Thursday, May 9, 2013

Travel Hacking 101 - Earn 125,000+ Aeroplan Miles or 91,250 British Airways Avios for free* (Updated Jul 16, 15)

LAST UPDATED: 
Jul 16, 15 (25% Membership rewards transfer bonus to British Airways increases the Avios you can earn)

Jul 16, 15 (The American Express AeroplanPlus Basic card has been added since it is first year free)
May 19, 15 (The CIBC Aerogold Visa for Business is first year free until Aug 31, 15)
May 19, 15 (The TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite first year free is extended to Aug 31, 15)
Jan 13, 14 (The TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite first year free offer is back until May 8, 15)  
Dec 23, 14 (The TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite first year free offer ended) 
Nov 3, 14 (The TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite first year free offer has been extended to Dec 19, 14!)  Nov 3, 14 (The TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite first year free offer has been extended to Dec 19, 14!) 
Oct 14, 14 (The TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite has a welcome bonus of 25,000 miles with the first year free for applications done by October 31st!!)
Oct 14, 14 (The American Express Business Gold Rewards Card first year free offer is back and the sign up bonus has been increased to 40,000 points for refer a friend!!)Oct 9, 14 (The American Express Business Gold Rewards Card first year free offer is back and the sign up bonus has been increased to 30,000 points!!)
Sep 29, 14
(Removal of the American Express AeroplanPlus Card and mbna Choice Privileges MasterCard)
Mar 7, 14 (Added the new mbna Choice Privileges offer)

Mar 4, 14 (Removal of the American Express Business Gold Rewards Card)

A few years ago RewardsCanada.ca was featured in an article on Travel Hacking. What is travel hacking? Simply put it is what we have been doing here every day on RewardsCanada.ca for nearly 12 14 years, but it simply has a name put to it now.  The article revolved heavily around a new site that charges people a fee for things that are found for free right here on Rewards Canada, Flyertalk, Milepoint, Boardingarea, Redflagdeals and many other places. To me it boggles the mind that someone would pay $97 per year to get the information you find for free here or those other places I mentioned. They claim they will get you one free flight within 30 days otherwise you can get your money back (or at least 1 free flight per year). It doesn't boggle my mind as much anymore, everyone is different and some people are willing to pay for a service while others aren't. Good on those who start a business where there is a need. I know from feedback of my readers that many of you have enjoyed tons of free flights, hotel nights, car rentals and more due to the information provided on Rewards Canada. Right from the onset of creating RC that was my goal, to help all Canadians get more Miles, more Points, more Rewards!

Well folks if you don’t already know these techniques, I am prepared to give you this information for free in this post (I assume veteran RCers won’t need this as you have probably already done it) on how to get that free flight (or flights) excluding taxes and fees. It primarily revolves around credit card sign up bonuses from cards that either have no annual fee or where the first year fee is waived.  The only ‘costs’ associated with this method are putting your everyday credit card spend onto these cards to meet the minimum requirements for getting the sign up bonus. Now if you don't think you can hit the minimum spend on the cards you don't have to apply for them all at once, you can take your time and apply for cards once you've hit each spend individually. All this means is that it will take a little longer to earn your fee flights.

* I state free in the title as I assume you would be spending this money anyways on these credit cards so you might as well be rewarded for it with free Aeroplan miles or Avios!

American Express Gold Rewards Card
The number one hybrid credit card in Canada since 2011 this card now comes with a 25,000 Membership Rewards point bonus after hitting a spend of $
500.  The card has a $150 annual fee tied into it but this fee is waived in the first year. You can apply for this card here.

Related: American Express Gold Rewards Card review



American Express Business Gold Rewards Card

Although it is a Business card many people have had success applying for and receiving the card simply by making themselves the ‘business entity’. This card comes with a 40,000 Membership Rewards point bonus after hitting a spend of $

5,000 in the first three months. You can apply for this card here. The card has a $250 annual fee tied into it but this fee is waived in the first year.

Related: Rewards Canada Business/Corporate Travel Rewards Credit Card Comparison

The first year free offer on the Amex Business Gold Card is back as of October 9, 2014 and the bonus has been increased to 30,000 40,000 points!


