Thank you jadedragoninbc for writing this article and emailing it to me. This article was originally published by her at eHow.
If you look carefully and arrange your life the correct way you can actually turn a profit from shopping using the AIR MILES Reward Program in Canada. AIR MILES are redeemable for many travel, merchandise and gift certificate rewards. Depending on how you use the rewards points they are worth between 10 cents and 15 cents each for gift certificates, more or less on items that are harder to price like flights and merchandise.
Sure, follow the advice to always carry your AIR MILES card and shop at AIR MILES sponsors, but if you want to take it to the next level, here is exactly how.
Your goal is to earn a combination of AIR MILES Reward Miles and Tax Deductible Donation Receipts that together have a value above what you spent.
Air Miles – Step 1
Identify which grocery stores in your area are part of the AIR MILES program. The AIR MILES program offers exclusivity to each sponsor in each region so this part is easy. In Western Canada the grocery sponsor is Safeway Canada and this article will use Safeway as the example. Same principles apply at other stores in other regions of Canada.
Air Miles – Step 2
In order to get the best sale prices at Safeway you will need a Safeway Client Card, available free from Safeway customer service. Once you have the card issued you can just quote your phone number to get the discounts.
Air Miles – Step 3
Collect AIR MILES coupons and watch for promotions for bonus miles. These can be found online, in the paper, on the shelf tags and in the in-store fliers. You should also sign up for e-flyers from the Safeway website.
These promotions come in three main categories:
- Dollar Amount Spent for Bonus Air Miles Deals – Safeway regularly runs coupons for 100 or 250 bonus AIR MILES with a $100 or $200 purchase.
- Bonus AIR MILES coupons for specific products.
- Buy X get Y Bonus AIR MILES type promotions found in flyers and on the shelf tags. (hint read the fine print on the shelf tags because not all eligible products get the shelf tag.
Air Miles – Step 4
When the store is running one of the Dollar Amount Spent for Bonus AIR MILES deals, go to the store with your coupons and look carefully at all products offering bonus AIR MILES. Especially look at products that generally have some or all of these characteristics
- low priced/low ticket items
- ON SALE and
- Offering Bonus AIR MILES
- Maybe something you can find a coupon for online or in print
Bonus AIR MILES are just like all other AIR MILES, you just earn them in addition to or as a bonus to the regular AIR MILES awarded for shopping
Air Miles – Step 5
Calculate how many Regular and Bonus AIR MILES you would earn by buying each product meeting the Step 4 criteria. For ease of calculation you might want to calculate based on buying 10 or 100 of the item.
Here is the Math for a 10 units of a can of soup sale priced at $2.00 each:
- Cost of product 10 units X $2.00 = $20. There are no taxes.
- # of bonus AIR MILES from buying the product (say 20 miles X 10 units = 200 miles)
- # of AIR MILES from Safeway regular program = 1 per $20 spent, so 1 mile.
- # of AIR MILES from your participating BMO MasterCard or AMEX Card = 1 per $20 spent so 1 mile.
- Spend $200 and get 250 Bonus miles promotion = 1.25 miles per $1 X $20 = 25 miles.
Total AIR MILES = 227 Miles
Times 12 cents each Mile = $27.24 of value in miles on a $20 purchase.
You just found that select product that is worth more in AIR MILES than it costs you.
Air Miles – Step 6
Purchase a large quantity of the product or products you have identified. You may be able to get the manager to order in more of an item (maybe a pallet full!).
Use your AIR MILES credit card, you grocery store loyalty card, and your AIR MILES collector card plus the appropriate coupons.
If you are using a spend $100 get a 100 miles coupon you will want to maximize your bonuses, so run the purchases through in separate transactions of $100 each, making sure that each purchase includes an appropriate multiple of items to get the full bonus on the item.
You do not have to worry about the credit card and base miles from the store as they accumulate across multiple transactions anyway.
Keep the receipts for the next step or buy one product at the regular price to establish fair market value. (edited for clarity)
Air Miles – Step 7
Call an appropriate local charity, set an appointment and pay them a visit. The Salvation Army or local food bank are your best bets for food donations. The animal shelter will love your pet food donations.
Ask the charity for an “in kind” charitable gift receipt or receipts (if they have dollar limits on individual in kind donation receipts). You will need to establish the fair market value of the product you are donating, which is where having a receipt showing the fair market retail value comes in handy.
Air Miles – Step 8
Reap the Rewards of your Efforts:
-Enjoy the thought you just helped feed hundreds of people or animals
-File your donation receipts with your income taxes for a approximately 40% credit on your income taxes (exact value varies by Province)
-Enjoy a nice trip (where my honeymoon came from), give great gifts from your miles, or use the miles to get that riding lawn mower you always wanted (seriously this is exactly where the writer’s John Deere mower came from).