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Updated December 31, 2016

In the 29 years since joining Aeroplan, I’ve developed an almost insatiable appetite for award travel. Feeding this habit means my account needs to be constantly replenished, and I’ve discovered that earning points and miles can be almost as addictive as redeeming them. Since I no longer travel for work and rarely fly on a paid ticket, I can’t count on frequent flyer miles to restock my Aeroplan account. Fortunately, there are a host of other strategies involving Aeroplan’s extensive array of retail, financial and travel partners. My 25 tips on earning Aeroplan miles focus on these strategies and fall into two categories – getting organized and accumulating points.

1. Decide how much time you’re willing to invest

Many of my conversations about award travel follow a predictable course. Just about everyone expresses interest in the topic. Most are amazed, if not excited, about the savings to be realized. But there comes a point when for some people, their eyes start to glaze over and disinterest sets in. While the prospect of a sweet deal is attractive, for many people the investment of time and effort to manage the process just isn’t worth it. But with anything, there can be differences in input and results. What’s important is that people craft their own unique yet comfortable strategies based on the time and energy they’re willing to devote. It can be as simple as choosing a few repeatable activities, or positioning oneself to ensure that every single expenditure in some way leads to award travel.

If you fall into the “simple” camp, here are my suggestions on five simple actions:

  • Join Aeroplan, and set up your online account.
  • Sign up for an Aeroplan-branded credit card and use it for as many transactions as possible.
  • Pay all recurring bills with your credit card. Set these up online so they’re automatically paid each month with no further work on your part except to update your accounts with each new expiry date of your credit card.
  • Set up an autopay system so your credit card balance is paid in full each month from your bank account. Again, there’s no further work on your part except to verify the accuracy of charges each month.
  • Carry your Aeroplan card (or membership number) with you at all times. If you’re a Smartphone user, download a loyalty card wallet such as Stocard and carry a digital version of your card.

On the other hand, if you’re up to the challenge of pursuing a more aggressive range of earning opportunities, read on.

2. Establish points-accumulation goals

Points-accumulation goals go hand in hand with travel goals, on two separate timelines. In my case, I’ll establish points-accumulation goals in one year for redeeming for award travel in the following year. For example, in one year I booked award travel for three separate trips to Taiwan, Spain and Turkey costing a total of 210,000 Aeroplan miles (and $435.38 in taxes, fees and surcharges). To be prepared for this expenditure, my points-accumulation goal for the previous year was 250,000 miles.

In addition, I think it makes sense to collect Air Miles and redeem them for short-haul flights. This approach allows you to achieve a better value for your Aeroplan miles. For example, I could redeem somewhere in the range of 1300 Air Miles (and pay approximately $130 in taxes and fees) to fly round trip from Halifax to Toronto. Or, I could redeem 25,000 Aeroplan miles (and pay a similar amount in taxes, fees and surcharges). However, for the same number of Aeroplan miles and much the same in taxes, fees and surcharges, I could fly round trip from Halifax to Vancouver. (The same trip would cost approximately 4,000 Air Miles.) Therefore, my points-earning goals include Air Miles for round-trip short-haul flights from Halifax to Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and New York. 

3. Focus points-earning efforts

With points-earning efforts spread over a multitude of reward programs, collectors run the risk of diluting their earning power by having too many programs to feed.

I think it’s important to collect hotel loyalty points as part of a reward travel strategy. These come in handy for Aeroplan redemptions with long layovers you might ordinarily pass over because of the added costs of accommodation. One of my favourite hotel loyalty programs is Best Western. You can usually find a Best Western hotel at an affordable rate close to an airport, Best Western Rewards never expire and the MBNA Best Western Platinum Plus MasterCard has no annual fee. I also like Marriott Rewards. There’s a two-year expiry policy but apart from hotel stays, it’s relatively easy to keep an account active with the odd purchase at Shop My Way or buying 1,000 Marriott Rewards for 12.50 USD. Deals We Like has a few other suggestions in 5 Ways to Keep Your Marriott Points Active.  Also, the Marriott Rewards Premier Visa Credit Card (Chase) has several attractive features. Another advantage of both Best Western Rewards and Marriott Rewards is that they can be converted to Aeroplan miles with a partner transfer bonus at promotion time (usually twice each year).

aeroplan-hotel-partners-conversion-bonus

Always check points expiry dates. For example, if you prefer IHG, Starwood or Hilton, keep in mind that their loyalty programs each have a 12-month points expiry policy.