American Express AeroplanPlus Card

This is Amex's entry level Aeroplan card. The card comes with a 5,000 Aeroplan Mile bonus when you first use the card. You can apply for this card here. The card has a $60 annual fee tied into it but this fee is waived in the first year.




TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card

We know the TD Aeroplan cards haven't hit it off like they thought they would hence we are seeing better offers for the cards every few months and now we see the best offer yet for this card. You'll get 15,000 Aeroplan Miles when you sign up for the card and another 10,000 when you spend $1,000 within the first 90 days all with the first year annual fee waived. You can apply for this card here.

This is a new offer and should be done right away since it is only available until Aug 31, 2015! 

Related: TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Review


CIBC Aerogold Visa Card for Business
Just like the American Express Business Gold Rewards card listed above, this Business card sees many people have had success applying for and receiving the card simply by making themselves the ‘business entity’. This card comes with a 20,000 Aeroplan Miles bonus after your first purchase. You can apply for this card here. The card has a $180 annual fee tied into it but this fee is waived in the first year.

Related: Rewards Canada Business/Corporate Travel Rewards Credit Card Comparison

American Express AeroplanPlus Gold Card

You can earn a 30,000 Aeroplan Miles sign up bonus with our referral link after you spend $500 in the first three months of membership and the first years annual fee of $120 is waived. You can apply for this card here.

This offer is for Aeroplan miles only. Which means you should now be at 55,000 Aeroplan Miles or 25,000 Avios The first year free offer on the Amex AeroplanPlus Gold is gone as of September 2014

Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Visa Card

This is the easiest card in the process as there is no minimum spend and this no foreign transaction fee card comes with a 30,000 Marriott Rewards point sign up bonus after your first purchase. The first year annual fee is also waived. You can apply for this card here.


These 30,000 Marriott Rewards Points can then be transferred to Aeroplan or Avios at a 3:1 basis (30,000 Marriott Rewards Points = 10,000 Aeroplan Miles or Avios)

Related: Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Visa Card Review

There you go just with these offers you will have earned 125,000 Aeroplan Miles or 91,250 British Airways Avios. The Avios total takes into account earning 65,000 points with the first two Amex cards and getting a 25% bonus for transferring them to British Airways. That's enough Aeroplan miles for five Aeroplan award tickets within North America or an Aeroplan Business Class award ticket to Europe  (of course taxes and fees are extra but you could use the extra points earned from your spend on the Amex cards to cover them) or one British Airways Executive Club Reward ticket in Economy Class to Europe  although there will be heavy taxes and fuel surcharges on the award, but once again you can use your Membership Rewards points to cover that or if you want to avoid heavy surcharges you can have 10 round trip flights between select cities in Canada and the U.S. if you like (9,000 Avios per round trip) with Avios to spare, see here for details on this 9,000 Avios offer.

Now do you want to keep any of these cards after the first year free is up? Personally I would keep the American Express Gold Rewards Card as it one of the strongest earning cards for both Aeroplan and Avios and frequently offer bonuses for transferring points to them (Avios transfer bonus on now until Sep 30, 15!), the Chase Marriott Visa is good if you do lots of travelling outside of Canada or do lots of online shopping and/or importing for your business as the card has no foreign transaction fees.  If not I would probably cancel it as well as cancelling the American Express Business Gold Rewards Card.

Related: Which credit card earns the most Aeroplan Miles?



You do have some other no-fee credit card options to bring your mileage totals even higher such as the Best Western MasterCard which right now carries a sign up bonus of 20,000 Reward Points (or 4,000 Aeroplan Miles) or the Choice Privileges MasterCard which has a sign up bonus of 24,000 points (or 2,000 Aeroplan Miles).

You can also take advantage of other free Aeroplan mile offers that you can use to add even more miles to your account albeit not that many. I would recommend that you visit my Aeroplan and Avios Bonus opportunities pages regularly and look under the ‘other offers’ section for any and all free mileage offers that may come up. At time of updating these were the only  2 'free' Aeroplan Miles offer
  • 250 Free Aeroplan Miles when you test drive a Volvo (once every 30 days). Full Details


I do receive a commission or referral bonus for any successful applications for the credit cards above and I would assume the travel hacking site does as well but still charges you for the info!

