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My Rewards Reality Check: Why I Switched from Team Airmiles to Team Cashback

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Like many, I was drawn to the allure of Airmiles for years. Who wouldn’t love the idea of free flights or fancy gadgets as a reward for everyday spending? But after a hard look at the numbers, I made the switch to Team Cashback. Here’s why.

Understanding Cashback vs. Airmiles

Let’s recap the basics of these two popular rewards systems:

  • Cashback: Simple and straightforward. You earn a percentage of your spending back as cash. That money can be used however you want.
  • Airmiles: Designed primarily for travel, but can also be used for merchandise, gift cards, and occasionally even cash equivalents. Can appear to offer potentially higher value but depends on how you use your points.

My Airmiles Journey: The Good…

I’ve been an enthusiastic Airmiles collector for a long time, and it IS an exciting program! Here are some highlights from my experience:

  • Tech Transformation: I snagged the awesome HP Envy Pro 6455 Wireless All-in-One Printer. This machine prints, scans, copies, and even makes borderless photos! Plus, it’s a renewed product, so I feel good about supporting sustainability too.
  • Pet Hair Begone! The Shark Rocket Pet Pro Cordless Stick Vacuum has been a game-changer. It gobbles up pet hair like nothing, has a HEPA filter for my allergies, and is super easy to maneuver. A cleaning dream come true!
  • I got my first Apple product off of Airmiles – it was the first Ipod!
  • My battery operated lawn mower.
  • I regularly get to the option to save $10 – $20 at Metro Grocery store checkout.
  • And sometimes I use my dream rewards to purchase movie tickets.

…And the Not-So-Good

Then I did the math. 😭 After 12 months of diligently using my BMO Airmiles credit card and Airmiles card, I earned 3216 Airmiles. To rack that up, I spent a whopping $59,592.79 on my credit card.

Converting those points into grocery savings at Metro, I would have gotten roughly $338 in savings for the year. I had already saved up 3610 in dream rewards that I just used to get my Shark vacuum. 3610 airmiles if we converted that to grocery savings would have been $380, the vacuum if I bought it which would have cost me $445 on Amazon.ca. That’s about $65 in savings.

So for the year with Airmiles I saved $338 roughly, I was only able to get the vacuum because I’d been saving dream miles points for quite a long time.

The Cashback Epiphany

The real eye-opener was this: If I had received 1% cashback on all my credit card spending, I would have earned $595. That’s significantly more than the $338 value (grocery savings) I got from my Airmiles.

The Flexibility Factor

While I love the occasional Airmiles treat, the flexibility of cash and that fact that it’s higher value has now won me over. With cashback, I have the freedom to:

  • Put the money toward necessities
  • Save for a bigger goal
  • Treat myself without restriction
  • Earn 4.5% interest on those saving with my Wealthsimple Cash account


  • Simple: No complicated point systems to figure out.
  • Versatile: Cash is king – use it for whatever you want.
  • No expiration dates: No pressure to use your rewards quickly.
  • 1% Cashback: If you can get 1% cashback or higher, it seems that will provide a higher cash value.

If You Are Still Team Airmiles – Getting The Most Airmiles

Maximizing rewards, make sure to use both your Airmiles card and you BMO Airmiles Credit Card to get the most points.

And don’t forget to shop on Amazon.ca for even more Airmiles points. Be sure to login to Airmiles.ca to read how to get your Airmiles points from Amazon.ca.

Taking Advantage of Both: My Airmiles + Wealthsimple Strategy

While I’m clearly a fan of airmiles, I’m all about getting the most value! In the last 12 months I can clearly see I will get more money/value back with a 1% cashback option. That’s why I now have a Wealthsimple Cash account. It lets me take advantage of their high-interest rate on all deposits and earn that 1% cashback on all purchases.

I still value some Airmiles perks, so I’m not ditching them completely.

Here’s how my strategy works:

  • Airmiles: I use my Airmiles rewards card at all stores that accept it. I am now putting all my Airmiles points to dream rewards.
  • Wealthsimple: I now use my Wealthsimple Cash Card for all purchases and bills that I can, to get the 1% cashback. Wealthsimple also offers 4% interest on all deposits plus an extra 0.5% if you direct deposit your pay into your cash account, plus zero transaction fees!
  • Is your checking account getting 4.5% Interest? I bet not.

What about you? #teamcashback or #teamairmiles? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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