Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Great new RBC Visa Infinite Avion sign up offer! 25,000 bonus points and first year free!

http://www.rbcroyalbank.com/credit-cards/camp/iav/1802/?ASC=3C6002&utm_source=RewardsCanada&utm_medium=3PB&utm_campaign=cards_aggregator

The RBC Visa Infinite Avion card - long ranked as a really good card here on Rewards Canada but never at the top must be feeling the heat from the ever increasing competition as they have come out with this new offer! This is one of the best offers for this card in a while! Even though the previous offer was 30,000 points there was no first year free and the bonus was split between year 1 and year 2. This offer is 25,000 points on approval (awarded on the first statement) and first year free which we feel is a much better!  Those 25,000 points equate to 25,000 British Airways Avios at no cost! Or 250 WestJet dollars at no cost and that doesn't even take into account the transfer bonuses they run occasionally throughout the year. And remember BA has household accounts so you and your spouse could each get the card then convert to BA and combine the Avios into one account for 50,000 or more Avios. There are just so many options here....

If you have been tossing around the idea of getting this card and haven't really been sure now is the time as it will cost you nothing and score you some decent rewards!



RBC Visa Infinite Avion

  •  Start Avioning Today! Get 25,000 Welcome Points upon approval† +  1st year annual fee waived† - savings of $120.
  • Earn 25% more RBC Rewards points on travel related purchases1 
  • Book flights, hotel stays, cruises, vacation packages, car rentals with RBC Rewards site, powered by Orbitz
  • Transfer your RBC Rewards points towards other eligible loyalty programs (WestJet Rewards, British Airways Executive Club, American AAdvantage, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles. Look for the transfer bonuses to the airlines several times per year!)
  • Premium suite of insurances including trip cancellation3, trip interruption3, travel medical4, car rental insurance5
  • Redeem your points toward your credit card balance using Payback with Points2
  • Instantly save 3₵ per litre on fuel▲ & earn 20% more Petro-Points§ and RBC Rewards points** when you link your Petro-Points card to any RBC Card online.
  • Up to a 2.3% return on your spending depending on which reward ticket you book
  • Unwritten ability to redeem for Business Class tickets although at a lower rate of return when compared to the Avion Reward chart
Apply Now

February 20 Update: Increased fee and benefits on the Business Platinum Card® from American Express® and Carlson Rezidor Hotels to rebrand to Radisson Hotel Group

First update in what seems like ages! Rewards Canada is back from vacation and it's time to play catch up! Lots of you have emailed or asked us questions via blog comments and we'll get to them as soon as we can!


The Business Platinum Card® from American Express® underwent some slight changes. First off it has become more expensive at $499 per year now but to offset that $100 increase American Express has upgraded the Priority Pass offered on th card to not only have the waiver of the US$99 annual fee on that membership but also provide free entrance to the lounges for the cardholder and one guest. That's up to a US$54 value each time you travel. Find out more about The Business Platinum Card® from American Express®

On March 5, Carlson Rezidor Hotels will change their name to Radisson Hotel Group and also rename (and possibly relaunch) Club Carlson to Radisson Rewards. Right now that is all the details we have but will be watching closely on March 5th (or sooner if details are leaked) and pass along any news. If you have read Rewards Canada for some time now you'll know one of our pet peeves is where hotel chains and their associated programs using a nomenclature that doesn't relate to any of the actual hotel properties. There are no Carlson Hotels, there are no Choice Hotels, no Accor Hotels, no Starwood Hotels nor IHG Hotels. In fact we believe it is the reason some of the programs and their credit cards haven't done well here in Canada. When you try to market to the non-frequent traveller (or points/miles know it all) you can't sell your product. The average Canadian does not know Carlson Hotels they know Radisson and the same goes for the other brands. So this will be a welcome chain and hopefully help this brand out worldwide. (Source Meetings and Convnentions)

Posts since our last update:

Travel Deals
Remember to visit Rewards Canada's Travel Booking site to book travel directly with many of your favourite airlines, hotels and more!

