Rewards points

If you want to learn how credit cards reward points and reward miles work in Canada, and how to leverage reward programs to save money on everything from travel to groceries, then you've come to the right place.

Frequently asked questions about rewards points

How often should you redeem your credit card points?

While there is certainly no rule on when you should redeem credit card points, there are some events that you should be mindful of. If you are planning to cancel your card soon or if there is an expiry date on your points, you should look to redeem your points before either of those dates. Besides that, you should check what types of rewards are being offered by your credit card provider. Most providers have increasingly attractive rewards the higher the points you accrue. If the rewards at those higher tiers are more compelling to you than the ones at lower tiers, it might be worth waiting to rack up those points and redeem them all at once (provided that the points do not expire). Alternatively, you may want to redeem your points more frequently to help you save on your monthly bills.

How do I calculate the value of my rewards points?

The simplest way to calculate the value of your rewards points are to take the monetary value of the reward being offered, multiply it by 100, and divide it by the number of points required to achieve that particular reward. For example, if a reward has a value of $500 and it takes $50,000 points to unlock it, then that means that each reward point is worth [(500 x 100) / 50,000] = 1 cent.

How do I fly with points?

The first step to flying using credit card points is to obtain a travel credit card or any credit card that offers attractive rewards such as the opportunity to earn Air Miles, Aeroplan or other travel points. Each credit card has different requirements and policies for how points are earned, so ensure that you read each one carefully before selecting the optimal card for yourself. Some credit cards have large signup bonuses for new customers which can be availed to accelerate the journey to racking up enough points for free travel. Others offer additional incentives for a specific type of expense category. For example, some cards may offer double the points on groceries while other cards may offer higher points for each dollar spent on travel. Assess your spending habits and select the one that is best aligned with what type of spender you are by using our credit cards comparison tool. Once you have selected a credit card, use that card for your everyday purchases like groceries, gas, entertainment, etc. and start building up the points you need. Once you hit the threshold required, convert your points to your chosen travel reward and enjoy!

Can I use my rewards points for anything other than travel?

Yes, you can use your rewards points for a wide variety of purchases besides just travel. Each credit card provider has a different selection of the rewards they offer to customers. However, depending on the provider, you may be able to redeem the rewards for merchandise, home appliances and furniture, gift cards, and other incentives.

How can I maximize my rewards with a credit card?

The key to maximizing your credit card rewards is to have a card that matches the purchases you make. A card that works well for one person may not necessarily work as well for the other if they spend on different things and want different types of rewards. As such, select a card that offers the greatest bang for each buck you spend in the category that you spend most on each year. You should also look into assessing the conditions around earning a sign-up bonus (if applicable). Many cards offer highly appealing sign-up bonuses to convince customers to come over which can be capitalized on when seeking to maximize rewards. Lastly, it is important to read the credit card information document you get when you sign on for a new card. This document has information on all the perks available to you, and it also details the terms and conditions that have to be adhered to in order to earn and redeem points.

How many Air Miles do you need for a free flight?

The number of Air Miles you need to accrue to get a free flight depends on a variety of factors including the carrier you choose, the distance covered by the flight, the class you fly in, and the time of the year that you are looking to fly in. A short-haul economy class flight may be booked for ~4,000 Air Miles while longer haul flights can require 10,000 to 30,000 Air Miles (or even more) depending on distance and seasonality. There are various potential Air Miles card options in Canada that you can review to determine which one would suit your needs and allow you to get free flights in the shortest time possible.

How can I save money with a rewards program?

If you are feeling the impacts of inflation, using the right credit card can save you money each month. Depending on the type of card you use, you may earn higher rewards for certain expense categories. For example, some credit cards offer higher points on grocery and gas purchases while others offer more points for dining, ridesharing, streaming services, etc. As a savvy spender, you can choose the credit card that aligns best with your profile to earn points more quickly. These points can then be converted to cash or other types of rewards that can help you save money on the most common purchases you make every month.

Do rewards points expire?

In the Canadian loyalty landscape, most credit card providers offer points that do not expire as long as the account is open. However, points or miles that are earned through loyalty programs such as hotels and airlines may expire if they are not used by a certain date. This date is set by the program provider.

What is the best fly reward program – Air Miles or Aeroplan?

Between Air Miles and Aeroplan, the best fly reward program depends on what type of airline you prefer to fly with. Air Miles are more versatile if you are redeeming for flights on a range of airlines flying out of Canada. On the other hand, Air Canada completed its acquisition of Aeroplan in 2019. As such, Aeroplan credit cards are the better option if you regularly fly with Air Canada or its partner airlines.

What is the best rewards program for groceries?

There are several credit cards that offer attractive rewards and help you save money on grocery purchases in Canada. For example, the American Express Cobalt card offers 5 points for every $1 spent at eligible grocery stores. Others are more focused on specific retailers such as the BMO Cashback World Elite Mastercard (for Walmart purchases), Scotiabank Momentum Visa Infinite (for Loblaws purchases) and the Brim World Elite Mastercard (for Costco purchases).

How long does it take to accumulate travel reward points for a trip?

The amount of time it takes to accumulate enough travel reward points for a free trip depending on the type of card you use, the volume of purchases you make, and the type of trip you want to take. Through savvy card selection, a free trip could be as close as three months away if you take advantage of the right sign-on offers and structures for earning rewards points. However, the more expensive the trip, the longer it will take, all else being equal.

How do you redeem HSBC rewards points in Canada?

If you hold a credit card with HSBC in Canada, you can redeem your points for a range of rewards including travel rewards, financial rewards (applied to personal loans, credit card bills and mortgages), or other merchandise (electronics, appliances, etc.) and gift cards. Once you have accrued enough points for these rewards, you can simply log in to your banking portal, navigate to your credit card account, and click ‘Rewards points’ to assess the options available to you.