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New increased welcome bonus of 3,000 miles on the American Express® AIR MILES®* Platinum Credit Card

  During the first six or so months of the pandemic American Express shifted their focus to enhancing card offers and encouraging spending f...

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Governments of Canada and Alberta to run COVID-19 rapid testing program at Calgary International Airport & Coutts land border crossing

The Government of Canada and the Government of Alberta announced a new 26 week pilot project for rapid COVID-19 testing at Calgary International Airport:

“YYC Calgary International Airport is proud to be the first and only airport in Canada to have a government-approved testing pilot for arriving international passengers—which we hope will lead to reducing and one day eliminating the current 14-day self-isolation requirements. This innovative testing is the lifeline our airport and airline partners need to instill confidence in air travel,” said Bob Sartor, President & CEO, The Calgary Airport Authority. (Source Calgary Airport Authority)

The project will start on November 2nd for residents of Alberta and eligible international travellers arriving into Calgary on a non-stop flight. Results should be available within two days which could shorten those arriving passengers quarantine period from 14 days to 2 days. 

After taking the rapid test, guests must:

  • stay within Alberta after their arrival
  • enter quarantine until test results are delivered in as little as 2 days
    • If the results are negative, guests are no longer required to stay at home. If results are positive, the 14-day quarantine is still required.
  • commit to submitting a second test after 6-7 days for validation and data collection
  • provide daily check-ins
  • avoid large events and senior care facilities
  • wear a mask in public

**This pilot project may be restricted or broadened at any point as the Governments of Canada and Alberta evaluate through the trial.

Guests who do not participate in the pilot must adhere to the 14 day quarantine. (Source WestJet)

This is such welcome news for the travel industry! It is that much needed boost and first step the industry requires to bounce back from the pandemic. I would assume that it may be expanded to other airports in short order after seeing how it goes in Calgary. Calgary's probably a good choice as there aren't very many passengers arriving each day from the U.S. or internationally compared to Vancouver, Toronto or Montreal. Once they get the hang of things here and show success I would think it will be quickly expanded to those other airports. Should it be successful I think many more Canadians would look at travelling outside of Canada knowing that they could potentially only quarantine for two days versus 14 days. It's that latter amount that people just can't afford to do, especially those who can't work from home. Right now if you want to take a one week vacation out of Canada you pretty much have to plan on three weeks of time off due to that quarantine period.

FYI the program is also being introduced the Coutts land border crossing on the Alberta-Montana border.

WestJet expands refund policy - more tickets are now eligible for full refunds including domestic flights (leads to a Twitter fight with Air Canada!)

The events of yesterday afternoon and evening played out quite interestingly for the airline industry in Canada, namely on Twitter. Around 3:30pm MT WestJet came out with a news release stating they were the "first national carrier in Canada to voluntarily provide refunds to original form of payment" to which that statement was quickly challenged by Air Canada and then just as quickly rebutted by WestJet:


Wednesday, October 21, 2020

An introduction to Neo Financial - one of Canada's newest credit card and savings reward programs

 About a year and a half ago one of the founders of SkipTheDishes reached out to me to discuss rewards programs and credit cards in Canada as he and other founders were getting ready for their next venture utilizing some of the funds they earned from selling the big food delivery service. That venture would be a new rewards program for Canadians. Fall of 2019 saw me meet with one of them again to further discuss the market and their planned intentions. In our discussions they wanted to create something new and exciting by taking what was good from most other programs, add their own twist to it and in the end they created Neo Financial. 

Neo Financial is based in Calgary and in their short lifespan so far are already employing over 100 people at their office located just on the outskirts of downtown YYC. Their initial product plan was a rewards credit card but that has quickly expanded to include other financial products like savings accounts. Neo  partnered with ATB (Alberta Treasury Branch) to be the issuer of their Mastercard and have Concentra Bank being the supplier of Neo's savings account.

October 21 Update: 50% discount on award nights at the Shangri-La Toronto and Save up to 25% on last minute stays at 50+ Marriott Hotels in Canada

In the bonus offers section below you'll note a new redemption offer from Shangri-La Hotels that provides a 50% discount when you redeem point for free nights at the majority of thier hotels worldwide. Since travel is so limited right now those of you with GC Award Points (Golden Circle Award Points) who are interested in getting in on this offer have to look within our borders to use them and you would think that would leave you with two locations right? Wrong. Unfortunately the Shangri-La Vancouver is one of the locations excluded from the deal however the Shangri-La Toronto is part of it so that's your one choice unless of course you are travelling outside our borders then you have a few more options. Learn more about the promotion here.

