One of the lesser known credit card rewards programs in Canada, the National Bank À La Carte Rewards (referred to as National Bank Rewards from here), offers flexible rewards and redemption values that are pretty on par with one another.

With credit cards that offer unique features and perks that are not found anywhere else, it’s a program that deserves some serious consideration.

Let’s take a close look at what National Bank has to offer.

National Bank À La Carte Rewards at a glance

Value of a National Bank Rewards point: High: $0.01 for travel
Low: $0.0077 for gift cards
Ways to redeem NBC Rewards: * Travel through À La Carte Travel Agency – 1 cent per point (CPP)
* Travel statement credit – 0.83-0.91 CPP
* Banking plans – 0.84-1 CPP
* Investments – 0.83 CPP
* Brand-name merchandise ‒ 0.81 CPP
* Gift cards ‒ 0.77 CPP
How to earn National Bank Rewards: * 4 credit cards
Who these rewards are good for: * World Travellers
* Investors
* Value Shoppers
Frequently Asked Questions: * Level of flexibility? Medium
* Blackout dates? No
* Do rewards expire? No
* Rewards cover taxes and fees? Yes
* Can these rewards be transferred? No
* Is there a way to earn rewards faster? No
* Do they price-match travel costs? No
Plus a $150 travel bonus.
Offer ends December 21, 2018.

Calculating the value of a National Bank Rewards point

While there are only a handful of ways you can redeem your points, unlike most programs, there isn’t much loss in value among the various redemption options.

Redeem for travel through National Bank: 1 CPP

Using the À La Carte Travel Agency (powered by the Transat Group) offers the best value for your points.

10,000 points = $100, or 1 cent per point

You pay for the full charge on your card, and 72 hours later you will receive a credit for the points you have.

Just be sure to book online, otherwise you will have to pay a fee to complete your booking.

Seems simple, right?

Well, there are actually 2 important points to consider when using your points this way:

  • you can only redeem points against flights and vacation packages, and
  • the À La Carte Travel Agency doesn’t offer price matching.

So, while this option does offer the best value for your points, it’s rather restrictive, unfortunately.

Without price matching, you’ll need to make sure the price you’re being charged through the À La Carte Travel Agency is a reasonable price – no one wants to over-pay, even if it is covered by points.

Redeem for any other travel: 0.83 – 0.91 CPP

National Bank also allows you to use their points as a travel statement credit to offset any travel charges made to your card.

So, whether you’re:

  • looking to book something you can’t redeem for through the À La Carte Travel Agency (ie. hotels),or
  • booking travel that you could find somewhere, other than À La Carte Travel Agency, for a cheaper price…

…You can book the travel however you like and redeem your points against the transaction.

The downside: Your points won’t be worth quite as much as they would be if you booked through À La Carte Travel Agency.

This is the value you’ll be getting if you redeem your points this way:

Redeem less than 55,000 points: 12,000 points = $100, or 0.83 cents per point.
Redeem more than 55,000 points: 11,000 points = $100, or 0.91 cents per point.

While offering a slightly lower value, this allows you to book any travel deal you can find, and could actually be the much better option, depending on the situation.

Redeem for National Bank products

If you have banking products with National Bank, you’ll be able to use your points a few additional ways.

Banking plans: 0.84-1 CPP

First, if you have a National Bank banking plan that has a monthly fee, you’ll be able to use your points to help relieve those fees for an entire year.

Below is a table showing how many points you’ll need to redeem for a free year of banking for three different National Bank banking plans.

Banking Plan Points Required Bank Plan Yearly Cost Point Value
The Modest 12,000 $119.40 1 cent
The Connected 21,000 $176.40 0.84 cents
The Total 36,000 $311.40 0.86 cents

Related: Banking Packages With Free Premium Credit Cards

Mortgage payments: 0.83 CPP

If you have a mortgage or the All-in-One line of credit from National Bank, you’ll be able to use your points to make a payment on the principal of your loan.

A $100 payment requires 12,000 points, a value of 0.83 cents per point.

Investment contributions: 0.83 CPP

If you have an RRSP or TFSA investment account with National Bank, you’ll be able to use your points to make contributions to your account.

A $100 contribution requires 12,000 points, a value of 0.83 cents per point.

Redeem for brand-name merchandise: 0.81 CPP

If you’re looking to score some merchandise with your points, National Bank has you covered there as well.

We came to an average value of 0.81 cents per point, only slightly lower than using your points to redeem for any travel bookings.

And if you don’t plan on using your points to travel through the À La Carte Travel Agency, it’s definitely worth taking a look at the merchandise option, to see if there’s anything there that appeals to you.

Item Name Points Required Price (13% tax included) Point Value
Napoleon Executive 4 piece tool bbq set 11,850 $113 0.95 cents
Cuisinart 12-Cup Classic Programmable Coffeemaker 12,300 $113 0.92 cents
Cuisinart 5.5 qt Stand Mixer 50,000 $452 0.90 cents
Bose Home Speaker 500 62,824 $565 0.90 cents
LeapFrog LeapPad Ultimate Ready for School Tablet 16,750 $146.90 0.88 cents
Kobo Aura e-Reader & Case 24,500 $197.75 0.81 cents
Honeywell Oscillating Tower Air Purifier 23,900 $192.10 0.80 cents
American Tourister Bayview Spinner Carry On 11,350 $89.27 0.79 cents
Breville The Perfect Panini Press 13,800 $101.70 0.74 cents
Tissot V8 Swissmatic Men’s Watch 73,150 $497.20 0.68 cents
Nikon COOLPIX W300 Digital Camera 69,600 $463.30 0.67 cents

*Prices as found on google, with 13% sales tax added.

