You are currently viewing 4 pro tips to earn more free travel with your holiday shopping

Travel rewards are the best way to travel more for less and it’s very important for savvy travelers to take an interest in this because it’s definitely worth it. Especially now, as it’s the most important time of the year to maximize your earnings.

First, we want to invite you to attend our free travel rewards webinar to learn how to join the Flytrippers readers who have now earned over ONE MILLION dollars in travel rewards with our tips.

I myself have earned over $10,000 in free travel since I first got into travel rewards, it’s SO easy when you just take the time to understand. If you join us during the webinar you will know how too. It’s free, you have nothing to lose.

In the meantime, here are 4 tips (and a bonus one) to earn more free travel. It’s important to do this all year long, but even more so during the holiday season when many spend more (and more great additional opportunities exist).

 

1. Take advantage of record-high deals (to get 41% back)

Obviously, we start with the most important. Welcome bonuses are the key to travel rewards. No one who earns a lot of free travel does so by getting 1% or 2% on their purchases…

There are 8 cards that currently give you at least ≈ $532 in free travel just with their welcome bonus. We’ve never seen so many offers this good at the same time!

So your holiday spending is going to be able to go towards unlocking the welcome bonuses. Unlocking welcome bonuses is all you need to do to get hundreds and hundreds of dollars in free travel.

For example, the American Express Cobalt Card has the best welcome bonus ever seen in Canada on a non-premium card: ≈ $1,157 in free travel.

That’s crazy. But it requires more minimum spending than any of the others (perfect for those just starting out) and with its amazing earn rate of 5 points per dollar, it’s by far the best credit card in Canada.

That one, like 6 of the top 8 cards available right now, has no minimum income requirement. But if you earn over $80,000 a year, you can even get the HSBC World Elite Mastercard which gives you ≈ $622 with the first year free!!! Amazing.

These two are a bit special, but to give you a more “standard” example, I’ll use the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card, which gives you 11 completely free nights in Bali after spending just $1,500 in 3 months…

This gives you an effective return rate of ≈ 41% on your purchases, instead of just 1% or 2%… welcome bonuses are amazing to earn faster! For the exact same $1,500 in purchases, you get ≈ $657 in travel rewards instead of $15 or $30…

Here’s a table that summarizes the top 8 offers.

Best credit card offers
(May 2022)
WELCOME BONUS
( VALUATION)
Best
for
American Express Cobalt Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $500/mo for 12 mos.
Welcome bonus: $900
Card Fee: $156
Best overall
card
in Canada
Platinum Card from American Express
Card:
Bonus: spend $6k in 3 mos.
Welcome bonus: $1190
Card Fee: $699
Unlimited access to
airport lounges
and elite benefits
HSBC World Elite Mastercard (excl. QC)
Card:
Bonus: spend $6k in 6 mos. (see QC offer)
Welcome bonus: $639
Card Fee: $0 $149
No FX fee
and valuable
airline rewards
RBC British Airways Visa Infinite Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $6k in 3 mos.
Welcome bonus: $840
Card Fee: $165
Great airline
rewards
for big spenders
limited time
American Express Gold Rewards Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $3k in 3 mos.
Welcome bonus: $768
Card Fee: $250
Fans of Aeroplan
points
highest-value offer
limited time
American Express Aeroplan Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $1.5k in 3 mos.
Welcome bonus: $436
Card Fee: $120
Fans of Aeroplan
points
lower min. spend
Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $1.5k in 3 mos.
Welcome bonus: $477
Card Fee: $120
Very lucrative
hotel points
for specific hotels
American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $3k in 3 mos.
Welcome bonus: $656
Card Fee: $599
For Air Canada
benefits
like lounge access
Terms and conditions apply. Flytrippers editorial opinion only. Financial institutions are not responsible for maintaining the content on this site. Please click "See More" to see most up-to-date information.
Best credit card offers
(May 2022)
American Express Cobalt® Card American Express Cobalt Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $500/mo for 12 mos.
WELCOME BONUS
Welcome bonus: $900
Card Fee: $156
Best for: Best overall card
in Canada
Platinum Card® from American Express Platinum Card from American Express
Card:
Bonus: spend $6k in 3 mos.
WELCOME BONUS
Welcome bonus: $1190
Card Fee: $699
Best for: Unlimited access to airport lounges
and elite benefits
HSBC World Elite® Mastercard® HSBC World Elite Mastercard (excl. QC)
Card:
Bonus: spend $6k in 6 mos. (see QC offer)
WELCOME BONUS
Welcome bonus: $639
Card Fee: $0 $149
Best for: No FX fee and valuable
airline rewards
RBC® British Airways Visa Infinite RBC British Airways Visa Infinite Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $6k in 3 mos.
WELCOME BONUS
limited time
Welcome bonus: $840
Card Fee: $165
Best for: Great airline rewards
for big spenders
American Express® Gold Rewards Card American Express Gold Rewards Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $3k in 3 mos.
WELCOME BONUS
limited time
Welcome bonus: $768
Card Fee: $250
Best for: Fans of Aeroplan points
highest-value offer
American Express® Aeroplan®* Card American Express Aeroplan Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $1.5k in 3 mos.
WELCOME BONUS
Welcome bonus: $436
Card Fee: $120
Best for: Fans of Aeroplan points
lower min. spend
Marriott Bonvoy® American Express®* Card Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $1.5k in 3 mos.
WELCOME BONUS
Welcome bonus: $477
Card Fee: $120
Best for: Very lucrative hotel points
for specific hotels
American Express® Aeroplan®* Reserve Card American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $3k in 3 mos.
WELCOME BONUS
Welcome bonus: $656
Card Fee: $599
Best for: For Air Canada benefits
like lounge access
Terms and conditions apply. Flytrippers editorial opinion only. Financial institutions are not responsible for maintaining the content on this site. Please click "See More" to see most up-to-date information.

