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Programs like Aeroplan and AIR MILES offer high-value rewards, allowing you to earn miles in-store with your loyalty card while double dipping with your rewards credit card.

But they’re not without their faults: the best, high-value reward flights have a limited supply. And while you can use more miles to access more flights, this generally means a serious devaluation to your points.

At the end of the day, you have no idea what kind of value you’ll end up getting from all your hard-earned miles.

So, let’s introduce you to travel rewards programs provided by major credit card issuers. You’ll get guaranteed value for all your easy-to-use points, so you’ll know exactly what they’re worth and what you can use them for.

And to top it off, some of them even offer ways to increase the value of your rewards.

What programs and credit cards are there? Here are some of the best:

Related: Your Guide To Big 5 Bank Rewards Programs

2 things that make guaranteed credit card rewards easy

So what makes this type of credit card reward so easy to use?

First, they have a guaranteed value for each point. When the time comes to redeem, you know what you’ll get for value. Other programs are not so straightforward – some redemptions provide such poor value it might not even be worth using your miles.

Second, they have more flexible options for redemption. You can redeem your points for any type of travel purchase and still get great value, whereas with many travel programs, only flights provide the best value.

We’ll go over both these points in more detail.

Guaranteed reward value

Guaranteed reward value means each point has a set value (usually 1 cent, but it varies by program). No matter what you use your points for, you can expect to get more or less consistent value.

You can book any travel you like without having to worry about getting the most out of your points. Some programs allow you to book from any provider, while others require you to use their specific site.

You can use your points to help pay for a portion (or all) of your travel purchase. It doesn’t get much simpler than that. Your points can also cover the taxes and fees.

Some programs will even allow you to transfer points to airline or hotel programs, or use fixed points flight charts.

Flexible reward choices

Of course, travel isn’t the only way to use your rewards.

Similar to Aeroplan and AIR MILES, there are options like merchandise and gift cards available. And the other bank programs have something that travel programs don’t have – the ability to use your points for cash:

  • statement credits,
  • direct deposits, and even
  • investment credits.

AIR MILES has this option, but you have to choose to earn Cash miles instead of Dream miles, locking your miles into the lower-value option.

Comparing guaranteed return easy rewards credit cards

So which of these programs offers the rewards that are easiest to use?

Here’s our side by side comparison of all 6 programs.

Program Point value # Of Ways To Redeem Restrictions Transfer Options Best Credit Card Average Return
American Express Membership Rewards 1 cent 10 None * Aeroplan
* British Airways
* Cathay Pacific
* Delta
* Etihad
* Alitalia
* Marriott
* Hilton
BMO Rewards 0.71 cents 7 Must be through BMO Rewards None 1.50%
CIBC Rewards 1 cent 8 Must be through CIBC Rewards None 1.21%
RBC Rewards 1 cent 9 Must be through RBC rewards * WestJet
* American Airlines
* British Airways
* Cathay Pacific
Scotia Rewards 1 cent 8 Partial point redemptions are not allowed when booking from any travel provider * Cineplex SCENE 2.05%
TD Rewards 0.5 cents 6 Points only worth 0.4 cents for travel booked from any provider None 1.65%

Related: CIBC Credit Card Alternatives: More Rewards, More Value

Which bank has the easiest rewards?

So which of these programs has the easiest to use rewards?

The best option is the American Express Membership Rewards program.

Why? It’s the only program that allows you to redeem for any travel from any provider without restrictions. And to help increase the value of your points, it also has a flight travel schedule and multiple airline and hotel partners.

And it has a credit card that offers one of the best returns for any type of travel, the . Just note that airline transfer options are not available with this card.

Coming in second is the Scotia Rewards program. You can book with any travel provider, as long as you have enough points to cover the entire transaction, with no loss of point value.

But it has the card with the highest return rate for any type of travel booked – the

Easy rewards vs cash back rewards

With everything said, why should you choose flexible travel rewards over cash back rewards? After all, the cash back you accumulate can be used for anything you like, including travel.

The first reason is the total return. Generally, these cards offer a better return on your spend. Our top rated cash back card, the , offers a return of roughly 2% on a typical monthly spend of $2,000.

Meanwhile, the offers a return of 2.15% on travel booked any way, which can increase all the way to 3.76% with smart redemptions using the Fixed Points Travel Program.

Plus, these cards almost always come with better welcome bonuses and travel insurance.

As long as you travel at least once per year, a travel card will save you more money than a cash back card will.

Is a guaranteed return worth lower reward value?

On the other hand, is a guaranteed return worth losing out on rewards, when compared to other programs such as Aeroplan and AIR MILES?

This is really up to you to decide. You can get great value for your spending with these programs, better than a flexible rewards card, but getting those high-value rewards takes work and flexibility on your end.

You also have to remember there’s a “taxes and fees” bill to pay for your flight redemptions, plus the value of your rewards can vary greatly.

Compare this to a flexible rewards program where you can book any seat, at any time, and all for the same value. And you can generally use any amount of points to pay for your purchase as well. You don’t have to worry about saving up your points, or whether you’ll have enough.

How important are easy rewards to you?

So what’s important to you?

Is it getting easy to use rewards?

Or do you just want the best possible return, and are willing to take the risk you may not end up getting great value?

Let us know in the comments below.