On occasion, the best deals will be outside your preferred hotel loyalty program. For example, a bid on Priceline or a “blind” booking on Hotwire might result in stays at other locations. Needless to say, with any booking, sign up for the respective loyalty program. It’s free and it may result in a complimentary upgrade or some other perk such as complimentary Wi-Fi or a dining coupon. It may also pave the way to earn loyalty points in the hotel’s program. These “orphan” points might never multiply to the stage of earning a reward, so it’s wise to know which hotels are Aeroplan partners and if it makes sense to designate Aeroplan miles as your earning preference.

For airline loyalty programs, the average collector should focus points-earning efforts on just one airline alliance (and one program within that alliance). Alliances permit members to fly on one airline, but have the miles credited to their preferred frequent flyer program within that alliance. For Aeroplan members, that means the Star Alliance where it’s possible to earn frequent flyer miles when travelling on Air Canada or its Star Alliance partners.

However, sometimes flying outside of the Star Alliance is necessary. As most airlines are members of one of three airline alliances (Star Alliance, oneworld and Skyteam), it would be strategic to join the program of just one airline of the alliance in question.

airline-alliances

For example, a friend found a half-price deal from Montreal to Dubai return with Qatar Airways, a member of the oneworld alliance. Of course, she earned points using her Aeroplan-branded credit card used to pay for the flight, but in order to earn flying miles she needed to have an account with one of the oneworld airlines. We examined her options and chose British Airways (BA) Executive Club based on a number of factors, including its three-year expiry policy. If she doesn’t fly with another oneworld carrier within the three-year period, she can convert a hotel stay with one of BA’s partners to BA’s Avios points. Or, she can convert points earned from a “bank rewards card” (e.g., RBC Rewards, AMEX Membership Rewards) to Avios points, preferably during the semi-annual conversion promotion. These approaches will keep the account active, as just one transaction resets the three-year expiry clock.

When I travel with a SkyTeam carrier, miles are credited to my Delta Airlines SkyMiles account. I chose Delta because the points never expire and Delta operates out of my home airport of Halifax.

4. Establish links through transferrable points

The more connections that can be established between loyalty programs, the sooner travel goals can be realized.

Most airline programs have partnerships with several hotel loyalty programs. My two preferred hotel loyalty programs (Best Western and Marriott) are Aeroplan partners. They allow me to choose where to assign my miles/points earned for each hotel stay, based on the best return. For example, Best Western has regular promotions earning 8x Aeroplan miles (2,000 miles) per stay. Before booking a room at Toronto Airport’s Best Western Plus, I checked my Best Western account to verify I was registered for the promotion and Aeroplan was listed as my earning preference. In addition, Best Western and Marriott have hotel-branded credit cards with sign-up bonuses and points capable of being converted to Aeroplan miles.

There are also “bank rewards cards” earning points specific to that financial institution. In some cases, the points are transferrable to either airline or hotel loyalty programs. For example, the American Express Gold Rewards Card earns a welcome bonus of 25,000 AMEX Membership Rewards, once the minimum spend threshold of $1500 is met within the first three months. A great feature of this card is that the earning power is double on certain category purchases. (Details are explained below.) AMEX Membership Rewards (MRs) never expire and are considered “flexible points” insofar as they are convertible to various partners, including Aeroplan at a 1:1 ratio. They’re one of the best reward currencies in Canada.

