It is that simple. I did a post last week on how you can buy Esso giftcards and use shopping portals to get enough points to get yourself free flights.
Let’s look at this another way. Say you spend about $50 a fill up every week or about $2500 in gas a year.
Here are ways you could do that. Remember you HAVE to spend this money – gas usually isn’t optional.
1. Use your debit card and get virtually no points on those fill-ups.
2. Use a Canadian Tire/PC Financial card and get about $50 in merchandise.
3. Be creative – like I was last week.
Let’s go over option 3.
Here is the link from last week.
The basic idea here was is if you had money in an account doing nothing but making lousy interest for you – PUT IT TO WORK.
Here are the steps you could take to get free flights.
1. Sign up for British Airways Executive Club. (See our page on Avios) this is free and you would travel with AA for most flights. Sign up for Esso Extra as well.
2. Collect RBC points. I have an Avion card. They have a promo where if you get the RBC Visa Infinite Avion you get 15,000 Avion points for a $120 annual fee. That alone gets you a flight but more about that later.
3. Watch for bonuses at Shop.ca and the RBC shopping portal.
Such bonuses were offered 2 weekends ago.
Shop.ca had 10x Aeroplan points for shopping there the CDN long weekend.
RBC had 5x bonus points for shopping at Shop.ca that weekend.
That combo alone is awesome if you are buying merchandise – giftcards not as good.
Anyway, instead of watching $2000 in a savings account make me $30-$40 for a year in interest, I used it to earn enough points for 1 free flights to Florida – round trip.
4. Purchase $2000 worth of Esso Giftcards through the RBC 5x points portal at Shop.ca which only offers 1x Aeroplan points on giftcards.
5. Those $2000 in giftcards generate 10,000 RBC points and 2000 Aeroplan at Shop.ca
6. Every time you fill up use your Esso extra card – gets you 2000 Esso extra points.
7. Pay yourself back every time you fill up. ie. transfer that $50 back to your savings account (or wherever.)
In the end, when you wait for the RBC 1.5x bonus period to convert RBC points to BA Avios you end up with 18,800 Avios points (see previous post) which is more than enough points for one of my flights from Detroit – Florida (other than Miami)
Bottom line – look at that ratio. $2000 spend = 18,800 Avios. Those Avios are valued at about 2 cents each by many bloggers, so $376 in travel.
That is almost a 20% return on your money for travel. For every dollar spent you get 9.4 Avios.
You can do some simple math on this. A one way short haul flight is 4500 Avios. (Detroit – NYC)
If you bought $500 in giftcards, you would have 4700 Avios or enough for that flight.
You have to spend that money eventually, so give it a try!
So I did a post last Friday mentioning the “double dip” you could pull off using your RBC Rewards credit card shopping through their portal at Shop.ca.
I mulled this over all weekend going over different scenarios in my head – this stuff intrigues me!
The fact that RBC was offering a total of 5X points for shopping at Shop.ca this weekend was good – but the fact Aeroplan was offering 10X points for shopping at Shop.ca sealed the deal.
You could get both bonuses buying giftcards for shop.ca and using them later – I did that as well.
***NOTE – RBC’s website says you cannot get the 5x bonus if giftcards are purchased…but that is not necessarily true.
I want to mention another strategy I did that I can live with and am happy I did.
So…you can get the double bonus buying the shop.ca giftcards and redeeming them later, but you CAN’T use those giftcards to purchase third party giftcards like Esso, Boston Pizza, etc.
That is what I wanted to do, but they have put a stop to that as they caught on to this – and rightfully so on their part.
So, if you buy third party giftcards (Esso) you only get 1X Aeroplan but still 5X RBC Rewards going through their portal.
Now, like I mentioned Friday, RBC offers a bonus where you can convert your RBC points at a 1.5X to British Airways Avios points – which is EXACTLY what I do.
So this bonus is actually 7.5X RBC points if you are converting points to Avios when they offer this bonus (usually 1-2 times a year)
So now I wondered what third party giftcards can I actually use?
Boston Pizza. sure but it might take years to use up say, $2000 worth of giftcards if you don’t eat out much. Same goes for any restaurant.
The Gap/Old Navy. OK but I don’t really think I want or need to spend that much at those particular retailers.
What retailer are you guaranteed to spend money at NO MATTER WHAT?
