One of my goals this year is to maximize my rewards points.  For years I have been a loyal Air Miles collector.  I have always shopped at Safeway, filled up the car at Shell, and for one time purchases I generally went out of my way to purchase at an Air Miles sponsored business.

I have the Air Miles credit card from American Express, which rewards me with 1 Air Mile for every $15 spent.  I even downloaded the Air Miles Toolbar, which gives* gave me 5 Air Miles for every 50 internet searches (up to a maximum of 30 reward miles per month).

Redeem Air Miles For Products

Unlike most people however, I don’t redeem Air Miles rewards to cash in for flights.  I redeem Air Miles rewards for products like $20 gas gift certificates from Shell.  For 175 Air Miles you can purchase a $20 gas certificate.  So far this year I have earned over 1750 Air Miles rewards and redeemed them for 10 gas gift certificates ($200).

Are the Shell gift cards considered the best Air Miles rewards as far as return on your money spent?  I’m sure there are other products that probably pay at a much better ratio than the gas certificates, but I like the feeling of subsidizing that expense and putting a little bit of money back in my wallet each month.

When I redeem Air Miles, it’s a great enhancement to my overall rewards points strategy that I use along with my favorite rewards credit card, the MBNA Smart Cash MasterCard.

There are lots of other rewards besides Air Miles travel that you can redeem Air Miles for on their website.  From magazine subscriptions, restaurant gift certificates, movie packages, electronics, and appliances, there are some great items to choose from.  Besides, I never liked having to pay all of the fees & taxes that go along with redeeming your points for flights…not to mention the blackout dates that limit your travel options.

Do you like to redeem Air Miles rewards for products or save up and redeem them for flights?  Do you prefer the Air Miles program over Aeroplan miles?

*Updated September 23rd, 2011

The opportunity to earn reward miles with online search though the AIR MILES Toolbar is no longer available as of June 30, 2011.  During the 30 months in which this innovative earning opportunity was available to our Collectors, the online search market has changed substantially to the point where AIR MILES can no longer offer this option to our Collectors.  Please be reminded that the Toolbar will still ensure you never miss an opportunity to earn reward miles at our 100+ online stores.

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