5. Keep track of points

Each reward program has its own site, and many have a mobile app. It’s a good idea to stay on top of account balances, and which points are at risk of expiring.

AwardWallet is an app allowing users to track miles and points in different programs, and different accounts of different people such as other family members. An attractive feature of AwardWallet is that if you just want to check account balances, you don’t need to go to different sites and enter a username and password each time. It also reminds you when points are about to expire so you can take action to keep points intact.

6. Sign up for newsletters

Points-earning promotions allow you to boost your accumulation rate. Newsletters delivered directly to my mailbox provide updates on the latest promotions. Aeroplan, Air Miles, Canadian Kilometres (Jeff Kwok), PointsNerd (Jayce Loh), Pointshogger (Matthew Lau), Rewards Canada (Patrick Sojka), How To Save Money.ca (Stephen Weyman), A Whistle and a Light (Matt McLean) and DCTA (Avery Campbell) are my favourite sources of information on how to maximize earning opportunities. When I see a promotion worth pursuing, I add it to the dedicated list in the Notes app on my Smartphone with the highlights of the promotion and dates of the promotion period. I’ve earned thousands of miles and points thanks to these publications.

If your email box is already bursting at the seams, check for the latest promotions at Aeroplan.

7. Watch expiry dates

Thankfully, Aeroplan’s seven-year redemption policy was cancelled during 2013. However, their 12-month mileage expiry policy is still in effect and requires at least one mile be earned or redeemed within a 12-month period. There are policy exemptions, and these are described at the Aeroplan site.

Air Miles succumbed to public pressure and abandoned their five-year expiry policy in late 2016. However, inactive accounts are in danger of being closed. Accounts are considered inactive if there has been no transactional activity for 24 consecutive months or longer – in other words, no reward miles have been collected, redeemed, donated or transferred during that time.

8. Use of credit cards

Not all people are interested in using credit cards, or using them to the extent proposed in some of the strategies described below. Use of credit cards can be lucrative for some but dangerous for others. What’s important is that each person crafts strategies based on individual needs, preferences and comfort levels.

credit-card-trap

9. Take advantage of credit card sign-up bonuses

The single most powerful technique for accumulating points is through credit card sign-up bonuses. Canadian credit cards rarely offer the rich bonuses seen south of the border, but there are ways to earn significant points and miles with this strategy.

“Churning” refers to the practice of opening and closing credit card accounts. It also involves positioning oneself to earn a sign-up or welcome bonus again and again by reapplying for the same credit card after a waiting period has passed. In many cases, credit card companies limit access to second and third sign-up bonuses with language such as “once per lifetime” but there are examples where the bonus has been awarded after waiting periods of one or two years.

10. Develop a written plan

I have a written credit-card strategy listing credit cards and their key features. It specifies all “open,” “closed” and “of interest” cards I either have or am interested in acquiring. If I write it down, the research on each card needs to be done just once and the written plan keeps me on track.

Each “open” credit card includes a summary of the reasons I keep it open. For example, the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite is my credit card with the longest history. This is one of the factors helping me maintain a high credit score.

credit-score-pie-chart

Its earn rate is adequate, and it includes a modest trip cancellation insurance so I use this card to book all travel. It also comes with a few perks when travelling on an Aeroplan redemption – an annual one-time guest pass to a Maple Leaf Lounge, complimentary first checked bag, and priority check-in and boarding. There are regular promotions, where the annual fee is waived for the first year and the sign-up bonus is increased.

Each “closed” credit card summarizes the key features of a particular card and under what conditions I might reapply, or again qualify for the sign-up bonus.

credit-card-shopping-cart

Each card “of interest” summarizes key features and what additional features or personal circumstances need to be in place to trigger an application. For example, I was interested in the MBNA BestWestern MasterCard with no annual fee. The sign-up bonus is usually 20,000 BestWestern Rewards but I waited until a 40,000-point promotion. Another example is the very attractive MBNA Alaska Airlines MasterCard. It has an annual fee of $75, a sign-up bonus of 25,000 Mileage Plan Miles and an annual companion fare of $121 USD. Alaska Airlines has a wide variety of airline partners across all three airline alliances so this feature increases redemption options. I might apply for this card when planning a trip to Alaska or the west (Canada or U.S.A.).

