With most of the best travel rewards programs, redeeming your points for a gift card or statement credit is one of the worst things you can do since they offer low value compared to travel rewards. Generally speaking (and depending on the program), using your points for anything besides travel will devalue your points by 20-30% which is why I don’t recommend this strategy.

Having a huge bank of travel points or miles is great if you plan on travelling, but what happens if you’re grounded? You may not be able to travel for a variety of reasons, but the most common reason is cost. If you’re facing cash flow problems, travelling is going to be a low priority for you.

Now, what if your finances are really taking a hit right now? As in, you’re really in jeopardy of going into debt soon or missing payments? In this case, using your points to pay for your bills or expenses is an excellent idea, but is it easy to do? Here’s how to redeem points for gift cards with the various loyalty programs in Canada.

Aeroplan

Aeroplan is one of the largest airline loyalty programs in the world and they have many partners where you can redeem Aeroplan miles for gift cards including:

  • Esso
  • Amazon
  • Costco
  • Petro Canada
  • Winners Indigo
  • Hudson’s Bay
  • Starbucks
  • The Keg

Every merchant has a different number of miles required to make a redemption but they mainly breakdown to the following:

  • 14,000 Miles = $100
  • 7,000 Miles = $50
  • 3,500 Miles = $25

Interestingly enough, Costco gift cards are of good value since it only takes 13,500 Miles to claim $100. If you prefer flexibility, you can claim 11,500 Miles for a $75 gift card which is a slightly lower value than if you had redeemed a gift card at a specific merchant.

AIR MILES

If you want to redeem AIR MILES for gift cards, you need to be collecting AIR MILES Cash Miles. You can not convert any existing Dream Miles into Cash Miles. Assuming you’ve been earning Cash Miles, you can claim 95 Cash Miles for $10 at multiple merchants including: 

  • Metro
  • Shell
  • Rexall
  • Sobeys
  • Jean Coutu
  • Foodland
  • Pizza Pizza

With some of these merchants, you can redeem your Cash Miles instantly in-store when making a purchase. With the others, you would get an eVoucher which you could show in-store or online to get your discount.

American Express Membership Rewards

American Express Membership Rewards is quite flexible since you can use your points for gift cards or as a statement credit. If you want to use your points for a gift card, the partners you have available include:

  • Oliver & Bonacini
  • Indigo
  • Saks Fifth Avenue
  • Home Depot
  • Hudson’s Bay
  • Holt Renfrew

All of the gift cards require the following number of points to make a redemption:

  • 3,250 points = $25
  • 6,500 points = $50
  • 13,000 points = $100

Another great feature of American Express Membership Rewards is that you can use your points as a statement credit. Depending on if you have a personal or business American Express Card, your points have different values.

  • All consumer cards: Non-travel is 1,000 points = $7, Travel is 1,000 points = $10
  • All small business cards can redeem for all charges (both travel and non-travel) at a rate of 1,000 points = $10

With the consumer cards, your points are worth 30% less when redeeming a statement credit compared to if you had used it for travel. However, there’s a trick you can use to get a bit more “cash” value out of your points. You can claim 3,125 points for a $25 prepaid American Express Card which gives you a value of .08 cents per point which is .01 higher than the statement credit option. Note that although the American Express Cobalt and the American Express Business Edge cards earn you MR-S points, the statement credit options fall under consumer and small business respectively.

RBC Rewards

If you collect RBC Rewards, you can redeem your points for gift cards or a statement credit. When using your points for gift cards, most of the redemptions will cost you 14,000 points for a $100 gift card. RBC Rewards has more than 100 partners, but some of the more popular ones include:

  • Amazon
  • A&W
  • The Beer Store
  • Canadian Tire
  • Cadillac Fairview
  • Dollarama
  • Food Basics
  • Longo’s
  • McDonald’s

For those who prefer a statement credit, it’ll cost you 17,200 points for a $100 credit which is a lower value than getting a gift card. If your mortgage is with RBC, you can claim 12,000 points to get $100 off your principal which is an incredible value when you consider how much you’ll save on interest charges over the remainder of your mortgage.

Scotia Rewards

For Scotia Rewards collectors, most gift cards will cost you 13,400 points for a $100 gift card. Some of the available merchants where you can redeem points for gift cards include:

  • Tim Horton’s
  • Sephora
  • President’s Choice
  • Amazon
  • Shell
  • Metro
  • Walmart

When it comes to statement credits, Scotia Rewards has a sliding scale. The more points you claim, the larger statement credit you’ll get, but it’ll also cost you fewer points compared to the lowest redemption value. Here are some of the point redemptions it’ll take for you to claim a statement credit.

  • 3,000 Scotia Rewards points = $20
  • 4,500 Scotia Rewards points = $30
  • 7,500 Scotia Rewards points = $50
  • 11,000 Scotia Rewards points = $75
  • 14,500 Scotia Rewards points = $100
  • 21,500 Scotia Rewards points = $150
  • 43,000 Scotia Rewards points = $300
  • 71,500 Scotia Rewards points = $500

TD Rewards

With TD Rewards, it’ll cost you 400 points for $1 in gift cards or statement credits. This is half the value compared to if you used your points for travel, but if you’re desperate, you might as well use them as a statement credit since the redemption is the same. That said, if you do want a gift card, some of the merchants available include:

  • Cadillac Fairview
  • Canadian Tire
  • Costco
  • Esso
  • Longo’s
  • Pizza Pizza
  • Metro

BMO Rewards

BMO Rewards allows you to claim 15,000 points for a $50 statement credit which is handy, but if you want a gift card, things are more complicated than they need to be. Every merchant has a different redemption value, but it’ll cost you between 17,500 and 20,300 points to get a $100 gift card at merchants including:

  • Cora
  • Starbucks
  • Costco
  • The Keg
  • Amazon
  • Winners
  • Simons

CIBC Rewards

Finally, of all the bank travel rewards programs, there’s CIBC Rewards which also allows you to redeem points for gift cards or a statement credit. The redemption ratio for gift cards is 3,500 points for $25 and they have many popular merchants including:

  • Costco
  • President’s Choice
  • Tim Hortons
  • Walmart
  • Amazon
  • Moxie’s Grill & Bar

You do have the option to redeem 4,000 points for $25 a statement credit, but that’s a lower value than gift cards. If you have a mortgage with CIBC, using 12,000 points will reduce your mortgage by $100 which could be a good value in the long run when you consider the interest paid over your amortization period.

Marriott Bonvoy

Marriott Bonvoy is the best hotel loyalty program in Canada, but if you want to redeem your points for gift cards, it appears that you can only get them with US merchants including:

  • Amazon.com
  • Best Buy
  • Gap
  • Uber
  • Applebee’s
  • Boston Market
  • Darden Restaurants

It’ll cost you 30,000 Marriott Bonvoy points for a $100 USD gift card. I suppose these can be useful if you’re going to visit the U.S. soon, but if you’re hurting for cash and using your points for gift cards, travel is likely not high on your priority list.

Final thoughts

When you redeem points for gift cards or a statement credit, you won’t get the maximum value for them, but if you’re facing a cash crunch, it’s a good solution. There’s no point in holding onto your points or miles if you’ve lost your job and your emergency fund is quickly being drained. Cash out your points now so you can buy some time.

How to Redeem Travel Points for Gift Cards or a Statement Credit

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