Canadian Bonus Offers
N/A

Other Bonus Offers
Air France KLM Flying Blue
- Earn up to 75% Bonus Flying Blue Miles when you buy miles online. More... Until Mar 19, 18

Avianca LifeMiles
- Earn up to 125% Bonus LifeMiles when you buy miles online. More... Until Feb 28, 18

Best Western Rewards
- Triple Rewards Points for stays at the Best Western Plus Oak Mountain Inn Pelham. More... Until Dec 31, 18
- Double Rewards Points for stays at the Best Western Plus Tucson Int'L Airport Hotel & Suites. More... Until Mar 31, 18
- Double Rewards Points for stays of 2+ nights Sun-Thu at the Best Western Plus Laguardia Airport Hotel Queens. More... Until Mar 15, 18
- Quadruple Rewards Points for stays at the Best Western Plus Arlington/Marysville. More... Until Dec 12, 18
- Double Rewards Points for stays at the Best Western Baraboo Inn. More... Until May 20, 18

Miles & More
- Earn up to 2,500 Bonus Miles & More Miles for stays at participating Hilton hotels Worldwide. More... Until Mar 25, 18

Voila Hotel Rewards
- 500 FREE VHR Points to participate in a survey on Facebook about where and what hotels should be added to the global VOILĂ€ network. More... Until May 31, 18


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500 FREE Voila Hotel Rewards Points for suggesting new hotels


Just like this time last year, Voila Hotel Rewards would like to know where they should be adding hotels to their network. For doing so via a short and easy survey on Facebook you'll earn 500 FREE VHR points. Voila Hotel Rewards has run several free points offers throughout the years so for some of you your balances may actually be getting to the point where you could redeem for something.... something small! Oh and one lucky member who completes the survey will win 250,000 points! If you haven't joined the program yet do so via this link to score 1,000 more points.

Offer details
500 FREE VHR Points to participate in a survey on Facebook about where and what hotels should be added to the global VOILĂ€ network. Full details Until May 31, 18

Find more VHR Bonus Points offers here!

BMO launches a whole new slate of business rewards credit cards

Earlier this month BMO launched a whole new slate of small business credit cards that all offer rewards. From proprietary rewards to cash back to AIR MILES,  BMO has them all in their portfolio and they are all updated for today's market. Previously BMO was only pushing their AIR MILES business cards and those have been updated and made better while also adding into the mix a BMO Rewards (their proprietary program) and a BMO CashBack Business MasterCard.

A quick look at the cards show that they have very strong sign up offers, the BMO Rewards Business Mastercard matches the personal version with a 35,000 point sign up bonus worth $250 towards travel via BMO Rewards along with the first year annual fee waived. What the Business version lacks and this is surprising since it is a travel card is the Priority Pass benefit like the personal card has. Overall, unless you really need the business tracking and optional employee card option or don't need the Priority Pass you are better off going with the personal version.

For the CashBack card, same thing, strong initial offer of 6% back on select purchases for 4 months but once your outside of that the card is relatively weak compared to lots of other cards. Once again unless you really need the business tracking and optional employee card option o you are better off with other non-business cards that are way more rewarding.

Finally on the AIR MILES side, they have two new cards for businesses, an annual fee version and a no annual fee card. The annual fee card is strong not only on the initial sign up bonus of up to 3,000 miles and first year free but it also earn 1 miles for every $10 spend meaning it matches the best personal AIR MILES card out there. However it does not offer the 15% off AIR MILES flights in North America like the personal card. The no-fee version is much like the personal no-fee version with a 500 mile sign up bonus.

Here are the details on the four new BMO Business Credit Cards:


BMO Rewards® Business Mastercard®*
Get 35,000 points after you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months*
- Welcome Offer: No annual fee for the first year*
- Earn 3 BMO Rewards points for every $1 you spend on gas, office supplies and cell phone/internet bill payments*
- Earn 1.5 BMO Rewards points for every $1 you spend*
- 25 payment grace days*
- Optional Employee Cards - empower employees with delegated purchasing authority*
- Use your card at Costco locations across Canada*
- Travel Protection*
- Our Liability Waiver Program protects your business against employee card abuse*

Apply Now



BMO CashBack® Business Mastercard®*
Welcome Offer: Get 6% cash back on gas, office supplies and cell phone/internet bills for 4 months*
- Get 1.5% cash back on eligible gas stations, office supplies purchases and on your cell phone and internet recurring payments*
- 1.75% cash back at Shell®*
- 0.75% cash back on all other card purchases*
- 25 payment grace days*
- Optional Employee Cards - empower employees with delegated purchasing authority*
- Use your card at Costco locations across Canada*
- Our Liability Waiver Program protects your business against employee card abuse*

