CIBC Rewards Guide | How to maximize your points

**This post may contain affiliate links. I may be compensated if you use them.

CIBC Rewards, often referred to as CIBC Aventura, is CIBC’s travel loyalty program. Although I rank the CIBC Rewards program behind American Express Membership Rewards and RBC Rewards, it’s still an excellent program that deserves your attention.

For whatever reason, CIBC credit cards aren’t that popular. However, when you look at the details, you’ll realize that there’s a lot of value with their cards. Not only can you earn points quickly without much work, but you can also redeem your points in multiple ways. With so many options available, you need to know how to maximize the value of your CIBC Rewards points.

The value of CIBC Rewards points

As a general reference, 100 CIBC Rewards points are worth $1 in travel. That means the value of one CIBC Reward point is 1 cent. That said, there is a way to increase the value of your points, and there are also many options that devalue things. Here’s a quick look at what your CIBC Rewards points are worth.

Redemption typeRedemption value
Travel portal1 cent per point
Travel when calling1 cent per point
Airline reward chartUp to 2.28 cents per point
Financial products.83 cents per point
Gift cards.71 cents per point
Merchandise.55 - .70 cents per point
Statement credit.63 cents per point

As you can see, using your CIBC Rewards points for travel will always give you the best value. The Aventura Airline Reward Chart is especially noteworthy since you can more than double the value of your points. Financial products have a lower value per point, but they can be worth more in the long run. All other options aren’t a good value at all.

How to redeem CIBC Rewards points

With the exception of calling in to redeem travel, all CIBC Rewards redemptions are done through the website. While this is convenient, some people have other preferred methods of booking travel. Fortunately, the CIBC Rewards website is pretty good and easy to use. Here’s how to redeem your CIBC Rewards points.

CIBC Travel portal

You can redeem points to book hotels, car rentals, vacation packages and cruises online via the CIBC travel portal. The portal will display the cash fares and you can use points to offset the cost at a ratio of 100 points = $1. While the CIBC booking portal is quite efficient for flights, searching for hotels and car rentals can be challenging.

There are limited options when searching for hotels so it can be a bit difficult to find the right hotel if you’re relying strictly on the CIBC travel portal. A better solution would be to search for your hotel or car rental on Expedia.ca since they have more filters and options. Once you’ve found what works best for you, call CIBC and have them book it for you while redeeming your points.

Call CIBC Rewards Center to book what you found on Expedia.ca

This option is not really advertised on CIBC Rewards’ website, but it’s an incredibly useful feature. When calling the CIBC Rewards Center to book a travel redemption, you will have access to the Aventura Travel Assistant which is a full-service travel agency. The Aventura Travel Assistant can book anything you find on Expedia.ca. You can then redeem your points at the same ratio of 100 points = $1 when booking.

While it’s not quite the same as booking on your own, and there’s no price matching, calling in to make a redemption is still handy. Expedia.ca has many more options for hotels, travel packages and car rentals than what you would find on CIBC Rewards travel portal. Expedia.ca also sells “Things To Do” so you can use your Aventura points to book tours and attraction tickets as well.

Aventura Airline Reward Chart

The Aventura Airline Reward is a fixed point flight booking option that gives you the most bang for your buck, er, point. This feature allows you to book any seat on any flight and you can redeem points to pay for the base fare up to a certain value. This applies to round-trip flights and points cover the base fare only, which means you will need to pay the fees and taxes. If the fare exceeds the maximum value, you can pay the remaining with points or cash.

