Ep 002 – The Science of Earning Points

/ Podcast / Ep 002 – The Science of Earning Points

In Episode 2 of Miles Ahead: The Canadian Points Podcast, Reed, Josh, Danny, and Quentin continue the conversation on the basics of earning miles and points. To kick it off, everyone shares their favorite credit card in their wallet and the reasons for their choice.

The conversation covers earning strategies, including leveraging welcome bonuses, meeting minimum spend requirements, and maximizing category spending. The team also explores non-traditional methods of earning points, such as shopping through loyalty portals and credit card referrals, while providing tips on organizing credit cards and maintaining a good credit score. 

The team takes a look at the recent contrasting news of WestJet’s new “UltraBasic” fare class and Air Canada offering complimentary beer and wine for the remainder of 2024. The episode concludes with listener questions on optimizing credit card use and balancing welcome bonuses with long-term financial health.

(00:48) Favorite Credit Cards Roundtable

The Frugal Flyer team covers their favorite card in their wallet right now and the value it brings to their lifestyle and miles and points goals.

(10:12) Earning Points Through Credit Cards

Credit cards are the best way to earn miles and points in Canada, through both welcome bonuses and organic spending.

(13:22) Understanding Credit Scores and Applications

Understanding how credit scores work is imperative to earning miles and points through credit cards. While we often hear concerns about how this hobby can negatively impact a credit score, many consumers actually see their credit scores increase as a result of lower utilization.

(17:43) Evaluating Credit Card Welcome Bonuses

Not all credit card welcome bonuses are made equally, even when they offer a higher number of points. Understanding the welcome bonus, what the points can be used for, and how to meet the requirements of the offer are all imperative components of earning miles and points from credit cards.

(29:46) The Power of the American Express Cobalt Card

The American Express Cobalt card is an absolute powerhouse due to its 5x earning rate on dining, restaurants, and grocery purchases, and is a great option for day-to-day spending.

(30:58) Comparing RBC Avion and American Express Membership Rewards Points

Different loyalty programs provide very different values when it comes to welcome bonuses. Doing some basic math and understanding before applying can go a long way in getting the most out of your miles and points.

(33:13) Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card: A Hidden Gem

The Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite card is a great starting point in the world of improving your travel with an easy access path to airport lounge access and no foreign transaction fees.

(34:22) Day-to-Day Spending Strategies

Credit card welcome bonuses are where you can earn the majority of your miles and points, but optimizing card choice for everyday spending can result in significant points earned over a longer period of time.

(35:40) Gift Card Hacks for Maximizing Points

If you earn a high spending multiplier in a certain category such as grocery stores, consider buying gift cards for other retailers at the grocery store to increase your points earning capacity.

(37:02) Exploring RBC ION and Other Unique Cards

While we focus a lot on credit cards that are heavy hitters, many credit cards have unique use cases to further drive the value they can bring to your personal financial situation.

(39:06) Online Shopping Portals for Extra Points

If you want to expand your points earning capacity, there are a few other lucrative opportunities that allow cardholders to double dip on their purchases, namely through loyalty program shopping portals.

(41:14) The Power of Credit Card Referrals

Credit card referrals are a powerful tool to earn miles and points but are only offered by American Express in Canada. If you have friends or family who are interested in getting a new credit card or want to get started with miles and points, don’t miss out on a referral opportunity.

(43:44) Buying Points: When It Makes Sense

Most frequent flyer and hotel loyalty programs offer customers the ability to purchase their points. While there can be some value in taking advantage of this opportunity, customers need to examine the value proposition carefully before purchasing.

(46:32) WestJet’s Controversial “UltraBasic” Fare

In early June, WestJet launched their controversial “UltraBasic” fare class which has the most restrictions we have seen on a basic fare so far in Canada.

(48:38) Air Canada’s Customer-Friendly Changes

Seeing an opportunity to one-up WestJet and to better compete with Porter, Air Canada is now offering free beer and wine for economy passengers for the rest of 2024 (and maybe beyond?).

(52:32) Organizing and Tracking Credit Cards

Keeping track of your credit cards and minimum spending requirements is imperative in this hobby if you want to succeed. The team speaks to what tools and methods work best for them.

(57:41) When to Close Your Credit Card

If you aren’t planning on keeping a credit card for the long term, you will need to eventually close it but you want to do so while keeping best practices in mind. Just make sure you don’t ever close your oldest credit card!

(59:30) Conclusion and Next Episode Preview

Submit episode-specific questions on the episode page.

Join us for the next episode, where we’ll get into the basics of redeeming your hard-earned miles and points!

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11 comments on “Ep 002 – The Science of Earning Points

  1. Hi, Great episode.

    Just wondering what will be the best loyalty program to book domestic or North American flights?


    • Hi Mike,
      Generally Aeroplan, particularly if you’re based in BC or ON. That being said, I personally collect points in both Aeroplan and Westjet, but thats partly because I’m based in Alberta where Westjet has more of a footprint and Air Canada tends to not have direct flights to many destinations in NA.

      • Hi Reed,

        I’m also Alberta based but I don’t have WestJet credit card. I was just afraid that I would have to pay a lot of tax and fees when using west jet.

        Also, I applied for the AMEX Cobalt but was denied approval. My credit score is 775, So I called them and asked them if my application can be reconsider but the representative said they cant reconsider the application on their end and I should wait 3-6 months and reapply.

        I think I got denied because on the same day before I applied for the AMEX card. I applied for the RBC Avion Platinum card and apparently I’m approved(waiting for the card). So just wondering have you been denied by AMEX before?

        I have a question for Paypower as well in regards to transferring the positive credit balance from the bank credit card(Tangerine) to chequing account. Generally when do you call tangerine to make the transfer is it when you accumulate $5000 in positive credit balance?

        • Hey Mike,
          Try opening a PC Financial Money account (no fee) and using that to liquidate your paypower balances. Its a smoother workflow than tangerine.

          • Hi Reed, I was waiting for the PC Financial Money to have another 300k welcome bonus before I sign up. I missed the last one by just a few days….. 🙁 .

            Just wondering what’s the work flow for liquidating paypower balances on PC Financial Money? Does it require a phone call?

            I’ve already made bill payments on my tangerine CC. Whats the best approach I should take to liquidate my tangerine CC?

          • No phone call required.
            Speak to a rep to transfer credit to bank account.

          • Just wanted to confirm that my pc mastercard needs to be linked with the pc money card?


          • Hey Mike, PC Mastercard isn’t part of this workflow, you only need the money account.

          • “Excellent” – Mr Burns

            I have another question regarding RBC Avion platinum card, after I receive the the 35,000 Avion points and transfer it to my RBC Avion Infinite, when is a good time to downgrade the card to the free ion+ card??? would 2 months be a good time frame?