My general approach is to apply for cards at promotion time when the sign-up bonus is increased or an important feature such as “first year free” (FYF) is part of the promotion. FYF refers to a waiver of the annual fee for the first year. My preference is to carry just one card with an annual fee so additional cards of interest are those with FYF or no annual fee. I will also consider a card with a fee worth less than the value of an annual benefit I would use. This might be in the form of a hotel stay, a partner ticket, a significant insurance benefit or a substantial points bonus each year. I’m also interested in those cards earning points that never expire, and flexible points transferrable to other hotel or airline reward programs.

To help you wade through the maze of credit card offers, many of the bloggers mentioned above regularly update their lists of the best credit cards in Canada. If you use the advice to make an application, please consider using their respective affiliate link that in some cases generates a small commission. Stephen Weyman’s research at How to Save Money.ca is very detailed, and I’ve found Patrick Sojka’s rankings at Rewards Canada to be helpful. When I’m seriously considering applying for a particular card, I’ll usually take a quick look at the perspectives of the other bloggers.

11. Pay attention to important credit card details

I once believed having more than one credit card was dangerous. I’ve changed my mind after experiencing the benefits of award travel and seeing how the responsible and strategic use of credit cards can boost accumulation rates. Holding one credit card, or several for that matter, is not inherently dangerous. It’s not paying attention to important details such as annual fees, interest rates, insurance coverage and payment due dates. It’s not being organized with a system to keep track of these things, but most of all it’s about being positioned to pay credit card bills in full each month.

To stay on top of things, keep a record of all cards from the date of application to date of cancellation and beyond. For me, this takes the form of a chart with the following headings:

  • CARD (for naming the credit/charge card, card holder if there is more than one in the household, and the last four or five digits of the card)
  • BONUS (for sign-up/welcome and referral bonuses)
  • MINIMUM SPEND (the conditions to be met to receive the sign-up bonus)
  • APPLICATION/CANCELLATION (for keeping track of when an application is lodged, the outcome and the date the card is cancelled and account closed)
  • ANNUAL FEE (the amount and exact date it becomes due)
  • STATEMENT (statement date and date a payment needs to be made)
  • CREDIT LIMIT (amount of credit, as this helps me figure out how many credit cards to have open to achieve my desired debt-to-credit ratio)
  • NOTES (for keeping track of miscellaneous details such as when preauthorized payment is set up, status of supplementary cards, waiting period for a subsequent sign-up bonus)

While interest rates are critical, I don’t bother recording them because my credit card balances are paid in full each month using preauthorized payment systems. I work from the premise that if I can’t pay off the balance in full each month, I shouldn’t be using credit cards. Paying interest in the neighbourhood of 20% or more makes no sense, and besides, it undermines any and all travel benefits.

If you’re interested obtaining a copy, A Sample Credit Card Log is filed in our Resource Library. To gain access to this and other free travel tools, sign up using the link at the end of the post.

12. Tap into referral bonuses

American Express offers handsome referral bonuses to existing cardholders for referring family and friends to apply for AMEX cards. The applicant needs to use a referral link and in some cases s/he receives a higher sign-up bonus for doing so. While AMEX has reduced the number and scope of its referral bonuses, several exist at the present time. For example, the AMEX Business Gold Card normally earns a sign-up bonus of 30,000 Membership Rewards points (that are transferrable to Aeroplan miles at 1:1). By using a referral link, the sign-up bonus increases to 40,000 points, and the referrer earns a referral bonus of 10,000 points. If you’re interested in acquiring this card, or any others within the AMEX Membership Rewards Referral Program, here is a referral link. Note that a referral bonus is usually awarded at the point of approval and the sign-up bonus is awarded once the minimum spend is met.

