The most common way to earn credit card points is through everyday purchases. For some households or businesses with high spending levels, the numbers add up quite quickly, but for others, it can take a while to build up a meaningful balance.
One unique method for boosting your earnings can be through buying groups, which are more popular in the United States, but are now rising in prominence in Canada, too. It’s a bit of an advanced topic; however, as we’ll show, there are plenty of reasons why it could very well be worth your while to know about.
What Are Buying Groups?
Buying groups, which are also known as buyers groups, are companies that specialize in crowd-sourcing products for resale. Broadly speaking, they buy low and sell high, thus netting a profit.
In some cases, buying groups can leverage large orders of products in order to score a discount from a retailer. If they’re able to do so, they can then resell the products at a greater profit margin.
However, buying groups are more common in the Miles & Points world for harnessing purchases from a wide range of individuals in order to take advantage of sales. Rather than trying to make a large single order of products, buying groups have a large number of individual orders that together form a large order.
Let’s use an example to illustrate why buying groups work this way.
At various points during the year, such as Black Friday, brick-and-mortar and retail stores offer significant discounts on popular products.
For example, suppose that an iPad that typically costs $1,000 (CAD) is on sale for $800 (CAD) during a Black Friday event. There would almost certainly be a limit or one or two products during a sale like this, so a buying group wouldn’t be able to place a large order.
However, if the buying group were able to get a large number of people to place smaller orders on its behalf, it could still end up with a large number of iPads purchased for the sale price. In this sense, it would have bypassed the limit, and could then resell the discounted iPads at a profit.
That sounds great for the buying group, but why would anyone want to buy something for someone else?
Well, the individuals who purchase the iPads for the buyers group would get to keep any of the credit card points earned from the purchase, as well as any points or cash back gleaned through various shopping portals, such as Rakuten or the Aeroplan eStore.
Likewise, if you’re working towards a large minimum spending requirement, making purchases on behalf of buying groups can help unlock large swaths of points that tend to come with hefty spending thresholds. Some credit cards also offer spend-based perks, such as free night certificates for hotels or elite status with airlines, which you’d also get to enjoy.
Importantly, the buying group reimburses the individual buyer an agreed-upon amount for the purchases, so there is a net gain of points that come at no cost to the buyer.
In sum, this can be a mutually beneficial relationship between the buying group and the individual buyers. However, there are a few caveats to keep in mind, which we’ll cover later on in this guide.
How Do Buying Groups Work?
While the exact process for each buying group is going to differ slightly, it should be relatively similar between all of them.
In the below examples, we’ll be showing the workflow for Canada Buying Group, since it’s the buying group we’re most familiar with. If you join any other buying group, be sure to get to know the details of how the program works before you commit.
After you’ve registered for an account with Canada Buying Group, you’ll be sent an invitation to join a WhatsApp group. This is where all the deals are posted, but some buying groups will also send out email alerts.
As soon as a purchase request becomes available, a message is sent to the group. If you’re interested in taking part, you’ll need to register for the item using a form, which the buying groups use to track the quantity of items they’re expecting to receive.
If confirmed, you can go ahead and make the purchase according to the terms and conditions posted in the message. The amount you’ll be reimbursed and any notes about shipping will be included in the message.
Before completing your purchase, just make sure to have the item shipped to the specified address. In the case of Canada Buying Group, the address is provided in the WhatsApp message, but it’s a good idea to double-check it every time.
After the purchase is made, you’ll need to log the information on your buying group account. You’ll typically be asked to provide the order confirmation number, the deal, the quantity, and the amount paid in taxes, and then upload the invoice.
As soon as the order is delivered to and confirmed by the buying group, the status of your order will change on your dashboard, and you’ll be paid back for your purchase by direct deposit within a specific time frame.
In the case of Canada Buying Group, you’ll receive payment by way of direct deposit within seven business days of the item arriving at the warehouse.
The amount of time it takes from a deal getting posted to the money arriving in your account depends on the shipping time. However, it should be completed within a couple of weeks at most, especially if you’re using a service such as Amazon Prime for deliveries.
Are There Any Risks with Buying Groups?
The first question people ask when the topic of buying groups comes up is whether or not this is a reliable practice.
Prior to signing up for any buying group, you’ll want to trust that you’re going to get reimbursed for any money you spend. The best way to do this is to get in touch with others who use buying groups, ask them about their experience, and raise any questions you might have.
At the same time, buying groups have been around for years, and they wouldn’t continue to exist if they weren’t living up to their end of the bargain. If you have any qualms whatsoever, reach out to the buying group and to other users, and ensure that all of your questions are answered before you begin.
If you’re uncomfortable with the idea of spending large amounts of money for someone else only to be reimbursed later, you can always begin with one of the lower-priced deals, and then go from there. This is how most users get started with buying groups, as you can build trust and get acquainted with the process, and then continue if you feel comfortable.
Another factor to be wary of is if your shipment doesn’t get delivered as intended. While it’s a fairly rare occurrence, packages can go missing at any point along the way, and you’ll want to know about how the buying group approaches the situation if it were to come up.
You’ll also want to know the policy of the store that you’re buying items from if you don’t end up receiving the item you ordered. If you live in a large city centre, you’re sometimes able to drop items off in person; however, there’s a larger time investment to do things this way.
Tips & Tricks for Using Buying Groups
Aside from earning credit card points and making progress towards minimum spending requirements, you can also pad your balance even further or earn some cash back by leveraging shopping portals. In some cases, you can also score spending-based credit card perks that you get to keep and use to fund and enhance your travels.
Once you’ve signed up for a deal with a buying group, your next step is to look for the best possible portal to make the purchase through. By taking this extra step, you’ll double-dip on your earnings, since you’ll earn either points or cash back through the portal in addition to the earning rate on your credit card.
