It’s the most wonderful time of the year … for spending your hard-earned credit card and loyalty rewards. According to BMO’s 2015 BMO Holiday Outlook report, 31 per cent of Canadians plan to do more holiday shopping using rewards points this year.
Cashing in the spoils of your Air Miles, Aeroplan, Shopper’s Optimum, RBC Rewards, PC Plus or whatever your preferred rewards program can help offset the high costs of holiday shopping, as well as boost your earning potential. Here are some tips for using and earning rewards during the holiday season.
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How to Use Your Rewards This Holiday Season
Offset big ticket items: Many rewards programs offer items such as digital cameras, housewares and instruments as redemption options — perfect for holiday gifting. Don’t worry if you don’t have enough rewards to cover the entirety of the purchase; you can redeem what you do have and pay out-of-pocket for the rest. Every bit of savings counts.
Be charitable: Consider doing something kind with the cash you saved from using rewards — like the 35 per cent of Canadians polled for the BMO report who said they usually purchase additional gifts with the money they saved. Aw!
Pay for the turkey: Use your rewards to help offset the costs of hosting friends and family for holiday meals. President’s Choice points can be used at any Loblaws company supermarket and Air Miles cash rewards can be redeemed at Metro, Sobeys and Foodland (in Ontario; participating retailers in other provinces may vary).
Ramp up your earnings: Earn extra rewards by shopping for gifts on your reward program’s dedicated e-commerce site. Air Miles, Aeroplan and RBC have portals where you can buy from hundreds of retailers, and often earn bonus points or miles. For example, a recent Air Miles promotion offered 10 times the bonus reward miles on transactions $20 and over completed via its shopping site, airmilesshops.ca.
Take a bite out of travel costs: Taking planes, trains and automobiles to and from your holiday plans? Reduce the cost by redeeming your rewards for gas, train fares and plane tickets — like three in 10 survey respondents plan on doing. When it comes to airfare, bear in mind that most reward programs have blackout dates; if your plans fall in prime holiday time, you may not be able to redeem for plane tickets.
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But don’t buy a gift simply to earn extra rewards for yourself. In the BMO survey, 34 per cent of respondents said they’ve bought a present for someone with the purpose of reaping bonus reward points, even if the gift wasn’t the perfect choice.