Credit Cards and Travel Hacking for Canadians

After the last few years of closed borders and restricted travel due to a Global Pandemic, many of us want to get back out there and travel, to see new places after only seeing our living rooms for that last few years.

The problem is, that travel has become even more expensive, so we need to find ways to save money and continue to pursue our dreams of travelling the World.

We have often talked about using Geo-arbitrage to reduce our monthly expenses by living in low cost of living countries, but we still need to get to those places.  We have been travel hacking our way to over 2,000,000 miles and points for the last three years.  These miles will help us book flights and the points can be used to offset hotel costs.

So you may ask yourself, what does the term travel hack it mean?  Typically this means applying for various credit cards with large sign-up bonuses, and then using your everyday spending to accumulate even more points and miles allowing you to travel a greatly reduced cost in the future.

Rules for travel hacking 

  1. Always pay your credit card balances in full EVERY month
  2. Always have a plan for the minimum spend before applying for a new card, don’t apply first, and then have to come up with spending to earn that welcome bonus
  3. Pay everything with a credit card!  (helps with tracking, plus you are earning rewards on every dollar you spend – again, the balance is paid in FULL every month)


Once you have the rules down, there are several ways you will earn points and miles by Travel Hacking Credit Cards, here are a few of them now:

Credit card welcome bonuses

Credit Cards will often give new clients large signup bonuses to entice you to get their cards.  Often these bonuses are tied to an amount that you will have to spend on the card to achieve the bonus (No big deal, because you will be paying that off in full EVERY MONTH!)

Multiple cards for different spending categories

Many cards have what are called spending multipliers on different spending categories.  For example, the Amex Cobalt card will give you 5x the points in the Grocery and Dining out category.  This means that you would use this card for those categories, but perhaps another card will provide a multiplier for Gas, and another for booking travel.

By taking advantage of these multipliers, you will increase the number of points you are earning substantially.

Two player strategy and referral bonus


If you have another adult in your household, or a friend is also looking to get into travel points and miles, referral bonuses can be a powerful tool as well.  Often a credit card will give you the card holder a bonus to refer your friends and family to the card.  This way, if you have two adults in the house, you can effectively earn double to sign-up bonuses.

Use your cards for Everything

Regular store spending is easy to put on a credit card, but what about all of those other bills that you can’t pay normally with a credit card?  Insurance, Hydro, Gas, Property tax?  Well, there is a way to earn on those payments as well.  There are payment services such as PayTM and PaySimply that will allow you to pay a number of these bills with your cards.

Note: there will be a service charge attached to these pay services

Maximize your loyalty programs

Several times a year, companies such as AMEX and HSBC will put on transfer bonus events, where you can transfer your points out of one program to an airline or hotel for an additional bonus.  For example, AMEX in the past has had a transfer bonus of 30% to send your MR points to Aeroplan (Air Canada’s award program).  In this way, 1 point effectively becomes 1.3 points, meaning you need less point to book the flights you are looking at.

Like many things in life, there are pros and cons to Travel Hacking:


  • You can travel for less
  • Enjoy aspirational travel, book a trip to the Maldives (pay only taxes)
  • Travel more often
  • Card Perks – many travel cards will come with perks such as; Free checked bags, lounge access, travel insurance, priority boarding, priority security lines (though these cards tend to have higher annual fees)
  • Just by spending normally, you are earning free travel


  • Most cards will have an annual fee attached to them, so you need to way the sign-up bonus and perks of the card against the fee to make sure that it is worth it for you
  • Each time you apply for a new credit card, there is a credit hit on your credit report.  This bounces back though once you keep paying that balance in full
  • Requires some tracking and maintenance – stay on top of spend requirements, pay off balances on time, cancel prior to renewal if deciding not to keep the card
  • If you are not careful, you may spend more – travel is addictive, and once you are in a location, you may want to splurge on food, drinks, and sightseeing
  • Loyalty programs can change –  your point value may change if the reward program changes the way in which points are redeemed

For us, travel hacking is all about making our money work for us in a different way!  Our regular spend is now earning us miles and points towards travel costs in the future.  It does take some research and effort to figure out which cards will work for your lifestyle, but once you start booking and taking those trips, all that effort will pay off.

We invite you to take a look at the list of our credit cards. Start accumulating points now!