Thursday, March 23, 2017

March 23 Update: AIR MILES halts in-store Cash Miles redemptions, new Meet the Collectors interview & Chelsea Toronto Aeroplan bonuses

News, Tips & Tricks
Most of today's news has been covered in separate blog posts, see the 'Posts since our last update' section below.

We missed out a small but important program on our Expiry and Inactivity Rules of Canadian Loyalty Programs feature, Porter Airlines VIPorter! The program is now on the list with their 24 month inactivity rule.

Posts since our last update:



Canadian Bonus Offers
Air Canada / Aeroplan
- Earn up to Quadruple Aeroplan Miles when you stay at the Chelsea Hotel, Toronto. More... Until Jun 30, 17
- 1,250 Bonus Aeroplan Miles when you stay 5 nights at the Chelsea Hotel, Toronto. More... Until Jun 30, 17


Other Bonus Offers
China Southern Sky Pearl Club
- Earn up to Triple SkyPearl Kilometers when you stay at Mandarin Oriental Hotels Worldwide. More... Until Apr 30, 17

Iberia Plus
- Triple Avios when you subscribe to The Economist. More... Until Apr 30, 17

JAL Mileage Bank
- Earn up to 7,500 Bonus Mileage Bank Miles when you fly on American Airlines between Asia and the U.S.. More... Apr 1 - May 31, 17
- Earn up to Triple Mileage Bank Miles for stays at participating Hilton hotels Worldwide. More... Until Jun 30, 17

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AIR MILES Cash Miles in-store redemptions halted temporarily due to fraud

Loyalty program fraud has been making the rounds in the news recently with programs like PC Points having been breached. The problem is not new and the industry has worked diligently for many years to combat program fraud. In the early days it was travel agents adding their frequent flyer number to tickets of passengers they booked who weren't part of frequent flyer programs, then it was employees at stores swiping their collector cards when the person purchasing an item didn't present their card and more recently it is the online world with hackers hacking into loyalty accounts.

The latest entrant into the fraud world is now AIR MILES (they just can't catch a break can they?) and their in-store Cash Miles redemptions. Apparently some Cash Miles have been stolen and used for in-store transactions.

Dear Collector,

This note is to make you aware that through our regular fraud monitoring processes, we have identified irregular activity occurring within a small number of in-store AIR MILES Cash transactions, where Cash Miles have been stolen. The personal information of all Collectors remains protected and has not been compromised. We are working diligently to resolve the situation and have already contacted our retail Partners, the police and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

While this fraudulent activity impacts only Cash miles and not Dream miles, the security of Collector Miles is of utmost importance to us and therefore we are sending this update to all Collectors. In a desire to protect AIR MILES Cash Miles, we have temporarily removed the AIR MILES Cash option for in-store purchases. Collectors are still able to redeem Cash Miles for e-vouchers online at airmiles.ca. These reward options include brands such as Staples, Starbucks, Cineplex, the Bay, and more.
As we work through this issue, we ask that you continue to protect the security of your AIR MILES Account by maintaining the confidentiality of your Collector and PIN number.

To view your balance or update your Account information please visit www.airmiles.ca.

I also wondered to myself when this may happen as is it is easy would have been easy to use these fraudulently.  I have used cash miles at places likes Sobeys to save $10 here and there and not once have I ever been asked to confirm whether the name on my card is actually me. So if you lose your wallet and someone gets your AIR MILES card or even easier just plugs in random AIR MILES Collector numbers into the website to see the card's balance that person can then go to any of these stores and utilize that number to get a cash redemption.  That was the beauty of in-store cash redemptions, they are so easy for the collector that they make sense but also being so easy makes them an easy target for the fraudsters.

AIR MILES says they are working diligently to resolve the situation which is great. I wouldn't be surprised if we see those merchants accepting AIR MILES cash to begin asking for identification or some way of inputting a PIN. And I hope, really hope that AIR MILES does away with the simple input a number and get your balance on their website, make all users type in their PIN before showing the account is valid and has a balance. This morning I logged in with just my AIR MILES number and this is what it shows

This means if anyone figured out or learned my AIR MILES number they would also see this and could have easily gone to one of the in-store redemption partners and redeemed my miles when the balance hit 95 (they haven't but I'm just hypothetically speaking)

Right now as a collector you don't have to do anything except check your account to make sure you weren't one of those who has lost miles.