Apply Now



BMO® AIR MILES®† Business® Mastercard®*
Get up to 3,000 AIR MILES Bonus Miles*
- Welcome Offer: No annual fee for the first year*
- Earn 1 AIR MILES Reward Mile on every $10 you spend*
- Plus – earn 1.25X the Miles when you use your card at participating Shell stations*
- 25 payment grace days*
- Optional Employee Cards - empower employees with delegated purchasing authority*
- Use your card at Costco locations across Canada*
- Travel Protection*
- Our Liability Waiver Program protects your business against employee card abuse*

Apply Now



BMO® AIR MILES®† No-Fee Business® Mastercard®*
Get up to 500 AIR MILES Bonus Miles*
- Earn 1 AIR MILES Reward Mile on every $20 you spend*
- Plus – earn 1.25X the Miles for every $20 you spend at participating Shell stations*
- 25 payment grace days*
- Optional Employee Cards - empower employees with delegated purchasing authority*
- Use your card at Costco locations across Canada*
- Our Liability Waiver Program protects your business against employee card abuse*

Apply Now

You can find these and other BMO cards on Rewards Canada's BMO page.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Top 5 Mastercard Cards to use at Costco - 2018 Update

This is an excerpt of a feature that appears on the main Rewards Canada site which has been updated to incorporate new cards and cards that have changed since the original feature was posted in 2015:

Now that we are in 2015, American Express is gone from Costco Canada stores and Mastercard is in. While Capital One® took the co-branded card away from American Express with essentially the same offering on their Capital One® Platinum Mastercard® it does not mean you have to have that card to shop at Costco. In fact any Mastercard card is accepted at Costco locations across Canada and with so many Mastercard cards to choose from here in the Great White North we thought it would be best to pass along our picks for the five best cards to use at Costco.

1. mbna Rewards World Elite Mastercard - 2% return on Costco purchases

A very popular card right now on Rewards Canada thanks to some other Mastercards becoming weaker, the mbna Rewards World Elite Mastercard is the best card to use at Costco thanks to its 2% return. Doesn't matter if you redeem it for travel or for cash back, which the card offers without dilution like most other programs. And you can choose to get that cash back in any month - not just once per year like the majority of cash back cards in Canada. Sure the card may not have as big of sign up bonus or as good of insurance package as most of the cards below but it also comes with a lower annual fee and if you do spend lots that extra 0.5% can easily make up the difference on the benefits side, that is if you even need them.

2. WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard - 1.5% return on Costco Purchases

The earn ratio goes down as we get through this list, the WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard earns 1.5% WestJet Dollars for every dollar spent which means it is a 1.5% cash back card and that is the return you'll get on your Costco purchases. Add in the $99 to $399 annual companion fares, the $250 sign up bonus, first bag free on WestJet flights and you have yourself not only a good return at Costco but lots of other benefits!

3. BMO CashBack World Elite Mastercard - 1.5% return on Costco purchases

This card isn't travel rewards related but it offers up a good cash back return of 1.5% on all purchases at Costco and everywhere else. Add the limited time offer of 4% back on all purchases in the first four months (up to a total of $250 cash back) and you can see why this card would be good to use at Costco. The card also offers one of the better insurance packages out there for a cash back card.

4. BMO Rewards World Elite Mastercard - ~1.43% return on Costco purchases

This card used to be our number one card to use at Costco but that all changed on January 15, 2018. The rewards structure changed, so while the card still earns 2 points per dollar spent at Costco it now takes 140 points to get $1 worth of travel versus the 100 points prior to the middle of January. That drops the earn rate at Costco down to 1.43%. That's a significant drop hence the drop from first to third. The card does however come with a great insurance package, limited time first year free offers (no annual fee) and access to airport business class lounges.


5. National Bank of Canada World Elite Mastercard - 1.36% to 1.68% return on Costco purchases

This card comes in with an overall slightly lower earn ratio than the cards before it. Sure the card can get you a 2% return but that is for your spending between $40,001 and $80,000 on the card and when redeeming at higher levels. Prior to that the rate is lower and above that the rate lowers again so your average return will be below 2%. And you only get the best return if you redeem 50,000 or more points at a time. Kind of a convoluted program if you ask me but the card has other benefits like reimbursements for travel expenses like airport parking and airline baggage fees that try to make up for the lower earn rate compared to other cards.