Related: 6 Tips For Seamless And Secure Online Shopping

Redeem for gift cards: 0.77 CPP

The last way to redeem your points is by purchasing a gift card, which offers the lowest return on your points available with À La Carte points.

That being said, there’s a wide assortment of gift cards, with values ranging from $25 to $500.

We came up with an average value of 0.77 cents per point.

Here’s a sampling of what was available:

Gift Cards Gift Card Amount Points Value
Cora $25 3,900 0.64 cents
Cineplex $25 4,100 0.61 cents
Starbucks $50 6,300 0.79 cents
Esso $50 6,600 0.76 cents
Gap $100 12,000 0.83 cents
Fairmont Hotels $100 12,500 0.80 cents
Best Buy $100 13,000 0.77 cents
Hudson’s Bay $200 24,000 0.83 cents
Home Depot $200 25,550 0.78 cents
Esso $250 31,300 0.80 cents
Saks Fifth Ave $500 60,000 0.83 cents
Best Buy $500 62,700 0.80 cents

How to earn National Bank Rewards

There’s only one way to earn these rewards points – a National Bank credit card, which has 3 personal credit card options and 1 option for small business owners.

Here’s a brief overview of each one.

National Bank World Elite Mastercard

The is National Bank’s top card offered for this program, and with good reason.

To start, it offers the best base earn rate for any of these cards:

  • 1.5 points per dollar on the first $40,000 spent annually,
  • 2 points per dollar on the next $40,000 spent annually, and
  • 1.5 points per dollar on anything after that.

Then, to make this card even better, it has one of the most unique perks for a Canadian credit card – up to $250 in annual travel credits.

You read that right, every year you’ll get reimbursed for up to $250 on the following travel expenses:

  • $100 for checked baggage fees,
  • $100 for airport parking fees, and
  • $50 for seat selection fees.

No one likes shelling out for these travel expenses, and National Bank is offering a way to get some of them back.

Plus, if you travel through the Montreal-Trudeau airport often, this card will give you and a guest access to the National Bank lounge located near gate 53 – which is a great way to relax before your flight.

Note: This lounge is not accessible to US bound travellers.

The cherry on top of this card, is that it has some really great insurance – some of the best when it comes to extended warranty and purchase protection.

Plus, it comes with emergency medical coverage for up to 60 days, including coverage for those over 65 for 15 days – which is a pretty rare feature.

For an annual fee of $150 and an income requirements of either $80,000 personal or $150,000 household, this card has a lot to offer.

Related: 3 National Bank Travel Mastercards Reviewed & Compared

National Bank World Mastercard

The is National Bank’s mid tier option.

While it offers a slightly lower base earn rate of 1.25 points per dollar spent on the first $20,000, that amount does increases to 2 points per dollar for the next $10,000 spent.

Surprisingly, it comes with the exact same insurance package as the World Elite, but doesn’t include any of the perks.

And as a World Mastercard, you’ll have lower income requirements to meet – either $60,000 personal or $100,000 household.

If insurance is what you value, the lower annual fee of $115 could be worth it for you.

National Bank Platinum Mastercard

The last personal card option offered by National Bank, the , is the entry level card.

For an even lower annual fee of $89, you’ll earn 1 point per dollar spent, and get an almost identical insurance package (except for the emergency medical is for only 10 days for both age groups).

This card has no personal income requirement – so, it’s a good option for just about anyone.

National Bank Business Platinum Mastercard

Looking to earn rewards on your business purchases? The is here for you.

With this card you’ll:

  • earn 1.5 points on every dollar spent on your business, plus…
  • enjoy the same extended warranty and purchase protection that is included with the World and World Elite.

…All for an annual fee of $125.

National Bank Rewards questions and answers

Here are some common questions and answers about the National Bank Rewards program.

How flexible are these rewards?

There is definitely some flexibility in these rewards.

Although the À La Carte Travel Agency has limited options for flights and vacation packages, the fact that you can use your points to pay for any travel booked to your card is definitely a major bonus.

Are there blackout dates?

No, the National Bank Rewards program has no blackout dates. As long as there’s availability you’ll be able to book.

Do these rewards expire?

No, provided your account is in good standing. If you cancel your card, you have 30 days to use your points.

Can you use points to cover taxes & fees?

Yes, points can be used to cover taxes and fees without any loss of point value.

Can these rewards be transferred?

No, there’s no option to transfer your rewards to other programs.

Is there a way to earn rewards faster?

No, credit cards are the only way to earn rewards.

Do they price match travel costs?

No, there’s no price matching available.

This program has a lot to offer

Despite only offering a limited number of ways to use your points, National Bank more than makes up for it with the value that can be found, across the board, when redeeming them.

From travel, merchandise, and gift cards, to being able to convert your points to investments, and pay for your banking plan, the National Bank Rewards program offers great value for all redemptions.

Plus, with credit cards that offer some of the best insurance packages available (and one card that gives you rebates on airline fees), National Bank’s Cards offer all the travel features you require.