CIBC Rewards Review: Will a Generous Welcome Offer Win You Over?
Like most of the big bank customer loyalty programs, CIBC Rewards is a credit card rewards program. This means that you earn points when you make purchases with your CIBC credit card, and you can then redeem those points in a variety of ways. In this article, I’ll show you how to earn points, what they can be redeemed for, and how to get the most out of CIBC Rewards. Before we get started, I should point out that CIBC reward points and Aventura points are one and the same, and I’ll use the terms interchangeably throughout the article.
How to Earn CIBC Rewards Points
You earn points when you make purchases with your CIBC Aventura credit card. Thankfully, CIBC has several Aventura cards to choose from, each one geared towards a specific clientele. You can redeem points in any number of ways, with travel rewards being the most lucrative. Let’s take a closer look at the various CIBC Aventura credit cards, to see how each one accumulates points.
CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Card
The CIBC Visa Infinite card is the flagship card in the Aventura lineup and offers fairly lucrative rewards. To maximize the value of this card, you’ll want to redeem your points for travel. For example, you earn 2 Aventura points for every dollar you spend on travel through the CIBC Rewards Centre. In addition, you receive 1.5 points for every dollar you spend at grocery stores, drug stores, and on gas. All other purchases will earn a standard 1 point per dollar.
Because it’s a premium credit card, it comes with an annual fee of $120, and there is a minimum annual income requirement of $60,000 individual, or $100,000 household. That’s fairly standard for a card of its type. One nice feature is the complimentary Priority Pass Airport Lounge membership, along with 4 lounge passes per year, a value of approximately $200. At the moment, CIBC is offering a rather generous signup bonus of up to 35,000 Aventura points as well as the first year annual fee waived on the card.
- Current introductory offer: up to 35,000 Aventura points, first-year fee waived ($120)
- Earn 2 points per dollar on travel purchased through CIBC Rewards Centre
- Earn 1.5 points at gas stations, grocery stores, and drug stores
- Earn 1 point on all other purchases
- Complimentary Priority Pass membership, including 4 annual passes.
- $50 Nexus application fee waived
- 8 different types of insurance coverage included
- Minimum annual income $60,000/$100,000 household
- $120 annual fee, additional cards $50 each
- 19.99%/22.99% purchase/cash advance interest
CIBC Aventura Gold Visa Card
For customers who may not meet the minimum income standard of the Visa Infinite, there’s the nearly identical CIBC Aventura Gold Visa Card. You’ll get the same welcome bonus and earn points at the same rate with this card, but you’ll miss out on some of the travel insurance coverage. The annual fee for this card is also $120, but the minimum annual income requirement is only $15,000.
CIBC Aventura Visa Card
This entry-level card provides cardholders with the ability to earn points towards travel with no annual fee. You’ll only get 1 point for every dollar you spend, but if what you want is a basic credit card without an annual fee, this is the one. There is a student version of the card which has no minimum income requirement. New cardholders can earn a bonus of up to 5000 Aventura points.
CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Privilege Card
While this is CIBCs most prestigious Aventura credit card, I won’t give it too much real estate as it’s only meant for a select few customers, evidenced by the $200,000 annual income requirement. If you can stomach the $499 annual fee, you’ll earn 3 points on every dollar spent on travel, 2 points on dining, entertainment, transportation, dining, gas, and groceries, and 1.25 points per dollar on all other purchases, along with a bevy of other features and benefits.
What Is a CIBC Aventura Point Worth?
As I alluded to before, how much a CIBC Aventura point is worth depends on how it is being redeemed. You’ll get the most bang for your buck when you use your points to purchase flights, up to 2.3 cents per point, in fact. Other rewards, such as merchandise, or gift cards, carry far less value, closer to .70 per point. Here is the full list of ways you can redeem points.
Travel – Airline Rewards Chart
When you book flights using CIBCs airline rewards chart, flights are divided into various categories, depending on the length of the flight, or where it’s going. For example, a long haul flight is considered any flight within Canada and the US (excluding Hawaii & Alaska). Any flight in this category would require between 25,000 and 35,000 points, up to a maximum ticket price of $800 (base fare).