Continue reading the full article here

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

BMO Rewards World Elite MasterCard Review - 2018 Update

This is an excerpt of our review that appears on the main Rewards Canada site which has been updated to incorporate all the changes the card underwent on January 15, 2018:



In the middle of March 2010 BMO came out with a new Mastercard offering to compete with the Visa Infinite cards issued by other banks in Canada. Until then BMO has only offered Gold or Platinum versions of the various Mastercards they issued. One can assume BMO came out with this card for several reasons. The first is that BMO needed to keep its higher end clientele from jumping ship from their current line of cards to the premium Infinite cards offered by banks like CIBC and RBC. The second reason would be to try and pull some of the current Visa Infinite cardholders away from those other banks, particularly if they are BMO clients to start with. On January 15, 2018 the card underwent some changes which are reflected in this update of the review.

Overview

The World Elite tag is Mastercard's premium card offering much like Visa's Infinite/Signature branding and is a step up from the World Mastercard. To the best of our knowledge, the BMO World Elite was the first World Elite card offering in Canada. With World Elite comes extra benefits and enhancements like Concierge service, extra insurance benefits, exclusive concert/theatre packages and more. These features are what bring the card in-line with the other premium cards in Canada. Much like the RBC Avion Visa, the BMO World Elite Mastercard allows you to redeem for any travel in any class (flights, hotels, cruises etc.) via BMO's own travel agency.

Costs & Sign up Features

The BMO World Elite comes with a heftier $150 primary card annual fee versus the average $120 for many comparable cards including Visa Infinite cards. Currently the card has a limited time offer until April 20, 2018 where you will have the annual fee waived in the first year. The card offers a 35,000 point welcome bonus after spending $3,000 on the card in the first three months which is worth $250 in travel with the newly revised redemption rate of 140 points = $1. Supplementary cards run $50 which is the same for almost all of the Infinite/Platinum/Gold travel credit card offerings from other banks. The interest rate on the card is 19.99% which is in line with its competitors but most people who have this card will be paying off their monthly balances in full.

Earning

The card earns BMO Rewards points and earns those points as follows
3 Points per dollar spent on travel, dining and entertainment purchases (up to $50,000 annualy)
2 Points per dollar spent on all other purchases

Redeeming

On the redemption side, BMO originally made it tough to find out what the redemption ratios were for travel unless you are an actual cardholder. This was changed in 2013 when they set the redemption rate at 100 points = $1 towards travel. However this changed once again on January 15, 2018 when the card and rewards program were revamped.

Continue reading the entire review here

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Marriott Rewards Hotel Category Changes for 2018 - 21% of the chain worldwide is going up in price


Earlier today we brought you the details on the Starwood Preferred Guest hotel category changes and as mentioned we'd bring you the Marriott Rewards category changes as well! The news, well changes from Marriott is worse than we saw with SPG. As of March 6th a total of 1,331 Marriott hotels will be changing categories. Of those, 1,083 are moving up while only 248 are moving down in categories. Of all the Marriott hotels globally the hotels increasing  represents 21% of their entire portfolio while those going down only represents 5%. Overall this can be seen as a devaluation as nearly a quarter of their hotels now require more points or higher category free night certificates.

Here in Canada, the changes in Canada affect approximately 42% of their entire portfolio here with 46 hotels going up in category (roughly 30% of their hotels in Canada) but surprisingly only 5 are moving from Category 5 to 6.  Granted there are only 19 Category 5 hotels in Canada currently so this a quarter of them. But why is this a surprise? There is going to be an influx of people who will be receiving Cat 1-5 certificates from the end of the Chase Marriott Premier Visa Card on March 15th which means that many more free nights to be used at those hotels. Not all to be used in Canada but I gather a large proportion are redeemed within our borders. Overall with these changes it will leave us with roughly 100 hotels in Canada where you can use that certificate.

These are the hotels moving up in categories this year in Canada:

