Travel rewards: How to earn your dream vacation faster

| October 1, 2012 | 2 Comments
rewardspost Travel rewards: How to earn your dream vacation faster

How to earn your dream vacation faster

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How many of you are a member of a loyalty program? I’m willing to bet that it’s a good number. There are a number of programs, and the list is constantly growing.

Pavlov was right—we love rewards

Canadians love their rewards cards. So much so that it is estimated that 94% of us are enrolled in some type of loyalty program, according to marketing research firm Colloquy. In fact, it’s likely that you’ll have more than three rewards cards in your wallet at any given time.

ecuador Travel rewards: How to earn your dream vacation faster

Your author, Kathryn—sans Daniel—in Ecuador.

Although Daniel and I have multiple cards, we find it most effective to focus on our favourite program instead of spreading out our spending too much. Of course, it’ll come as no surprise that the card we focus on is our SPG Credit Card from American Express.

How to maximize your rewards

So how do we maximize our loyalty reward points (dubbed Starpoints)? The strategy here is to funnel all spending through the card to accumulate as many Starpoints as possible. We put every expense possible on our Card and we always ensure we pay it off every month. Therefore, it doesn’t take too long before we accrue a meaningful balance in our Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) account.

The SPG Credit Card from American Express has long been known as one of the best travel rewards cards in Canada. Regardless of where you use this card, you’ll always earn 1 Starpoint for every dollar spent. For example, Daniel and I consolidate almost all of our expenses, racking up about $3,300 a month on our card. Hence, we earn nearly 40,000 Starpoints per year. Once a Cardmember earns 40,000 Starpoints, , they qualify for ‘SPG Gold status and a ‘Free Weekend Night Award’.

It all adds up

If you’re new to the card, you’ll also earn 10,000 bonus Starpoints after you charge $1,000 in purchases to your card in your first three months. In our first year alone, we earned over 50,000 Starpoints and a free night award at a Starwood hotel. That’s enough points, for example, for a week downtown Buenos Aires, Bangkok — or in Southern California.

Where we’ve spent our Starpoints

So what will 50,000 Starpoints get you? It will get you a week at any of the following hotels, which we chose as examples because we’ve been. And we loved them all for different reasons, of course. A whole lot of comfort, convenience and a little romance.

Comfort in Bangkok

Daniel and I have been lucky enough to have travelled to Thailand on a number of occasions. In fact, it was the first destination we set down in on our first backpacking trip ever—when we travelled through South East Asia on a shoestring. As I’ve written about before, we stayed in some pretty sketchy places, including a few dives on Khao San Rd.

bangkok Travel rewards: How to earn your dream vacation faster

Westin Grande Sukhumvit

So, it gave me great pleasure then, to have stayed at the Westin Grande Sukhumvit the last time we were in Bangkok. It’s a perfect location for sightseeing, it’s situated in the heart of one of the city’s best shopping, restaurant, and entertainment areas, and it’s literally across the street from the sky train and the subway. Most importantly, of course, was that it was clean and comfortable!

Convenience in Southern California

We stayed at the Westin Long Beach last year at the beginning of a week-long family vacation in Southern California. The location was perfect; we spent most of our time there strolling along the city’s Shoreline Pedestrian bike path.

westinlongbeach Travel rewards: How to earn your dream vacation faster

Westin Long Beach

Long Beach is a neat little city and the Westin here is pretty much at the center of it all. Despite renting a car, we hardly used it while in LBC.

Romance in BA

In March of 2011, we cashed in a bunch of our Starpoints so that we could settle down following a rather rigorous trip from Santiago, through the Great Lakes District and up through Bariloche, finally settling in Buenos Aires. Buenos Aires is my kind of town! BA’s porteños love old book stores, opera and naturally, tango.

sheratonliberatador Travel rewards: How to earn your dream vacation faster

Sheraton Libertador Hotel

Buenos Aires has soul! You can’t beat Sheraton’s Libertador Hotel for walking access to restaurants and shopping along Florida, it’s about 15-20 minutes to Recoleta, San Telmo, and Puerto Madero. Yet, it’s quiet. A perfect, and very romantic, place to kick back after a long trip.


Of course, in order to do this and get the biggest bang for your buck, it’s imperative to use your Card for all your daily spending—from gas to groceries, to monthly bill payments, and watch your Starpoints add up.

The preceding was a sponsored post. Visit the Starwood Preferred Guest® (SPG) Credit Card from American Express website to learn more and to apply. For more information about sponsored posts, click here.

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Category: Kathryn's blog, Sponsored Posts

About the Author ()

Kathryn is a teacher whose experience has taken her from the classrooms of South Korea to the hallways of Canada. Her travels have taught her that backpacking is more than the seeing of sights. Instead, as Miriam Beard has so eloquently stated, "it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living". Along with her husband, Daniel, she is looking forward to trading in kindergarten-sized knapsacks for a nice 50L backpack in July 2011.

Comments (2)

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  1. Greetings! Very useful advice in this particular article!
    It is the little changes which will make the biggest changes.
    Many thanks for sharing!

  2. Alex smith says:

    Thanks a lot for sharing such a valuable piece of information. It is really an informative and precious post.The information is rich and engrossing.Nice post and I liked it.

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