The Credit Card Strategy to Free Stuff

Ever since signing up for a new credit card I’ve begun to change my card usage habits to help me get more Aeroplan miles (I’m currently using a TD Aeroplan VISA). Previously I would have gone straight to my debit card for the majority of my purchases but wasn’t actually benefiting from points meaning I had a pretty lousy credit card strategy. Of course I’ve still kept track of spending and but this has allowed me to get more points which equals the possibility of free flights in the future. I’ve also noticed the ever increasing amount of credit cards available with just about every retailer pushing their own credit card. I had the opportunity to save up to $25 yesterday off my Walmart bill if I happened to sign up for their credit card, it sounded tempting but I realized I’ve got my fair share of cards already. I have to say right off the bat, don’t be tempted by a sign up at every store and a savings of $25 off your purchase. It’s likely if you aren’t controlled with your spending habits getting that 5th credit card to get $25 off is going to cost you way more than that in interest in the long run.

The topic of the amount of credit cards I already have came up the other day when I was out at a restaurant with friends. At the moment I have 3, formerly 2 as of a few months ago but was greatly tempted by a bonus offer from TD for a VISA that I couldn’t pass up. That being said, I’ve always been good with my credit, have a fairly good score and don’t overspend on them.

Credit Card Strategy Basics

Make the majority, if not all of your purchase on credit from now on


A lot of banks have chequing accounts that provide limited debit transactions and you don’t get any points (most often) when using your debit card or cash.


Don’t just buy things to get miles or benefits, I’m talking necessary purchases like groceries, bills, car insurance etc. If you’ve budgeted to get a coffee every morning that’s okay (I don’t recommend it though $$$) but these need to be purchases that are within your budget.

Sign up for cards with AWESOME bonus offers


Oh I don’t need to explain.


Do your research and look around before you sign up, you might be able to get a better/higher bonus offer on another card. Another thing, in my opinion is to not sign up for a bunch of cards, stick to a few max because it makes it much more difficult to keep track of spending that way. Also if a card has an annual fee you need to keep that in mind. Some cards will require you to make a minimum of say $500 to get your bonus miles/offer, weigh that into your decision as well.

Your Choice: Use your cards according to mileage benefits & the matching retailer


If you go to Esso to get gas, make sure to use your Aeroplan VISA and use your Aeroplan member card as well, doesn’t make sense to use your Air Miles Mastercard when you aren’t able to double dip on points.


Some cards are neutral and the affiliated miles card doesn’t matter ie. American Express so in that case don’t worry about matching cards with retailers.

Pick a mileage program and stick with it


By making purchases with a single mileage program and the card attached to it, you don’t spread yourself thin and have the opportunity to put all those miles towards a big redemption. If you have too many programs going, it’s likely it will take a lot longer to get enough miles/benefits to actually redeem.


I’m unfortunately doing this at the moment and should probably decide if I want to go with Aeroplan or Air Miles. I’ve really been focusing on Aeroplan lately but if there are some good bonuses that are already part of my regular purchases that get me Air Miles I use that card. Overall, focus on one card at a time and stick with it, you’ll get rewards faster. If you’re using an Air Miles or Aeroplan based card it’s probably best if you match with retailers that use that point program (some on both sides of the fence especially on the Air Miles shops website and Aeroplan estore so you can benefit no matter what).

Keep Your Eyes Open for Bonus Mile Offers

These will be posted at retail outlets, gas stations and on official mile program websites. If you want to stay really up to date make sure to sign up for emails from the miles program and your credit card company.

Credit Card Options from Scotiabank*

Below are some credit card options for those looking to get their first student card or getting a second one where they can take advantage of additional bonus offers and more benefits.

L earn® VISA* card  Accelerated Moneyback reward program designed for students (1% Moneyback on annual card purchases).

SCENE® VISA* card – 4,000 bonus SCENE points (equivalent to 4 free movies) for new accounts opened by October 31, 2014.

Scotia Momentum® No-Fee VISA* card– 1% Cash back on gas, groceries, pharmacy and dining-related purchases (0.5% on everything else).

An excellent travel card is the Scotiabank American Express Card. For a low annual fee of $39, new card-members get 5,000 Scotia Rewards bonus points (worth$50 in travel) free with their first purchase when they open an account before October 31, 2014, in addition to 2x Scotia Rewards points for every $1 spent on gas, groceries, dining and/or entertainment.

*The offers listed above are brought to you by Scotiabank which I am an affiliate of. 

If you are in search of some other offers, look around and you are bound to find some. Offers often are related to the annual fee being waived, large sums of bonus points or great offers when it comes to cash back. Make sure to pick the card that is right for you and your spending habits. Oh and no matter what, be mindful of your spending, keep track of that spending and pay your FULL bill on time, interest is a bitch.


You may also like...

  • Thanks for sharing! I have no credit card so far, but I’m researching on the best credit card I should get. I plan to use the rewards for traveling purposes mostly, so cash back rewards are nice, but not really a top priority. Different credit card programs have different perks it could be confusing to choose the best one really!