Up until about two years ago Air Miles only offered Dream Rewards for various things – flights, hotels or various types of merchandise.
In 2012, Air Miles introduced Air Miles Cash Rewards – instant savings while making purchases at participating sponsors.
Cash Rewards can be tempting – typically you only need 95 Air Miles to get $10 off (at most participating sponsors). The rewards are easy to use and the savings are instant.
But are you getting the most value for your Air Miles?
Dream Rewards vs. Cash Rewards
With Dream Rewards, you can typically get the most value for your rewards with flights. Dream Rewards can also be used on merchandise but typically at a lower rate.
I calculated the value on 3 flights and it came to about $0.12 per Air Mile.
On the other hand, Cash Rewards give you $0.10 per Air Mile.
This may not seem like a big difference, but it can really add up when you have a lot of Air Miles to use.
Calculating the Value of Air Miles
To figure out how much you’re getting for each Air Mile, use the following steps:
1) Determine the cost of the item you want to buy. For flights, use Google Flights to determine the cost specific to the dates you want to fly
2) Determine if there are any extra costs associated with the item/flight. Most merchandise has shipping included and for flights, you’ll want to know the amount of the taxes (which isn’t included but can easily be found by calling Air Miles)
3) Determine the number of Air Miles required
4) Divide the cost of the item (less any taxes/fees from step 2) by the number of required Air Miles
For example: a flight from Calgary to Vancouver requires 1,500 Air Miles. The cost of the flight (on Google Flights) is $375 and taxes are $178.23. The value of the Air Miles is: ($375 – 178.23)/1,500 Air Miles = $0.13 per Air Mile.
You can redeem Air Miles Cash Rewards at the following sponsors:
– Groceries: Safeway, Sobeys, IGA
– Food: Starbucks, Swiss Chalet, Kelsey’s, Montana’s, Milestones, Kernels, East Side Mario’s
– Merchandise: The Gap, Iris, Cineplex, Timber Mart, Staples, Shell, Rona
Click here for more details and a full listing from Air Miles.
Cash Rewards: Are They Better?
– The savings are instant and you can save on items you are already buying
– You only need 95 Air Miles Cash Rewards to start saving
– You can allocate 100% of your Air Miles towards Cash Rewards by logging into your Air Miles account (or any percent you choose)
– Since Air Miles set a 5 year limit on all Air Miles, redeeming smaller amounts more frequently ensures you can take advantage of all your rewards
– You can’t allocate previously earned Air Miles, only future ones
– The value isn’t as high as using Dream Rewards for flights
– There is a limited number of participating sponsors
– Air Miles Cash Rewards will soon replace gift cards that were previously available for a better rate
Whether you like them or not, Cash Rewards do provide options when redeeming their rewards. The instant savings and small amounts needed are tempting for everyone.
I don’t collect Air Miles as my main rewards program because I’ve determined it’s more lucrative to use a cash-back rewards card instead. The Scotiabank Momentum Visa Infinite card gives me 4% cash back on all gas and groceries. I prefer cash back because there are no restrictions or changes to a rewards program that I need to constantly track.
Related: Why I Gave Up on Air Miles
With that being said, I still collect Air Miles as a secondary rewards program (it’s better than nothing) and use them for short haul flights.
Conclusion: Air Miles Cash Rewards may not give you the same value for your rewards but the savings can add up and if you shop at a participating sponsor frequently you’ll be able to save on everyday purchases.
Do you prefer Air Miles Dream or Cash Rewards?