62 comments:

  1. Completely agree with your thoughts on paid services!

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  2. I agree from many angles. But these services reach out to people who are clueless about points. For those, getting a flight for $97 is unthinkable, and therefore, a tremendous value.

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    Replies
    1. All the websites mentioned above, and Rewards Canada in particular also reach out to people who are 'clueless' about points. In fact that is why you will find so many of Rewards Canada posts written in a way that are for the average Canadian, not for the avid mileage hound or frequent traveler. I would say over 75% of the readers of Rewards Canada fall into this category although I wouldn't call them clueless, I would call them uneducated and hence they get caught hook line and sinker for the $97 as they can get that flight for $0 via our site and the others which is an even better deal then the $97 site.

      Delete
  3. +1 on AMEX Personal Gold, with 20K referral welcome bonus after $500. I may keep it after 1st year is up

    I'd wait to apply AMEX Biz Gold (25K MR after $3000) only if you know you have upcoming expenses > $3000. I split up my ill-timed (?) $4500 new roof into 2 Biz Gold cards when GCR offered $125 cashback + 25K MR

    For AMEX MR to Avios, it's best to wait for a 35-50% bonus transfer promo (last one ended 3/31/2013)

    I'd also wait for Chase Marriott card's 50K offer instead of 30K. No FX fee is nice to have but probably not enough to stay after 1st year

    Keep up the good work

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    Replies
    1. You have to be careful with the Marriott 50K offer, it is usually targetted and some people reported not getting it. Now that the card is becoming more established I think that 50k offer will come around less frequently

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  4. The Amex gold rewards card ferral is the best referral program I have ever seen. 20k for the friend instead of 15k is great!. Here is a link in case somebody can't find a referral link:
    https://www.americanexpress.com/canada/en/mgm/mgmeeApplynow.cgi?mgmerCard=goldCard&CPID=999999371&MGM_URN=AAAAEgITAw4JAw%3D%3D

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    Replies
    1. The AeroplanPlus card is now the best one for bonus Aeroplan miles. You will get 30k bonus miles and first year free if you apply through a referral link:

      https://www.americanexpress.com/canada/en/mgm/mgmeeApplynow.cgi?mgmerCard=aeroPlanGoldCard&CPID=999999371&MGM_URN=AAAAEgATEg4dCQ%3D%3D

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    2. And you get referral bonus from this? Cheeky...

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    3. There are a lot of referral bonuses making their way through the comments on the RC blog. The question for me is to moderate them or not as they are technically very good offers that shouldn't be missed.

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  5. Another great offer is the American Express SPG card, which is one of the top rated credit cards, now offers 21k bonus SPG points instead of the normal 10k, through referral LINK:

    https://www.americanexpress.com/canada/en/mgm/mgmeeApplynow.cgi?mgmerCard=starWGCreditCard&CPID=999999371&MGM_URN=AAAAEgIWHxcJDw%3D%3D

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  6. Hi Patrick,

    I applied for and got the AE Gold Rewards Card, using your referral link.
    Hope you'll get the referral bonus and I the 5K extra MR points without any problem.
    Thanks for the link!

    Jeffrey

    P.S. Come to think of it, when getting double points for every dollar spent in eligible purchases, with the one-in-a-while 50% bonus, you get for $1 spent, 3 Avios (or AP mls)! WOW!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Jeffrey!

      Yes with the 50% bonus this card is a big earner!

      Delete
  7. Cool article. I have thought of this myself. But I recently learned that cancelling credit cards can be bad for credit scores. How do you deal with that after you want to cancel after the first waived year?

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    Replies
    1. As long as you don't cancel a whole slew of cards at once there is minimal effect on your credit score. A rule of thumb is to give yourself 6 months between card sign ups (more so when it is the same card or a card from the same bank) and 6 months between cancelling cards.

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    2. So, should I apply above four credit cards one by one over 18 months period?

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    3. You could probably it sooner than 18 months but it all depends on your credit score at the onset of the application process.

      Delete
  8. Guys

    Yes, what the entry said here is all true - lots of free points but no money spent. But the cost is not zero.

    Verify your credit scores and your potential needs for credit before applying too many cards. Each tap (inquiry) of your credit history reduces your credit score - not much, but it does happen. If your score is only mediocre, you should think twice before applying for another card.