Image via Shangri-La Hotels


The next set of Marriott Bonvoy Escapes are out. These are their last minute offers that have to be booked by this Sunday for stays over the next four weekends. This week sees 56 properties in Canada participating by offering at least 25% off. Find out more here.

Here are the rates at the JW Marriott Edmonton ICE District for this weekend. The $227 room rate is discounted to $179 with the Escapes offer:

 Images via Marriott


Air Canada will fly their all business class AC Jetz aircraft to select winter destinations


Air Canada announced today that they will be deploying their fleet of all business class AC Jetz charter aircraft on popular routes for the Christmas season. You'll be to purchases tickets or redeem Aeroplan miles to fly on these planes that feature 58 business class seats on routes like Montreal to Barbados, Toronto to Cancun and Vancouver to Phoenix.

 The aircraft, which features a cabin of 58 business class seats, will be departing from prime locations, minimizing walking time in the airport, and begin boarding only 35 minutes before departure. Enjoy an exclusive travel experience with a spacious cabin configuration that offers more comfort and less waiting time when boarding and deplaning, as well as Chef Park’s menu and a wine selection curated by Véronique Rivest.

Customers will be able to book their Jetz flight beginning October 21, 2020 for travel during the Christmas period between December 12, 2020 and January 6, 2021, with a second schedule for March Break flights currently under development. Customers should consult aircanada.com/acjetz for schedule details, including operating days
The routes that will feature these planes are as follows:

New increased welcome bonus of 3,000 miles on the American Express® AIR MILES®* Platinum Credit Card


During the first six or so months of the pandemic American Express shifted their focus to enhancing card offers and encouraging spending for existing cardmembers. Those offers were extended to almost all of American Express' cards except for one part of their portfolio, the AIR MILES co-brand partnership. Their AIR MILES cards seemed to be forgotten during this time as Amex supported their Membership Rewards Cards, the Marriott Bonvoy cards and their small business card portfolio save for AIR MILES. But now as the economy is slowly recovering American Express has moved dollars back to acquiring new customers including see some love for the AIR MILES side of things! 

Update: Amex reached out to me to let me know that there were various initiatives Amex offered on their AIR MILES Card portfolio during the pandemic which included wireless credits for select Consumer and Business Cardmembers along with extensions to the companion flight and annual travel benefits. Terms and conditions apply.

They also let me know that select Cardmembers will be seeing additional offers In the near future.


As of today there is a new increased welcome bonus offer for the American Express AIR MILES Platinum Credit Card.

Here are the exact details wording of the new offer:

New American Express® AIR MILES®* Platinum Credit Card Cardmembers, earn a Welcome Bonus of 3,000 AIR MILES®* Bonus Miles when you charge a total of $1,500 in purchases to your Card within your first three months of Cardmembership. That’s enough to redeem for $310 towards your purchases with AIR MILES®* Cash

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

30% bonus when you buy World of Hyatt points until November 24

Hyatt has released another buy points bonus!  This bonus is the same 30% offer we saw in June and with the bonus you would be buying points for US$ 1.85 cents each. There is potential value in buying these points for select Hyatt stays around the globe as you can easily get more value than that per point on the right redemptions.

Offer details:
30% Bonus World of Hyatt Points when you buy 5,000 or more points. Buy points here. Until Nov 24, 20

Here are some other World of Hyatt offers to check out:

  • Triple World of Hyattt Points on all Hyatt stays Worldwide starting right with your first stay. World of Hyatt credit cardholders will earn quadruple points on eligible spend at over 350 Hyatt Resort locations. Plus earn one Tier-Qualifying Night credit toward elite status the year in which they earn it and they will receive one bonus Tier-Qualifying Night credit toward elite status in 2021. Full details, online registration & booking
  • 15% World of Hyatt points rebate when you redeem for award nights or points+cash stays or when using points for hotels incidentals like room upgrades or spa services. Register Online (Registration is required)
  • Receive one night free for every night your redeem points for stays at Miraval Resort & Spas. Full details
  • Find our complete list of Hyatt offers here.

