Using the Scotiabank Gold American Express card to redeem for any travel – whale watches included!

Today we welcome the second post from Rewards Canada contributor Jeff W.!
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!
This is his second post of several that will look at how he utilizes the
Scotiabank Gold American Express card!

Hey fellow Rewards Canada Readers!  This is now my second time writing for Rewards Canada.  My first post was in regard to earning points on my Scotiabank Gold Amex card.  This time around, I’ll be delving into the redemption side of things.

Read Jeff’s first post here:  A closer look at how a Winnipegger maximizes his Scotiabank Gold American Express Card purchases

To recap, if you missed my first article, I’ve always been intrigued by rewards credit cards as well as loyalty programs.  We’re a family of 4, with two young kids, I’d say with an average family income.  We like to travel and take our kids on experiences as often as we can as I think family vacations can be very educational.  Normally we’ll do a few weekend road trips per year, a week or two summer vacation, and then a winter tropical vacation every two years, for a couple weeks.

As I mentioned previously, based on my families spending habits, the best card out there is the Scotiabank Gold American Express Card.  There are a couple of ways you can redeem with this card.  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, its your choice.  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 for a 5% discount (on the base fare) over their regular rates.  When it comes to redeeming, it’s really your own preference.

I prefer to use the points I earn from Scotiabank for our ‘major’ vacations, those that are for a week or longer, aka the big-ticket vacations.  Therefore, I’ll use them for our summer holiday plans or for our tropical vacations that we take every two years.  When it comes to booking a vacation, I’m looking for the best deals out there to make our travel dollars go the furthest.  Most hotels have their ‘member’ pricing, or ‘loyalty program’ pricing.  If you can combine that with the advance purchase rate, this is the best rate you can obtain online.  This is not however the “best” price you can get.  If you return to the same hotel, over and over again, you can build a rapport with the management team, and for future visits contact them directly for a negotiated rate, which is cheaper then the best advance booking loyalty rate.

For example, on our winter vacation a few years ago, we went to Hawaii for three weeks.  We were contemplating staying at the same hotel as our previous vacation.  If and when, staying at the same hotel, and being at the hotel for an extended period, many of them will give you a deal.  We received a 20% discount on the hotel.  By booking through the hotel, you can also earn points towards their loyalty program, which is another bonus.  You can’t do this if you’re booking through an online travel agency.  On this trip we booked our flight through the Scotia Rewards program on WestJet, so we also received the 5% discount on our flights.

Keep in mind as well, 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.  We went whale watching and were able to redeem our points towards that expense as well.

Editor’s note: I recall this as well, we went whale watching with Maui’s Pacific Whale Foundation  and the charges showed up as a travel charge for our American Express Gold Rewards Card.

Redeeming points on the Scotiabank Gold Amex card is so easy to do online, and no one to call.  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.

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