Points redeemed using the chart won’t cover any taxes or other charges, however, you can redeem additional points at the book-any-way rate of 1 cent per point, to cover the fees. I should point out that because CIBC Aventura is not tied to any specific airline, you can use your points to book flights on any carrier.
Travel – Book Any Way
If you don’t wish to use the flight rewards chart, you can make just about any type of travel booking (flights, hotels, car rentals etc.) through the CIBC Rewards Centre using Book Any Way travel. Using this method, however, your points will only be valued at 1 cent per point. One major limitation to the CIBC book any way program is that you have to purchase your travel through CIBCs travel provider in order to redeem your points. You can’t book elsewhere with your card, and then expect to use your points after the fact.
CIBC Financial Products
You won’t get the same value as you will when you redeem for travel, but if you have a mortgage balance with CIBC, a loan, or investment product, you can redeem your points to make payments or contributions to these products. To apply a payment of $100 on a mortgage or loan, you’ll require 12,000 points. The same goes for a $100 investment contribution. This equates to a value of approximately .83 cents per point.
Make a Charitable Donation
CIBC has partnered with Canada Helps to give Aventura customers a way to redeem points to support a number of worthwhile causes. Not only will you get a respectable return of 1 cent per point when you donate, but you’ll also receive a donation receipt for tax purposes.
Apply a Statement Credit
If you carry a balance on your CIBC credit card, you may want to consider redeeming your points as a credit to be applied against the balance owing. The only drawback here is that you’ll get a measly .63 cents per point when you redeem for this purpose. In other words, there are better ways to use your points.
Redeem Points Towards Merchandise
As with most bank loyalty rewards programs, you can select from a wide range of merchandise with CIBC Rewards. The redemption values vary depending on the product, at an average of 70 cents per point. Browsing through the CIBC Rewards catalogue, I found a set of Apple Airpods for 50,000 points and a Keurig K-Select coffee maker for 23,400 points.
Last, but not least, you can purchase a huge assortment of gift cards using your CIBC Aventura points. The point value is almost identical to redeeming for merchandise (70 CCP), and it can be a great way to save on gifts for friends or loved ones.
Advantages of CIBC Rewards
I like that the CIBC Rewards point system is simple and easy to understand. The premium cards come with a generous signup bonus, including the first year annual fee waiver. The CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Card includes a full suite of travel insurance coverage, and you get 4 lounge passes per year with your Priority Pass membership, which is a very nice perk. And you’re not restricted to booking travel on one particular airline. That said, the program does have its limitations.
Drawbacks of CIBC Rewards
To me, one of the biggest drawbacks of the CIBC Rewards program is the lack of flexibility when it comes to booking any way travel. Unlike other bank programs, like TD Rewards, you must book travel through the CIBC Travel Centre. If you find a better deal on a flight or hotel on a third party website, you can’t make the purchase with your card, and then redeem your points against your purchase. If you ask me, this is a significant flaw of the program.
Who Are CIBC Rewards Best Suited For?
The short answer is that the CIBC Rewards program is best suited for existing CIBC customers. With rewards that are, for the most part, very much in line with what’s being offered by the other Canadian banks, there’s little reason to make the switch to CIBC for the sole purpose of loyalty rewards. That said, if you already deal with CIBC, but aren’t utilizing their rewards program, you’re missing out. And with a credit card to suit just about every taste, there’s something for everyone. Besides, it’s free to join, so you really have nothing to lose.
Tom, as a former member of CIBC Rewards, I’ll go one further than the drawbacks you’ve mentioned and say that this is a flat-out awful points program. I could never find the flights I wanted or if I did, the points value was deflated and not in line with the numbers in the rewards chart. You don’t have the option of redeeming points for premium economy or business class. Often you can only find Basic fares (can’t pre-book seats) on Westjet when there are still Econo or Flex fares available for the same flight on the Westjet website. You can’t redeem for flights with an origin outside of North America. Also, you indicated that redeeming points for merchandise carries an average value of 70 cents per point – I think you meant to say 0.7 cents per point, which is about 70% of the value you get redeeming points for other travel.
To make it even more fun, the cibcrewards website is slow and clunky.
I’ve switched to the Scotia Passport Visa Infinite where I can apply points to past travel expenses at 1 cent per point, pay no foreign exchange transaction fees and get 6 free lounge visits per year. So much happier – no more frustrations.