This can be particularly lucrative if the buying group deal is on during a promotional event, such as Black Friday, when shopping portals often put on their best bonuses.
Suppose you were to purchase an iPad that costs $800 (CAD) on a buying group deal during an Aeroplan eStore promotion that offers 10 points per dollar spent on Apple products. You’d earn 8,000 Aeroplan points from the eStore, as well as the points earned on your credit card.
Even with a base earning rate on your credit card of 1 point per dollar spent, you’d receive a total of 8,800 Aeroplan points for a single purchase, all at no net cost to you and for a relatively minimal amount of time.
If you were to go through a cash back portal, such as Rakuten, then you’d earn a percentage of the purchase back in cash. If it was a 5% cash back promotion, then you’d have earned $40 (CAD) on the transaction.
While you won’t always benefit from elevated shopping portal promotions such as these, you’ll definitely want to shop around to make sure you’re using the best portal with every purchase. And of course, you’ll also want to make sure you’re using the credit card with the best available earning rate, too.
You might even be lucky enough to pair a buying group deal with an Amex Offer, which ultimately winds up as a statement credit that’s as good as cash or a nice boost in points.
For example, let’s suppose there’s a buying group deal for Dell computer monitors. You sign up for the deal, and then also remember that there’s an Amex Offer for Dell purchases on one of your Amex cards, perhaps along the lines of “Spend $500, Get $100”.
In this case, you’d get points from your credit card and a statement credit of $100, assuming that the buying group deal met the spending requirement for the offer.
It’s worth noting that these deals are more rare than shopping portal bonuses, but it’s always worth checking in case you can stack an Amex Offer with a buying group deal.
Spend-Based Credit Card Perks
Another reason to consider using buying groups is to work towards a spend-based requirement for a credit card perk.
Many credit cards offer cardholders additional benefits if they reach a certain threshold of spending over the course of a year. Buying groups can help you reach the thresholds, and then you’d get to keep the benefit and use it for yourself.
In Canada, you can earn an Air Canada Annual Worldwide Companion Pass upon spending $25,000 (CAD) in a membership year on any of the premium Aeroplan co-branded credit cards. Depending on how you redeem the pass, if can easily be worth hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.
|Credit Card||Best Offer||Value|
|Up to 100,000 Aeroplan points†||$1,068||Apply Now|
|Up to 100,000 Aeroplan points||$819||Apply Now|
|95,000 Aeroplan points||$819||Apply Now|
|90,000 Aeroplan points||$611||Apply Now|
However, it gets much more interesting with US-issued credit cards. For example, you can earn free night certificates with Hilton, Hyatt, and Marriott by meeting the following spending-based thresholds each year:
- Chase World of Hyatt Credit Card: Earn a Free Night Award upon spending $15,000 (USD) in a calendar year
- Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card: Earn a Free Night Reward after spending $15,000 (USD) in a calendar year
- Hilton Honors American Express Business Card: Earn a Free Night Reward after spending $15,000 (USD) in a calendar year, and a second one after spending $60,000 (USD) in a calendar year
- Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card: Earn a Free Night Reward after spending $60,000 (USD) in a calendar year
- Marriott Bonvoy Bevy American Express Card: Earn a Free Night Award worth 50,000 points after spending $15,000 (USD) in a calendar year
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card: Earn a Free Night Award worth 85,000 points after spending $60,000 (USD) in a calendar year, selected as your Earned Choice Award
- Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card: Earn a Free Night Award worth 35,000 points upon spending $60,000 (USD) in a calendar year
Of these, the Hyatt, Hilton, and Marriott awards at $15,000 (USD) are the easiest to get, but in all cases, the certificates can be quite valuable if redeemed strategically. You’ll just want to make sure that the time and effort you put in to earn them is worthwhile.
Elite Status Benefits
Lastly, many credit cards offer spending-based perks that can either earn you elite status or at least help you get there faster. With buying groups, all of the spending put on your card can go towards meeting the requirements, which could work out very nicely in your favour.
For example, in Canada, you can earn Aeroplan 25K status by organically earning 100,000 Aeroplan points over the course of a calendar year. By using the Aeroplan eStore and an Aeroplan co-branded credit card, it wouldn’t take too much time to score the base-level status through spending alone.
However, you can also earn Status Qualifying Miles (SQM) and Status Qualifying Segments (SQS) through credit card spending, which reduces your need to fly in order to earn them. If you already have 50K status or higher, you’ll also benefit from Threshold Rewards, which can indeed be quite lucrative.
In the United States, it gets even better. You can spend your way to elite status with many airlines, including American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United, JetBlue, and Southwest. By pairing the right credit card with purchases from a buying group, you could find yourself with elite status without having ever set foot in a plane.
With the Chase World of Hyatt Credit Card, you can also earn two elite night credits per $5,000 (USD) spent on your credit card in a calendar year.
Generally speaking, its top-tier Hyatt Globalist status is quite difficult to achieve; however, if you’re able to earn nights by putting buying group purchases through on your credit card, you can boost your way to the top.
In all cases, you’ll want to think about the travel goals you’d like to achieve, and then strategically choose a credit card for using in a buying group.
Buying groups are a unique way to boost your points balance and score some great travel perks. While they’ve been around in the United States for quite some time, they’re also becoming more popular in Canada, led by Canada Buying Group.
If you’re interested in getting started with a buying group, it’s important to touch base with people who have been using one for a while. If they’re able to vouch for the group, then it’s best to start small until you’re comfortable with the process, and the proceed from there.
Just be sure to maximize every purchase by using shopping portals, Amex Offers, and the right credit card, which can score you free hotel certificates or even elite status once you’ve met a spending threshold.