Thursday, December 8, 2016

Done with AIR MILES? Here are your other options - Part 3 Cash Back Reward Programs

As many of you know the AIR MILES Expiring Miles fiasco came to somewhat of a close late last week when they finally dropped their expiry rule after threat of legislation, a damning MarketPlace report and of course 9 months of really bad press. If you watched the MarketPlace piece you'll have seen members cutting up their AIR MILES collector cards and I've heard many more stories of people letting go of the program. So what are some of your other options? In this three part series we'll look at three types of reward programs that make the most sense for Canadian but please be aware there even more options beyond these three (ie Frequent Flyer programs, Frequent Guest programs, proprietary retail programs etc.)

Be sure to read Part 1: Coalition Reward Programs
Be sure to read Part 2: Proprietary Credit Card Reward Programs

In part three we look at cash back reward programs. These are primarily credit card based, and why wouldn't they be, credit cards are the number one source of earning any sort of loyalty points and should be part of everyone's loyalty program portfolio. Cash back is great for those who don't want or need travel rewards and want the option to be able to use their rewards on anything they want whether it is merchandise, travel or even just helping shrink that credit card balance.

Credit Cards
Outside of airline co-brand credit cards some of the earliest reward credit cards in Canada were cash back cards although they weren't all that popular. Recently we have seen an explosion of cash back card options for the Canadian market and many of them have become very rewarding, although most still provide slightly less value then some travel cards. However that is the trade off, you get a little less value but get cash that you can use on anything or slightly more value that has to be used for travel. Most cash back cards will reward you with up to 2% cash back although several have category and/or time limited bonuses where you can get up to 4% or 5% back.

Pros of Cash Back Credit Cards
With cash back credit cards you are still getting rewarded on all your purchases just like you would with any travel rewards credit cards! Every purchase counts towards that cash back you get with the card. You don't have to worry about point fluctuations, not having enough points for a reward or any of those cons associated with a traditional reward program. You can still double dip! As mentioned in Part 2 on Proprietary Credit Card Reward programs, you don't need to ditch your traditional reward programs. In fact we encourage you to collect them hand in hand with your credit card reward program as you can still swipe your Aeroplan, AIR MILES, SCENE or other loyalty cards at their respective merchants!
 
Cons of Cash Back Credit Cards
Unlike the Proprietary Credit Card Travel Reward programs we mention in part 2 where you can have access to your points at almost any time, the majority of cash back credit cards will only give you your cash back at the end of the year in the form of a statement credit. There are a few exceptions like the mbna Rewards World Elite MasterCard and mbna SmartCash MasterCard where you can choose to have a cheque/direct deposit sent to you on a monthly basis so you do have access to that cash much quicker! The Tangerine MasterCard is another that pays you on a monthly basis.

If Cash Back cards are what appeal to you now that you are dropping AIR MILES be sure to check out our Cash Back Credit Card comparison chart to find the right card for you.

If you bank with BMO and have had a BMO AIR MILES MasterCard and are giving up on the program but don't want to move your credit card(s) from BMO take a look at the BMO CashBack World Elite MasterCard or their BMO CashBack MasterCard as you cash back options. 

Online Shopping

 Are you someone who did all you online shopping via airmilesshops.ca so that you can earn reward miles on every purchase? Now your worried that you don't want to earn AIR MILES any more but would like to still be rewarded? No worries you have two major online shopping portals that will reward you with cash back on those purchases just like the way you earned miles in the past. Those two portals are GreatCanadianRebates.ca and eBates.ca. Choose either one or both, and funnel your online shopping through them to ensure you are earning cash back for all those purchases. And of course use your cash back earning credit card for each purchase as well!

As we all know cash is king and if the whole AIR MILES fiasco has turned you off of loyalty programs, than you should at a minimum go the cash back route. We always say that if you are making purchases you should be rewarded for them no matter what and cash back is a good way to be rewarded.

This concludes our three part series on your other options if you are done with AIR MILES.

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