AMEX-Business-Gold-referral

With more than one person in a household (or a family unit or group of friends), it’s possible to outline a plan with a timeline listing dates to refer, apply for and cancel cards to maximize sign-up and referral bonuses. A program of referral bonuses can be amended or cancelled at any time so the time is ripe to capitalize on this excellent earning opportunity.

13. Use credit cards for all expenses

As long as using credit cards doesn’t result in additional spending, and all credit card accounts are paid in full each month, getting into the habit of using credit cards for all expenses will bring travel dividends. The only time I use cash is for merchants who don’t accept credit cards, at yard sales or markets, or when paying cash results in a cheaper price.

In addition, pay as many recurring bills as possible with a credit card. The overwhelming majority of service providers such as Bell, Shaw Direct, Eastlink and Netflix accept credit card payments for services such as telephone, television and Internet. Setting up preauthorized payments means bills are paid on time and you won’t incur late payment charges.

Setting up preauthorized payments from a bank account to credit card accounts is a critical element of any strategy involving the management of several credit cards. Once it’s set up, paying credit card bills in full each month is one less task you need to add to your schedule.

14. Strategically use each card

Spreading purchases strategically across several cards shouldn’t result in spending more money but it should result in earning more award miles. 

visa-mastercard-amex-credit-cards

To do so requires knowledge of the earning features of each card. For example, the American Express Gold Rewards Card earns double points for purchases at gas stations, grocery stores and drug stores (in Canada) and double points for eligible travel purchases worldwide. When I have this particular card, it becomes my card of choice for these types of purchases and I switch to merchants accepting American Express to do so. Many other premium cards (e.g., TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite and CIBC Aerogold Visa Infinite) earn 1.5 miles for each dollar spent at gas stations, grocery stores and drug stores. The TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite is my back-up card when I find myself at a location where AMEX isn’t accepted, or TD has an Aeroplan promotion.

15. Purchase gift cards at grocery and drug stores

gift-card-rackA variety of merchants are represented on the gift card racks at grocery and drug stores (and some gas stations) in my province: Best Buy, Boston Pizza, Canadian Tire, Chapters, East Side Mario’s, Future Shop, Home Depot, HBC, La Senza, Lotto, Mark’s Work Warehouse, McDonalds, Nova Scotia Liquor Commission, Old Navy, Pizza Delight, Rona, Sears, Smitty’s, Sport Chek, Subway, The Keg, The Source, ToysRUs, Winners… and many more.

I keep a list of these merchants in the Notes app on my iPhone for easy reference.

Shopping directly at most of these merchants earns points or miles at a rate of one per dollar on most credit cards. However, several credit cards boost their earning power for category spending at grocery and drug stores, as well as gas stations. The AMEX Gold Rewards card earns x2 and the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite earns x1.5. By purchasing gift cards at a grocery or drug store, and then using that gift card to make a purchase increases the earning rate. For example, if I buy a $100 jacket at Sport Chek with a TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card, I’ll earn 100 Aeroplan miles. If I purchase a $100 Sport Chek gift card at a grocery or drug store with my TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite and use the gift card to get the jacket, I’ll earn 150 Aeroplan miles. Or, using my American Express Gold Rewards card to buy the gift card will earn 200 AMEX Membership Rewards (that are transferrable to Aeroplan miles at 1:1). At the point of redemption of the gift card, it’s possible to earn loyalty points (e.g., Air Miles at the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission or My Canadian Tire ‘Money’ at Canadian Tire).

It’s also possible to use merchants’ gift cards at checkout at the Aeroplan eStore. This can be lucrative if the points earned when purchasing the gift card is greater than the extra miles earned for using an Aeroplan-affiliated credit card.