American Express Gold Rewards Card

American Express® Air Miles Platinum®* Credit Card
New American Express® AIR MILES®* Platinum Credit Card Cardmembers, earn a bonus of 2,000 AIR MILES reward miles when you charge a total of $1,500 in purchases to your Card within your first three months of Cardmembership.
Conditions apply

Meet the Collectors: Young professional makes mile & point consolidation work to his favour

Today we bring you our latest Meet the Collectors feature. These are interviews with our readers, who are everyday Canadians like you, on what they are doing with their loyalty programs.

Anybody who’s truly serious about collecting points knows planning is key to maximizing their value. Choosing the most cost-effective flights, hotels, and even destinations for their affordability, or their points payoff, is key to making the most of one’s rewards experience.

Tell that to Charles Tam. Because of his job as a manager of regulatory affairs with Edwards Life Sciences in Mississauga, Charles flies over 25,000 miles annually, averaging 6-8 domestic business flights per year. This makes Charles’ story different from other points collectors, because he often isn’t able to plan his travels around maximizing points. Yet that hasn’t stopped him from saving for getaways and splurge purchases like any other seasoned collector.

Continue reading the interview here! 

If you would like to be considered for our Meet the Collectors series please contact us at info@rewardscanada.ca

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

March 22 Update: Crediting Hertz rentals to Flying Blue can be lucrative, SEA Centurion lounge expansion open & Double Asia Miles out of Canada

News, Tips & Tricks
Over on The Points Guy they posted that the American Express Centurion Lounge expansion in Seattle opened today. No longer is it considered a 'Studio' lounge but now it is a full fledged Centurion Lounge. As Canadians we can use the lounge for no charge with The Centurion Card from American Express or The Platinum Card from American Express (remember to grab it today if you don't have it as the spend requirement is only $1,000 whereas tomorrow it will be $3,000). You can also access the lounge with other Amex cards but you'll have to pay $50 per person. Find out more about the lounge here.

In February Air France KLM's Flying Blue changed their earn rate for Hertz car rentals. No longer is it a flat rate of miles per rental but it has moved to a revenue based format. That is you'll earn 5 Flying Blue Miles per Euro spent on each Hertz rental (or converted currency equivalent). Not so good for those short one day rentals that may not cost very much but it could prove to be very lucrative if you rent for long periods or rent expensive vehicles like SUV's and premium cars. For example if you have a week long rental that costs about 600EUR you'll earn 3,000 base Flying Blue Miles. Under the old earn rate you would have only earned 800 miles. Compare this to many other programs that only offer 250/500 miles per rental or 50 miles per day of rental and you can quickly see why you may want to credit Hertz rentals to Flying Blue. Remember though, to keep Flying Blue miles current you must fly Air France, KLM or SkyTeam once every 2 years.  Find out more here.


Posts since our last update:

Travel Deals
Book the Hilton 72-Hour Sale today! Save up to 20% off your April & May weekend stays. Stay at participating hotels April 14 - 17th and May 25 - 30th in the United States, Latin America, the Caribbean and Canada. Hurry, sale ends today! Find out more here.


Canadian Bonus Offers
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
- Double Asia Miles when fly one-way or round-trip with Cathay Pacific in Premium Economy or Economy Class from Canada to Hong Kong or via Hong Kong to worldwide destinations. More... Register & book by May 31 for travel Jul 1 - Sep 30, 17



Other Bonus Offers
Aeroflot Bonus
- Triple Bonus Miles for stays of 3 or more nights at participating Jumeirah Hotels in Dubai. More... Until Apr 30, 17

American AAdvantage
- Earn up to 115,500 Bonus AAdvantage Miles when you buy miles. More... Until Apr 13, 17

