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Don’t Forget Your Points!

I have talked previously about how I use different customer retention or appreciation point systems (like PC Points, Aeroplan, etc.,), but I keep forgetting that I do actually have “back logs” in a few systems that I keep forgetting about.

Case in point would be Aeroplan: This past weekend I was arranging for a short trip and I realized I was going to have to rent a car for the day. I busily went through all the possible discounts I can get from being a CAA Member, or a PSAC member, or some wack-a-doodle coupons, but it then dawned on me that even though I didn’t have enough Aeroplan points to pay for my flight (even a short  haul Ottawa Toronto run), I did have enough points to rent a car for the day (thus saving about $60). Luckily I had this epiphany before I booked my car.

The danger I guess is that with any points system is you can either:

  1. Forget you are a member, that is the case usually with me and the Shoppers Drug Mart points system, and many Hotel points systems. All you have to do is either lose your membership card or take it out of your wallet, and  you can easily forget about it.
  2. Never check your balance, so you are unaware of what you can do with your points
  3. Keep saving for something bigger, but then fall into (1) and forget you have the points.
  4. The last one is diabolical, some systems “time out” your points after a period of time (Aeroplan is guilty of this, as are many of the Hotel Point systems).

I think an interesting web site or add-on to Mint (maybe) would be to keep track of points in your “finance” system. You’d then remember these points, since they are effectively unused assets. Is there such a system out there? I’d be willing to use it, if it was out there!

Question: Anybody else forgetting about their points, or are you a good “user” and spend the points as soon as you have enough to do anything with them?


Points Overlapping

A post from another financial blogger got me wondering about whether other folks do the same as we have done, and that is maximizing our Customer Allegiance points (like Aeroplan, Petropoints, or Air Miles), by overlapping customer appreciation point systems.

If you already do this,  this seems obvious, but I have found some folks who don’t try to optimize their points, or aren’t aware of some of the “tricks of the trade”. Some of the tricks are obvious, in the case of PC Points, Loblaws typically has deals and bonus points for buying specific things, such as this month, if you buy a $25 Itunes gift certificate you get 5000 PC points bonus (which is $5), so watching for those kind of bonuses is a good way to get more points. A lot of times I have earned these bonus points, without even being aware I was doing it (which is always nice).

The other more interesting trick is to overlap points, but how do you do that? Here is a couple of examples of the idea:

  • If I am using a cash back credit card or a PC point card and buy gas for one of my vehicles, I use my Petro Points card with Petro Canada, I collect two sets of credits for the same purchase.
  • If I go to Sobey’s but use my Amex Cash Back card, I get money back from the purchase, and get Club Sobey’s points.

You can see this is not rocket science, but it is something to take into consideration. Now I know that if you use a Sobey’s BMO Mastercard you get more Club Sobey’s points, so it might be interesting to figure out when it is best to overlap points, and when it is best to stick with the base points system (if anyone has done this, please point me at your research).

Is there a way to create even more points using customer appreciation points systems (that are within the rules, please, no Black Hat solutions)?


Santa Loves His Points

One Million Points!

Over the past year my wife and I have made a conscious effort to use our PC Mastercard a great deal to attempt to build up a large balance for Christmas, and so far our effort seems to be paying off very nicely. We have had a few very large expenses that have managed to go onto the card which has made accumulating 1,000,000 points simpler than I thought it might be:

  • Acadia University allows us to pay one of my daughter’s tuition (and such) using a Credit Card, which means a very LARGE number of points (tuition and living expenses in residence). I have the money available to pay this off in the month purchased, thus these are Free Points!
  • Dental Bills this year have been quite expensive, thanks to my teeth slowly disintegrating. Nice thing here is that this money is mostly reimbursed by my benefits plan, thus these are free, as well.
  • Lots of  physiotherapy sessions for myself and my daughters, which are mostly covered by benefits, more free points.
  • We bought most of our groceries using points at Loblaws and Independent, which means bonus points, and we were going to buy the groceries anyhow, and we attempted to pay off the purchase right away (using on line banking).

Thanks to these purchases and an existing balance which was not insignificant, we were in fact over a Million PC Points this Christmas season.

What Can You Buy At A Grocery Store?

Darn good question, here are a few things we can and have purchased.