 

And of course, let’s remember that getting a new card will improve your credit score, contrary to the very common (but false) myth. Provided, of course, that you pay everything in full on time, which you should always do.

(Otherwise, travel rewards are not for you. That’s really the only rule.)

Don’t make the most common beginner’s mistake either, which is to close your old cards after you get a new one. Never close the old cards that you have had for a long time! Download our free checklist for when you get a new card for lots of important tips.

And come and see our presentation of the different cards during the free webinar or come and ask us all your questions!

 

2. Use the gift card trick (to earn 5 times more on everything)

And no, I’m not just talking about the gifts you give to your loved ones.

Travel rewards pros use gift cards year-round to literally quintuple everything they earn (quintuple means 5X!!!).

With cards that earn 5% in grocery stores (like the American Express Cobalt Card mentioned earlier or the Scotiabank Gold Card if you want to have a lower amount to spend to get the welcome bonus) you buy gift cards at the grocery store.

Therefore you earn 5% everywhere, not just at the grocery store.

5 times more points means 5 times more free travel.

For example, I had to buy $700 worth of tires at Canadian Tire. If I had paid with my card directly over there as most people do, it would have given me just 700 points. But I bought Canadian Tire gift cards at Couche-Tard/Mac’s/Circle K (which is coded as a “grocery store” by Amex) and got 10 points per dollar (that 10X was a promo).

But even at the normal earn rate of 5 points per dollar, that would have given me 3,500 points instead of just 700. That’s almost enough for a free night in Bali instead of 5 times fewer points for the exact same purchase.

Here’s an infographic that explains that.

See the full-size infographic

 

So familiarize yourself with the gift card racks at your grocery store (and switch to a grocery store that accepts Amex cards)!

Even if your current credit card earns just 2 points per dollar at the grocery store, that’s still 100% more free travel than getting just 1 point per dollar by paying at the retailer directly.

Here are the 100+ retailers where the gift card trick works. There are so many… take advantage of them!

 

3. Use shopping portals (to at least double your return)

Shopping online is so much easier. And it’s almost 2022! Why go out when it’s literally cheaper online.

But most importantly, I’ll never understand why everyone says they don’t have enough time to plan and prepare their trips to save hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars… but so many people waste their time shopping in a store instead of getting it all done in a few clicks and receiving everything at home.

Anyway, not only is it more convenient, but by buying online, you can double your travel rewards! AT LEAST double, because sometimes it’s even 10X more points.

By simply using online shopping portals, you can get a 10% return just for doing one extra click. You buy from the same site, but you get 1X/2X/3X/5X/10X in bonus points. For the exact same purchase!

Here’s an infographic that explains that.

See the full size infographic

 

The Aeroplan portal is the most lucrative obviously, because variable-value rewards offer the potential for outsized value and unlimited value.

But the Rakuten portal gives simple cashback, since most people want more simplicity instead of more value (you get a free $5 with our link too).

It’s simple. Instead of going to the ALDO site directly to buy your shoes, you click on the ALDO link from the online shopping portal and you get 10X the travel rewards for the same pair of shoes at the same price on the same website!

Same thing with hundreds of retailers.

Pay online with the gift card that you got at 5X the points at the grocery store and now we’re talking! 15X instead of 1X!

 

4. Take advantage of promotions (to get lots of freebies)

Honestly, just focusing on welcome bonuses is a lot easier and gives you hundreds of dollars much more easily. It’s what gives by far the largest amounts of travel rewards.

That’s where your efforts should go.

But if you’re like me and really want to maximize everything always (and maybe go on 12 international trips like I did in 2019), it’s great to be on the lookout for any promos that can earn you even more travel rewards.

It’s a trick that kind of encompasses the first 3.

 

Welcome bonus promos

Yes, welcome bonuses are the key, but some bonuses give you just ≈ $300… why get that when there are some that give you twice as much?

Always prioritize the best offers of the moment, that’s really the key. Don’t just get any card. Flytrippers publishes its ranking specifically to keep you in the loop about card promos no matter when you’re ready for your next round of card applications.

Like now, with the highest offer ever seen in Canada on a non-premium card… which also happens to be on the best card too.