Marriott Rewards
- 1,000 Bonus Rewards Points when you stay 2 nights or more Thursday-Sunday at 34 Marriott locations in Southern California. More... Until May 25, 17
- 2,000 Bonus Rewards Points PER NIGHT for stays at Residence Inn, SpringHill Suites or TownePlace Suites in the Dallas Ft. Worth area. More... Booking Apr 5 - Jun 28, 17

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Double Asia Miles when you fly Cathay Pacific out of Canada in Economy/Premium Economy this summer


Cathay Pacific is encouraging early bookings for summer travel out of Canada with their latest Asia Miles flight offer. You can earn Double Miles if you book Economy or Premium Class travel by May 31 for travel during the high summer season. No love for business or first class but then again those classes currently have a bonus running until the end of April.

Offer details:
Double Asia Miles when fly one-way or round-trip with Cathay Pacific in Premium Economy or Economy Class from Canada to Hong Kong or via Hong Kong to worldwide destinations. Register Online (Registration is required) Register & book by May 31 for travel Jul 1 - Sep 30, 17

If you aren't a member of Asia Miles yet and join during this promotion and complete the promotion you'll get an additional 500 Asia Miles.


RBC Infinite Avion
RBC Visa Infinite Avion

• Ability to book flights with any airline with no blackout periods, extremely useful when there are no seat sales
• 15,000 Point sign up bonus 1.9% balance transfer and cash advance rate for the first 10 months
• Up to a 2.3% return on your spending depending on which reward ticket you book
• Option to transfer RBC Rewards Points to WestJet Rewards, British Airways Executive Club, American AAdvantage, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles.
• Look for the transfer bonus to BA several times per year!
• A complete suite of insurance coverage and benefits
• Unwritten ability to redeem for Business Class tickets although at a lower rate of return when compared to the Avion Reward chart

Apply Now


March 21 Update: You can now redeem WestJet companion vouchers online, U.S./U.K. electronics travel ban & more!

News, Tips & Tricks
WestJet
quietly launched the ability to redeem the companion vouchers online that come from the WestJet RBC MasterCard. Great news for those of you who didn't like calling in to book flights using the voucher!

It's been all over the news since last night, The U.S. travel ban on electronics in the cabin (save for cell phones and medical devices). This means items like tablets, laptops, etc. will have to be placed in your checked luggage. The ban is only for flights originating on select airlines from 10 airports in the Middle East and Africa. Of course this will affect you if you are travelling on these flights via the U.S. but there is one Canadian flight affected. Royal Jordanian's flight to Montreal will be included since that fligth continues on to Detroit. There are reports now of ban to be put in place by the U.K. as well. No word yet if Canada will also put in a place a ban as many of the airlines affected do fly to Canada as well. Find our more from the DHS website


Our post about How to maximize value out of the RBC Avion Airline Award Chart has been a very popular page for us on the RC Blog so we have added to the main site for easier access and reading! You can find it here.


Posts since our last update:


Travel Deals
Hilton 72-Hour Sale! Save up to 20% off your April & May weekend stays. Stay at participating hotels April 14 - 17th and May 25 - 30th in the United States, Latin America, the Caribbean and Canada.Hurry, sale ends Wednesday! Find out more here.


Canadian Bonus Offers
N/A



Other Bonus Offers
Alitalia MilleMiglia
- 1,000 Bonus MilleMiglia Miles for every Avis rental Worldwide. More... Until Apr 30, 17

Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
- 500 Bonus Asia Miles for stays at any Minyoun Hospitality Hotel. More... Until Jun 30, 17

Marriott Rewards
- 2,000 Bonus Rewards Points for stays at the Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort & Spa More... Oct 2 - Dec 18, 17
- 1,000 Bonus Rewards Points PER NIGHT when you stay 2 nights or more Thursday-Sunday at the TownePlace Suites Newark Silicon Valley. More... Booking Apr 7 - Jun 30, 17
- 2,000 Bonus Rewards Points per stay on Thursday-Sunday nights (Friday or Saturday required) at the Chicago Marriott Suites Deerfield. More... Apr 8 - Jul 1, 17
- 2,000 Bonus Rewards Points PER NIGHT for stays at the AC Hotel Raleigh North Hills. Maximum of 10,000 bonus points per stay. More... Apr 5 - Jun 28, 17

