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Recently during my trip to Dallas to attend Frequent Traveller University I met a couple of great Canadian bloggers known as Pointshogger (http://pointshogger.boardingarea.com/). 

They kindly shared some of their insights into the way that they accumulate and then burn points. For you Canadians out there - I highly recommend you visit their site as they provide the most up to date and informative articles in regards to anything points and miles related.

 

Below is an interview to understand what Pointshogger do and how it can help everyday Canadians travel better for less:

 

1. Can you explain what Pointshogger do and the philosophy in points and travel?

 

Pointshogger is a Canadian-centric blog that teaches people who want to learn how to maximize the rewards they earn when spending their money. We like to think of ourselves as the "one-stop shop" for our readers to learn about anything points-related. We hope our blog will one day serve as a database about every major loyalty program offered in Canada so that any people can get the best return possible for every dollar that they spend.


2. What is the best way to get from Australia to Canada on points especially for premium cabin award travel?

 

There is a direct flight from Sydney to Vancouver, so if you can find an affordable price for that flight, it can be decent. However, I would not recommend using Aeroplan points for that reward flight because Air Canada charges a high tax and fuel surcharge. Depending on which parts of Canada you fly to and from, I would recommend having your layover somewhere in the United States.


3. What are the top five things to see/do in Canada?

 

Depending on what your interests are, I would recommend the following, in no particular order aside from personal interests:

 

 

  • Rocky mountains between the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia, including Banff and/or Jasper
  • Northern lights when visiting one of the territories in northern parts of Canada
  • Do a triangle trip between Toronto/Ottawa/Montreal, can easily hit all 3 cities in 5-7 days. If you are in Toronto, visit the Niagara Falls that's an hour away by car. If you are in Ottawa during winter, go skating on the Rideau Canal. Every year it freezes over during winter and it's open to the public for you to skate for miles. In Montreal, visit all the eateries you can around the city. If you have the money, try out Toqué - rated as the #1 restaurant in Canada. For a more local taste, definitely grab a smoked meat sandwich at Schwartz's.
  • If you end up in Vancouver, try kayaking all the way up Indian Arm and go camping at Granite Falls. This area is inaccessible by roads, only by water. For outdoorsy travellers, it's a nice challenge to pack up your light gear and travel hours by kayak or canoe. The view is breathtaking and the water is crystal clear. Very much like gliding on silk!
  • Go skiing and/or snowboarding in Whistler, the largest ski resort in North America.

 

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada

 

kayaking vancouver1

Kayaking up Indian Arm in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

 

 

4. If you could travel to one place - where would it be and why?

 

I think that life's pretty busy all the time, so when I travel these days, I prefer to go somewhere relaxing. Hawaii has been at the top of my list. Hawaii does not allow advertising billboards anywhere in the State, which makes it more aesthetically pleasing. Hawaii also consists of several islands giving us a nice choice between a big city feelings and scenic beaches.

 

Hanauma Bay - Hawaii 

Hanauma Bay, Hawaii

 

 

5. What is your favourite frequent flyer program?

 

I think my answer would differ depending on where I live. For now, Aeroplan is my favourite program because it is the easier for me to earn miles that I can use. British Airways, Executive Club is starting to become a close second place because I started earning a lot of their miles. 

 

Unfortunately it is difficult to enjoy a program if it is too difficult to earn points with them. 


6. What is the hardest place to get to that you have been by using your points/miles?

 

Ottawa to Miami. It seems simple enough, but what made it complicated was that I had to use my Aeroplan miles to line up as perfectly as possible with a cruise that I was taking. I actually spent a few weeks, trying different combinations to figure out the best strategy. 


7. Can you explain a bit about the Aeroplan Frequent Flyer program of Air Canada? 

 

Aeroplan is a member of Star Alliance. I would only recommend this program to Canadians because it is the easier program to earn a lot of points with because we have a fair amount of co-branded credit cards associated with Aeroplan.

 

That being said, if I was Australian and I wanted to load up on miles with a Star Alliance member, I would go with Singapore Airlines or United Airlines. You can leverage your miles for better reward redemptions with those two programs. 

 

8. FlyingFirst.com.au is all about travelling in luxury for the least amount of points and cash as possible for the people of Australia. Pointshogger aims to do the same for Canadian residents. Why do you think people are skeptical about the "points" game that can provide them first class travel? I know people know that this is possible - yet they still choose to use cash to pay for low cost carrier airlines or a cheap economy ticket?

 

I was shopping at a grocery store with a friend. My friend doesn't have a loyalty card with the grocery store, so he usually lets me collect the points for his purchases. He once proceeded to ask the cashier what she thought of loyalty points. The cashier said it was a scam because the loyalty program tracks what type of purchases you usually make and send targeted emails. So she felt that it was an infringement of her privacy. My friend was unaware of this practice and completely agreed with her and helped him justify to not ever signing up.

 

In my experience, I encounter multiple types of situation. I meet a lot of people who do not understand how it really works. A lack of understanding tends to lead to a very negative feeling about something, because of the fear of the unknown.

 

Those who learn a little bit about how it works end up disagreeing with the practice of loyalty programs. Especially with the collection of personal information. Those who actually fully comprehend how the system works find that it is too much work to be worth the trouble.

 

At the end of the day, not everyone is going to be on board with earning points. But if there are people who are interested in learning more, we are more than happy to share our thoughts! 

 

Thanks FlyingFirst for interviewing us! 

 

PointsHoggerandFlyingFirst

 

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