    Credit items last on your report for 7-years. Always review your history as mistakes do happen. If you do want multiple cards from the same issuer, tell the agent you want multiple cards. This way, it's one credit inquiry rather than multiple.

    Also, sometimes you don't need to go to a different bank for additional points. Most large financial institutions will build up sufficient consumer behavioural data in about 3 years time. Once you hold a card long enough with sufficient spend ($500/month on a classic card, $1500+ on a premium card), you can typically switch cards or request reasonable amount of bonus points with a SIMPLE PHONE CALL! Free points with no tab to your credit - loyalty pays.

    If you do want a new card, wait typically 18 - 24 months before you switch. Frequent inquiries indicate your constant need for short term credit - which might detriment your credit scores.

    Use credit wisely... banks will never stop trying to get clients. So points will always be there, but don't pay them with your credit scores.

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  9. can i change the gold card to the business card and then to the aeroplan card and get the bounes instead of making everytime a credit check

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    Replies
    1. I have pulled my credit report & only have the initial credit check when I signed up for my 1st card. You will have to re-apply for another product. If you sign up with this link you will earn the highest aeroplan bonus of 30K (after spending only $500 in 3 mo.& free 1st year)

      https://www.americanexpress.com/canada/en/mgm/mgmeeApplynow.cgi?mgmerCard=aeroPlanGoldCard&MGM_URN=AAAAEgATFxodDw==&CPID=999999370&om_rid=NuB9Tl&om_mid=_BSJJGSB8c1LyI0&om_lid=amex9

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    2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    3. @unknown: you should have no problem switching to the Aeroplan Card from GRC however the Business card will likely require a separate application. Please be aware that you need to keep at least one Membership Rewards card (GRC, Biz, Plat etc) active so you don't lose your membership rewards points.

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  10. Amex AeroplanPlus Gold card is currently the best offer for you to accumulate Free Aeroplan miles: 30,000 Aeroplan miles for signing up and First Year Free! This offer is only available through referral. Here is my referral link in case you need one. Thanks.

    https://www.americanexpress.com/canada/en/mgm/mgmeeApplynow.cgi?mgmerCard=aeroPlanGoldCard&CPID=999999371&MGM_URN=AAAAEgATHhofCg%3D%3D

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hi Patrick,

    It looks like you're doing great work here—I'm always glad to see more folks being educated on ways to travel for less.

    Even though you didn't name them, it sounds like it's my projects that you're complaining about it in this post: the Travel Hacking Cartel, Frequent Flyer Master, and others. Over the past few years we've served tens of thousands of customers through our travel hacking work, far more people than even visit an average blog or website. Much of the help is free on my blog, and some of it (as you note) is paid. I'm not sure why you find this practice unusual. You can read the news online for free, yet plenty of people still find it valuable to either purchase print newspapers or pay for a subscription to sites they especially appreciate. If a certain percentage of people freely choose to pay for a service that they feel provides a convenience to them, and they can freely cancel at any time without any hassle, what's wrong with that?

    Perhaps you wouldn't pay such a fee yourself, but I don't think it should boggle the mind that many people are happy to. Again, I'm glad you're doing good work and educating folks through your blog. Hopefully we'll meet up on a free flight sometime!

    All the best,

    Chris Guillebeau

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  12. Hi Chris

    Thanks for visiting RewardsCanada.ca. The project I was actually referring to in the post was the new Canadian site mentioned in the Toronto Star article I refer to above, Canadian Free Flyers, who have basically taken your U.S. concept to the Canadian market. Unlike you however, there isn't a free blog etc. you have to pay to get any possible information.

    Your analogy of paying for news makes sense and there is nothing wrong with that, I never said there was but in my own opinion it did boggle my mind when I found out about the Canadian site charging $97 as we have been able to help tens of thousands of Canadian's travel faster (and thousands more Worldwide with FrequentFlyerBonuses.com), earn more miles etc. since we launched in 2001 and all of it for free.

    And yes hopefully we do get to meet up sometime in future. Keep up the good work.

    Regards
    Patrick

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  13. 30,000 Aeroplan miles and First Year Free ......The Amex AeroplanPlus Gold card is so far the best offer in the market for credit cards IMO. Here is the referral link if you need one:

    https://www.americanexpress.com/canada/en/mgm/mgmeeApplynow.cgi?mgmerCard=aeroPlanGoldCard&CPID=999999371&MGM_URN=AAAAEg0BEh8bBw%3D%3D

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  14. Why do the Canadian banks get away with such low bonus rewards? I just got 70,000 pts from Chase for the Marriott card while your bank offers 30k. I'm guessing lack of competition?

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  15. What is odd is that Canada actually has more competition for less people! The Marriott card has occasionally had 50,000 point sign ups and some other cards have hit the 50,000 - 60,000 mark. The U.S. market is different however as there is really no other place in the world that has as high of sign up bonuses then there. Some of the high sign up bonuses were due to bad state of the economy in the U.S. as banks were doing what they could to grab customers and get to them spend money via credit cards hence the slight slow down in those type of offers now as the U.S. economy rebounds (although 100K BA offer is back!)

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  16. After clicking on the referral link under American Express AeroplanPlus Gold Card
,
    The landing page mentions that it's only 25,000 points, not 30,000.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Here is a link for 30k if you need one:

    https://www.americanexpress.com/canada/en/mgm/mgmeeApplynow.cgi?mgmerCard=aeroPlanGoldCard&CPID=999999371&MGM_URN=AAAAEg0BEh8bBw%3D%3D

    ReplyDelete
  18. is the 100K BA offer available to Canadian resident. Are any US card offers available to Canadian residents?

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  19. No unfortunately the 100K BA is not open to Canadians unless you have a U.S. address and good credit reported with the U.S. credit companies.

    There are U.S. dollar cards from Canadian banks but most do not offer any rewards.

    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete
  21. I think it's a convenience and information overload sort of problem. I saw the $97 offer a long time ago and I didn't buy. However, I find it confusing to get started with "travel hacking" due to the amount of information and the lack of organization. I love this blog, but I can't find anywhere a "how to get started" guide for beginners. I have started collecting points on credit cards but that's the extent of it. I think this is one of the selling points. If there is a getting started guide on this blog, would be a great place for newbies. Right now I'm scrolling through pages and pages of posts and not really knowing what I should be looking for.

    Just my thoughts. Thanks so much for your work so far!!

    Win

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  22. Hi Win!

    Thanks for the great comment. We will work on putting together a 'getting started' with miles and points section!

    Patrick

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  23. Sorry if this was already answered earlier but I didn't see it. Are we obligated to keep the card for any length of time or can we cancel after receiving the bonus points and a refund for the first year fee? Are the annual fee and first year rebate charged and returned when you first apply for the card, or at the end of the first year? I don't want to accidentally keep the card too long and be charged for the second year.

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  24. I just tried to apply for the TD Aeroplan Infinite Visa card and they said it is not free

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  25. According to the T&Cs the annual fee will be rebated within two billing cycles, but you had to have applied via the link above (http://www.tdcanadatrust.com/products-services/banking/credit-cards/view-all-cards/aeroplan-infinite-card/ac.jsp)

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  26. Once the miles show up in your Aeroplan account (with the TD card) or you have converted the points and they show up in your Aeroplan account (Amex, Marriott, Best Western cards) then you can cancel the cards. With the TD card the annual fee is charged and then rebated within two billing cycles, all the other cards do not charge the fee until the second year.

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  27. I looked into signing up for this before the 31 Oct deadline, but the link http://www.tdcanadatrust.com/products-services/banking/credit-cards/view-all-cards/aeroplan-infinite-card/ac.jsp is no longer active. I checked TD's own website and the fee rebate no longer shows up on the application.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Hi Geoff

    The link appears to be working and the offer looks to have been extended to November 14!

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  29. Confirmed: That link is back! Thanks for the heads up.

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  30. When you travel abroad, don't miss out on important places to visit. Hire a tour guide to show you around!

    ReplyDelete
  31. If I apply for the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite,and later decide to cancel because it's not the right card for me, do I still get to keep the sign-up bonus?

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  32. Hi Katie

    Yes that offer ended on Dec 19, we have updated the post to reflect this.