Hotel

2017
Category or Tier

2018
Category or Tier

Courtyard Halifax Downtown
5
6
Courtyard Hamilton
3
4
Courtyard Montreal Airport
4
5
Courtyard Montreal Downtown
7
8
Courtyard Toronto Airport
3
4
Courtyard Toronto Brampton
2
3
Courtyard Toronto Downtown
5
6
Courtyard Toronto Northeast/Markham
3
4
Courtyard Toronto Vaughan
3
4
Delta Hotels Fredericton
3
4
Delta Hotels Guelph Conference Centre
3
4
Delta Hotels Kingston Waterfront
6
7
Delta Hotels Prince Edward
6
7
Delta Hotels Toronto
6
7
Delta Hotels Toronto Airport & Conference Centre
4
5
Delta Hotels Vancouver Downtown Suites
7
8
Delta Hotels Victoria Ocean Pointe Resort
7
8
Delta Hotels Waterloo
3
4
Fairfield Inn & Suites Guelph
2
3
Fairfield Inn & Suites Kamloops
3
4
Fairfield Inn & Suites Kelowna
4
5
Fairfield Inn & Suites Moncton
3
4
Fairfield Inn & Suites Montreal Airport
3
4
Fairfield Inn & Suites Ottawa Kanata
2
3
Fairfield Inn & Suites Toronto Airport
3
4
Fairfield Inn & Suites Winnipeg
1
2
Niagara Falls Marriott Fallsview Hotel & Spa
8
9
Renaissance Montreal Downtown Hotel
7
8
Residence Inn Halifax Downtown
4
5
Residence Inn Kingston Water's Edge
5
6
Residence Inn Mississauga-Airport Corporate Centre West
3
4
Residence Inn Montreal Airport
5
6
Residence Inn Montreal Downtown
6
7
Residence Inn Toronto Downtown/Entertainment District
7
8
Residence Inn Toronto Markham
3
4
Residence Inn Toronto Vaughan
4
5
SpringHill Suites Old Montreal
7
8
SpringHill Suites Toronto Vaughan
4
5
The Algonquin Resort St. Andrews by-the-Sea, Autograph Collection
5
6
Toronto Marriott Markham
4
5
TownePlace Suites Kincardine
2
3
TownePlace Suites London
1
2
TownePlace Suites Ottawa Kanata
2
3
TownePlace Suites Sudbury
4
5
TownePlace Suites Toronto Northeast/Markham
3
4
Vancouver Marriott Pinnacle Downtown Hotel
7
8


On the flip side, 18 hotels are going down in Category. (represents about 12% of hotels in Canada) Of note The Hotel Saskatchewan goes down to Category 3 which makes it a really good deal. I'm also glad to see the Delta Hotels Kananaskis Lodge go down a category although in my opinion Category 6 is still high for the quality of this hotel. You really are paying for the location in the mountains.


Hotel

2017
Category or Tier

2018
Category or Tier

Courtyard Calgary South
4
3
Courtyard Edmonton West
3
2
Courtyard Saskatoon Airport
2
1
Delta Hotels Beausejour
5
4
Delta Hotels Bessborough
7
6
Delta Hotels Calgary Airport In-Terminal
5
4
Delta Hotels Calgary Downtown
5
4
Delta Hotels Edmonton Centre Suites
5
4
Delta Hotels Edmonton South Conference Centre
4
3
Delta Hotels Kananaskis Lodge
7
6
Delta Hotels Regina
4
3
Fairfield Inn & Suites Edmonton North
3
2
Fairfield Inn & Suites Regina
2
1
Fairfield Inn & Suites St. John's Newfoundland
5
4
Residence Inn Calgary South
4
3
The Hotel Saskatchewan, Autograph Collection
4
3
TownePlace Suites Saskatoon
2
1


As is always the case with these annual category changes we recommend trying to book before March 6th if you have had your eyes on a redemption at any of the locations moving up a category and if at all possible wait to book for a free night if that location is going down.

You can find the complete list of the hotels changing categories here.

Starwood Preferred Guest Hotel Category Changes for 2018 plus a new shorter booking window


This year we've already seen hotel category changes from the likes of IHG, Carlson Hotels and Hyatt and now its Starwood and Marriott's turn. In this post we'll cover the changes from Starwood Preferred Guest and follow up with another post covering Marriott Rewards. Starwood's changes aren't too bad this year with 276 hotels in total moving up or down in categories. Out of the 276 hotels 145 are moving up one or two categories (only three move up two categories) and 131 are moving down one to three categories (only three again move more than one). As you can see it is almost an even split in the changes.

For the Canadian Starwood locations a total of 15 hotels are changing and for us the numbers aren't as good. 13 of those 15 are moving up in categories, with the Four Points by Sheraton Niagara Falls Fallsview being one of those three hotels globally moving up two categories! We only see two hotels in Alberta drop down one category:

Even with the changes however most of the hotels that are moving up a category are hotels that were category 3 which now makes them category 4. These hotels will luckily stay in the realm of using the free weekend night certificate that you can get with the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express if you spend $40,000 annually.

The other news that came out sees the booking window for reserving Starwood Hotels drop from 550 nights out to 350 days. This brings the number in line with Marriott's policy and is just one more step towards the complete integration that we should see early in 2019.

You can find the complete list of the 276 hotels changing categories here.