Some people enjoy travel rewards cards, but I prefer either cash back or points towards free groceries.  I even redeem AirMiles for free gas.

I’ve written before about how I maximize my credit card rewards.  The way I see it, if I am going to spend the money anyways, I might as well get something in return.

Using The PC MasterCard

My main credit card for monthly purchases is the PC MasterCard, which gives me 10 PC Points for every $1 spent.  So far this year I have earned over 180,000 PC Points, which is worth $180.  I redeem the points for groceries, diapers, and other baby supplies at our local Superstore.

So how did I maximize my rewards?  I started by changing the way I pay my monthly bills and my regular expenses.

In the past, after I got paid I would proceed to pay bills online through my chequing account.  I rarely used cash, but would use my debit card for all of our other monthly expenses like groceries, gas, clothes, and entertainment.  Now I pay for everything I can with my PC MasterCard:

Automatic Monthly Payments

  • Electricity and Gas
  • Water and Sewer
  • Cell Phone
  • Cable/Satellite TV
  • Internet
  • Auto Insurance

Regular Monthly Expenses

  • Groceries, cleaning, baby supplies
  • Entertainment
  • Gas

How To Get Free Groceries

I end up spending around $2,000/month on my credit card, which gets me 20,000 PC Points, or $20 in free groceries each month.  That doesn’t sound like a lot, but it adds up over time.  Add in bonus offers for purchasing items at Superstore, and the points accumulate quickly.

I know there are other rewards cards out there that pay 2 percent cash back or higher, but I notice that most have quite a few stipulations about shopping at participating locations, etc.  Plus, I don’t spend nearly as much on my credit card as some people who travel for business, and I don’t want to pay an annual fee either.

Using a credit card responsibly is a great way to put a few bucks back in your pocket by spending money that you were going to spend anyways.  I don’t really care about the credit card interest rates offered since I don’t plan on paying any interest.

Which is a reminder to pay off your balance in full at the end of every month, or your rewards strategy will backfire quickly.

Do you use a credit card for all of your monthly expenses so you can get free groceries or cashback rewards?

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10 Comments

  1. schultzter on October 20, 2010 at 6:13 am

    There definitely a big gap between the rewards you can accumulate on card with an annual fee and free card. But there are some in-betweens. I use an RBC Gold Reward that came free with my combination of accounts, the rewards are not the most generous but some of the benefits of the card are better than my last CIBC Aeroplan card (that cost $20 a year and had equivalent points but worse benefits!).

    The other card I carry is my Amex for use at Costco & as a backup. It’s cash back and the deal through Costco is pretty good.

    Finally, don’t forget to use your Air Miles, Aeroplan, or whatever other additional loyalty card you can in conjunction with your credit card when you pay.

    • Echo on October 20, 2010 at 6:57 am

      Good point Schultzer. I have an AMEX to use at Costco and as a back-up as well. And I definitely double-up with my Air Miles/Aeroplan cards whenever possible.

  2. Tom @ Canadian Finance Blog on October 20, 2010 at 6:40 am

    I use my Club Sobeys card for everything I can. Not all my bills have an automatic credit card option, but if they do, they are set up.

    I also find it less of a hassle to pay bills this way. Almost everything is automatic and goes on the credit card, then I just pay it off in full when the statement comes!

    • Echo on October 20, 2010 at 6:59 am

      Hi Tom, I agree…it’s way less hassle to have your bills automatically paid by credit card. The only one I’ve had a problem with is Enmax, which apparently doesn’t have that option.

  3. larry macdonald on October 20, 2010 at 9:59 am

    I’ve had a bear-bones credit card for decades and just couldn’t be bothered wasting brain cells figuring out all the special offers and point things on other cards I think I’m beginning to see the light. Thanks for the post.

    • Echo on October 20, 2010 at 7:32 pm

      Hi Larry, that’s what I like about the PC MasterCard. It may not be the most lucrative plan out there, but it’s simple to use, simple to redeem points, and best of all…no fees.

  4. A.Rajah on October 20, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    We use MBNA smart card for groceries and gas which give 3% rebate back grocery store purchases and gas station purchases (up to $600 a month after that 1%) . I need to check whether I can put gas and water bill in the credit card as well.

    • Echo on October 20, 2010 at 7:38 pm

      @ A. Rajah
      That’s the credit card most recommended by people looking to maximize their rewards. If you look at it, 3% on your first $600 works out to $12/month more than what I’m getting with the straight 1%. That’s not bad. I’d have to factor in the bonus points for shopping at Superstore though to see if it would be worthwhile switching.

  5. Katy on October 20, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    I’m one of those weird people who *don’t* like automated payments, either from a credit card or a bank account…..so I’m “missing out” on the potential points. We did use the Air Miles when it first came out….but at that point Safeway was *so* much more expensive we figured it would be cheaper in the end for us to shop at Superstore and pay for the trip ourselves. My BMO MasterCard is linked to AirMiles, but it doesn’t get used often….think we got a camera from AirMiles a few years ago. We do use the free RBC VISA reward thing — we cash in the points for an HBC card…..I tend to shop Zeller’s for my son’s clothing, so it works for us.
    So, we could be getting better points out of a card….but I don’t like the preauthorized crap, and the limited options of where to shop to maximize the points.

    • Echo on October 20, 2010 at 7:53 pm

      Hi Katy, nothing weird about it…to each their own. With all of the different rewards cards available, it can be confusing to determine which one (if any) are right for you. I like a card with no annual fee, and one that has points I can redeem for everyday items like groceries and gas. The simpler the better. The best way to maximize your points from these different programs is to only have one or two cards, and try and double dip wherever possible – like using your Air Miles credit card along with your Air Miles card when grocery shopping at Safeway. Same with using your PC MasterCard while shopping at Superstore.

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