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CIBC Rewards review

Published by My Rate Compass Team | Updated Oct 03, 2020
CIBC Rewards review

CIBC Rewards Program review:Everthing you need to know

 

 

The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce is the result of a 1961 merger between the Canadian Bank of Commerce and the Imperial Bank of Canada. The Canadian Bank of Commerce traces its roots all the way back to 1867, founded to compete against the Bank of Montreal. The Imperial Bank of Canada's history, likewise, is nearly as long. Founded in Toronto in 1875, the Imperial Bank of Canada steadily grew until finally merging to create the bank commonly known today as CIBC.



CIBC is another of Canada's Big Five banks, managing over $650 billion in assets and employing more than 40,000 people to serve 11 million customers worldwide. Like its competitors, CIBC also offers a flexible credit card loyalty program that can prove quite valuable in the right scenario. So, keep reading to learn all about the CIBC rewards program and how you can make it work for you.



CIBC Rewards Overview



Like the other big banks' credit card rewards programs that we've looked at thus far, CIBC's rewards program likewise rewards customers for making purchases with their CIBC-issued credit cards. CIBC awards each cardholder points based on the value of their purchase, and those points can be redeemed for a variety of rewards such as travel, gift cards, merchandise, CIBC financial products, statement credits, and charitable donations.



In the following sections, we'll summarize the best ways to make the CIBC rewards program work for you, allowing you to maximize the number of points you earn and the value of those points when they're redeemed.



How to earn CIBC rewards



Earning CIBC rewards points works the same way as earning rewards points in other programs that we've looked at. CIBC credit cardholders simply use their credit cards to make purchases, and they then receive points based on the value of that purchase and the terms of their specific credit card.



A customer must, of course, have a CIBC credit card in the first place before he or she can earn CIBC rewards point. As of this writing, CIBC offers five different rewards credit cards, each of which come with different features intended for a certain type of customer. We'll summarize the key features of each CIBC rewards credit card below.



-    Aventura Visa Infinite Privilege

o  $499 annual fee; 20.99% interest rate

o  $120 annual fee rebate for cardholders with CIBC Smart Plus accounts

o  Minimum annual income of $200,000

o  50,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 in the first four months

o  $200 annual travel credit

o  Complimentary airport lounge access with 6 free guest passes per year

o  2 NEXUS fee waivers

o  Access to business class bookings

o  Access to dedicated taxi and limousine service

o  25% discount at participating rental car services

o  3 points per $1 on travel booked through the CIBC Rewards Travel Centre

o  2 points per $1 spent on dining, entertainment, transportation, gas, and groceries

o  1.25 points per $1 on all other purchases

o  Suite of travel insurance products included

o  Metal card



-    CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite

o  $120 annual fee (waived for the first year); 19.99% interest rate

o  Minimum income requirement of $60,000 for individuals or $100,000 for households

o  20,000 bonus points on the first purchase

o  15,000 additional bonus points after spending $10,000 in the first year

o  Complimentary Priority Pass members provides free access to more than 1,200 airport lounges

o  4 complimentary lounge guest passes per year

o  NEXUS application fee rebate

o  2 points per $1 on travel purchased through the CIBC Rewards Centre

o  1.5 points per $1 spent on gas, at grocery stores, and at pharmacies

o  1 point per $1 on every other purchase

o  Suite of travel insurance products included



-    CIBC Aventura Visa

o  $0 annual fee; 19.99% interest rate

o  $15,000 minimum annual household income

o  $0 annual income requirement for students

o  Earn 500 bonus points each for each of the following actions: sharing your email address with CIBC; signing up for e-statements; adding an authorized user to your account; holding an eligible CIBC chequing account; and adding your card to Apply Pay, Google Pay, or Samsung Pay, for a total of 2,500 bonus points

o  Earn 2,500 more bonus points for spending $500 during the first four months

o  Students receive 2,500 bonus points on their first purchase

o  1 point per $1 spent at on gas, groceries, pharmaceuticals, and in the CIBC Rewards Centre

o  1 point per $2 on all other purchases

o  Rental car insurance

o  Extended warranty and purchase protection


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-    CIBC U.S. Dollar Aventura Gold Visa

o  $35 USD annual fee; 19.99% interest rate

o  $15,000 minimum annual household income

o  Earn up to 2,500 bonus points for completing the same tasks as the Aventura Visa above

o  Earn an additional 2,500 bonus points on your first purchase

o  No currency conversion fees

o  1 point per $1 spent in the CIBC Rewards Centre

o  1 point per $2 on all other purchases

o  90-day purchase protection on new purchases



-    CIBC Aventura Visa for Business

o  $120 annual fee; 19.99% interest

o  $35,000 minimum annual income

o  20,000 bonus points on the first purchase

o  15,000 additional bonus points after spending $3,000 in the first four months

o  Transfer points between business and personal CIBC credit card accounts

o  2 points per $1 spent in the CIBC Rewards Centre

o  1.5 points per $1 spent on travel, including gas, hotels, and rental cars

o  1 point per $1 on all other purchases

o  Suite of travel insurance products



As this summary shows, the CIBC Visa Infinite Privilege card offers by far the greatest benefits. But its $200,000 annual income requirement and steep $499 annual fee render it very exclusive and perhaps even impractical for many consumers. Further, there are other rewards credit cards that offer similar benefits for a lower annual fee.