16. Negotiate price-match deals

Earning points must not result in extra spending. To take advantage of one retailer’s sale items, try to negotiate a price-match deal with another retailer. This has worked for me in the past when The Source has matched a Best Buy sale price and Home Hardware has matched a price advertised by Canadian Tire. Here’s an example. Home Depot has a snowblower on sale for $1200. Home Hardware (an Aeroplan partner) has the exact product in its inventory but it’s not on sale. Ask Home Hardware to match Home Depot’s price. If negotiations are successful, pick up $1200 worth of Home Hardware gift cards at a grocery store or drug store. An AMEX Gold Rewards Card will earn 2,400 points and another 600 Aeroplan miles (1 mile for each $2 spent) will be earned at Home Hardware for a total of 3,000 miles/points. Purchasing the product from Home Depot (without gift cards) would have earned just 1,200 points.

17. Shop at the Aeroplan eStore

By shopping via the eStore, it’s possible to earn at least one Aeroplan mile per dollar spent, and up to 1.5 miles per dollar when using an Aeroplan-affiliated credit card. In addition, dDiamond Distinction members receive x3 status bonus miles for every dollar spent on eStore purchases and dBlack and dSilver Distinction members receive x2 status bonus miles. Also, consider using a gift card if it results in more points. Cross reference the list of gift cards available at grocery stores, drug stores and gas stations with merchants represented at the Aeroplan eStore, and figure out if it’s to your advantage to use gift cards as eStore currency.

I think the best use of the eStore is to shop during both product and points promotions. For example, I stocked up on my favourite Body Shop products with a two-for-one product promotion (with free shipping over $50) and a 4x miles promotion. My x3 dDiamond Distinction bonus miles sweetened the deal.

In 2013 I decided to purchase a MacBook Air and waited a few months until a 5x Apple Store promotion was announced.

5x-aeroplan-estore-promotion

See a deal on The Shopping Channel? Do you shop at Sears or Hudson’s Bay? While not a huge windfall, a recent purchase of $423 earned 1,689 bonus Aeroplan miles at The Bay using the Aeroplan eStore portal.

aeroplan-e-store

See something on eBay? Interested in Norton anti-virus protection or magazine subscriptions from Rogers Magazine Service? Access these merchants and more via the eStore portal.

Aeroplan-estore-merchants

18. Verify eligibility for each promotion

To earn additional Aeroplan miles from eStore Aeroplan partners, it’s necessary to access partner sites via the eStore portal and enter your Aeroplan membership number.

In other cases, it’s usually a requirement to register for a promotion in advance. For example, I earned 1,000 bonus miles for six fill-ups at Esso stations. To be eligible, registration was required. The promotion of 8x Aeroplan Miles for stays at Best Western Hotels also required online registration and booking.

Aeroplan-best-western-promotion

19. Shop at other Aeroplan merchants

Aeroplan merchants aren’t limited to those accessed via the e-Store. Points can be earned on a range of products and services from automotive to airport parking, cruises to car rentals, electronics to eye care, fashion to flowers, hardware to hotels and moving to mortgages. Browse the partners’ page to become acquainted with what’s available. It’s likely you’ve shopped at Aeroplan partners and missed out on valuable miles-earning opportunities. I know I have.

I earned 100 miles for signing up for Home Hardware communications, 250 miles for each magazine subscription with Rogers Magazine Service, 750 for opening a UPS Get More account, and 3,000 miles for my first hotel booking through RocketMiles. When embarking on major renovation projects, we set up an account at Home Hardware. The account came with a 10% discount on all purchases and two Aeroplan miles per dollar spent. Setting up an Esso Speedpass account earned 400 miles and three Aeroplan miles per dollar spent. Both Esso and Home Hardware have frequent promotions when it’s possible to earn bonus miles.

