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 (when you do it the right way). Especially now, as it’s the most important time of the year to maximize your earnings.

First, I want to invite you to attend our free travel rewards webinar to learn how to join the Flytrippers readers who have now earned nearly 2 MILLION dollars in travel rewards with our tips.

I myself have earned over $20,000 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 earning opportunities exist).

(And sign up for our free newsletter specifically about travel rewards to get more exclusive tips tomorrow!)

 

1. Use your spending to unlock bonuses (to get 49% back)

Obviously, I’ll 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, no one!

There are 8 cards that currently give you at least ≈ $639 in free travel just with their welcome bonus. We’ve rarely seen so many offers this good at the same time!

So your holiday spending should go towards unlocking a welcome bonus (or welcome bonuses). Unlocking welcome bonuses — by reaching a minimum spend amount — is all you need to do to get hundreds and hundreds of dollars in free travel.

For example, the RBC Avion Visa Infinite Card has its highest welcome bonus ever, giving you ≈ $780 in free travel (≈ $900 in rewards for $120).

If you want a completely free welcome bonus and 4 free passes for airport lounge access, the CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Card gives you ≈ $492 in free travel. Both of those require an annual income of $60,000, but the CIBC Aventura Gold Visa Card is identical to the latter and only requires $15,000 (once on the CIBC link, you need to scroll all the way down to see that one)!

If not, the American Express Cobalt Card has no minimum income (as is the case for all cards issued by Amex) and gives you ≈ $744 in free travel. 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 overall card in Canada.

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 and save 2.5% on all foreign transactions!!! Amazing. Or the National Bank World Elite Mastercard that gives you ≈ $650 if you can spend a bit more.

In terms of percentage, I’ll use the 2 CIBC cards since everyone can get those.

The welcome bonus gives you an effective return rate of ≈ 49% on your purchases, instead of just 1% or 2%… welcome bonuses are amazing to earn faster! For the exact same $1,000 in purchases, you get ≈ $492 in travel rewards instead of $10 or $20…

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

Best credit card offers
(April 2024)
NEW
Marriott Bonvoy American Express® Card
Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $3k in 3 mos.
WELCOME BONUS
( VALUATION)
ends May 6th
Rewards: ≈ $639
Card fee: $120
Best for: Very lucrative
hotel points
for specific hotels
NEW
Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express® Card
Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card
Card: no business required
Bonus: spend $6k in 3 mos.
WELCOME BONUS
( VALUATION)
ends May 6th
Rewards: ≈ $783
Card fee: $150
Best for: For those
who already have
the one above
NEW
TD First Class Travel® Visa Infinite* Card
TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $5k in 6 months
WELCOME BONUS
( VALUATION)
ends June 3rd
Rewards: $750
Annual fee: $0 $139
Best for: Highest offer
for simple points
use for any trip
RBC Avion Visa Infinite Card
RBC Avion Visa Infinite Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $5k in 6 mos.
WELCOME BONUS
( VALUATION)
ends April 30th

 apply now
Rewards: ≈ $900
Card fee: $120
Best for: Versatile rewards
valuable or simple
great if you're flexible
RBC Avion Visa Platinum Card
RBC Avion Visa Platinum Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $5k in 6 mos.
WELCOME BONUS
( VALUATION)
ends April 30th
Rewards: ≈ $900
Card fee: $120
Best for: Inferior card only
for those not
eligible for the one above
Best
American Express Cobalt® Card
American Express Cobalt Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $750/mo for 12 mos.
WELCOME BONUS
( VALUATION)
Rewards: ≈ $900
Card fee: $156
Best for: Best overall
card
in Canada
6% rate
Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card
Scotiabank Gold American Express Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $7.5k in 1y (or $1k)
WELCOME BONUS
( VALUATION)
ends July 1st
Rewards: $775
Card fee: $120
Best for: Very good
travel insurance
and earn rate
Platinum Card® from American Express
Platinum Card from American Express
Card:
Bonus: spend $10k in 3 mos.
WELCOME BONUS
( VALUATION)
Rewards: ≈ $1600
Card fee: $799
Best for: Unlimited access to
airport lounges
and flexible rewards
NEW
TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card
TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $10k in 12 mos. (or $6k for lower bonus)
WELCOME BONUS
( VALUATION)
ends June 3rd
Rewards: ≈ $761
Annual fee: $139
Best for: Valuable Aeroplan pts
and travel benefits
$5k spend option also available
American Express® Gold Rewards Card
American Express Gold Rewards Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $1k/mo for 12 mos.
WELCOME BONUS
( VALUATION)
Rewards: ≈ $1180
Card fee: $250
Best for: Valuable rewards
and 4
airport lounge passes
RBC® British Airways Visa Infinite
RBC British Airways Visa Infinite Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $6k in 3 mos.
WELCOME BONUS
( VALUATION)
limited time
Rewards: ≈ $840
Card fee: $165
Best for: Great airline
rewards
for big spenders
American Express® Aeroplan®* Card
American Express Aeroplan Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $1k/mo for 10 mos.
WELCOME BONUS
( VALUATION)
Rewards: ≈ $630
Card fee: $120
Best for: Valuable Aeroplan pts
without min. income
and lower min. spend
NEW
American Express® Aeroplan®* Reserve Card
American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $7.5k in 3 mos.
WELCOME BONUS
( VALUATION)
Rewards: ≈ $1041
Card fee: $599
Best for: For Air Canada
lounge access
& other AC benefits
NEW
WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard
WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard
Card:
Bonus: spend $5k in 3 mos.
WELCOME BONUS
( VALUATION)
ends July 31st
Rewards: $525
Card fee: $119
Best for: Companion
ticket or
4 lounge passes
Scotiabank Passport® Visa Infinite* Card
Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $1k in 3 mos.
WELCOME BONUS
( VALUATION)
ends July 1st
Rewards: $320
Card fee: $0 $150
Best for: 6 airport lounge
passes
and no FX fees
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
(April 2024)
WELCOME BONUS
( VALUATION)
Best
for
NEW
Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $3k in 3 mos.
Rewards: ≈ $639
Card fee: $120
Very lucrative
hotel points
for specific hotels
ends May 6th
NEW
Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card
Card: no business required
Bonus: spend $6k in 3 mos.
Rewards: ≈ $783
Card fee: $150
For those
who already have
the one above
ends May 6th
NEW
TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $5k in 6 months
Rewards: $750
Annual fee: $0 $139
Highest offer
for simple points
use for any trip
ends June 3rd
RBC Avion Visa Infinite Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $5k in 6 mos.
Rewards: ≈ $900
Card fee: $120
Versatile rewards
valuable or simple
great if you're flexible
ends April 30th

