Helen Dyck

Understanding your Loyalties

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Helen’s career began in bookkeeping, insurance and international banking. She left the workforce to have children, returning in 1985 to join the travel industry. Helen’s love for geography and history has been richly rewarded in this industry. She loves to learn about different cultures and enjoys sharing this knowledge. Service is a part of Helen’s very nature. She is a Rotarian, a member of Beta Sigma Phi and a volunteer at the Salvation Army, Elder College and Sunday school. As Manager of Marlin Travel in Parksville, Helen is a CTC Certified Travel Consultant, a CLIA Accredited Cruise Counsellor, and a destination specialist.

Our agency has daily encounters with client questions about the many different loyalty programs in Canada today. We are often asked which program we recommend. There is no easy answer to that question. Almost every credit card company or bank has their own program and each will try to tell you that theirs is the best for you.

Before deciding on a card, you should find out how easy it is to accumulate and redeem your points. CIBC Aeroplan Visa will give you Aeroplan points for travel redemption on Air Canada and its partners. You can redeem as little as 15,000 points for a short haul flight in Canada plus the cost of taxes and fuel surcharges, all the way up to 100,000 points for a roundtrip ticket to Africa. Of course you can use those points for hotels and rental cars as well, or other things such as merchandise or gift cards. You can bump up your points balance faster if you are a frequent flyer with Air Canada.

RBC Visa has a similar program but you are not restricted to redeeming your points on a specific airline or its partners. Redemption must be made through their travel agency or online.

TD Visa allows you to use your points for almost any travel product and does not require you to book through a specific agency or online. Basically, you make your purchase either direct with a hotel or airline or with your full service travel agency, pay for it on your TD Visa and then call the redemption center to request a credit on your Visa credit card.

BMO MasterCard has a partnership with the Airmiles program. You can redeem your Airmiles for travel certificates, book airline reservations on their website or redeem for car rentals, hotels or attraction passes. If you are a Gold Collector, you will need fewer Airmiles for redemption and have fewer restrictions for advance booking. Gold status is attained when you collect a minimum of 1000 Airmiles by shopping at five participating merchants within one year. You can accumulate extra miles by making purchases at partner businesses such as Safeway, Shell and Marlin Travel. Each business has different promotions and reward levels.

There are more rewards programs such as Scotiabank Visa and Credit Union MasterCard. Most of the credit cards have an annual fee. The amount of the annual fee can vary depending on what type of insurance coverage they offer and how much money you have on deposit with that bank.

Many full service travel agencies will assist you with the redemption procedure, provided you are willing to pay a professional fee. If you are booking a cruise or tour product, many agencies will reduce or possibly waive their fees for this service. If you choose to do the booking on your own and then have a travel agent assist you with your cruise or tour booking, it is important to give a copy of your airline booking to the travel agent in order to avoid costly mistakes.

The above is a brief description of some programs available and you should investigate each one thoroughly by visiting their respective websites. The terms and conditions can change, so it is always advised to read all printed materials that come with your credit card statements each month and to reconfirm with your credit card company and bank every time you travel or purchase travel to verify what the insurance coverage is and to make sure nothing has changed.


Helen Dyck
Manager, Marlin Travel
125 McCarter Street, Box 1900
Parksville, B.C.  V9P2H6
Telephone: 250-248-2041 or 1-800-806-2041
Fax: 250-248-4767
Email Helen



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