I have somewhat of a love-hate relationship with CIBC. CIBC has awesome promotions, regularly offering some of the best cards compared to its 4 bigger competing banks. The problem is you have to be willing to work for it.
Why? Some of offers they have are branch only – requiring you to go talk to a real person for at least 30 minutes, filling out an application form together while they might try to sell you other products.
An example of this is the CIBC Aerogold – a semi secret offer that you have to specially request from an in-branch financial advisor. In return, for 1k minimum spend, you get 30k Aeroplan miles with no annual feed, among other Aeroplan benefits.
In today’s offerings (and even compared to TD offers in the past), this is the best Aeroplan deal from a Canadian Bank.
CIBC also has a booth at Toronto Airport (not sure about other cities) where you can get special offers (usually first year free) for their Aventura cards. I recommend checking it out next time you fly to see what offerings are available – but I mean, who the hell thinks of applying for a credit card when they arrive at a airport!
Finally, I find in my personal experience CIBC is quite risk averse when it comes to extending credit to new customers who do not have have history with the bank. When I applied for my second CIBC card a couple months after my first, it went back and forth with the credit department a couple times and only got approved by splitting the credit limit with my first card (and I thought this was just a MBNA thing!).
Every time there was a bump in the process, I had to go and see the CIBC advisor in her office to fill out additional forms to authorize her to do stuff. Hopefully this process was just me being unlucky and not a widespread thing.
Other than Aeroplan cards, CIBC’s own travel reward program is called Aventura.
CIBC has been promoting their Aventura cards heavily, with all 6 of their cards showing special offers, making it very easy to rack up those points. Aventura points can be combined between accounts, so you can apply for a few cards then pool the welcome bonuses together. You can leverage this trick to extend the life of your points gained from first-year-free cards by pooling the points into a new Aventura card before cancelling the old one.
There is a outstanding promotion right now for the Aventura for business card. For no annual fees & 1k minimum spend, you get 30k aventura points, a $120 travel credit and free Toronto-Pearson express rides. 30k pts is worth $300, so this is worth at least $420, making it one of the best welcome bonus from a Canadian bank – ever!
Alternatively, their personal Visa Infinite is also a pretty solid deal. 20k points for a easy 1k spend and no annual fees, you can get this as well then pool together points from the business card for a easy 50k Aventura points.
Like most other points, you can use Aventura points for flights, statement credits and merchandise. You can also use points against your statement balance at a redemption ratio of 4000 Aventura = $25. So 30k is worth at least $187.5 in pure cash.
You cannot use Aventura as credits against your own travel bookings, unlike TD and RBC. The CIBC travel portal uses the Expedia search engine, so search results and prices are identical to it.
They also have this interesting auction thing where you can bid for vacation packages. I haven’t looked too heavily into it but I wouldn’t give this too much thought as most items are worth a lot more than the 50-60k points you would have accumulated as a card churner. Last I checked, the Vegas VIP experience you see below had a bid of 186k points and there was still 7 days to close.
Since you cannot use it for your own travel bookings (unlike RBC and TD), the best value out of these points is actually going to be for flights from their CIBC travel portal. Despite the ambiguous wording on what a Aventura point is worth, the points is fixed value – ie. 100 points is worth $1.
Since CIBC uses Expedia pricing, prices will move up and down depending on market conditions and the best time to book is when there is a Air Canada or Westjet sale going on, as this will be directly reflected back in Expedia and CIBC.
CIBC Travel Portal results – notice you can pay everything in points and not worry about taxes and fees
Expedia search results – price is exactly same as CIBC
While you can use points to pay for everything and not have to pay a single cent for reward flights (unlike Aeroplan, Avios and other airline points), you also have the option of splitting the payment into any denomination or points and cash. This means if you don’t have enough points for the flight, can you “make up” the difference with cash.
This makes it interesting if you are the sole churner in the family, as its going to be hard to collect enough points for a round the world business class for 3-4 people. With Aventura, you can just book your flights as you would normally and use the points to simply offset an easy $500 or more.
If you don’t have this problem, some of the uses I can think of is to use it for positioning flights, where you need to get to New York or somewhere else close by to begin your trip. These can come up more often than you think – for example, for Cathay pacific flights if you want a stopover in Vancouver you need to fly to JFK from Toronto.
Or, if you are using distance based airline miles like Asia Miles and Avios, you can use Aventura to fly a short distance so you can depart from a city that is just under the zone threshold, saving you lots of points.
Bottom line – while CIBC Aventura points are non-transferable to other airlines points and it cannot be used to book your own travel, given how relatively easy it is to accumulate them, I think they definitely have their uses.
There are always going to be need for short haul flights where it makes no sense to use Aeroplan or other more valuable miles, and this can be a great way to have a stash of credits in store for these occasions.
Apply for the CIBC Aventura for Business here: