Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Top 5 tips for maximizing miles on your holiday shopping

(This feature is a duplicate from the main the Rewards Canada site)

With only a week left to the big day for gift giving the push is on to finish your Christmas shopping for friends, family and maybe even yourself! Whether it is shopping for gifts or for food and drink to entertain there are many ways to maximize the miles and points you earn holiday shopping. Ultimately you can make those reward dreams come closer by following one or more of our tips.

1. Use your mileage/point earning credit card & your loyalty cards to Double or Triple Dip

Double dipping is the term coined for earning miles twice in one purchase or transaction. This basically involves your mileage earning credit card being used for a purchase where you also earn miles in the same program as the credit card. Buying luggage as a gift at Bentley? Using your TD Aeroplan Visa or American Express and then swiping your Aeroplan card ensures you are double dipping.

Triple dipping involves the above but then adding in any bonuses available. Look for email, coupons or other promotions offering even more miles. With the above example, Aeroplan members can earn triple miles on all Bentley purchases of $75 or more until December 24th. So the first dip is the base miles earned on the purchase, the second is the miles earned on your credit card and the third is the bonus miles from the promotion.

Double and Triple dipping does not have to involve the same program. You can always use a credit card that earns in one program while collecting the actual miles from another program for your flights, hotels, shopping or anything else you can earn miles on.

2. Giving gift cards? Buy gift cards at credit card multiplier locations

Are you a gift card giver at Christmas or you don’t know what presents to give this year so you’ve settled on a gift card? If you can, and it depends on the retailer, don’t buy the gift card straight from them as on most credit cards you will only earn your base miles or points. Buy them at a place where you can take advantage of your category multiplier bonus. For example if I wanted to give my dad a Future Shop gift card I would only earn 1 Membership Rewards points on my American Express Gold Rewards Card if I bought the card at Future Shop but if I bought it at a Drug Store or Grocery I would earn 2 Membership Rewards points.

Here are examples some the credit cards and their category bonuses that you could use this for this tip (per dollar spent):
American Express Gold Rewards Card: 2x Points at Grocery and Drug Stores, also at Gas Stations
American Express Air Miles Reserve Credit Card: 1 Mile/$10 at eligible gas, grocery and drugstores
CIBC Aerogold Visas: 1.5 Miles at grocery stores, gas stations or drug stores
CIBC Aventura Visas: 1.5 Points/$ at grocery stores, gas stations or drug store
Scotiabank American Express Platinum/Gold: 4 Points on gas stations and grocery stores
Scotiabank American Express:
2 Points/$ on gas stations and grocery stores
Sears Voyage MasterCard: 1.5 Sears Club Points on gas, groceries
TD Aeroplan Visas: 1.5 Miles at grocery stores, gas stations or drug stores
To learn more about these cards visit our Travel Rewards Credit Card Comparison page

3. Buying gifts at retailers without credit card multipliers? Use the gift card trick to earn more miles!

This one is similar to above but involves a little more time and effort. This tip is for those of you who know what gifts you are buying for your kids, family, relatives and friends. The reason why it will take more time is that it requires multiple stops and purchases but if you have the time and want the extra miles then go for it! A good example of this is that you know that your child wants a new Playstation 4 for Christmas. You could go buy it directly from Future Shop and earn your base miles on your credit card but by going to a grocery store, drug store or even a gas station that sells gift cards you go buy yourself the Future Shop gift cards, earn the 1.5 or 2x or more miles/points on the purchase and then use the gift cards when you get to Future Shop. There is only one downside to this method other than the extra time required and that is you will not be able to take advantage of the purchase protection, price protection or extended warranty offered by many of the reward credit cards. (Maybe it would be better if I used Old Navy as an example instead of Future Shop since you don’t really require any of those benefits on Old Navy purchases?)

4. Use bonus offers to your advantage when buying groceries for the holiday season

This one ties into the Double or Triple Dip outlined in the first tip. Always check your emails for bonus coupons or offers or even when you first enter a store. Doing your grocery shopping and expecting to buy lots of food since your hosting Christmas and have a dozen people coming over? Always look at the flyer stand when you first enter Safeway, Sobeys or whatever grocery store as long as they are part of a loyalty program. We have found that Sobeys tends to be hit and miss at letting people know about bonus Air Miles offers via email so I always check the flyer stand to see if there is a bonus coupon and more times then not there is. Safeway is better at letting people know by email and sometimes it is only via email that the best offers come. For example, the 2013 Christmas season had the biggest bonus we had ever seen for shopping at Safeway, 500 Bonus Air Miles for a $200 spend. Here's crossing our fingers that offer returns this year!

5. Always remember to swipe your Loyalty Card and/or use your miles/points earning credit card

Remember to always collect your points and miles when you shop. Did you know you can earn Cineplex SCENE points at Sport Chek? Air Miles at Michaels? Always think ahead and bring your loyalty card to swipe/scan when you shop. Don't want to carry around that much plastic? Most programs now have smart phone apps that also double as your loyalty card. This is a good way to always have your card on hand, especially for forgetful people.

Whenever you can, use your miles/points earning credit card to pay for your purchases. As long as you are financially responsible there is no reason you should be using cash or debit for your purchases. It should always be on a rewards credit card so that you earn your coveted miles and points. It's doesn't matter if it is $1.00 or $1,000, put it on your credit card. Not financially responsible? As in you only pay the minimum required amount each month on your card, then don't use your card. The interest you pay is not worth the extra miles or points.

By following some or all of these steps you will be making sure that you are maximizing the miles and points you earn this holiday shopping season! The mileage or point balances in your accounts will escalate and then those reward flights, nights or merchandise will come to you sooner!

Care to comment on the Top 5 tips for maximizing miles for holiday shopping? Want to voice your opinion on the Top 5 tips for maximizing miles for holiday shopping? Share you views and experiences by commenting below or on Facebook and Twitter!

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