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  33. So I finally just applied for all these cards and will be getting 60,000 aeroplan miles as a result (didn't apply for the amex business). In reading your article you implied that "you can have 7 round trip flights between select cities in Canada and the U.S." in reference to 100,000 aeroplan pts. I just went on the aeroplan site to see what it would cost to fly round-trip to Salt Lake City from Edmonton, AB in May and found two issues. It takes up nearly all of my miles just for this one round-trip AND the dates I needed were all blacked out standard class. I could only use pts for my return flight if I booked it business class. I was under the impression Aeroplan didn't have black-out dates but I guess I got that wrong. But what's the point of having all these points if I am so limited to when and how I can use them? Do you have any articles written up on how to get the most out of my points and how to best understand aeroplan points? I am confused! Any assistance you can offer would be appreciated.

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  34. Hi Katie

    First, the 7 round trip flights refers to using British Airways Avios not Aeroplan miles. I will break up the paragraph that mentions this to make it more clear.

    Yes Aeroplan can be confusing and you have to be flexible in dates when you want to fly. the Edmonton to Salt Lake City is normally 25,000 miles with their ClassicFlight option but can be more if there is less availability and you have to book Market Fare rewards so technically there are no black out dates but some days or flights will cost you more miles than the ClassicFlight option. That being said there are times when Market Fare rewards fall below the ClassicFlight amount as Market Fare are based on the actual price of the ticket and if there are cheap fares those are reflected in the number of miles required for Market Fares. An example of this is that I was looking at Calgary-Paris flights last week for travel in April and ClassicFlights were 240,000 in total for four people and market fare was only 212,000.

    Let us know if you have more questions!

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  35. 2 questions:


    1- how long does it take for the GCR $50 to post for TD Aeroplan card?


    2- Has the Marriott card ever had a greater bonus than 30,000 , or is that as good as it will get ?? Thnx

    ReplyDelete
  36. Not sure how long it takes GCR to post, I assume at least a few weeks,

    The Marriott Card does see an occasional 50,000 point bonus that is supposed to be only for Marriott Rewards Elite members but non-elites have had success applying for it.

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  37. I think this website is great, thank for sharing this information to everyone!

    I was just wondering, I've tried getting the TD card but TD bank says it's only for people that get the email saying that they are eligible for the card; otherwise, you need to pay the annual fee.

    Is that true?

    ReplyDelete
  38. No this is not the case, if you use the link above there is nothing in the terms and conditions about having to get an email. The link and offer were supplied to us directly from TD although some of their customer service agents are not aware of it as it is exclusive to only a few Canadian websites like ours, Great Canadian Rebates and several others.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Chase Marriott 50000 offer should still be alive. I got one in Jan 2015 and just got my 50K points Feb 18th
    I also applied for TD Aeroplan Infinite via GCR for 25K + $50 cashback. So far, only see 15K and $120 fee. Waiting for extra 10K and $120 fee rebate + $50 cashback

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  40. Please could you clarify the staus of the TD aeroplan visa infinite. My husband applied but it stated the fee was $120 charged on the first month. The link below is no longer active. TD said this was a target offer sent directly from aeroplan and finished yesterday. We would like to collect 40,000 aeroplan or equivalent miles asap, unfortunately the stores we use do not accept amex.
    Your help is much appreciated

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  41. Per the terms, TD charges the $120 and then gives a $120 credit within 2 monthly statements

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  42. How do you make yourself the 'business entity' for the American Express Business Gold Rewards Card. Do you actually have to register a business?

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  43. What do you mean by "making themselves the ‘business entity' in the American Express Business Gold Rewards Card section. Do you actually have to register a business?

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  44. No from what we are aware of many people just put their SIN as the business number. Many people are self employed and run businesses just under name/personal taxes so that is all that is required.

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  45. I just got the marriot rewards cards. Is it best to use it against hotels or transfer it to aeroplan miles?

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  46. Unless you really need the Aeroplan Miles you are better off using the points for Marriott stays.

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  47. Chantal Landry-RouthierApril 30, 2015 at 6:17 AM

    I am trying to apply for TD Visa Infinite but the button 'apply now' doesn't seem to work... Anybody having the same problem?

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  48. Yes people have had issues, it seems to work one day and the next it doesn't. If it still isn't working for you let us know and we can give you the details on how to call in and still get the same offer.

    ReplyDelete