There are also merchants for tyre, collision repair and other automotive services. If considering a Volvo, it’s possible to earn 25,000 miles or more on a purchase or lease of a new vehicle, and there are miles-earning promotions for test drives. Toyota is an Aeroplan partner with earning opportunities when you test drive, purchase or service a vehicle. If buying a vehicle, negotiate a higher-than-usual deposit on your credit card. 

stocard20. Carry your Aeroplan card

Having your Aeroplan (and Air Miles) cards at your disposal means not missing out on any points-earning opportunities. I find the best way to carry all my loyalty cards is in a digital loyalty card wallet on my Smartphone. My favourite is Stocard.

21. Take advantage of double and triple dipping

Double dipping refers to earning points twice with one purchase or transaction. For example, this happens with purchases at Esso, Primus and Home Hardware where the merchants offer miles in addition to those earned by the credit card provider.

Triple dipping applies mostly to travel. For example, by booking a hotel online at Air Canada you earn miles on your credit card, bonus miles from Air Canada (usually at the pre-tax value of the booking) and miles for completing the hotel stay on your account through the hotel’s loyalty program. Destination Miles offers a similar booking service and miles-earning rate.

22. Check out RocketMiles

RocketMiles is a hotel-booking site offering airline miles or points. To attract new customers, there are occasional promotions of 3,000 Aeroplan miles for first-time customers. Their inventory of hotels is limited, and at times, their rates aren’t necessarily the most competitive. And keep in mind that most bookings via Rocketmiles will not earn hotel loyalty program points. However for those stays at hotels that are either not part of your reward program portfolio or ones that don’t have a loyalty program, booking via RocketMiles can bring dividends. For example, I needed a hotel for two nights and bidding on Priceline wasn’t producing the desired results. I found a decent rate at RocketMiles that earned 1,000 Aeroplan miles per night. With most Aeroplan hotel partners, points are awarded per stay, or per dollar spent. With the 3,000-mile first time purchase, I earned 5,000 miles for my first booking with RocketMiles. Sweet.

RocketMiles has other promotions from time to time.  Check it out.

rocketmiles-barcelona

23. Use bonus rewards locations

In the case of TD and CIBC, it’s possible to earn up to triple Aeroplan miles at participating establishments such as restaurants, golf courses, spas and retail stores.

cibc-bonus-rewards

24. Negotiate with merchants on using a credit card

Some people are able to use their credit card to pay rent. Students can make tuition payments. On the purchase of a new vehicle, we negotiated a higher deposit than usual using a points-earning credit card. When purchasing a product or inquiring about a service, always ask what credit cards are accepted and whether or not the costs can be charged to a credit card.

25. Complete surveys

In the past, I’ve completed surveys for AskingCanadians, an arm of Delvinia Data Collection. The surveys come directly to my mailbox with a description of the points I’ll earn and the estimated completion time. Based on my schedule at the time, I can choose whether or not to participate. In 2014, I earned 1,505 Aeroplan miles for doing something while waiting for an appointment or watching TV.

askingcanadians

Aeroplan Advisors is another opportunity to earn miles for surveys but for the most part, the compensation takes the form of an entry in a draw to win Aeroplan miles. Occasionally, miles are awarded and in 2014 I earned 525 Aeroplan miles.

Another Canadian-based survey is the Angus Reid Forum where panelists earn survey dollars. When an account balance reaches 50 survey dollars, they can be redeemed for $50, a $50-CAD Amazon gift e-card or 2,000 Aeroplan miles. Signing up for U.S.-based surveys (e.g., e-Miles) could be a way to boost hotel loyalty accounts or keep a rewards program with a U.S.-based carrier active.

These aren’t great points accumulation strategies but they cost you nothing but your time. And some of them are interesting.

Conclusion

Is it all worth it? For me, the answer is a resounding “YES!”

Of the travel hackers I know, they treat travel hacking as a game and get a charge out of squeezing the maximum number of miles out of every single transaction. When redeeming miles for award travel, they enjoy the challenge of the hunt to uncover the itinerary with the cheapest taxes, fees and surcharges.

What about you? What do you like most about earning and redeeming miles for travel? What other Aeroplan miles-earning strategies do you use?

 

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