However, CIBC's second-tier card, the Visa Infinite, strikes a nice balance between cost and value. In other words, the Visa Infinite seems to provide more bang for your buck considering the relatively modest $120 annual fee. For this fee, cardholders still receive a host of valuable benefits including complimentary airport lounge access, a NEXUS fee waiver, a suite of travel insurance products, and the chance to earn 35,000 bonus points in the first year of membership.



Finally, CIBC's basic Visa card allows cardholders to earn rewards points on purchases they would make anyway, although the 1 point per $2 spent ratio is a bit lower than comparable cards from CIBC's competitors.


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CIBC rewards points value



The real-world purchasing power of a CIBC rewards point varies depending upon the type of reward for which it is redeemed. Like other rewards programs we've seen, CIBC rewards points can be redeemed for various types of rewards including travel, merchandise, and gift cards. Similarly, CIBC rewards points are most valuable when redeemed for airline tickets and least valuable when redeemed for statement credits.



How to redeem CIBC rewards points



Members redeem their CIBC rewards points, as you can probably guess by now, through their online banking account. From their online portal, members can redeem their points for travel through the CIBC Rewards Travel Centre, for merchandise and gift cards through CIBC's rewards catalogue, and as a form of cash back by applying points to receive a statement credit.



The following sections will set out the approximate value of a CIBC rewards point when redeemed for each class of reward.



  • Redeem CIBC rewards points for travel



There seems to be a split among the various credit cards rewards programs when it comes to redeeming points for travel. Some programs that we've seen allow members to make a point-for-point redemption regardless of destination. In other words, a rewards member in such a program simply redeems however many points are necessary to cover the exact price of a ticket.



Other programs, by contrast, allow members to redeem a set number of points for any ticket up to a certain price. CIBC, as we'll see, essentially provides customers access to both options.



To redeem points for travel, CIBC rewards members have two options. First, they can book travel using rewards points directly through the CIBC Rewards Travel Centre. When booked this way, members may redeem a set number of points to book any flight within a certain geographic region, provided the base ticket price does not exceed a predetermined maximum.



The various travel tiers are set out below



-    Canadian Short Haul flights

o  10,000 to 20,000 points

o  Book any flight within a province, territory, or US or to an adjoining province, territory or state

o  Maximum ticket price of $400



-    Canadian Long Haul flights

o  25,000 to 35,000 points

o  Book any flight to any location within Canada or the continental United States

o  Maximum ticket price of $800



-    Mexico, Alaska, Hawaii, Central America, Caribbean

o  40,000 to 60,000 points

o  Book any flight to any location in these five regions

o  Maximum ticket price of $1,000



  Europe

o  50,000 to 70,000 points

o  Book any flight from a major gateway in Canada or the United States to select European destinations

o  Maximum ticket price of $1,300



-    The rest of the world

o  75,000 to 125,000 points

o  Book any flight from a major gateway in Canada or the United States to select destinations in Africa, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, the South Pacific, the Middle East, or South America

o  Maximum ticket price of $2,000



These figures indicate the best value is the Canadian Long Haul flight. Assuming a member books an $800 ticket for 35,000 points, this comes out to a value of 2.28¢ per point ($800/35,000 = 2.28).



Using the same method, we can determine points max out at the following values for each of the remaining classes of flights:



-    Canadian Short Haul: 2¢ per point

-    Mexico, Alaska, Hawaii, Central America, Caribbean: 1.67¢ per point

-    Europe: 1.8¢ per point

-    The rest of the world: 1.6¢ per point



As an added benefit to CIBC rewards members, if a particular flight doesn't fit within any of the above travel tiers, members can still use CIBC rewards points to pay for the flight as long as it's booked through the CIBC Rewards Travel Centre. When booked this way, points have a flat value of 1¢ per point. In other words, members receive $1 toward the cost of the flight for every 100 points they redeem.



  • Redeem CIBC rewards points for gift cards and merchandise



CIBC rewards members can redeem their points for gift cards and merchandise from a variety of leading establishments through the CIBC Rewards Centre.



