How to Earn More Travel Rewards Points

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People are constantly asking me how to earn more travel rewards?  You see, I travel 3 – 4 times a year and for every trip I take, there’s a good chance that I’m claiming points in some capacity.

Earning points is easy when you have one of the best travel rewards cards, but how do you maximize your earnings potential? It really comes down to two simple strategies: taking advantage of signup bonuses and knowing how your multipliers.

how to earn more travel rewards points

Using signup bonuses

Keep in mind that to get these bonuses, you need to spend quite a bit in the first three months of card membership. I personally tend to time my major purchases or expenses (such as car insurance) with a new credit card application so I can meet the minimum spend.

I’ve written a comprehensive guide to the best travel credit cards in Canada that focuses on signup bonuses, but I wanted to highlight a few cards to quickly to give you show how lucrative signup bonuses can be.

American Express Personal Platinum

  • $699 Annual fee
  • 60,000 Signup points (with my referral link) after charging $3,000
  • $200 Annual travel credit
  • Priority Pass Membership with unlimited free visits

The Amex Platinum card is often overlooked due to the high annual fee of $699, but if you check out my review of the card, I share how you can reduce that fee down to $299. What makes this card appealing is the fact that you’re essentially getting 60,000 Membership Rewards points (with a referral link) for $299 when you spend $3,000 in the first three months of card membership. Those points can then be transferred to Aeroplan on a 1:1 basis which is enough for two round-trip tickets to anywhere in the continental US and Canada.

Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite

  • $139 Annual fee
  • 25,000 signup points ($250 value) after charging $1,500 in purchases
  • Priority Pass Membership with 6 free annual passes

With the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite card, the spend requirement is just $139, but the signup bonus of 25,000 points is worth just $250. You do get 6 free airport lounge visits per year but the Amex Personal Platinum card offers you unlimited visits and has a much higher signup bonus. That being said, the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite is one of the best credit cards with no foreign transaction fees, so it’s worth considering. Read my Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite card review now.

CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite

  • $120 Annual fee – first year free 
  • 15,000 Signup points ($250 value) after your first purchase
  • $100 travel credit

Now here’s a card that doesn’t get as much attention as it deserves. The CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite card constantly has promotions (including right now) where the annual fee of $120 is waived for the first year. To get the welcome bonus of 15,000 points ($150 value) and a $100 travel credit, all you need to do is make a single purchase. That’s one heck of a deal!

Knowing your multipliers

For some people, meeting the minimum spend is nearly impossible. If that’s the case, then a better strategy would be to rely on category multipliers.

Since many credit cards offer additional points on certain categories e.g. gas, groceries, pharmacy, you should try to pick credit cards that offer the highest multipliers based on your spending habits.

Let’s take a look at three common credit cards and the multipliers they offer:

Scotiabank Gold American Express Card

  • Earn 4 Scotia Reward points per $1 dollar spent on gas, groceries, dining, and entertainment
  • Earn 1 Scotia Reward point per $1 dollar spent on all other purchases

PC Financial World Elite Mastercard

  • Earn 45 PC Optimum Points per $1 dollar spent at Shoppers Drug Mart
  • Earn 30 PC Optimum Points per $1 spent where PC Products are sold
  • Earn 10 PC Optimum Points per $1 spent on all other purchases

Tangerine Money-Back credit card

  • Earn 2% money-back on up to three selected categories
  • Earn .5% money-back on all other categories

Let’s say you had all of the above three cards, you could really maximize your points by selecting the right card when you pay by doing the following.

Use your Scotiabank Gold American Express Card for gas, groceries, dining, and entertainment purchases which essentially gives you 4% in points.

If you use your PC Financial World Elite Mastercard at Shoppers Drug Mart, you would earn 4.5% back in points. Keep in mind that Shoppers Drug Mart also has a lot of in-store and targeted promotions so you could earn even more points.

Finally, if you select recurring bills, home improvement, and parking as your categories with the Tangerine Money-Back credit card, you can earn 2% in money-back.

Although the PC Financial World Elite Mastercard and Tangerine Money-Back credit card don’t earn you any travel reward points, you can use the money saved and put it towards your travel.

The point is, you want to always maximize your spending by using credit cards that give you the most points.

Final thoughts

You can earn more travel rewards pretty easily as long as you’re thinking ahead. Sign up bonuses are perfect when you have major purchases coming up and maximizing your multipliers should really be a daily thing. Don’t forget to check out my list of the best travel credit cards in Canada for more tips on how to earn rewards fast.

How to Earn More Travel Rewards 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


  1. Bryce on June 11, 2018 at 9:53 AM

    Hi Barry! Love your posts! With the CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite, what do you typically do/recommend with the points? Use them within the CIBC system? Or do you convert them to an eligible program, if so which one?


    • Barry Choi on June 11, 2018 at 2:00 PM

      Hi Bryce,

      Thanks for being a reader. It’s really a personal choice. With a few of the Aventura cards (CIBC Aventura World Elite MasterCard, CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite and CIBC Aventura Gold Visa) you can convert to Aeroplan at a 1:1 ratio in 10,000 point increments.

      If you have a use for those points, then it’s worth converting. If you prefer flexibility, just use them within CIBC’s program.

  2. Anna on June 14, 2018 at 11:55 PM

    Hi Bryce + Barry! It looks like you can no longer convert to Aeroplan 🙁

    Term #31
    Only if you have an eligible Aventura Account issued before October 1, 2013 may you redeem Aventura points for Aeroplan® Miles. The ability to then redeem an Aventura point for an Aeroplan Miles is subject to the terms and conditions applicable to Rewards.

    • Barry Choi on June 15, 2018 at 3:19 PM

      Hi Anna,

      Good catch, those credit cards mentioned were grandfathered so if you had it before 2014, you can still transfer.

      These days, all you can do is use your points to book travel via CIBC,

  3. Tom on June 23, 2018 at 9:57 AM

    Hi Barry,
    Is it possible to triple dip when u spend on travel? For example getting your credit card points, getting your airline or hotel loyalty points and then if booking through airmiles or the petrocan portals to their travel partners?

    • Barry Choi on June 23, 2018 at 5:12 PM

      Hey Tom,

      Depending on the card and website, it’s very possible to double or triple dip.

  4. […] essentially a cash-back program with nothing extra to it. I personally prefer travel rewards since I can usually claim flights or hotels which have an incredible value, but I certainly […]

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