  • Gift Cards, this grocery store has an entire section of various Cards from The Keg, iTunes, The Gap, etc., which my kids and the folks I am buying for would love to get!
  • Electronics like TVs and DVD players.
  • Movies, lots of movies, which are great gifts for friends (especially those Blu-Ray multipacks)
  • Toys, and my son will enjoy them a great deal
  • Cameras and Video Cameras.
  • FOOD! Lots of chocolates and such for Teachers, and other folks
  • FOOD! Like Christmas dinner
LaGrange Points

All of this, effectively free, but it did mean I had to use my Credit Card, which can be very dangerous if you don’t keep track of all your purchases. I espouse this methodology for getting free stuff, but I also warn you that you must be very fastidious in your records keeping to make sure you do not carry a monthly balance on your Card (i.e. no interest accumulations).

There are other points systems out there and I am interested to hear if other folks have been as successful this year (e.g. AirMiles, Aeroplan, etc.,), so please leave any comments with your updates too.

Note on Comments: I have been getting Tsunamied with SPAM comments, so I have introduced a Captcha system to slow these nasty folks down a little. My apology if it makes things more complicated, but I really did need to do this.


I Don’t Use Customer Appreciation Point Systems?

I have written a few times about how I use a few Customer Appreciation Points systems (specifically Aeroplan, PC Points and Petro-Points), and I have used these rewards a fair amount over the time I have been a member of these plans (I have been a member of Aeroplan since 1987). My view on these programs is, if you are going to be using these services (either Credit Card or Flying) then the advantage of using them is obvious.

I was talking with a co-worker on Friday and he made a very odd statement that he didn’t join one of these programs because, “… he couldn’t be bothered…”. This statement really confused me, so I did not comment much other than, “… well I use them and have got a lot of use out of them…”.

Joining every point system will cause Wallet Bloat which we have already discussed (and yes a lot of the space taken up in my wallet is for various Points Cards), and I may be a member of a lot of Points programs, but I don’t keep track of them, I only really worry about my Big 3 (Aeroplan, PC Points and Petro Points).

It used to be you could transfer Petro Points to PC Points, but that stopped a while ago (that was cool because you ended up getting double points from one purchase).

Arguments like, “It’s a pain in the tush to  use them”, is fine, I am not espousing joining every Customer Appreciation system, but I am saying you should check out whether you can take advantage of these programs.

For a while I had an Aeroplan CIBC Visa, but I got rid of that because they charged me a lot of money for the privilege  of using the card, and given that Aeroplan’s system is becoming less advantageous, due to:

  • Increased service charges
  • Flights becoming much more expensive in terms of points, when I started all flights to Toronto from Ottawa were 15,000 miles round trip, that has doubled at the least, so my points keep having less value.
  • Lack of availability at peak times

I am a customer of Aeroplan, but I am becoming a less satisfied customer every year.

Anybody else have any opinions on Customer Appreciation Points systems?


Advent Financial Calendar Box Day 7

What is in Box 7 of the Advent Financial Calendar ?

Finger Pointing = Points
Finger Pointing = Points

You open the box to find a Finger Pointing, puzzling, what could that mean? Pointing? Points? Ah, yes, Points, specifically Loyalty Points and also Gift Cards. This is all money in your pocket if you choose to use them, but if you don’t they are worthless.

As my readers know PC Points is my favorite, and we will be using them this Christmas to make our Christmas much more frugal, but I also have Petro Points, Aeroplan Points, Hudson’s Bay Points, Sunoco Points, Canadian Tire Money, Optimum points and I’m sure there are others I have forgotten. All these point systems has made my wallet very “Costanza-like” in size, but I have these points.

Gift Cards? Mrs. C8j cleaned out our closet and found our gift cards from last Christmas and luckily none of them had expired, but that is another area where there is “Free Money” for Advent and for Christmas. She and I can go out to dinner for free, we can go to a few movies and I have many books I can buy as well. I keep collecting Canadian Tire money when I buy gas, and eventually I have $20 at least and usually buy new wipers for my car or something like that, but this year, maybe I’ll buy a friend something useful (like a Mr. T. Air Freshener) from Canadian Tire.

Use your Points and use your Gift Cards! You earned them, use them!

If you don’t want to spend them, donate them (you can with PC Points), make them work.

Missed Boxes?

Have you missed other boxes, here is the list so far:


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