Travel rewards are an amazing tool to travel more and there are many misconceptions about them. Here’s a very basic tip for your holiday shopping so you can easily increase your rewards by 100%, 200%, 300% or even more… for the exact same purchase. Start using it this weekend for Black Friday.
As we mentioned in Part 2 of the What To Do Now To Travel More In 2020 series yesterday with our list of 11 things you can get in terms of travel by saving just $100, if you want to travel more, you should make traveling more a priority by spending less first and foremost.
But for what you do spend, you should at least maximize the rewards you get; maximize your return. It is exactly the same as getting a discount, and it can reach 18% pretty easily with this tip that requires no effort.
Let’s just be clear with this sidenote for beginners in the world of travel rewards: rewards on your spending is NOT how you get the most travel rewards, just like traveling is NOT how you get the most travel rewards.
We’ll cover that in later articles, but just know that if this is how you earn the most rewards, you are unfortunately not doing it right. But that’s okay; it’s not your fault, you definitely aren’t alone (it’s probably the biggest myth in an area with so many myths) and it’s very normal to think that this is how it works. But it’s not how it works and I’ll share my expertise and my 10+ years of experience earning rewards so you can become a pro too.
If you think a miserable 1% or 2% return is what travel rewards is all about, boy will you enjoy our upcoming articles… and be blown away.
With today’s tip you can at least double it up easily and turn 1% into 2% or 3% and so on, but even if you reach 18% like me… it’s still not the #1 way to earn rewards.
But for what you do earn, you should still double-dip in one click by using online shopping portals.
Online Shopping Portals
Shopping portals allow you to at least double up your earnings. It’s a really easy way to get extra points for free. This is on top of your regular credit card rewards.
You buy something online, but instead of going directly to major retailers’ websites and getting nothing, you go through a portal and get extra rewards. You buy on the exact same website and everything is exactly the same… the only difference is accessing the website through a portal (we’ll show you step by step below if you want to see how easy it is with screenshots).
It’s literally just a quick extra step that doubles up your rewards and therefore gives you at least 100% more, but potentially 1700% more (going from 1% back to 18% back is 1700% more rewards). For the same purchase.
In terms of what you prefer between convenience and value, you can both types of extra rewards with different portals: you can get cashback (the easiest and therefore least valuable rewards) or potentially much more lucrative variable value travel rewards (more complicated, but more valuable).
Those are extra rewards on top of what you’ll always earn with your credit card either way.
I’ll tell you more about each of the 3 main Canadian portals in a moment, but first, let’s compare with real examples.
Here are 5 very common scenarios from level zero travel hacker to expert travel hacker:
- Buying in-store and paying with debit or cash = 0% back (and no free insurance coverage)
No free extended warranty and theft/loss protection is bad… not to mention literally throwing away money
- Buying in-store with a card that gives you basic rewards = 1% or 2% back
Better, but you still have to go to the store like it’s 2009
- Buying online with a card that gives you basic rewards = 1% or 2% back
At least no time wasted in stores, but still a very paltry return on your spending
- Buying online on shopping portals with a card that gives you basic rewards = 2% or up to 10% back
Now we’re talking… see how insanely more lucrative it can be and how this can add up over a year
- Buying online on shopping portals with a card that gives you variable value rewards = 2% or up to 18% and even a lot more back
Extremely conservative, but by learning how to maximize the lucrative types of points, you can reach so much higher
My Real-Life Shopping Portal Purchase Example
Personally, I never earn just 1% on anything, never.
One of the ways I do that is I always go through the Aeroplan portal to earn bonus Aeroplan Miles whenever I buy anything online (and I try to buy everything online, so I can save time uselessly wasted in stores and then invest that time into choosing travel options that are more time-consuming and less convenient—scoop: that’s the easiest way to travel for less).
So let’s use the Aeroplan eStore for the example, but the cashback one below works the same and is still better than getting nothing even if it’s not as high. It’s good if you prefer simpler less lucrative rewards. Or if the offers are better (higher %) on that portal at that precise moment (each have their own promos, you have to compare like you should do for flights and everything you buy really).
