Barry Choi • Jan 01, 2020
When people think about reward credit cards, they typically focus on travel or cash-back - while both of are great for your spending, you might be wondering if there is anything else? While it really depends on the rewards program, a few allow you to redeem rewards for things like merchandise, gift cards, or points with other loyalty programs.
Someone who loves movies will be attracted to a credit card that gives you SCENE points, while others may prefer a program that allows you to redeem for different types of merchandise.
Regardless of which credit card you go with, it’s important to understand how you can get and how you can spend those hard earned points. Here's a roundup of the best 'reward' based credit cards out there right now.
The American Express Cobalt Card is one of the best rewards credit cards in Canada because it gives you a generous signup bonus, it’s easy to earn points, and there are so many different ways to redeem your points. With this card, you’ll be given 2,500 American Express Membership Reward points when you charge $500 to your card every month, for the first 12 months. That gives you a total of 30,000 points as your welcome bonus.
You’ll be amazed how quickly your points rack up since you’ll earn 5 points for every $1 spent on eats (restaurants, bars, cafés, food delivery, etc.), 2 points per $1 spent on travel (flights, hotels, car rentals, transit, rideshares), and 1 point per $1 spent on everything else.
When you’re ready to redeem your points, you have many options. Most people use their points for flights via the American Express Fixed Point Travel Program or they transfer their points to Marriott Bonvoy, but you also have a few other options to redeem your points. You can use your points on just about any purchase you made on your card, on Amazon.ca purchases, on merchandise or gift cards via the Membership Rewards Catalogue, and even on Ticketmaster.
You can find which credit cards match your profile and your likelihood of approval when you sign up or log in to Borrowell. It only takes a few minutes and it's free.
The Scotiabank Gold American Express Card recently saw some changes which most people will say are for the positive. Although the annual fee is $120, you’ll get 25,000 Scotia Rewards points after you charge $1,000 to your card in the first three months of cardmembership. You can earn an additional 5,000 points when you charge $10,000 to your card within the first year of owning the card. That may sound like a lot of spending, but it works out to just over $833 a month in purchases. Oh, those 30,000 Scotia Reward points have a value of up to $300 so you’re not doing too bad.
When you want to redeem your points, you have a lot of options. Travel rewards give you the most value since you can redeem 10,000 points for $100 in travel. Gift cards aren’t as valuable as 10,000 points only give you about $74. There’s also the option to claim a statement credit, but the value is even lower since you’ll only get $67 – $80 depending on how many points you claim (it takes 3,000 points for $20 and 37,500 points for $300). If you prefer to redeem for merchandise, Scotia Rewards has a huge catalogue of product that you can choose from, but the value of those redemptions usually aren’t very good.
What also makes this credit card such a great choice is the travel benefits it comes with. You’ll pay no foreign transaction fees, so you can save quite a bit of money during your travels. You also get a comprehensive travel insurance package which includes travel medical, trip cancellation/interruption, lost/delayed luggage, flight delay, travel accident, and rental car collision loss/Damage insurance.
Canadian Tire is one of the most recognizable brands in Canada and their credit card/loyalty program does not disappoint. The Triangle World Elite Mastercard doesn’t come with a welcome bonus, but it gives you a huge return of 4% in CT Money at Canadian Tire, Sport Chek, Atmosphere, Hockey Experts, participating Mark’s and Sports Experts stores. You’ll get 2% back in CT Money at grocery stores but keep in mind that there’s a yearly spending cap of $12,000 and it does not apply to Walmart or Costco purchases. All other purchases get you 1% in CT Money.
Redeeming your CT money is easy as you can redeem any amount you currently have at any participating store. Your CT money can be applied to any product sold at the participating stores which range from hockey gear to winter tires.
The Triangle World Elite Mastercard also comes with a few extra benefits that aren’t well known but can be quite popular. At participating stores, you can choose to do no fee, no interest financing on qualifying purchases of $200 or more. You also get a Roadside assistance gold plan which has a value of over $100 per year, but it can be invaluable if you ever run into car troubles while on the go. Note that this card does have a minimum income requirement of $80,000 or a household income of $150,000 for you to qualify. If you don’t reach those thresholds, you would be considered for the Triangle Mastercard, which is a lower-tier version of the Triangle World Elite Mastercard.
If you love movies, then the SCENE Visa Card is for you. You’ll earn 5 SCENE points for every $1 you spend at Cineplex theatres and at cineplex.com. All other purchases give you 1 SCENE point for every $1 you spend on your card. There’s simply no other card out there that will allow you to collect points that can be redeemed for free movies.
The sign-up bonus of 2,500 SCENE points when you spend $500 in the first three months is enough for two free movies, but you need to understand the different redemption values so you can get the most out of your points. It takes 1,250 SCENE points to claim a free general admission or 3D movie ticket. If you want to watch an enhanced movie such as UltraAVX 3D, DBOX or Imax for free, it’ll cost you 2,000 points. Finally, VIP tickets will set you back 2,500 points. The cash price of those tickets vary depending on what province you live in, but generally speaking, you get the most bang for your buck when redeeming 3D or DBOX movies.
You can also use your SCENE points on Cineplex products such as concessions where 500 SCENE points will get you $5 off or if you use 1,000 points, you can get $10 off digital movie downloads at store.cineplex.com. In addition, you can claim 1,000 SCENE points for $10 off at the following restaurants: Swiss Chalet, Harvey’s, Montana’s, East Side Mario’s, Milestones, Bier Market, and Kelseys.
So many rewards, so little time! The good news is that Borrowell has more than 50 financial partners on on their financial marketplace and can help you find the best credit cards in Canada. If you get your free credit score with Borrowell, they'll show you products that you have a high-likelihood of being approved for.
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