (PVG) or Beijing (PEK) or Guangzhou (CAN)Dalian (DLC)  Jakarta (CGK)  Hanoi (HAN) or Singapore (SIN)  Delhi (DEL); from Tokyo Haneda (HND) to Singapore (SIN) or  Beijing (PEK) Register Online (Registration is required) Until Mar 20, 15 

Visit our AAdvantage Bonus Miles listing for dozens of more bonus mile offers to boost your account!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Earning Stories: 540 AIR MILES Rewards Miles for buying Gift Cards at Safeway

Welcome to the next post in the Earning Stories series right here on Rewards Canada. For years we have provided you with the details on earning points and miles (both regular earning and bonus opportunities) and these stories show the actual offers in action.

Screenshot from Rewards Canada's Instagram account on Nov 27
Back in November and December we shared with you two great AIR MILES Reward Miles earning offers from Safeway. Actually there were more than two great offers from Safeway during the holiday but the two in question here are these posts about the bonus miles for buying gift cards at Safeway.

Nov 21: Huge Air Miles Bonuses for Gift Card Purchases at Safeway - 1.1 Reward Miles per $1 spent Nov 21-27

Dec 29: Huge Air Miles Bonuses for Gift Card Purchases at Safeway - 1.4 Reward Miles per $1 spent (until Jan 1, 15)

Anytime bonuses come up for gift cards you should really consider jumping on the offer if retailers you regularly shop at are included (sometimes Safeway has offers on any gift cards except their own). Don't go out of your way to get them if you won't use it (or gift it!)

In the case of these two sets of offers I found retailers that we use so I went ahead and printed the coupons so I could earn the bonuses. Two simple trips to Safeway, first one I was driving by and had the coupons on me so I stopped quickly and grabbed these six cards. Each with 55 AIR MILES Rewards Miles bonus. Total time spent was less than 5 minutes!

The second time, I had to grab a couple of small items at Safeway on our way to a New Year lunch and printed off coupons for the places I knew I would be using soon. Total time spent was only about 10 minutes

For about 15 minutes of my time I earned 540 AIR MILES Rewards Miles or more than a third of the miles required for a short haul flight. On top of that I put all these purchases on my American Express Gold Rewards Card which earns 2 points per dollar on Grocery Store purchases which means I received 900 Membership Rewards Points (equates to 900 Aeroplan Miles or British Airways Avios) for buying these gift cards. Had I not bought the gift cards and chose to use my Gold Rewards Card at any of the above retailers I would only earn 1 Membership Reward point per dollar. (This is that one trick we always talk about around holiday shopping season that can be applied anytime of the year! Buy gift cards at category bonus merchants for retailers that don't offer your credit card a category bonus)

Tips for Shopping Bonuses
- When taking advantage of shopping bonuses that are not gift card related make sure you do some price checking first, you don't want to be spending more on a product than you could be elsewhere (the bonus would have to really be worthwhile!)
- Always check the flyer at the front entrance of grocery stores. More often then not they have bonus offer coupons for hitting a certain spend level.
- Use a credit or charge card that offers category bonuses when shopping at Grocery Stores, Drug Store, Restaurants etc. and don't forgot to swipe your other loyalty cards if the retailer participates in programs like Aeroplan, Air Miles, SCENE, etc. 

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Have your earning story featured!
Not only are Rewards Canada Earning Stories featured in this series, we want to feature your stories as well! Have you earned a lot of points or miles by utilizing offers posted on Rewards Canada? We would love to hear about them and potentially feature them here on Rewards Canada. Tell us your earning story by emailing us the details of what you earned, screenshots if possible of those points/miles posting and what offer on Rewards Canada you took advantage of. Email it to us info@rewardscanada.ca


Jan 21 Update: Kaligo added to Rewards Canada, Hyatt award changes kick in tomorrow, KLM Africa seat sale

Here is the mid-week round up for you!

News, Tips & Tricks
A new bonus offer page has been added to the main Rewards Canada site! The page is for Kaligo, the newest third party hotel booking site that awards miles on bookings. Similar to PointsHound and Rocketmiles, Kaligo launched last Fall and has been covered here on the RC blog and their partner pages since then. Now that they have added more partners (such as United MileagePlus) and have a decent amount of offers running we knew it was time for them to get their own page listing those offers. You can find the page at http://www.rewardscanada.ca/kaligo.html


Just a reminder that the Hyatt Gold Passport Award night changes we brought you back in early December. will kick in tomorrow. If you are planning any award nights at Hyatt Regency Toronto you should book them today before the hotel goes up a category but if you are planning any award stays at the Hyatt Regency Montreal you should wait until tomorrow as the hotel will be moving down a category. See here for the complete list of hotel changes.

The latest WestJet schedule update shows them cancelling their summer seasonal Vancouver to Chicago route. If you are booked on this they should provide you with alternate routings or a full refund. They are also reducing flights between Vancouver and LAX to 14 flights per week from 19. (Source: Airlineroute.net)

Travel Deals
KLM has launched a seat sale for travel between Canada and Africa. Flights start as low as $875 with all taxes and fees included. Book by Feb 5 for travel until May 6. Find out more here.


Bonus Offers

American AAdvantage
- Earn up to 10,000 Bonus AAdvantage Miles when you book hotels via Kaligo. More... Book by Feb 28 for stays until Dec 31, 15

Bangkok Airways FlyerBonus (on FrequentFlyerBonuses.com only)
- Earn up to 6x FlyerBonus Points for stays at the Springfield @ Sea Resort & Spa or Springfield Village, Golf & Spa. More... Book by Feb 28 for stays until Mar 31, 15
- Earn up to 5x FlyerBonus Points on Hertz car rentals in Thailand. More... Until Mar 31, 15

Czech Airlines OK Plus
- Double OK Plus Miles when you fly Czech Airlines between Prague and Bilbao or Cork. More... Register and book by Jul 31 for travel May 14 - Aug 31, 15
- Triple OK Plus Miles for stays of 2 or more nights at over 160 participating World Hotels Worldwide. More... Until Dec 31, 15

Japan Airlines Mileage Bank
- Double Mileage Bank Miles on all eligible Bangkok Airways flights systemwide. More... Feb 1 - Apr 23, 15

Shangri-La Golden Circle
- Double GC Award Points for stays at the new Shangri-La Hotel, Nanchang. More... Feb 8 - Jul 31, 15

Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles
- Earn up to Quadruple Miles&Smiles Miles for stays at Shangri-La Hotels Worldwide. More... Full details Until Feb 28, 15

United MileagePlus
- Earn up to 10,000 Bonus MileagePlus Miles when you book hotels via Kaligo. More...Book by Feb 28 for stays until Dec 31, 15
- 7,500 Bonus MileagePlus miles when you book a Mexico vacation and travel before June. More... Book by Jan 29, 15

Virgin Australia Velocity Rewards (on FrequentFlyerBonuses.com only)
- Earn up to Triple Velocity Points when you fly Virgin Australia to or from Abu Dhabi and any eligible Etihad Airways operated flights with an EY flight number. More... Register by Feb 1 for travel Feb 9 - May 31, 15



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