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Archive for the ‘Travel Saving Tips’ Category

I am all over points programs that gets me free stuff, especially when that free stuff includes travel. The trick however, is to find points programs for companies that you frequent. This is key if you’re in the process of saving money. You don’t want to start over spending because you want the points, you want to earn points for what you’re already spending. Make sense?

Here are some ways to become a Points Whore…

Credit cards that offer points rewards– Yes, it’s a great way to rack up the points, but if you’re anything like me, be careful. When looking into credit cards always look at their annual fees and interest rates. Yes, getting those extra airmiles is euphoric, but not if you get yourself so far in debit that you’re going to spend the next 5yrs paying off your bills.

Hotel loyalty programs– I know, we all want to be die hard, no fluff travelers who battled the rugged outdoors and won. However sometimes hostel life doesn’t cut it. Sometime you need peace and quiet with a big fluffy bed, private hot showers and room service if so inclined.

I have a Starwood Preferred Guest card which I LOVE! I know what you’re thinking, they can be expensive. I agree. However they also have fabulous sales if you’re paying attention (ie: $139/night at the Vancouver Wall Centre ). The Sheraton also offers a green option for their rooms.  If you decline housekeeping they’ll give you a $5 voucher to be used in their gift shop. On my last visit I forgot to use this coupon, so the hotel gave me 500 points instead.  This is fantastic, as I can either keep my points for a FREE nights stay or I can convert them to Aeroplan points at a rate of 1:1.

Airmiles Card– In Canada the Airmiles card can be used in a ton of places, the downside is blackout dates and travel constraints.  However you can also use your points for entertainment and gift cards, which can also be handy.  For example I cashed in some points for a $50 Keg gift card which gave me a lovely night out on my last trip to Vancouver.

Airline Loyalty Programs– Show their card at various hotels, car rental companies, financial institutions and sometimes retailers to earn non-status points. This means a lot more miles, a lot faster. Non-status just means that these points won’t earn you a place in the next level of membership. But does that matter? Really?

Yes, I fly AirCanada. I know, they probably screwed you over. I’m sorry.  Actually I’ve flown with them my whole life with no issues, so I use their Aeroplan card.  I love that they have very few restrictions, unlike the Airmiles card.  They also have some great travel partners, which makes it very easy for me to collect points.

Grocery Store Programs– OMG, this is the best one yet.  You have to buy food, so is there anything better than earning airmiles while you do it? In Canada Safeway offers specials for the Airmiles card, and Sobey’s offers points redemption for the Aeroplan card from Air Canada.

I have to admit, I didn’t shop at Sobey’s very often, but when they started their Club Sobey’s Program and offered an alliance with Aeroplan I was hooked.  I have to buy food, their not too overly priced and I get airmiles? Cha Ching!  This month alone I’ve earned over 700 aeroplan points by shopping their sales (I still only buy what I need, I didn’t overspend to get them).

Bank Accounts– Some banks offer bonus points or airmiles when you open chequing or savings accounts with them.

The best part about points programs is that the membership is usually FREE, which is hard to pass up. The cons can be all those damn cards you’ll have!  I hate carrying a lot of cards on me. So I have my hotel/ flight membership numbers written down in my cell phone, address book and in an email for easy access should I forget my cards when I want to book.  Fuel points cards are kept clipped to my car visor along with my grocery store cards.

There are tons of ways to get points, buying fuel and groceries is the easiest, as you generally have to buy them anyway.  Check out retailers to see if they offer points.  I fuel up at Shell for Airmiles points or at Esso for Aeroplan points depending on gas prices.  I collect iCoke points because I’m addicted to Diet Coke and I can redeem them for $5 McDonald’s cards (which come in handy if you have little money and want fast food).  It’s about shopping smarter.  Yes, it takes some time, but the benefits can be worth it. Especially when you’ve earned enough points for a first class plane ticket on a Trans-Atlantic flight!

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Recycling- Being green isn’t only good for the environment, but it can be good for your piggy bank as well.  If you have a recycling depot in your city/town save your bottles and jugs and take them in.  It’s small change, but over time that small change can add up!

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