Jill Z. Mcbride
  Editor-In-Chief, COLLOQUY

By redeeming points and miles earned in loyalty programs you can take advantage of early discounts, enjoy better selections and avoid last-minute crowds.

Just in time for the 2013 holiday shopping season, loyalty-marketing publisher COLLOQUY offers the following 10 tips for saving money on gifts and entertainment.

1. One-stop shop: Maximize your rewards earnings by consolidating holiday shopping with retailers that offer great rewards programs.

2. Double dip to accumulate points: Use rewards credit cards at merchants with loyalty programs to double up your earnings.

3. Combat high travel expenses: Use frequent flyer miles to bring the family together without breaking the bank.

4. Instant redemptions: Cash in with the instant redemption features, like AIR MILES Cash. Use reward miles for savings on stocking stuffers from the drugstore, tools from the hardware store or dozens of other options.

5. Get in the spirit of giving: Donate reward miles to charitable groups, such as WWF Canada conservation organization, or Trees Ontario, an organization committed to the re-greening of Ontario. You can even make a donation on someone else’s behalf, which is great for gift giving.

6. Take advantage of the side benefits: Check to see if your reward program has side benefits, such as members-only extended shopping hours and free shipping.

7. Have a not-so-silent night: Treat the family to a night on the town. Many loyalty programs feature events and experiences that allow collectors to redeem for unique opportunities to give to loved ones or to enjoy themselves. Choose from rewards like celebrity chef dinners, VIP meet-and-greet packages and a selection of live theatre events that are perfect for the entire family.

8. Use your store credit card: Often tied to rewards programs, store credit cards offer instant savings and extra perks for use during holiday seasons. Perhaps you earned some points that you can redeem for a great stocking stuffer … or two.

9. Save both time and money: Take advantage of online shopping options to rack up points while ordering from the comfort of your home or office.  Aeroplan has an eStore online shopping mall, for example, where you can earn miles for your online purchases. You can get bonus miles from individual retailers in the eStore along with a general bonus offer for up to four times the base miles on all your purchases depending on how many retailers you shop. 

10. Treat yourself: Use points to select guilt-free “from me, to me” gifts, such as spa packages or new golf clubs. You won’t be alone. Our research found nine out of 10 redeemers reported themselves as the primary beneficiary.