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Monday, March 9, 2020

Redemption Stories: Using Scotia Rewards points for an All Inclusive Vacation and utilizing free lounge passes from the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card


Today we welcome back Jeff W. who has contributed several articles in the past to Rewards Canada. Jeff has been a long time reader of Rewards Canada and we've had lots of discussions with him via email and Twitter as he is always looking to maximize his credit card, travel and other loyalty program rewards! He is heavily invested in Scotia Rewards and his next post details his most recent redemption with Scotia:
 
Hey fellow Rewards Canada Readers!  In the past I wrote how our family loves the Scotibank Gold American Express Card for the earning power it has.  Since the last time I wrote, the card has undergone some changes.  Rewards Canada has gone into detail about the changes, but for simplicity sake, you can earn 5%, 3% or 1% on various purchases.  We have also added the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite to our portfolio.  This gives us two cards now that earn Scotia Rewards points.  The Visa gives you 2% back towards travel on Grocery, dining, entertainment, and transit purchases, and 1% on everything else.  This card also has no FX fees, making it our ‘go to’ card when travelling outside of Canada. (Editors note: The Scotia Gold Amex also has no FX fees but will earn less points than the Visa on non C$ spending) The Visa has one last great advantage, as it comes with six Priority Pass lounge passes per year, perfect for our family of four.



Recommended Reading: A closer look at how a Winnipegger maximizes his Scotiabank Gold American Express Card purchases & Using the Scotiabank Gold American Express card to redeem for any travel - whale watches included!

The great thing about Scotia Rewards, is it doesn’t matter which card you earn the points on, you can transfer the points to whichever card you placed your travel purchase on.  You can also interchange SCENE points with Scotia Rewards points, thus whenever we have a stockpile of SCENE points, we always transfer them over to our Scotia Rewards points account.  This is the rewards program that we use for our winter vacations every other year.

You can convert in both directions between Scotia Rewards and SCENE


There are a couple of ways you can redeem your Scotia Rewards points.  The first, is pay for your travel on your card, once you see the charge applied, redeem your points towards this charge, either the full charge, or some of it, it's your choice.  The minimum you can redeem for is 5,000 (equal to $50) points.  The second way is to book through the Scotiabank Rewards website.  One advantage of booking through Scotiabank’s Rewards website is being able to book a flight on WestJet with a 5% discount (on the base fare) over their regular rates.  Scotia Rewards also offers a Best Price Guarantee on airfare (within 24 hours of booking).  So if you book, and then find a better price, Scotia rewards will match the price.  When it comes to redeeming, it’s really your own preference.



Also, if you don’t have enough points at the time of booking your vacation, you have up to 12 months to still accumulate the points to pay for your travel!

Scotia Rewards makes it easy to choose your redemption option

Any travel any time redemption steps

Steps to redeem for travel booked via Scotia Rewards

Summary page to Apply Points to Travel

So, to get into our winter vacation.  We booked as part of a group of family and friends to an all-inclusive resort in Mazatlan, Mexico.  Vacationing as a group is so much fun, and it gives you the leverage to get a discount on your booking as you are traveling in such a large number, this year we had 34 people (including kids).  As with most group bookings, we owed a deposit in August (5 months prior to traveling) of $600.  Because we use Scotia Rewards points for our major trips every other year, we had more than enough rewards points come August to pay off the full $600 deposit that we owed.  Keep in mind, when redeeming points for travel you have already charged, you are earning 1% in rewards points for that charge, rather than booking it through the rewards website.  In our case of the deposit, that earned us another $6 in travel points.  Step 1 - deposit, done and paid for.

Recommend Reading: The Ultimate Guide to Credit Card & Loyalty Programs for the All Inclusive Vacationer

Step 2, is paying the remaining balance of our all-inclusive vacation in October.  In our case, this was $6,100.  Paid for it on our Visa, earned another $61 in travel dollars.  Naturally we didn’t have enough points for this charge, so we decided to wait until we got home from our vacation in January to redeem our points.

Step 3, is our transportation to/from the airport in our home city of Winnipeg.  In our case, we are traveling with our 4 and 7 year old boys, both requiring car seats.  Now, we don’t need our car seats in Mexico so we can’t take a taxi.  We also didn’t want family to drive us at 3am, so we chose the Valet & Away option at the YWG airport.  This, in my opinion, is the only way to go when you have kids.  Pull up at the front of the airport, unload your kids, bags, and leave your jackets in the car and head on in.  They track your flight, and have your car ready and running upon your return (nice and warm).  This feature also gives you priority screening through security, so you don’t need to wait in a long lineup when you have kids with you.  It’s a fantastic service, and when you know your departure/return dates in advance, you can book the Black Friday sale in November and save more money.  Lastly, I paid this travel charge on our Visa, earned $2.64 in travel rewards then paid it off with our points.

Next thing to do before hopping on the plane is to feed the family.  Do we want to pay over inflated airport prices for breakfast for the four of us?  That could easily cost at least $60 if not more.  Well, we’re in luck...with our Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite card, we have six lounge passes to use.  At the Winnipeg airport, kids are free into the lounge, so we simply use 2 of our six lounge passes and in we go.  Unfortunately at 4am, alcohol is not being served, but a full breakfast buffet is on the menu.  Eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, cream puffs, cookies, fruit, and beverages.  We also grabbed a few extra items for the plane, as well all know, the kids will be hungry again.

Recommend Reading:  Lounge Review: Plaza Premium Lounge Winnipeg Rewards Canada's Guide to Business Class Lounge Access

As an added note, the Lounge in the Mazatlan hotel is before security, and only provides beverages and light snacks, so we were forced to stop at a restaurant for breakfast.

Now that we’re into February, our trip is over, expenses calculated;  We spent $8,639 all tolled on our two week vacation.  $6,700 on the all-inclusive vacation, $264 for Valey & Away, $870 on Pesos, and $805 on Visa transactions.  Using our Visa while we were there, saved us $20 on not having to pay the 2.5% FX fee, and earned us up to $16 in additional travel points.  We have now redeemed $3,197 for our 2 week vacation in paradise, which equates to 37% of our bill, and makes our vacation expenses only $5,442.

Keep in mind, if you are doing excursions or sightseeing tours while you’re on vacation, these could also be categorized as “travel” expenses and could be valid for you to redeem your points towards.
Redeeming points on the Scotiabank Gold Amex or Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite cards is so easy to do online with no need to call anyone.  Charge my travel to my card, and then simply log in to Scotia Rewards to redeem my points.  Cards like these, that allow you to book your travel how you want are in my mind the best possible cards out there, as it allows you to maximize your savings.

Recommended Reading: Why proprietary credit card reward programs are the best option for most Canadians

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