American Express Cobalt® Card
Flytrippers Valuation
of Welcome Bonus alone
≈ $
minimum income required: $0
spend $500/month for 12 months
& an extra $1,500 in first 3 months
Terms and conditions apply. Flytrippers editorial opinion only. Amex is not responsible for maintaining the content on this site. Please click "Apply Now" to see most up-to-date information.
American Express Cobalt® Card
Flytrippers Valuation
of Welcome Bonus alone
≈ $
minimum income
required: $0
spend $500/month for 12 months
& an extra $1,500 in first 3 months
Terms and conditions apply. Flytrippers editorial opinion only. Amex is not responsible for maintaining the content on this site. Please click "Apply Now" to see most up-to-date information.

 

Gift card promos

Sometimes there are great deals on gift cards and prepaid cards.

That’s the case right now with a great offer. I wrote a detailed article to explain it well, but you can easily get 22% back on all your purchases for a while thanks to this promo.

Giant Tiger prepaid card promo (image credit: Andrew D’Amours/Flytrippers)

 

It’s not often that you are literally PAID to earn more points.

It really pays to know the pro tricks (and to have the right cards too, of course).

Part of my haul (photo credit: Andrew D’Amours/Flytrippers)

 

Shopping portal promos

Online shopping portals often have special sales. That’s why whenever I have something expensive to buy, I always buy EVERYTHING when portals have these sales events.

Instead of getting 1 bonus Aeroplan point or 2 bonus Aeroplan points per dollar (or the same with cashback), sometimes it’s 10 bonus Aeroplan points per dollar that the shopping portal will give you during these frequent promos (other portals have these sales too).

Like right now for Black Friday weekend.

Aeroplan portal bonuses (image credit: Andrew D’Amours/Flytrippers)

 

It’s especially interesting this weekend if you have an Aeroplan credit card like the American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card or the American Express Aeroplan Card.

You get a 5 point per dollar bonus for everything on the Aeroplan portal paid for with your credit card (that’s on top of your card’s base 1.25 or 1 point per dollar). And that’s IN ADDITION to those portal bonuses that go up to 10 points per dollar!

Aeroplan card promo (image credit: Andrew D’Amours/Flytrippers)

 

Other promos

All travelers who are even remotely interested in travel should have American Express cards, as they have the best welcome bonuses and in some cases the best benefits that make cards very profitable every year.

Well, that will also give you access to the “Amex Offers” program. These are great discounts and free credits that appear on your account (online or in the app). It is one of the best ways to earn so much more.

Just right now, Amex is giving me personally over $400 in easy credits for things I would have bought anyway (and that’s not counting the Amex Offers on my girlfriend’s accounts!) thanks to some awesome Amex Offers for the holidays.

I’ll do a detailed post next week to explain it all, but just to give one example: I have an Amex Offer for a $100 credit if I spend $100 in any restaurant or food delivery order.

Some of my current Amex Offers (image credit: Andrew D’Amours/Flytrippers)

 

Check your account if you have Amex cards.

 

Bonus: Spend less (to travel more)!

We often add bonuses to our lists because we like to give you more for your money at Flytrippers.

Well, this last tip is not about travel rewards, but it’s about spending.

It’s fascinating to see how some people say they don’t have enough money to travel more… but still always buy a lot of useless stuff.

It’s okay if your happiness is tied to material possessions, that’s your choice of course.

But you have to realize that if you want to travel more, it’s not that difficult: You have to make traveling more a priority.

(And the science is on our side though: Many studies show that experiences generate more happiness than possessions, and among experiences, travel is often the expense that gives the most long-term benefits in these studies.)

And it’s not complicated!

Just $100 less in spending is literally enough for 3 full days of travel in many countries. Or for 2 full weeks of accommodation in those countries. Or for 4 flights in Europe often. Or even for a one-way trip to Miami from a few big Canadian cities like Toronto and Montreal…

So while all the companies in the world bombard you with suggestions to manufacture needs so you spend your money, keep in mind what you are sacrificing.

Everything you spend can’t be spent on an epic trip… 🤷‍♂

 

Want to get more tips to learn how to earn free travel?

Sign up for our travel rewards newsletter

 

Summary

Here are 4 pro tips to earn more travel rewards and be able to travel more! The holiday season is a great time to maximize your travel rewards and a great time to start, so make sure to also attend our free webinar on December 7th!

What would you like to know about these tips? Tell us in the comments below.

 

See the deals we spot: Cheap flights

Explore awesome destinations: Travel inspiration

Learn pro tricks: Travel tips

Discover free travel: Travel rewards

 

Featured image: Traveler (photo credit: Louise Burton)

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Andrew D'Amours

Andrew is the co-founder of Flytrippers. He is passionate about traveling the world but also, as a former management consultant, about the travel industry itself. He shares his experiences to help you save money on travel. As a very cost-conscious traveler, he loves finding deals and getting free travel thanks to travel rewards points... to help him visit every country in the world (current count: 64/193 Countries, 47/50 US States & 9/10 Canadian Provinces).

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