Getting Back On Budget – Reward Points!

July 3rd, 2008 by Potato

I’m a little bit of a sucker for using reward points and cards, but I hardly ever redeem my points. From Air Miles I regularly get Cineplex Night Out passes, both as a nice use of the reward points, and also as a way to go out to the movies (something Wayfare loves) without having to see just how much it costs these days (something I loathe). But my RBC card has been racking up points for years now that I’ve never redeemed, as has my PC account (both debit and my recent mastercard). I’m up to nearly $400 worth of points on the RBC card and over $40 on my PC points.

These last few months have been pretty tough on the budget: I had some car trouble, tire trouble, a conference or three, we went on vacation, and I bought a bike. Some of that isn’t too bad: I’m getting good use out of the bike, and it can even help me offset some of my car usage (…as soon as I build up the stamina to start biking to Toronto). The car costs were fairly outrageous, but hopefully that’ll be the end of that until October at the very least (when I’ve got to get my emissions checked and renew my license, and where for the first time ever I’m afraid the old beast might not pass). Work does pay for the essentials of sending me to a conference: the flight, the hotel, the taxi from the airport to the hotel, registration, and the majority portion of my food (I haven’t quite found which category I can expense whatchamicallit bars under, so it looks like I have to eat that cost). However, they do encourage non-budgeted spending in a pretty nasty way: as long as I was out in Victoria, I went to visit the Cathedral Grove. Whilst in San Diego, why not try surfing and visit the zoo? Plus the hotel has restaurants on-site, so if we decided to take a cab downtown for a little variety in our meals, work would pay for the meal, but not the cab fare. It adds up.

So to try to get back on-budget, I’m going to start tapping some of those reward points. A few hundred dollars in gas from RBC, and a week’s worth of groceries from PC should help get us back on track for the summer months.

One thing I find interesting is how your rewards points have different values depending on how you spend them. RBC has a number of gift cards available, including the gas cards for Esso, and that gives you an idea of the cash value of the points: a $50 gas card costs 6000 points. A Cineplex Night Out pass is 3500 points, so it costs about $29. Air Miles gets very peculiar, because you can get different values for the cash/gift cards depending on which store it’s for! The A&P $20 gift card is 140 points, but some others like the Shell $20 card can go for as much as 175 points! To get the same Night Out pass from Air Miles costs the equivalent of $25, so I’ll continue to use that as the source of my movie entertainment, and get my gas from RBC :)

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