Portal vs. no portal
In short, from the Aeroplan eStore, I’ll click to the Amazon website, the Lenovo website, the Apple website, the GAP website, the Old Navy website, the Nike website… you get the point: there are 170+ major retailers.
I’ll earn a bonus that ranges from 1X bonus Aeroplan Miles to 10X bonus Aeroplan Miles during special promos like for Black Friday this weekend, so it’s definitely worth it. The earn rate depends on the retailer, and is clearly indicated (we’ll talk about these promos in tomorrow’s article to keep this one shorter).
So instead of getting nothing but credit card rewards, I still get those but get up to 10X bonus Aeroplan Miles per dollar, which is huge.
Here’s how huge:
For example, if you are buying a $1,000 Lenovo laptop, by buying it in-store or on the Lenovo website you’ll only get about $10 worth of rewards with a 1% back card… lame.
I’ll use the Aeroplan eStore this weekend, and I’ll get 10X bonus Aeroplan Miles. So I’ll also get that basic $10 worth of rewards… but I’ll also get 10,000 Aeroplan Miles! Those are worth $150 based on our Flytrippers valuation (1.5¢ per Mile).
Same purchase. But you get $10 in rewards…. and I get $160 in rewards. 16 times more. A whopping 16% back instead of 1%.
See how you might have thought rewards aren’t worth it if you only had $10 instead of $160? For the very same purchase.
You won’t get 1700% more like that all year, of course. The 10X bonus miles offers are rare, but even just getting 3X Bonus Miles on everything on top of your credit card rewards really adds up over a year (especially with tomorrow and Saturday’s tricks).
This is for a big-ticket purchase, but the percentage is the same and it’s just as lucrative for smaller purchases… and over a full year, it’ll add up to huge amounts of bonus rewards if you triple your earnings each time.
Reminder: yes, Aeroplan can be really valuable
By the way, if you don’t see the value in Aeroplan… maybe it’s because you always try to use them on Air Canada, which is often the worst thing you could do because of their high surcharges. By flying United instead of Air Canada, you’ll pay only the taxes and no surcharges, which will often slash the cash co-pay in half as I talked about last week.
Even better: if you can leave from a US airport near the border, a flight to anywhere in the US will cost you just $14 in cash and the same 25,000 Miles as you would pay on Air Canada for most popular destinations like Florida, Arizona, California, Nevada, Louisiana and Texas.
Again, so many misconceptions about rewards. Aeroplan can be worth it if you know the pro tips (you can sign up to our special travel rewards mailing list for free to be the first to get our upcoming beginners course and Aeroplan cheat sheets).
Even higher return
So this was a 16% example, so why did I mention 18% return earlier? Well, to show you that again, with variable value points, you can easily get even more value and more return on your spend. A higher discount on your purchases in other words.
Like me, many of you have taken advantage of the insane Marriott Bonvoy Card deal (and if not, it’s still available as of today) and have read how you can maximize the Welcome Bonus alone for 8 free hotel nights in specific hotels (or 17 nights if your spouse or travel buddy also gets a card).
By using those points right, using that credit card is very lucrative: with that same $1,000 Lenovo purchase through the Aeroplan portal, in addition to the 10,000 Bonus Aeroplan Miles I would get 2,000 Marriott Points on my credit card. That is one-third of a free night when maximizing them, so if an average hotel costs $100, that’s worth $33.
Instead of the basic 1% card rewards many people are content with that I used conservatively for the 16% return calculation, that $33 worth of Marriott Points and the $150 worth of Aeroplan Miles mean my total return would be over 18%.
An 18% discount is huge! Just by using the portal, I would get 18% back while some people will walk into a store and pay by debit and get absolutely 0%. Or just 1% or 2% with basic cards.
Crazy improvement right?
5 Main Canadian Portals
No matter your preference in rewards, at least use one of these.
Rakuten (it used to be called EBATES.ca) is the main cashback site in Canada (you can even use our referral link to get $5 free if you want).
It’s easy cashback, so it is perfect for those of you who want it simpler. Hopefully, with our upcoming course about variable value travel rewards you’ll want to invest a bit of time to learn about how valuable those points are when you understand them… but at least get cashback instead of getting nothing at all!
