The Lingo

Earning and redeeming points for travel is a lot of fun, but the volume of abbreviations and jargon that you encounter along the way can seem daunting at first.

Here’s a rundown of all the lingo we use when describing the process of racking up the miles and then splashing them on amazing travel experiences.

The Lingo

1% back/2% back/5% back; used to describe the rewards earning rate on your spending on a particular credit card

Refers to a rule put in place by Chase in the USA where you can’t be approved for certain cards if you’ve opened five or more cards in the past 24 months

Used to indicate that you’ve applied for X cards within the past 24 months, in reference to the 5/24 rule

Star Alliance; the world’s largest airline alliance that counts Air Canada, Lufthansa, ANA, and United as members

Average age of accounts; a way for credit bureaus to measure the length of your credit history, which is a component that’s worth about 15% of your credit score

The airline code of Air Canada, our national flag carrier

Annual fee; the fees commanded by higher-end credit cards

Air Miles; one of Canada’s most popular rewards programs that unfortunately doesn’t provide great value for travel

American Express; issuer of the credit cards with some of the highest signup bonuses in Canada and operator of the Membership Rewards program

Aeroplan; Air Canada’s loyalty program and one of the most versatile programs for Canadian points collectors

The airline code of Alaska Airlines, often used in shorthand to refer to Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

Authorized user; also known as a supplementary cardholder, this is a secondary cardholder who can charge purchases to the credit card account but is not responsible for paying off the card

Refers to the in-house rewards program of CIBC, one of Canada’s Big 5 banks

Refers to the in-house rewards program of RBC, one of Canada’s Big 5 banks

Refers to the rewards currency of British Airways’s loyalty program, which is useful for short-haul flight redemptions

Credit limit; the spending limits imposed on your credit card by the issuer

Cents per mile or cents per point; one of the most common metrics for determining the value of a points redemption, typically calculated as follows:

(cash price – award taxes and fees) / # of points used

Customer service representative; managing credit cards and redeeming points typically requires dealing with call centres, where you’re subject to the whims of the customer service representative

Data point; a single item of information about one’s experiences that may be helpful to others, such as whether you receive the signup bonus on a certain card despite having held it before

Equifax; one of the two credit bureaus in Canada

The letter designation for First Class used in the commercial aviation industry; often used in conjunction with an airline code to denote the product (e.g., “CX F” for Cathay Pacific First Class)

Frequent flyer program; a loyalty program offered by an airline to incentivize you to fly with them regularly

Financial review; a process in which financial institutions conduct a thorough review of your finances because of suspected credit risk

FlyerTalk; the world’s largest frequent flyer forum and a good source of Miles & Points information

Foreign transaction fees; the conversion fees that banks and credit cards tack on to purchases denominated in foreign currencies, with 2.5% being the industry standard here in Canada

First Year Free; first-year annual fee waivers offered by credit card issuers as a promotion

Great Canadian Rebates; one of the largest cash back sites in Canada and provider of several cash back offers on credit cards

Hang up, call again; when you deal with call centres to negotiate an annual fee or redeem your miles for a ticket, you might get connected to an agent who either can’t or won’t accomplish what you need, so just hang up politely and try again

Irregular operations; a term used in the air travel industry to describe whenever something goes wrong, such as delays and cancellations

Individual Taxpayer Identification Number; an IRS-issued number to help foreign individuals declare income and potential stand-in for a social security number if you’re looking to get US credit cards

The letter designation for business class used in the commercial aviation industry; often used in conjunction with an airline code to denote the product (e.g., “AC J” for Air Canada business class)

Refers to stops of less than 24 hours in duration on award tickets

The Aeroplan Mini-Round-the-World; an unofficial term for the practice of leveraging Aeroplan’s generous stopover policies to build trips in which you visit 3+ cities around the world for the price of one

Maximum permitted mileage; the upper bound for the routing distance between any two cities on an Aeroplan award

Membership Rewards; the most useful transferrable rewards currency in Canada

Manufactured spending; the practice of generating large amounts of points on your credit card by making purchases that are easily liquidated

Minimum spending requirement; the amount of money you need to spend within a certain time period (typically three months) in order to earn the signup bonus on a new credit card

Open-jaw; refers to the practice of flying into one city and out of another city on the same ticket

One-way; a ticket in only one direction as opposed to a round-trip

Oneworld; a leading airline alliance that counts American Airlines, British Airways, and Cathay Pacific as members

Point of turnaround; another term for the “destination” of an Aeroplan award ticket, which is the farthest city from your origin among all your stops of over 24 hours in duration

Priority Pass; a membership-based global airline lounge program with over 1,200 lounges, often granted as a perk on premium credit cards

Premium economy; the class of service between economy class and business class that’s been recently introduced by some airlines on widebody aircraft

Reconsideration; when you’re denied for a new credit card but you call the issuer to argue your case for why you should be approved

Redflagdeals; the leading Canadian site for deal hunters and a good source of information on credit card bonuses

Round-trip; a flight that goes to your destination and then comes back, as opposed to a one-way

Secure Message; a feature offered by certain financial institutions in which you can send online chat messages to complete basic tasks like cancelling a card or transferring points, instead of having to call in

Starwood Preferred Guest; the old loyalty program offered by Starwood Hotels & Resorts before they were bought out by Marriott

SkyTeam; the world’s newest airline alliance that counts Delta, Air France/KLM, and Korean Air as members

Signup bonus; the bonus points you receive for opening a credit card

Refers to stops of greater than 24 hours in duration on award tickets

Terms & conditions; the fine print on all credit cards and points programs laying out the rules of the game

Transatlantic; flights between North America and Europe

Transpacific; flights between North America and Asia

TransUnion; one of the two credit bureaus in Canada

Welcome bonus; the bonus points you receive for opening a credit card

The airline code of WestJet, Canada’s second-largest airline

The letter designation for economy class used in the commercial aviation industry; often used in conjunction with an airline code to denote the product (e.g., “WS Y” for WestJet economy class)

Your Mileage May Vary; used to describe the fact that experiences may vary between different people, so (for example) just because one person got their annual fee waived on a card doesn’t mean that everyone else will

A code used in the air travel industry to denote fuel surcharges or carrier-imposed surcharges, the pesky fees that certain airlines levy when redeeming award tickets

1 Comment
  1. Aavenger

    Great info I have been churning for years,enjoy your site.Lerning new tricks!!!

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