Miles & More
- Earn up to Triple Miles & More Miles for all stays at any Best Western Hotel in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Hungary, Croatia, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Slovenia. More...Until May 31, 17

Qatar Airways Privilege Club
- Up to 50% QMiles Discount on Qatar Airways Privilege Club Award ticket redemptions for various routes via their "Easy Deals" offer. More... Until Apr 30, 17


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Marriott to add worldwide travel experiences for guests with PlacePass and surges past 100 million members


Marriott announced two major milestones this morning. Firstly, the hotel chain has surpassed 100 million members in their Marriott Rewards, Ritz-Carlton Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest programs. They join a league of programs that can be counted on one hand that have members in the nine figures. Secondly, they announced their investment into PlacePass, a online meta-search platform for in-destination experiences. Members will soon be able to choose from an additional 100,000 plus authentic local experiences in 800 destinations worldwide when they book direct on Marriott.com or SPG.com or their respective apps.
“The addition of PlacePass activities and tours beginning later this year reflects Marriott’s commitment to giving our guests a complete travel experience, whether they are in planning mode, staying in our hotels and even in-between stays when they’re thinking about travel,” said Stephanie Linnartz, Global Chief Commercial Officer, Marriott International. “We want our guests to count on Marriott to give them access to more of the destinations and things they love to do when they travel.”
One can assume that what will happen is after you complete your hotel booking with Marriott, Ritz or SPG you'll be offered a hand picked selection of activities and tours in your destination that you can add on to your trip. Marriott does not state whether this will be cash only options or if you will also be able to pay for them with points like you currently can with Marriott's Marketplace and SPG's Moments one of a kind experiences.

Here are just some of the examples of travel experiences provided by PlacePass:
  • Explore the filming locations for the hit series “Downton Abbey” on a VIP guided tour from London, including Highclere Castle and Bampton, the setting for Downton village.
  • Wrestle with a retired sumo wrestler in Tokyo, and get a behind-the-scenes look at the history of Japan’s national sport.
  • Get a taste of desert life in the dunes outside Dubai. Explore the dunes by camel or 4x4, then enjoy a sunset view of the desert and traditional Bedouin-style dinner. 
  • Explore Cambodia’s iconic temples on a sunrise mountain biking tour through the Angkor Archaeological Park.
  • Enjoy a private viewing of the crown jewels in the Tower of London, hosted by the museum’s Chief Exhibitor.
  • Perfect your pasta-making skills alongside a local Italian chef at a Tuscan farmhouse, a chateau in the Dolomites, or a Florentine cooking school.

While this is not a new innovation, you can go to PlacePass right now and book these tours and activities directly, the integration of it into Marriott's booking process give PlacePass a huge new market to tap into to! I'll be honest I never heard of PlacePass until Marriott sent us this press release and there are probably millions more who have not heard of them. For some of you I know you'll skip over the tour booking process when you reserve your room but for others the right experience may just pop up and you'll be able to book it easily with your hotel room rather than having to go to another website and complete another booking.

Click here to learn more about this new option coming to Marriott and SPG

Monday, March 20, 2017

March 20 Update: Increased spend requirement for The Platinum Card from Amex, Alaska adds Condor as a partner & more!

News, Tips & Tricks
If you follow us on Facebook and/or Twitter you'll have seen our message alerting you to an upcoming change to The Platinum Card from American Express. Come this Thursday the card will require $3,000 in spending to receive the sign up bonus instead of the current $1,000. So if you have been considering the card we recommend applying for it by Wednesday so you only have to spend $1,000 over three months to get the sign up bonus. You can apply for the card here.

Also another card we recommend getting now if you have been eyeing it is the American Express Simply Cash Preferred Credit Card. It has changes coming to it in April that are for the most part good but if you get it now part of the card that will change for the worse will be grandfathered at the current rate.