It’s the biggest site with over 700 stores. Amazon is on there with 6% cashback right now, which is pretty amazing compared to getting $0 when going directly to Amazon’s website as you certainly already do.
For comparison, that same Lenovo promo is 9% back on Rakuten, while on Aeroplan 10X Miles means 15% back at our valuation… Over 50% more rewards; just to reiterate how lucrative Aeroplan Miles can be.
How can it work in physical stores? Simple: you connect a credit card to your online account, and by using that same card when shopping in physical stores, you’ll get the cashback.
Paymi has much fewer retailers than Rakuten, but everything else is the same. Like for all purchases, rebates (cashback levels) vary by store, so it’s good to have an account with both and compare before a purchase.
PayTM is even more different: you get an instant discount on gift cards (which is just like getting cashback) AND earn cashback (to get $5 free, you can manually enter our referral link PTM6486601 if you want).
So this one can be used in-store too, in a way. For example, $10 Tim Hortons gift cards are selling for $9. That’s like getting 10% cashback. By paying $9 through the app, you’ll also get 9 PayTM points, which is an additional 0.9% cashback. It can be used for more gift card purchases, or to pay bills in the app.
Yes, PayTM’s primary mission is to allow you to pay bills with credit cards, even if the bill normally doesn’t allow it (only certain bills, unlike Plastiq where you can pay absolutely anything with a credit card). There is a fee when using credit cards, so it’s only worth it to unlock sign-up bonuses, with cards with great earn rates, or for very good variable-value point redemptions.
PayTM’s differentiator is that it can be used in the app only, not on a computer.
Aeroplan eStore (Aeroplan Miles)
Well, I said pretty much everything there is to say about the Aeroplan eStore already. Come back tomorrow for details about the Black Friday promo (you can sign up for free to get all our content, in addition to signing up for the Aeroplan Ultimate Guide waiting list for how to maximize your Miles).
AirMilesShops.ca (AIR MILES)
The last one, if you prefer AIR MILES: the AirMilesShops Portal. Pretty much the same principle as Aeroplan, just make sure you use your AIR MILES correctly too (as Dream Rewards not Cash Rewards).
Like Aeroplan, it’s a program that is very misused but can be valuable. To be clear, if you are going to use AIR MILES for low-value Cash Rewards, the poor return might not be better than what you can get on Rakuten, so compare.
If you want to read our upcoming AIR MILES tips and use them for maximum value for expensive short-haul flights and car rentals, then the AirMilesShops portal is a good option.
Come back tomorrow for an AIR MILES promo that all should take advantage of and how to get 50% more value out all your AIR MILES by maximizing them with good uses.
How It Works
The article is getting too long, so here it is for those who want to see screenshots of how online shopping portals work.
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Earning rewards on your spending is not the way you’ll get the most rewards, but at least double up what you do get this way by using shopping portals. You could go from 1% back to 18% back for the exact same purchase. Not too shabby right?
Don’t miss the next part of our special series tomorrow:
WHAT TO DO NOW TO TRAVEL MORE IN 2020 4 Tips To Prepare For Flight Deals (On Black Friday Or Not) Save Money On Holiday Shopping And Lengthen Your Trips By Days Completely Free How One Click Will Give You At Least 100% More Free Rewards For The Same Purchase Maximizing Promos To Earn Hundreds Without Even Spending More Another Tip To Get 100% Or 200% More Free Rewards With Absolutely No Additional Effort Learn To Travel In A More Authentic Way (And Also Save Hundreds Of Dollars) THE Single Most Important Travel Decision To Travel For Less Or Travel More Often (Or Both) THE Easiest Way You Can (And Should) Earn 10 Times (!!!) More Free Travel A Common Mistake To Avoid That Is Like Throwing Away Hundreds Of Dollars How To Turn 10 Days Of Annual Vacation Into 25 Days For Free 15 Tips To Save On Plane Tickets (When You Can't Wait For A Deal) 5 Absolute Best Tips To Travel More In 2020
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Featured image: Savvy shopper (Photo Credit: Humphrey Muleba)
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