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How To Earn Cash Back For Your Summer Travel Plans

Barry Choi

It’s almost May — if you haven’t started planning your summer travel plans, what exactly are you waiting for? Now is an ideal time to travel: since it’s off-peak, prices tend to be lower. However, if you don’t have time to travel now, you can still use your credit cards to save money toward a vacation this summer. 

Using credit cards to save money sounds weird, right? If used responsibly, you can reap the benefits by simply charging your everyday purchases to your cards.

The case for cash back

Frequent travellers are typically better off using one of the best travel rewards credit cards, but cash-back credit cards are growing in popularity. With cash-back credit cards, there’s no need to worry about points expiring, blackout dates, or paying taxes. You’re dealing with cash, which is easy to understand.

The trick is to save those cash back rewards specifically for your travel plans. This is easy if you consider the rewards as part of your travel fund, but there’s also nothing wrong with using those rewards on something else. The key thing to know is when you can cash out your rewards. If you have a card that only issues cash back rewards annually, you’ll want to set a reminder in your calendar.

Before you book your plane tickets or other travel expenses, read the travel insurance policies of all your credit cards to see what you’re entitled to. When you’re ready, charge those purchases to the credit with the best travel insurance so you’ll be covered during your travels.

Using a cash back card

One could argue that cash-back credit cards are now the way to go. Over the last few years, many travel rewards programs have devalued their points making it harder to claim rewards. Disappointed with these changes, many travellers have decided to switch to cash back cards since the rewards are pretty much like cash. These credit cards also appeal to casual travellers since they get to decide what they use their cash back rewards on. There are many different cash-back credit cards on the market, but here are a few worth checking out:

SimplyCash Card from American Express

Card details

  • No annual fee
  • Earn 5% cash back on gas, groceries, and restaurants for the first 6 months (up to $250)
  • 1.25% cash back on everything else
  • Travel insurance benefits

The SimplyCash Card from American Express is a popular card for everyday spending since it offers 5% cash back on gas, groceries, and restaurants (within the first six months, up to $250), and 1.25% on everything else. There’s no annual fee, but the downside is that the cash back rewards can only be applied to your credit card statement once a year.

The included travel insurance benefits may appeal to casual travellers. You get complimentary car rental theft and damage insurance, which covers damage or theft of your rental car with an MSRP of up to $85,000. You’ll also get up $100,000 of accidental death and dismemberment insurance (not to be confused with travel medical insurance). This insurance covers you, your spouse and dependent children under the age of 23 from accidental death and dismemberment when any of you travel on a common carrier (plane, train, bus or ship). To qualify the included insurance, you must charge the entire cost of the car rental or travel tickets to your SimplyCash card.

Scotiabank Momentum Visa Infinite

Card details

  • Annual fee: $99
  • Earn 4% cash back on gas and groceries, 2% cash back on drug store purchases and recurring bill payments, and 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Receive VISA Infinite benefits

Although the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite has a $99 annual fee, the increased cash back categories are appealing to people who spend a lot. Here are the cash back percentages that cardholders get.

Simply put, the Scotiabank Momentum Visa Infinite offers some of the highest cash back rewards available. Couples or families who drive a lot can easily earn hundreds of dollars in cash back rewards every year. Note that the cash back is earned at the end of the month, but is awarded annually as a statement credit or deposited to your Scotiabank chequing account (if you have one).

In addition, cardholders get a comprehensive travel insurance package that covers travel emergency medical, trip interruption, flight delay, delayed and lost baggage, travel accident, and rental car collision loss/damage insurance.

Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

Card details

  • No annual fee
  • Earn 2% cash back on purchases in up to three categories of your choice, and 0.5% cash back on everything else
  • No limit on how much cash back you can earn

Finally, there’s the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card. What makes this card unique is that the cash back rewards are deposited monthly and you’re allowed to pick two categories that will earn you 2% cash back. You can earn a third 2% category by having your cash back rewards deposited directly into your Tangerine savings account, while all other categories earn 0.5% cash back.

Travelling may not be your passion, but having a having a good cash back card can help offset costs when you do decide to take a trip.

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