Alaska Airlines announced a new frequent flyer partnership with Germany's Condor. Mileage Plan members will now be able to earn miles on Condor flights and soon enough will be able to redeem miles for their flights as well. This is really good news for Canadians as Condor has a decent presence here with seasonal flights out of Vancouver, Calgary, Whitehorse, Toronto and Halifax. You also continue to have the option to collect Miles & More miles with Condor but Mileage Plan definitely has a bigger presence here so if you are planning on flying this low cost German airline be sure to include your Mileage Plan number on the reservation. Of course we'll let you know once you'll be able to redeem miles for these flights as well. Find out more here.


Good news for Air France KLM Flying Blue members who fly semi-frequently with the airline. They have extended their expiry of their miles from 20 months to 24 months. Flying Blue is different than many of the other programs out there in that not all activity counts to keeping your account active. To keep the account active you have to have one qualifying flight on Air France, KLM and their airline affiliates or a SkyTeam airlines once in that 24 month period. This rule would not fall under the new Ontario legislation for expiring miles as it more so an inactivity rule than an expiry rule. Find out more here.


If you are Nexus member here in Canada you should have seen an email about custom forms being elimanted here in Canada! The email came out Friday as Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) will be phasing out the paper CBSA Declaration Card (Form E311) for travellers arriving in Canada by air. Here is an excerpt from the email:
  • What does this mean for NEXUS members?
    NEXUS kiosk display screens at all designated NEXUS airport locations in Canada are being updated to simplify the declaration process. Members will be prompted to respond to questions on the NEXUS kiosk screens that mirror the questions that were previously found on the paper CBSA Declaration Card.
  • Why is this change being made?
    This change is being made to coincide with the upcoming launch of new Primary Inspection Kiosks that will expand self-service options to all international air travellers arriving in Canada. NEXUS members should continue to use their dedicated NEXUS kiosks, which are exclusively for their use and are designed to expedite their arrival to Canada.
  • When and where will this change be made?
    Beginning late-March 2017, all travellers flying into the Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport will no longer be required to fill out a paper CBSA Declaration Card. The elimination of the paper CBSA Declaration Card will continue to be rolled out at other major Canadian airports across Canada, over the course of 2017-2018. Visit the CBSA NEXUS website for the most up-to-date information regarding where this automated service will be available for NEXUS members. Airline staff will distribute the paper CBSA Declaration Cards to travellers only if the airport is not equipped with the Primary Inspection Kiosks. If you are given a CBSA Declaration Card en route, please continue to fill it out.
Ottawa gets it first and we wouldn't be surprised if that is quickly followed by Calgary (the new terminal has everything in place to do so) Vancouver and Toronto seeing that the last two see the most incoming passengers of any Canadian airports.

Posts since our last update:

Travel Deals
TAP Portugal will be starting Toronto flights this June and have some decent fares for travel between Toronto and Lisbon. Fares start as low as $934 all in for Economy and under $3,000 for business class. Find out more here.



Canadian Bonus Offers
N/A



Other Bonus Offers
AeroMexico Club Premier
- 3,000 Bonus Club Premier Points on your 1st and 2nd qualified stay at any Wyndham Rewards hotel. More... Until Apr 30, 17

American AAdvantage
- Quadruple AAdvantage Miles for stays at over 5,500 Choice Hotels Worldwide. More... Until Apr 15, 17

Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
- Earn up to Triple Asia Miles on all stays at participating Hilton hotels Worldwide. More... Until Jun 30, 17

Choice Privileges
- Earn up to 40% Bonus Privileges Points when you buy points. More... Until Apr 20, 17

Hilton Honors
- 100% Bonus Honors Points when you buy 5,000 or more points online. More... Until May 3, 17

JAL Mileage Bank
- 50% Bonus Fly On Points when you fly JAL between Nagoya (Chubu) and Bangkok. More... Until Apr 27, 17

Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
- Earn up to Quadruple KrisFlyer Miles for stays at participating Hilton hotels in Worldwide. More... Until Jun 30, 17


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