Gift cards typically cost around 7,000 points for a $50 gift card or 14,000 points for a $100 gift card. This works out to a value of .7¢ per point. And points redeemed for merchandise typically carry a similar value of around .7¢ per point.



  • Redeem CIBC rewards points for experience



CIBC rewards members can also redeem their points for a variety of exclusive experiences, including dining experiences, vacations, tours, and more. But CIBC puts a unique spin on how they allow members to redeem points for experiences. Instead of pricing each experience at a set number of points, CIBC auctions each experience. In this way, members use their points to bid on the experience they wish to purchase. The highest bid wins!



  • Other redemption options



Other options to redeem CIBC rewards points include statement credits, CIBC financial products like an RRSP or TFSA, payments on a CIBC line of credit, and making a donation to charity.



For 12,000 points, members can make a $100 payment toward any CIBC financial product. This works out to a value of .83¢ per point.



For 2,500 points, members can make a $25 donation to CanadaHelps.org, coming to a value of 1¢ per point.



And for 4,000 points, members can receive a $25 statement credit. Redeeming points for statement credit works out to just .62¢ per point. Still, if you don't have any travel plans coming up, this provides a convenient way to make a dent in your next billing statement.



Getting the Most Out of Your CIBC rewards



As we've shown, the best way to get the most value for each reward point is to use points to book long haul flights within Canada or the continental United States. Working out to about 2.3¢ per point, points put toward domestic long-haul flights are worth nearly four times as much as points redeemed for statement credit and around 35% more than points used to book international flights. And at 2¢ per point, using points to book domestic short haul flights is nearly as good as a deal.



How CIBC rewards Compare to other loyalty program



The CIBC rewards program is quite similar to others that we've seen. For current CIBC customers, especially high net-worth customers in the market for a premium credit card, the CIBC Visa Infinite Privilege offers a wide array of benefits for the frequent traveler. The second-tier Visa Infinite card, too, offers many of the same enticing and useful benefits for a much more reasonable annual fee. In any event, CBIC rewards points are quite value when redeemed for either short or long domestic flights.



  • Pros and Cons



Ultimately, the flexibility that the CIBC rewards program provides by allowing customers to book any flight through the CIBC Rewards Travel Centre could prove quite useful. And points become even more valuable when a member's desired flight falls within one of the pre-set travel tiers.



On the flip side, members are constrained by the fact that CIBC rewards points can only be redeemed for travel though the CIBC Rewards Travel Centre. While at least one other rewards program allows members to book any travel they desire, then apply points toward the cost of that travel, CIBC members don't have that luxury. But in return, CIBC rewards points can ultimately provide more value when applied toward certain flights.



Conclusion



What sets the CIBC rewards program apart from its competition is its relatively generous sign-on bonuses. With the potential to earn up to 35,000 bonus points in the first year of membership, cardholders could easily score a free flight or two simply by signing up for a CIBC rewards credit card and meeting the bonus criteria. So, if you don't currently have a rewards credit card, CIBC's Visa Infinite or Visa Infinite Privilege could be the perfect card to, both physically and financially, get you where you want go.

 

Compare the Best CIBC Credit Cards in Canada



FAQ's



  • How do I log in to my CIBC rewards account?



Members log in to their rewards account through CIBC's online banking portal.



  • How do I contact CIBC rewards?



Members can contact CIBC rewards via telephone at 1-888-232-5656.



  • Can I transfer my CIBC rewards points?



Members can transfer rewards points only between different CIBC credit card accounts. This can be done through the member's online baking portal.



  • Do CIBC rewards points expire?



No. CIBC rewards points last as long as the member's account remains in good standing.



  • How do I check my CIBC rewards points balance?



Simply log on to your online rewards account. From there, you can check your points balance and redeem points for rewards.



  • Do CIBC rewards points cover taxes and fees?



Yes, members may use rewards points to cover taxes and fees associated with their travel booking.



  • Are CIBC rewards points subject to blackout dates or seat restrictions?



No. CIBC rewards points are not subject to any blackout dates or seat restrictions.



  • How do I earn CIBC rewards faster?



The fastest way to earn CIBC rewards points is to sign up for a credit card that offers a sign-on bonus. After that, using the card to make purchases on gas, groceries, pharmaceuticals, and travel booked through the CIBC Rewards Travel Centre will earn the most points per purchase.


 

 

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My Rate Compass is a Canadian personal finance portal helping consumers make the most informed financial decisions and take control of their finances through financial literacy. We offer tools, articles, and resources to inform, educate, and provide advice on credit cards, mortgages, loans, RSPs, GICs, TFSAs, bank accounts and credit scores.