Gasoline. Esso giftcards.
That is the only retailer I can justify spending $2000 on giftcards – knowing I have to use up those giftcards.
Now, here me out. “$2000? I thought he meant like $100 or something!”
Well, back to my title – using your own money to get travel freebies.
$100 in giftcards won’t get you many $ worth of freebies, but $2000? YES.
Let’s say you have $2000 sitting in a bank account doing nothing but collecting horrible interest.
Yes, this is a decent chunk of money, but I know people like myself that keep an “emergency fund” “travel fund” whatever you want to call it.
Here is the thing. You pay yourself back. Every time you use that giftcard.
What? Yes, let’s say every time you fill up it’s $50. For me that’s once a week so this example is easy. Transfer that $50 you would have spent at the pump to that account that had the original $2000 in it. Do it once a week or do it whenever, but DO IT!!!
Some quick math tells me 40 weeks later you have your money back.
Yes, if a real emergency came up and you needed that $2000 right away this might not be for you.
You could still get a low rate Line of credit, but that’s another story.
Think about it. Is that $2000 in your “other” account really making you any money?
Here is the final result of buying those $2000 of Esso Giftcards.
1. 2000 Aeroplan from Shop.ca – convert to Avios at 1:1 during bonus period – 2000 Avios.
2. 10,000 RBC points from shopping portal(5x points) – convert to Avios during bonus period (1.5X) – 15,000 Avios
3. Every time you fill up at Esso you use your Esso extra card. You get 2000 Esso extra points. That equals 1200 RBC points – convert during bonus – 1800 Avios.
End Result – you end up with 18,800 Avios.
Bloggers better than I value those points at at least 1.5 cents each or $282.00 in travel.
Or 1 of my flights from Detroit to Florida valued more like $400.
Lot of work? Not really, after the initial purchase just remember to top up your original account every time you fill up!
In the end using my own money to pay for things I will have to anyway over the course of the next year gets me 1 free flight to Florida.
People do this all the time in the US, it’s just not as popular here in Canada because of the limited opportunities we have to do this.
It works though!
Last note*** If you suddenly needed cash for those giftcards you could sell them at 90% of their value on certain websites like cardswap.ca.
I thought this was a typo.
$95 plus taxes to get away to Cuba.
There are 3,4,5 day and 1 week All Inclusives for about as low as you can find anywhere!
Remember, Karen has been doing this for many years – she knows the DEALS.
Check this one out and “share” or “retweet” it if you can – crazy deals.
519-542-1009 or firstname.lastname@example.org or go see her in the Kenwick building, Sarnia.
These shopping portals are awesome!
Where else can you buy a $300 laptop and get enough points for a flight to New York City???
“Sure” you say “There is no way that is possible.”
Well it is THIS WEEKEND!!!
First off you need a RBC Rewards credit card.
Got mine. Done.
This weekend only they are offering 4x extra points on purchases at Shop.ca through their shopping portal. That means 5x total!
Combined with the fact Shop.ca is offering 10x Aeroplan points on all purchases this weekend!
So…you spend $300 on your RBC credit card and end up with 5x points total or 1500 RBC points.
Shop.ca gives you 10x Aeroplan points this weekend as well on that purchase.
That is 3000 Aeroplan.
So you end up with 1500 RBC points and 3000 Aeroplan.
As we know you can convert Aeroplan to Avios at 1:1 through the RBC to Avios bonus – not currently offered – but probably some time this year.
The 1500 RBC points also get the bonus of 1.5x – when they offer this bonus! (1500 converts to 2250)
So you convert all those points over to Avios and you end up with 5250 Avios.
Many bloggers with more experience than I value those points at around 2 cents each or a little less. Lets call the value of those points roughly $100 in travel.
Remember, it only takes 4500 Avios for a short haul one way flight using your Avios.
For us here that is Detroit – NYC/Philadelphia/Washington/Charlotte.
So…if you are shopping online this weekend give it a try!
Remember, you need a RBC rewards credit card to do this!
I follow Spirit Air on Twitter and no matter what you think of them, they have some rock bottom prices on fares to some really cool places.
I listed Cleveland and Detroit as Cleveland’s airport is 2 hours past Detroit but is definitely worth the drive when you find a great deal. (Vegas/LA)
Notice it is for Tue/Wed fares, but still this is awesome!