 apply now
RBC Avion Visa Platinum Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $5k in 6 mos.
Rewards: ≈ $900
Card fee: $120
Inferior card only
for those not
eligible for the one above
ends April 30th
Best
American Express Cobalt Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $750/mo for 12 mos.
Rewards: ≈ $900
Card fee: $156
Best overall
card
in Canada
6% rate
Scotiabank Gold American Express Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $7.5k in 1y (or $1k)
Rewards: $775
Card fee: $120
Very good
travel insurance
and earn rate
ends July 1st
Platinum Card from American Express
Card:
Bonus: spend $10k in 3 mos.
Rewards: ≈ $1600
Card fee: $799
Unlimited access to
airport lounges
and flexible rewards
NEW
TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $10k in 12 mos. (or $6k for lower bonus)
Rewards: ≈ $761
Annual fee: $139
Valuable Aeroplan pts
and travel benefits
$5k spend option also available
ends June 3rd
American Express Gold Rewards Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $1k/mo for 12 mos.
Rewards: ≈ $1180
Card fee: $250
Valuable rewards
and 4
airport lounge passes
RBC British Airways Visa Infinite Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $6k in 3 mos.
Rewards: ≈ $840
Card fee: $165
Great airline
rewards
for big spenders
limited time
American Express Aeroplan Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $1k/mo for 10 mos.
Rewards: ≈ $630
Card fee: $120
Valuable Aeroplan pts
without min. income
and lower min. spend
NEW
American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $7.5k in 3 mos.
Rewards: ≈ $1041
Card fee: $599
For Air Canada
lounge access
& other AC benefits
NEW
WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard
Card:
Bonus: spend $5k in 3 mos.
Rewards: $525
Card fee: $119
Companion
ticket or
4 lounge passes
ends July 31st
Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $1k in 3 mos.
Rewards: $320
Card fee: $0 $150
6 airport lounge
passes
and no FX fees
ends July 1st
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 (the new ones you get are fine to close after the 1st year, we’re talking about the OLD ones)! 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!!!).

First, you get a card that earns 5% in grocery stores:

Then you buy various 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 special 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 enough for half of a reward flight 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, the gift card trick still gives you 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!

(And those who receive our separate free newsletter on travel rewards specifically will get our pro tip for all retailers who don’t offer gift cards in grocery stores, including Costco!)

 

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

Shopping online is so much easier. And it’s almost 2023! 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. Especially with the crazy bonuses for Black Friday!

But the Rakuten portal gives simple cash back, 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 sometimes 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 the points 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 as 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 so many amazing offers! And it’s not just about getting the right card, it’s about getting the right card at the right time, since offers change all the time.

 

Gift card promos

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

Shoppers Drug Mart often offers discounts or bonus points on gift card purchases. Walmart too. Giant Tiger has deals on prepaid cards a few times a year.

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)

 

In that picture, I got $800 in prepaid cards. And also $80 in Giant Tiger gift cards to give me a profit despite the activation fees on the prepaid cards (Visa and Mastercard prepaid cards are not free unlike the gift cards from retailers). And I earned 4,000 Amex points (≈ $60) thanks to the 5 points per dollar earn rate on my Amex Cobalt Card.

 

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: Aeroplan)

 

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 10 points per dollar for everything on the Aeroplan portal paid for with your credit card. And that’s IN ADDITION to those portal bonuses that go up to 10 points per dollar!

That gives you up to 20 points per dollar (≈ 30% back) on purchases that most people will make with a big bonus of zero points!

 

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.

Last year, Amex personally gave me over $500 in easy credits for things I would have bought anyway (and that’s not counting the Amex Offers on my girlfriend’s accounts!) thanks in part to some awesome Amex Offers for the holidays.

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

 

I’ll do a detailed post next week to explain the newest offers, but you can read our detailed post about the Amex Offers program.

Check your account if you have Amex cards, you’ll see plenty of Amex Offers (unless you just got your Amex cards; there’s a delay).

 

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 6th!

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: 71/193 Countries, 47/50 US States & 9/10 Canadian Provinces).

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