October 20 Update: Targeted Delta SkyMiles Medallion status match offer, Family Fry Guy in YYC codes as 5x points with the Cobalt Card & hotel occupancy rates continue to drop


Delta SkyMiles has brought out a new targeted status match promotion that goes one step further than their ongoing status match offer we have all become accustomed to. This new offer requires registration by the end of this month and is one step further in that SkyMiles will give one tier higher in their Medallion program than the status you have with Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, jetBlue, Southwest Airlines or United Airlines. That is, silver gets gold, gold gets platinum (as a basic example). Now this offer is targeted so you should keep an eye out from an email from Delta SkyMiles telling you that you are eligible. If you didn't get the email you can give it a go via this link but there are no guarantees it will work out. If you are successful in your match you'll get that one tier higher status until March 31, 2021 and can extend it by meeting a set number of qualifying flights ( If you receive Gold Medallion® Status: Fly 2 Qualifying Round Trips or 4 One Ways; If you receive Platinum Medallion® Status: Fly 4 Qualifying Round Trips or 8 One Ways; If you receive Diamond Medallion® Status: Fly 6 Qualifying Round Trips or 12 One Ways). If you don't have status with one of the above airlines but do with Air Canada check out our post: A reminder that you can match your Air Canada Altitude Status to Delta SkyMiles Medallion Status


Images via Delta


We added one more merchant to our American Express Cobalt Card Confirmed Multiplier Locations feature. This one was my own purchase and it was from The Family Fry Guy which is a food truck here in YYC. The transaction coded as a 5x multiplier on my Cobalt Card. Let us know your success with this card with other food trucks from around Canada!  See the Confirmed Multiplier Locations feature here.

Image via The Family Fry Guy

And the decline of hotel occupancy rates in Canada continues - only 32.2% for October 4 to 10. (Source HNN)

"Occupancy for previous weeks came in at 34.0% (3 October), 35.6% (26 September), and 37.0% (19 September), respectively."

Airline Schedule Updates
A summary Canadian operations based on data from RoutesOnline and other sources. Remember that many of these route plans are subject to change and right now they are changing frequently!

Lufthansa will be keeping once a day service between Toronto and Frankfurt for the winter season but will be reducing Vancouver to Frankfurt flights to 5x per week from 7x during this same time period. (Source RoutesOnline)

Panama's Copa Airlines resumed service between Toronto and Panama City last week. The airline is flying the route three times weekly. (Source RoutesOnline)

Remember to visit and bookmark our COVID-19 resource page where we are keeping you up to date with all the latest airline, hotel, lounges and loyalty program news, policies, closures and more.


Posts since our last update:


Earn $300 cash when you open a new Scotiabank Ultimate Package! Plus earn Scotia Rewards or SCENE Rewards points. Find out more here.

Fairmont's Stay Close offer of every 2nd night free returns with a vengeance and you can earn triple ALL Accor Live Limitless points on those stays

If you aren't using the Ampli Cash Back app yet you can get $5 when you download the app and join today with promo code AMPLI5 Find out more here

SkipTheDishes - Sign up with this link to get $5 off your first order over $15. Find out more here

WealthSimple Trade:  Receive $5 when you deposit and trade at least $100 worth of stock with WealthSimple Trade. Find out more here (We will also receive $5 when you receive $5)

Rewards Canada receives a small commission when you use any of the above offers. You don't have to chose to use our links but we thank you in advance if you do.

Canadian Bonus Offers


Other Bonus Offers

Delta SkyMiles
- Receive Complimentary Medallion Status if you have status on Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, jetBlue, Southwest Airlines or United Airlines. More... Register by Oct 31, 20

Hyatt World of Hyatt
- 30% Bonus World of Hyatt Points when you buy 5,000 or more points. More... Until Nov 24, 20

IHG Rewards Club
- Book Reward Nights starting as low as 30K points at The Venetian Resort Las Vegas. More... Until Dec 15, 20 

Millennium Hotels My Millennium
- Double Millennium Points + an extra 10% off for every stay when you book direct at any participating Millennium hotels Worldwide. More... Book by Nov 30 for stays until Dec 31, 20

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