Here’s the redemption chart:

DestinationsPoints requiredMax. ticket priceTravel parameters
Canada and U.S. (Short Haul)10,000 - 20,000$400Within a province or territory or U.S. state or to an adjoining province or territory or U.S. state
Canada and U.S. (Long Haul)25,000 - 35,000$800From any location in Canada or U.S. to any location in Canada or U.S (except Hawaii and Alaska)
Mexico, Alaska, Hawaii, Central America, Caribbean40,000 - 60,000$1,000From any location in Canada or U.S. to Mexico, Hawaii, Alaska, Bermuda, Central America or Caribbean
Europe50,000 -70,000$1,300From a major gateway in Canada or U.S. to select destinations in Europe
Rest of the world75,000 - 125,000$2,000From a major gateway in Canada or U.S. to select destinations in Africa or Asia or Australia or New Zealand or South Pacific or Middle East or South America

Like any fixed travel rewards chart, the Aventura Airline Reward Chart has a few sweet spots. If we’re looking at things strictly from a value perspective, then the 35,000 points redemption available to CIBC Rewards users. With this fare, you can claim a flight with a base fare of $800. That means you would get a value of 2.28¢ per point which a fantastic value for CIBC Rewards points. Conveniently, a few of the CIBC credit cards give you a welcome bonus of 35,000 points, so you could use them to your advantage.

It’s always in your best interest to compare the Aventura Airline Reward Chart to the cost of a flight found via the CIBC travel portal to see which option gives you a better value for your points.

Financial products

If you have a mortgage or investments with CIBC, redeeming points for financial products can be worth you while. It will cost you 12,000 CIBC Rewards points to get $100 in value. You can use that amount to pay off your mortgage or to invest within your TFSA or RRSP. When going this route, your points are only worth .83 cents each, but they’ll likely be worth more in the long term as your investments grow.

If you’re using your CIBC Rewards points against your mortgage, it goes 100% towards your principal which means you’ll pay less interest over your amortization period. Let’s say your mortgage has an interest of 3%. When you redeem your points to pay down your mortgage by $100, you’re actually getting $103 in value. That’s a return of .86 cents each. I know it’s not a major difference, but I’m just illustrating the value.

Gift cards

If you don’t have any need for anything travel related, and you don’t have any financial products with CIBC, you could consider using your points for gift cards. Most gift cards (Costco, President’s Choice, Amazon, etc.) can be redeemed at a ratio of 14,000 points = $100. You can redeem fewer points for a smaller gift card, but the ratio remains the same. For example, it would cost you 3,500 points for a $25 gift card. That works out to a value of .71 cents per point which isn’t very good.

That said, occasionally, CIBC Rewards does have gift card promotions where it costs fewer points to make a redemption. When that happens, you can get a value closer to 1 cent per point which is much more appealing.

Merchandise

When logged into the CIBC Rewards website, you’ll see a tab called “shop.” This is where you’ll find their merchandise that you can redeem. The value of your points differs depending on what you’re redeeming, but you can expect them to fall within the .55 – .70 cents per point range. It’s not the worst redemption, but it’s also not the best. You’ll find the typical stuff available such as toys, electronics, small appliances, etc.

Statement credit

Finally, CIBC Rewards points can be redeemed to offset any purchase made on your credit card at a rate of 4,000 for $25. While this option exists, it’s a 37% devaluation compared to a standard travel redemption. You should only consider going this route if you’re struggling financially.

Do CIBC Rewards points expire?

No, as long as you have an active account in good standing with CIBC, your points will not expire. It’s worth noting that CIBC has a credit card with no annual fee, so you could switch to that if you just need to park your points for the time being. If you’re looking to switch to an Aeroplan card or to cancel your card, you should cash out your points before doing so.

How CIBC Rewards compares to others

CIBC Rewards is a solid loyalty program. It shines on potential value since you can get more than 2 cents per point in value when redeeming travel with the Aventura Airline Reward Chart. In addition, the ability to redeem anything you find on Expedia.ca gives you a lot of options.

What stops CIBC Rewards from being a top tier program is that you can’t transfer your points into any other airline or hotel loyalty program. You also can’t use your points to offset travel costs booked on your own. If you’re interested in a program that allows you to transfer your points into another loyalty program, you’re better off with American Express Membership Rewards or RBC Rewards. If you prefer programs where you can book any travel on your own, then Scotia Rewards may be a better choice.

