As travel restrictions lift, many Canadians are looking forward to a big trip. Here’s how a travel credit card can help with planning—and saving.
Photo by Nick Wehrli from Pexels
With months of pandemic-related lockdowns behind us and some uncertainty still ahead, many Canadians have put their travel plans on hold in favour of other pursuits. This year we’ve seen a boom in home renovations and upgrades—not surprising given the uptick in time spent at home. But things are changing. As the nation exceeds 50 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, and communities begin to open, travel is once again on the horizon.
Canadians are already making travel a priority, with 78% saying they save for travel, according to a Rakuten survey. But stashing money isn’t the only way to save. For strategic credit card holders, now is a great time to start accumulating travel points, so they can be put to good use later. In this article, we’ll look at how travel rewards credit cards, like the CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Card, can help you make the most of your current spending to accumulate points for a big trip soon.
Using travel rewards credit cards for a big trip
As the name suggests, travel rewards credit cards let you earn rewards from your credit purchases that are redeemable for flights, hotels and travel experiences, such as sports and entertainment activities. When deciding on the best travel rewards credit card for you and your long-term travel goals, you will want to consider the following factors.
Choose the right program type and the rights points value
There are several different travel rewards programs available for Canadians. Some, like Aeroplan and Air Miles, work in partnership with specific airlines; meaning the rewards are redeemable with that airline only. There are other programs that offer more flexibility when it comes to redeeming points. For example, with CIBC Aventura, you can redeem points toward any seats, on any flights, on every airline. There are credit cards that focus more on hotel and experience-based rewards. You’ll also want to factor in the card’s flexibility, as well as the number of points required for redemption, which will vary program-to-program. In short, it pays to do the math and look at restrictions before you select a rewards program. And beyond the type of rewards program offered, you’ll want to consider the value of the points earned. For example, 1 Aventura point is worth $0.0116.
Make the most of earn rates and spending categories
The earn rate on a travel rewards credit card refers to the number of points or miles you get for every dollar spent with the card. All credit cards have a base rate, or a minimum amount you’ll earn, but where you can really rack up the points is in accelerated spending categories. Let’s look at how this works with the CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Card.
For every $1 spent at eligible gas stations, grocery stores and drug stores
For every $1 spent on travel purchased through the CIBC Rewards Centre
For every $1 spent on all other purchases
In this case, you will earn 1.5 Aventura points per $1 spent at eligible grocery stores, gas stations and drug stores—three top spending categories for Canadians. Travel purchases through the CIBC Rewards Centre also nets you 2 Aventura points per $1 spent, and you get 1 point per every $1 on everything else.
Take advantage of welcome offers to earn even more points
If you want more points, one way is to get a new card. Credit card companies want your business, and often entice you with a promotion that’s available to new applicants who are approved for the card. These bonuses can be quite lucrative and can give you a big boost towards your future travel.
The CIBC Aventura Visa credit card, for example, is offering new members 20,000 bonus Aventura points with the first purchase, and up to 1,240 each month when you use the card to spend at least $1,000. That’s an $800 value in Aventura points. Plus, earn an additional 500 points for registering with an email address, signing up for e-statements, adding an authorized user, having a CIBC chequing account, and adding their Aventura Visa card to Apple Pay, Samsung Pay or Google Pay.
Make sure it’s easy to redeem your points
How easily you can redeem your points is a key factor when it comes to choosing a travel rewards program. The best options are simple to redeem and offer lots of flexibility, so you can get what you want, when you want it.
As mentioned above, some programs impose restrictions on which airlines you can book with their points. This may work for some people, but others will want more flexibility. The CIBC Aventura program is an example of a flexible travel rewards program. You can book with any airline on every flight and for any seat with Aventura points, which is great if you travel with a group and are trying to get on the same flight. You can fly for as little as 10,000 points, and your points do not expire.
The right travel rewards card for you depends on your specific needs, your preferences and your spending, but by planning now, you’ll be set for takeoff in no time.