My previous post about the MyOffers digital coupons for Sobeys and Foodland discussed the apparent increase in bonus miles available for grocery purchases. I thought it might also prompt an Air Miles collector to ponder whether all members of a household should have their own Air Miles account and collect separately, or instead have everyone consolidate their efforts in a single account?
Sign Up or Order Additional Cards
Before I get to the considerations involved in answering the question, here are the Air Miles links to sign up for an account (members must be at least 16 years old) or to order new cards if you need extra ones for a pre-existing account.
From the Air Miles website:
Personalized offers like the Sobeys/Foodland MyOffers are based on your shopping history. If you’ve been going to Superstore more than Sobeys lately, they will start throwing better deals your way to bring you back. This is one reason why it’s beneficial for everyone to have his or her own Air Miles account. If you’ve been directing your earning to another person’s account for a while, your account will similarly start receiving more enticing offers. Switch to yours and change back when the good offers dry up. You just need to keep an eye on the different offers to make sure you’re maximizing the earning opportunities.
Another good reason to have more than one account in your household is for when the big promos like Mega Miles and Shop The Block come around. Provided the offers are doable, you might be able to accumulate a large number of miles across multiple accounts.
In situations where the promo offers are out of reach, having multiple accounts can also be useful. For example, as nice as it would be for two people to both complete 5 Mega Miles offers for 1000 bonus miles each, it might not be possible. But, if you could both do the 3 easiest offers for 300 bonus miles each, it would at least give you 600 miles from everyday purchases with minimal effort.
I know that some couples each have their own Air Miles credit card but use the same Air Miles number in order to focus earning into one account. Apparently there is no issue attaching another person’s Air Miles number to your credit card. Depending on the goal for the miles, this can be a good strategy.
One downside to this approach is that you can’t both do the Mega Miles or Shop The Block offer that involves a BMO Air Miles Mastercard spending target. The credit cards also have occasional spend X dollars, get Y bonus miles offers. Like the MyOffers from Sobeys, the threshold amount will reflect your recent spending on the card. I don’t know how those would show up for multiple mastercard holders using the same Air Miles number.
Cash or Dream?
If you’re collecting miles for a travel reward that requires thousands of Dream miles, it can certainly make sense to put all your earnings into a single account. It’s not possible to share points between accounts without paying a prohibitively high transfer fee.
However, if you primarily collect Cash miles, it makes the decision to use multiple accounts much easier. I suspect most people who prefer the Cash setting are using an “earn and burn” strategy, redeeming miles frequently to save on grocery or drugstore purchases in relatively small amounts. A couple of exceptions, for example, would be if you’re saving up to redeem Cash miles toward a big purchase at Staples or for eVouchers to use at The Bay.
Gold and Onyx Status
Another factor to consider is whether it’s more likely that you’d reach elite status with Air Miles if you channeled your energy into one account.
To achieve Gold status, you must earn 1000 miles in a calendar year. For Onyx, it’s 6000 miles. The benefits of status are by no means outstanding, but one good perk is an occasional discount when booking flights, especially for Onyx members. Better flight reward availability is touted by the program as a benefit as well.
In years past there have been some terrific exclusive events in Nova Scotia for Onyx collectors such as tickets to the Grand Tasting at the NSLC Festival of Wines or to a show at Neptune Theatre. These are less frequent now and when they do appear you have to act fast.
One perk that I’ve read about people using is the Personal Shopper Service which allows Onyx members to redeem Dream miles for almost anything not otherwise available as a reward.
If you have any interest in Air Miles, take a moment to consider what strategy will work best for your household or family. The answer will depend to a large degree on how active you are in the program and whether you’re willing to monitor multiple accounts.
My parents have both had Air Miles accounts since the inception of the program in 1992, but it was my Dad’s card that was used most often in the early years. We were also fortunate to have a neighbour who didn’t care about Air Miles but wanted something to pass to the cashier when asked if he had a card, so he used one for my father’s account. My interest in points was sparked when I was later tasked with figuring out what to do with this stash of miles.
I’d say a prudent approach is for each individual to have his or her own card to take advantage of the easiest offers and promotions. In addition, choose one to be the primary account for everyday shopping and/or to be the default for the more challenging and lucrative promotions. Use it to save Dream miles for future travel rewards along with hopefully attaining Onyx status in the program.