Overall, I rank CIBC Rewards in the middle of the pack when it comes to the best bank travel loyalty programs. Admittedly, CIBC has made improvements to their credit cards over the years, but nothing has happened significantly with CIBC Rewards. This isn’t a bad thing, it just is what it is.

How to earn CIBC Rewards points

You can earn CIBC Rewards points from the welcome bonus and your daily spending when using a CIBC Aventura credit card. CIBC has eight different Aventura credit cards including two business cards and one student card. This is an impressive lineup and a few of the Aventura cards are on my list of best travel credit cards in Canada. Here’s a quick look at the top CIBC Aventura cards. Note that I try to keep this page updated, but the welcome bonus frequently changes.

CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite

  • $120 annual fee (first year free)
  • 20,000 Aventura points when you make your first purchase
  • 1,250 Additional Aventura points monthly when you spend $1,000 in the first year (15,000 points total)
  • Priority Pass membership and four complimentary airport lounge entries per year
  • Rebate on NEXUS application fee
  • Comprehensive travel insurance package
  • Mobile device insurance coverage up to $1,000
  • 2 points per $1 spent on travel purchased through the CIBC Rewards Centre
  • 5 points per $1 spent at gas stations, grocery stores and drugstores
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Full review here

CIBC Aventura Gold Visa

  • $120 annual fee (first year free)
  • 15,000 Aventura points when you make your first purchase
  • 1,250 Additional Aventura points monthly when you spend $1,000 in the first year (15,000 points total)Priority Pass membership and four complimentary airport lounge entries per year
  • Rebate on NEXUS application fee
  • Some travel insurance included
  • Mobile device insurance coverage up to $1,000
  • 2 points per $1 spent on travel purchased through the CIBC Rewards Centre
  • 5 points per $1 spent at gas stations, grocery stores and drugstores
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Full review here

Final thoughts

Although not as popular as some of the bank travel rewards programs, CIBC Rewards is pretty good. Points are easy to accumulate and you can use them with no blackout dates. The fixed travel schedule allows you to get more value out of your points, so maximize it if you can.

CIBC Rewards Guide | How to maximize your points

About Barry Choi

Barry Choi is a Toronto-based personal finance and travel expert who frequently makes media appearances. His blog Money We Have is one of Canada’s most trusted sources when it comes to money and travel. You can find him on Twitter:@barrychoi

6 Comments

  1. Mike on February 28, 2020 at 12:16 PM

    Well, my review of CIBC Rewards Points is overwhelmingly negative. You’d be extremely lucky to find anything close to a saving of $228 for a 10,000-pt redemption, especially if your destination is outside Canada. Even if you can find flights that work schedule-wise (I almost always didn’t), you can’t book any flights with an origin outside of North America and only economy fares – and you sometimes can’t get anything but the rock-bottom economy fare on a Westjet flight. I switched to the Scotia Passport VISA Infinite to get something more like a cash-back card (redeem 10,000 points for $100 rebates on past travel purchases on the card) that gives me 2 more lounge visits per year and no transaction fees on foreign currency purchases. No more frustrations!!

  2. Louise McCook on May 5, 2020 at 11:51 AM

    I would like to redeem my points for Costco gift cards but I do not know how to do this…….can some one help me

  3. Louise McCook on May 5, 2020 at 11:51 AM

    I would like to redeem my points for Costco gift cards but I do not know how to do this…….can some one help me

  4. Chrissy @ Eat Sleep Breathe FI on July 1, 2020 at 3:39 PM

    Thanks for this helpful post, Barry. The points are not bad, but I found the hotel redemptions to be pretty pitiful in Japan (even with using the Expedia trick). You will have much better luck using the points in North America. Way more hotels to choose from.

    Now that our travels are grounded, I’ll have to look into other ways to use the points up. Thanks for listing the other redemption options.

Leave a Comment





Get a FREE copy of The Cost of Travel

Subscribe now to get your FREE eBook and learn how to see the world without spending a fortune